Logan’s Salsa Timberjack Ti: Space Metal Dream Build

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With a Niner carbon fork and Ibis hoops, Logan dialed in his Salsa Timberjack Ti for ultralight adventure. Read why he picked this frame and a cast of components that includes a Shimano/Wolf Tooth wide-range 1x drivetrain, I9 hubs, and 29×2.6″ rubber for his dream bikepacking build…

Last spring, I pulled the trigger on a new bike. Prior to that decisive moment, I wasn’t quite ready to commit to a new bikepacking rig. I had sold my ECR, but I was regularly demoing new bikes for review, so I had the luxury of waiting. Honestly, I kind of felt like the ideal frame didn’t yet exist. And as much as I love the idea, I wasn’t fully prepared to commit to a custom bike by an independent framebuilder, either. After all, mountain bike hub standards and frame geometry have been shifting about as much as my own wants and requirements. But that all changed when Salsa announced the Timberjack Ti, which is—as far as commercially available framesets go—the closest thing to the bike I would have had custom built.

Salsa Timberjack Ti bikepacking rign

Timberjack [Ti]

So what made the Timberjack Ti frame so special? First off, space metal. I’ve never owned a Ti bike before, but I have ridden a few. And I was intrigued. Titanium is a lightweight, corrosion resistant, and scuff-proof material with an unmatched strength to weight ratio. What could be better for a frame to support the optimal “Adventure by Bike” build?

And, why are there so few titanium options on the market, especially amongst mainstream bike companies? According to Justin Julian, Salsa’s Brand Manager, “The major death blow to Ti was the invention of carbon fiber bikes. Nowadays the demand for titanium bikes is small and testing costs are far more expensive than steel or carbon.” In a nutshell, while cost of manufacturing and producing carbon frames has decreased over the past decade, the same can’t be said for titanium frames. In comparison, those expenses have remained relatively steady. Carbon is also much easier to mold than titanium. This allows companies that are working with carbon to put their own spin into unique shapes, tube profiles, and suspension configurations. Whichever the reasons, margins or looks, it seems that titanium framesets have gone out of favor with a lot of bike companies. Even Salsa, who was a late devotee to titanium, pulled its Ti frame options out of its 2016 model year lineup. This agitated a few diehards, but thankfully Salsa released titanium versions of their popular Fargo and Timberjack frames… just in the nick of time.

All told, as I mentioned in the Niner RDO fork review, I was keen on my next bike being extremely light, fast, stiff, and responsive. Titanium speaks all those languages exceedingly well.

  • Salsa Timberjack Ti bikepacking rig
  • Salsa Timberjack Ti, 29 x 2.6
  • Salsa Timberjack Ti, Carbon fork
  • Salsa Timberjack Ti bikepacking rig
  • Salsa Timberjack Ti, 29 x 2.6

“Trail-Touring” Geometry Musings

As I try different bikes, my geometry journey—and my understanding in how it impacts ride quality, and what works best for me—has evolved. The Timberjack has a geometry that’s dialed toward what I’d call comfortable trail bike. When I first demoed the aluminum model in 2016, I found it to be both spritely on the trails and comfortable to pedal—a sweet spot as far as a bikepacking bike is concerned. While I usually prefer singletrack-heavy routes, much of what I ride falls in the dirt road category. In either situation I favor a long geometry that leans toward the trail bike side of the spectrum. Case in point, with both the Surly Krampus and ECR at my disposal, I chose to ride the Krampus the majority of the time.

There are a few specific aspects of the Timberjack geometry that work particularly well for me, the most notable being its steep seat tube angle. That angle, paired with a long reach, places the rider’s weight over the middle of the bike while climbing. This seems more beneficial when it comes to taller riders. This neutral positioning also allows for a fluid transition to a downhill stance. You’re further back when you stand up on the pedals to descend, which keeps a good center of gravity for braking and maneuvering at higher speeds. As Skyler pointed out in his Kona Big Honzo review, and as Benedict hinted at when mentioning the geometry inspiration behind his Ultranutmegger, some of us seem to be finding magic in this particular subset of bike geometry. I think this combination is key to creating a nimble trail rig that’s still comfortable to pedal on open dirt roads. Specced with a rigid fork, the Timberjack’s angles measure about 68.5° for the head tube and 74° for the seat tube.

The raw numbers alone don’t tell the whole story, though. As bikes are being made with shorter chainstays, a design choice intended to keep them nippy and agile on the trail, they are also being built with bent seat tubes to accommodate large tires. In effect, this makes the seat tube angle a nebulous number by which to judge a bike’s geometry. The seat tube angle is measured from the center of the bottom bracket shell to the tube center at the seat post collar. So, when a bike has a bent seat tube, the more the seat post is raised (the taller the rider), the smaller that angle actually is. If you are long-legged like me, and the seatpost is raised to accommodate a stork-like inseam, the bend results in an effective seat tube angle that’s not nearly as steep as claimed. This change in geometry often moves the rider and their knees too far back for comfort. To compensate, on a bike such as the Woodsmoke, I have to move my saddle as far forward as possible, which is not an ideal solution. With the Timberjack, the ~74° seat tube angle is moderately steep—although not as steep as the 75° angle on the Kona Big Honzo—and there isn’t as much bend just above the bottom bracket as there is with many of the new carbon bikes, which often resemble a boomerang.

Salsa Timberjack Ti Review

  • Salsa Timberjack Ti, 29 x 2.6
  • Salsa Timberjack Ti, 29 x 2.6
  • Niner BOOST RDO MTB Fork Review

T’s Crossed

In addition to having a geometry that suits my tastes, the Salsa Timberjack checks a lot of other boxes. It has under downtube bottle mounts, internal cable routing, and Alternator 2 dropouts that make it possible to switch plates for various hubs and to run tire sizes from 27.5+ to 29 X 3.0*, including my new personal favorite, 29×2.6.

Could the Timberjack Ti be better?

Of course. No bike will ever be perfect, unless you have it built specifically for you… and you know exactly what it is that you want and need. I might have chosen a little more stack height and a slightly different tube arrangement—less standover and and maybe a little pot-belly bend in the downtube—to allow for a larger frame bag.

*Note that Salsa specifies that the Timberjack fits up to 29 X 2.6″ tires. Apparently, folks are cramming 29 X 3.0″ rubber on the aluminum versions, but they are very tight. I am speculating that the Timberjack Ti will fit 3.0s based on clearances depicted in the two photos directly above. These show a Nobby Nic 29 X 2.6 with the Alternator pretty far forward (maybe 1/4 the way back). I am guessing that it would fit a 29 X 2.8 comfortably with the Alternator slid all the way back, and even a 29 X 3.0, but it would probably be extremely tight. This is all speculation as I don’t currently have access to the bike to try. A friend of mine has the 2.6 Maxxis Rekon (which is close to true 2.6″) on his with the Alternator about 3/4 of the way back. It looks perfectly spaced with breathing room…

  • Salsa Timberjack Ti bikepacking rig
  • Salsa Timberjack Ti bikepacking rig
  • Salsa Timberjack Ti bikepacking rig
  • Salsa Timberjack Ti bikepacking rig
  • Salsa Timberjack Ti bikepacking rig

A Sum of its Parts

This build is made up of many carefully chosen components and several I ported over from other bikes. The Thomson stem and seatpost, Salsa Bend 2 handlebars, Ergon GS1 grips, Selle Anatomica X1 saddle, and TRP Spyke mech brakes were all recycled. The others were all picked by hand.

  • Frame: Salsa Cycles Timberjack Ti (lg) w/ 148x12mm rear dropout
  • Fork: Niner RDO Carbon MTB (110x15mm thru-axle)
  • Headset: Cane Creek 110
  • Handlebar: Salsa Bend 2 Bars
  • Stem: Thomson Elite X4 (60mm)
  • Seatpost: Thomson Elite
  • Saddle: Selle Anatomica X1
  • Grips: Ergon GS1
  • Brakes: TRP Spyke Mechanical Disc (180mm rotors)
  • Brake Levers: Avid Speed Dial Black Ops
  • Salsa Timberjack Ti Review
  • Salsa Timberjack Ti Review

Drivetrain

Eagle GX wasn’t yet on the market when I was speccing the drivetrain. Had it been available, the choice may have proven a little more difficult. That said, I’m perfectly content with this setup as I like the feel of Shimano XT shifting. I did make a few mods to personalize the gear range. First off, I added the 49T GC Cog and WolfCage Kit to the 11-42 XT CS-M8000 cassette. This replaced the 17T and 19T cogs with the 18T and 49T. I have nothing but good thing to say about this solution so far. Plus, my favorite crankset, the Race Face Aeffect, got a Wolf Tooth CAMO chainring system with an oval 30t ring. All of these tweaks bring the range to 445% with a granny gear of about 17.2 gear inches, perfect for loaded mountain biking.

Salsa Timberjack Ti, 29 x 2.6

  • Salsa Timberjack Ti bikepacking rig
  • Salsa Timberjack Ti bikepacking rig
  • Bottom Bracket: Hope Hope 68/73mm Stainless Steel
  • Crank: Race Face Aeffect 175mm
  • Chainring: CAMO with Wolf Tooth Narrow-Wide Elliptical (30t)
  • Chain: Shimano
  • Cassette: Shimano M8000 11spd 11-42 with 18/49t WolfCage Kit
  • Shifter: Shimano XT
  • Rear Derailleur: Shimano XT

Wheels

After demoing the Salsa Deadwood SUS, I was sold on the ‘Wide Trail’ concept. A 2.6” tire offers a stiffer sidewall while retaining many of the characteristics of plus tires, like increased floatation and traction. Additionally, it provides a little more cushion when set up tubeless. Gin and I both took the Schwalbe Nobby Nics and we have mostly positive things to say about the Nobby Nics and 2.6” tires in general.

  • Ibis 942 Wheelset Review, 29x2.6
  • Ibis 942 Wheelset Review, 29x2.6
  • Ibis 942 Wheelset Review, 29x2.6

The wheelset is my favorite part about this build. Laced up with steel spokes, the USA-built Ibis 942 includes a quick engagement I9 Torch hub and an asymmetric, low-profile rim design with a hookless bead. According to Ibis, this all nets a stronger wheel. The asymmetric design allows for higher spoke tensions and the rim design provides better impact strength. What ultimately drew me to these wheels was Ibis’ commitment to wide rims. The 35mm internal width makes the perfect pairing with 2.6-2.8” tires.

  • Rims: Ibis 942 Carbon Wheels
  • Hubs: Industry Nine Torch Classic
  • Tires: Schwalbe Nobby Nic 29×2.6 Addix
  • Salsa Timberjack Ti bikepacking rig
  • Bikepacking Tusheti National Park

Salsa Timberjack Ti bikepacking rig

Bikepacking Bags & PACKLIST

Here is my full packing list, by bag:

Handlebars (Ortlieb Handlebar-Pack)

Sleep system (Big Agnes Fly Creek UL3 tent, Enlightened Equipment Revelation Quilt, Sea to Summit Ultralight Insulated Sleeping Mat, Big Agnes inflatable pillow)

Handlebars (Ortlieb Handlebar-Accessory)

Phone, hat, documents, sketch pad, pen and pencils, snacks

Handlebars (Revelate Mountain Feed Bag)

Spare camera lens

Top Tube (Oveja Negra Snack Pack XL)

Head lamp, cord, pocket knife, snacks, sunscreen

DOWNTUBE (Wolf Tooth B-RAD 3 with accessory strap)

Spare tube, water bottle

Frame bag (Porcelain Rocket 52Hz)

This is where I like to keep heavier items: Food, toolkit (tool roll with spares and all tools), 8 oz Orange Seal sealant, chain lube, rain jacket, Gore-Tex pants, Gore-tex socks

Seat Pack (Revelate Terrapin)

Clothes: 1 short sleeve merino t-shirt (Specialized), 1 long-sleeve Icebreaker wool skirt, Patagonia Merino Air bottoms, Patagonia travel pants, 2 pairs of wool socks, 1 pairs of underwear, toiletries

BACKPACK (Acre Hauser 14L)

Crumpler camera insert, Peak Design Capture Pro 2, Canon 5d, 2 lenses, Platypus 3L foldable water bladder, Sawyer squeeze bag (large), Montbell Down anorak

  • Salsa Timberjack Ti Review
  • Salsa Timberjack Ti Review

Into the mountains.

In my typical fashion, I put a lot of thought (maybe too much) into configuring this bike and really didn’t get to spend much time riding it before boxing it up for the Republic of Georgia. So, after all the thought and deliberation, is the bike everything I wanted and more? And most importantly, how did it actually ride?

During our abbreviated trip in the Caucasus Mountains, I found that the Timberjack Ti—and the parts and bits involved in this build—performed exactly how I expected. The bike is stiff, responsive, and insanely lightweight, which helped considerably on long climbs and during a couple epic hike-a-bikes in Tusheti National Park. It felt confident on technical, loaded descents. I’m also convinced that it fits me better than any bike I’ve ridden to date. As a tall rider, I’m sold on the idea of a “trail-touring” geometry that places importance on a steep seat tube and long top tube for balance and knee comfort.

Space metal is pretty great, too. Don’t get me wrong, simple and affordable steel bikes have served me well. But as I work my way through my 40s, the idea of a super lightweight bike that’s still hard wearing and resilient was increasingly getting under my skin. It’s an investment, but it promises a long life, even when subjected to the wear, tear, and general beating that can be attributed to long bikepacking trips. Unfortunately, during our first attempt at crossing Georgia by bike, my body wasn’t so indestructible… and our trip was cut short. But my Timberjack is still intact (hopefully) and waiting for me in someone’s garage in Tbilisi right now. I’m eagerly anticipating getting her back, and soon!

79 Comments
  • Nathan Fenchak

    I would love to be tall! I think I have as much space between my saddle and tire as you do between your seat bag and tire!

  • Haha. Yeah, I guess it is nice to have the option to run a massive seat pack. But on the flip side, having a 33.5 inseam makes bike geo a little tricky!

  • Chris Kyle

    Love the build. I almost ordered a Ti Timberjack frame to build up for bikepacking; but in a size small, the frame triangle was too tiny.

  • Nathan Fenchak

    I guess it’s all a balancing act in one way or another.

    This bike looks really wonderful, thanks for posting it!

  • Randal GoingHAM

    Agreed! Would love to read a similarly illuminating and understandable reflection on bikepacking geometry for the vertically challenged.

  • mat long

    I am absolutely enamored with the Avid Black Ops levers. The dual pivots make these feels so amazing; I have a set on my Mukluk, and they are unbelievable. Also love the Niner fork. Wish they still offered it in the non-boost, but it’s a sweet ride. Nice build.

  • Me too. I’ve had these on 4 different bikes and they still work flawlessly — and I bought them used on eBay in 2012. I wish they still made them! Thanks.

  • wedelmaster

    nice ride! another thumbs-up for 2.6 Nic’s here too.

  • Jake Kruse

    Can you or any other readers comment on other 29 x 2.6 tires on the market right now? I have been riding Nobby Nics on my El Mariachi for a while now, but they are starting to show serious signs of wear and looking at the Maxxis Rekon as a replacement. Any experience with that tire yet?

  • Mark

    Really nice bike and write-up! I’m a big titanium fan as well, and applaud Salsa for bringing back a couple of Ti frames. I went the custom route a couple of years ago, and it has a bunch of similarities to the Salsa. I went with a rigid Ti fork from the same builder, and went with an 83mm BB and 157mm rear spacing. My ‘trail’ setup is 27.5×3.25 tires on 40mm rims and ‘winter’ setup is 27.5×3.8 on 65mm rims. I’m also in the process of building up a new wheelset to try out 29×2.6! Hopefully you get back over the pond to finish your trip!

  • Mark

    Another option is the newly released Bontrager XR4 29×2.6. I have a set on the way.

  • nat

    If your bike (in this article) was set up with 3 inch tires and you were allowed to get just one other set of tires to handle all your other various biking trips (keeping the 3s for sandy/really bad conditions) would it be 2.6s?

  • Yeah, ‘Super Boost’ is interesting… I honestly wish it would have supplanted regular BOOST early on. Post a pic in here if you have a chance…. I am curious to see it!

    Thanks!

  • There are a few listed on the bottom of this post… we’ll do a roundup soon too: http://www.bikepacking.com/gear/teravail-cumberland-review/

  • Thanks!

  • I really like the 2.6″ width. It’s efficient, a little bit lighter weight, and has a sidewall that feels a more supportive in the corners. that said, there are some great 2.8s too, such as the Terrene McFly…

  • Jake Kruse

    lookin’ forward to it, thanks

  • Mark

    ‘Super Boost’, I find that funny! I just spec’ed the old DH 157 spacing! Super boost wasn’t announced yet when I commissioned this. And I agree they should have skipped over 148. Here’s a picture when I first built it up. It’s from Moonmen. Setup is a bit different now, but you get the idea: https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5e47160bfdbe7c747721d3ed351346c50f9cb80a25ed5eb5d5e7bf3d67d56d75.jpg

  • Yeah, I guess Pivot branded it that! Should’ve taken the industry before BOOST, IMO.

    Sweet bike!! I love Moonmen’s work…

  • Nathan Fenchak

    I’m nowhere near as experienced as Logan or the other folks that contribute to this site, and tend to favor gravel and double track rather than singletrack, but I’ve been through a bunch of bikes over the last few years and I’ve done some bikepacking/touring on most of them. I’ve pretty much come to the conclusions that as a short person, when looking for an off the shelf frame, I look for one or some combination of these things…

    -Non-suspension corrected geo for a MUCH larger frame bag.
    -Low BB Drop numbers if you want a large seat post mounted pack and big wheels.
    -Smaller wheels for more room in the frame and from saddle to tire in the rear.
    -rear rack mounts, for if you really like the bike, but really hate backpacks.
    -Long enough front end to avoid toe overlap with big wheels (if single track is a consideration)

    And some of my non-bike specific considerations are…

    -The willingness to sacrifice standover height and size up to medium frames, if that’s feasible for your body proportions.
    -The willingness to wear a backpack.
    -The willingness to just take less stuff since you have less space for storage.<— this is the big one

    Beyond that. Pick your flavor of bike. I like Logan's description of the 'comfortable trail' geometry of the Timberjack, but the main triangle is rather small in the smaller sizes of that bike, and most other trail-geometry 29ers as well.

    You can make a lot of stuff work with a small seat/frame bag and a backpack, but I'm getting to the point where I'm pretty done with backpacks for the non-technical riding I've been doing lately.

    Most of my experience is with mountain bikes on the more XC end of the spectrum (Salsa Fargo, Mariachi), and 'adventure' touring bikes like the Specialized AWOL, Velo-Orange Piolet (neither of which I personally liked), and an original geo Surly ECR (which I would still own if not for toe overlap and seat bag clearance issues).

    For me it is all about the frame bag size. I can make it happen with a smaller seat bag, but being able to jam as much stuff into my frame bag as possible makes packing everything else much easier, so lately I've been really into non-suspension corrected bikes, and trying to size up on suspension corrected bikes.

    My current main squeeze is a Rawland Ravn, with 26" wheels, but I'm gearing up for a big trip (hopefully summer 2019) so I'm also experimenting with an aluminum Santa Cruz Highball 29er because I can fit on a medium Santa Cruz, and I generally prefer the handling of mountain bikes with flat bars on steeper/rougher descents.

    ***I also recently rode from Dunedin to Nelson, in New Zealand, and I bought a Giant Toughroads at the start of my trip down there because bringing my Rawland would have been logistically challenging, and I was pleasantly surprised with the Giant, because it handled everything like a champ while being cheaper than my Rawland frameset. It rides more like a road bike than a mountain bike, but so do all of the glorified cross bikes that are really popular right now.

  • nat

    thanks as always for the education.

  • Mark Troup

    Really smart build. Seems like you’ve really got things dialed in at this point.

  • Plusbike Nerd

    This bike comes extremely close to the ideal rigid gravel – bikepacking – mountain bike I would like to build. I want something that is affordable and light yet has a lot of versatility. I couldn’t justify having a bike that was only good for bikepacking because I don’t bikepack often enough. The bike would have to be an excellent gravel bike and also be capable of single track mountain bike duties as well. Unfortunately, no bike company makes this bike. So, here is my spec and some reasons why I would make the those choices.

    Frame. My ideal frame would be a light affordable aluminum frame with modern mountain bike geometry for excellent singletrack handling.
    Santa Cruz Chameleon $750

    Fork. Must be thru-axle, 110mm hub spacing, carbon fiber, tapered steerer, light-weight
    Carver Trail 490 720gm $300

    Wheels. Must have 27.5×2.8in tires on i32mm (i = inner width) affordable aluminum rims. Why 27i32 rims??? i32 rims can reasonably fit the widest range of tire widths form 2.3 to 3.0in wide. And 27i32 rims are much lighter than say 29i45 rims by as much as 200gms.
    27i32 Sun Ringle Duroc tubeless ready rims 495gm

    Tires. 27×2.8 is the lightest true plus tire. I want to be able to run mid teens psi tire pressures and get some tire suspension. Must be light, fast-rolling, tubeless ready, gravel tread. Very many tire choices in the 27×2.8 size.
    27×2.8 Schwalbe G-One Allround tubeless ready gravel tread 750gm or
    27×2.8 Maxxis Recon tubeless ready mountain tread 750gm

    Dirvetrain. Must have an affordable 500%+ range. Must have a very low gear as I ride in the Rocky Mountains with long, steep, sustained climbs at high altitude and I’m not as fit, thin, or young as I once was. But must also have a reasonable high gear.
    Eagle GX with 10-50 cassette and 28T chainring ~16 gear inches in low ~$500

    Brakes. Must be cable pull so that they can be easily repaired anywhere and, of course, be affordable.
    Avid BB7

    I sure wish a bike company would make this bike. I just want a bikepacking bike that isn’t a heavy steel tank that I would enjoy riding on gravel or singletrack when I’m not hauling the freight. I think Logan’s bike is great with its titanium frame and carbon wheels but I’m guessing it cost about $6000. I think I would be able to build my version for less than $3000. If a bike company made it, it might be closer to $2000 retail. Affordable, light-weight, versatile, yet still very capable. The perfect rigid do it all bike!

    What do you think????

  • fauxpho

    Hey Logan, nice build. I’ve never been able to see a Ti Timberjack in the flesh. Can you comment on the ovalization of the top tube and downtube just forward of the seat tube? Say about 3″ or so from the joint. I’m trying to speculate about the viability for S&S couplers on the frame.
    I ride an aluminum Timberjack and like the geometry a lot for general bikepacking mixed w/ some trail riding. My one “complaint” is the inability to pack for international air travel. I’ve been spoiled by couplers on my road touring bike for years.
    PS – I’m surprised more folks don’t embrace the alu Timberjack frameset. At $399 its a great chassis for an affordable bikepacking build.

  • mikeetheviking

    Love it man!

    Space metal!

  • backslash

    I came to a similar conclusion with my recent build which is more gravel and less bikepacking oriented. I built my rig aswell around a 29er MTB hardtail with a rigid fork because the geometry perfectly suits my needs. As an alternative to the Salsa Timberjack maybe the Kona Raijin is also worth a look.

  • Yeah, slick frame. I think they discontinued it though…

  • My new favorite term…

  • Unfortunately I don’t have the bike here to analyze or I’d send you some caliper measurements. But from memory, it’s not too ovalized… fairly minimal. That said, I don’t know a lot about the requirements for adding S&S couplers. You might hit up Salsa and ask…

    And yes, theoretically, the alum TJ should be sold out consistently… it’s a great bikepacking rig for the price.

  • It looks like you’ve put a lot of thought into it and all looks good in my book. Check out fauxpho’s comment about the alum TJ too… that would save you a few bills. Also, Terrene McFly’s are looking mighty tasty as another 2.8. And, I still like i35 rims best for 2.6/2.8. Check out WTB i35 or I9 BC360 too.

  • Thanks. Yeah it’s always fun trying new bikes, but there’s something extra special about piecing together one of your own…

  • Plusbike Nerd

    From the post before “fauxpro”. I didn’t know that Salsa offered the aluminum Timberjack to the public and at only $400. I would switch from the Santa Cruz Chameleon to the Timberjack if that is the case and save a few bucks.

  • Black Rainbow Project

    As great as the build quality is on the Avid levers, I actually took mine off my bikepacker and replaced them with a set of Extralite Ultra lever 2’s which I love as much as you guys love the Avids. It was definitely a risk with them being so ridiculously light, but they have proved to be absolutely faultless, and are now my favourite lever ever. :) My Avids have been getting slowly killed on one of my work bikes instead…probably blasphemy I know…but man do I love my Extralites! Great bike though Logan!

  • Greg H

    I have the SLX TJ and they packed a lot in for the $. I considered the Chameleon but just didn’t match up for the same coin. The only mod I’m considering is a carbon rigid fork. I’m not a squishy guy, plus out in the sticks one less thing to break.

  • Glad you joined the titanium club Logan! While I’m partial to my own titanium Why S7, this looks like a pretty sweet rig, especially the wheelset. Congrats!

  • Cass Gilbert

    So good! What a beaut.

  • Cass Gilbert

    Oh, the temptation of ti… I feel it too!

  • Caspar Lourens

    Nice ride ! Hopefully you have more luck with the 49t cassette extensions… Mine was bend after Some months of riding off-road. As it’s not a part of the cassette and lots of power is put throug this cog (and mine was made from aluminium) it was not strong enough for me leg-power 😉

  • Awesome machine. Pure envy :) It would be great if this article has more details on component choice, how they perform generally and under heavy use. For example, I would love to read more about TRP Spyke brakes. Often called a best mech brakes in various reviews but user comments on bike forums aren’t that inspiring.

  • Correct

    My Aluminum Timberjack isn’t quite as rocked out as yours, but it’s serving me well as a bike packing rig. Next trip is to Wayne National Forest in Ohio in April. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/6e474a4b2e5cd8d8af2e8b1aaffecfcc43665cb72298a55cfeca1f2b281a33e4.jpg

  • Mark

    Thanks for the review Logan, very interesting. It really is a modern El Mariachi in Ti. Longer TT, slacker HA and dropper post ready. Bit of a shame they didn’t make one in steel, but having said that I do have one on order to replace my El Mar! Not sure how I’m going to pay for it, but can’t wait.

  • Yeah, expect a few of the components mentioned to get a long-term look down the road…

  • Oh no. What model 49T extender did you have?

  • Yeah, that El Mar Ti frame is a classic!

  • Biker Jake

    What does this setup weight? I set up my ti El Mar similar – Whisky carbon fork, light wheel set. It’s around 22lbs with commuter tires.

  • Unfortunately, I didn’t get the weight on it. And as mentioned, the bike is sitting in a garage in Tbilisi. I would guess it’s around 24-25lbs though.

  • Mark

    That is a very specific build, and I don’t think any manufacturer will step up and offer something like that. You best bet is to buy the aluminum Timberjack frame and build it up yourself. I think your drivetrain, fork, and brake choices are solid, although you may want to look into the TRP Spyke breaks, as they are a step up from the Avids. I would question your choice of wheels and tires though. You seem to have spec’d them based mostly on weight, which I don’t think is the best choice. I would suggest i35 or even i40 rims, which will allow lower pressures for more comfort and traction. The minimal added weight will not be noticed. Duroc is a solid choice, as are Race Face ARC & WTB Asym & Scraper. It’s also worth looking into 29×2.6, as the added rollover and efficiency may well outperform the smaller wheels, even considering the extra weight. Also, be careful running the lightest tires, as they will be under added stress while bikepacking with a load, and failures would be a huge pain out there.

  • Nice review Logan! Have you had a chance to set the Timberjack up with 3″ tires and checked clearances? Just wondering because Salsa states that the it can accommodate tires up to 29×2,6″. Cheers!

  • Yeah, that is what they state. Apparently folks are cramming 29×3 on the aluminum versions, but they are tight. I am assuming the Ti will fit more. Check out the three clearance photos above. That’s a Nobby Nic 2.6 with the Alternator pretty far forward. I am guessing that it would fit a 2.8 fine, such as a Terrene McFly. And a 3.0 would be pretty tight with the Alternators all the way back… just speculation as I don’t have access to the bike to try…

  • Caspar Lourens

    Can’t remember exactly which one as I seem to have thrown it away once I was done with it… But ut was green and it was to extend a 10x cassette. I “won” it on Facebook then and had to write a test-review which was never placed on-line (guess due to the not so nice words ;-) ). But maybe they’ve gone better… Curious what the state will be after a couple of 1000 miles !

  • mat long

    There is a pair on Ebay right now, I’m always looking for them…

  • Christian

    I’m curious. Having never tried a Ti or carbon bike for longer bikepacking trips, I would like to know how much you feel the lighter frame when you’re loaded up with camping gear, water and food for week. Is it really a completely different, lighter experience (when loaded with gear) compared to a steel frame?

  • fauxpho

    My aluminum TJ can fit “small” 29×3 tires no problem (such as Bomboloni’s on 30mm internal rims, which I rode a fair amount on singletrack w/o any issues) but full-measuring tires like a Chupacabra on 45mm or 50mm rims (like stock wheels on a Stache) can barely be placed in the frame and are not viable for riding imho.
    For running 29 plus-ish on the TJ, I think the sweet spot is the now-shipping Maxxis Rekon 29×2.6 if you want to skew to trail riding, or the soon-to-be-shipping Vittoria Mezcal 29×2.6 if you lean toward soft roads. I also dropped my fork from 130mm to 120mm when I switched to 29+, so keep the BB from rising too much. I keep a pair of 27.5×3 wheels, but tend to only use them on routes that need the flotation.

  • Plusbike Nerd

    I’ve been using light 900gm 29×3.0 tires mounted to i35 rims on my 29+ hardtail Mountainbike for 2 years now. When I first had these wheels built up I was very concerned that this configuration wouldn’t work well. That the rims were too narrow and the tires were too thin. Since then I’ve learned a few things. First, that Plus tires don’t need really wide rims. Second, that light tires are more durable than might be expected. I’ve now worn out 4 tires and I haven’t had a casing failure or a split sidewall yet. This wheel setup works very well even though there are a lot of sharp rocks and roots where I ride.
    In addition, I now see large bike companies, like Scott and Specialized, equipping their Plusbikes with 27×2.8 tires mounted to i30 rims. I’ve taken some of these Plusbikes for a test ride and that wheel setup works well.
    I’ve also taken some 29×2.6i35 equipped Mountainbikes for a test ride. If your riding 29×2.3i23 or something similar, 29×2.6i35 is going to feel great. But I thought 27×2.8i30 had better Plusbike feel and are also lighter. 2.6 tires just don’t feel “Plus” to me.
    The big drawback of Plus rims and tires is that they can be heavy. A light 2.8 tire, in either 27 or 29, mounted to an i30 rim can go a long way to solving the weight problem yet still retain almost all of the wonderful Plus qualities of a 3.0 tire mounted to an i45 rim. My ideal hardtail or full-suspension Mountainbike would have 29×2.8i30 because I want the big rollover. My ideal rigid bikepacking Gravelbike would have 27×2.8i30 because I want the lighter weight.

  • Plusbike Nerd

    Beware of the 29×2.8 Terrene McFly! That tire runs very narrow and is more like 29×2.6. See the review at Fat-bike.com where they show that the McFly measures less than 2.7in on an i45 rim.

  • Randal GoingHAM

    Right on man! This is revelatory, I appreciate your thoughts and feel your pain. Your bike looks badass, do you run the rack on it?

  • Gus

    Isn’t this just a rebranded El Mariachi Ti. Don’t get me wrong. That was a great frame.

  • John Q.

    No Rohloff???? What pedals?
    John Q.

  • One Up composite pedals…

  • Different geometry. But yes, the Timberjack is likely the ‘new El Mar’…

  • John Q.

    Thanks, I’ve been pedal shopping and value your opinion. The Rohloff too much added weight?

  • Andrew Wade

    Maxxis is releasing the Forekaster 29×2.6″ soon. Not on their website yet, but it’s shown on some 2018 completes like the Intense Sniper Trail. Another tire to keep an eye out for. I’m still curious how a pair will alter the geo of my Dragonslayer.

    As Gen-X’er your statement about super lightweight bikes hits close to home. I would have considered a TiJack if they made more than the limitied ammount. Solid build btw!

  • Andrew Wade

    Mentioned above… Maxxis Forekaster is coming soon.
    https://www.instagram.com/p/BZSIegAhDXf/

  • Nice rig Logan… Lovely frame and nice-though components… I Am curious about the TRP brakes, Ive been looking into them, but have no yet committed to buy a pair. How do you like them? They look like a great option for remote expeditions… Compared to BB7″s?…

  • Thanks! I like the TRPs quite a bit. They seem to perform really well, better than BB7s. That said, I didn’t get a ton of time with them. I have heard good long term reports from Joe Cruz though… he was using them on our trip in Kyrgyzstan with no issues to speak of…

  • Not too much weight, I’ve just gotten to where I appreciate the balance of a traditional drivetrain…

  • Charly Aurelia

    I really appreciate your thoughts Nathan.

    I am currently deciding between a size small alum Timberjack or a size medium. I have a 30″ inseam (in shoes, and measured to bone). Salsa’s own bags indicate the frame bag that fits the size medium is 7 liters capacity as compared to the 4.2 liter capacity of the frame bag they sell that fits the small.

    That extra 2.8 liters of space and the third (downtube) mount on the medium would be valuable.
    The LBS/bike shop fitter said if i was just doing “mountainbiking” they’d steer me to the small, but as i will be doing bikepacking (perhaps 50/50 or 60/40- trail riding/bikepacking), they said i should consider the medium.
    The bikepacking i prefer will have single track.
    By the standover “lift test”…I can lift the medium ~1′, and the small i can lift ~2”. This was wearing flat minimalist shoes today (New Balance Minimus), not the flat pedal shoes Id be wearing riding.
    Reach seemed fine on either size, and I imagine I could get a 45 mm stem to approximate the reach of the small size frame if need be.
    I intend to be running a dropper post as well.
    Currently considering the GX1 version of the TJ.
    Thoughts?

  • Rui Piçarra

    Hello Logan, carbon forks are strong enought for a bikepack adventure?

  • Adrian Uttley

    Love the build Logan. I’m seriously looking at pulling the trigger on the frame but can’t get my head around the sizing. I’m 5’10.5″ and have a 34″ inseam. Salsa says Medium but I’d be interested in anyones thoughts on this. It will have rigid fork and be used for bike packing duties only.

  • That’s tough as you are definitely in between sizing. Any chance of demoing the alloy version?

  • I think so. Gin has taken her Firestarter fork through Africa and onward.

  • Dan Kroger

    Logan I’m new to the bike packing scene and trying to set up my first bike. Why do you prefer to have no suspension in the front?

  • Chirag Raman

    Haha “Space Metal” is such an enticing way to describe it!

    I was curious if anyone here has any input on how the aluminium version of the Timberjack compares against the Karate Monkey? I’m torn between the two, and while general online wisdom seems to recommend the steel KM over the aluminium, I’m not sure if it’s going to affect the ride too much with 3″ tires. So if anyone has any experience riding both, I’d love to hear any input! Thanks!

  • Sorry for the delay. This post might answer your question: http://www.bikepacking.com/gear/niner-carbon-mtb-fork-review/

  • James Cederquist

    Hey Logan what size do you recommend for a rider 6’2″ 35 inch inseam. Thanks Jim. I’m looking into the ti Timberjack…

  • I’m 6′ even with a 33.5″ inseam and the large fits me well. You might consider an XL.

  • James Cederquist

    Thanks! I’ve noticed you had your seat post at different position in the pictures. I’ll probably go with the the XL if you were riding comfortable when you had the seat bag on “seatpost height”…

  • Oscar Jenkinson

    awesome review and great to hear some insight on kit from an experienced bikepacker, many thanks Logan.

    I’m currently building up a dirt road tourer and between 29×3 on a low profile tread (eg chronicles or rangers) or 29×2.6 with a nobby nic or equivalent. Planning a big route in south america combining the TEMBR with some peruvian and chilean dirt roads, wondering which would be better- do I need all the cushioning of a 3″? Are low profile high volume tyres generally faster than nobby lower volume tyres? No worries if you can’t reply, if anyone has any opinions they would be appreciated. Cheers!

  • Thanks Oscar. As mentioned, I have been impressed with 2.6″ as I feel they strike a great balance between lighter weight and cushion. Two other tires to check out and consider are Maxxis Rekon 29 x 2.6 and Terrene McFly 2.8″. Neither were out when I built this, but both are quite impressive for rolling resistance and size. The Rekons are a bit bigger than the Nobby Nics, as are the McFlys.