ADVENTURE BY BIKE®
Interbike 2010 is here people. Over the next couple days, we will be hammering the blog with new product introductions. Keep that browser open and the F5 key clackin’.
It is my pleasure to get things started by introducing Salsa’s newest suspension frame: Spearfish
Spearfish is a full-suspension 29’er mountain bike built purposely for endurance racing. Every aspect of the frame is tailored to produce a bike that excels at 50 mile, 100 mile, 24-hour races and other ultra-endurance events. 80mm of firm rear wheel travel, smooth-rolling 29'er wheels, and a refined geometry are all packed into a durable sub-6 lbs alloy chassis (including rear shock). The Spearfish is a snappy and extremely stable ride that goes further and faster on less.
The Spearfish project was spawned over 2 years ago when a few of the Salsa crew (myself included) participated in the Ridge Rider’s Dakota Five-O race. The Five-O is a 50-mile mountain bike race through the rugged Black Hills of Spearfish, South Dakota. The course traverses remote singletrack with long winding climbs and fast, rippin’ descents. I rode a Dos Niner that day, and it performed admirably. After the race, ideas and discussions started swirling around at Salsa HQ about creating a bike that could descend better and offer more stability and comfort while still capturing the efficiency and race-readiness of the Dos Niner. The end result is the Spearfish, and with it, we pay homage to that fair city and it’s riders on the western edge of South Dakota.
The frame is built with shaped and hydroformed EV6 tubing. Hydroforming is used in the main triangle tubes to optimize strength and stiffness. This puts more material where it’s needed and less where it isn’t. EV6 is a special 6000-series aluminum alloy with a custom heat treatment. This new tubing allows us to make a frame with nearly identical weight, strength, and fatigue properties as our old 7000-series scandium frames, but at a significantly reduced cost.
The frame is designed to use a 100mm tapered fork, and has 80mm of rear wheel travel via a simple, single pivot design and straight dog-bone link. It’s not a fancy multi-link design, but there are only 6 bearings on the entire frame, and only one suspension link. Less links and less pivots = less weight (and less maintenance). The straight dog-bone link is smaller and lighter than triangle rockers, and to take it a step further, we made the rear shock pin mount concentric to the S/S–Link pivot. This eliminates the lower shock mount pin, instead utilizing a pivot that is already present in the system. Careful placement of pivots and sizing of the link results in very desirable suspension characteristics. The frame exhibits a classic “smiley face” shock rate curve. This means easy setup for sag, good bump absorption through the mid-stroke, and a slight ramp up at the end to resist bottoming out on bigger bumps and landings. Riders familiar with our Big Mama frame (or other frames with a linear rising shock rate) will find the Spearfish to be quite a different ride. This is intentional, as they are two completely different bikes, suited to very different types of riding.
What all this talk about materials, shaping, linkages, and shock rate curves means can simply be summed up as a low weight, snappy pedaling, efficient suspension frame. Small frames weigh in at 5.3 lbs with shock and collar, and the extra-large at 5.8 lbs with the same bits. Seriously. That’s the real deal. A sub-6 lbs alloy 29er.
Of course materials and suspension is not all that makes up a great endurance racer. The geometry and handling characteristics are just as important. We invested a lot of time and effort refining and testing the geometry during the prototype phases. We rode all over the Midwest, out west in places like Oregon, and also in Taiwan. The end result is a bike that is a little longer and more stable than a typical bike one might ride to race a 2-hour XC event. The modest chainstay length, low bottom bracket, and relaxed head angle all combine to allow for predictable handling for someone in their 6th, 12th, or even 18th hour of racing or riding. The bike climbs with the best, descends with confidence, and absolutely rails in the corners.
Additional features include a tapered head tube for precision steering and a press-fit BB30 bottom bracket to transfer as much power from the pedals to the rear wheel as possible. The frame can accommodate new 2 x 10-speed drivetrains, as well as traditional 3 x9's. The frame will fit up to a 2.25 inch tire max. Full length cable housing keeps things clean and running smooth even in the worst conditions. Careful considerations were taken to keep the front triangle open enough to allow a full size bottle to be placed for quick and easy access (unlike many suspension frames which can only accommodate a bottle under the down tube).
Top to bottom the Spearfish is a thoroughbred, tuned for efficiency, speed, and comfort. Frames with shock and collar weigh in at 5.3 to 5.8lbs and will retail for less than $1000. Completes with a Rock Shox Reba and an X7/X9 level build w/ tubeless-ready rims will retail for around $2250. Availability is late December, 2010. Stay tuned to the website in the coming weeks post-Interbike for full details on geometry, build specs, along with more details and pictures.
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Hi, I'm Pete and I am a product development engineer for Salsa. I like all kinds of riding from commuting to dirt jumping. I think flat pedals make you a better bike handler, that the thru-axle is vastly superior to the quick-release for off-road applications, and that moving through the world on bicycle allows one to see things they might not otherwise. I suffer daily from hunger-induced anger, also known as hanger. Outside of work and riding, I enjoy kiteboarding, traveling, and watching hockey.