The latest version of Salsa’s all-mountain 29er, the Horsethief 2, left some of our testers wanting to hit the trail as if they were running from the law. And, knowing this crew, there’s a good chance they were…. Find out what our testers thought of this redesign, centered around the Split Pivot suspension platform.
SALSA HORSETHIEF 2
Final Take: There are lighter trail bikes out there, but Dave Weagle's Split Pivot design makes for a much more fun flavor of Salsa.
The last time the Salsa Horsethief made an appearance in our Bible issue in 2012, we were riding the big 29er in the forests of North Carolina. It struck us as a competent climber, but a clumsy descender. You had to love that old-school 29er handling to appreciate that rig. Most of our testers didn't.
Things have changed. Salsa teamed up with suspension designer Dave Weagle on this redesign, which is unrecognizable in everything but name. The new Horsethief wears Weagle's Split Pivot design, a common feature of which is a pivot that rotates around the rear axle, ideally providing excellent bump compliance without either undue suspension bob or brake jack.
The Horsethief, in fact, has a lively suspension feel that causes most hits to disappear beneath the bike's 120 millimeters of rear travel. It feels like it hosts more suspension than the stats suggest.
The Salsa is reasonably efficient and boasts outstanding traction, but most testers found themselves taking advantage of the Fox CTD shock's Trail mode on the climbs. The Horsethief did feel a bit heavy on those longer ascents. At 28.3 pounds sans dropper post, the Salsa is not particularly heavy for a 29er with this much travel, but it doesn't exactly hide its weight.
There are also two higher-end versions of the Horsethief, hung with lighter components, or you can buy it as a frame. It was on the descents that the benefits of the new Horsethief design truly became apparent. Rear-end stiffness is noticeably better and it is now downright nimble. The 17.2-inch chainstays keep the wheelbase reasonably sporty and the 51-millimeter fork offset reduces trail.
Both go a long way toward making the Horsethief a lot of fun to maneuver in tight sections of trail. The differences between this bike and its predecessor are vast. The old Horsethief was utilitarian. This version is sexy.