Amazing what a proper tire, headset and brake can do for a bike.
I know what your thinking. Something new always seems better, but the combination makes, for me, a huge difference.
So the tire. Original spec on the bike when I bought it. I wore the first ones out and decided to try a few others like the Panaracer Rampage, Geax Suguaro and the Conti Mountain King. They really do not compare. The WTB has a wider profile, more flexible casing and a fast rolling tread that grips and brakes very well for where I ride most of the time. I think it is a good match for a rigid bike.
The headset. I always thought that, by default, the Chris King headset was the one to have. They just plain last. Recently, I have had issue with the one on the Salsa. Seems the axle to crown length on 29er fork in addition to it being rigid, stresses out the top bearing race. Cane Creek has a special wedge that sets the race perfectly to the bearing. Chris King chooses not to. The wedge is key! No more creaks and no more “loose” feel from the wimpy bearing race/seal on the Chris King. I choose a Downhill headset that weighs a ton that presses into the headtube about a 1/4″ further, but it eliminated all the issues.
And then the 185mm rotor. Simply more braking control with less finger effort. Braking while cornering is improved – tracks better with less fork flex!
yaaaay for new bike!