If 80 miles of singletrack in a day was never enough for you, and your idea of a quality weekend distraction is a 24-hour endurance race, then Salsa created the Spearfish 3 just for you. The frame geometry is designed around all-day comfort, and maintaining maximum pedaling efficacy, regardless of how tired your legs are. Salsa has also created an innovative pivot-sharing suspension system which, in addition to tightening up the rear of the bike (without compromising the 80 millimeters of travel), reduces chassis weight and simplifies any maintenance you might have to perform trail-side. The end result is a snappy and confident, but, more importantly, comfortable ride that will lead your hunger for challenge to distant backcountry singletrack and deep into the wee hours of the night.
Strengths: Comfortable, climbing, responds stable on descends, good value for money
Weaknesses: None detected so far. The salsa sf 1 frame colours and stripes could be better but thats a personal preference. Compared to other bikes the colour design of the sf1 is far to moderate. Total black with only the name of Salsa is enough.
Just did the 900k and 9 day Joburg2c in SA on this bike. Bought a sf1 frame, mounted a xt group, a reba, a fox ctd, and hand build ztr crest/dt swiss350 wheels, salsa steer and seat post. The pf30 problem solved with a kit, so far no difficulties but this is not an ideal solution. I am waiting for the solution of Praxis.
I've had one problem with the schwalbe Racing Ralph tires. Suddenly a large puncture in a climb on a normal gravel road after 7 days. For the rest no difficulties at all. Extreme good handling, relaxed riding for 9 days. Thanks Salsa!
Charles Van Drunen
Date Reviewed: May 9, 2013
Weaknesses: bb30 is a pain if you are buying justa frame, could use a post mount rear brake
I bought just the frame, built it as a race bike. Large, and it sits at about 24.5lb with pedals with 1600gr wheels, cable pull disc brakes, xt/xtr 9sp drive train, and a reba. Don't fear the 80mm of travel, because it is single pivot and it feels about like a 100mm Niner or other multi-link 29er. This bike climbs well and I expected that, but I did not expect it to descend nearly as well as it does. Yes, you will find the bottom of the travel on good size drops, but it will keep you straight on everything else. I have stress tested this bike, in anticipation of upcoming races, taking it thru stuff you wouldn't normally do on a light bike and it has handled it all in stride. My greatest fear in buying this bike was that 80mm would not be enough, but it is...granted I use every bit of it. This bike is an exceptional bargain as a race frameset at over 1000 less than most 29er carbon race frames and at nearly the same weight, with the exception of a few (BMC & Trek come to mind as significantly lighter...1lb or so) .
I'd say this bike is a sleeper...in term of race application. It terms of a trail bike it seems sorta silly, you may as well get a horsethief or any of a variety of 30lb trail bikes that will welcome a general beating, give you more travel, and more huckabiltity. If you're just cruizing trail who cares about the extra 5lb?? The Spearfish is the type of girl that rewards power & speed, uphill & downhill; she wants a little finess; she needs you to find a good line, she'll forgive if you can't, but not all day. I think she wants to wear number plates.
Strengths: I have the 2012 Spearfish 2 and I couldn't love it more. Great components, good shocks, tight response, no bobbing up and down on flats. This bike is better equipped and slightly less expensive than other bikes, but I prefer it more.
I am 5' 10" and I weigh 155 lbs. My inseam is 32" and I ride the Medium size 18" frame.
Weaknesses: Haven't found one yet. It would be nice to have a second bottle cage, but there isn't anywhere to put it.
I actually first purchased a 2012 El Mariachi 3 29er hard trail and took it on one ride. Unfortunately, my front fork had a problem and stopped locking out, so I took it back in to get it fixed. The guys at my LBS gave me a loner (a Giant Trance X 29er 0) for the three weeks my bike was in the shop to get the fork rebuilt.
Obviously, after three weeks of riding a full-suspension bike (that is also $4200) I had to have a FS bike. The nice guys at the shop let me return the El Mariachi and upgrade to the Spearfish 2. I don't regret my decision at all.
Honestly, I think the Spearfish 2 is as good as the Trance X and $2,000 cheaper. Obviously, the Fox shocks are better on the Trance X, but I wasn't impressed with the Shimano Deore XT shifters and brakes. I'm happy with the SRAM x7/9 and Avid 5 brakes.
Great value and great performance.
I also made a short video of me riding my Spearfish: https://vimeo.com/65393541
If you have no intention of buying a salsa spearfish then don’t get on one. The moment you do, you will want to buy it. The geometry is that perfect.
I bought my Spearfish 2 a couple of months ago and have really tried to find a weakness. There aren’t any. Just got back from a 3 day trip to Moab and it performed flawlessly. This is the first bike I have ever bought that I haven’t switched out any components. Not one. Every original component on the bike feels great right down to the seat and grips.
One quick word about the Continental X-Kings – I am a huge fan. They are fast with a good amount of traction. A bit heavy but I am running them tubeless and they have performed very well. My bike is right around 27.5 lbs.
Sizing: I am 5-10, 185lbs, 32” inseam and the LARGE frame feels custom made for me. Most mtn bikes I've had in the past have taken some time to get dialed in (seat position, handlebars, stems, etc). I have not adjusted anything on the Spearfish since I walked out of the store with it.
I have read some reviews that the bottom bracket is too low and I have NOT found this to be the case at all. I guess it depends on what bike someone was riding previously. I came from a santa cruz superlight 26” and the bottom bracket was lower than the spearfish. So this has been a non issue for me.
Suspension: The bike rides firm. That’s how it is meant to ride. Efficient and comfortable. Not squishy. I set up my rear shock to just around my weight. It is right at the point where there is no pedal bob and it soaks up every single bump. I had it a little hard at first and although it worked, I was getting a little bounced off the saddle – which defeats the entire purpose of riding comfortably and efficiently! I let out just 5psi and now its perfect.
One thing that I viewed as a weakness originally was the lowest gear (granny gear) on the 2 X 10. The granny gear is probably the equivalent of 2 rings harder than my last bike. In other words I find myself sometimes looking for another gear. However, this has forced me to pedal harder and because the bike is so stable, I am able to climb much better and climb lots of hills/obstacles I was not able to before. Also because it’s a 29er (more wheel contact with the ground) I find I can stand and pedal in places where I would have slipped out on my 26er. By the way, 2 thumbs up on the 2 X 10. Find myself using the front derailleur much more often than my previous setup and it always feels like I'm in the right gear.
This bike is amazing. The tapered head tube combined with the thru axel along with the efficient suspension and perfect geometry all combine to inspire a lot of confidence so be careful!
Similar Products Used: I considered the Scott Spark, Giant Trance, Giant Anthem, Kona Hei Hei, Specialized stumpjumper (all 29ers), and tested them in the store. In the past I have had all 26ers full suspension: Cannondale V, Specialized stumpjumper, Giant NRS, Santa Cruz Superlight.
Bike Setup: Spearfish 2, 2012 stock setup. Running tubeless tires.
Date Reviewed: April 16, 2013
Strengths: This bike has a lot of strengths but I would say its biggest strength is that it is versatile. Yes, it climbs like crazy but you CAN and should run it through technical stuff....NO, its not a 5 inch travel bike but if your honest with yourself you wont notice a big difference. I have a Spearfish 3 and I have Industry 9 wheel set with 142X10 axles and it makes this bike even better and more versatile. You can stay on this bike all day and it doesn't beat you to death...Best of both worlds...Hard tail/Full Suspension
Weaknesses: Well...there are NO weaknesses...I bought the frame and added parts. I would find a good wheel set for this bike and you will be rewarded big time. Bottom bracket? ya...it could be higher but not a big issue.
Ya know how bad it sucks trying to push all-mountain bike UP a hill which takes longer and kills ya for only a few minutes of pleasure to go down? A spearfish makes you go UP easier and go down with almost the same reckless abandon as an all mountain bike will allow.....For most of us this bike will be your one and only and don't let the XC-Endurance racer tag fool ya....This thing will handle the same technical stuff your buddies are riding and you are in better physical shape because your not as tired from the ride up. If you live in a part of the country like I do that REQUIRES a lot of climbing to some awesome downhill...buy this bike. Your wife will get over it!!!
Strengths: Well balanced, acceptable weight. Climbs very close to a hardtail.
Weaknesses: Can only mount one water bottle. Almost did not buy for this reason. Bolt for pivots and shock rusted quickly.
2012 SF1 frame. I was after a full suspension to take the edge off, but maintain the climbing feel of a hard tail. The 142 rear spacing adds to the stiffness of the bike. Corners very well. I will keep this bike for quite a while.
Strengths: 2012 Salsa SF1 Light weight, fast, comfortable, great handling..
Weaknesses: none so far, I may upgrade the fox stuff to Kashimura coated...we shall see, it should've been spec'd with it?! ok...if I have to choose something it's the tires. I will up-grade to Maxxis UST Crossmark as soon as the Continental's are done.
My SF1 is by far the most comfortable bike I have ever ridden. This bike will most likely keep my Moots Mooto X ybb stay in the garage. I am almost in shock as to how much more comfortable this is to ride than my Moots. The 15mm front axle and 142x12mm rear rock. I just changed the headset to a red CK, and the bars to Salsa Pro Moto Carbon riser and really it needs nothing else. It may get the XX1 treatment in the near future though, or I may go 1x10 with the XX1 cranks. I can't believe I waited so long to go 29er FS, it really is the best of both worlds on the Salsa SF1 (2012).
Weaknesses: Nothing yet really. Not necessarily the bike you want to pound through rock gardens with.
Can't say enough good things about this bike. I have the Spearfish 2. My typical ride is a 2 hour ride that is a mix of gravel, and tight singletrack with shorter climbs and descents. Some roots. Some smaller rocks. Some log crossing. Some slicker clay and stream crossing. A few miles of bikes paths and street to connect trails. Most serious folks around here stick to hardtail 29ers, but my back would not tolerate that. This bike is the perfect compromise for me. Allows for stand up climbing and the short wheelbase helps it carve nicely and makes rolling over logs easier. I am coming off a Trek Rumblefish which is also an excellent bike but is more all-mountain/descending focused than I will likely ever need, and the longer wheelbase is just no the right geometry for twisty trails. This bike handles quickly. a lot like my old 26" bike, but it is better in every way. I was close to going back to a 26er but this bike prevented me from making that mistake. Bike (large) sans pedals weighed in at 27lbs. The Continental X-king tires are a great match for my riding and the bikes purpose. The one thing it gives up to the Rumblefish are fast, rough descents, and a little bit of shock plushness, but the trade off is that it climbs sooo much better. If you are looking for a fully that it almost a hardtail, this bike is highly recommended!
a All Mountain Rider
Date Reviewed: February 14, 2013
Strengths: Low weight, Price point, Comfort
Weaknesses: Bottom Bracket Height
I moved to the Rockies with a single speed, fully rigid 29er and quickly noted the need for gears and suspension for this area.
I found a great deal on the Spearfish 3 frame, and figured I'd build it up with parts I had laying around. The BB30 BB was kind of a headache, as I wanted to use an existing Deore Crankset. It was quickly remedied by way of the "Problem Solvers" adapters. I've been riding with a standard crank and the adapter for a full season with no notable noise or unintended movement. I may upgrade the entire drivetrain this season, and would then move on to a bb30 crank.
A majority of the riding I do out here would be considered more "All Mountain" rather than XC, as this bike is intended. Lots of rocks, drops, and technical sections. That said, I would love for the bottom bracket to be a little higher off the ground. Again, the bike is meant for xc, where you wouldn't see as much terrain as I've been throwing at it. But still, I find my pedals and chainrings striking quite a bit of terrain if I don't take a line perfectly or misjudge a drop.
Overall, this bike is a blast and is QUICK! It's incredible what it can climb over once you figure out that you can let the bike do all the hardwork... All you have to do is pedal! It handles downhills like a champ and is easily maneuvered. I may have to get a dedicated trail bike, but I'm not planning on ever getting rid of the Spearfish.
Date Reviewed: February 10, 2013
Strengths: handling, comfort
Weaknesses: none so far
I just got a 2013 spear fish 1. So far I am really pleased. I went from a carbon hard tail and gave up a full 3.5 lbs in the process but don't regret it one bit. I had never ridden a bike with thru axles on both ends and I must say it make a world of differance. The bike is just so stable its amazing. My first trip down a local downhill strava segment today had me in 3rd overall and thats with mud to contend with and stopping once for a dog in the road. You just reach down and turn the front and rear to descend mode and have fun. I can see this being a really good all day ride and still being able to walk afterwards. My large was 26.5 lbs out of the box which isn't bad for the price and stock specs. First time back on a fox fork after a long stint of rock shocks.. they really do ride better. The simple 3 position shock (climb, trail, descend) on the front and rear is really nice and let's me use my own brain. I bought one for my wife who went from a fate carbon 29r and she loves hers as well. We will both be sitting down a lot more while riding again.
Weaknesses: Low bottom bracket, but I got over it after the first ride.
I bought the frame on closeout and built it up with moderate components, so for the money I put into it it's been amazing. To get around buying a new crankset (PFBB) I used a GXP crank with adapter cups and it's been smooth and worry-free for six months. The cable-routing seemed clumsy when I built it, but I forgot all about it after the first ride.
For me the Spearfish shines on the downhill--it feels limber and centered and fast--and sticks around corners. Climbing is better than expected, and the stiffer design definitely takes some of the bob out. I don't have any experience with hardcore endurance riding, but I've had this out for up to 8 hours at a stretch and felt better than I would have on other 29ers. I find myself grinning a lot while riding, but that might just be the riding.
Strengths: Weight, 3.3 lbs medium frame, handling, beautiful paint.
Weaknesses: None relly. I would prefere a standard threaded bottom bracket but I'm using adapters and so far so good.
Pretty much rides like all the reviews have stated. Steering is responsive and precise. Climbs very well. I still need to play with shock pressure for sprinting performance. Feel on this bike is amazing.Closest yet to a 26er feel that I have found in a 29er. I am 5'11" and have a medium with Thomson setback and 105mm stem. Fit is perfect. I love it.
Do you like XC? Buy it. That simple. I have a Spearfish 1. I was on a Salsa Big Mama and thought I loved it, until I got on this one. It is quick like a 26. Super comfy on the 4+ hour spins. Super fast, quick and stable heading down. Loves to turn. Climbs like a goat. Very predictable in corners and loose stuff. Super stiff. Accelerates like a 26 and at 5.5 lbs is among the lightest frames around (at twice the price, the carbon Santa Cruz Carbon tall boy at 5 lbs is generally considered the lightest FS 29ner frame going). The rear suspension is awesome. I love the flex stay design. So smooth, stiff and simple. I lost 20mm but I wouldn't have noticed if I hadn't read it. No noticeable climbing bob. They market it as an endurance bike and some shops seems to have bought into this, but that is just bull. There is no sacrifice I can think of that makes this bike more suitable for a 24 hour race rather than 1 hour after work spin. It is just simply a great XC set up. I have ridden a handful of 29ners and I can see absolutely no reason why anyone would consider spending two or three thousand dollars more for a designer name like Santa Cruz or Pivot or Specialized or Niner when this bike kills it for $3500 retail. The big question mark - Salsa frames tend to break, which is how I ended up with this one, and as one of the other reviews mentioned, they are kinda d*^ks. With that said, after some persuading, I got what I wanted and I LOVE THIS BIKE.
Strengths: Light, comforable, Climbs very well, fast, stable, great geometry, handles very well, great price, decends well. This is just an awsome bike..
Weaknesses: Frame makes clicking noises
First of all, this is my 1st full suspension 29er. However, I have owned this bike for over a year and have some good mileage on it (about 1800 miles). This bike has never let me down, especially on the events. Man, this bike just performs well. Heck, and I don't even have high level componentry on it. I run X7-derailleurs/shifters, juicy 5 brakes, with a comet crank, rock shox reba RL (1 1/8 steerer), with an arch on the rear and a crest up front. I have a carbon 29er and a alum 29er, but this is my go to bike on race day. I have ridden all kinds of trail here in Tucson, AZ with this bike and it handled all of it well. The bike is just so stable and handles very well. It is fast when you need to be fast too, thus making it a nice race bike. Man, I love the way this bike can climb. Fire road, techy single track, this thing will climb it fast and effecient. I can even stand up and crank down if I need to with out to much pedal bob. Plus, you cannot beat the price. I am glad I picked this frame up for my 1st full sus 29er.
Only a few issues I had with my bike, and one is I toasted the PF30 BB in almost a year. According to my LBS, they said it is pretty common. The PF30 just does not have the same life span as other BB setups. Yeah, it was a $40 maintenance cost, but it was pretty easy to replace myself. Also, my shop recommended when cleaning the bike, to avoid spraying water directly in the BB area. The water can get in the BB a lot easier then the external cup bearing and if this happens, it will damage the PF30 BB. Another thing is, it seems like the frame clicks a lot. Not very loud, but enough to notice when I am on the trail. I am pretty anal when it comes to noises on my bikes, so I am sure it is nothing major. I will keep trouble shooting it though...
Even with the 2 experiences above, I am very happy with my bike. Nice looking, does what it needs to do very well, and is affordable..
One more thing, I am running an older Reba RL with the standard steer tube and both my wheels with the 9mm axles, and I have not had any handling issues. I am sure the bike would perform a little better with the tapered fork and the 15mm thru axle, but I will wait till I destroy my current shox. Speaking of destroying shocks, I did bust my rock shox monark rear, and Salsa sent me a newer monarh with no questions.
Similar Products Used: 2009 Gary Fisher Rig, 2010 Specialized Carbon Expert 29er, 2008 Fuji Tahoe Pro, 2012 Salsa Mamasita
Bike Setup: 2011 Frame, X7 Shifters and Derailleurs, Avid Juicy 5 Brakes, Rock Shox Reba RL 1 1/8 steere, Thomson Masterpiece set back seatpost, truvitiv stylo bars and stem, clark grips, stans Arch rear, stans crest front, Geax AKA 29 2.2 tires, Cutter Saddle, KMC 10 sp chain, FSA Comet 2x10 cranks (39/27 teeth), FSA PF30,
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: July 14, 2012
Strengths: Amazing component spec. Great descending(even better with a dropper). Good climbing.
Weaknesses: Long stem, short post. Kind of crappy construction. matchmakers(break easily)
I was fairly happy with all the components on it but was kind of dissapointed with the super short seatpost. It just feels awkward to ride it that low. Also the frame cracked after 4 months of my use(bought used 3 months old). That was really dissapointing mostly because I had to drive half an hour to the closet dealer and the guys at salsa are kind of d*cks.They wouldn't even let me keep the un-broken parts off my old frame.
Over all its a great bike and an AMAZING value. I'd just like to see less gussets, better construction, and better customer service.