Gravel Grinder News: Salsa Cycles Debuts Updated Cutthroat

Gravel Grinder News: Salsa Cycles Debuts Updated Cutthroat – by Guitar Ted

Salsa Cycles announced this morning publicly that the Cutthroat model will be a ground-up redesign for the 2020 model year. The Cutthroat is Salsa Cycles carbon drop bar mountain bike which is aimed at bike-packing and long rides in remote territory, ala Tour Divide. It also is a fairly popular model amongst some gravel riders.

2020 model Cutthroat loaded with bike-packing gear
The Cutthroat is most often associated with bike-packing. Carbon Apex 1 model shown.

The new features that Salsa has added to the 2020 Cutthroat are things that build upon the mission statement for this model which is that it is to be a versatile, capable, and comfortable long distance cruiser for multi-surface riding. The highlights include new, direct mount frame bag mounting points, (and a direct mount frame bag is available as an accessory item, of course), a newly designed fork which has more compliance than the original, and multiple drive train options.

Range topping Carbon Cutthroat GRX Di2 810
Carbon Cutthroat GRX Di2 800 with frame detail shown.

“Road Boost” Drive Train Options: Salsa is offering the Cutthroat 2020 models with what they are calling “Road Boost”. It is a mix of mountain Boost cranks with road drive train parts elsewhere. This idea suits Shimano’s new GRX components well, since the GRX rear derailleurs can handle a wide range cassette and they work with Shimano drop bar levers. Subsequently you will find three GRX based Shimano drive train equipped Cutthroat model offerings for 2020. There is one SRAM 1X equipped model in two colors as well.

The mountain boost cranks allow Salsa to specify a maximum chain ring combination of 50/34 for double chain ring crank sets and a maximum recommended 1X chain ring size of 40T. Pairing up with Shimano’s or SRAM’s cassettes should realize very wide ranging gearing combination possibilities. Stock crank sets will be equipped with 46/30 doubles and 36T 1X drive rings. Other drive train highlights include the 148 Boost rear spacing to accommodate drive train choices and larger tire clearances, SRAM AXS and Di2 compatibility, and front derailleur compatibility, of course.

2020 Salsa Cycles Cutthroat frame set
The 2020 Cutthroat will also be offered as a frame set

Redesigned Cutthroat Fork: Salsa overhauled the front fork on the Cutthroat for 2020 to be more balanced with the rear Class V VRS vibration reduction system they engineered for the rear of the bike. Highlights include a 32% more compliant ride over the previous Cutthroat fork, according to Salsa Cycles, and the fork is backward compatible with older Cutthroat models. Yes… will be available separately, according to Salsa Cycles. Another highlight, which I think is long overdue for all gravel/adventure bikes, is the addition of abrasion resistant plates located in high wear areas.

Salsa Cutthroat image showing abrasion resistant insert
Smart details on the Cutthroat include abrasion resistant inserts.

Further technical specifications include a 483mm axle to crown measurement, 51mm offset, flat mount brake standard, NO fender mounts, Boost 110 with a 15mm through axle, internal brake and dynamo routing, and a claimed weight of 775gm. One set of Salsa’s Three Pack Bosses are on each leg of the fork, and the fork is compatible with Salsa’s Down Under front rack.

Frame Details: Salsa tweaked the geometry on the new Cutthroat with a 69° head angle. The aforementioned Boost 148 rear spacing is matched up with a flat mount brake spec. All internal cable routes are sleeved and the frame is dropper post compatible, but you must use external routing if you choose a 2X crank set. There are no fender mounts, but with the addition of Salsa’s Rack Lock Seat Collar, you can use a Salsa Wanderlust rear rack. There are hard mounts for a top tube bag, and larger sizes will accommodate two water bottles in the main triangle on the down tube, with one seat tube mounted bottle. The new, 52cm size only has room for one down tube mounted bottle. Maximum tire clearance is 29 X 2.4″.

Further specs include a BB-92 press fit bottom bracket, 27.2mm seat post compatibility, and the frame/fork are suspension corrected for 100mm travel 29″er forks. Frame sets include seat collar, head set, Salsa Dead Bolt UL through axles, and the new fork. Weight is claimed at 2.32K or 5lbs, 2oz. (No frame size specified at that weight)

Salsa Cycles Cutthroat Carbon GRX 600 model for 2020
The Cutthroat Carbon GRX 600

Availability, Sizes And Pricing: These new Cuttys won’t be hitting shop floors until the first week of November, with a few Apex equipped bikes showing up in mid- October, according to Salsa Cycles. Salsa Cutthroat Carbon bikes will be available in even sizes 52cm (new), 54cm, 56cm, 58cm, and 60cm sizes. Pricing is as follows:

  • Cutthroat Carbon GRX 810 Di2 MSRP $5799
  • Cutthroat Carbon GRX 810 1X MSRP $4199
  • Cutthroat Carbon GRX 600 MSRP $3299
  • Cutthroat Carbon Apex 1 MSRP $2699
  • Cutthroat Carbon Frame Set MSRP $2199
  • Cutthroat Fork Aftermarket MSRP $549
Cutthroat Carbon GRX 810 1X
2020 Cutthroat Carbon GRX 810 1X

Comments and Impressions: Salsa has not updated the popular Cutthroat since its 2015 introduction and this is a pretty radical update for the 2020 model year. It may look similar, but this new Cutthroat has lots of new features which are not compatible with the outgoing model. For instance, you are not going to be able to buy a frame set and pop on your old Cutthroat wheels. Axle spacing is completely different on the new 2020 model. Brakes too. Different standards. It is a good example of how much, and how quickly, things become obsolete in the bicycle world.

Cutthroat Carbon Apex 1
Cutthroat Carbon Apex 1

The mix of “new road” standards and mountain bike standards will be sure to confuse and frustrate some folks. Flat mount brakes (road) and 148 Boost hubs? Mountain Boost crank sets and Gravel (GRX) components? Welcome to the new world of “not quite road-not quite mountain bike“. It is an interesting stew, this Cutthroat, and it may cause some furled brows in some circles.

The new frame anti-abrasion inserts are a welcomed addition to a bike that is sure to see some gritty mud and abuses. As I stated above, it is something I’ve thought was sorely missing on carbon adventure bikes. However; I was surprised that with all the direct mounts for bags and accessories that Salsa couldn’t figure out how to make the frame accept a rack without making customers buy a separate seat collar. Fender mounts would’ve been a nice touch too, and would have made the bike more appealing as an over-the-road touring bike, as Salsa showed the new Cutthroat set up in their presser. These aren’t deal-killers, in my mind, but they seem like oversights on a bike designed to be “versatile”.

Another area I give a lot of credit to Salsa’s engineers for is the newly designed fork with a claimed 32% (!!) more compliant fork over the outgoing Cutthroat fork. Many designers have been busy making the rear of the bike more smooth and vibration free while ignoring the fact that carbon forks generally are not very smooth at all. This is another area I feel many adventure/gravel bikes completely fail at addressing. Good job, Salsa!

Note: Information and images used in this report were supplied by Salsa Cycles.


Author: Guitar Ted

Guitar Ted hails from Iowa. Home of over 70,000 miles of gravel and back roads. An inaugural member of the Gravel Cycling Hall of Fame and Co-creator of Trans Iowa in late 2004- Guitar Ted has been at the forefront of the growth of gravel events and riding since then. Creator of Gravel Grinder News in 2008, he produced the premier calendar of gravel and back road events. GT joined forces with Riding Gravel in late 2014.

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5 thoughts on “Gravel Grinder News: Salsa Cycles Debuts Updated Cutthroat

  1. “Cutthroat Carbon GRX 600 MSRP $3299”

    Damn! Seriously regretting my Canyon Grail purchase a few months ago. The Canyon has been nice, no complaints as a road bike alternative that can handle fire roads, but it planted the bikepacking bug in my mind. But with tire clearance for only about 42mm, I’m looking at a sh!t ton of hike-a-bike on the big routes. This Salsa has a much better stock crankset, too.

    Oh well, ride what you brung …

  2. I’m wondering if the frame and/or fork will accept a ‘Mucky Nutz’ style mini-fender? Those are not as protective as full fenders but do provide some protection from wet and work better off-road than full fenders.

    1. @John Burkhart- On the front, yeah, I think that will be no problem as long as there is tire clearance, which can change with a swap of rubber. The rear? A seat tube mounted fender? Maybe that seat rail mounted one, but remember- There is no “brake bridge” on a Cutthroat frame, so you have nothing but seat stays to work with there.

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