Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Salsa Cycles Cutthroat: The Case For Adventure

Cutthroat Carbon x-9
In my first post on this new Salsa Cycles bike, (seen HERE), I gave my initial thoughts on this bike. I have been watching with interest on social media for the reactions to this new bike. A couple of things stick out for me here. One thing is the sense that people have gotten that this is a bike about having adventures on. The second thing I've noticed is that many are seeing this bike as the ultimate gravel road warrior.

The adventure bike thing has two sides to it. On one hand, there are those who are saying "any bike can be an adventure bike", so this bike is just cashing in on the Tour Divide thing, or whatever. Some are also saying that the drop bar mountain bike thing is old hat and Salsa seems to think that they invented something here, which, as they say, they have not.

What's in a name anyway? Is the Cutthroat an"Adventure Bike"? Interestingly, my friend takes on a similar subject in his essay on "gravel bikes" and what to call them. On this bike though, it isn't so much that the Cutthroat is being called an "adventure bike", but that it epitomizes what Salsa Cycles' marketing has been all about since late 2008. The motto is "Adventure By Bike", and their whole bicycle line up revolves around this theme. Ever since the "second renaissance of drop bar mountain bikes", which was ignited when the Fargo came out, Salsa has preached the "Adventure By Bike" thing, and back in '08, no one else was talking about this. Now the Cutthroat is the pinnacle of this theme with a lightweight, innovative carbon frame, drop bars, and the fittings to out fit it as a bikepacking rig, if you want to really get off the grid.

The Cutthroat may not be a Fargo, but its lineage starts with that bike
Like the Fargo before it, the Cutthroat will become a blank slate for people's individual interpretations. There will be flat bar Cutthroats, gravel-centric Cutthroats, mountain bike, front suspended Cutthroats, and urbanized Cutthroats. Sure- the Cutthroat is maybe not going to be able to be interpreted as a "traditional" touring bike, like the first Fargo was, but there are other Salsa bikes for that purpose. The Cutthroat is the perfect high end, high tech offering that lets you interpret what a drop bar mountain bike for "Adventure By Bike" looks like to you. Does that make it an "adventure bike"? I think it does.

Secondly, Salsa has never said that they "invented" the drop bar mountain bike, as some seem to think. That's the furthest thing from the truth. Salsa Cycles in their original form participated in the first renaissance of the drop bar dirt bike, but again, not even Ross Schafer, the originator of Salsa Cycles, invented that. I guess it's a case of "know your history" before you go making rash statements about drop bar mountain bikes. Nuff said.......

The gravel idea for the Cutthroat is what I thought was most interesting. Folks were catching on that if the higher end Cutthroat, which is claimed to weigh around 22lbs, is fitted with a set of lighter weight, gravel road type tires, it would be even lighter. You could have a 40mm tire with tons of clearance for one event, then swap out to 2.1's for another, and get rad on 2.4"ers on the weekend single track outings. Could it be someones "quiver killer"? Possibly. More so than a Fargo, or anything else in Salsa's current line up.

The thing is that however you look at it, the general reaction from many folks is that the Cutthroat seems to be getting a lot of folks talking about having bicycle adventures, and that's a good thing. Whether or not they all end up getting this fancy, swoopy carbon steed is not as important as the ideas that the Cutthroat represents. Hopefully it brings more action than words in the end.


Unknown said...

I would buy this bike if it was made of aluminum.Any chance that's going to happen?

My Name Is Mud said...

Is it possible to put a front or rear rack on?

Guitar Ted said...

My Name Is Mud: No- this is a bike designed specifically around soft bag touring. aka- "bikepacking" type bags.

Anonymous said...

Hey maybe the Fargo will get cheaper on the used market now. This thing is has a pretty small niche if you ask me.

Guitar Ted said...

@Solo Vino: Maybe you're right. Doubt that will be the case though. Not many used Fargos turn up and when they do they seem to get sold rather quickly. Especially the Gen 1 versions.