Salsa Cutthroat: Post Tour Divide Impressions, by Jay Petervary
“At this point, after a 2,750 mile matrimony (the length of the Tour Divide), I think I have a pretty good grasp on the Salsa Cutthroat.” — Jay Petervary, Salsa Sponsored Rider. Detailed impressions, photos, and build kit.
Words by Jay Petervary and photos courtesy of QBP and Linda Guerrette.
I eagerly anticipated the Cutthroat for almost a year. During the development phase, it was a project which I had provided a fair amount of input, so being part of the launch at this years Tour Divide was not only fitting, but pretty special.
To fully feel out a new bike and assimilate an accurate description, it takes several rides of varying lengths and surface conditions. I sometimes find myself consciously blocking out opinions formed during previous rides just to keep an open mind. All too often my initial impression is not all that accurate. At this point, after a 2,750 mile matrimony (the length of the Tour Divide), I think I have a pretty good grasp on the Salsa Cutthroat.
When I first saddled the Cutthroat, a smile immediately swept over my face. After that initial ride I quickly typed up an email to the engineer—I may have even texted him during the ride—and expressed how the Cutthroat climbs like a pro peloton road bike. Its nimble mountain goat prowess was immediately evident, a trait that was later fully appreciated throughout the GDMBR.
Another characteristic that stood out during the first few test rides is the smooth and forgiving quality when traveling on gravel and harsh surfaces. After dialing in the fit, and becoming more in tune with the bike, I was shocked that it was unnecessary to hover over the saddle through chundery and rocky roads. The more I rode the bike, the more relaxed I became with this; I often found myself pedaling rough sections with full weight in the saddle. In short Salsa’s Vibration Reduction System (VRS) works like a charm! The rear triangle utilizes a Class 5 (‘class 5’ referring to the gauge of gravel typically used on roads) Vibration Reduction System which provides a suspension effect over the rough stuff. The seat stays are long and narrow, while the chain stays are wide and flat; this combined with a solid thru-axle allows a small amount of compliance over impacts. This little bit of give can add up over long rides.
The stability of the bike is well balanced between the chainstay length and head tube angle. It’s not too slow or fast on either end. The short chainstay length only adds to its responsiveness and quick acceleration, while the headtube angle / fork combination is not too twitchy when fatigue sets in, or you are simply getting lazy and ‘sleep riding’. In all honesty I think the bike rides and tracks even better when fully loaded.
Other than big gloves and big shoes, I’m an all around medium guy – medium shirts, medium pants, and I ride a medium bike. My gear packing style changes from event to event, but in a race like the Tour Divide, I like to travel without a backpack. This tends to make my setup a little tight on space… busting out at the seams, really. It’s often necessary to add an additional accessory bag to the handlebars, which I don’t particularly like. Sometimes I find myself stuffing the heck out of my jersey pockets. When it’s time for a food resupply, I end up cramming snacks wherever they will fit, and it gets scattered throughout the kit. Fortunately this wasn’t the case with the Cutthroat; Salsa’s engineers were able to maximize the frame triangle and I was able to salvage enough room to dedicate space just for food. Yes, the triangle is that much bigger. I never realized how much of a big deal this was until I had the space. It gave me peace of mind, helped with my organization, and I was able to unclutter my cockpit with the extra bags I might have used otherwise.
I have to say that the Cutthroat is more than a Fargo on steroids. It’s actually a different bike altogether.
After having ridden its predecessor the Fargo many, many miles, including on a previous Tour Divide, I have to say that the Cutthroat is more than a Fargo on steroids. It’s actually a different bike altogether. Not only do I think it’s the perfect race steed for the Tour Divide, but an incredible everyday gravel grinder. Now that my Cutthroat isn’t loaded down, I have it set up with a pair of Teravail 38mm tires and I enjoy ripping around, training, and pulling all day rides! The Cutthroat is comfortable, yet incredibly responsive. What you put into this bike is what you get out.
Salsa Cutthroat Build Kit
- Frame: 2016 Salsa Cutthroat Carbon – medium
- Fork: Salsa Firestarter Carbon 15 x 100
- Headset: Cane Creek 110 series
- Handlebar: Salsa Cowchipper – 42
- Bar tape: Salsa Gel Cork Tape – x2 (2 full wraps)
- Stem: Thompson Elite X4 – 100mm x 10*
- Shifters: SRAM Force Double Tap
- Brakes: Avid BB-7 Road SL
- Brake Rotors: 140 rear, 160 front
- Aero Bars: HED Clip Lite
- Handle Bar Accessory: BarFly Universal Mounts X 2 (used to mount KLite, GPS & computer)
- Cables/Housing: Jagwire
- Cable Accessory: SRAM compact barrel adjusters- on brake and shifter housings within reach of bar
- Front Derailleur: SRAM XO 2×10 Top Pull with custom front derailleur frame mount
- Rear Derailleur: SRAM XO 10 speed
- Crankset: SRAM XO with a 110 spider
- Bottom Bracket: SRAM PF30
- Chainrings: SRAM 34/48
- Cassette: SRAM 1099 11-36 modified with a Wolftooth 42 conversion
- Chain: SRAM PC1091R
- Pedals: Crank Brothers Eggbeater 11 (Ti)
- Seatpost: Salsa Regulator Ti – offset
- Saddle: WTB Hightail (Ti rail)
- Seatpost binder: Salsa Lip-Lock
- Hubs: rear HED, front SP Dynamo
- Rims: HED Ardennes Plus
- Spokes: Sapim CX-Ray bladed
- Rim Strips: HED
- Sealant: A mix of Slime Tubeless Pro, Slime Tire Sealant and Stans
- Tires: Teravail Sparwood 2.2 front and rear
- Water Bottle Cage: Salsa Nickless Cage x3 – 2 on the fork legs, 1 on the bottom side of the downtube