• Wheel size: 29 ”
• Carbon or alloy frame options
• Split Pivot rear suspension
• Adjustable geometry
• 64.6 degree head angle (low setting)
• Super Boost hub spacing
• Weight: 32 lb 6 oz
• PDSF: 3 199 $ – 7 499 $ US
Blackthorn frame details
Salsa ticked all the boxes with the Blackthorn, including frame storage solutions thanks to numerous threaded holes and a frame strap slot integrated into the front shock mount. They’re not the first to do this, but they’ve added rubber scuff protection to prevent the tube and whatever else you’re carrying from scratching your frame. The bosses on the toptube also allow you to attach a bag or computer mount, and the “three-pack” bottle mount on the down tube gives you even more options.
Another threaded hole you might be interested in is the bottom bracket shell, on which you will also find a set of ISCG 05 chain guide tabs. These are removable to the carbon frame via an adapter, and they are soldered to the aluminum version.
Cable routing is internal and guides molded inside the carbon frame mean it’s as easy as pulling out the old line and driving in the new one. If you get the aluminum frame, you will find large openings which should mean the job isn’t too complicated. And speaking of cables, there’s even a small opening for a remote shock lock, if you feel the need.
Salsa has a long history of offering bikes that can handle all kinds of wheel and tire sizes, and that continues with the Blackthorn; you can fit up to a 2.6 “wide tire if you stick to 29” wheels, or even a 3.0 “rubber tire if you go for a 27.5” rear wheel, despite short 432 mm aluminum bases. It’s possible, Salsa says, due to the bike’s 12mm x 157mm Super Boost hub spacing which is sure to bother some of us.
Split pivot suspension
Salsa has used Dave Weagle’s Split Pivot suspension for many years now, and that’s exactly what you’ll find on the back of the Blackthorn. It’s a design that allows the rear pivot to rotate concentrically around the axle, and a rocker arm link and clevis drive the shock absorber to provide 140mm of travel. There is also an almost hidden flip chip on the cage which provides 0.3 degree angle and 4mm of bottom bracket height adjustment.
It’s a straightforward layout, and Salsa also says it’s “only fit” to allow riders to replace the yoke, rocker arm and shock with those used on the 165mm travel Cassidy. Salsa will sell you the rocker and the yoke for $ 150 USD. Of course, you’ll also need a shock absorber and a longer stroke fork, which makes this a not-so-inexpensive transformation. It also means that Salsa can offer two platforms from a single front and rear triangle.
Long and loose geometry
Salsa didn’t take a half step with the Blackthorn’s geometry, instead jumping in feet first with a head angle of 64.6 degrees, a seat angle of 76.5 degrees, and a reach of 490. mm on my large test bike. You can also increase it by a third of a degree by rocking the shock mounting hardware backwards, which also raises the bottom bracket by 4mm. Small changes, sure, but probably useful if you’re considering a 27.5in rear wheel.
Two other numbers are worth mentioning: a short 455mm seat tube in a wide size leaves room for long-travel party poles, and the extra-large size sports a 510mm reach that should please anyone. beans.