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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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).
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.
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.