One bike to rule them all.
This was something I was never convinced of, I’m getting there though. The summer has seen me riding one bike more than any other, and it’s been the Spearfish.
I’ve had my Salsa Spearfish for about 8 months now. I’ve done just over 2,000km on it and I think it is time for an honest review of it. I did pay for this bike from my own money from the lovely folk at Keep Pedalling in Manchester and bar a change in pedals, brakes and the addition of some Jones Loop bars it’s been kept spec.
During this time I’ve worn out two chains, the chainrings and the cassette and several sets of pads. I’ve played around with some wider rims as well – but that’s for later and issue number 95 of Singletrack.
Rides have alternated between my normal 2 hour 30km local trail blasts, the entire of the Sarn Helen trail in <72 hours, multi day XC training days as well as the 24 hour worlds in Scotland this September. Whatever it has been I’ve reached for the Spearfish, most of my other bikes haven’t had an eye in since the Spearfish landed.
I was lucky enough to borrow both the size medium and large before I committed to buying – I have a habit of being between sizes with Salsa bikes and can go either way. First impressions were given around the steep ups and downs of Hebden Bridge on a fast test ride with two of my old XC race pals from Ireland.
65km later and I was hooked. The Spearfish descends better than any other short travel XC bike I’ve ever ridden, and is more confidence inspiring than many longer travel bikes of any wheel size. Cavaet – I don’t tend to pin it down hills – but I do want a bike to maintain momentum over terrain, especially over the sort of ground I race on.
The slacker than normal, for a XC race bike, gives the Spearfish a feeling of a much longer travel bike. The super short rear end pops the bike out of corners – without ever feeling like your near the end of the travel when pushing it down. The Split-Pivot on the suspension is perfect in every way – little noticeable bob if you have the suspension set well, and a feeling of bottomless travel.
The downside to the stock bike are the brakes -Avid junk – take them off and throw them far away. They are far to weak for the bike, the potential to go fast is limited by them, as is your ability to stop. A nice set of XT brakes sorted that out just fine.
The only other quirk of the Spearfish is the low BB height. It makes for a wonderfully stable and predictable ride and pedalling feel – but it does cause a fair amount of pedal strike until you get used to it – possibly this is just due to what I was used to riding…who knows.
The major surprise has been with the BB and pivot bearings. So far no sign of them going south – they are working perfectly. Normally at this stage I expect a full sus to be a creaking ball of hatred, but no such joy (?) at the moment as they appear to be holding up fine. Now, it has been a very dry summer- so maybe this will change. We shall see.
Overall, you couldn’t take this bike away from me. I was convinced it was the bike for me – then I spent a full 24 hours riding it up and over Fort William at the WEMBO worlds – this is one of the best bikes I have ever owned.
Now…the carbon version….hmmm