Road or mountain bike? Can I fit a six-pack of beer onto it? At first glance it’s clear the Salsa Cutthroat isn’t just another gravel bike – still or exactly because of it, the € 4,499 carbon Cutthroat raises some questions.

Here you’ll find our current group test on the best gravel bike.

Salsa Cutthroat
Salsa Cutthroat Force 1 | 9.81 kg | € 4,499

The US manufacturer Salsa is known for its adventure bikes and bill the Cutthroat as the ideal drop-bar mountain bike for the racing department of the ultra-endurance bikepacking scene. That’s why there is a map of the famous Tour Divide printed on the bottom of the down tube. Even if you’re not planning on pedalling your way around the globe you should give the Salsa Cutthroat a closer look. Safety and comfort, and from a mountain-biker perspective also speed, are the main ingredients in this independently crafted bike, which comes with a significant increase in performance compared to Salsa’s lorry-like steel Fargo travel bike.

Salsa Cutthroat

This carbon-steed features an upright riding position and a high front end which might feel unfamiliar at first, but offers a lot of security. The reason for this is the stiff carbon fork, which bears enough room to accommodate 3” wide twenty-niner tires and can be swapped for a suspension fork with up to 100 mm travel without changing the bike’s geometry. Also the frame triangle has been designed as generously as possible to allow maximum room for a frame bag.

Salsa Cutthroat
Tuning-Tip: The frame is on the bigger side: trail-freaks should go for a smaller size

Featuring a very stiff frame the 9.81 kg Cutthroat (size L) with 29″ mountain bike tires sprints forward efficiently and weighs very little for so much bike. On tarmac it rolls along in a leisurely fashion, on gravel it blasts away nicely, and on the trail the bike just sucks up any sort of bump with its confidence-inspiring handling. No other bike in our test felt more confident on the downhills! The 29″ Schwalbe Thunder Burt tires in combination with a long wheelbase and the good damping properties of the frame provide for a superb feeling of safety. Partly responsible for this is the 450 mm wide handlebar, which is even wider in the drops section thanks to an extreme flare. This means not only safety, but also optimal ventilation: never get sweaty armpits again! The only drawback is that the SRAM Force brake levers don’t quite harmonise with the extreme flare, leaving the brake levers ergonomically awkward and difficult to reach. We should mention that our test bike came with Ritchey WCS VentureMax handlebars instead of the potentially more suitable Salsa Cowchippers that are normally fitted.

Salsa Cutthroat Salsa Cutthroat

Tight turns and spontaneous sprints aren’t the true strengths of the Cutthroat – the bike feels at home in other situations. It loves long distances, solo-adventures, cruising, and gravel racing. And just to make sure that nobody runs out of fuel on long distance rides the Cutthroat offers mounting options for up to six bottle holders – it’s always good to know that you can fit a six-pack of beer on a bike!

Salsa Cutthroat
Helmet iXS Trail RS | Glasses Adidas Whipstart |
Jersey Pedal Ed Kaido | Shorts Alberto Jeans Bike Shorts | Socks Giro Merino Socks | Shoes Specialized Recon Mixed

The Salsa Cutthroat Force 1 in detail

Drivetrain SRAM Force 1
Wheelset SRAM Rail 40
Brakes SRAM Force HRD
Tires Schwalbe Thunder Burt
Weight 9.81 kg
Price € 4,499

Salsa Cutthroat
A map of the route of the Tour Divide on the bottom of the down-tube serves as an insight into the racing background of this ultra-endurance bikepacking racer. Very popular in the U.S., if you haven’t heard of the race yet – one stage, 4,418 km.
Salsa Cutthroat
The carbon fork not only offers attachment points for bags, but also enough room for 29er tires up to 3″ wide.
Salsa Cutthroat
Men’s envy: The Salsa Cutthroat comes with nearly a six-pack on its carbon body, that places it first in the beer contest. With its super safe handling the Salsa can wear it without a problem – unfortunately the German beer can size standard doesn’t match the average bottle cage. Why?!
Salsa Cutthroat
Stylish colour scheme, clever external brake cable routing and room for two bottle holders on the top of the down tube – the Salsa is full of details.
Salsa Cutthroat
Mountain bike or road bike? The 29″ Thunder Burt tires and SRAM Rail 40 wheels come from the mountain bike sector. The wheels especially are built for hard riding.

Geometry of the Salsa Cutthroat Force 1

Salsa Cutthroat
Where are the limits for gravel? On the Salsa, you are the only limit!


If you always wanted to cross continents on your bike, the Salsa Cutthroat is a loyal companion – a light-footed racing tractor with plenty of storage capacity, heaps of clever details, and superb handling – even for crossing the Rocky Mountains! Funnily enough the name of the Salsa is inspired by the North American Cutthroat trout. This confirms that the people at Salsa designed the bike for true adventurers. We can confirm 100% that it really works!


– Universal adventure bike with a harmonious overall concept
– Very stiff and precise frame
– Amazing secure feeling and superb off-road handling
– Room for up to six bottle cages
– Pretty light for its league


– Frequent leg contact with the top tube
– Ergonomics of the cockpit: handlebar flare and SRAM levers don’t match entirely
– The high front end rises rapidly on steeper climbs

More info at:

Here you’ll find our current group test on the best gravel bike.

All bikes in test: Festka One Gravel | Legor Cicli LWTUA | Merida Silex 9000 | Moots Routt RSL | Open U.P. | Rondo Ruut CF2Specialized Diverge Comp | Specialized Sequoia Elite | Trek Crockett 7 Disc | Trek Procaliber 9.9 SL RSL | Votec VRX Elite

Words: Robin Schmitt, Manuel Buck, Benjamin Topf, Hannah Troop Photos: Valentin Rühl

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