Salsa Cutthroat Tour Divide Bike Review for 2023

In 2015, I was able to partake in the launch of the Cutthroat, Salsa’s Tour Divide Race Bike, a unique drop bar 29er and since then, I’ve had zero contact with it. That is until I unboxed the brand new 2020 Cutthroat, which is full of new updates and boy is it a long list. While I plan on reviewing this bike in more detail further down the road, I wanted to give you a look at the new model on its launch day. Read on below for a first look at the new Cutty.

For context, the Cutthroat is a lightweight, carbon, drop bar 29er with a geometry and fit tuned to take on the Tour Divide, a rugged mix of roads and tracks spanning from Canada to Mexico along the continental divide. While many riders ride suspension bikes, the Cutthroat utilizes a high-modulus carbon fork and slender seat stays that offer a smoother ride than your standard off-the-shelf carbon frame.

For 2020, the Cutthroat received new frame features and geometry including:
-New sizing with addition of a 52 cm size:
52 cm, 54 cm, 56 cm, 58 cm, 60 cm
-Class 5TM Vibration Reduction System (VRS)
-69° head tube angle and longer wheelbase provide greater stability for long days on any surface

The frame is now enhanced with much more refined cargo capabilities including a direct-mount frame bag and other cargo options:
-Direct Mount Frame Pack
-Three Pack Mounts or Salsa Down Under Rack compatibility on the fork
-Three bottle mounts inside the main triangle on 54 cm–60 cm sizes; two on 52 cm
-Two accessory mounts on underside of down tube
-Allow for use of Salsa Anything Bracket
-Mini and/or fuel, water bottle or Salsa KEG
-Top tube mounts for Salsa EXP Top Tube Bag
-Compatible with Salsa Wanderlust Rack using rear rack mounts and Salsa Rack Lock seat post collar

One of my favorite details about the old Cutty was the carbon fork and for 2020 even it got a facelift. While Salsa offers the new fork with compliance percentages and cargo capabilities, the most notable change right off the bat is the integration of a flat-mount caliper. This detail combined with boost spacing – 110mm – sends a mixed signal for the bike’s usage. Is this a road bike or a mountain bike? Say what you will about boost and flat-mount, but I feel like it’s a smart move for a bike that is an elegant, sleek, and refined silhouette of the more utilitarian Salsa models.

The upgrades to the Salsa Cutthroat fork:
-32% more compliance over previous Cutthroat fork
-Abrasion-resistant plates in high-wear areas prevent damage from mud
-Backwards compatible with previous Cutthroat frame
-One set of Three-Pack mounts on each leg
-Salsa Down Under rack compatibility
-Internal dynamo routing
-Internal brake cable routing
-Boost 15 x 110 mm hub spacing
-483 mm axle to crown
-51 mm offset
-Aftermarket fork available with 350 mm steerer
-Flat mount road brakes
-No fender mounts
-Fork weight with Deadbolt UL axle is 775 g (1 lb. 12 oz.)

In case you were wondering, yes, the rear spacing is also boost to match the front.

In short, that means you can run the following drivetrains:
-1x mechanical-compatible using mountain boost cranks (max 40t chainring) and a road drivetrain in all other areas
-2x mechanical-compatible using Race Face mountain boost cranks and Easton direct-mount chainrings (max 50/34t, complete bikes ship with 46/30t) and a road drivetrain in all other areas
-Shimano Di2 1x- and 2x-compatible (using mountain boost cranks or Race Face / Easton combination mentioned above)
-SRAM AXS 1x-compatible (using mountain boost cranks)

While you might think these are a lot of updates to the Cutthroat, keep in mind it’s been five years since the frame first launched. In that time, a lot has changed with road and mountain drivetrains.

The Cutthroat frame has been updated to include:
-Boost 148 frame spacing and Boost 110 fork spacing
-Boost 148 maintained tire clearance and chainstay length while increasing drivetrain compatibility
-Flat mount brakes on frame and fork
-Sleeved internal brake, shift, and dynamo cable routing in frame and fork
-Dropper post-compatible with 1x and 2x drivetrains (2x mechanical drivetrains use external cable droppers)
-Frameset weighs 2.32 kilograms (5 lbs. 2 oz.) including fork, headset, seat post collar, and Salsa Deadbolt UL axles
-Suspension corrected for 100mm travel 29″ forks
-12 x 148 mm rear spacing
-BB92 press-fit bottom bracket
-Maximum tire clearance of 29 x 2.4”
-27.2 mm seatpost
-IS41/52 headset
-No fender mounts

In a lot of ways, the Cutthroat blends road and mountain, much like the Shimano GRX drivetrain.

Build kits and pricing options:
Cutthroat Carbon GRX 810 Di2 – MSRP $5799
Cutthroat Carbon GRX 810 1X – MSRP $4199 – Pictured here in size 58cm.
Cutthroat Carbon GRX 600 – MSRP $3299
Cutthroat Carbon Apex 1 – MSRP $2699
Cutthroat Carbon Frameset – MSRP $2199
Cutthroat Fork Aftermarket – MSRP $549

So what do you think? Are these updates something you’ve been wanting to see in the Cutthroat? I actually went back and looked at the original unveiling post, as well as Spencer’s review to mull over these changes before forming any real opinions about the new Cutty. While I’ve only ridden the bike as pictured here, unloaded, on my familiar dirt road rides in LA, I can’t wait to load it down and take it on some overnighters to form a final opinion, which I’ll share with you at a later date.

For now, I’m curious as to what your thoughts are?