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  1. #1
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    Spearfish owners - tell me about the suspension feel

    I currently own a Jet 9 that I really don't ride that much anymore. About 90% of my riding these days is on hard tails or my Siren soft tail.

    I keep toying with the idea of swapping out the Jet frame for a Spearfish. My thinking is that I will like the Spearfish better than the Jet because it will drop about 1lb of weight and have a more efficient soft tail like suspension feel.

    I think that the Spearfish will have similar handling to the Jet based on geometry numbers. The Spearfish has slightly longer chainstays, but a slightly shorter ETT so the overall wheelbase is the same. Spearfish BB is a little lower than the Jet, but I am not too concerned about that.

    Can Spearfish owners chime in on the suspension feel of the Spearfish compared to other 29er FS bikes you have owned/ridden? Am I correct that the Spearfish will pedal closer to a Dos Niner than a Jet? Or am I completely wrong?

    I may try to scare up a test ride, but it is unlikely as there are not any Salsa dealers close by.

  2. #2
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    Feels a lot plusher than my rigid did!

    I would think a lot would depend on which shock setup you went with. I am running the regular Monarch at 180 (I weigh 235). I'm running a Reba XX in the front at 160+/150- I believe. My goal was just to set it up soft enough to take the edge off, it's not a DH rig after all. I only have a handful of rides in on it, but so far I love the feel of the bike.

    FYI, I was concerned over the BB height given some of the rocky stuff around here, but I've already taken it on Sovreign trail in Moab and some stuff at the Lunch Loops in Grand Junction, and its fine so far. I have a 6" bike for the real rocky stuff, but this bike is a nice step up from full rigid and is now my go to bike.

    Hitting Moab again next weekend and will ride the Fish on some stuff, but will probably take the bigger bike for Porcupine.

  3. #3
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    from day one of the test ride around the parking lot, i felt the suspesnion was super active with the monarch rear shock.

    and a year later, i am racing it just today in the big sandy race and i remember thinking in the middle of the race when i was going thru a ton of rocks...i was thinking, man this feels more like a 4" bike than a 3".

    its not softail, though, if you add a boat load of pressure to the rear shock, it will become one, lol.

  4. #4
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    Understand it is no soft tail... 80mm of travel is 80mm of travel after all. I am interested in your comment of "super active". That is not what I would expect. Do you have the shock set up fairly soft?

    I guess what I am after is how efficient of a pedaler the Spearfish is. Does the lack of a rear pivot make it feel more hard tail / soft tail like when pedaling / accelerating / climbing? Or does the seat stay flex make it feel like any other 80mm travel XC bike?

    In the reviews I have read so far, this perception seems to vary a lot. Maybe this is different experience / preference from the authors, maybe it is just shock setup.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by AOK View Post
    Understand it is no soft tail... 80mm of travel is 80mm of travel after all. I am interested in your comment of "super active". That is not what I would expect. Do you have the shock set up fairly soft?

    I guess what I am after is how efficient of a pedaler the Spearfish is. Does the lack of a rear pivot make it feel more hard tail / soft tail like when pedaling / accelerating / climbing? Or does the seat stay flex make it feel like any other 80mm travel XC bike?

    In the reviews I have read so far, this perception seems to vary a lot. Maybe this is different experience / preference from the authors, maybe it is just shock setup.

    yep you are correct, 5 psi change in the rear shock can make a big difference. if its a bit low, it feels like a 5" travel bike! whooo hooo. but too hi and it feels like a softail.

    if you want the best of both worlds, get a remote lockout. whats the point of having rear supsension and then airing the shock up so much, you don't get the good parts of carry around that rear triangle.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by hobiesmith View Post
    whats the point of having rear supsension and then airing the shock up so much, you don't get the good parts of carry around that rear triangle.
    My thoughts exactly!

    I run my shock quite soft, so im using all the travel on general trails ( I couldnt run it hard enough to not bottom on big hits so why suffer on the smaller stuff too), it monsters everything in its path. I usually ride an old 05 heckler with Pikes but ive taken to riding the fish with 120mm Reba's almost as fast on the downs, the only thing holding the fish back is the Geo, head angle is just too steep.

    If you want hardtail acceleration, buy a hardtail. That said, running the rear softer gives unbelieveable levels of climbing grip, ive overtaken people uphill while they are struggling on the good line and im just plowing up through the rough.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by hobiesmith View Post
    yep you are correct, 5 psi change in the rear shock can make a big difference. if its a bit low, it feels like a 5" travel bike! whooo hooo. but too hi and it feels like a softail.

    if you want the best of both worlds, get a remote lockout. whats the point of having rear supsension and then airing the shock up so much, you don't get the good parts of carry around that rear triangle.
    Is the Ario RL compatible with remote lockout? Also, where would you recommend I order my spearfish from?

    2012 Spearfish 3 Complete - Hammerheadbikes.com

    Is that a good deal?

  8. #8
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    I would say that the rear is "active" too.....You can see it moving but you can't feel it too much . It takes the edge off the bumps but doesn't feel like you are having to exert energy to overcome the suspension. I mostlhy ride flowly single track. I love mine. Hope that makes sense.

  9. #9
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    Anyone else with some feedback. I'm trying to decide Btwn the 1 and 2 (frame) based on the rear shock and lockout capabilities. If the consensus is that the Monarch rides well and the lockout isn't necessary, then I'd rather put the extra coin into components.

  10. #10
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    I am pleased with the performance of the Monarch. I am not versed on the differences but I bet the lockout is a valve that is varible that controls compression too, which might be nice. I gotta tell you, while I like the idea of having a lockout, I would never use it. I never use the front fork remote lockout either but I thought I had to have that on my Reba. I gotta say this ..... the Monarch just feels right. That is a piss poor description but I am unsure how to descibe it any different. It just feels right. If it wasn't, I would change it.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrmas View Post
    I am pleased with the performance of the Monarch. I am not versed on the differences but I bet the lockout is a valve that is varible that controls compression too, which might be nice. I gotta tell you, while I like the idea of having a lockout, I would never use it. I never use the front fork remote lockout either but I thought I had to have that on my Reba. I gotta say this ..... the Monarch just feels right. That is a piss poor description but I am unsure how to descibe it any different. It just feels right. If it wasn't, I would change it.
    Fair enough. Makes sense to me...sometimes it just feels right! To be more specific, I assume you aren't feeling any unwanted movement during the climbs.

  12. #12
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    You canít really tell it is there on climbs. You can see it moving a little, but it is as hardtail-ish as I imagine any F/S suspension can be. It is active but the active part of the travel is so small, it is not noticeable. The only way you will ever know it is there is pumping in the parking lot or hitting something and thinking ďman that hit should have felt bigger.Ē Salsa achieved their goal. They made the bike for endurance racing and so the suspension is just there to keep from leaving your kidneys on the trail, and that makes it a great single track and distance machine. It is comfortable and just feels good. That being said it isnít going to soak up a 3 foot drop. It really shines at the end of a ride too, when everyone is tired as it is so neutral in its ride, you arenít fighting it like a XC race bike.

    I need to qualify that mine was a frame up build. I purchased the frame and rear shock and assembled the bike from mostly what I had. I am running an xt/xtr 2x9, Reba 100 mm fork, and Stans Arch wheels. So it should be a pretty good comparison to what they sell. On a side note, the frame and rear shock were scary light. It was pretty amazing. You can thump the tubing and tell where it is thicker and thinner.

    From engineering prospective, their single pivot design is probably the best one on the market. Simple, maintenance free, and effective. The lack of a pivot on the rear triangle is genius. You will want to take the shock off and feel how it works. They eliminated a moving part, which eliminates a bushing and maintenance. It also forces the design to be as linear as possible in the travel. The rear end weight savings is apparent too when you feel the bike. The back end is light. It is, in my opinion, the best single pivot design on the market......and perfect for a short travel bike. Just enough to take the bite out of roots, rocks, and debris on the trail but not so much that you are fighting it bobbing like a prize fighter. It is just what I was looking for. I love it but am certainly not trying to sell you. If you try and press it into service for something that would require an all mountain rig, you will probably be disappointed.

    BTW DirtRag Magizine did a review of it. They hit the nail on the head with the description.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrmas View Post
    You canít really tell it is there on climbs. You can see it moving a little, but it is as hardtail-ish as I imagine any F/S suspension can be. It is active but the active part of the travel is so small, it is not noticeable. The only way you will ever know it is there is pumping in the parking lot or hitting something and thinking ďman that hit should have felt bigger.Ē Salsa achieved their goal. They made the bike for endurance racing and so the suspension is just there to keep from leaving your kidneys on the trail, and that makes it a great single track and distance machine. It is comfortable and just feels good. That being said it isnít going to soak up a 3 foot drop. It really shines at the end of a ride too, when everyone is tired as it is so neutral in its ride, you arenít fighting it like a XC race bike.

    I need to qualify that mine was a frame up build. I purchased the frame and rear shock and assembled the bike from mostly what I had. I am running an xt/xtr 2x9, Reba 100 mm fork, and Stans Arch wheels. So it should be a pretty good comparison to what they sell. On a side note, the frame and rear shock were scary light. It was pretty amazing. You can thump the tubing and tell where it is thicker and thinner.

    From engineering prospective, their single pivot design is probably the best one on the market. Simple, maintenance free, and effective. The lack of a pivot on the rear triangle is genius. You will want to take the shock off and feel how it works. They eliminated a moving part, which eliminates a bushing and maintenance. It also forces the design to be as linear as possible in the travel. The rear end weight savings is apparent too when you feel the bike. The back end is light. It is, in my opinion, the best single pivot design on the market......and perfect for a short travel bike. Just enough to take the bite out of roots, rocks, and debris on the trail but not so much that you are fighting it bobbing like a prize fighter. It is just what I was looking for. I love it but am certainly not trying to sell you. If you try and press it into service for something that would require an all mountain rig, you will probably be disappointed.

    BTW DirtRag Magizine did a review of it. They hit the nail on the head with the description.
    Thanks for the detailed thoughts. It seems to coincide with other thoughts I've read. Most seem to say "it is there, but it isn't."

    Moving from the El Mar Ti to a FS, the 80mm squish should be just what looking for. If my LBS can get one in stock, the El Mar should be hitting th MTBR classifieds shortly!!!

  14. #14
    AOK
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    Coop29 -- What size El Mar Ti? I have a friend who might be interested in a large/20".

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    I recently built up a Spearfish 1 (first full suspension 29er) and after some tuning I'm very happy with the rear suspension performance. Coming from all hardtails I was looking for a firm pedaling rear suspension that takes the bigger hits while still climbing well. It seems to do both very well, plus the through axle in the rear makes for a very good tracking rear end.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AOK View Post
    Coop29 -- What size El Mar Ti? I have a friend who might be interested in a large/20".
    It's a M, which is 18 I believe. PM if interested. Hate to clog up the thread.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dambala View Post
    I recently built up a Spearfish 1 (first full suspension 29er) and after some tuning I'm very happy with the rear suspension performance. Coming from all hardtails I was looking for a firm pedaling rear suspension that takes the bigger hits while still climbing well. It seems to do both very well, plus the through axle in the rear makes for a very good tracking rear end.
    Good point about the rear. Something to consider deciding Btwn the 1 and 2.

  18. #18
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    I just made the call today between the Scott Scale RC HT and this bike..

    It was just as effeincent to me in fact I feel like on root filled climbs a FS bike climbs better that a HT weight was the biggest difference between a carbon HT at 24lb and this at 27.5lb but I think over time I will get it down to 26lb and have the best of both worlds.

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    Quote Originally Posted by subspd View Post
    I just made the call today between the Scott Scale RC HT and this bike..

    It was just as effeincent to me in fact I feel like on root filled climbs a FS bike climbs better that a HT weight was the biggest difference between a carbon HT at 24lb and this at 27.5lb but I think over time I will get it down to 26lb and have the best of both worlds.
    Man that thing is good looking!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Coop29 View Post
    Good point about the rear. Something to consider deciding Btwn the 1 and 2.
    As a bigger guy 6' 200lbs the through axle was what finalized my decision to get a Spearfish 1 and I couldn't be happier

  21. #21
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    I just bought the same rig - minus the Lizard Skin protector which is desperately needed.

    What size 'Skin is that? Both sizes in the shop didn't fit my stays.
    Rollin' rocks will never die...

  22. #22
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    As close to a hardtail as a full suspension can get. I tell people it rounds out the bumps, not eats them up. Best overall 29er I've ridden to date.

  23. #23
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    Another satisfied customer here. I bought a used frame/fork and built it up to be around 25 lbs with a 1x9 and pretty stock parts. And thats using Mythos tires that actually have knobs.

    I was coming off a Yeti 575 and was afraid it wouldnt be enough travel. WRONG. Damn it climbs great and is still pleasant going downhill. Cant go downhill as fast as the Yeti did, or even my Big Mama, but for the XC trails here in CT I feel its faster overall, cuz it flies up the hills. And my old back hasnt complained yet.

    Tom

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dambala View Post
    As a bigger guy 6' 200lbs the through axle was what finalized my decision to get a Spearfish 1 and I couldn't be happier
    What size frame did you get? I'm about your size and looking at a SF 1.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by EndoanaJones View Post
    What size frame did you get? I'm about your size and looking at a SF 1.
    Being this is an older thread, I can answer what size I have.
    I'm 6"1 235# and have a LG frame.
    Have had it for about 2 months and am loving it.
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  26. #26
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    EndoanaJones. I have a Large Spearfish 1 and it fits great. With a 110mm, -17 stem a straight seat post (to get my position correct over the pedals) and 172.5 cranks. Hope you like the bike as much as I do.

  27. #27
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    How does the spearfish handle tight twist single track?
    I'm coming from a niner AIR 9 ht - 0.8" shorter wheelbase and 0.6" shorter chainstay that the sp'fish.

  28. #28
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    I am very happy with the handling of my Spearfish. With a 100mm fork and getting the handlebars low switchbacks and tight singletrack are great. What surprises me is that it also handles the high speed stuff really well. It seems they have "nailed" the geometry.

  29. #29
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    Maybe I'm in the minority here, but I am a little dissappointed with the pedalling efficiency. I came off a Tallboy Carbon and VPP is more plush and it pedals better (in and out of the saddle). I'm 170lbs and I have a SF1 with the RP2. IMO the RP2 is spec'd way too soft for a bike that suppose to have efficient pedalling. The velocity tune is "L" which indicates that is it low and it happens to be the lowest amount of propedal available through FOX. The L comes with a 16lb internal pro pedal spring. By comparison the M= 36lb spring and the H= 64lb spring. I recently send my RP2 back to FOX to have the PP changed to the H spring. I'm hoping this will really firm up when pro pedal is on but it will not affect the open position. Otherwise, I prefer the overall geometry to the Tallboy I had.
    C-DALE FLASH 29 Carbon 2 (19.6 lbs)
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1-bar View Post
    Maybe I'm in the minority here, but I am a little dissappointed with the pedalling efficiency.
    I think a lot of people (me included) probably run the fish softer than designers intended. Its an 80mm bike so its never going to be plush and a firmer setup gives no appreciable bob, dosnt bottom out and uses the travel more appropriately. It does make it a bit rougher tho. I run mine a little soft as im happy to accept the lack of travel to take big hits with legs and arms, using the soft suspension to save my posterior for the many hours in the saddle. This does mean it bottoms out a bit and can bob when really cranking and working the bike, but im a slow spinner not a stomper so i dont get much (noticeable) bob.
    I own a Surly, a Surly, a Surly and a Salsa. Probably some others in there too at the bottom of the pile.

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    1-bar. That is very good info on the Pro Pedal. I have been looking into a way to increase the Pro Pedal for the same reason you mentioned. Now to decide on the level of Pro Pedal that would be ideal.

  32. #32
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    Thanks for the feedback. I think the lower BB on the spearfish would make it handle better in some ways.
    The SF goemetry chart shows 1.8" BB Drop. I wonder if that is a pre-sag dimension?
    My AIR 9 BB Drop is listed at 2.1", but there is no rear susp & no rear sag.
    ,

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by dickyelsdon View Post
    I think a lot of people (me included) probably run the fish softer than designers intended. Its an 80mm bike so its never going to be plush and a firmer setup gives no appreciable bob, dosnt bottom out and uses the travel more appropriately. It does make it a bit rougher tho. I run mine a little soft as im happy to accept the lack of travel to take big hits with legs and arms, using the soft suspension to save my posterior for the many hours in the saddle. This does mean it bottoms out a bit and can bob when really cranking and working the bike, but im a slow spinner not a stomper so i dont get much (noticeable) bob.
    To put things in perspective, what is your weight and how much psi do you run? I'm running 175 psi and my weight is 170 so you can see my preference is efficiency over plush. I think recommended psi is 90% of your body weight. I really like the ride when the shock is in open position but when I hammer it, there's too much suspension movement w the OE pro pedal rate.
    C-DALE FLASH 29 Carbon 2 (19.6 lbs)
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  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dambala View Post
    1-bar. That is very good info on the Pro Pedal. I have been looking into a way to increase the Pro Pedal for the same reason you mentioned. Now to decide on the level of Pro Pedal that would be ideal.
    FYI- Fox will change the Pro pedal spring for $50 so no need to "push" unless you're looking for a full tune. I'll get my shock back later this week or early next so I'll let you know if the h setting does the trick.
    C-DALE FLASH 29 Carbon 2 (19.6 lbs)
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  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1-bar View Post
    To put things in perspective, what is your weight and how much psi do you run? I'm running 175 psi and my weight is 170 so you can see my preference is efficiency over plush. I think recommended psi is 90% of your body weight. I really like the ride when the shock is in open position but when I hammer it, there's too much suspension movement w the OE pro pedal rate.
    Sounds like you need to go back to VPP, no amount of shock tune will prevent bob on a single pivot when you are really hammering (IMO).

    Im british so I weigh in stone not lbs, i refuse to state how many i weigh on the grounds you might convert it to lbs and ill realise how fat i am
    I own a Surly, a Surly, a Surly and a Salsa. Probably some others in there too at the bottom of the pile.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 1-bar View Post
    FYI- Fox will change the Pro pedal spring for $50 so no need to "push" unless you're looking for a full tune. I'll get my shock back later this week or early next so I'll let you know if the h setting does the trick.
    I'm looking forward to a report on how it rides with the new ProPedal setting.

  37. #37
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    I see where the 2013 spearfish 1 has a Fox Float CTD shock. I wonder if that helps?

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    Quote Originally Posted by 1-bar View Post
    FYI- Fox will change the Pro pedal spring for $50 so no need to "push" unless you're looking for a full tune. I'll get my shock back later this week or early next so I'll let you know if the h setting does the trick.
    Do you have anymore info on how the bike rode after the new tune? I am coming off both an Anthem 29 and a Superfly 100 and am curious about the pedal platform feel on this frame.

    I race and prefer a much stiffer sus. feel. It seems most people set them up soft and do not worry about hitting it hard on the climbs, rather how it eats up the bumps on the downs.

    I have a Fox CTD with FF tune and a Monarch with MM tune I could switch out but I wanted to see what you thought first about your change.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slim83 View Post
    Do you have anymore info on how the bike rode after the new tune? I am coming off both an Anthem 29 and a Superfly 100 and am curious about the pedal platform feel on this frame.

    I race and prefer a much stiffer sus. feel. It seems most people set them up soft and do not worry about hitting it hard on the climbs, rather how it eats up the bumps on the downs.

    I have a Fox CTD with FF tune and a Monarch with MM tune I could switch out but I wanted to see what you thought first about your change.
    I have a CTD with FF tune that I'm putting on the bike as soon as I get some 22.2mm mounting hardware. Fox is sold out until March so I need to order rock shox.

  40. #40
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    I love my Salsa and it pains me to say this, but IMO Salsa got the shock tune on the SF1 all wrong. The "L" velocity tune for Propedal is such a marginal difference that it really under utilizes the potential of the RP2 shock. You can always add or decrease pressure to get your open setting tune but when you activate PP you should expect a significant increase in pedal performance. Add the "H" (65lb) PP spring made a NIGHT and DAY difference. I am extremely satisfied with the added stiffness the heavier spring made to the PP setting. It's not exactly a hard tail, but it pedals pretty close to it and I honestly wouldn't want it any stiffer than it is. Going with FOX to re tune it for $50 is completely worth it and I'm sure if you really wanted to go the distance, using PUSH IND. would also do you right. Depending on your weight and what you want, you can also have FOX change your Boost Valve setting. The stock setting is 200lbs but you can increase or decrease for a plusher or stiffer ride in open mode.

    Since you got the CTD with a firm setting I'm sure it will probably feel similar to my RP2 in climb mode and the other two modes will probably be great attribute depending on you your doing. The SF is a kick ass bike with the right shock!
    C-DALE FLASH 29 Carbon 2 (19.6 lbs)
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  41. #41
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    You cant criticise Salsa for setting up a shock to meet the criteria THEY designed the bike for. Your trying to make an efficient XC bike out of a bike they designed for long long rides. I think 90% of the folk who buy a fish wont race it, so makes no sense to have a super firm setting/lockout, id much rather have the softer 'on' setting to give me a bit of stability on rough climbs. Im not getting out the saddle sprinting at all on this bike, unless im messing on singletrack with mates, and on that terrain i have it open anyway.
    I own a Surly, a Surly, a Surly and a Salsa. Probably some others in there too at the bottom of the pile.

  42. #42
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    I have had a week on my 12 Sperfish 2 frame. I race and will be using it for both long and short XC races. I have spent the week trying to find the sweet spot for the rear setup. I am 163lb and I have found that if I run it above 145psi I don't get full travel. I like the way it feels at 145. I just wish that when I clicked it over to full threshold it would be stiffer. There just isn't enough of a feel difference between full open middle and closed.

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