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Salsa full suspension MTBs go high-end for 2020, plus new aluminium Salsa Rustler

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The 2020 Salsa Full Suspension Mountain Bike Lineup has been unveiled, with no changes to frame geometry, but updates to colorways and spec, and the offering of an aluminium Salsa Rustler trail bike for the first time. Here’s a quick intro to the new range from Salsa.


2020 Salsa Full Suspension Mountain Bike Lineup

The Salsa full suspension mountain bike range comprises three bikes; the Salsa Rustler is their playful 27.5″ trail bike, the Salsa Horsethief is their faster-rolling 29″ trail bike, and the Salsa Spearfish is their hill-climbing XC MTB. For 2020 we see no changes to any of the bikes’ geometry or frame specs, but Salsa have gone to the trouble of updating the build models with new up to date spec from Shimano and SRAM, adding some high-end spec in the form of Reynolds Carbon Wheelsets and FOX suspension to the very top-end models, and refreshing the colorways with some eye-catching two-tone designs.

2020 Salsa Rustler 27.5″ Trail Bike

The Rustler has been Carbon through and through until now. This year, Salsa are offering their 27.5″ Trail Bike in an aluminium frame model for the first time. The Salsa Rustler offers 130mm of Split Pivot mediated rear wheel travel, designed to be supportive throughout the stroke, active under braking, while still offering an efficient pedalling platform. The frame is paired with a 150mm travel fork up front, resulting in a bike that should go well over the vast majority of trail centre terrain, and perhaps beyond.

The Salsa Rustler Carbon frame will set you back $2799

The frame itself is identical in geometry to the 2019 Rustler, reviewed here. Geometry is adjustable via the use of a flip-chip, allowing for easy changes to the bottom bracket drop and head tube angle as and when the terrain dictates. In the low setting, the head angle sits at 65.8 degrees, the seat tube angle at a rather slack 73.6 degrees, with a short chainstay length of 426mm, consistent across the XS to XL size range. Reach figures are fairly short on the Rustler, stretching from 391mm in XS up to 476mm in XL. Fork offset remains short at 37mm, for a longer trail figure.

The Salsa Rustler full suspension mountain bike is offered in 3 Carbon models; this SLX build comes in at $4499

A 12mm x 148mm boost rear end, coupled with the 426mm chainstays leaves sufficient clearance for 27.5″ x 2.8″ wide tyres, though all bikes in the range are spec’d with 2.6″ wide tyres. Standover clearance looks good, at a height of 712mm in medium, with the top tube angled fairly deep towards a proximally straight seat tube, which should allow for a decent dropper length.

The Salsa Rustler Carbon XT model will set you back $5399

The complete 2020 Salsa Rustler range features a dropper post, now a must have component on trail bikes, a short 30mm reach, 35mm clamp, Salsa-own stem and bar. All have a Cane Creek headset, 4-pot brakes with 180mm rotors and Maxxis Minion DHF and DHR tyres, in EXO casing. Three carbon build models are offered featuring the various levels of Shimano drivetrain componentry, from the Rustler Carbon XTR, Rustler Carbon XT and Rustler Carbon SLX. All are 12 speed drivetrains with 10-51T cassettes and 32T chainrings.

The Salsa Rustler Carbon XTR is the top-end build, priced at $7099.

Both the Salsa Rustler Carbon XT and XTR builds feature a FOX 36 Performance Elite 150mm fork with Grip 2 damper, and a FOX Float DPS Performance Elite shock, while the Carbon SLX model gets a Rockshox Pike Select fork and the FOX Float DPS Performance shock. The top end, all singing, all dancing, XTR build features a Reynolds C-Series 367 Carbon Wheelset, while the lower-spec options offer WTB alloy rims laced to Shimano’s XT and SLX hubs, respectively. Salsa are offering the Carbon Rustler as a frame only, too, priced at $2799.

The aluminium Salsa Rustler SLX build comes in at $3199

Salsa are offering two aluminium models of the Rustler, for the first time; a Ruster SLX and a Rustler SX Eagle, priced at $3199 and $2649, respectively. The Carbon and Aluminium Rustler SLX models feature the exact same spec while the aluminium Rustler SX Eagle is the only one in the range to feature a SRAM drivetrain in the form of the SX Eagle drivetrain, with a 10-50T cassette and 32T chainring. It is also the only bike in the range to have a longer fork offset of 42mm, thus it will have a shorter trail figure than the other Rustlers. The fork is a Rockshox Recon RL, while the rear end suspension is serviced by a Deluxe RT shock.

Salsa’s budget option Rustler SX Eagle is actually cheaper than the Carbon frame alone, at just $2649

Being the budget option Rustler, the SX Eagle build is the only bike in the range to go without powerful 4-pot brakes. It gets Shimano MT401 brakes with 180mm rotors and WTB ST i35 alloy rims on WTB Serra hubs.


2020 Salsa Horsethief 29″ Trail Bike

The top-end Salsa Horsethief Carbon XTR Build

The Horsethief is Salsa’s 29er trail bike, built to be a good all-rounder. 120mm of Split Pivot mediated rear wheel travel is paired with a 140mm travel fork, thus the Horsethief is a bike that should feel at home on the majority of trail centre terrain.

Salsa Horsethief Carbon XT

Again, the bike receives no geometry update for 2020, and remains slack in the seat tube, at 73.6 degrees, and conservative in the head tube angle, at 67 degrees. Chainstays are 432mm while the reach figures are again, fairly short by modern standards, stretching from 414mm in the small, to 471mm in large.

The Horsethief’s 140mm fork features a middle ground 44mm offset, maintaining a relatively short trail figure for a responsive front end. Bottom bracket drops by 30.5mm in small, increasing up to 30.7mm in large. Standover clearance is significantly less than what we’ve seen on the 27.5″ Rustler, measuring at 753.7mm in medium.

Salsa Horsethief Carbon SLX

Salsa are offering no fewer than five models of the 2020 Horsethief; three carbon, two alloy, and they are also offering the carbon as a frame only. At the higher end, the Horsethief XT and XTR builds, priced at $5399 and $7099, respectively, feature Fox Float 34 Performance Elite FIT4 forks and a Fox Float DPS Performance Elite shock, while the cheaper Carbon SLX build, priced at $4499, features a Rockshox Pike and Float DPS Performance shock.

Aluminium Salsa Horsethief SLX

Salsa offer two aluminium builds; the budget option Horsethief SX Eagle will set you back $2649, while the Horsethief SLX build is a pricier $3199.

Aluminium Salsa Horsethief SX Eagle

2020 Salsa Spearfish XC MTB

The Salsa Spearfish Carbon XTR

The Spearfish is the Salsa full suspension XC bike with fast rolling 29″ wheels. It remains fundamentally unchanged for 2020, but new colorways and spec freshen it up. The Spearfish features a 120mm fork paired with 100mm of Split Pivot serviced rear wheel travel, tuned to make the bike feel very responsive when applying power through the pedals, be active under braking, and be supportive throughout the stroke.

The Salsa Spearfish Carbon XT and SLX builds

The Spearfish is built to excel on stamina-testing terrain, and thrive on technical climbs. As with the Salsa Rustler, geometry is adjustable via the use of a flip-chip, allowing the rider to change the bike’s ride feel according to the terrain. In its low position, the Spearfish head tube angle is a little slacker than we see in the top XC bikes of 2020, such as the Trek Supercaliber and the Santa Cruz Blur, at 67.8 degrees but, refreshingly slightly steeper, in XC terms, in the seat angle at 74.6 degrees.

Aluminium Salsa Spearfish SLX build

Available in sizes S, M, L and XL, all Spearfish frames will fit two full size water bottles in the front triangle. The reach spans a range of 422.6mm to 479.5mm. The fork offset is a long 51mm, ensuring a short trail value and a very responsive front end. The bottom bracket drops 39mm, while the chainstays measure in at 432mm. Combined with the 12mm x 148mm rear end spacing, the Spearfish offers sufficient clearance for up to 2.6″ wide 29″ tyres, and 3.0″ wide 27.5″ tyres.

Salsa Spearfish SX Eagle build

For 2020, the Salsa Spearfish is available in five models. As with the Rustler and Horsethief full suspension models, you can pick up a Spearfish Carbon XTR, XT or SLX build with a carbon frame, or an SLX or SX Eagle build in aluminium, priced at $7099, $5399, $4499, $3199, and $2649, respectively. Additionally, you can pick up the carbon frame only for $2799.



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4 years ago

Hey Just a heads up both the Spearfish and the Horsetheif are super boost 157 x 12 rear spacing.

4 years ago
Reply to  Ryan

Really? Why would they do that on an “XC” bike?

4 years ago

So in other words, aluminum offered, BNG, & higher prices/lower specs.

No wonder I’m seeing more & more bike shops going belly up these days….

4 years ago
Reply to  Josiah


4 years ago

Good looking bikes, but I just do not understand Salsa’s value proposition. Who rides these things besides bike shop employees? They are a distributor’s house brand yet charge prices that are higher than a comparable bike from Specialized, Trek, or Giant, and very close to boutique brands like Santa Cruz. I don’t get it.

Rode geek
Rode geek
4 years ago

Pretty much every bike brand is a “distributor house brand”. Some consumers, and some retailers, prefer them to Trek etc. and are willing to pay more. The typical consumer is a well-heeled enthusiast who doesn’t need to look for the lowest price.

4 years ago

great bikes. I have a number of them and I’m not a shop employee. I’m not geometry nerd but every Salsa I’ve owned has been a great bike to ride. Specialized, Trek and Giant are bike massive brands. I lot of people don’t know the Salsa branch so it does come off a bit “boutique” without really being a “boutique” brand. And i don’t think Santa Cruz is boutique. You’re paying extra to support some big names and the Santa Cruz racing program which helps make Santa Cruz cool.

King County
King County
4 years ago

Man, for the price of some of those bikes you can get an ebike.

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