Salsa Spearfish Introduction

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 29er 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 29er wheels, and a refined geometry are all packed into a durable sub-6 lb 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 more than 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 its 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.

Shaping in the rear triangle allows the seatstays to flex as the suspension cycles. This flexing action (only about 1/4 inch in total) means the rearward pivot can be eliminated, which in turn removes a pair of bearings, hardware, and spacers from the system. This reduces weight and maintenance points. Many of you will recall this same concept in relation to the Big Mama and El Kaboing frames.

spearfish shock rate chart

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 lb with shock and collar, and the X-Large at 5.8 lb with the same bits. Seriously. That’s the real deal. A sub-6 lb alloy 29er.

Of course materials and suspension are not all that make 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.

spearfish railin corners

Additional features include a tapered head tube for precision steering and a pressFfit BB30 bottom bracket to transfer as much power from the pedals to the rear wheel as possible. The frame can accommodate new 2x10-speed drivetrains, as well as traditional 3x9s. The frame will fit up to a 2.25″ 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).

spearfish quick geo

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 5.8 lb and will retail for less than $1,000. Completes with a Rock Shox Reba and an X7/X9-level build with tubeless ready rims will retail for around $2,250. 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.

This post filed under topics: New Product Pete Koski

Share this post:

Pete Koski

Pete Koski

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.


No avatar image

captain bob | September 20th, 2010

Thank you!  I have been waiting for this bike for a long time!  Finally getting a fs!

MG | September 20th, 2010

Wow… That has evolved significantly from the prototype I rode last year.  Impressive, especially given the specs you’re spoutin’.  I like it a lot.  Endurance racers all over are gonna’ be clamoring for this one, no doubt.

Have a great Interbike,

No avatar image

Preston Spuza | September 20th, 2010

I wonder if this would work with an 80mm fork. Looks like the exact bike I’ve been wanting (except only 80mm front & rear). I really like what y’all are doing this year. Look forward to what else is shown at interbike.

No avatar image

CG | September 20th, 2010

Great work guys, love it, great color to. Design looks well thought out, shock curve, beefy head tube for front end stiffness, stand over, light weight and lower cost.

Even more excited to see the spearfishes big brother…!

No avatar image

Wally | September 20th, 2010

This is pretty darned cool.

No avatar image

DC | September 20th, 2010

Like the boys from the Great White North sang, “If I had $1,000,000…”

No avatar image

Kevin Chang | September 20th, 2010

So Big Mama is dead?

No avatar image

captain bob | September 20th, 2010

It looks like there’s some space for a small frame bag too.  At least for the size large that I ordered.

No avatar image

CHSAD | September 20th, 2010

Will there be an adapter so I can use my new non-tapered Fox F29?

No avatar image

Dan | September 20th, 2010

awesome bike, I LOVE it!!!

No avatar image

Shimon | September 21st, 2010

Can I use Fox float RL with remote?
What’s the standover size for frame size 18”?


Gnat | September 21st, 2010

Hey folks, greetings from Boulder City.  I don’t have all these answers as some are technical and just don’t have all the access to the information.  We’ll follow up on the tech details later. 

I do want to address one comment though about the Big Mama.  The Spearfish IS NOT the Big Mama replacement.  We are working on that and will release it sometime later next year.  Sorry for the delay here.  We just want to be honest and open.

No avatar image

eelmonkey | September 21st, 2010

So what does this mean in actual distance in millimeters between the chainstays at the “tire rubbing point”:
“The frame will fit up to a 2.25 inch tire max”

Tires are so different… and crucial. But if it is comparable to the clearance of the Dos Niner (except the old green ones), it is all good.

Any comments on frame stiffness, compared to the Dos?

No avatar image

nitrousjunky | September 21st, 2010

Sweet, looks like a well thought out design and nice price tag as well. I’m also a little curious about the tire clearance comment!

No avatar image

Grizzattack | September 21st, 2010

Speaking of the Dos, is the Spearfish the replacement for Salsa’s original two-niner???

No avatar image

jesse hansen | September 22nd, 2010

Looks like we will stop the flow of Hi Fi’s comming in the shop as soon as these are ready to ship out!  This is what we asked fisher for back in 05 and they made us the procal that missed the mark that this one will hit.
Please back order a small, med and 3 larges in the first run for us.

Jesse Rushmore Mtn Sports
Spearfish, SD

No avatar image

Gshock | September 23rd, 2010

Are you offering this frame in two colors like the El Marachi?

No avatar image

Jay "slow" gard | September 23rd, 2010

LOVE it! Thanks for honoring Spearfish. I’ll be getting myself one of those larges Jesse!

No avatar image

mahoba | September 24th, 2010

Looks great.  What is this talk about the demise of the Big Mama?  That bike rules.


PK | September 24th, 2010

Hey everyone, thanks for the feedback and enthusiasm.  I’d like to answer a few questions:

HT = There are currently adapters to run straight 1.125” steerers in a tapered headtube that uses a ZS style headset.

PressFitBB30 = *Most* BB30 cranks will work with the style BB. All current TruVativ mountain cranks work except for the 156 Q factor XX.  Problem Solvers will also be offering an adapter to allow the use of 24mm axle style cranks (Shimano, RaceFace, etc) in a PFBB30 bottom bracket.

Colors = For this year there will be only one color.

Dos Niner = Not dead, just on sabbatical.

Big Mama = Not dead, we’re working on a new one. Still too early for any firm details, dates, or expected ETAs.

Specific geo details (like stand over), and component fitment (rear shocks) we will follow up on in the next couple weeks.

Thanks for reading!

Cheese | September 24th, 2010

I may have been converted to the 29er by seeing this bike!

No avatar image

Shimon | September 24th, 2010

The news about the Dos Niner is a big disappointment.
I think about replacing my 2007 Dos Niner frame with a new 2011 Dos Niner frame and even dream about titanium Dos Niner frame.

No avatar image

Gshock | September 25th, 2010

I tried to pry some Dos Niner info from the Salsa guys at Interbike… They swore up and down they have no idea what the future does niner will be like other than it possibly being in the new EV6 tubing material.

I had the salsa crew pull the Spearfish off the rack. I did my lateral flex check and it felt pretty stiff.  This bike has true potential of being the “real deal” both monetarily and performance wise.  Good job Salsa, you guys took the show for me!

No avatar image

captain bob | September 25th, 2010

So,I’ve ordered my Chequamegon 100 bike now.  Can’t wait for this green machine to come in.  No excuses for me this year TK.  Poor health and only a rigid ss made impossible last year.

No avatar image

Grizzattack | September 25th, 2010

Thanks Gshock for digging about the Dos.

No avatar image

5kidmonty | September 26th, 2010

Will you take my El Kaboing in trade or should I keep it?

No avatar image

Anthony Jr. | September 27th, 2010

I was dead-set on the Anthem X 29er before this came out.


No avatar image

Dykstra | September 27th, 2010

As a long ride enthusiest, five-O veteran, and Spearfish native I’d like to say thanks for the honor. I may actualy buy a new mountain bike, and a first full-suspention.  Thanks for keeping us cross country explorers in mind.

No avatar image

Gary | September 28th, 2010


Could you post the specs for the Spearfish?


No avatar image

Sven | September 28th, 2010

You can have my Dos when you pry it from my big, white ass.  Just had to say that.  I would, however, be interested in doing a side-by-side comparison to specifically test lateral stiffness.

No avatar image

Nils Erik | September 30th, 2010

Will this be sold “frame only” with rear shock? Some may wan’t a better shock - will there be more than one option? Just don’t like the Monarch. Or is it special tuned for the Spearfish?

No avatar image

Craig Ruhland | September 30th, 2010

sound like this thing would be the ultimate maah daah hey trekker!

can’t wait to throw a leg over it!

another name inspired by the dakotas….shhhh, don’t tell anyone else there is great riding up here!

No avatar image

Shimon | October 14th, 2010

How the dream past?
Why the huge standover at size M?
Especially when I compare to Big Mama and Dos Niner 2010


PK | October 14th, 2010

Can’t sneek anything past you guys…Shimon you are on the ball. Standover listed is off by a factor of BB drop.  The geo chart will be updated shortly.  Until then, the correct values are:
SM = 752.7mm
MD = 753.2mm
LG = 758.5mm
XL = 763.5mm

No avatar image

JeroenK | October 15th, 2010

The strut between the top tube and the seat tube seems to vary in size depending on the bike size. Am I right, or did the prototype bikes that were pictured on the interbike dirt demo / show not have the definitive design?

What size is the bike on the pictures on the website? I liked the appearance of the bike with the shortest strut the most.

No avatar image

Joe I., Deep in the TX Hill country | October 19th, 2010

Luuuuv my big mamma. Using it to do Marathons this winter. After reading about the Spear Fish,I will have to make room in the stable, next to the Mamma and the El Mariachi. The colors of the Rainbow are Red (Mariachi), Orange (Mamma) and Green (Spear Fish).

No avatar image

Nelson | October 21st, 2010

As an avid XC racer and having lived 8 years in Spearfish this is super cool to see!  The Dakota Five-O is an amazing race put on by amazing people.  Its’ good to see a beautiful piece of work inspired by it. I was pretty set on ditching full suspension and heading 29er, now I am thinking otherwise.

No avatar image

John Gould | October 21st, 2010

Looks like just the bike I want… what are you plans re getting them in the UK?

rick | October 29th, 2010

I’m lusting for the spearfish for a race rig for next season but I have a question about fit.  I currently race a large selma and the large spearfish seems to match most of the geo numbers but your fit chart would have me on an xl spearfish (at 6’-2 1/2” tall).  Is this really the case?

No avatar image

rideandshoot | December 5th, 2010

Stand over…

Is there really on 7.5 mm difference between a small and medium?

Dan O | December 28th, 2010

Bike looks fantastic - can wait to see it in the flesh, uh - metal.

No avatar image

dhalo | February 8th, 2011

and how is this different from the caballero?

MG | February 8th, 2011

I’m not a Salsa employee, but I do know the two designs, and there are a number of differences. Three primary ones are:
- 29"er wheels on the Spearfish, as opposed to 26-inch on the Cab.
- Flexible seat stays on the Spearfish, making the Cab’s pivot at the rear dropout unnecessary.
- 6000-series alloy based frame on the Spearfish, vs. Scandium-enhanced 7000-series alloy on the Cab

Frame weights end up being about the same, which is pretty amazing considering the Spearfish is a 29"er.

No avatar image

Jonah | February 13th, 2011

This bike delivers , I ve just received mine and it?s performing better than i expected , Fast , balanced ,comfortable.

All at a great price ,


No avatar image

ivez | April 4th, 2011

how much is the price for the spearfish?
and how can we shop online?

LEO | April 17th, 2011

Just wanted to thank Salsa for the chance to own @ ride this new Spearfish. Acme Bicycles in Rapid City @ his crew done a great job setting this bike up ! Looking forward to riding this bike as we get race track ready for this year’s race Hope to see a lot of green bikes this year !

No avatar image

Jeff M | April 29th, 2011

Green? Really? I would bet a large sum of money that if you offered the bike in Green and any other color, any other color would sell more. The color is the only thing stopping me from buying it. A sad marketing decision…

No avatar image

Gary | August 2nd, 2011

Saw 2012 Spearfish bike photos, nice…....when will the spec.s and shipping dates be available?

Kid Riemer

Kid Riemer | August 2nd, 2011

Gary - You will probably see some information in blog form shortly, but the website will be updated fully for EuroBike, at the end of August.

WV Cycling | September 28th, 2011

Gerry Pflug plugged some info on the updated Spearfish to the WV Cycling crew the other day, and we’ve been peeking at this bike for a while… like eight or nine months… I’d love to know more about it, and evangelize it’s prowess once familiar with it. The Spearfish looks like such an underrated XC killer.

No avatar image

Mark | October 31st, 2011

The Spearfish looks very much like a Superfly 100.  Like, copy cat close.

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.