Mountain Bike Action Bike Test: Salsa Cassidy Enduro Bike
Cassidy Enduro Bike
Salsa is the type of company that is deeply rooted in the belief that life is best spent exploring and being surrounded by nature. With Salsa being a QBP (Quality Bicycle Products)-owned brand, they are filled with hardy endurance adventurers and backpackers, all of whom share a common passion to see the world one pedal stroke at a time. While that might speak true for some at the office, there is also the call from enduro-ready riders. Salsa’s latest creation attracts exactly the rider who wants to aggressively approach a technical descent.
Of course, there is no doubt that their drop-bar adventure rigs are popular with the gravel crowd. With that said, we were struck and stoked to check out the all-new enduro-intended Salsa Cassidy. This new 29er has 180mm of front travel and 165mm of rear travel. It’s a big step as we continue to see the Salsa mountain bike line evolving from what their team has learned.
The carbon Cassidy is constructed with a high-modulus carbon main triangle and seatstays, while the chainstays are made from 6066-T6 aluminum. The alloy Cassidy is 6061-T6. Both frames, however, are built around Salsa’s new Split-Pivot+ suspension, which was designed in partnership with Dave Weagle as an adaptable system. With different platforms in mind, the engineers at Salsa used a single frame that can be used for more than one travel class by simply swapping the link sets and suspension components. If a rider desires, they can make the swap and turn the 165mm Cassidy into Salsa’s 140mm Blackthorn. Vice versa, if you were to purchase the Blackthorn and wanted to swap for a longer-travel bike. The Cassidy features short, 432mm chainstays with a slacked-out 63.8-degree head tube angle. The longer top tube enables riders to run shorter stems while maintaining a comfortable reach.
The Cassidy has Super Boost rear-hub spacing that clears a max size of 2.6 inches with a 29-inch wheel. You can also swap the wheelset for this bike up to a 27.5-plus-inch platform that clears a 3.0-inch tire. The frame can accept up to a 34t chainring, has a threaded bottom bracket, ISCG-05 mounts, internal routing and frame protection where it’s needed. As always, Salsa has made the bike pack smart. One of the very clever frame-storage features is an integrated strap location just in front of the mainframe shock mounts. Say goodbye to taping essentials onto the frame! There are also three-pack mounts on the downtube, room for a bottle in the main triangle, and top-tube mounts for Salsa’s EXP direct-mount bag or a K-Edge top-tube mount.
The Cassidy comes in three different-priced builds. If you’re the DIY type, Salsa offers both the alloy and carbon in a frame-only option. Our mid-level Salsa Cassidy, called Carbon SLX, came equipped with a great components list that focused on value and performance. Salsa equipped this version with RockShox’s newest ZEB Select+ fork, along with a Super Deluxe Select+ air shock. At the pedals, there is a complete Shimano SLX 12-speed drivetrain. Shimano’s reliability is again used for stopping power with SLX four-piston brakes. These components worked really well together and kept our test build at a price of $4899. If you’re more of an aluminum-frame fan, then the SLX build cut the price down to $3899 with essentially the same components as our test rig. If you love SRAM and Fox suspension components, then the top-end Cassidy Carbon GX Eagle is your pick priced at $6099.
Towards the front of Cassidy, we took advantage of the performance and easy tunability of the 180mm of plush suspension on the RockShox ZEB Select+. For setup, we took advantage of RockShox’s TrailHead app. We ran at the recommended air pressure but ended up going two clicks faster with rebound.
As we briefly touched on it, Salsa has this latest model designed around their new Split Pivot+ suspension. Not only was it intended to be adaptable to another platform, but Salsa’s design is also meant to be efficient while pedaling and remain fully active while braking. We asked the team at Salsa if we could run this bike with a coil shock. In short, we were told, “You don’t need it.” The linkage rate is optimized for an air shock and not intended to run a coil.
DOWN AND DIRTY
The goal was really for Salsa to build an enduro bike that shows no fear of being on the rowdy sections of the mountain while still being pedal-worthy to get back to the top for another lap. They really wanted a stable platform that could fly down rocky or rutted-out descents. We had our fair share of wild moments during our time testing the Cassidy, so let’s get into it.
We found that the carbon Cassidy climbed best in the high setting of the Flip Chip 2.0. This adjusts the head tube by 0.3 degrees while moving the bottom bracket 4mm to accommodate 27.5-plus-inch wheels. It did take us a bit of time to fully fit and dial in the bike to be comfortable climbing in the saddle. Once comfortable, we noticed how stable the bike was when climbing up steep terrain. With long travel and such a slacked-out head tube, we thought we would be fighting to keep the front end at bay. Luckily, this was not the case.
In every way, shape and form, the Salsa Cassidy wants to crush it on the downhills. The bike’s handling was impressive in high-speed sections, while the tires remained very planted on the trail. We felt the suspension platform responded well through big rock-garden hits but didn’t quite soak up the high-speed washboard bumps as expected. The overall geometry for descending truly gave us the confidence to push the speed limit past what we would normally attempt.
MODS AND UPGRADES
With all the modern features begging for the latest products to be used, there are bound to be riders who are tempted to upgrade. For the SLX carbon Cassidy that our wrecking crew tested, there might be a few things to consider. It is worth a quick note that the other linkage is priced at $150 to swap and run 140mm of rear travel. Of course, you will still need to purchase a shock and fork for this change-up, but it is doable. We thought the Shimano drivetrain and four-piston brakes are excellent given the component level. We did have some noticeable arm pump from all-day laps up at Snow Summit from the alloy handlebars. Our test rider would have greatly appreciated some carbon bars to help reduce this fatigue. The bike is definitely not on the lightweight side, and a lighter wheelset would be beneficial to enhance maneuvering.
The Cassidy SLX pairs mid-level components with a carbon frame, creating a balance of performance and rider value. At under $5000, this bike is by no means a budget bike, but you get what you pay for. The Cassidy is a decent-bombing enduro machine that is spec’d properly and capable of handling whatever a rider would like to throw at it. This Salsa can be taken to the lifts for all-day park laps or used to explore the next aggressive trail in your area. Sure, you may sacrifice some pedal efficiency, but at the end of the day, the Cassidy’s true goal is to tackle aggressive terrain.
Mountain Bike Action is a monthly magazine devoted to all things mountain biking (yes, that’s 12 times a year because we never take a month off of mountain biking). It has been around since 1986 and we’re still having fun.