Salsa Cutthroat Review: 983,000 Revolutions.

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Without much ground truth beta, we handpicked the Salsa Cutthroat to scout an off-pavement bikepacking trip across Cuba — a decision based on scattered intel, topographical maps, satellite imagery, and logical thinking. In spite of our planning, we misjudged the terrain. But what about the bike?

Back in July of 2015, on the same day 150-some-odd bikepackers set out from the Grande Depart to duke it out on the 2,745-mile Tour Divide, Minnesota-based Salsa Cycles launched the first widely available bike designed specifically for an annual bikepacking race. Everything about the Salsa Cutthroat, from its pot-bellied downtube and flattened tube profiles — both designed to provide more frame bag space — to its carbon Firestarter fork with ‘three-pack’ bottle mounts, to the Vibration Reduction System built into the stays, to its light but sturdy wheels with straight gauge spokes, was engineered, tested, and specced explicitly for this arduous and grit-testing route. The Cutty even comes with a glossy map graphic of the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route on its downtube. Sounds like the perfect bike for an un-scouted, off-road traverse of a Caribbean island, right? We took it on this ride and a whole lot more for this long-term review…

Salsa Cutthroat Review, Bikepacking

  • Highlights
  • Frame: Carbon, 100mm Suspension-corrected
  • Seatpost: 27.2mm
  • Bottom Bracket: PressFit 41x92mm
  • Hub specs: 142x12mm (rear); 100x15mm (front)
  • Max tire: 29×2.4″
  • Weight: 20lbs 10oz/9.36kg (Medium)
  • Price: $3,999 (Force 1x)

Tour Divide vs Cuba vs Cutthroat

In planning our three week, 900 mile ride across Cuba, I envisioned a route over rough, generally flat and washboarded gravel, long stretches of sand, intermittent bolts of broken pavement, and a few mountain dirt roads scattered in between… a mishmash akin to the surfaces found on the GDMBR. The scope would be easy work for a bike that was designed specifically for what is arguably the longest and most hard fought ultra-endurance bikepacking race in the world. But we really didn’t know what to expect. As far as we could tell, no one had completed a full off-road traverse of Cuba, and there wasn’t much detail on many of her tracks, both mapped or otherwise. With our ill-informed instincts guiding the way, Virginia and I coerced Salsa into loaning us a pair of the latest 2017 Force 1x Cutthroats to tackle this semi-blind scouting mission. Based on our research, the Cutthroat seemed like as good of a match as any for a route we really didn’t know much about, other than the fact that we’d cross three mountain ranges, coastal jungles, and everything in between. As always, our goal was to have a bike (and all its components) that could competently handle the variety of surfaces, topography, and conditions that our route would dish out.

Salsa Cutthroat Review

  • salsa-cutthroat-review_27
  • Salsa Cutthroat Review
  • Salsa Cutthroat Review

Salsa Cutthroat Review

Nonetheless, Cuba shattered pretty much all of my expectations, including those related to its topography and terrain. In hindsight, our most accurate description, albeit a modest one, is that “Cuba doesn’t give up its goods easily”. Our route threw as many curve balls as Cuba has baseball fields, including descents deserving of a 160mm travel full-suspension rig, bogs and sand fit for a fat bike, and technical trails where a solid, plus-tire hardtail would be best to pick through the rubble. Where we anticipated meandering dirt roads in the mountains, we found primitive, chunky, rutted, and beastly tracks. We discovered steep, rocky singletracks and punishing agricultural horse paths. There were mud slogs, swamps, and river crossings, and even a couple of epic hike-a-bikes. Flowy trails and smooth winding dirt roads are a rarity in Cuba. It was far more rugged than we’d expected, but the trip itself was incredible… it was an assault on the senses, and on the bikes we rode.

Touring on a Carbon bike

One of the beautiful things about carbon bicycles is that they typically don’t feel heavy or sluggish, even when loaded down. In addition, they are generally more resistant to vibrations and associated fatigue — a testament to the compliance of carbon fiber — which for a long tour, arguably outperforms all other frame materials. Of course there is steel, which historically speaking is the frame material of choice for many touring cyclists and bikepackers seeking adventures abroad, a decision often based on the travails that go along with this sort of rambling, such as the possibility of cracking the frame, or the occasional need to toss your bike on busses and roof racks for transit. Considering the price to potential damage ratio, this makes sense. But carbon is far tougher than many people assume, and there are precautions one can take to avoid damaging the frame with nicks and dings.

Anyway, bikes such as the Salsa Cutthroat aren’t meant to be treated with kid gloves and polished inside a temperature-controlled garage. They are meant to be ridden over rough chunder for 18 hours a day, thrashed, and hammered. With that said — after bringing along a carbon bike on two recent big trips — I would recommend proper preparations. Bikepacking bag straps can do a number on a carbon frame when rubbing continuously for a month or two straight, specifically the headtube where the handlebar bag and associated anchor strap makes contact (and actually can rub holes in carbon over time). In addition, the upper straps on a frame pack can often wear the paint a little. And, there are several places on a frame that are prone to damage from falls, getting rattled around in a bus, or just general use. For protection against abrasions, I recommend a product called Shelter by Cantitoe Road. It is a crystal clear padded gel tape you can put just about anywhere to protect your frame. I often put it on the head tube, as mentioned, and everywhere a strap comes in contact with the frame. In addition, you may want to apply Shelter wherever your bike is prone to dings and scratches (seat stays, underside of downtube, etc.). I use Shelter on steel bikes too.

  • Salsa Cutthroat Review, Bikepacking
  • Salsa Cutthroat Review, Bikepacking

Salsa Cutthroat Review, Bikepacking

  • bikepacking Cuba, trans-cuba
  • Bikepacking Cuba
  • bikepacking Cuba

The Ride

Backpedaling a bit, prior to unboxing and throwing a leg over it in Santiago de Cuba, there were a few things I knew about the supposed ride characteristics of the Salsa Cutthroat. It’s been out for a while and there are plenty of impressions floating about the interwebs, all of which painted it as an attractive option for this trip. First and foremost, the Cutthroat’s geometry helps create the stability and comfort that makes it suitable for epic dusk ‘til dark days on the dirt and gravel roads of the Tour Divide. Fitting the Cutthroat’s disposition, our trip started out with a lot of time in the saddle. Beginning our route from the east side of the island, the plan was to make 300+ hard miles in just a few days to meet a fourth riding compadre who flew into Camaguey. I immediately felt at home on the Cutthroat. And, after a couple of seemingly interminable days in the saddle, it became pretty clear that this bike was dialed in for lengthy rides. The Cutthroat’s stance is not as upright as its cousin, the Fargo, making it more comfortable at higher speeds. Honestly, that’s what this bike is all about. It pedals well out of the saddle and has a very predictable gate, as expected, but it’s also more nimble and responsive than I anticipated.

As for comfort, aside from the previously discussed benefits of carbon, the Cutthroat features a rear-end carbon stay design that Salsa calls the Vibration Reduction System. VRS is basically Salsa’s stay design — also found on the Warbird — made up of thin seat stays and wide, rectangular chainstays. This system allows the rear end to vertically absorb the edge off of rough roads, namely gravel and chunky dirt, a configuration that acts as leaf springs between the seat tube and the rear wheel. The flex, for lack of an accurate term, isn’t something that can really be forced or simulated when off the bike. But when moving quickly across variable bumpy terrain, the full carbon frame along with the VRS and relatively beefy 2.1” tires (set up tubeless) adds up to the most vibration absorbent drop-bar bike I’ve ridden to date. Even with the vertical give of the VRS, the bike itself is laterally stiff and equally as responsive when pedaling.

Salsa Cutthroat Review, Bikepacking

  • Salsa Cutthroat Review, Bikepacking
  • Salsa Cutthroat Review, Bikepacking
  • Salsa Cutthroat Review, Bikepacking

After hearing feedback, I was anticipating a pretty smooth ride so the aforementioned traits didn’t come as a great shock to me. However, as with Cuba itself, the Salsa Cutthroat held its fair share of surprises. Most unexpected was its versatility. It was the steep, technical climbs and attention demanding descents in the Sierra Maestra mountains where the Salsa Cutthroat revealed her greatest charms. I was expecting a bike that would leave me walking when the terrain got dicey; as I’ve found that to be the case for many drop-bar adventure bikes, be them too fragile feeling or just not confidence inspiring. The Cutthroat, on the other hand, was able to dissect rocky tracks as well or better than many 29ers I’ve ridden. And with two of us jackhammering these bikes for 20 days straight, I think I can attest to their durability.

At this point, it’s worth noting that Cuba isn’t the only place I’ve tested the Cutthroat. I hung on to the silver and blue Cutty for months after our trip, secretly hoping that Salsa would forget about it. I rode it unloaded on gravel, Pisgah singletrack, and around town. When the ground was too wet to ride trail, one of my regular winter out and backs from home took me to the top of Buckhorn Gap. This long, twisty, and, at times, chunky gravel and two-track climb led to a ripping return descent which I’ve experienced on several other gravel and adventure bikes. Bar none, the Cutthroat is the most confident drop-bar bike I’ve ridden down steep gravel. Period.

Why Drop Bars?

Given that the Cutthroat is indeed a mountain bike, some might find the curly Cowchipper drop bars an odd spec. However, those who’ve watched the Tour Divide and other similar races know that this is becoming something of a race standard, along side an aero-bar for those long stretches where headwinds and aerodynamics are the biggest contender. I generally don’t like drop bars, but I must say that the Cowchipper was a great choice for this bike. Climbing out of the saddle felt natural with my hands on the hoods and the bike’s responsiveness couldn’t have been better. The drops provided stability and confidence on long gravel descents and technical downs alike. And as most distance cyclists will profess, when the ride stretched out to a full day, having a variety of hand positions was a welcome relief. All of these factors owed to the right bars matched with the right geometry platform.

Salsa Cutthroat Review, Bikepacking

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  • Salsa Cutthroat Review

Salsa Cutthroat Force 1x Build

Generally speaking, the Force 1x Cutthroat is a solid spec without much room to quibble over necessary upgrades. For our anticipated route, the gearing was a little high, which we rectified before setting out by replacing the SRAM 38T X-SYNC ring with a Wolftooth CAMO and 34t ring. This netted us about 23 gear inches in the granny gear, which was fine for the lighter, summer weather loads we were carrying. I would likely consider a 36T ring up front and a Wolftooth 49T cassette expander ring if I were to use this bike on the Tour Divide. Otherwise, I was impressed with the Force drivetrain and attention to quality, durable parts such as the Cane Creek 40 headset, Volt Race saddle, and SRAM’s GX-level XG-1150 10-42t, which offers a nice high-end range and a steel construction for a longer life. Additionally, the Force hydros are a nice choice to help reduce hand fatigue on long rides.


  • Frame Cutthroat Carbon
  • Fork Cutthroat Carbon
  • Color Grey/Teal


  • Front Der n/a
  • Rear Der SRAM Force 1
  • Cassette SRAM XG 1150 10-42t
  • Chain KMC X11
  • Crankset SRAM X1 1400, X-SYNC 38t (switched to Wolftooth CAMO with 34t ring)
  • Shifter SRAM Force 1x
  • Brakes & Rotors SRAM Force Hydraulic Disc, Centerline 160mm


  • Headset Cane Creek 40
  • Stem ZIPP Service Course
  • Handlebar Salsa Cowchipper
  • Grips Salsa Glyphs Gel Bar Tape
  • Seatpost Zipp Service Course 27.2 x 350mm, 20mm offset 
  • Saddle WTB Volt Race


  • Front Wheel SRAM RAIL 40 29″, Thru-Axle, 15 x 100mm
  • Rear Wheel SRAM RAIL 40 29″, Thru-Axle 12 x 142mm 
  • Tires Schwalbe Thunder Burt 29×2.1″ SnakeSkin TL-Easy

While I was a bit shocked at the choice of 28-spoke wheels on a bike built for bikepacking with a lot of extra weight, the SRAM RAIL 40 wheels didn’t let us down. I would have preferred a 32-spoke count for my own sanity, but the RAIL 40s are specced as ‘enduro/all-mountain’ specific wheels. theoretically, the asymmetrical rim design coupled with straight gauge spokes should make for a stiff and strong wheel. Plus, straight gauge spokes are easier to service — even though we completely forgot to bring spares on this trip!

Additionally, the 29×2.1″ Schwalbe Thunderburts didn’t disappoint. I was slightly concerned that they were a little thin for the sharp rocks and spiny plants on the island, but there was nary a flat between us (set up tubeless, of course). They are a fast-rolling tire, great for speed. Although they hold corners pretty well, they can get a little slippy going up a steep and rubbly grade.

  • bikepacking Cuba
  • Salsa Cutthroat Review, Bikepacking

Bikepacking Bags

The bags used on my Cutthroat differed a little bit from Virginia’s. I chose to run the custom Porcelain Rocket bag I had made for the Woodsmoke on our Kyrgyzstan trip. It conveniently fit like a glove. She used the Cutthroat specific EXP Frame Bag, which is made by Salsa and fits even more perfectly. It’s a nice bag overall, but I would complain about the narrowness of it. As evidenced by my choice to use the PR frame pack, I like a frame bag with substantial girth, so I can load it with plenty of food and gear. This approach allows me to keep my seat pack and handlebar bags as light as possible, thus lowering the bike’s center of gravity. The EXP does have a couple nice features worth noting. It’s almost waterproof (considered highly water resistant). And it has a nice elastic drawstring on the top for strapping wet clothes. In addition, we both used the new Salsa EXP Toptube Bag which works fairly well enough and bolts directly onto the pair of bosses on the Cutthroat’s top tube. It’s also highly water resistant, and huge!

Salsa Cutthroat EXP Frame bag

  • Salsa Cutthroat EXP Frame bag
  • Salsa Cutthroat EXP Frame bag
  • Salsa Cutthroat EXP Frame bag
  • Salsa Cutthroat EXP Frame bag
  • Salsa EXP Toptube bag
  • Model Tested Cutthroat Force X1
  • Size Tested Large and Medium
  • Color Grey/Teal
  • Weight 20 lbs 10 oz for Medium (9.36 kg)
  • Place of Manufacture Taiwan
  • Price $3,999
  • Contact


  • Surprisingly, the Salsa Cutthroat has more chops than one might think. It’s much more than a drop-bar gravel bike, or a fast mountain bike.
  • Carbon frame with VRS rear-end + a stable and comfortable geometry + 2.1″ tires = a bike that’s comfortable and perfectly dialed in for long and rough rides.
  • Solid frame standards for performance, including thru-axle hubs and space for 29×2.4” tires.
  • Massive frame bag space due to the tubing design.
  • Plenty of mounts for bottles and cages.
  • Overall solid and durable component spec.


  • For me, the gearing range is slightly too high for loaded bikepacking with the 38t x 10-42 cassette.
  • PressFit bottom bracket may be a deal breaker for some who are heading abroad, while we experienced no creaking or mechanical issues over thousands of miles.
  • The Firestarter fork has the triple bosses pointed a wee bit too far forward to accommodate fork bags such as Andrew The Maker’s Many Things Sack. This also makes removing tall bottles a bit difficult.
  • Same goes for the bottle mounts on the underside of the downtube. Due to the location, fitting a large wide-mouth bottle is impossible without tire rub; I opted to use the narrow-top 22oz Klean Kanteen which squeezed in with just a few millimeters to spare.
  • At $4k, the Force 1x isn’t cheap. I think it’s money well spent, but perhaps it would be easier on the eyes if it were a little less. There is a Rival 2x edition as well for $3k.
  • Salsa Cutthroat Review, Bikepacking
  • Salsa Cutthroat Review, Bikepacking
  • Salsa Cutthroat Review, Bikepacking

Wrap Up

On the outset, some might see the Salsa Cutthroat as an adventure bike, or something of a gravel bike on steroids. But at its heart, the Cutthroat is indeed a mountain bike… one destined for speed and long rides. And, at its core lies the groundwork for tons of space to carry everything you need on a long adventure. So at this point you might be wondering who the Salsa Cutthroat is for… aside from Tour Dividers or Trans America Trail racers. From my perspective, it’s a niche bicycle whose niche is pretty damn big. Most likely, it’ll find itself at home with two-bike kind of people and some three-bike folks with money to spend. But the short answer is that it’s a great option for anyone interested in long mixed terrain rides who puts a premium on comfort as well as the possibility of tackling trails that veer on and off the gravel roads. And even more so if that someone wants to tackle a race such as the Tour Divide, or even shorter routes like the Trans North Georgia or the NM Off-road Runner.

While on the road, I found the Cutthroat to be a stable, confident, and comfortable bike that performs at its best at high speeds. But it’s also a bike capable of so much more. In both Pisgah and all the random chunder we ran across in Cuba, I never felt like the bike was too much to handle, or not tough enough. It is lightweight, sure-footed, nimble, and descends with confidence. Of course it’s not without fault. No bike is. I have a few grouches, such as the placement of bottle bosses and gearing, but nothing that diminishes my admiration of this bike. It was really hard to say goodbye to this one.

P.S. The title, 983,000 revolutions, is based on the estimated wheel rotations during my ~1400 mile test period with the Salsa Cutthroat. Make sure to read more about our Cuba trip here, and see the route here.

Cuba Gear List

As requested, here is my full gear list from the trip as well:

Bikepacking Bags

Porcelain Rocket Framebag
Revelate Terrapin seat pack
Ortlieb Handlebar Pack and Accessory
Salsa EXP Toptube Bag
Mission Workshop Hauser 14L backpack
Revelate Mountain Feedbag

Clothes (on bike)

NZO Dobies Shorts
Padded undies
Wool Tech T
Wool lightweight socks
5.10 Guide Tennies (flats)

Clothes (off bike)

Light pants
1 pair boxers
1 pair wool socks
1 cotton T
1 wool long sleeve
1 light button-down shirt
Montbell Versalite Rain Jacket


Big Agnes FlyCreek UL3 tent
Enlightened Equipment Enigma 40° quilt
Sea to Summit UL Mat
Big Agnes inflatable pillow
ReVolt Headlamp


Can stove (make there)
Titan kettle Ti pot
Ti Spork
GSI squeegee tool


Crank Brothers mag Pump
Tire lever
Allen keys (full set)
29″ spare tube x1
11sp quicklinks x 2
Patch Kit
4oz sealant
Zip ties
Gorilla tape
Half Roll electrical tape
8oz sealant for initial setup
1 spare set brake pads
Super glue


iPhone/earbuds/USB cable
Crumpler camera insert
Canon 5d
2 lenses
4 spare batteries/charger
SD cards
2 drybags
Cache battery


small notebook
2 pencils/eraser
Debit card

Toiletries (first aid)

Mountain Money


Liter bottle x 2
MSR Trailshot filter
2L Platy bottle in backpack

Logan Watts

Rider Profile

Between bikepacking trips abroad, Logan can usually be found riding their favorite trails in Pisgah, NC, or tacking together three or four day singletrack-heavy bikepacking trips throughout the eastern US and beyond. Two Salsa Cutthroats were loaned to Logan (size large) and his wife Virginia (medium) for this review.

  • Height: 6’0” (183 CM)
  • Weight: 170 lbs (77.1 KG)
  • Inseam: 33” (83.8 CM)
  • Current Location: Pisgah, NC
  • Favorite Beer: Anything by Burial
  • Favorite Route: Gila River Ramble
  • Nice review. I bought a Fargo this year and then shortly after tried a Cutthroat. I sure wish I would have ridden the Cutthroat before I bought the Fargo, because I would have bought that instead.

    Do you have a packing list for your Cuba trip? Also, what camera gear did you carry?

  • Thanks Bryan. They are both good bikes. The Cutthroat is definitely more aggressive though. Just added the packlist above per your request … NOTE: you might need to refresh the page a couple times if the formatting looks all wabijawed.

  • Thanks! I appreciate that.

  • Pedro Blasco

    Great article!
    That is a really nice bike but, as you say, 30-32T chainring would be a better option for adventure.
    About the difference in price between Force and Rival, I have tried both and I think that you can feel the difference in the price when it comes to shifting gears.
    The preparation of that trip reminds me to the trips I prepared to cycle around and along Palawan Island in the Philippines using mainly unpaved roads. Lots of Google Earth and fun!

  • Good point, the Force shifter/der worked really well. I didn’t say much about it in the article as I really didn’t think about it… which I guess is the best thing to say about a shifter/der. Smooth and ignorable :)

  • Mark

    Wish this bike came in a 27.5 Plus edition with Boosted hubs, internal width 30mm rims, light-weight fast-rolling 2.6in or 2.8in wide tires, Eagle GX 1×12 drivetrain and a flat handlebar. ( I don’t dig drop bars.) A super light Fargo/Cutthroat hybrid is the bike I want. I’m even considering having a custom bike built this way. Most Plus bikepacking bikes are heavy steel work horses but they don’t have to be. I want a light weight, rigid Plus bikepacking bike that is good on roads, good on gravel, and good on singletrack. I want a bike that I still want to ride when I’m not hauling the freight. I want this bike to be my Plus-Gravel bike for everyday rides. The Cutthroat comes so close! With Plus tires and slacker modern mountain bike geometry up front (long top tube, short stem, about 68 degree head tube angle), the Cutthroat would hit it out of the ballpark. A Cutthroat “Plus” is the bike I want to buy. I sure hope Salsa builds such a dream bike soon!

  • Might be a little slack for what your heart desires, but I built a Timberjack Ti with a Niner carbon BOOST RDO fork, 35mm IW rims, 1×11 (with WolfTooth 49t expander), and 29×2.6″ tires… it’s dreamy. Pics coming soon…

  • Mark

    Coincidence! I was considering using the aluminum Timberjack with the Carver Trail 490 Boost Tapered fork with the my spec mentioned above as a more affordable option. I’d really like to read and see more about the bike you built up! How do you like the 2.6in wide tires? Part of the reason I wanted to use 27.5 tires is to reduce weight. Also there are so many more light weight tire options available in 27.5 – like the Schwalbe G-One Allround Lightskin 27.5 x 2.8in gravel tire at 655gm. Which is the lightest Plus tire I’ve found. This is the tire that inspired my Plus-Gravel bike idea to start with. I want a rigid bike that is fast on pavement, capable on gravel, with a mountain bike geometry to handle singletrack, and with long chainstays to be steady and all day comfortable for bikepacking. I live in an area where a mix of road, gravel, and singletrack could make for some epic rides.

  • Stay tuned… I should have it up soon. I will say that I prefer 29×2.6 to 27.5+ though… it’s a good mix of rollover and volume. I don’t usually skimp on weight with Pius tires. I ran Ranger+ Lights for a while and had OK luck (they are pretty light and very fast), but on burly single track too many tears/pinchflats.

  • Anthony Turner

    Quick question I got the 2018 Cutthroat coming, how did the large fit, I am about 6’1, 32 inseam. Thanks.

  • That should be about perfect, I think. The large fit me well and I have a little longer inseam… so probably shorter reach. And I recall thinking I’d have put a slightly shorter stem on it if it were mine to keep….

  • Anthony Turner

    Thanks Logan!

  • Derek P.

    Great review. Any thoughts on the Cutthroat’s performance on pavement? I’m really torn between the Cutthroat and Warbird. Most of my weekday riding is on Midwestern country roads, but I like to get out for longer mixed surface (road/gravel) and gravel grinder rides on the weekends. Wondering how much I’d be giving up with a Cutthroat set up with, say, 40c Panaracer Gravel Kings, versus a similarly specc’ed Warbird. Looking at the geos and builds, seems like the Cutthroat does almost everything a Warbird would, and then some (more space for bags, capable of running wider tires, etc.).

  • Thanks. Keep in mind that the Cutthroat is really a mountain bike. And geometry wise, it’s more apt for long rides. The Wardbird would be better suited for what you described, especially with 40c tires, I think. It is a surprisingly versatile bike as well, and for gravel, it is hard to beat. Honestly, either one would be a good choice. Any chance to demo them?

  • Ben Mills

    The large Cutthroat has almost identical stack and reach to my 2013 58cm Salsa Vaya. I love the geo of the Vaya, so the Cutthroat sounds perfect as a lighter option. I’m just wondering how the Vaya can be considered somewhat of a sluggish, upright adventure bike and the Cutthroat is considered something of an aggressive, fast bike. Are there other geometry numbers beyond stack and reach that make it more “racey”?

  • Yes, thanks for the review, Logan. My LBS is getting my Cutty very soon and I’m really looking forward to it. My main focus is riding long distance like the Colorado Trail, etc. with my wife. I also really appreciate the gear list. It will help me decide what to rig my Cutty with. Cheers.

  • Sure thing. I might add that the Cutthroat isn’t the best match for the Colorado Trail. Perhaps you meant the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route? You’ll likely want a bike with at least front suspension for the Colorado Trail… it is primarily singletrack, with a fair amount of technical and rocky sections that might not be the best fit for a rigid drop-bar bike

  • Yep, I jumped the gun on that one. A good friend just placed third on the CTR and I had that on the brain.

  • Pao Chow

    Thanks for the review! I’ve racked up over 3100miles on my Cutty since February and it still puts a smile on my face every time I ride it. It is an extremely versatile and capable bike and coupled with a 9-44 e13 cassette it has tons of gear range. With a lighter wheelset and Schwalbe G-One Speeds it can also pull road and commuter duty with ease. It is not surprising that they sell out quick each year.

  • Great to hear! How is the eThirteen cassette holding up?

  • I’ve never ridden a Vaya, but glancing at the geo, there are a bunch of numbers that are slightly different, including angles, BB drop, TT length, etc. All of these slight differences certainly change a bikes feel. I would be curious to try the Vaya just to see…

  • Pao Chow

    It’s been holding up great- I’ve been running them on my fat bikes as well. Shifts smooth and reliably.

  • Kim Van Amerongen

    I would never look back after swapping the xx1 cassette out for a 9,46 ethirteen. They are just awesome

  • Angela

    On the Tour Divide there is a lot of pavement in New Mexico section. I rode my Salsa Cutthroat on the 2017 TD and found that although the Cutthroat is not a road bike, it sure made this road biker very happy on those portions. I have some aggressive tires on them (going with what the shops had along the way) and was still happy. I didn’t care for the stock tires. Been playing in the snow lately with it and still loving it. I will keep the aggressive tires on no matter the terrain. I think the bike is happier in that mode. Of course, I am someone who also rides my road bike on gravel, too. Crazy me.

  • Erica D.

    Where do we find pics of your Timberjack build?! Sounds ideeeeal!

  • There’s one pic here. I should have it up in the next few weeks though.

  • Dave Mellor

    I also have the eThirteen 9-46 and love it’s smooth shifting and found less time pushing up steeper, rougher sections

  • Richard Conner

    Hi Logan, Thanks for the review Can you Can you clarify what you mean by aggressive? More aggressive climbing or descending? I ask because the article says the cutthroat is not as upright as the fargo. But the geometry specs indicate that the cutthroat is indeed more upright (fork angle 71 degrees) than the fargo (fork angle 69 degrees).

  • Hi Richard. Perhaps I should have clarified both of those statements. What I meant (for both) is based on the Stack Height. The two bikes have about the same reach, and as you mentioned, the HTA on the Fargo is indeed slacker. But the stack height on the Cutthroat is 27mm lower; this puts the rider in a more aggressive stance that they would be on the Fargo.

  • StaySaneSleepOutside

    Thanks for this, Angela. Im looking for an all road bike to do 700×42 and 2.2s on two wheelsets, for 150mi pure pavement days and obviously long dirt road bikepacking (want to do TD), plus gravel riding in between. Do you think the Cutthroat, being a mountain bike, could function well as a road bike, with 42s on it? I know a couple people that do this and like it but just cuz can doesnt mean its actually going to be great. Im not a road biker but find myself riding roads to get to places and get high mileage in. I just cant ride skinnier than 42s anyway, and the cutthroat, being so fast, seems like it could actually do pavement pretty well. Thanks!

  • StaySaneSleepOutside

    Logan, my same question to you, please (see reply to Angela below). Thanks!

  • Angela

    I am not one to geek out on geometry and all that stuff so I can’t answer your question properly. I have two wheelsets for my road bike but one is strictly for big mountain road events because I want super light wheels (think climbing Pikes Peak). I personally would not get a second wheelset for my Cutthroat as I bought it for something very specific. I don’t know what gravel roads you ride, but what I ride is not always well maintained and would prefer to always have the mtb tires. As I look at the bike, I think if I put skinnier tires it would be weird and then I would start thinking about getting something else. People did do the Tour Divide on gravel bikes so if you are looking long term and past the TD, maybe getting a gravel bike might be a better option for you. I will always keep my Salsa in the TD setup (except I do plan to switch out the framepack). And only in a race such as the TD, would I ever intentionally ride 150 miles on pavement on that bike. For day to day stuff, 150 miles on pavement with big climbs will always be better on my road bike. I like to climb and always want the optimum setup for the task at hand.

  • I think 42s would be OK on the Cutthroat. Both the Warbird and the Cutthroat have the same BB drop, so you should;dn’t have any issues as far as pedal strike if you were planning on mixing some off-road into those rides when the 42s are on it. Considering you are not a road biker, I would guess you’d be very happy on the Cutthroat, in any situation.

  • StaySaneSleepOutside

    Thank you Logan. For me, less bikes, but the right bikes, is better, and yeah, not being a pavement road biker but riding roads as a side hobby or to get to dirt roads makes it seem the Cutty would be great and super versatile. And, I’m a bigger tire guy, always. Thank you, again.

  • Jamie

    Hi Logan,

    Even the post has been up for awhile, I was hoping you could share your insights on the latest version of the 2018 Salsa Cutthroat. My question is simple, would you consider the Apex (lower-end) version of the bike even though the cost here in Canada runs at around 3500$CDN at the moment? Also to note that my LBS has the 2017 Force 1X for 4400$ which at that price point I’m wondering am I really worthy of a bike that costs more than my car? ;)

    Some LBS have told me to just go for the 2018 Fargo GX build and I’ll get just as much out of it but I’m not sold on it. I currently ride a Surly ECR and I love the bike but I have intentions on returning to the Tour Divide in 2019 if I can just get my knees to cooperate on longer distances.

    Either way, I ride bikes daily and although a Cutty wouldn’t be my commuter it would make coming home from work that much more exciting knowing that I have this beast of a bike waiting for me to go rip out in whatever terrain I want back home.

    Penny for your thoughts?

    P.S. That Timberjack Ti of yours is a beauty build!

  • Thanks! Well, I normally wouldn’t think a drivetrain/brakes upgrade is worth 900CAD. But, there are a couple things that I don’t like in the Apex build: 1) Hayes brakes, although I admittedly don’t know anything about them… just hearsay; 2) GX1000 crankset isn’t direct mount, so I think a 32t chainring is the minimum. But, then again, that should be plenty of granny with a a standard width tire drop-bar 29er. In Cuba I had a swapped the stock 38T ring with a 34T and was fine. We packed super light though. To clarify, running 2.2″ tires with the Apex 38t gearing nets you about 26 gear inches. If you bumped it to a 32T ring, you’d get about 22 GI. That should be OK for a super light bike with a light bikepacking load. But, on big mountainous trips, I usually prefer to have a bailout of something closer to 19 or 20 gear inches. I like to pamper my knees though.

    Also, the SRAM RAIL wheels with straight gauge spokes are pretty sweet on the Force 1 build… but, the Apex gets 32h with WTB i23 rims, a solid choice (though I don’t know much about Formula hubs).

  • Donavan

    Hey Logan,

    Awesome review and plenty of other very useful info on this site.

    Question for yourself and maybe more so for your better half. Was there any issue with toe overlap on the Medium bike? This bike is very high on my list, however they’re really hard to come by so impossible to test ride right now. I’m 181 cm with a 33 inch inseam so on the cusp of both sizes. I’m leaning towards the Medium although this is also based on an available frame in that size. Shoe size is 9.5 US so not crazy large and hopefully helps.

    Any insight from yourself or readers would be useful.