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Salsa Overview

In 1972 Ross Shafer started building road frames using the Proteus frame building kit and sold them under the Red Bush brand name. 1) After working for Santana Cycles making frames for a year, he welding his first personal mountain 650b under the Red Bush name in 1981. His friends then clamored for more. And yes, the name comes from Ross' love for spicy salsa. See logo: logo

Pre-Salsa Red Bush Brand

Ross Shafer
Ross Shafer

1982 Salsa

In 1982 [Ross] built what he said were “the only 5 mountainbikes I will ever build.” Producing one for himself to “see what all the noise is about”, he was hooked. Salsa Cycles was born.

Within a week, there were 16 frame orders for Salsa. At one point, the waiting list was up to 80 frames. 2)

1982 Salsa #1
1982 Salsa #1 bikerumor

1984 Salsa

Fillet brazed, mixed Reynolds 531 & Tange tubing. Serial #SM053.

1984 Salsa #53
1984 Salsa #53 velocult


As camouflage paint schemes became “popular” in 1983 (why?), Ross countered with his own interpretation of hiding a quality bicycle in paint, which became a popular and unique option for Salsa.

Another Salsa style was the rear fish mouth end to the top tube (how did that work, structurally?)

Pooftaflage mtbr

Salsa #5 Fish Mouth
Salsa #5 Fish Mouth theproscloset

1985 Ala Cart

In 1985 Salsa tried its hand at “mass” production of the TIG welded Ala Cart bike.

75-100 Ala Cart frames were built in 1985 and were pretty much all sold before the tubing arrived. Since stem production was really taking off by this time, this was the only batch of production frames. Custom frames continued to be available at the rate of about 20-25 per year. mombat

Why Ross stopped selling Ala Cart bikes:

I won't ever get rich building frames; no frame builder ever does. It's one of those occupations done out of love, not for the money. So I decided if I'm not goinf to get rich, I might as well enjoy building frames. That's why I build custom frames only. June 1987 Mountain Bike Magazine

Salsa, owned by Quality Bicycle Products, continues to make an Ala Carte today: salsacycles

1986 Scoboni

Shimano RD-AL11 (1984-86) rear, XT (1982-86) front. Frame #175.

1988 Custom

Custom, dishless rear wheel, 40 pounds w/Bruce Gordon racks, frame #289. Built for touring, with XT M732 (1989?)

1989 Ala Carte Ti

Ala Carte Ti prototype, frame made by Merlin.

Ala Carte Ti
Ala Carte Ti theproscloset

1990 Ala Carte Ti

XT front and rear, re-built in 1994. Bontrager composite fork, Cook Bros cranks. Frame #470.

Ala Carte Ti
Ala Carte Ti mombat

Production Notes

[1]. Salsa Custom frames are available at the rate of about 20-25 per year. Serial numbers verify this:

[2]. Ala Cart production added about 100 extra frames in 1985. See: mombat.

salsa/start.txt · Last modified: 2022/07/12 11:49 by trip