Today marks the start of the 2015 Tour Divide. Riders from all over the world will be setting off from Banff, Alberta Canada to make the incredible 2,745 mile journey all the way to the US – Mexican border.

While many view the ride as a personal journey of discovery and determination, to others it is a full on race. For those super human types who can ride for 16-18hrs a day for a week straight, Salsa has a new bikepacking weapon. Bikepack racing may sound a bit like an oxymoron, but for riders looking for a lightweight, efficient, reliable, and fast mountain bike with the ability to take it with you, Salsa is releasing the new Cutthroat…



Even though people have been “bikepacking” as far back as the late 1800’s, the idea of a bikepacking category of bicycle is still fairly new. Typically built to allow for massive amounts of on-bike storage for all of your camping needs, the bikes also usually include clearance for bigger tires, comfortable positioning, and fairly rugged (read durable) frames and forks.

Where bikepacking bikes are made to help you get out there – way out there, self supported ultra distance mountain biking set against the clock brings additional needs to the category. Not only do you have to carry all you need, but it has to be light, comfortable, and durable enough to survive the epic distance. Similar to their take on a bike specifically for gravel racing, Salsa is now offering up what they feel is the ultimate Tour Divide racer. Named after the Cutthroat trout, Salsa decided on the name after learning it (or a variation of the Cutthroat) was the State fish of every state the Tour Divide passes through.

Cutthroat_Rival_class5_VRS Cutthroat_Rival_detail_2

Starting with a high modulus carbon frame, the Cutthroat is from all outward appearances a drop bar mountain bike. More than just a set of drops, the Cutthroat borrows the Class 5 Vibration Reduction System originally introduced on the 2016 Warbird gravel bike. In order to allow for more compliance at the rear end and fewer vibrations transmitted to the rider, the frame uses long, slender seat stays, which are vertically oriented while the chainstays are horizontally oriented. That may sound weird, until you realize the seat stays are designed to flex outward which is where the compliance comes from. Since the design is scalable based on the intent, the design has been beefed up from the Warbird to survive the rigors of mountain biking. As an added bonus the frame design allows for huge tire and mud clearance with room for 29 x 2.4” tires. The lack of seat stay or chain stay bridges adds even more mud clearance. To accommodate the needs of bikepacking, the Cutthroat will include 2-3 bottle cage mounts depending on size, two additional accessory mounts, Three-Pack bosses on the fork for more bottle cages or Salsa Anything cages, and under top tube bosses for a new bolt-on frame bag that Salsa is working on.




Coupled with the Firestarter carbon fork, the Cutthroat is a full carbon affair with thru axles at both ends (15×100 and 12×142). The geometry is based around the Firestarter, which would be the equivalent of a 100mm travel suspension fork, but both complete bikes will be shipped with the rigid carbon fork. Due to the inclusion of the Salsa Woodchipper 2 drop bar, both complete bikes will be speced with SRAM road levers. The $3,999 Cutthroat Rival 1 will include the namesake SRAM Rival hydraulic disc brakes and 1x Rival 1 drivetrain and GX 10×42 cassette. The $2,999 Carbon X9 model will receive a mixture of SRAM Apex shifters, X9 Type 2 Rear Derailleur, X7 front, and BB7 mechanical disc brakes.

Available later this year, one of the very first Cutthroats will be raced by Jay Petervary in the Tour Divide.

cutthroat-build-spec cutthroat-frame-highlights




  1. This bike is begging for a 80-100mm fork with a remote lockout and a taller stem so those drops are where you need them.

  2. BTW- My the issue with drop bars on an MTB is the you really only have a single position- forward on the drops when descending which I found to be less than optimum on steep downhills. Tops of the levers were not safe, flats of the drops didn’t work either since you can’t reach the levers.
    You need to push the bars higher than the seat to make it work and then it looks funky.

    What I learned- Ride a flat bar MTB offroad and live with the slight aero handicap on the road or bring back barends to stretch out on the flat sections.

  3. Is the drop position on bike like this really more aero than placing your hands next to the stem on a XC mountain bike?
    I like it but rack mounts would be nice for those that will use their bike for things a little more mundane than their epic daydreams.

  4. I used to think people bought mountainbikes for cycling on roads because they were afraid of drop bars.

    But now I realized people buy gravel bikes and monster cross bikes because roadies are afraid of flat bars.

  5. Thanks Justin, I was going off the date on the Tour Divide site, but realized it hasn’t been updated since 2014. Oops.

  6. [quote]But now I realized people buy gravel bikes and monster cross bikes because roadies are afraid of flat bars.[/quote]

    Not afraid of, just find them uncomfortable and limiting.

  7. Well at least they resisted the urge to call it a Fargo Carbon.

    sorry but the original brief for the Salsa Fargo, from the people that designed it, was:

    “a bike that you could ride across Siberia”.

    Seems to me that Salsa are drinking their own kool-aid now. Hands up who wants to take a carbon bike on an extreme (remote) touring/bikepacking adventure? (for that matter, who wants to take a Fargo with a carbon fork on a similar trip)

  8. Drop bars are nice for ultra-endurance events, if set up correctly, because they give you multiple BODY positions to utilize when your start to get sore and stiff but less ideal for MTBing, IMO, because they can limit you to the spots where you can reach the controls. The new Soma Gator bars look like a nice option but would require a lot of fork and/or stem to get them where they need to be.

    I prefer Jones Loop bars so I will be interested when they do a carbon El Mar with damping stays.

  9. oh I just noticed on the Salsa page, a wonderful PRESS FIT BB. That I just know everyone asked for, right?

    Do bike companies listed to anyone nowadays? OR do they just make what they decide we all want?

  10. Without suspension, I wish there were optimized for a 2.4″ tire but with clearance for a 3″ tire without a small ring. Not everyone’s cup of tea but some people may want to ride this in the snow. Maybe a 650 3″ tire would fit? I also wish the BB was a bit lower…that’s a fairly normal road drop with a 25mm tire but this will have at least 2″ tires most of the time

  11. I tend to want a shorter top tube if I take a drop bar bike off road, because the brake levers are a couple of inches farther forward than a flat bar and it gets sketchy fast. Maybe I’m doing it wrong.

  12. Guys, by “Off road” they mean Tour divide forest roads and mild single track with 30 pounds of gear, not north shore and 6ft drops to rock garden.

    Anyone with experience doing 200-300 mile single days loaded up(raises hand) will see how practical this bike is for what it was designed for.

    And yes the Fargo is a better lets go cross Siberia bike, this is the race the clock version of that bike, not the cross a 3rd world country version. Most people ARE probably better with the Fargo, it’s a great bike.

  13. @JBikes and @annonymous: Woodchippers aren’t your father’s drop bars; 110mm drop, 80mm reach, 38° drop angle, 26° flare angle.

  14. @Fred THANK YOU. Geez, it’s like everyone just oggles the pictures and doesn’t read the words anymore….or ever. Has anyone ever really read the articles?

  15. So many different ideas of what the ideal TD bike is – for me it’s a fair way from that bike. When it comes to 16-20 days of 16-20 hrs it’s all about comfort and that’s really personal stuff.

  16. I have a drop bar fat bike with the woodchippers and they seem to work well off road for gravel races but are not so good in the technical stuff (neither is the rider). I know woodchippers are designed for riding on the drops but they still feel very odd to me on the lever hoods where i like to ride when not hammering (all day rides). If you have big hands the drop position where you can reach the levers is a bit cramped too. I like the look of these new Salsa and I think drop bars for off road work well.

  17. i think a plain simple flat bar with eventually bar-ends and extension a la “cinelli spinacci” would be more suited. Drop bar is a flawed design despite being in use for a VERY long time.
    Some simple reasons it’s flawed:
    Braking is efficient in a position people rarely use.
    Too much difference in drop between hand on the drop and and on the top. At teast compact bar reduce that flaw.

  18. Drop bars are great off road, the only problem I have with them is that I hit my inside knee on my elbow when riding berms. Don’t use them if you don’t like them, it’s a niche within a niche, and you need a fair level of skill to use them successfully, or just use them on easy stuff.

  19. @Antoine and the rest of the drop bar off road haters; If drop bars are so terrible off road, what in the world was John Tomac thinking?

  20. As someone who has been riding a Gen1 Fargo since they first came out, I can say drop bar mtn bikes are viable and I’d bet most above who are saying it’s stupid have never ridden a Fargo. I’ve ridden mine on NH singletrack and Oregon fire roads and everything in between.
    I’m a big believer in the Fargo line. I think this bike goes towards a small group, but it will sell. It’s almost like this fits in between the needs of a Fargo and a Warbird. I’d say buy a Fargo and Warbird first, then use this to fill the niche when the other two don’t seem right.
    As we know, the correct number of bikes is n+1

  21. The niche isnt for me, but I certainly dont think Salsa would make a bike no one would buy. I do like the green. It looks like a can of Limeade Mountain Dew Kickstart.

  22. What about roadies who mountain boke for 20 years before ever road biking? And who now prefer drop bars on dead easy XC 1track and flat bars in rocky stuff? the stereotyping is gross and it usually seems to come from dorks who dislike road bikers. Get a clue.

  23. This is a drop bar mountain bike, so that’s why the front end looks high. I can’t wait to own this baby, and go goofing on XC trails at 9mph. When I’m not doing that I’ll be out in the back country slinging a gun on my back, shooting small game and cooking it up at my camp stop 🙂

  24. droool….this is on my maybe list.

    gears are still a fail. not low enough or high enough. add weight to your bike and at the end of the day you will want that 22×34. take advantage of that long downhill and you will want that 42×11 spun out.

    agreed that any drop bar including the chippers are nice, but limited on hand holds. can’t compete with a straight bar/barends/areobar combo. more places to strap stuff and clamp accessories.
    riding downhill on the hoods and braking with cable brakes is the worst for your hands and multiple days in the saddle.

  25. Those bars are pointing pretty low. When the top of the bars are level the drop extensions are at about 40 degrees. I like them at 40 degrees, it’s a very nice angle for up and down hill stability. But my torso is too short and stiff to utilise the hoods at 40 as often as I’d prefer. I find 20 degrees is about perfect for my fit, with minimal compromise to the aforementioned uses. Albeit I switched to the cowchipper now, and it’s a slightly shorter reach than the woodchipper with more flexible hood placement. I doubt I’ll go back. The cowchipper will be going on my cutthroat 🙂

  26. Pretty sure this bike is intended to be used with aero bars for most applications, but they won’t include them for preference reasons.

    Might come with Cowchippers once they become available.

  27. As noted above, press fit is a fail and has probably cost JP the race:
    ‘Tour Divide race leader and current record holder Jay Petervary stopped for a quick breakfast of M&M’s at the start of the Great Divide Basin crossing yesterday morning (day7). With a ton of race experience and a precise calculating mind, JayP has laser focus on taking another TD win, and he knows it will not be easy as there are five other racers all within striking distance of him. Just this morning he narrowly avoided disaster by nursing a blown bottom bracket in to Orange Peel Cycles in Steamboat Springs, CO. Word has it that the press-fit BB was full of shredded metal bits when they pulled it apart.’

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