Trail Testing: Salsa Horsethief 2

There’s nothing like getting a test bike that feels like it can handle anything a rider can throw at it. The Salsa Horsethief 2 feels like one of those bikes.

Photo Apr 08

Our first ride included steep loose descents with tight switchbacks and gnarly rocky segments that pushed the suspension through its whole travel. After a couple single track climbs the Horsethief had us looking for more technical descents to push the bike’s capabilities.  Thanks to some rare California rain we have been able to test the bike in fairly diverse conditions in the first few rides.

Photo Apr 08-2

The Horsethief 2 came stock with a durable build kit that included: Schwalbe 29×2.35 SnakeSkin tires, Deore brakes, Deore/SLX drivetrain, Fox CTD 130 fork, Fox CTD shock.  A kit that is sure to give longevity and general bang for the buck.  The Split Pivot design is probably one of the biggest features we will be exploring during our testing period.

Photo Apr 08-3

So far we have had fun and enjoyed the solid feel of the Horsethief 2. Check out some of the details and technology that Salsa included with this bike.

Photo Apr 08-4


Horsethief Geometry
Designed for all-day riding in rugged terrain. Short chainstays, slacker angles, a low stance, and a longer toptube paired with a shorter stem length and wider handlebar, combine with 29in wheels to create an aggressive chassis that floats over rock gardens, motors up and over the roughest ascents and inspires confidence on descents. The bike to take when you want to enjoy conquering difficult terrain
Split Pivot Rear Suspension
The concentric rear axle pivot in conjunction with precise wheel link, brake link, and control link placement, results in several performance gains:

  • Exceptional bump compliance
  • Maximum traction
  • Incredible pedaling efficiency
  • Predictable braking
  • Improved frame geometry due to the elimination of unwanted suspension movement during acceleration and braking
120mm Rear Wheel Travel
120mm of Split Pivot rear travel, combined with 29er wheels and our Devour Geometry, make the Horsethief capable of tackling terrain you might not typically expect a 29er to excel on
120 – 130mm Fork Compatible
Designed for use with 120 – 130mm travel suspension forks with axle-to-crown between 528 to 532mm
6066-T6 Aluminum Tubeset
Top-shelf, double and triple-butted, heat-treated 6066 Aluminum tubing. Formed and shaped for optimized and appropriate stiffness, strength, and weight for the Horsethief model
Designed for 51mm Offset Suspension Fork
Steering and handling feel (mechanical trail) was designed using a 51mm offset suspension fork. This offset allows for a slacker headtube angle and longer front/center, which results in increased cockpit room and a better angle and attack, leading to improved handling
Super Short 437mm Chainstays
Provide increased agility, quicker cornering, easier front-end lofting, increased climbing traction, and improved descending capabilities
Control Link & Clevis Combo
Forged and CNC-machined Control Link and Clevis; extremely stiff; designed to precisely deliver the desired leverage ratio for the Horsethief model and its intended use and ride quality; provides incredibly supple small bump performance early in travel, offers tons of mid-travel cornering support and pumping the terrain, and a bottomless feel at the end stroke
Fox CTD Performance w/ Boost Valve
Horsethief specific tuning, Boost Valve, three-position CTD compression adjuster, external rebound control
Tapered Headtube
Allows use of tapered forks or standard 1-1/8″ forks. Combining the tapered headtube with the large downtube greatly increases the front-end stiffness and strength of the frame without adding significant weight
Forged Two-Piece Bottom Bracket Shell & Fittings
Combined with Split Pivot’s 12 x 142mm rear thru-axle results in increased rear end stiffness (18% over 2013 Horsethief model) for improved rear wheel tracking, while creating clearance for 2x front derailleurs and up-to-2.35” tires
PressFit 92mm Bottom Bracket Shell
Compatible with all 1x and 2x mountain cranks, with both GXP and 24mm spindles
ISCG-05 Tabs
Allows mounting of 1x and 2x chain guides for added chain security when the going gets fast and rough
12 x 142mm Rear Spacing
Features hub-catches and a tool-free axle for simple and quick wheel removal/installation. Split Pivot-specific RockShox Maxle included (12 x 182mm-length, thread pitch 1.75, thread depth 20mm)
Waterbottle Friendly Layout
Front triangle design provides space for full-size waterbottle
Replaceable Derailleur Hanger
Salsa Split Pivot Top Cap Dropout Tool (included with frame) or 22mm cone wrench needed for removal/installation
Replaceable Sealed Cartridge Bearings
Standard bearing sizes. Removable with standard bearing installation/removal tools. 172872RS (QTY 4), 68012RS (QTY 6)


Frame 2015 Horsethief Aluminum
Wheelsize 29″
Travel 120mm rear; 120-130mm front
Tire clearance Clearance for 29 x 2.35″ tires
Fork Designed for 528-532mm axle-to-crown, 51mm offset 29er suspension fork; 45mm offset acceptable
Headset-Upper 1-1/8″ Zero Stack (ZS44/28.6)
Headset-Lower For Tapered: 56mm zero stack (ZS56/40); For Straight: 56mm reducing zero stack (ZS56/30)
Rear Shock Size 184 x 44.5mm (7.25 x 1.75″)
Seatpost 31.6mm
Seat Collar 35.0mm
Front Derailleur High Direct Mount; 2x compact; top-pull only
Bottom Bracket PressFit 41 (92mm width)
Crankset Mountain 1x or 2x compatible; Max chainring sizes 1x (34T), 2x (38/24T)
Rear Brake 51mm I.S., minimum rotor size 140mm, maximum rotor size 180mm
Rear Spacing 142 x 12mm Thru-Axle
Bottle Mounts 1 per frame
Derailleur Hanger FS2322. Split Pivot Dropout Tool Top Cap available for field repairs.
Rear Thru-Axle Ø12 x 182L, TP=1.75, TL=20
Cable Routing Full length housing; 1x, 2x, moto/regular, and dropper/stealth dropper routing compatible
Frame Weight SM 2795g, MD 2900g, LG 3000g XL 3050g
Color Transparent Gray
Frame Horsethief w/ Split Pivot, AL6066
Color Transparent Gray
Fork Fox F29 CTD Evolution, 130mm, 51mm offset
Rear Shock Fox CTD Performance w/ Boost Valve
Front Der Shimano Deore M616-D, 10-speed
Rear Der Shimano SLX M675, 10-speed, Shadow Plus SGS
Cassette Shimano HG50, 10-speed, 11-36t
Chain KMC X10
Crankset SRAM S1000 22 x 34t
Headset Cane Creek 10 ZS44/56
Stem Salsa Guide
Handlebar Salsa Rustler 3, 15mm riser, 750mm wide
Grips Salsa Backcountry Lock-On
Shifter Shimano Deore M610, 10-speed
Front Brake Shimano Deore M615
Rear Brake Shimano Deore M615
Brake Lever Shimano Deore, included with brake
Rotors Shimano RT54, 180mm front, 160mm rear
Seatpost Truvativ T20
Saddle WTB Volt Comp
Front Hub Shimano SLX M678, 15 x 100mm
Rear Hub Shimano SLX M678, 12 x 142mm
Spokes Stainless, butted, black
Rims NoTubes Rapid 28, 32-hole
Tires Schwalbe Nobby Nic 29 x 2.35″ TL-R
Complete Bike Weight 30 lb 4 oz for size Medium


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