Light, comfortable, mounts, versatile
The Salsa Cutthroat is a versatile off-road machine that allows you to ride light and fast without compromising your carrying capacity.
Going on a bikepacking adventure is no walk in the park! It is a daunting task that requires enough supplies and the right type of bike. Unfortunately, most people make the mistake of embarking on such an expedition without proper planning.
You don’t want to end up stranded in the middle of nowhere just because your bike couldn't handle the rough terrain. Whether it is a mechanical breakdown or depletion of supplies, getting caught in such a situation can turn your once happy getaway into your worst nightmare. And you’ll have yourself to blame if you chose the wrong bicycle.
A great adventure bike is one that offers the perfect mix of comfort, ruggedness, and durability, while still providing you with enough room to carry the supplies you need for the journey. One such bike, I would say, is the Salsa Cutthroat. The following review will give you an idea of just what this two-wheeler will offer you off-road.
FRAME: Full Cutthroat Carbon, featuring Class 5 Vibration Reduction System
BRAKE TYPES: SRAM Rival Hydraulic Disc Brakes with 160mm Centerline Rotors
SHIFTER: SRAM Rival 1
RIMS: DT Swiss C1800 Spline
TIRES: Maxxis Ikon 29” by 2.2” Tubeless ready
The Salsa Cutthroat features a full-carbon frame and fork which make the bike strong and stiff while keeping it light. A dropped handlebar ensures you ride in comfort and enjoy race-winning efficiency. This handlebar offers multiple hand positions, meaning you have multiple body positions that are necessary to keep the body at ease.
Salsa has capitalized on capacity with an extremely large front triangle on the Cutthroat. There are three-pack bosses where you can easily fit water bottles. You also get top tube bosses for simple mounting of a Salsa special toptube bag. Not to mention additional bolt mounts on the fork and seat.
This gives the Cutthroat enough carrying capacity for a bike packing adventure. This bike also comes with Salsa’s Class Vibration Reduction System that reduces the bumpy effect of rugged terrain and gravel roads.
The seat stays are comfy and elegant to offer an easy ride while remaining stiff with your feet on the pedal. The overall design of the bike was made with the comfort of the rider in mind.
This bike uses hydraulic disc brakes with centerline rotors to give you ruthless stopping power when you are riding. For an off-road bike that can still go fast in uneven trails, these will come in handy with their precise modulation and lightweight design.
The only problem I have is that the SRAM force levers do not fit in well with the extreme flare of the bike. It leaves the brake levers quite awkward, ergonomically speaking, and difficult to reach.
The DT Swiss C1800 rims on the Cutthroat are strong enough to fly on fire roads and take on hours-on-end punishment from this rugged terrain. They do a good job of keeping rotating weight and rolling resistance down so that you can keep on pushing.
The Cutthroat features 29” 2.2” tubeless ready tires that are fat to offer you better traction on a rough ground. The tubeless tires give you plenty of suspension because they are fully rigid, which makes for a more stable ride.
However, the bike gives you more tire options, thanks to its frame which has massive tire clearance and can support up to 29” 3” tires. If you are looking to take the edge off any trail, you have the go-ahead to thrown a bigger set of tires and run on low pressure without increased danger of pinch flats.
The stiff frame of the cutthroat together with the 29” mountain bicycle tires sprint forward efficiently while weighing very little for a bike like this. On tarmac it cruises along leisurely, on the trail the bike tames any sort of bump while on gravel, it blasts away easily with its stable handling.
What We Like
What really got me about the Cutthroat is its immense carrying capacity! You get multiple mounts on the bike where you can comfortably carry your supplies if you are going bike packing. From the front-frame and toptubes to the bolt mounts on the forks and seat, you’ll be good to go.
We also liked the geometry of the bike. The carbon frame is stiff yet lightweight while the drop handlebar offers you multiple opportunities to adjust your posture while riding. This is exactly what you need when setting out on a long adventure on an unforgiving trail.
This bike is also low maintenance, which is something you need if you’ll be using it for days without stopping. It has no active suspension and the rear wheel can easily be removed, which is a credit to the rear derailleur from SRAM. The DT Swiss 350 Hub also requires minimal tools to disassemble.
Another thing that you can’t deny about the Cutthroat is its versatility. Although it was initially introduced as a tour divide race machine, this bike will be perfectly at home as a touring bike, commuter bike, gravel bike, or even a dropbar MTB. This gives you the luxury of using it for different activities and adventures.
What We Don’t Like
One drawback we noted about the Cutthroat is the ergonomics of the cockpit. When you consider the handlebar flare and the SRAM levers, they don’t just match entirely. Also, the front end of the bike rises rapidly when you are scaling steep slopes.
Parting with around $3000 to acquire a bike is not something that everybody may be willing to do. We can agree that the price is premium and may end up being a turn-off, especially for shoppers who are looking to purchase on a budget.
If you are looking for the best bike for a bikepacking adventure, I would say the Salsa Cutthroat definitely fits the bill! It has all the features you’ll require during your expedition and promises a comfortable ride.
But it doesn’t come cheap! Make sure that you have around $3000 to spare.
The Salsa Cutthroat is an amazing off-road warrior that can take on any rough terrain you subject it to. You will enjoy its general feel; light and strong with immense carrying capacity.
You also get multiple sitting positions and a smooth, fast, and stable ride in a tough trail. I would easily recommend it for your next across the country adventure.