On the eve of the 2015 Tour Divide, Salsa is rolling out a new mountain bike that it's calling the ultimate tool for the 2,780-mile race down the crest of North America.
The Cutthroat is a carbon fiber, drop-handlebar mountain bike with an oversize front triangle for added cargo storage, extra compliance in the rear end, Salsa’s rigid, thru-axle Firestarter Carbon fork, and mounts for four water bottles and myriad rack and pack systems. Handling wise, Salsa says the bike leans toward the stability and comfort needed for the long haul from Banff, Canada, to Antelope, Wells, New Mexico, but is still nimble enough for single track. And they’ll put the bike to the test under sponsored athlete Jay Petervary, who holds the course record for the Tour Divide.
The Cutthroat name plays on the fierceness of competition for which the bike is intended, but it’s also a reference to the species of trout, the state fish of all five states through which the Tour Divide passes. And just so there’s no confusion over the Cutthroat’s intent, a screened-back, line drawing map of the course adorns the underside of the down tube.
Petervary’s Cutthroat is built around the stock frame, which will be available to the public later this fall. But the Victor, Idaho native, whose course record of 15 days, 16 hours, and 4 minutes has stood since 2012, has customized the race rig to suit his fit and needs. “Out there, everything just has to be perfect for my needs on the bike,” he explains. “I have more important things to spend my energy worrying about than my gear.”
Rather than the stock SRAM Roam 40 wheels, Petervary has chosen HED Ardennes Plus wheels, with the front rim built around a Dynamo Hub that powers his 1,000-lumen KLite headlight. He’s riding prototype 2.2-inch Sparwood tires by Teravail, a new tire brand that will launch later this fall from Salsa’s parent company QBP. For drivetrain, he’s chosen a SRAM XO 2x10 setup, with 48-34 rings up front and a 10-36 cassette, modified for a bigger gear range with a Wolftooth 42-tooth granny gear. Petervary selected Salsa’s brand new Cowchipper handlebar, to which he has added HED Clip Lite Aero bars, because he prefers the shape over the slightly more flared stock Woodchipper. He’s also subbed in Salsa’s Regulator Ti seatpost for additional compliance on the Tour Divide’s notoriously long passages of braking bumps.
Petervary’s bike weighs in at 22 pounds unloaded, which is a pound more than the top-spec Cutthroat Carbon Rival 1 ($4,000) and a pound less than the Cutthroat Carbon X9 ($3,000). With full touring kit, including clothes and gear, a sleep system, and complete packs (but not food or water), his race rig comes in at 36.2 pounds.
Petervary says he thinks the Cutthroat will be a noticeable step up from the Fargo Ti, the Salsa model he used for his record-setting run in 2012. (The Fargo will continue forward in Salsa’s lineup.) “That’s still a great bike, but we’ve really refined the Cutthroat for the demands of this race,” he says, explaining that he had significant input into the design process. “The first thing you notice is the responsiveness. You put energy into it, and the bike responds. And it is so comfortable that it almost feels like cheating.”
When asked whether he expected to win or set a new record on this year’s Tour Divide, Petervary demurred. “First and foremost, the goal is always to finish. You can never say what will happen out there,” he said. Then, after a bit of thought, he added, “On all five of my attempts, I have improved my time on the course.”
Salsa hopes that Petervary will keep that track record alive. You can follow his progress, and the entire race, at Trackleaders.