Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Not Just a Pretty Face

As a disclaimer, let me first say I'm a middle aged woman whose racing days are long over and I just mountain bike predominately for fun now. I also know very little about bicycle frame geometry or the math and technical specifics of suspension design or anything. So my "review" may not be worth much to a hardcore rider. But, as the old quote goes, "I know what I like". And the 2014 Salsa Spearfish? So far, I like - I REALLY like, and it's not just the svelte curves or even the smokingly awesome green anodized color, although those both earn huge bonus points with me for sure.
2014 Salsa Spearfish
But the Spearfish is more than just a pretty face. It's also, even on just the handful of our rides together at this point, proving to be quite the workhorse. And with a rider like me, that is really saying something! I tend to ride fairly "timid", so rely heavily on my bike to essentially be all things - quick yet confidence inspiring, stable without feeling sluggish at both high and low speeds, solid at both climbing and descending, nimble in the turns but not twitchy. It's a tall order, and I'm thrilled to say that so far the Spearfish has not let me down.
Can't. Stop. Smiling.
The initial very brief ride was mostly spent finding the bike's "center" as it has geometry that is apparently not like anything I've ever ridden before - from what I understand: a reasonably slack head angle, short head tube, short chainstays, and Dave Weagle Split Pivot™ rear suspension technology. Once I found the Spearfish's center though, wow. Switchback climbs that previously had been the bane of my rides were suddenly no issue. All I had to do was pedal and the bike just glided right up and around. Which brings me to cornering - another of my extreme weaknesses. I forgot more than once that this bike is a 29er (except for the ease with which it crosses logs and rock gardens) due to how easily it handles in the turns. Definitely no tractor-trailer steering here. But despite its quick responsiveness in the turns, the 'fish never felt twitchy or nervous, and I have not experienced any oversteering with it, even in very tight downhill corners.

I found this bike to be point-and-shoot-stable and solid whether descending or climbing, and the short travel (3 inches I believe) of the rear shock was surprisingly comfortable over roots, rocks and anything else the trail could throw at it.
Roots? What roots?
The Spearfish Rocks
Even in my less-than-fit current state, I had no difficulty with any climbs. All I had to do was turn the pedals over, and the bike scooted right up with less effort than I can recall on any bike in recent memory. Standing to climb induced no pedal bob that I could discern, and going from zero to "go", there was immediate response with no sluggish start like I expected on a 29er. On descents, the rear suspension was a dream, remaining active even when braking, with no brake jack at all.

Despite  being outfitted very modestly with average midrange parts (I bought the frame only), my Spearfish comes in at a respectable 26 pounds, but somehow it rides much lighter than that, and forward motion feels almost effortless on it. Salsa is marketing the Spearfish as their ultra-endurance bike, and speaking as a former 24-hour solo racer myself, I truly believe they've nailed it. I know I could certainly be happy spending hours, if not days, in the saddle on this bike - yes, it rides and handles just that well.

I'll write more on my impressions of the Spearfish later as I get more miles in on it, but right now I think it's time to go for a ride...
Let's Ride!

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