Blackthorn Frame Details
While Salsa might be best known as 'the Minnesota brand with all the touring and fat bikes,' that might change with the debut of their all-new, 140mm-travel Blackthorn trail bike. With a 160mm fork and a geometry chart that wouldn't look out of place for an enduro bike, Salsa says that the Blackthorn is ''Built for riding any trail anywhere with confidence.''
I've got the top-tier and very purple Carbon X01 Eagle version that costs $7,499 USD for an upcoming Field Test video review, but complete bikes start at $3,199 for an aluminum frame, 12-speed Deore components, RockShox suspension, and proper Maxxis tires. Unlike most brands, Salsa also offers an aluminum frame/shock for $2,099, or you can get the carbon model for $3,199 USD.
• Travel: 140mm rear / 160mm front
• Wheel size: 29"
• Carbon or alloy frame options
• Split Pivot rear suspension
• Adjustable geometry
• 64.6-degree head angle (low setting)
• Super Boost hub spacing
• Weight: 32lbs 6oz
• MSRP: $3,199 - $7,499 USD
Salsa has ticked all the boxes with the Blackthorn, including on-frame storage solutions by way of many threaded holes and an integrated frame strap slot at the forward shock mount. They're not the first to do this, but they did add a rubber scuff guard to keep the tube and whatever else you carry from scratching your frame. Bosses on the toptube let you attach a bag or computer mount as well, and the 'three-pack' bottle mount on the downtube gives you even more options.
Another threaded hole you might get excited about: The bottom bracket, which is where you'll also find a set of ISCG 05 chain guide tabs. Those are removable on the carbon frame via an adapter, and they're welded onto the aluminum version.
Cable routing is internal and molded-in guides inside the carbon frame mean that it's as easy as pulling out the old line and pushing the new one in. If you get the aluminum frame, you'll find large openings that should mean the job isn't too tricky. And speaking of cables, there's even a small opening for a remote shock lockout, should you feel the need.
Salsa has a long history of offering bikes that can accept all sorts of wheel and tire sizes, and that continues with the Blackthorn; you can squeeze in up to a 2.6" wide tire if you stick with 29" wheels, or even 3.0" rubber if you go to a 27.5" rear wheel, despite short 432mm aluminum chainstays. That's possible, Salsa says, due to the bike's 12mm x 157mm Super Boost hub spacing that's sure to rile some of us up. Split Pivot Suspension
Salsa's been using Dave Weagle's Split Pivot suspension layout for many years now, and that's exactly what you'll find on the back of the Blackthorn. It's a design that allows the rear pivot to rotate concentrically around the axle, and a rocker link and clevis drive the shock to deliver 140mm of travel. There's also a nearly hidden flip-chip on the clevis that supplies 0.3-degrees of angle and 4mm of bottom bracket height adjustment.
It's a straightforward looking layout, and Salsa also says that it's ''uniquely suited'' to let riders swap out the clevis, rocker, and shock to those used on the 165mm-travel Cassidy. Salsa will sell you the rocker and clevis for $150 USD. Of course, you'll need a longer stroke shock and fork, too, making it a not-so-inexpensive transformation. It also means that Salsa can offer two platforms from a single front and rear triangle. Long and Slack Geometry
Salsa didn't take any half-steps with the Blackthorn's geometry, instead jumping in feet first with a 64.6-degree head angle, 76.5-degree seat angle, and 490mm reach on my large-sized test bike. You can also steepen it up by a third of a degree by flipping the rearward shock mounting hardware, which also raises the bottom bracket by 4mm. Small changes, for sure, but likely useful if you're considering a 27.5" rear wheel.
Two other numbers worth mentioning: A short 455mm seat tube on a size-large leaves room for long-travel party posts, and the extra-large size sports a 510mm reach that should make beanstalks happy.
This style of being "edgy" is so stale, and super annoying.
Just stop, already.
SLX isn't that great, in fact its pretty lackluster compared to GX.
Having Tried both the SLX and XT Drivetrains and also the GX and XO Drivetrains, i'd have to put my finger on Sram... Still better, very 'slightly' better than Shimano... and the New GX 10-52t drivetrain looks extremely worth it!
Rockshox is just so far ahead of Fox for burly single crown enduro forks. Better performance on the trail, feel, cheaper, simple, easy to service, the list goes on.
Fox 36 performance is nearly comparable to a Yari... absolute crap performance!
I know we’re all entitled to our opinions, but are you sure about that? I have a full SLX bike and a full GX bike sitting in my garage right now. They (the drivetrains) are almost identical in function and feel. GX has a slight advantage with the thumb shifter being easier to actuate. I would say the SLX is a little tighter and more precise in shifting, in my opinion. Otherwise they are nearly identical, excluding purely personal preferences (dropping up to 2-3 gears on SLX vs up to 5 on GX, stuff like that, but nobody ever dumps half their cassette in one thumb press).
Maybe this is one of those purely personal preference things, like Guide brakes: I’m absolutely not a fan of the Guide R’s I’ve got on my GX bike (they work well but I dislike the MoDuLaTiOn of Guides in general) but the SLX brakes I’ve got on my SLX build are wonderful (they bite quicker and harder with less MoDuLaTiOn). I know people who completely disagree with my assessment, though.
Yeh, I should have typed "in my opinion" after that sentence, Like you say it does definitely come down to personal preference, but I have ridden SLX, XT, GX and XO drivetrains on my current and previous bikes, in my humble opinion, GX is my personal preference.
Good luck to Salsa with this. Geo looks dam fine !
agree on that. that’s a deal breaker for me. not SB per se but the increased likelihood of heel clearance issues. Try before you buy with super boost.
A boost wheelset can be redished and inexpensive spacers added to fit so everyone can keep their custom wheels.
It’s just an unnecessary thing tho.
Exactly that. Only a handful of bikes take superboost. Its a pita if you buy frame only and want to swap stuff over.
And its marketing bullsiht.
If you want a stiffer back wheel use 32 spokes instead of 28. And anyway, some bike frames are so stiff now that reviewers are recommending using alloy wheels - eg pivot firebird 29 pinkbike review
Trek were selling their Fuel Ex that clears 29*2.6" or 27.5"*2.8" with 148mm spacing and similar chainstay length in 2017. 157mm spacing just doesn't seem to be adding anything.
but to summarise: Super boost is useless and it was brought into the market by i9 and Pivot.
1. Extra weight, parts need to be bigger
2. Heel clearance gets even worse
3. Derailleur more likely to be ripped off
And there are rumors that a 15mm rear axle may be coming soon for e-bikes...
From our customer service point of view and also confirmed by our test laboratory and field tests, we see no reason to replace the established Boost 148 mm standard. – DT SWISS
For sure a few things at play here. Foot size, calf size, and the way some riders' (me) feet angle out which means my heels turn in a bit.
Also: Super Boost...
The salsa frames are stiff yet also compliant. You really have to ride one to feel it for yourself.
'what do you need Salsa for?'
"salsa is now the number 1 bike manufacturer in the pinkbike comment section!"
'do you know why? because people like to say sal-saaaaa'
They also needed a way to subsidize the extra cost of batteries and motors. Grab a couple of comparable ebikes and regular bikes and check their spec and prices: you're basically getting the motor and battery for free on the ebikes.
So if you choose a regular bike today from a brand which also sells ebikes, you're basically financing their ebike line from scratch. Not that it's a bad thing per se, but it's something worth considering IMHO.
And then not realizing this is the inverse of that.
But yeah, good point about the group tests. As long as Pinkbike keep running their test primarily out of Squamish, the moderate geo bikes will keep getting thumbs down. We really need an east coast focused pub, just to balance things a bit.
You can get carbon SLX bikes with similar geo and components from direct companies for the same price as the alloy SLX bike here. How much longer can this $1000-$2000ish price premium, that literally almost all goes to additional hands the bike passes through before getting to the consumer, be sustained? And how much longer until the major traditional companies (Trek, Specialized, etc. and smaller companies who sell through dealers like Salsa) stay in this model before they have to go direct to preserve profits?
After having bought my last bike from a direct sales brand (Commencal), I'm now converted. My experience with their warranty process was quite bad and I wouldn't do it again. Of course it sucks having middle men increase prices while adding very little value, but people seem to like to have a shop they can go to with people they can talk to.
Customer service varies across direct brands, but in general, there's no reason for their service to be worse than a traditional brand. Some are better, some are worse, some are same. Only general difference between direct and traditional is the hands the bike goes through, there's no innate reason for the manufacturer to be better or worse at any given thing.
So the conclusion is that it is not just the dealer that inceases the price. There seems also to be A LOT of margin for the manufacturer.
The alloy Frame only option looks good, though.
It seems that manufacturers, designers, engineers have kinda settled into a pretty common design aesthetic and with everyone using the same couple of suspension designs, it only makes sense that bikes would look relatively similar.
That 2000-2010 decade had a lot of variable in bike design because everyone was trying something different, and even if bikes look somewhat similar today, we can look back at the 70s/80s when nearly every bike produced was a classic two-triangle design.
The axle being the pivot point doesn't change the fact that the rear wheel only rotates around a single pivoting point. The only thing that does is changing the leverage ratio of the linkage ever so slightly.
Yeah not sure their brand cred is high enough to justify it. I think it looks awesome but I’m looking at $3k if I ever want to upgrade my Ripmo frame from alu to carbon. $200 more for a salsa carbon frame? I think they need to go d2c.
Sure, it would be nice if every complete bike on the market was absolutely perfect and you wouldn't have to change a single component, but that will never happen.
Like, they could be twins.
I would probably still go for the Jeffsy tho, and have $ room to replace stuff as I wear it out.
Other that Nice product Salsa!
damn i do love me a pretty purple frame tho... mmmmm.... puuuuurrrrrrppppppllllleeee.
looks like a great bike from Salsa. wish it were easier to demo one.
I was on an identical ship many years later. I would have died in that incident if I was there.