Introducing: Cutthroat

We are pleased to introduce Cutthroat: the ultimate Tour Divide racing machine.

Cutthroat Carbon Rival 1 complete bike

Cutthroat Carbon Rival 1 complete bike

A drop bar mountain bike, Cutthroat features a full carbon frame with Class 5 VRS™ (Vibration Reduction System) and Firestarter Carbon fork, the bike features front and rear thru-axles, a cavernous front triangle for extra frame bag gear space, and clearance for 29 x 2.4” tires.  

Both Salsa product manager Joe Meiser and product design engineer Sean Mailen have ridden the Tour Divide route from Banff, Alberta, Canada to Antelope Wells, New Mexico and that personal experience clearly impacted the Cutthroat’s final design. “The experience of riding the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route will last a lifetime,” said Mailen. “Cutthroat is a huge step forward in terms of what a fast, efficient bikepacking bike looks like. We asked ourselves; what does the racer need to finish the Tour Divide as fast as possible?” 

Cutthroat Carbon X9 complete bike

Cutthroat Carbon X9 complete bike

During the Cutthroat design process, four key areas were of focus: Comfort, Reliability, Weight, and Efficiency. Meiser says, “The ultra-endurance off-road cyclist is constantly seeking that perfect equation of simple, light, reliable, durable, convenient, and fast because at the end of a 2,745-mile ride the right mix can mean hours saved, not just seconds.” 


Cutthroat features Salsa’s proprietary Class 5 VRS™ (first introduced on the 2016 Warbird). The design reduces the millions of micro impacts that lead to rider fatigue while also creating room for large tires with plenty of mud clearance.


“Comfort is speed,” said Mailen, “especially when you are talking about riding 100 to 150 miles, or more, per day, day after day, the entire length of the country. A body receiving less punishment is one that can put more energy towards moving forward rather than reacting to impacts.”

Class 5 VRS utilizes specially shaped seatstays with a tall, thin, vertically oriented profile that promotes vertical compliance by allowing the seatstays to "flex" outwards on impacts. The horizontally oriented chainstays work to resist torque and maintain a laterally stiff rear end. The seatstays and chainstays lack bridges, furthering the full length of the stays to contribute to flexibility. And a rear thru-axle delivers precise tracking while allowing the seatstays to provide that incredible compliance.

“The beauty of Class 5 VRS is that the principles can be beefed up or paired down depending on the frame we are designing,” added Mailen. “The Cutthroat is a mountain bike, so we’ve beefed it up for this mountain bike application.”

Cutthroat detail

Cutthroat also promotes rider comfort through the use of a drop handlebar. “Multiple hand positions mean multiple body positions, and those are necessary to keep the body happy,” said Mailen. “Cutthroat is spec’d with the Salsa Woodchipper bar because it offers the widest variety of hand positions,” said Meiser.


“The Tour Divide is a long ride through a variety of challenging conditions and terrain,” said Meiser. “Cutthroat is ready for the long haul because we designed for simplicity and durability and cut out complexity. The frameset is feature rich, but without extraneous or unnecessary details.”


 “The bike needed to be light, but durable,” says Mailen. “High-modulus carbon fiber not only allowed us to create complex frame and tube shaping, efficient drivetrain power transfer, and the ride quality we were looking for, but the Cutthroat passes our stringent testing at a very respectable low weight.”


Explains Mailen, “To challenge a record or a personal best time, riders need to be as efficient as possible. They need to know where their gear is, access it, use it, repack it, and keep these stops as short as possible. The Cutthroat provides an extremely large front triangle, along with Three-Pack bosses for either water bottle cages or Anything Cages. It also features toptube bosses for clean, simple mounting of a new Salsa toptube bag that is currently in development. All of this offers excellent opportunity for organization. Organization means efficiency, and increased efficiency means increased speed.”

Cutthroat detail

Salsa sponsored rider Jay Petervary is racing the Cutthroat in the 2015 Tour Divide. “With the nature of Tour Divide one needs equipment that is reliable, practical and useful while paying attention to bulk and weight. In the case of the bike itself, it needs to be comfortable in terms of ride quality and body position, but also needs to be very responsive in energy return. It needs to be stable for carrying a load and high speed descents.”

“The Cutthroat to me has the important traits a Tour Divide race bike should have,” he says. “In my opinion it’s the best tool for the job.”

­Adds Meiser, “The Cutthroat is a bike that is ideal for 16-18 hour days in the saddle, day after day, for three weeks straight. We consider it an evolutionary step forward for Tour Divide bikepacking race rigs.”


The Cutthroat name is more than just a play on the fierceness of competition. “The Cutthroat trout, or a variation of Cutthroat trout, is the state fish for all the U.S. states that the Tour Divide (or Great Divide Mountain Bike Route) passes through,” says Salsa marketing manager Mike ‘Kid’ Riemer.  “It was almost too good to be true when we learned that fact and the Cutthroat name became a keeper (pun intended).”

Cutthroat Rival side view


Cutthroat will be available in two complete bike spec’s and one frameset offering.


Late 2015


Cutthroat Carbon Rival 1 Complete Bike – U.S. MSRP $3999

Cutthroat Carbon X9 Complete Bike – U.S. MSRP $2999

Cutthroat Carbon Frameset – U.S. MSRP $1999

Cutthroat X9 side view


Cutthroat build spec


Cutthroat frame highlights


Cutthroat geometry

This post filed under topics: Tour Divide

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Mike Riemer

Mike Riemer

I love being outside. I prefer to ride on dirt. Or snow. If I was born a hundred years earlier I might have been a polar explorer. There's a great natural world out there to see, smell, taste, listen to, and experience. Life slows down out there and the distractions we've created will disappear if you let them. Give me a backpack and let me go.


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Brad | June 12th, 2015

Just guessing, since this lines up with the Tour Divide Grand Depart this morning.  Is JayP on one of these awesome beasts?

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JoeyDurango | June 12th, 2015

You bet he is.

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Brian Blair | June 12th, 2015

Any comments/guesses on what the mount on the driveside of the headtube is for?

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chunkyflyrite | June 12th, 2015

Another sick rig from salsa! Keep it up, dudes!

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Heffe | June 12th, 2015

So this is pretty similar to the Fargo, but in carbon? I see some mild variations in geometry between the two.

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Steve | June 12th, 2015

Can we get a new shimano triple (22-30-40) on here? If so this is probably the most awesome dirt road tourer/racer ever built.

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Chris | June 12th, 2015

Comparing the geometry to my medium size Fargo this cutthroat appears to have a slightly shorter reach?  This is good news for me as I am a little over 5’9” and my medium size Fargo fits well, but it’s been a challenge to find my perfect glove-like fit, and the small Fargo’s seat tube is a wee too short for me.

When can I order a frameset from my LBS, and will I be able to get the Orange and Blue one? 

Great work guys!

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Mike L | June 12th, 2015

Looks like a downsized Beargrease frame.  Want one, what color is the frameset going to be?

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Pedaling Nowhere | June 12th, 2015

She’s a beaut. Damnit, now I need one for Pisgah gravel.

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ArkyKenny | June 12th, 2015

IF one wants carbon, this kinda replaces everything named Fargo, Vaya, and Warbird, doesn’t it?  Would be curious to hear Salsa’s take on the difference between the new Warbird and this, because it seems to me that this is everything good about the new Warbird, plus additional comfort and the ability to carry stuff.  The only thing I see this giving up to Warbird is a little top end speed in the drops:  Is that correct?  Very nicely done Salsa!

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Andrew | June 12th, 2015

I JUST picked up a Fargo last week and love it, I also love this bike. Better get some OT in.

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Rylan | June 12th, 2015

It looks like from the side view photos, the new top tube mount bag will be fastened with what looks to be standard water bottle cage bosses. I wonder if I’m correct? I hope to see a possible carbon Woodchipper bar down the line for this bike. Great job Salsa!

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Sven De Smedt | June 12th, 2015

Nice bike, but when can we expect a carbon mamasita?

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Tyler | June 12th, 2015

So much win here! This is exactly what I want in a gravel rig—> Light, stable, good tire clearance, many bottle mounts, and sexsay.

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alex | June 12th, 2015

I like that Salsa keeps pushing the envelope, and exploring niches within the bike industry.  Any changes to Colossal for 2016?  Or do you have a new ‘fast adventure pavement bike’ planned instead? Thanks.

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Lars Henning | June 13th, 2015

Nice to see the UST wheels on the Rival version. Take my money!

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Carl Hruza | June 13th, 2015

She’s a beaut Clarke.
It does look to be cut from the same cloth as the 16 Warbird. Then again it looks a bit like the Fargo. A ‘Farbird’ maybe?.

I love the color scheme. One of the sexiest bikes on the market me thinks…

My only regrets with buying the Warbird is the lack of attachments for gear….now you seem to have resolved that, in the most part.

Can I send mine back and swap?? LOL

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Joe | June 13th, 2015

just take my money now

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James | June 13th, 2015

Really nice bike but press fit bottom brackets are a real turn off for me :(

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Terrie | June 15th, 2015

This is my FB post this morning. You guys need to just let me ride one this winter and write up some spectacular bike porn about it…

Have you ever had a crush that was so totally inappropriate that you’re embarrassed to admit it even to yourself? Everything about the crush is wrong for you, and you know it. And you know the scorched earth that would result from pursuing it.
But you can’t help it.
Maybe you’re already in a committed relationship. Maybe he’s (or she’s) in a committed relationship. Maybe it’s just unadulterated lust and you need to move on.
But you slowly start to realize that you have UNMET NEEDS. You start to wonder how this crush would feel under your body. You start to think about the points of contact as you float above, meet, float, meet again… over an undulating ride. You realize that you really do have the physical, mental, and emotional depth for a +1.
And you fantasize about a hall pass. Just this one (or three) time. Polyamory suddenly makes total sense. Monogamish. We’re all consenting adults here, right? Right???
I give you the Salsa Cycles Cutthroat Rival 1. Judge me if you must.

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chach | June 15th, 2015

LOL, Terrie <3

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Mark | June 15th, 2015

No Alternator dropouts?  Bummer.  Otherwise, this replaces 3 of my bikes.

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Joe | June 15th, 2015

I did not even think about the drop outs. That is kind of a bummer. But I would still ride one.

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CrazyLarry Melnik | June 16th, 2015

Wow! Salsa comes through, yet again. I love my Mamasita; its been good to me except when engaging on bumpy fast single track; of which back seat & chain stays are not designed for, I’m sure!
Big shout out to Joe Meiser and product design engineer Sean Mailen for doing the TDR (*Way to go! about hands-on experience for design application of the cutthroat! ) Fantastic! ... and Kid Reimer an apology I did not say hi at Crazy Larry’s Grand Depart Group Picture. I was caught up in making sure last minute permission passing the construction site + plus making sure chain got lifted from gate momentarily without much notice occupied me huge to the last last minute before depart. So High Five now!
Cutthroat comments: back drop outs be nicer! , ability to put on a leaf spring front fork perfect (for me) , ability to have Customized frame geometry tweaked enough for my bike fit specs for “my body” would be Fantastic! (would pay) , probably would be into just frame design as with such an Epic undertaking I would surely want/choose specifically researched frame parts suited to my specs.
Because, as I say to ALL Tour Divide Route (TDR) riders ” The fact, that you made it here to do such an Epic Ride endure such logistics to just get here is a testimony to the person you truly are! Way to go Joe Meiser and product design engineer Sean Mailen !
Love you guys at Salsa !!! Ya! Love to ride the Rev 1

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Terrie | June 16th, 2015

Seriously Salsa.

My FB post from yesterday is still getting chatter. Women who are uncomfortable publicly “liking” a slightly edgy post have gushed to me privately. They love the infidelity analogy. It drove them to your site, where they then fell in love with the Cutthroat.

Guys like it too! Look at the comment thread on my FB page! Chach above loves it. He even gave it the less-than-three symbol! There can be no stronger endorsement for the power of my writing.

You need me to ride it this winter and write about how it makes me feel strong and fast. How it makes me float over the Colorado snow and ice. (Because, how could it not?!) The efficiency of the carbon frame. The solid responsiveness in corners and sketchy descents. The cargo options for stashing winter gear. And snacks.

I am the perfect everywoman who rides big miles. I help lead mixed group rides and also women-only group rides. I’m a mom. A writer. And a very strong rider. I chick random dudes who ride like jerks all. the. time. I’m very visible in the local community because I ride all the time. I’m out on the roads and the trails year-round four to six days/week.

I’ll ned a Salsa kit, too BTW. Right now I primarily ride another brand bike and promotional kit that also start with the letter S. Convert me.

Rival 1: Small. Bibs: Small or XS depending on the fit. Jersey: Small.

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chach | June 16th, 2015

I’ll be putting a lauf fork on this cutthroat. I have a modified TR29 (40% more tense than regular TR29) on my Fargo now and it’s a dream to ride. A lot of gains and very few sacrifices.

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GaryG | June 16th, 2015

You should let Terrie ride a Cutthroat in Colorado for a full year. She will write a fair review and the give it back. Let her keep the kit though. Rival 1: Small. Bibs: Small or XS depending on the fit. Jersey: Small.

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Justin L. | June 16th, 2015

too bad i just bought a fargo, cause i want this bike bad. Can’t wait to see how Jay P. does on this bike. So far he is ahead of his record which is amazing. This bike looks incredible, great job Salsa, which i had some overtime i could work right now.

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James Allen | June 18th, 2015

Sweet ride… now about that funky/cool new bar tape!

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johnny | June 21st, 2015

@ James: I think most folks are not keen on press fit bottom brackets because of their experiences with bb30 and PF30. I have yet to see PF92 have any of the issues that have plagued lesser press fit bottom bracket designs. I know of two people in particular who ride hard and often have gotten 3 plus seasons out of their pf92 bottom brackets without the need for replacement. My hats off to Salsa for spec’ing the Cutthroat with a bb that makes sense despite some common misconceptions about said bb.

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Zac | June 22nd, 2015

Doesn’t say much about the BB choice when Jay P. had to get his replaced around half way through the race. PF have there shortcomings and advantages but give me a threaded BB any time.

Kid Riemer

Kid Riemer | June 22nd, 2015

Finally taking a moment to respond to some of the questions/comments posted…in random order:

-Two mounts on top of toptube behind stem are for a direct mount top tube bag that we are currently developing. The mount will make straps unnecessary for that bag.

-Frameset only will be the Light Blue/Orange color scheme

-Mount seen on side of headtube is not finalized, but is an experiment in hydration hose routing for those using frame bag to carry hydration bladder

-Bottom bracket choice - We have had great personal success with PressFit 41. Regarding JayP stopping to replace his, we made one critical mistake in that we did not send him a new BB when we sent him the proper painted frame. He moved his BB from his proto frame and that was a massive mistake on our part. PressFit BB’s are one and done in that once installed, they should not be removed and reinstalled. We have confidence in PressFit 41.

CrazyLarry - I wish we had gotten the chance to meet in Banff but we too were in a rush. It was a pleasure to see you get everyone fired up at the Y during the race start. Thanks for what you do.

Updates to other Salsa bikes and several other new models will be introduced in late July. Thank you all for your interest.

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chach | June 22nd, 2015

Thanks for your honesty, Kid. Jay’s BB problem raised my eyebrow, and I figured it was an OE BB failure. I’m glad it’s not.  I can’t wait to see what’s new around the corner from Salsa before pulling the trigger, but I certainly am keen on getting this Cutthroat.

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CJ | July 3rd, 2015

From JayP,

“The Cutthroat is a Fargo on steroids. Excellent transmission, what you put in is what you get out, but equally as comfortable as Ti Fargo. It definitely has impressed me. Get it!!”

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Paul | July 7th, 2015

Can the road bike wheels be used on the Cutthroat?  That would make the Cutthroat cover almost all my biking needs.

Kid Riemer

Kid Riemer | July 13th, 2015

Paul - Typical road tires would lower the bottom bracket of the bike significantly so I’m not sure I would go that route. If I was going to run some ‘non-MTB’ tires, I would probably elect to use as large a gravel tire as possible…41mm or something like that. Thanks for your interest. -Kid

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Dave | July 13th, 2015

would be nice if this bike and the fargo had a belt drive option!

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Tom | July 17th, 2015

The gearing on both models seems woefully lacking in the low-range department for a bike that will be ridden up steep fire roads for hours on end by fatigued riders loaded with gear.  Perhaps Jay can push a 36x42 up 12% grades but for the majority of Divide riders its inadequate.

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jeremyrobida | July 27th, 2015

Will the Cutthroat accept a rear rack?  I keep seeing mixed messages across the various forums, and I’m posting here to get a clear answer.  My understanding is YES.  If you look at the pictures close, there’s a small hole in the rear seat stay for the rack, and the upper attachment point would be to a seat post style collar mount.  Salsa, please verify.  Rear rack on the Cutthroat?  Weight limitations, etc?  Thanks.

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Sean McGinnis | July 28th, 2015

Has anyone else noticed the subtle map on the bottom of the down tube?!? Large scale cue sheet?

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Cory | July 30th, 2015

I just ordered a Cutthroat!! I am wondering if it will come with a Thomson X4 stem like the spec says it comes with? All the pictures I see (on this page and elsewhere) show it with a Salsa stem.

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Taco Pastorius | August 1st, 2015

I would love to see a crown-mounted boss on the carbon firestarter fork for dyno light mounting.  Yah????  Other than that tiny detail, the Cutthroat looks like a bad mama, and my ‘14 Ti Fargo is definitely a bad lad.  I’m looking forward to seeing one of these in person…I already have a Powderkeg, 105 Warbird (for the misses), at home from the 2016 lineup and eagerly awaiting the shipment of my Carbon Warbird.  Thanks, Salsa!

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Don | August 22nd, 2015

I’m super stoked about this bike.  Do no divide riders use dynamo powered lights?  I’d imagine some would ride at night and not want to carry batteries or rely on service towns…some people camp on the route.  The front fork crown appears to have no eyelet/braze on; which is my only gripe of western world problems for now.

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Nigel Leech | September 23rd, 2015

I think plenty of divide riders are using dynamos, just not mounting them to their forks. I’ll be using an Exposure Revo on my bars.

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Rose Love | May 9th, 2016

I am about to embark on a 14 month trip and I just got this bike.  It is so sweet. I’ve had it for about a month and taken it on some really rough terrain to test it out and, so far, everything seems to be holding up very well.  Thanks!

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Jeff | May 19th, 2016

Too bad there are none available anywhere in my area or I’d love to add the X9 to my stable of other Salsas!

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CrazyLarry Melnik (Larry Melnik F.B.) | May 19th, 2016

See ALL you TD riders for some fun sharing stories, pictures, and interviews to come here at the YWCA in Banff, Alberta
Don’t forget the CrazyLarry Question & Answer Session at Elk & Oarsmen Pub middle of downtown across from Macdonalds crosswalk.
Hope ALL you that got your Salsa Cutthroat bikes are ready to enjoy your ride with the security of knowing you can worry about other things rather than a good bike - because you have one!
Your friend (Banff, Alberta)
P.S. Weather updates at Tour Divide Question & Answer on F.B.

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John C Robinson | May 21st, 2016

Will the Cutthroat accept a rear rack?  Please verify which Salsa Rack will fit the Cutthroat and what are weight limitations ... I bought a Rival 1 and want to take it on a long road trip and will be needing panniers for storage…

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Samuel | June 30th, 2016

damn bought a Fargo last week, I should have waited for this bike.

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Jubilee | October 7th, 2016

I’ve been looking for a used cutthroat and I came across this article. Now I want it even more!  Thanks for sharing all the specs and pictures.

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