First Impressions: The 2019 Salsa Spearfish is a Progressive XC Bike

Photo: Matt Miller.

In early March, Salsa updated their full-suspension line up, and the Spearfish, Rustler, and Horsethief all got new lines, new leverage rates, new angles, and new colors.

Salsa uses the Dave Weagle designed Split-Pivot suspension platform which separates braking and acceleration forces from suspension activity. For 2019, the leverage rate was updated to give the bikes a more progressive ramp-up in the final third of the stroke.

I recently received the updated Spearfish for testing. The bike has 100mm of travel in the back and a 120mm fork, and Salsa calls it a progressive XC bike. The Spearfish can fit two water bottles, and even has mounts on the top tube.

From the previous generation, it’s about a degree-and-a-half slacker in the head angle, and has almost an inch more travel. The cockpit is much more modern; my test bike came with a short stem and 800mm wide handlebars. It has a dropper post, and wider, 2.3-inch tires. There’s enough room for a 27.5×2.8 tire, or 29s all the way up to 2.6-inches wide. All in all, it’s just beefed up. The updated Spearfish is designed around a 157mm-wide rear hub.

The Spearfish comes in four sizes, S, M, L, and XL which should fit riders between 5’5″ and 6’2″+. Geometry starts with a 67.8/68-degree head angle, and a 74.3/74.5-degree seat angle, depending on the chosen geometry mode. The chainstay changes by a millimeter from 433/432mm in each mode. The medium I’m testing has a 442/444mm reach, and a 1,163mm wheelbase.

Photo: Matt Miller.

So far, Salsa’s dubbing of the Spearfish as a progressive XC bike feels right. Brands have been changing what XC means and what the bikes are capable of. It could be a trickle down of technology from enduro, with better attention to geometry and suspension technology. It could be feedback from consumers and athletes about how bikes handle. It could be that XC courses are changing. Or, maybe it’s just that people want to have equal amounts of fun on uphills and downhills.

Photo: Matt Miller.

After a couple of rides, the Spearfish fits the bill. It’s a fun and snappy climber. The geometry feels comfortable, and it hasn’t held me back on the descents so far. Look for a long-term review sometime soon.

Horsethief and Rustler updates

Like the Spearfish, the Horsethief chainstays now fit a 157mm hub, but the Rustler kept 148mm Boost spacing.

The Rustler now has 130mm of frame travel with a 150mm fork and 27.5-inch wheels. Salsa calls it their “playful trail bike.” It holds one bottle in the frame.

The Horsethief has 120mm of frame travel with a 140mm fork on 29-inch wheels and is their trail or all-around, general mountain bike. The frame space has been opened up to hold two water bottles inside.

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