Introducing the Salsa Cycles Cutthroat Tour Divide Bike

Without getting too far ahead of myself here, I have to admit the giddiness flowing through my veins at the moment. I’m in Banff, Alberta at the start of the Tour Divide Race, arguably one of the most intense self-supported off-road races. I’m here with Salsa Cycles, and while we’re not doing the entire TDR, we are riding a three-day section of the race. Why? Because Salsa has supported racers and riders in the TDR for years and all the time and energy put into supporting athletes who train for to events like this has culminated in a bike that’s just being launched.

At this point, if you’re even reading this still and haven’t sprung right into clicking through the gallery images, I need to point out that Salsa champions the drop-bar off-road touring and racing bike. They love the hand positions, the unique stance and the options for drivetrains. That said, over the years, they’ve perfected what is arguably their best “all-road”, dirt-tourer: the Cutthroat.


Before the name causes too much of a stir, I should point out that it’s named after the state fish for each of the states the TDR passes through: the cutthroat trout.


Back to the bike. The Cutthroat dirt drop racer is not a Fargo. It’s a completely new machine, designed for the Tour Divide Race. While it shares the Fire Starter carbon fork with the Fargo and a similar stance, it’s a completely new beast all together.


This bike was an exercise in both engineering of materials and design features for the ever-increasing, high demand sport of “adventure touring and racing.” For starters, it’s a completely new carbon fiber frame design, with each tube having a unique profile. The rear triangle utilizes a Class 5 Vibration Reduction System like the Warbird. What does that mean? All you need to know is that supposedly the stays, in combination with the thru-axle creates a “spring like” feel on rough surfaces. The seat stays are long and narrow, while the chain stays are wide and flat. This gives compliance when needed.

Introducing the Salsa Cycles Cutthroat Tour Divide Bike

Other tubes were sculpted on the Cutthroat. The downtube and top tube were flattened out, to reduce depth of the tubes, increasing the potential volume for bikepacking bags. Every inch counts. So much so that if you rode a medium frame before, with a medium bag, you can now ride a medium frame with a size large bag.


This bike features a PF31 BB, is a suspension corrected design for a 100mm travel fork and fits a 2.4″ tire. Damn.

After an initial shakedown shred sess on some sunset-soaked singletrack, I was surprised at how a bike with a “monster cross” stance could rip so hard on trails. Actually, I wasn’t surprised. Just look at that thing. It’s a beast. Why wouldn’t it rip? Especially unloaded. But the real test will come. So yeah, it’s a good looking machine, but I haven’t ridden it loaded down for a few days, hence this trip. Also, it looks naked without bags or bottle cages. So why bother showing it yet? To give context. After I spend the next three days on it, I’ll do a follow-up post. Onto the nitty gritty…


The Cutthroat comes in a orange / blue or green / yellow paint options, with a special TDR route map graphic printed on the downtube. Oh and that bartape? Exclusive to this bike.


The pricing for the Cutthroat is reasonable with two build options as well as a frameset offering:
-A 21lb complete size medium build (pictured but in size large) with Rival 1 with a 38t front, 10-42t cassette, SRAM Roam wheels for $3,999.
-A 23lb X9 spec build with Stans wheels for $2,999.
-A 1400g frame for $1,999. This includes frame, fork, headset, seatpost clamp.

For now, head over to Salsa for more information. Expect a late fall 2015 delivery on these…

  • Keith Gibson

    Like the colors on this. Looks like a great bike

  • mywynne

    Shit, super into this!

  • Can you give info on the tires?

    • barturtle

      Hmm. Looked up WHOIS info: QBP brand. Registered Oct 27 2014. Teravail trademark registered Nov 12, 2014

    • Patrick Gore-Traill
  • Tyler Morin

    Definitely digging this bike! Looks super rad!!! Also, hopefully that bar tape becomes available!

    • Chris Coburn

      what is wrong w this fork? I am just getting into this. what fork would you suggest and why. just asking to learn

      • Tyler Morin

        For me it’s about astethics. I like my stuff to function and look good. Sure the fork functions fine, but the blades look way too narrow imo for that frame. I personally would put on the ENVE mountain fork with adjustable rake.

  • Ricky Sanchez

    The colors remind me of Reddit…

    • boomforeal

      gulf racing!

  • Caleb Parrish

    The frame is awesome, build looks thought out, wtf the fork?

  • Ben Mills

    I know this is built up from scratch, but when would you want a Fargo instead of this bike? It seems like a replacement to me, albeit at a more expensive price point.

    • Hill Harman

      I’m curious about this as well. The geometries are very similar. Slightly lower stack (~2 cm) and slightly shorter chainstays (~1 cm) with a bigger main triangle (longer seat tube and less standover) on the Cutthroat. But I’d rather have Ti, swinging dropouts, and a threaded BB. I absolutely love the look of the Cutthroat, though. I’d pull the trigger on a titanium version of this bike with threaded BB and Alternators tomorrow.

      • True. Plus you can do a lot more with tubular frame sets as far as attaching things like extra cages etc. Give me the ti Fargo every time

    • Steve Fuller

      Use of a Rohloff would be one scenario where the Fargo would be preferred. No alternator plates on the Cutthroat.

  • Alexander Sollie

    I bet we lose the wonderfully high stack of the Fargo. :/

    • scott

      Check the Salsa website before you place that bet. Stack heights are high. Just slightly less than the Fargo.

  • D0rk

    Love it! Want it! Definitely intrigued about those tires. Do you know what width they are?

  • Kerry Nordstrom

    Another fantastic all-rounder dirt drop option. Thanks Salsa!

  • 1x for Tour Divide? Aren’t there a ton of high passes?

    • Kerry Nordstrom

      I’ve ridden the Colorado Trail on my 42 x 42 Wolftooth set up, and if you can’t ride it 1:1, you won’t be riding it with any lower ratio. This Salsa looks to give you even more with a 38 x 42. It’s tough to spec a bike that does well on both long expanses of gravel, and yet can also climb the technical rocky trails of the northern and central parts of the divide. This is the kind of event that requires compromise on bike set up. Best to eliminate a potential failure point in a front derailleur.

      • colavitos_ghost

        “if you can’t ride it 1:1, you won’t be riding it with any lower ratio”

        not trying to be a dick, but this makes no sense to me. i have never ridden any portion of the colorado trail, but would you mind elaborating on what you mean here?

        • Kerry Nordstrom

          In my experience, at the speed a 1:1 (or even slightly less) ratio affords you, you will not be making it up a rocky 15% grade unless you have trials moves. We’re talking between 2.9 and 3.3 mph here, barely more than walking speed and at a much greater level of exertion. Better to just get off and hoof it rather than shift to a granny gear under load.

          • colavitos_ghost

            i could be mistaken, but i’m pretty sure the great divide route includes a lot more non-rocky grades than rocky ones. on the short-ish, steep grades that i am used to riding here in ohio, i find myself in a less than 1:1 gear pretty often. on a hardtail mind you (not sure what it being a monstercross bike really changes in this regard). i could imagine that similarly low gearing might come in pretty handy on a long-distance off-road route such as the great divide. not sure how steep it usually is, but the amount of climbing on that route is insane.

          • Kerry Nordstrom

            I believe you’re right that the Tour Divide takes place on many more sustained dirt climbs than rocky, techinical terrain. I’m fully on board with a less than 1:1 in that instance, but I wouldn’t suggest that anyone need a double or triple. The way the Salsa is set up in our example above seems perfect for this application.

        • John Proctor

          X9 version has a 42-28 crankset and 11-36 cassette according to the Salsa Website. My cross bike does not quite get me to 1 to 1. 34 front, 32 rear. Running 40c tires on gravel roads I have had the occasion that I had wished for a lower gear, steep climb, legs are fatigued and every time I come out of the saddle my back tire spins. With that said, I dig the 1x set up. I ran 1×9 on an old Mountain bike a number of years ago and love it. Had full use of the cassette without chain rub on the front derailleur. It was just fun to ride. Keep an eye on Craigslist, my Salsa Fargo may be getting listed soon! LOL

      • redhead322

        A front derailleur is hardly a failure point. It is however quite essential for short and steep climbs or long and gradual climbs when you’re just worn out but don’t wanna walk.

        Front suspension, hydraulic disc brakes and clipless pedals fail more often than front derailleurs. Did you use any of those on your ride of the Colorado Trail?

        • Kerry Nordstrom


          I’ve never gotten chain suck and broken a chain as a result of using hydraulic brakes, suspension, or clipless pedals.

          • redhead322

            I’m sorry, I guess my question wasn’t very clear. I was trying to say that among all the points of failure on a bicycle, a front derailleur doesn’t fail often. There are many other reasons to get rid of it… Aesthetics, wide enough gear range in the intended terrain without it, weight savings in eliminating it in favor of a 1x system, etc. But to say that one should eliminate a front derailleur just because it may fail doesn’t make much sense. Many other bicycle components have a much higher failure rate, such as suspension forks, disc brakes or clipless pedals, but many people would not do without them.

          • Kerry Nordstrom

            I absolutely agree!

      • Adam Kachman

        hey dude !

      • Alright if its a tour divide specific bike but there are a few BikePacking routes in NZ you wouldnt want to be toting a 38×42 unless you want to walk for very long periods. I guess you can always gear down on the front but thats will be a real compromise. 2 gears makes sense. I’d prefer cable discs too but thats not gonna happen when hydros are the latest thing.

    • BurlyGates

      The winners of the last two TDs have been on 1x setups, including Mike Hall’s sub-15 day crusher in ’13:

      (Ollie W ran a Rohloff to the win in ’12.)

  • Chad

    Needs a threaded BB.

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  • breed007

    Cool, but am I the only one skeptical of the durability of the bridge-less seat stays?

    • .,`

      The bridge on the seat stay might actually increase fatigue on the frame. its more likely that it’s just unnecessary and salsa was trying to achieve more compliance in the rear. A lot of aero road and carbon disc road bikes have over built chain stays, which provide all the needed strength and rigidity, allowing the seat stays to take a shape that is either faster or smoother.

  • Cupcake

    Why is Salsa trying to turn mountain biking into road biking?

    • mrbiggs

      Cause there are a thousand miles of road-trails in Pennsylvania, for example, alone where one can’t tell the difference between one and the other, and because neither my roadie nor my MTB are really quite right on them. Also, fun.

    • So when you’re touring across somewhere like Central America, you can go see all the cool stuff off road that a road bike would never be able to cut through AND still cruise the highways when you need to. Maybe that’s why??

    • Kent moos

      Y NOT

    • Chad

      You = dumb

  • Callaghan


  • It’s actually spec’d with a PF92 BB, not that that’s any better.

  • BurlyGates

    I ran those Woodchipper bars in the ’13 Tour Divide and swear by them – NO numbness issues at all as a result of having all the different hand positions.

  • Dan Earle

    Reasonable price? Are you kidding. You could build a better spec machine with parts for half the cost. Salsa’s prices are Alice in Wonderland.

    • Chad

      No. Not really, its pretty average as far as price goes. You van always build cheaper by finding deals online…but for a complete its pretty average.

      • Dan Earle

        They cost 1 GBP to 1 US here in the U.K. the equivalent of you paying $ 6000 for the top spec model.


    Don’t run the SRAM brakes on the Tour Divide. Working in Gila Hike & Bike, we see so many mud caked bikes on the GDT. Retrofit with mountain calipers if you must have the road hydro levers.

  • And BTW, what does this bike have that every single carbon hardtail XC bike doesn’t? Flattened tube shapes? That’s it? C’mon, people.
    The build is great for dirt roads, but the frame is dime a dozen.

    • Patrick Gore-Traill

      The geometry is very unique to having drop bars. Short reach with a Lower BB, and long stable Chainstays. If you compare this geometry with their El Mar it has another 20mm of BB drop and it has 30mm effective top tube. Also, the seat stays are unique to Salsa’s new VRS design that you will find on their new Warbird as well. So if by a dime a dozen you mean it is carbon then yep you can get other carbon hardtails.

      • Kent moos

        Good response.

  • Jon Schultz

    A 1x makes sense for the ultra fit racer with a minimal and light gear, and the 2x option is there for everyone else


    Nice looking rig. Solidly equipped. Put a Brooks C-17 on it and you’re set! Love that the 21lb version comes with a Thomson post! Sometimes its the little things that count! Nice work, Salsa!

  • boomforeal

    this post seems to have generated the best discussion on this site in a while

  • Lisagirl Le Champagne

    looks like a fun bike. not for sport. something in between is not a thing.

  • Bradd Bezaire

    Is that a head tube spacer with a garmin holder built in? Want.

  • adanpinto

    Very nice monstercross. I love the build and overal design but I am wondering why you would want a suspension corrected geometry on a bike like this. I hate all those long rigid 29er forks…

    • Many people would want to run a sus fork for the TDR.

      • adanpinto

        I know it, and I think it’s practical but I personally prefer the esthetics of a shorter fork and larger headtube, specially in a monstercross-touring bike (such as the awol). If I needed a sus fork then I would use a regular MTB with flat (or riser handlebar ;-) At the end it’s always a matter of taste…

  • Carson

    Here it is under the current Tour Divide record holder, Jay Petervary.

    • Ace Metric Cycles

      Y E S .