Salsa Warbird C review: A gravel race bike for the people

The original gravel race bike is offering an experience few brands still do, is it right for you?

Salsa Warbird
(Image credit: Josh Ross)
Cycling Weekly Verdict

The Salsa Warbird was the original gravel race bike and four generations later, that concept hasn’t changed much. While more modern designs are increasingly diverging towards either massive tyre clearance for rougher surfaces or aerodynamic designs that are closer to road bikes with extra clearance, the Salsa Warbird remains committed to simplicity. If you want a fast and fun ride on American style gravel, or road, with the capability to go seriously long distances, this is the right bike.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Mounting point everywhere

  • +

    Class 5 VRS makes a noticeable difference

  • +

    Round seat tube with dropper compatibility

  • +

    Fender mounting (with optional kit)

  • +

    Fun, racy, handling

  • +

    Low standover height

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Black only frameset option

  • -

    Full builds are more expensive than competition

You can trust Cycling Weekly. Our team of experts put in hard miles testing cycling tech and will always share honest, unbiased advice to help you choose. Find out more about how we test.

The Salsa Warbird is a bike with a story. Of course, all bikes have a story but most aren't exactly riveting. Often, it would be a perfect anecdote for an accounting or business class. The Salsa Warbird reads more like a story from a fast-riding friend who happens to build bikes. In this case, the name of that fast friend is Mike Riemer, one time Salsa marketing manager, and he's talking about himself as well as many from the Salsa team. 

The story Riemer tells is that back in 2008, many of those involved in Salsa were racing bikes in early gravel races. Like everyone, the team was using cyclocross bikes and wondered if there was a better solution. The first-generation Salsa Warbird was a way to answer that question with a longer, lower, and more compliant bike. 

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