Salsa Cycles Horsethief 29er Full Suspension

4.89/5 (9 Reviews)
MSRP : $2167.00

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Product Description

The recent introduction of long-travel 29er forks has given frame manufactures like Salsa a chance to explore what larger wheels are really capable of. Salsa has taken full advantage of the new potential with a 120mm travel frame that'll happily run forks in the 120 to 140mm range ? the Horsethief. This bike opens up possibilities and terrain never thought to be in the 29er's realm.These long travel bikes need to be light, yet rugged enough for aggressive, all-day riding. Salsa's engineers and designers have developed a unique suspension design that reduces moving parts and hardware, effectively dropping weight without sacrificing durability. The standout feature is the one-piecealloy rear triangle with flexible seatstays.The highly manipulated seatstays are designed to offer just over five millimeters of horizontal deflection. Notice how the stays are slightly flattened? This allows vertical flex, without hindering lateral stiffness -- encouraging a plush ride with responsive acceleration.If you're hesitant to throw a leg over a frame which purposely flexes aluminum, keep in mind this isn't a new technology or approach to suspension design. Flexing stays has been used in many mediums, including carbon, Ti, and steel. Salsa pioneered this technique with an aluminum alloy in its Dos Niner almost seven years ago. The design has evolved after extensive R& D, and Salsa engineers have gone to great lengths to ensure this pivotless design will outlast the frame itself.Tying the one-piece rear triangle to the hydroformed front are a forged 'dog bone' link and oversized cartridge bearings at the main pivot. The link's been optimized, like the bearing-less rear, to reduce needed hardware and to enhance the Horsethief's ride. The link shares its pivot where the seatstays and shock meet the link, making use of a shock pin redundant, and keeping the link light and rigid.A custom-tuned Fox Float RP2 with Boost Valve controls the rear suspension motion. It's been dialed for the Horsethief's shock rate, and its ProPedal switch offers two distinct settings for simple and effective on-the-fly adjustments. With the ProPedal on, the Horsethief will pedal with hardtail efficiency, but once turned off, it'll take full advantage of the 120mm of rear wheel travel.The hydroformed 6061-T6 aluminum top tube and down tube are shaped to offer excellent rigidity and connect to a stout, tapered headtube. This prevents flex and ensures the 120mm Fox 34 RL won't overwhelm the frame. At the rear of the frame, the dropouts are forged ? as all of the frame fittings ? and it uses a 142 x12 mm Maxle quick release rear axle to ensure durability and reduce flex.The Horse Thief rolls on Stan's widest rims, the Flow 29er, and they're laced to Formula hubs. The wide rims let the voluptuous 2.4in ContinentalMountain Kings make full use of their volume, and give them a nice roundprofile for confident traction. This traction helps prevent lockup from thepowerful Avid Elixir 5 hydr

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Reviews 1 - 9 (9 Reviews Total)

User Reviews

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:4
Submitted by Matt a All Mountain Rider

Date Reviewed: April 12, 2015

Strengths:    Bike climbs like crazy, although the 1 x 10 set up I converted to from the stock 2 x 10 is geared wrong for my liking. The 120 mm rear/ 130 mm front travel allows for dropping and rolling just about anything I have come across.

Weaknesses:    Stock Shimano Deore Brakes doesn't seem to have the stopping power needed for my 220+ lb body. Bike does not come standard with dropper post, which also adds to the purchase price significantly.

Bottom Line:   
This is my first 29 inch bike after riding 26" for the last 6 years. I should have done this years ago, as this bike rolls over everything and climbs like a goat. Being 6'2, I never realized how much better the 29 inch tires set up for my riding style, especially with all of the rocky terrain in Austin. At $3300 retail, I do think it is a bit pricey, but I am glad I spent the money. Make sure you pick up a dropper post, and all of those ledges and drops will feel like a piece of cake!

Expand full review >>

Price Paid:    $3400.00

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Rick

Date Reviewed: February 1, 2014

Strengths:    Stiffness and suspension, F34 Fox fork, Excellent geometry for agressive trail riding. Stans Flow rims combined with DT Swiss Hubs are rock solid! Integrated bash guard. Outstanding deal and service from Tree Fort Bikes! This bike inspires so much confidence and is just so much FUN to ride!

Weaknesses:    Although fine up front, the Continental Mountain King II in the rear seemed a bit slow rolling (replaced with Geax Saguaro). Jury is still out on the Reverb dropper seat post. Seems handy at times but still not sure its worth the extra weight. Rear brake is squeaky but maybe it just needs to be cleaned up.

Bottom Line:   
Originally wanted a Spearfish, but decided to try the Horsethief one night in the parking lot of Big Kahuna Bike shop in Littleton CO (Really Great Shop). Once I got on the Horsethief I did not want to get off and knew I had to have one. I now have over 12 hours of hard riding in on a new 2013 Horsethief 1. The Horsethief is an excellent choice for the Colorado front range, cant wait to try it at Moab. Originally wanted the Spearfish, but so glad I got the Horsethief. The geometry, F34 fork, and Stans Flow EXs combine to make for one fun bike.

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Favorite Trail:   Palmer Park

Duration Product Used:   10 Hard rides on technical trails

Price Paid:    $2299.00

Purchased At:   Tree Fort Bikes

Bike Setup:   Stock 2013 Horsethief 1. Running tubeless and changed out the rear tire for a fast rolling Geax Saguaro. Run it in reverse for extra traction but it still rolls very fast!

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by skinnybike

Date Reviewed: February 25, 2013

Strengths:    Stable, confidence inspiring, feels like quality; climbs like crazy (surprisingly) with Monarch RC3; stock Stan's wheelset

Weaknesses:    Heavy (but well balanced), long chainstays slow quick maneuvering

Bottom Line:   
After selling my '11 HiFi Deluxe, I had my heart set on the new '13 Superfly 100 Elite SL, but my mind got the better of my heart when considering the cash outlay and my actual riding ability. After demoing a RF at a recent demo day, I talked to my local shop about giving that a try instead of the Elite SL. They suggested that if I was looking to save some $, I should give the Spearfish or the Horsethief a look. Nothing against Salsa, but I jumped on the 'Fish and it did not feel good at all - almost cheap feeling (possibly the spec on the bike). I told the guys that it was not for me, and the shop owner told me to try out his demo 'Thief. All I can say is WOW!! Maybe it's because it's a heavier, more substantial ride - maybe because the design is great - but I immediately felt at home - VERY at home - on the HT. It just felt like quality. LBS offered me the demo at a price I couldn't refuse (had to think a bit because it is a size M and I am right at 6 ft tall) and I walked out with a new (to me) bike. The frame is the 2013 HT1 (Black/gold) and also has RS Revelation fork adjustable to 120 or 140 on the fly, and I quickly took off the demo components (X7/9) and went full XT. All I can say is...this bike is FUN.

There are sections of downhill fire road and trail where I always at least had to tap the brakes just to stay (in my mind) "safe". Those hills now, I just bomb down them, looking for more speed on the fire roads and more obstacles on the trail. The balance of this ride is so confidence-inspiring it's amazing. Additionally, it climbs much better for me than the HiFi. Maybe it's a combination of the single-pivot and the upgraded shock/fork, but this hauls my 190 lbs up the hills much better than my previous ride. I'm hanging with guys I couldn't stay with before, and beating guys that I used to be with. Cant complain about that. I will say that all of the travel is probably a bit much for our Missouri trails, but as I said, it's fun and that's all that matters. My only complaint would be that it does not handle as quickly as I'm accustomed. First ride on the trail left me steering off of some tight singletrack that I'd never had a problem with previously. If the Salsa guys would shorten up those rear stays just a bit......However, after a couple of rides, I've been able to adapt to the slacker angles and have had no problems since. The speed that I've gained over most of the terrain on my normal loops has offset any slight slowdown in the tight twisty stuff.

Overall, a big thanks to Salsa for building a stable, well-balanced, fun bike to ride. This is one that I would've easily overlooked had my LBS owner not given me a heads up on it. Outside Magazine rated it highly in their testing - and stated something along the lines of dollar for dollar they had more fun on the 'Thief than any bike in the test. I concur!

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by mojoman a All Mountain Rider

Date Reviewed: November 5, 2012

Strengths:    Very comfortable in rocky rooty rough sections. Eats up anything I can toss in it's way. Feels very sturdy and stiff where it needs to. Just feels like quality and like it will last a long time. Climbs better than expected and is better in the tight twisty stuff than expected. High BB keeps me from hitting rocks with the chain ring. Great price for what you get out of the box.

Weaknesses:    Could come with longer crank arms. I bought the small size and feel I need the longer than 170 cranks. The build spec is good but not great, this keeps the price down I know, but I think they could have put a little better brakes and shifters for about the same money. The color is not awesome but it grows on you, I did some custom graphics that make it look way cool. When I am on this bike I am compelled to ride where I am not suposed to, it makes me want to go over the fence and into the "no trespassing" area.

Bottom Line:   
Great bike for the money. I am coming off a Stumpy FSR 29er and this just feels like better quality and finish. It feels stiffer yet more plush, it is easier for me to launch off stuff with ease. The top tube is kinda high but that is the payoff for the higher BB, more clearance. This may be the last bike I ever buy, it's a keeper and I feel like it is an all purpose do it all rock solid one bike for everything kind of ride.

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Favorite Trail:   anything with lots of rocks

Duration Product Used:   5 rides

Price Paid:    $2499.00

Purchased At:   Treefort bikes

Similar Products Used:   Stumpjumper FSR 29er, Kona Hei Hei, Santa cruz tall boy.

Bike Setup:   All Stock except for carbon bars and dropper post. Getting XO grip shift and Rear, going to go 1x10.

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by cdubb30 a All Mountain Rider

Date Reviewed: October 11, 2012

Strengths:    Very Tough, Fox Suspension, thru-axle front and rear, technical capable climber, quality component package overall...

Weaknesses:    Not typical 29er fast uphill, rear suspension needs to be more active

Bottom Line:   
This is a review for the 2012 Horsethief (Green Frame, Fox Shox)

Lets start by saying the Horsethief is a beast of a bike. Its very stable at speed, through techy sections and can climb rocky-rooty vertical sections with ease. Oh yeah.... Like everyone else says, its a sick downhiller too.

To start:

This is an extremely capable bike. I live in Colorado and have access to everything from smooth, fast single track to rocky, technical applications that require at least 6" of forgiving travel. I've put over 200 miles on this bike and have thrown everything the front range of Colorado has to give. This bike just keeps going and hasn't let me down.

The pros/positive topics to mention:

*The suspension components are great. I like the Fox 34 RL Fork. Its simple and the damper seems to work well for my weight. Usually its a compromise with open bath forks because there is no low speed compression adjustment. For me, its smooth overall and can take some serious hits without leaving you fatigued. To add, theres no noticeable flex of the fork. 34mm is just right for handling the terrain that usually comes with all-mountain riding.
The rear RP2 BV is great too. Simple to setup, on-off that just works.

*The geometry of the frame is excellent for me because I feel more upright and comfortable. I usually get lower back aches after riding a while and I haven't had one back ache since I started riding this bike. As well, youre still in a great riding position to attack drops with confidence feeling very balanced.

*Some have said they have issues with the chain stay length but I personally cant find any. Yeah its longer than most all other 29ers out there but... with the longer chain stay comes advantages. Ever feel like your front end was coming up a little much during techy climbs? maybe trying to get over that large rock or wash out log and your front end comes up or you put too much on the front wheel and you end up spinning out? Well I have had that happen to me many times but not on the Horsethief. Stupid traction!!! You can stay in the saddle and just ride!! Over anything!!

*Some have mentioned that the longer chainstay and in general being a 29er would affect tight techy riding. For me, I haven't had one issue with this. In fact Im more stable on switchbacks and ride better than I ever have. And for me, the ultimate test is techy switch backs. As for most Im sure.... No Problems for the Horsethief!

*Downhill! Yeah it does that oh so well... Im a maniac downhill with this bike. The koosh 5" suspension combined with the 29" wheels make it a machine for eating up nasty terrain of all sorts. I ride a place called Deer Creek Canyon which is full of jagged 6-12" rocks everywhere (among others) but with this bike, they seem to be less noticeable. I guess because Im looking further ahead now focusing on speed and trail rather the line Im taking...

*The rear thru-axle plants this bike so well. Its keeps the rear stiff as well as the non-existent rear triangle bushings Im sure.

*It articulates extremely well if you find yourself in a corner and are too stubborn to get off your bike.

The cons:

Not many I have to say but some worth mentioning. Without them this would be a perfect bike but here goes.

*On flats or long smooth sections this bike can lag a bit. Its not as fast as most 29ers Ive ridden. Likely because of the gearing and the weight. But dont think youre going to win any XC races on this bike. Hopefully youre not looking at buying this bike to race XC with. It would make a pretty sick enduro racer though!

*Rear suspension needs to be more active to match the slack angles and what youd expect out of an all mountain/trail bike. Its gotta be one of two things. Either the link is too long or the pre selected rebound is too high. What I mean by the link being too long is, the suspension will work against itself a little in the beginning of the stroke which makes can make it a little rough on small bumps under speed. So it makes it hard to set the shock up to take small rough hits and big hits. Which is riding youll encounter on any trail in the same ride. So what Im saying is, the suspension needs to be a little more active as you cant really set it up for all around riding. Its either too much or too little...

*Avid Elixir 5s suck! In fact, all Avid brakes suck... They warble, they squeel. Stopping power is a joke. Salsa, do us all a favor and run Shimano groupos.

Thats it! No more complaints!!!


Do yourself a favor. Sell your overpriced trail bike with a million creaky pivots and buy a stout 29er that is simple and works just as well if not better. DO IT!

Seriously though, if you want a do it all bike, this is it. This bike will make you a more confident rider, it will keep you feeling safe and in control and it will keep you smiling. The price is right and so is the bike!


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Similar Products Used:   Santa Cruz Superlight, Tallboy, Cannondale Scalpel.

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by giantdefy a Cross Country Rider

Date Reviewed: October 7, 2012

Strengths:    rolls over rocks with ease, very steady through fast technical, fox fork and fox shock, simplistic rear suspension design that really works! Great spec for the price.

Weaknesses:    top tube is high if your vertically challenged, wheels and tires are heavy

Bottom Line:   
Totally loving the salsa horsethief! I bought this to replace my stumpjumper hardtail 29er. After experiencing backpain due to no rear suspension and 90mm of front travel on the stumpy, it was time for an upgrade! I debated over the spearfish and horsethief. Do I want lighter weight or more travel? Decided that more travel would be better for the type of trails I ride. The trails I ride at Annadel state park in norhtern California are one the roughest and rockiest trails Ive been on; the Horsethief is the weapon of choice for these type of trails!

Purchased a small and weighed in at 29.49lbs without pedals. I mail ordered mine from Big Kahuna Cycles in Colorado. Communication with these folks is one of the best experiences you can have over the internet. Chirs of Kahuna cycles answered all my email questions fast, and is extremely helpful, treated me like I was a long time customer.
I wasnt too excited about the color, but with the large discount that Big Kahuna cycles is offering on these 2012 models, it was hard not to say no to this fantastic deal. Once I got the bike, assembly was easy, and to my surprise, the color looks way better in person. Reminds me of the olive drab color that the military uses. Im totally loving this color!

Switched to tubeless immediately. The stans no tubes wheelset is a breeze to setup. This wheelset did not come with stans tape, so I had to install the tape myself. Removed the tubes, added tubeless tire valves and two scoops of stans tubeless fluid per wheel. inflated it with a standard floor pump and it inflated immediately, no drama whatsoever, no need to use a air compressor.

The Horsethief climbs way better than expected. Ive read complaints of too much bob when climbing hills, but it has less bob than my 2008 specialized stumpjumper FS. If your a steady climber, there will be minimal rear shock compression when the shock switch is in full open. Access to the Pro pedal switch is easy if you want to sprint uphill. Front end feels heavy when climbing, otherwise it still climbs like a mountain goat! Im guessing its due to the heavy wheelset and tires. Wheels and tires on my xmas list!

Flying downhill is a blast on this machine! Front end is smooth over extreme rocky terrain, rear end suspension does a fantastic job of smoothing out the roughest trails! Rear does feel a little stiffer than the front, but should be remedied with a little suspension tweaking. The Horsethief has cleared every rocky section I can throw this bike at without bottoming out or the crank hitting rocks, a problem I had with my 10' specialized stumpy 29er HT. Control on the bike is very nimble through technical single track, bike just goes where you point it! No issues with the slightly longer wheelbase. The guys at Salsa hit a home run on this bike!

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Favorite Trail:   Annadel State park

Price Paid:    $2200.00

Purchased At:   Big Kahuna Cycles

Similar Products Used:   2010 Stumpjumper Comp 29er HT
2008 Stumpjumper Comp 26er FS

Bike Setup:   Forte Carbon Handlebars, MRP 2X chain guide, Tubeless setup, specialized white phenom saddle, Crankbrothers Eggbeaters

Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Gracey

Date Reviewed: June 9, 2012

Strengths:    Lots of 29er hardtails in the past but my first FS...I test rode a Carbon Tallboy and looked into a Niner Jet9RDO before settling on the decision I've made!
Coming off a 26" 120mm FS was a bit worried about how it would cope in the tight twisty stuff (needn't have worried) - just get some grippy tyres and crank it over a bit more...jumps well (stable)...I knew decending would be great (it is!)...I'm 5ft 10 and bought it as a frame only (med) and specced a 55mm stem and 750mm wide havoc carbon bars...size seems spot on. Full length outer cables great for UK winters (and summers)...try and build it with Black forks - looks a billion times better imo

Weaknesses:    OK - so all this is being REALLY picky:
- Its pretty hard to clean the mud out from under the down tube (cables)
- it climbs OK - but definitely not it's forte (but mines specced a bit more on the DH side of life!)
- Harder to manual - (longish chainstays and top tube)...partly user error but was easier on my Fuel EX9.

Bottom Line:   
Best bike to date (from a stupidly long line)...

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Favorite Trail:   Les Arcs (France) with the Bike Village guys

Purchased At:   Head for the Hills -

Similar Products Used:   29er hardtails - Lynskey Ridgeline, Niner MCR, On-One Scandal...
120mm FS - Trek Fuel EX9, Giant Trance X1

Bike Setup:   XTR trail, WTB Frequency i23 rims, Reverb post, Haven 55mm stem, 750mm Carbon Havoc bars, DMR Vault flats, Schalbe Racing Ralph and Nobby Nic 2.2s - currently thinking I might be a bit under tyred!

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:4
Submitted by Albitron a All Mountain Rider

Date Reviewed: June 1, 2012

Strengths:    Climbs suprisingly well, great stock components, Stock Mountain King II's are actually great in my opinion

Weaknesses:    Color maybe... not really eye catching.
Stock photo shows having a bash gaurd, but does not come with one

Bottom Line:   
Northwest Arkansas rider so my journey is limited to Blowing Springs - Bella Vista, Slaughter Pen - Bentonville, and Lake Fayetteville. But so far so good. Fast all around bike, handles well and soaks up the juttery root and rock sections. Have not experienced any pedal kick backs or limiting factors so far. Top notch product from a top notch company

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Favorite Trail:   Blowing Springs

Price Paid:    $3650.00

Purchased At:   Phat Tire Bike Shop

Similar Products Used:   2008 Marin Quake 7.1

Bike Setup:   Completely Stock

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Brandon a All Mountain Rider

Date Reviewed: June 1, 2012

Strengths:    Amazing value for what you're getting. Lots of travel (build-kit with some upgrades).

Weaknesses:    Maybe the color but it grows on you and is much better in person! Nothing else.

Bottom Line:   
This bike has been unbelievable. Just got back from Moab with it and it far exceeded all my expectations. The big travel allowed me to go off some pretty good sized drops and it just soaked it up. I've made some worthy upgrades from the stock build-kit that I think are essential: XT Brakes (amazing), CB Kronolog remote seat post, X9 Shifters, Knobby Nic tires, ESI Grips, Forte Carbon riser bar.

If you're thinking about a full squish 29er this one is hard to beat. Considered a "big travel" 29er this baby can soak up pretty much everything. Don't let the longer chainstay fool you...its nimble and I've never had a problem weaving around tight corners and through technicals. The build kit wheel set (Stans no tubes) is pretty impressive and very light. The fox fork and shock have been great as well. 120mm in front and back....PLENTY although I'm thinking about making the fork 140mm (which it's capable of by removing a spacer). The Horsethief is AWESOME!

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Favorite Trail:   The Whole Enchilada, Amasa Back--Pretty much just MOAB!

Price Paid:    $2950.00

Purchased At:   Meridian Cycles (Boi

Bike Setup:   Build Kit with following upgrades: XT brakes, Kronolog remote post, X9 Shifters, X9 Rear Derailers, X7 Front Derailer, Forte 680mm Carbon Riser Bar, ESI Grips, Knobby Nic tires.

Reviews 1 - 9 (9 Reviews Total)

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