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.