2020 Salsa Bikes Review: First Impression On Notable Tweaks

Deadwood

Somewhat surprising is this 29plus touring bike that Salsa says will be produced in somewhat limited numbers. More evolutionary than revolutionary, it’s kind of like what you’d expect to get if a Fargo and a Mukluk enjoyed a little too much bourbon around the campfire before snuggling into a sleeping bag together.

Heavy-duty

It’s built with Salsa’s more heavy-duty Cobra Kai steel tubing also found on the Powderkeg tandem and Marrakesh touring bike. Here you’ll find all the features and mounts from a Fargo but with the Boost 148 spacing on the Alternator, rear end to accommodate the 29×3 Surly Knard tires on WTB Scraper rims. The fork is identical to the standard Fargo model though.

The deep copper paint is lovely in person, and subtle touches like the special logo treatment and subdued graphics are really eye-catching.

I had a chance to take it for a quick spin and I think it could really be the perfect vehicle for riders who want to tackle touring/bikepacking routes at a more casual pace and are willing to trade some speed for comfort. The huge tires soak up the bumps without creating excess rolling resistance. My guess is it’s the kind of bike that will leave customers either salivating or scratching their heads.

The Deadwood will retail for $2,599 or $1,099 for a frame/fork.

Cutthroat

Salsa says the Tour Divide race was the inspiration for the Fargo model, but in the ensuing years the bar for speed has been raised (or lowered?) and top gravel racers are looking for something even lighter and more aggressive. The full carbon fiber Cutthroat is the result. It also features hidden rack mounts.

An even more streamlined vision of what the perfect Tour Divide race bike could be, the Cutthroat does away with the Alternator dropouts but still retains rack mounts near the dropouts. The triple cage mounts on the fork are still there too, as it shares the Firestarter carbon fork with the high-end Fargo model.

In the back is the new “Class 5 Vibration Reduction System” that made its debut on the Warbird gravel bike. In an effort to absorb impacts and vibrations the seatstays bow outward considerably to flex. When you’re racing 2,800 miles in two weeks on unpaved roads and trails, any bit helps.

The Cutthroat with an SRAM Rival 1×11 build is $3,999 and the SRAM Apex/X7 2×10 build is $2,999. The frame/fork can also be had for $1,999.

Marrakesh

While the Vaya has been carrying the “light touring” torch in the Salsa lineup for a few years, the brand admits it can be a bit overwhelmed when carting heavy loads. The Marrakesh was built from Salsa’s Cobra Kai steel tubing to carry you and ALL your gear to its namesake exotic lands.

The Marrakesh will retail for $1,599 or $650 for the frame/fork.

Ponyrustler

Spotted as a prototype at Sea Otter, the new 27plus full suspension bike from Salsa made its official debut today with two carbon-fiber models and an aluminum model built around the excellent Split Pivot suspension.

If you’re ridden the Horsethief 29er and enjoyed it, you’re likely to feel right at home on the Ponyrustler, as they share geometry figures. In fact, the 2016 Horsetheif is the exact same frame and each model can swap wheels thanks to the Boost hub spacing front and rear. Salsa will continue to offer them two distinct models though, and the ride experience is quite different.

A quick demo ride largely confirmed that the ride experience somewhat splits the difference between a normal 29er and a full-suspension fat bike. Compared to the Bucksaw full-suspension fat bike the Ponyrustler feels much faster and more like a “normal” bike while still offering the extra traction and compliance of the larger tires.

The frame offers 120 mm of travel the complete bikes ship with 130 mm forks, all with 110 mm Boost spacing. The Carbon XO1 model ships with the Pike and SRAM XO1, of course, for $5,499. The Carbon GX1 model has the Fox fork and a 1×11 GX build for $4,499. Finally, the aluminum Ponyrustler has a Fox fork and 2×10 GX build for $3,499. All three models ship with SRAM hubs laced to WTB Scraper rims with WTB’s new Bridger 27.5×3.0 tires. The carbon frame will also be available on its own for $2,499.

Are 27plus bikes going to be the new normal in a few years’ time? Don’t be surprised if they are.

Other changes in the Salsa line

Aside from spec and color changes, some notable tweaks:

  • The carbon Beargrease gets one of the coolest fade paint jobs ever. (Pictured above)
  • All of Salsa’s fat bikes now come with 150 mm spacing on the forks so they can be swapped with a RockShox Bluto if desired. Each of the hardtail fat bikes (Mukluk, Beargrease, and Blackbarrow) is also available with one stock.
  • The Mukluk frame geometry changes to match that of the Blackbarrow.
  • The Spearfish is now available in carbon only, with two spec levels or a frame option.
  • The Fargo Ti rides off into the sunset, mostly supplanted by the Cutthroat.
  • The new carbon and aluminum Warbirds were unveiled earlier this year.
  • The Vaya Ti remains in the lineup as a complete bike or frameset.
  • The smallest Vaya models now use 700c wheels instead of 26-inch, and there are only six total sizes instead of eight.
  • The Colossal Ti rolls away, and the single steel model is offered with SRAM Apex or as a frameset.
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2020 Salsa Bikes Review: First Impression On Notable Tweaks — Bike Hacks