The New 2016 Salsa Marrakesh Touring Bike

Salsa has released a bunch of new bikes for 2016, including two touring bikes. One of them is the Deadwood adventure touring bike, the other is a more traditional touring bike called the 2016 Salsa Marrakesh.

The 2016 Salsa Marrakesh Dropbar

2016 Salsa Marrakesh
The 2016 Salsa Marrakesh with road handlebars.

The key difference between this bike and other touring bikes: it’s available in two frame options – one optimised for flat handlebars are the other for road/drop handlebars. To my knowledge no other manufacturer does this! The flat handlebar frame offers an increased reach of ~60mm for each given size. That means you won’t need to go up a size (or two) if you wanted to use flat bars on a bike designed for drop bars. Smart.

2016 Salsa Marrakesh
The 2016 Salsa Marrakesh with flat handlebars.

The Vaya was Salsa’s best road tourer up until now, but that bike was always compromised for long-distance touring. It was set up more like a road bike with STI shifters, narrowish tyres and a road double crankset. The Marrakesh now offers barend (or thumbie) shifters, squeezes in 29×2.0 tyres and has a wide-range Shimano Deore crankset. That’s much more bicycle touring!

The frame/fork is made with 4130 cromo steel tubing, and offers all the eyelets you could ask for including 3-boss luggage mounts on the fork. The overall spec is great value for money too, with a Brooks B17 saddle, Salsa rack, Avid BB7 brakes and 36h wheels as standard.

2016 Salsa Marrakesh
The 2016 Salsa Marrakesh with road handlebars.
2016 Salsa Marrakesh
The 2016 Salsa Marrakesh with flat handlebars.

The Alternator dropouts are both a godsend and can cause issues if you want to something other than Salsa’s own aluminium rack. The Alternator dropouts allow you to use different axle sizes, or perhaps even a Rohloff internally geared hub. They also bring the eyelets up a good few centimetres higher than ideal, making rack compatibility and fender fitting a bit more complicated.

If you’re a regular to the site you’ll know how much I like to discuss frame geometry; you’ll be glad to hear the geometry of the Marrakesh is 100% on-point! You’ll be able to get the Marrakesh in either handlebar spec for US $1599 after October. More info on the bike is available at Salsa Cycles.

Want To Compare These Touring Bikes With Dozens of Others?

Check out The Touring Bicycle Buyer’s Guide which compares touring bike steering, sizing, gear ratios, specification, pricing and more. The Bikepacking Bike Buyer’s Guide does the same thing, however, with a focus on lighter bikes and models with more off-road capability. Both of these guides are updated annually with the latest models at no extra cost!

Helpful Resources

All About Touring Bike Brakes
Frame Materials for Bicycle Touring
How to Select Touring Bike Gearing
Understand Bicycle Frame Geometry
What’s the Difference between Cyclocross and Touring Bikes?

Touring & Bikepacking Bike Overview

2016 Advocate Lorax
2018 All City Gorilla Monsoon
2016 Basso Ulisse
2016 Bianchi Volpe and Lupo 2016
2016 Bombtrack Beyond
2017 Bombtrack Beyond
2018 Bombtrack Beyond
2018 Bombtrack Arise Tour
2019 Bombtrack Beyond
2016 Brodie Elan Vital
2016 Cannondale Touring
2019 Cannondale Topstone
2020 Cannondale Topstone
2016 Cinelli Hobootleg Geo
2018 Co-Op ADV 4.2
2017 Curve Grovel V2
2017 Diamondback Haanjo EXP Carbon
2016 Fuji Touring
2017 Fuji Touring
2018 Fuji Touring
2018 Fuji Touring Disc
2016 Genesis Tour de Fer
2016 Giant ToughRoad
2017 Giant ToughRoad
2018 Giant ToughRoad and ToughRoad GX
2016 Jamis Aurora and Aurora Elite
2019 Jones Plus SWB
2020 KOGA WorldTraveller-S
2016 Kona Big Rove
2016 Kona Roadhouse and Sutra LTD
2016 Kona Sutra
2017 Kona Sutra
2018 Kona Sutra
2018 Kona Sutra LTD
2019 Kona Sutra and Sutra LTD
2020 Kona Sutra and Sutra LTD
2020 Kona Unit X
2016 Marin Four Corners
2017 Marin Four Corners
2018 Marin Four Corners
2016 Masi Giramondo
2018 Masi Giramondo
2016 Niner RLT9
2016 Rawland Ulv and Ravn
2016 Salsa Deadwood
2017 Salsa Fargo
2018 Salsa Fargo Ti Frameset
2018 Salsa Journeyman
2016 Salsa Marrakesh
2017 Salsa Marrakesh
2018 Salsa Marrakesh
2020 Salsa Marrakesh
2017 Salsa Vaya
2019 Salsa Warbird
2016 Specialized AWOL
2017 Specialized AWOL
2017 Specialized Diverge
2018 Specialized Diverge
2019 Specialized Diverge
2017 Specialized Sequoia
2018 Specialized Sequoia
2019 Specialized Sequoia
2018 Surly Bridge Club
2017 Surly Troll
2016 Traitor Wander
2019 Trek 520
2016 Trek 920, 720, 520 & CrossRip
2017 Trek CrossRip
2018 Trek 920
2018 Trek 1120

  1. Thorn Mercury has same frame options, but is Rohloff specific and more road oriented.

  2. 2 inch 29er tyres didn’t exist not too long ago. People have been cycle touring for goodness-knows how long. Therefore, I have a hard time agreeing that a 2 inch tyre is “much more touring”. Most people, most of the time, will be better off on 28-35 mm tyres. You can go a lot of places on 35 mm in particular. For the average trans-continental trip, using 2 inch tyres will add up a couple of weeks to the travel time, and time is money. That said, the biggest advantage of this tourer is the flat bar version, which would allow you to use mountain gearing without needing to fiddle with bar-end shifters.

  3. It’s not about using 29×2.0 tyres all the time, but rather about options and versatility. Of course a Trans-Continental trip is best suited to narrower tyres, but if you want to do some rough off-road touring, you have this! No mountain bikes required…

  4. Been looking for an “entry-level” road touring bike and this new Salsa looks to check just about every box on the list of nice-to-have features! Have been leaning toward a Surly LHT (disc version) for some time and was also interested in the Novara Randonee. This Salsa looks to have addressed nearly all of the disadvantages to the LHT including brakes, saddle, even the kickstand issue! It does not have the long history of the Surly, but coming from a related company I am guessing Salsa has learned a lot from what Surly has done in the touring category.

  5. The only disadvantage in my eyes is the location of the eyelets at the rear dropouts. They are up really high, meaning you’ll need to use Salsa’s own aluminium rack. You’ll possibly have a hard time fitting fenders too.

  6. What do you mean when you say the vaya is ‘compromised for long-distance touring’? I’m considering a 2015 Vaya 2 because it has a good stack/reach for me, and I’m looking for a bike that can handle both weekend trips and multi-month journeys (all on paved roads). What downsides could the Vaya present on a cross-continent tour?

  7. Hi Scott. Realistically, you can tour both the Vaya and the Marrakesh on paved road tours very well. After all, the Vaya was Salsa’s original long distance touring bike! It’s the Vaya’s gearing that will potentially hold you back – the lowest gear is 26 gear inches compared to 21 gear inches on the Marrakesh. That is a gear or two that you may need if you’re carrying a decent amount of gear on a cross-continent tour, heck I use low gears like that sometimes when I’m carrying nothing. That said, there are ways to reduce the gearing on the Vaya using aftermarket parts: https://www.cyclingabout.com/wider-gear-range-road-shifters-gears-for-easier-hill-climbing/ I hope this helps! Alee

  8. I started with your guide, went to my LBS’s, and rode the ones I could find. The Kona, Trek, and Surly were all fine. Then I got on the Marrakesh, and I realized how good a bike could feel. I had to swap stems because I was between sizes, and I added Knard tires to help with my riding on dirt. I also went with wider bars than stock because I’m pretty broad shouldered. What an awesome bike. It’s stable but responsive and does tremendously well on rough surfaces, even single track. I haven’t ridden her fully loaded yet, but so far I’m riding the dream.

  9. “that means you won’t need to go up a size (or two) if you wanted to use flat bars on a bike designed for drop bars” So I can’t stand the color of the drop bar bike but dig the color of the flat bar option; I want a drop bar setup. So If I get the size Medium (I would normally get the Large) and put a short stem on it then what am I compromising?

  10. I’d suggest that you’d be compromising too much by trying to ride a smaller-sized Marrakesh Flatbar. This is because the “reach” of the flatbar in the smallest size is STILL 25mm longer than the largest Marrakesh Dropbar. Your best option is to get the Dropbar frame powdercoated in a colour of your choice!

    If you did use the flatbar frame, you’d experience a very short headtube length, meaning the handlebars may not get high enough in relation to your saddle height. More importantly though, you’d probably find the seat tube angle too steep for your femur length.

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