Jay Petervary’s Salsa Cutthroat: Post Tour Divide

Share This

others did. Support us and pass it along...
Facebook 0 Twitter Pinterest Google+

“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.

Salsa Cutthroat Review - Jay Betervary, Bikepacking Tour Divide

  • Salsa Cutthroat Review - Jay Petervary, Bikepacking Tour Divide
  • Jay Petervary - Tour Divide

UPDATE: Make sure to check out our full review of the Cutthroat in Cuba.

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.

Jay Petervary's Salsa Cutthroat, Bikepacking Tour Divide

  • Salsa Cutthroat Review - Jay Betervary, Bikepacking Tour Divide
  • Salsa Cutthroat Review - Jay Betervary, Bikepacking Tour Divide

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.

  • Salsa Cutthroat Review - Jay Petervary, Bikepacking Tour Divide
  • Salsa Cutthroat Review - Jay Betervary, Bikepacking Tour Divide

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
  • ansis maleckis

    I would rather read a review by someone who spend his/her own hard earned pennies. Also, other than a few gimmicks it seems that this bike is not that different from a regular carbon 29er with dropbars. But then again bickepacking.com is just a site for infomercials.

  • Ride Alongside

    I share a similar experience with this bike and have to agree with Jay’s first impressions, though I think that saying it climbs like a “pro peloton road bike” will overinflate expectations of potential buyers. It climbs well, it seemed more smooth and forgiving than I expected to be sure. I mentioned this in my video of the Cutthroat during the Salsa Cycles Demo Day:
    It is lighter than Salsa’s steel-framed drop-bar mountain bikes for sure. Seems like a good bike for the intended purpose. Over selling it here, yeah, a little. I would have to agree with Jay on two other points. One, this is a “different bike altogether” compared with the Fargo. Two, that I could see myself riding this bike as an “everyday gravel grinder”, it could be my daily driver, a commuter to work along CX style trails/fireroads/asphalt, as well as a good bikepacking rig when the terrain doesn’t dictate more of a traditional mountain bike.

  • Cool, thanks for adding your impressions. Great to hear your take. Thanks for sharing!

  • I was personally very interested to hear Jay’s impression, as well as gather insights into his own personality, gear setup, and a bike he helped develop. In terms of ‘reviews’ on the site, we only highlight and post about gear we like, so you won’t find many troll-pleasing rants here; it’s not worth the megabytes on our server. We do typically offer concerns as they arise and mention for whom specific gear is appropriate. Also, we do tend to support companies, such as Salsa, who are making products geared around the activity we are passionate about. As for this site, I might suggest you peruse the heart of this site, ‘Routes’, which we have poured countless hours into, and consider it to be a great resource.

  • Jason Novack

    I was waiting for JP’s insights on the Cutthroat. I don’t care who bought it, or how, but this guy rides it places it was meant to be ridden. Places many of us wish we could ride, but are limited one way or the other. Now back on topic, I love my FarGo but I will definitely throw a leg over one of these at the next Salsa Demo. Might be time for an upgrade.

  • ansis maleckis

    Sou you are saying that you are not being paid by Salsa and Revelate Designs to push their products? And all the reviews are totally unbiased?

    I will agree that ‘Routes’ section is a great resource. Unfortunately, it is the only useful thing on this site. The rest is advertising.

  • Jason Liers

    Unless you are going to pay the server bills then advertising is a must. If the content of the site seems biased to you then go elsewhere. I for one have gotten a lot of useful info from the site.

  • You think that we documented a first aid kit to sell Band Aid brand? Or that we documented a tool kit to sell Park Tool patch kits? How about the hundreds of stories posted here over the past 3 years? We do plan on introducing some level of advertising on the site soon, but to this day, we have not brought in a penny; we’ve only spent personal money and time. If you don’t appreciate the work we have put into this site, and you are not finding the ‘unbiased’ content you are looking for, I would encourage you to look elsewhere.

  • I am looking forward to demoing one myself… it sounds like a very interesting bike.

  • Anthony Turner

    Bikepacking is a great site you guys do an awesome job!

  • Thanks Anthony!

  • charlesojones

    Funny. First you say this is just a site for infomercials. Then you say the Routes section is a great resource. You sound confused. Maybe you should just take what you like and ignore what you don’t.

  • J Kato

    Yup, I want to try one of these too. Thanks for the article, Logan.

  • Maybe on the Divide next year!? Credit goes to JayP, QBP, and Linda Guerrette though!

  • multisportscott

    Go away dickhead (ansis malekis), you do not know what you are talking about and have contributed nothing to this article

  • Donnieboy

    If you think water capacity, comfort, extra storage options + alternate handlebar positions are gimmicks, then you’re not a bike packer and this bike isn’t for you – which begs the question why are you here? The bike is literally BRAND NEW, so hard earned dollar reviews are not possible. You sir are a piss poor troll.

  • Donnieboy

    The bike comes stock as 21lbs, but I imagine with his part swaps he’s got it close to 17lbs. That’s only 2 lbs off a UCI legal road bike, but it can tour mountains with gear! Pretty awesome.

  • Thomas Snow

    Logan is there a comparison of Fargo and Cutthroat anywhere? BTW your site is my morning coffee goto, thanks!!

  • Telemonta

    What lights were used and where is the pack list?

  • Michael Lambert

    What saddle is Jay P is running on this build?

  • This is just a bike review; Jay didn’t put together the full packlist for it; sorry…

  • Hi Thomas. Sorry, missed this when you posted it. Thanks! I don’t know that there is a comparison; I will keep my eyes open though…

  • Friar Rodney Burnap


  • abdulmalik

    just from reading this i can tell i want in i love, currently, the hardtails as ive been doing some riding.. never bikepacking before…, now i;m thinking differently….

  • Havoc004

    ride one and form your own opinion vs being negative.

  • ansis maleckis

    LOL. I am not spending over 3k on a gimmick just to form an opinion. Also, I had a Salsa Fargo that broke at the chainstays after less than 10k miles of touring. I am not buying another Salsa bike.

  • James

    I see Jay is using one of the only component combos that allows for such a large gear range with contemporary road-style shifters. SRAM 10 speed road shifters share the same cable pull as a SRAM 10 speed MTB rear derailleur, allowing for a 42t cassette. The downside is that SRAM 10 speed road shifters do not have hydraulic braking. Perhaps another solution is to use the Wolftooth Tanpan to make Shimano road shifters compatible with Shimano MTB rear mech.

  • UpNyoguts

    4 months ago I bought a Salsa cutty with my own money, not sponsored by anyone. The article was great! No complaints on this bike, not only is it comfertable to ride for hours at a time but it is light, my bike fully packed weighs about what an empty steel bike weighs. Although you’re limited to a 40 tooth chainring in front to do gravel, you can easily drop the teeth in front and go bikepacking with it. 9 weeks I will be living on my cutty w zero sponsors and I will say out of all the mountain bikes i have purchased, this is the best overall, drop bars make it that more comfertable

  • ansis maleckis

    Thank you for your very detailed and comprehensive review! I am glad that you are happy with your purchase. It is great that you are not a victim of a gimmicky advertisement campaign suffering from a Stockholm syndrome.

  • @upnyoguts:disqus FYI, check out my full review of it here. http://www.bikepacking.com/bikes/salsa-cutthroat-review/ … I swapped out the front chainring as the gearing was a little low for me too. But, I agree, it has been one of my favorite bikes I’ve ridden to date. I was pained when I had to return the demo.

  • UpNyoguts

    @Logan, that article sealed the deal actually, I was planning on buying a fargo, way before I found this website. The stock gearing is fine if you plan to ride an empty bike to train on, maybe ride gravel but yeah I agreed alot with that review

  • Kathryn

    I know this is an old comment, but I don’t see where the weight savings come from???

  • Donnieboy

    You look at the bike as sold stock by QBP Salsa, then Jay’s build above and you start to see differences. The obvious one is the xo and force drive train. But make no mistake this is a custom build, as any bike that goes 4300km in one go, should.

  • Corey Lyons

    I personally appreciate the work that is put into this site very much. It is top-notch and I hope you guys do make some money from it! What is wrong with earning some money from hard work? As an avid biker, web developer, and photographer I really enjoy the great content, but I also enjoy the design of the site itself. The great photography, and even the little things (layout, use of color and fonts.). Keep up the GREAT work! As for the article itself, I loved it and may pick up a Cutthroat at some point. Seems like the perfect all-arounder to me!

  • Thanks for the kind words Corey! You are right, it’s a sh*tload of work, and if I were in it for the money I’d just go back to being a professional website designer. I appreciate the encouragement… it’s always a boost to get feedback like this when the internet is rife with argumentative and hypercritical folks. And, yes, the Cutthroat is a great bike. Make sure to check out the deeper review of it from our time in Cuba.