Today, I’m pleased to introduce Deadwood SUS to the world; what I believe to be another “see off-roading in a whole new way” bike from Salsa. Deadwood SUS is our 29+ full-suspension short-travel trail bike. The approach angle, traction, and rollover of 29 x 3.0” tires paired with Split Pivot® suspension help this bike subdue the most challenging terrain whether racing or exploring.
Product Manager Joe Meiser and Engineer Pete Koski took some time to get into the background, numbers, and benefits of this unique trail ripper.
The Deadwood SUS Backstory
Deadwood SUS 29+ XO1 Eagle…
Meiser: “One of the many questions we ask when starting the development of a bike is ‘Why does it deserve to exist?’ When RockShox shared with us that they would be developing the Pike and Yari forks in a 29+ specific chassis, we started with a layout and buck prototypes that would be refined to become the Deadwood SUS. We knew from experience working on groundbreaking products like Bucksaw (our fat suspension bike) and Ponyrustler (our 27.5+ trail suspension bike) that big tires offered advantages in rollover and traction with lower pressures and larger footprints. We didn’t quite know how a 29+ suspension bike would perform until we got on those prototypes.”
“Riding the early prototypes was when the tire size really began to make sense for me. Like any new bike, it took me some time to get the suspension tune dialed for my preferences and terrain, along with the fit and components. I have a ton of time on the Pony Rustler as my go-to trail bike. I found myself wanting to treat the Deadwood SUS the same way, but it was telling me to treat it differently. Once I learned to trust the incredible traction and keep my fingers off the brakes, I found that I could maintain more speed through the corners. With the rollout of a 3.0” 29+ tire, I can pick nearly any line I would like through a rock garden and not have to worry about getting hung up on the front edge of a rock or in a gap between two. It stays on top of the rocks and roots. When it comes to climbing, the traction is incredible, and the effect of body position on the bike isn’t nearly as sensitive as when I am on a standard 29” tire. These characteristics paired with the suspension travel front and rear make it a bike that is great whether riding local trails or covering a long distance. I have visions of an overland motorcycle adventure when I am on Deadwood SUS. It’ll get rowdy when I need it, and I can turn the throttle wide open when I want.”
Koski: “Deadwood SUS is a little bit of Spearfish (short travel and efficient), and a little bit of Pony Rustler (trail bike geo), smashed up with 29+ tires. Why’d we make it? Because we could! And because it presents another new ride offering that just might be the ticket for what certain riders are looking for.”
Deadwood SUS 29+ XT 1x11…
Deadwood SUS is built around 91 mm of rear wheel travel and a 29+, 100 mm travel 51 mm offset front fork. Within those 91 mm of rear end travel is a surprising amount of small bump sensitivity and supple braking performance, and a progressive mid stroke that provides support heading into and out of corners. On the bigger hits, the travel just doesn’t seem to run out, leaving you with a heaping helping of trail courage.
Meiser: “Deadwood SUS is built around short travel, but that travel is paired with the geometry of a trail bike. It’s a child of our experience with the Spearfish, fat bikes, and the Pony Rustler. The Spearfish is a short travel XC/Endurance bike that has had trail focused geometry since its inception. Only now are others catching on to the fact that trail focused geometry, particularly when it comes to front end handling, makes a bike more capable. Mix in the 29 x 3” tires, and you have an incredibly capable short-travel trail bike that lends more confidence in rocks, roots, and descents.”
The volume of 29+ wheels and tires and the tuned anti-squat of the Split Pivot suspension lead to an efficient platform that shelters you from the bumps and jolts that would otherwise make for taxing hours and days.
Meiser: “29+ tires have proven that there is no such thing as too much traction on a mountain bike. In addition to traction, they have incredible rollover capabilities. When mated to the incredibly efficient pedaling and the sensitive bump compliance of Split Pivot, it makes for a bike that stays up on top of the rough stuff and doesn’t get hung up on square edges, or stuck in bumps through a corner.”
Like its predecessor Spearfish, Deadwood SUS continues the pairing of slack and low “trail bike” style geometry - 68-degree head angle and 45mm BB drop - with travel amounts usually reserved only for steep and twitchy race bikes. Deadwood SUS uses the BOOST 148 standard and is one of the first production suspension frames designed specifically around 29+ (3.0”) tires. This tire size offers up big time smooth rolling traction, a planted and confident feel, and increased momentum - all great when you’re putting in mile and mile over extremely varied terrain. But note that with a simple tire swap down to standard 29” widths (2.3 - 2.5”), Deadwood SUS gets a snappier, faster-accelerating feel, making it better suited for high-octane pursuits and any trail riding where increased agility is desired.
Deadwood SUS 29+ GX1…
Enter the Realm of Singletraction
Meiser: “Over the last year we have seen several short travel suspension bikes with trail-oriented geometry come into the space where our Spearfish has been. The Deadwood SUS is a 29+ bike that could easily be built into a 25lb. race machine with a swap of tires and elimination of the dropper post. It is a short travel trail/xc/endurance 29/29+ suspension bike that can serve race duty and/or trail duty depending on what type of personality the rider wants to give it within their own build or customization perspective.”
Koski: “Deadwood SUS is made for playgrounds like the Kokopelli trail; long distance, rugged, off-road riding where you need the efficiency of 29” wheel to cover long miles, suspension to soak up rough sections, and plus size tires to float through sand and variable road/trail conditions. 29+ tires make it behave like a Spearfish w/ 10 mm more travel and a bunch more traction.”
Add a few more hours each day to your scenic off-road bikepacking tour, or push yourself to the “Weird Zone” in a 100-mile race in the mountains. Whatever endeavor, Deadwood SUS is packed with any of the right-for-the-job attributes a trail-focused mountain biker would look for.
Deadwood SUS comes in 3 builds: Deadwood SUS 29+ XO1 Eagle at $5999, Deadwood SUS 29+ XT 1x11 at $4499, and Deadwood SUS 29+ GX1 at $3799.
Riders – Lindsey Carpenter and Ethan Frey
Art Director – Kelly MacWilliams
Script – Mark Sirek
Videography – Brendan Lauer
Drone Videography – Skyclad Aerial
Editor – Brendan Lauer
Music Composition – Ethan Houser and Brendan Lauer
Sound Design – Ethan Houser
Voiceover – Brendan Lauer
Location - Shenandoah Mountains near Stokesville and Harrisonburg, Virginia
Special thanks to – Chris Scott of the Stokesville Lodge; Thomas Jenkins of the Shenandoah Bicycle Company
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I had to live on both coasts a couple of times to realize that maybe being born in the Midwest wasn’t just arbitrary. I’m drawn to the terrain here, and if you catch me with one of this region’s supreme IPAs in hand, I’ll talk your ear off about my favorite spots. I’ll always take every opportunity though to explore every nook and cranny anywhere I can on a bike, because that’s what makes me feel most alive.