Salsa 2021 Cutthroat

The Cutthroat is Salsa’s Tour Divide inspired drop-bar bike, and the latest model brings to market a more compliant fork, a wide range of drivetrain compatibility, a direct-mount frame pack, and more accessory mounts than ever. This is a bike focused on covering big distances with speed and comfort. So, what are the highlights?

The newest Cutthroat has a high-modulus carbon frame and fork with more compliance than the previous generation. In fact, the V2 Carbon Fork is 32 percent more compliant than the previous V1 fork. In addition, the newest model features abrasion-resistant plates in high wear areas, internal dynamo/brake/shift hose routing, Salsa Down Under rack compatibility, Boost 15 x 110 millimetre hub spacing, 483 millimetre axle to crown length, flat-mount road brakes, 51 millimetre offset, and one set of Three-Pack mounts on each fork leg. The fork weight with Deadbolt UL axle is 775 grams (1 pound, 12 ounces). It’s also worth noting that the V2 fork is backwards-compatible with Cutthroat V1 frames, available in both full carbon (Cutthroat Carbon Deluxe) and carbon with aluminium steerer (Cutthroat Carbon) options on complete bikes.

The Cutthroat comes in five sizes (centimetres): 52, 54, 56, 58, 60 and incorporates a Class 5TM Vibration reduction system for a more comfortable ride. A 69-degree head tube angle and longer wheelbase yield greater stability for long days in the saddle on mixed terrain. It also integrates Boost 148 frame spacing and Boost 110 fork spacing, which increases drivetrain compatibility while maintaining tire clearance and chainstay length. Furthermore, its dropper post compatible with 1x and 2x drivetrains (2x mechanical drivetrains use external cable droppers). Cargo control is another essential consideration for any Tour Divide rig, and the Cutthroat doesn’t disappoint.

I recently checked out the latest Salsa Timberjack and loved how the company had included additional top tube mounts that are designed to work seamlessly with their EXP Series direct-mount top tube bag. This approach to securing bikepacking luggage really is the future, and the Cutthroat benefits from the same technology whilst also having a dedicated EXP Series Direct Mount Frame Pack (installed simply using Salsa’s Thumb Screws). There are three bottle mounts inside the main triangle on 54- to 60-centimetre sizes and two on the 52-centimetre frame. In addition, there are two accessory mounts on the underside of the down tube and accessory mounts on the top tube.

The Cutthroat can also utilize the company’s Wanderlust Rack, using rear rack mounts and Salsa’s Rack Lock seat post collar. The abundance of accessory mounts, availability of Salsa’s EXP Direct Mount Series bags, and rack options make this a fantastic bikepacking option when speed and distance are the primary objectives.

Salsa pairs road drivetrains with mountain boost cranks to create the best drivetrain and tire clearance for the unique needs of a drop-bar bike with 29-inch wheels whilst being Shimano Di2 1x/2x and SRAM AXS 1x compatible. The Cutthroat is 1x mechanical-compatible using mountain boost cranks (max 40t chainring) and a road drivetrain in all other areas. Alternatively, it’s 2x mechanical-compatible using Race Face mountain boost cranks and Easton direct-mount chainrings (max 50/34t, complete bikes ship with 46/30t), and a road drivetrain in all other areas. On the topic of “drop-bar” bikes, I’ve been a huge fan of Salsa’s wide bar options (I run a Salsa “Woodchipper” bar on my Surly Karate Monkey and love it). The Cutthroat features Salsa’s Cowchipper bars, which “improve leverage, control, and comfort on rough terrain.”

The latest Salsa Cutthroat is better than ever and seamlessly offers the rider speed, comfort, and a generous cargo capacity. Races like the Tour Divide have inspired a new range of fast lightweight bikepacking bikes, but many offerings struggle to balance and fulfil the diversity of requirements demanded by these events. However, it’s clear that Salsa is on a mission to create an unbeatable ultra-endurance rig that offers blistering performance without compromising rider comfort and luggage capacity. The latest Cutthroat is the product of extensive development and elegantly balances the key components necessary for races such as the Tour Divide. I’m not a competitive rider, but I can’t help lusting over the Cutthroat. It’s a bike that has cross-category appeal, fulfilling the speed and distance criteria of racers whilst being a comfortable bikepacking rig for adventure cyclists like me. Bravo, Salsa!

Prices U.S. MSRP
Cutthroat Carbon AXS Eagle $7,199
Cutthroat Carbon GRX 810 $4,599
Cutthroat Carbon GRX 600 $3,499
Cutthroat Carbon Apex 1 $2,899
Cutthroat Carbon Frameset $2,399


No money in the bank, but gas in the tank. Our resident Bikepacking Editor Jack Mac is an exploration photographer and writer living full-time in his 1986 Vanagon Syncro but spends most days at the garage pondering why he didn’t buy a Land Cruiser Troopy. If he’s not watching the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, he can be found mountaineering for Berghaus, sea kayaking for Prijon, or bikepacking for Surly Bikes. Jack most recently spent two years on various assignments in the Arctic Circle but is now back in the UK preparing for his upcoming expeditions—looking at Land Cruisers. Find him on his website, Instagram, or on Facebook under Bicycle Touring Apocalypse.