Kicking off 2019 with three new trail bikes, some with familiar names, Salsa Cycles wrangled a fresh suspension tune for their new carbon and aluminum Spearfish, Horsethief and Rustler models. The lineup offers multiple wheel size options and tire widths, all with revamped designs to make them a little more pedally.

Salsa Cycles 2019, Split Pivot linkage

The biggest news for 2019 is that Salsa’s engineers decided to re-tune the Split Pivot suspension linkage they’ve been using for several years.  The linkage has been revised with a different leverage rate that offers a more progressive ramp-up in the last third of the shock’s travel. Salsa maintained the same initial and mid-stroke qualities as their previous bikes to ensure good small bump compliance, and to keep the bike’s geometry feeling consistent throughout your ride.

Aiming for a more ‘bottomless’ feel, Salsa’s more progressive rate resists bottom-outs and keeps you riding in mid-stroke until the bike takes a hard hit. The linkage’s anti-squat has also been re-tuned to keep the bikes from wallowing into their travel when braking or accelerating. The new linkage’s overall rate is also lower than before, allowing the shocks to run less pressure and keep the rear ends feeling highly active and not over-damped.

Salsa Cycles 2019, rear pivot on Rustler

One very handy thing about the Split Pivot suspension is that it allows pedalling and braking performance to be tuned individually, with no compromising between the two. Salsa improved pedalling efficiency by revising their linkage’s anti-squat; a process made easier by designing the bikes around 1x-specific drivetrain with a 32t front chainring.

The linkage remains very efficient regardless of the shock’s mode, and the shocks can be damped a little lighter to preserve small bump compliance. Braking is now more consistent throughout the bikes’ travel, and allows the suspension to remain highly active as you reel it in.

Salsa Cycles 2019, flip chip

The 2019 bikes also have refined geometry, and a flip chip has been added to the shock mount. Switching from the High and Low positions alters the head tube angle slightly (roughly half a degree) and changes the BB height by around 4mm (each bike’s geo is slightly different, but this is a general range for all three new models).

As a brand big on versatility, Salsa’s motivation for adding the flip chip was more to accommodate both 29 and 27.5+” wheels on the frames rather than offering two radically different geometries. That said, they’re also happy knowing the chips offer riders the freedom to alter the bikes’ setup according to their preferences.

Other key updates include stiffening up the new bikes’ rear triangles and rear suspension links, shortening the chainstays, and moving to metric shocks. Oh, and those bottle cage mounts on the top tubes and the third bolts on the down tubes are designed to host your items of choice from Salsa’s wide line of storage accessories.

Salsa Cycles 2019, Horsethief rear angle
Photos courtesy Salsa Cycles.

All carbon framed models are built using EPS construction, and feature a simplified BB junction, integrated shock mounts and fully sleeved internal cable routing. The carbon bikes use 6066-T6 aluminum chainstays to keep those vulnerable tubes more durable. Salsa’s aluminum models are built from double and triple-butted 6066-T6 tubing. The alloy bikes include full-length internal cable routing for brakes, derailleurs and dropper posts.

Now that we’ve covered what’s new, here’s a look at the specs and geo for all models of the 2019 Spearfish, Horsethief and Rustler…

2019 Spearfish:

Salsa Cycles Spearfish Carbon GX 2019, side

The Spearfish is Salsa’s 29er progressive XC bike, offering 100mm of rear travel paired with 120mm forks. The Spearfish comes with 29×2.3” tires, but can also accept 29” tires up to 2.6” wide and 27.5+ tires between 2.8-3” wide. The frames now feature Super Boost 157mm rear spacing, and they can fit two 24oz water bottles in the front triangle on all sizes. The Spearfishes are available in S/M/L/XL. They’re also sold as a frameset for $2,999, which includes a Rockshox Deluxe RT3 shock, Cane Creek 40 headset, and a SRAM Descendant 7K crankset with a 32t chainring (set up and ready to rock for the 157mm spacing).

2019 Horsethief:

Salsa Cycles Horsethief Carbon GX 2019, side

With 120mm rear travel and 140mm forks, the Horsethiefs serve as Salsa’s all-around 29er. They come stock with 2.5” wide tires, but the frame clearance allows for 29×2.6” or 27.5+ tires 2.8-3” wide. The Horsethief also adopts Super Boost 157mm rear spacing, and can fit two 24 oz water bottles in their front triangles. Frames are available in S/M/L/XL sizes. Again, framesets are available with the same accessories as the Spearfish kits at the same price of $2,999.

2019 Rustler:

Salsa Cycles Rustler Carbon GX 2019, side

Named in reference to Salsa’s Pony Rustler mid-fat bike, the Rustler is a 27.5” trail bike that aims to offer playful handing over a wide variety of trails and terrain. Their rear travel is 130mm, and they come with 150mm forks. The Rustlers run 2.6” wide tires, but can fit up to 2.8’s. Salsa stuck with Boost 148mm rear spacing for the 27.5” bike, and included one water bottle mount in the front triangle. Frame sizes XS/S/M/L/XL are available. The Rustler also comes as a frame kit for $2,799, and it includes the Cane Creek 40 headset and Rockshox Deluxe RT3 shock.

Keep an eye on Bikerumor in the coming days for ride reviews of each bike! In the meantime, check out Salsa’s website for further details on these new 2019 bikes.


  1. A welcome update! Happy to see Salsa with more progressive geometry.

    Except for Superboost. Stop it. Boost was only released 3.5 years ago and now you want to change our hubs again?!

  2. Are you kidding me with the 157 rear end? The carbon wheels I bought last year, Boost, are no good? For a XC bike? Seriously? There is absolutely NO reason Salsa needed to abandon regular Boost spacing on the Spearfish. I was really excited to see this news today, as I was looking for a new 2 bottle XC race bike. I am not hacking my wheel with spacers or something. I don’t get this.

      • and to show you how strongly committed Salsa is to the 157 width, they put it on two out of three new bikes, so take that!

        Agreed with the above. This is totally moronic and tells me that one arm at Salsa doesn’t know or care what the other is doing or more likely they simply don’t care what customer reaction will be.

        I was all in on the Horsetheif until I came across the 157 thing. Ridiculous.

    • I saw the bikes at Sedona last weekend. They look good and I heard positive things from demo riders, but Super Boost? Sorry, that’s a deal breaker just like it is with the Pivots. Interest instantly extinguished.

  3. Unbelievable. Two years late, especially for Spearfish. Super boost? Come on. They skipped over boost for spearfish and went full douche. More than that $5200 for GX eagle build? Seriously!?! Guess I am done with Salsa. What is the incentive to buy a Salsa when you can get a Pivot or other true DW link bike for the same price?

  4. The price and spec is quite awful I’m afraid. Aluminum rear ends, GX, for over $5K? No mention of weight, but I bet they are not light by any means. Salsa has never been about XC racing I suppose, so 120 up front, an extra few pounds, dropper post, 180mm rotor up front…that doesn’t exactly scream XC racing. This is basically a light trail bike. When I was bike shopping for my first Full Susp XC race bike in mid 2017, after 20+ years on a custom steel 26″ hardtail with v-brakes, I demo’d a Spearfish and a Top Fuel. The Spearfish was quite a bit heavier and felt much more like a trail bike compared to the top fuel. The spec on the top Fuel was quite a bit better too, so I went with the 9.8. It too has the aluminum rear end. I’m still in disbelief they’d spec 157 spacing out back. I’ve never been more turned off by a bike I don’t think. Everything about it except the 2 bottle mounts is wrong to me. The closest thing I’ve seen so far from all of them is the Canyon Lux. That is a modern XC bike to me.

  5. The price and spec is quite fantastic, I’m ecstatic. Carbon front ends, eagle drivetrain, for under $6K?! No mention of weight, but I bet it’s super light! Salsa has always been about racing I suppose, so 120 up front, a stronger, more durable frame, dropper post, 180mm rotor up front…that is exactly what a modern XC racing bike should be! It is almost a light trail bike. I demo’d a couple different XC bikes, the Spearfish was quite a bit more stable and felt light a fast, capable bike. The spec on the other models was a bit better too, but the ride quality was heads and tails better on the Salsa. I’m still in disbelief that the rest of the industry refuses to spec 157 spacing out back. I’ve never been more turned off by an entire industry I don’t think. Everything about it except the 2 bottle mounts is perfect to me. I would have much preferred a single mount. This is a modern XC bike to me.

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