Results 1 to 16 of 16
  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Reputation: ElbowScabs's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    149

    Spec/parts questions for Horsethief

    Since my loved Niner Jet 9 was stolen on Sat out of my garage I decided to replace her with a Salsa Horsethief which arrives Monday. I've owned over 20 mt bikes, including a Salsa Big Mama prior to the Jet 9...but this will be my first "complete build" bike instead of me building it up and building wheels for it.

    The spec list looks really good, and with that deal at Universal Cycles...I couldn't pass it up. I have three concerns with parts on the build that I'd love to get some feedback on:

    1. Shifters are X7. On every geared bike I have ever owned, I had X9 triggers (and the last 4 bikes had X0 grip shifters...which I loved). Having never used an X7 shifter, will it be noticeable/big difference or no big deal.

    2. I kind of love tires. Had many. Never tried the Mountain Kings. I always run a 2.4 in front, so the size is cool...but my last bikes had an Ardent which I loved. Rear I ran an Ikon or a Racing Ralph before. Wondering how these will be (tubeless)? Mostly ride dry hardpack...with rock beds and heavy roots at some trails.

    3. Brakes. Have had XT brakes the last couple of bikes and loved them. I've owned many BB7 and Juicy brakes before switching to XTs. How bad are the Elixir 5s? Read all bad stuff on them in the review section.

    Extra credit. When I called Universal, the guy in the shop said the Formula hubs are surprisingly good for inexpensive hubs. Any thoughts on engagement or other with these?

    Everything I have read about the bike has been positive...so just trying to get a little more granular as I impatiently wait.
    Last edited by ElbowScabs; 10-24-2012 at 05:10 PM.
    mountainbikefaq.com - See my 2x10 to 1x10 conversion (lots of pics!)

  2. #2
    No Clue Crew
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Posts
    3,876
    1. Funny thing. I have almost always used X7 and X9 shifters previously, older models. The shifting on these new shifters is markedly different and not in a good way. Very, very stiff. Not a deal-breaker, but not buttery like older X9s or particularly the new XT stuff.

    2. I typically run Maxxis or Specialized tires. The sidewalls on the Contis seemed thin when set them up tubeless and I didn't expect them to last a single ride here in AZ. Three rides in and they're still holding up. Not the favorite tire I've ever run, but they're fine.

    3. Can't say; I pulled them off right away.

  3. #3
    Birthday Collector
    Reputation: ATBScott's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Posts
    2,549
    1.) If you got a great deal on the bike, you should spend a few bucks and get a set of grip-shift for it, and sell the X.7 shifters while they are still new!

    2.) Tires are OK for many surfaces - there are places they excel and other places where they probably suck. Your terrain, riding style and preference(s) will dictate what tire you choose. FWIW, I have usually found that Conti tires tend to work better than I expect them to in most conditions. Hopefully they work for you and you can get some miles out of them... Maxxis Ardents, or the new Bontrager 29-4 tires really seem to work well in a lot of conditions - the WTB line also has some great rubber...

    3.) Avid Elixirs, in the "lower end" models work OK - but that is about it. If you are used to Shimano XT (especially the later versions) you might not like the Avids. That being said, all the 'Thiefs we have sold all still have the stock Avid brakes on them - a couple folks replaced the pads with SwissStop pads when the originals wore out - but they have been some of the more trouble-free Avid hydro brakes.

    Sorry to hear about your theft - but if you like to ride rougher conditions, you'll probably really like the HT
    R.I.P. Corky 10/97-4/09
    Disclaimer: I sell and repair bikes for a living
    http://www.endlesscyclesonline.com

  4. #4
    mtbr member
    Reputation: ElbowScabs's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    149
    I really appreciate the replies. I think for now I will just try the tires then. I am sure it will be fine for a front, but I was more concerned about it for a rear.

    Brakes were my biggest concern. I guess I will give them a chance as well. I am sure I will build up another SS at some point as well...so they can be "promoted" to that bike down the road.

    Shifters...grrrrrr. I wish I could just splurge for the $200+ 10spd grip shifters, but with a new baby and holidays fast approaching....that may have to wait as well. Maybe.

    Thanks again. Monday can't get here fast enough.
    mountainbikefaq.com - See my 2x10 to 1x10 conversion (lots of pics!)

  5. #5
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Posts
    46
    I have had no issues with the shifters on mine, but have little experience with the grip shifters. The tires are OK, but the terrain I ride on, mostly rock and hard pack, they are not the greatest. I have flated more with these than I ever had with my previous Nevegals.
    I am saving for upgrades, and the first to go is the brakes. The 5's absolutely suck! If you've rode the XT's before I think you'll hate the 5's. I've changed pads and they got slightly better, but no were near the XT's. If you have the cash, my opinion would be swap brakes and sell the 5's as new.

  6. #6
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Posts
    668
    1. I run full X7 drivetrains on both my mountain bikes and they work flawlessly. 90% as fast as XO, just a little heavier.

    2. Tires are a personal thing, I don't have experience with those but even if I did my opinion wouldn't be worth a lot. I personally like Schwalbe Hans Dampf and Maxxis Minions the best, and softer the better. I despise Ardents and Nevegals, so there you go.

    3. I personally really like the feel and power of my Elixrs, but they're 9's. The 5's were on my previous bike and they were just okay. As mentioned swapping while they're new isn't a bad idea - good brakes make more of a difference in ride enjoyment than higher end shifters IMO (as long as your drivetrain's in good working order)

    Bonus: Not sure, but to me the front isn't really worth worrying about. Thru-hubs are so simple and all use big bearings so they're all good enough to me. The rear is where the money's at. I'd run it and if you blow up a freewheel, time to upgrade (unlikely)

  7. #7
    mtbr member
    Reputation: ElbowScabs's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    149
    Well, this thread is pretty complete from my original question, but I thought I would add my feedback for anyone that comes across it later.

    The bike arrived late Monday night. I unpacked it, and was pleasantly surprised how little work there was to do getting it "ride ready." I was fully prepared to do a major assy/prep...but hats off to Universal Cycles for the assembly. I didn't even have to adjust the derailleurs. Wheels even came with tires and tubes in them...straight.

    I kept the bike stock, other than swapping for some Oury grips (only grips that don't give me numb-hand syndrome).

    Took her our for a ride today and my impressions/ride review are as follows.

    * My first concern was the X7 shifters, as stated in OP. Additionally, moving from grip shifters back to thumbs. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. I do miss grips...as I love quickly being able to shift three gears when needed, but the X7s worked great. Sure, the X9s and X0s I have had are "slightly" better, but these will be serviable for a while until I get some extra money I want to blow...or make the move back to XO grip shifters.

    * My second concern was the tires. As mentioned in the follow-ups, tires depend on a lot of things, but overall I was very surprised. They hooked up very well. Yeah, they are heavy...and yeah, there' not "true" 2.4's, but they braked well and climbed well. I also didn't even set them up tubeless yet (I like to always get one ride in with tubes before I go tubeless to help shape/stretch the tire), and thus I ran a little higher PSI than I normally would. Even at 28psi, they were great. Can't wait to get them tubeless and drop the pressure a little.

    * My final concern in the OP was the brakes. As the replies mentioned, Elixir 5s are average, but they are for sure no Shimanos. I may need to bleed them, like a lot of online post suggest (even new) and play with them, but I had the reach fully in and they didn't feel like they grabbed until the final 10% of the squeeze. Since this bikes bombs downhill like no other I have been on, that can get a little scary squeeze and jaw-dropping/bug eating as you beg for more stopping power. Back to Shimano XTs (or even SLX) as soon as the money fairy stops by the house.

    Extra credit...the hubs. I was happy with them as well. I build wheels, so I can be fussy about wheels, but these Formula hubs weren't bad at all. I had 240s before...so there is clearly a slacker engagement, but not anything to lose sleep over. I've had some bomb-proof formula fixed gear road bikes...so I shouldn't be that surprised.

    Other impressions:

    I have always been 2x9 (or 1x9 or SS) so this was my first 2x10 experience. LOVED it. Gears just "felt" more like they should. Very happy with the 2x10 set-up.

    Climbing. This is Texas...so we don't have any (at least where I ride) brutal long sustained uphills (more short burst fast/sharp inclines), but I'd have to say this bike is one of the best climbing bikes I have had. Since the suspension is like riding on water, those steep/short rooty/rocky climbs I just floated over stuff instead of worrying about lines and maintaining body posture for keeping the back tire pinned. I can certainly see myself geting lazy riding now since this bike destroys rocks and roots.

    Descending is like sitting on your couch and having a two year old bump the couch with his tricycle. You barely feel anything, It's not how good does the bike descend...but rather how fast can you go. No more rattling your fillings downhill on this bike.

    Having loved my Jet 9 so much, and still being inside of two weeks of it being stolen, I am actually surprised how much I enjoyed this bike.

    For what it is worth this was one ride, and I am an intermediate going on 40 years old...so take everything with a grain of salt. If you are a savage, in your 20s...YMMV.

    Looking forward to my ride tomorrow morning...that's for sure.
    mountainbikefaq.com - See my 2x10 to 1x10 conversion (lots of pics!)

  8. #8
    mtbr member
    Reputation: progfan1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Posts
    243
    ElbowScabs,

    Glad to read your review. My new Horsethief should be here in about a week. I'm new to a lot of the component issues, so it's good to have this information, particularly on the brakes. Do you feel there is a significant difference between XT and SLX? I'm trying not to break the bank too much, but I definitely want some good braking power. Or, are the Elixirs "tuneable" enough to make them worth keeping until they wear out?

  9. #9
    mtbr member
    Reputation: ElbowScabs's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    149
    You'll love the bike. It's probably too much bike for where I am at, but a smooth ride for sure. I never owned SLX brakes, but one of the guys I ride with had SLX and I did a quick ride on that bike and it felt just like the XTs. I heard the XTs and SLX are pretty much the same (other than weight).

    Everything I read on the Elixirs is you are always tuning them. Maybe a bleed and a pulling of the wheels and squeezing the pads closer will help, but I am for sure getting Shimano brakes again. I'm not ready to totally dismiss the brakes after just one ride, so I will probably get some mileage out of them and then demote them to a new bike. I get single speed bikes as a second bikes all the time...so they will be fine for that.
    mountainbikefaq.com - See my 2x10 to 1x10 conversion (lots of pics!)

  10. #10
    mtbr member
    Reputation: monty797's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Posts
    629
    I gotta say I'm pretty happy with the HT. I haven't changed anything out yet from it, but I'm gonna mainly change two things. The wheels and brakes are going to be leaving shortly.

    I'll probably toss on a set of SLX or XT brakes to swap out the Elixirs. I just hate Avid brakes and these haven't changed my opinion in the slightest. They need to be bled already, they are noisy, and overall I'm just not thrilled with them.

    The wheels I don't hate but I would like a lighter set of wheels eventually. For now, I'm going to run a different rear tire as the Continental is a fairly slow rolling tire but I'd like to run an Ikon in the rear for now, it'll make a difference to how it feels at least.

  11. #11
    mtbr member
    Reputation: ElbowScabs's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    149
    Quote Originally Posted by monty797 View Post
    The wheels I don't hate but I would like a lighter set of wheels eventually. For now, I'm going to run a different rear tire as the Continental is a fairly slow rolling tire but I'd like to run an Ikon in the rear for now, it'll make a difference to how it feels at least.
    I had an IKON in the rear of the Niner that got jacked and loved that tire. Pricey tire, but I loved it. I had a Ralph in the back before that and like the IKON even more.
    mountainbikefaq.com - See my 2x10 to 1x10 conversion (lots of pics!)

  12. #12
    mtbr member
    Reputation: progfan1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Posts
    243
    Pardon the ignorance of this noob question: If I changed the brakes to Shimano, would I need to also change the rotors or could I run the brakes with the existing ones?
    Last edited by progfan1; 11-04-2012 at 06:46 PM.

  13. #13
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Posts
    857
    Quote Originally Posted by elbowscabs View Post
    1. Shifters are x7. On every geared bike i have ever owned, i had x9 triggers (and the last 4 bikes had x0 grip shifters...which i loved). Having never used an x7 shifter, will it be noticeable/big difference or no big deal.

    Even with the redesign, there is still a quantifiable difference between x9 and x7 shifters. I can't tell a difference between x9 and x0.

    2. I kind of love tires. Had many. Never tried the mountain kings. I always run a 2.4 in front, so the size is cool...but my last bikes had an ardent which i loved. Rear i ran an ikon or a racing ralph before. Wondering how these will be (tubeless)? Mostly ride dry hardpack...with rock beds and heavy roots at some trails.

    When i got my spearfish, i shared those concerns, and run ikon front/rear.

    3. Brakes. Have had xt brakes the last couple of bikes and loved them. I've owned many bb7 and juicy brakes before switching to xts. How bad are the elixir 5s? Read all bad stuff on them in the review section.

    My spearfish has avid elixir 7s. Haven't had any problems. The redesign on them eliminates the bleeding difficulties. Mine have been flawless.

    Extra credit. When i called universal, the guy in the shop said the formula hubs are surprisingly good for inexpensive hubs. Any thoughts on engagement or other with these?

    Everything i have read about the bike has been positive...so just trying to get a little more granular as i impatiently wait.
    responses in caps, above.

  14. #14
    mtbr member
    Reputation: JohnJameson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    141
    Quote Originally Posted by ElbowScabs View Post
    I may need to bleed them, like a lot of online post suggest (even new) and play with them, but I had the reach fully in and they didn't feel like they grabbed until the final 10% of the squeeze. Since this bikes bombs downhill like no other I have been on, that can get a little scary squeeze and jaw-dropping/bug eating as you beg for more stopping power.
    I agree. I absolutely love this bike, and am happy with all of the other components...but the elixirs are getting replaced. they definitely have an all or nothing feel, and are probably the least smooth hydro brakes I have used. I am extremely pleased with everything else on the bike. Swapped out the bars and stem as soon as I got it and put on my dropper post. After upgrading the brakes, I will be very content with the build.

  15. #15
    mtbr member
    Reputation: ElbowScabs's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    149
    Quote Originally Posted by JohnJameson View Post
    I agree. I absolutely love this bike, and am happy with all of the other components...but the elixirs are getting replaced. they definitely have an all or nothing feel, and are probably the least smooth hydro brakes I have used. I am extremely pleased with everything else on the bike. Swapped out the bars and stem as soon as I got it and put on my dropper post. After upgrading the brakes, I will be very content with the build.
    Curious...did you keep the same length for the stem?
    mountainbikefaq.com - See my 2x10 to 1x10 conversion (lots of pics!)

  16. #16
    mtbr member
    Reputation: monty797's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Posts
    629
    So I'm still loving the HT.

    I've made a few changes to the build.

    First off I stole the brakeset off my hardtail (Hayes Prime Pro) which is a big improvement.

    I ended up putting a 50mm stem on it. Again another huge improvement, really livened up the front end and feels much better.

    I also swapped out the tires. Maxxis Ardent 2.4 in the front and a Maxxis Ikon in the rear.

    Those changes really made the bike feel like a different ride. The bike pedals quicker, front end is more to my liking and I can stop!

    Fun stuff!

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •