Salsa Marrakesh 2017

The New 2017 Salsa Marrakesh Touring Bike

Unveiled last year, the 2017 Salsa Marrakesh is undoubtedly one of the best off-the-shelf touring bikes in the world. I had to include it in my list of the 8 of the Best Touring Bikes!

This is for a number of reasons:

The geometry. The Salsa Marrakesh is the first touring bike that uses two different frame geometries based on whether you’d like to use a flat handlebar or a road handlebar.
The gear range. This long distance touring bike uses a touring crankset (48-36-26t) with a mountain bike cassette (11-34t). This yields gears for all occasions, even with four panniers (21-121 gear inches).
Rohloff compatibility. People who are after the maintenance-free nature of a Rohloff internally geared hub, will be happy to know that the frame is ready!
The price. This US $1599 bike is 5-10% more than comparable touring bikes (Trek 520 Disc, Surly Disc Trucker, Kona Sutra) but is still a bargain when you consider its features.
Tyre clearance. This touring rig is ready for 29×2.00″ offroad tyres if you wish. Or if you like fenders, you’ll still be able to squeeze in 700x40C.
The steel frame tubing. The Marrakesh uses triple-butted steel tubing that is normally reserved for much more expensive bikes.

The 2017 Salsa Marrakesh Bikes

For 2017, there’s been a shake-up with the colours, the rims are all now tubeless-ready and the bikes come with Panaracer Pasela gumwall tyres. Let’s take a closer look at the bikes and colours.

2017 Salsa Marrakesh
The 2017 Salsa Marrakesh Dropbar in orange.

As I briefly mentioned above, the 2017 Salsa Marrakesh is available in two different frame geometries. Normally you would have to go up a size or two to achieve a long enough body position on a bike with flat handlebars. With the Salsa Marrakesh however, the dropbar frameset is both short and tall, which offsets the longer overall reach of a road handlebar.

There is a centre kickstand plate on all Marrakesh models that will fit dual-leg stands like the Pletcher Twin, or single-leg stands like the Pletcher Optima Flex.

2017 Salsa Marrakesh
The kickstand plate on the Salsa Marrakesh touring bikes.

The handlebars are Salsa’s own Cowchipper model. The bars are designed for touring, offering quite a shallow profile and 24 degrees of flare in the drops. The handlebar flare helps gain additional leverage over a front end load, allowing you to stabilise the bike a bit better at speed.

2017 Salsa Marrakesh
The Salsa Cowchipper handlebars flare out in the drops.

The 2017 Salsa Marrakesh Dropbar has two colour options. Either the ‘look at my shweeeeeet touring bike -orange’ or ‘fly under the radar -black’.

2017 Salsa Marrakesh
The Salsa Marrakesh 2017 Dropbar in black.

All Marrakesh models come standard with the Brooks B17 saddle. This has got to be the most popular touring saddle of all time, so it’s great to see it available on a stock touring bike.

2017 Salsa Marrakesh
A Brooks B17 saddle on the Salsa Marrakesh saves your upgrade $$$.

The flatbar version of the Salsa Marrakesh is longer in the top tube to offset the shorter handlebar reach. When sized correctly, this results in a similar angle at your back, neck and shoulders between the different Marrakesh handlebar models.

2017 Salsa Marrakesh
The 2017 Salsa Marrakesh Flatbar in blue.

The cockpit of the flatbar Salsa Marrakesh is pretty sparse and ready for accessories. Thumb shifters are a great option for an off-road touring bike, as they are so incredibly simple, and short of a nuclear blast – completely fail-proof. Other than the cockpit setup and longer frame geometry, the Marrakesh flatbar shares all the same parts as the dropbar model.

2017 Salsa Marrakesh
The handlebar setup for the flatbar version of the Salsa Marrakesh.

My only critisism of the 2017 Salsa Marrakesh is the proprietary rear rack. Salsa had to do it in order to use the Alternator sliding dropouts, but the aluminium rack available has a capacity of 27kg (59lbs) compared to a steel Tubus rack at 40kg (88lbs). I’m sure this is a conservative estimate, but it’d be great if Salsa could make a Tubus-comparable model in steel.

The 2017 Salsa Marrakesh Flatbar is available in the aqua blue above, or a rather retro minty green.

2017 Salsa Marrakesh
The Salsa Marrakesh 2017 Flatbar in Green. Image: BikeRumor.com

The stock grips on the flatbar are Salsa’s own ‘Adventure By Bike’ lock-on model. I’d highly recommend trying out ESI Silicone grips if you can! Silicone grips dampen vibrations like nothing else. They also don’t get sticky or hard over time.

2017 Salsa Marrakesh
Thumb shifters for all of the Salsa Marrakesh bikes.

Want To Compare This Touring Bike 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

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  1. I guess I will start the curmudgeon comments. It can’t be a real tourer, it doesn’t have a proper curved fork, like the Trek or the Surly. I have the ’88 Trek 520, and believe me, those forks are curved for a good reason.

  2. I have a straight-blade fork on my Co-Motion and Gellie Custom, and a curved fork on my Surly. I agree that it’s nice having a curved fork if you tour with narrow tyres. But when using 35-50c touring tyres, I don’t think I could tell the difference in a blind test. This is because the tyre will deform much more than the fork will flex vertically.

  3. I agree the ride is at least as good….but I always think of the curve as something that keeps you from going over the handlebar. It helps to keep the momentum linear, instead of going centrifugal, when you get in trouble.

  4. If this bike was going to be outfitted with a Jones H Loop Bar would you feel that the drop bar or flat bar model would make the better starting point? I am guessing the flat bar model.

  5. “The gear range. This long distance touring bike uses a touring crankset (48-36-26t) with a mountain bike cassette (11-34t). This yields gears for all occasions, even with four panniers (21-121 gear inches)”

    Still a tad high. Unless you are young and strong, a 48T big ring for touring is unnecessary but you do need a mid range 34T and definitely a 22T granny if carrying 4 heavy panniers etc.

  6. Im torn between the two frames. I’m wondering if I should get the 59.5cm drop bar frame and build it up that way I’d like (i.e. Rohloff, different racks, rims, ect.) or go with the XL flat bar frame. I’m right between 6’3″ and 6’4″ (or 192cm). I can purchase the frame only, where I work. Any ideas or opinions?

  7. P.S. Hey Alee, Thanks for responding. I’ve been reading your stuff for a long time now and really appreciate your in-depth and honest reviews. It sounds like you’ve done some extensive touring. I’ve only done a solo self supported cross country (Seattle->Long Island, N.Y.) but am looking to do a Seattle to Patagonia in the near future. I like the versatility of this bike, i.e. bigger tires, heavy load capacity. I was looking at the Co-motion Divide, but the cost seems more appropriate in the Marrekesh. Any further thoughts?

  8. Definitely get the 59.5cm drop bar frame then! It’s 56mm shorter in the frame ‘reach’ which is necessary to accomodate for the reach difference between flat/drop bars.

    The Divide is about as good as it gets in terms of steel tubing and workmanship for touring bikes. It will fit proper off-road knobby tyres too. But being 2x the cost is a hard to justify rationally. If you appreciate knowing where your frame came from and like the idea of custom colour choices, the Divide is a killer bike.

  9. FWIW… I bought the drop bar model of the Salsa Marrakesh in seafoam green (similar to Bianchi celeste) when it first came out and am *still* in love with this bike. For reference, I’m a 5’5″ woman and my bike is a 52cm frame. I’ve ridden this bike as a daily commuter, for fun, on a bike MS 150, and just about everything in between…I’ve even ridden it off road on some dirt paths. My only complaint is that when I bought my bike, it came with a Brooks B17 narrow saddle. My husband was very happy with that though, he got a new saddle and I replaced it with a Brooks B17S. I looked at the Surly Long Haul Disc Trucker and Kona Sutra before purchasing, but the Marrakesh was, at least for me, the best value for the money. I wish they were still offering Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires… mine haven’t flatted yet (fingers crossed). Do yourself a favor and at least test ride this bike!

  10. Think about a curved fork as a gothic arch. It distributes weight over a greater distance. A straight fork is a Roman arch. The force vector on a curved fork tends to distribute the weight behind the axle with a more linear force (hence the stay down and good tracking). But you won’t easily crank a curved fork up a hairpin climb – the straight fork maximizes force at the axle, hence the quicker handling.

  11. Never had a long downhill or a slight tailwind or slipstreamed a buddy? It’s ALWAYS worth having a higher gear than you can push on the flat.. nothing worse than spinning out especially when you’re trying to get somewhere before dark..

  12. I’m not an engineer (but am architecturally & structurally trained and have done a lot of mechanical tinkering so I have a good understanding) so I know that you sound like you know what you’re talking about but, and I could be wrong, I don’t think you really do.. What ‘exactly’ do you mean by ‘distributes weight over a greater distance’ and how does that have any effect on ride? How, in any way, does a straight fork resemble/act as a metaphor for a Roman arch? It’s more like a post in a post-and-beam structure.. You do know that a straight fork is cranked at the crown to place the axle in front of the force vector in exactly the same way as with forks such as Surly’s huh?

  13. A Roman arch is the same thing as a post and beam. So never mind. Let’s just say the designers of classic road bikes had a proven design…and you don’t really realize it till that day your bike doesn’t endo.

  14. Ha ha.. whatever kind – no arch bears any similarity to post and beam (where there are bending forces) and none of them relate in any way to a bicycle fork.

  15. Alee, thanks to this article I finally found my favorite touring bike that can “do it all”. I already have placed 2500 miles on it since June 2017. Please keep doing a great work on this web page

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