Hardtail Junkie switches to Spearfish and is very happy- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Hardtail Junkie switches to Spearfish and is very happy

    Spearfish 2 ride report.

    Bike: XL Spearfish 2 stock except for Panaracer Rampages tubless on the Arches

    Me: 6í2Ē, 165 lbs, long reach and legs

    Ride: various trails in at South Mountain in Phoneix.

    It seems like I am the perfect candidate for a Salsa Spearfish. I have been riding my first generation El Mariachi 1x9 (Reba on the front for most of the time, short stretches time I rode it rigid) hard for over 5 years and have learned how to climb tough technical trails in Phoenix, AZ with it. I was completely sold that hard tail 29ers were the best choice for day long rides and I put lots and lots of miles on it. I was ready for a little forgiveness, but donít want to completely give up the hard tail feel and efficiency.

    A couple weeks ago I went on a solid 4 hour beat down ride in the McDowell mountains that was about 30 miles with 4k feet of climbing. I was chasing a friend that who rides a Kona Hei Hei (a bike I strongly considered) and I was keeping him for the most part, but I definitely noticed that he was fresh longer and I was getting my ass kicked with the gearing and lack of give in the back. Iíve definitely noticed this in the past, but I as I have gotten faster (up and down) I have been getting more beat up by all the rocks and steep trails we have here. Iíve been thinking of a new XC bike for a year now, but this ride made the choice for me.

    I have a limited budget to work with and was only considering 3 bikes seriously. The Hei Hei, Rocky Mountain Altitude, and the Spearfish. Although there are other bikes out there,
    my favorite LBS deals all three of these and I wanted to buy from them. For the build kit options and upgrades I wanted the Spearfish was the cheapest option and I also have a Pistola and Casserole so Iím sure that weighed into my choice, but I also think it is the best bike of the three for these reasonsÖ

    1. Geometry: the Hei, Hei has a pretty long wheel base and the 70 degree HTA might be pushing it for the riding I do. The SF has a 71 HTA which is a little more conventional and since Iím coming from the old El M that had a 72 HTA Iím not sure a dramatic change
    would have been a good call. All three bikes have relatively steep STAís and I like that trend for 29ers. I really feel pinned to the trail on steep climbs on a 29er with a steeper STA. I had read concern out about the low BB drop, but it really is not that low compared to the bikes that area out there. Iím also coming from the El M which had a 60+ mm BB drop and I have been climbing technical stuff fine with that. BB height has not been an issue and the trails in Phoenix are definitely a good test for that.
    Recently, I have been a little concerned with the trend of XC bikes becoming more AM like. Itís not all bad, but the SF seems to borrow the right traits to feel a bit aggressive, but not too many of them. The Kona seemed to want to offer all the new trends for the sake of offering them. It is definitely a worth bike, but does not seem to be as focused on the riding I like to do as the SF.

    2. School of hard knocks factor: I have been riding strong on the simple El M for a long enough time to know that the extra plushness that found in the RM and the Hei Hei suspension designs are nice, but unnecessary for me. Iíve been used to lots of out of the saddle time and I donít want to give up that kind of riding. The SF is stiff and transfers power very well and feels like a hard tail when I want it to. Iím very happy that I did not start out riding on a FS 29er XC bike , because I think I have learned a thing or two from the HT riding.

    3. I have a Titus El Guapo, that is built tough and heavy for when I want to bomb hills and ride without finesse for a day. Interestingly, however, I have been very impressed with the descending and the crazy stiffness found on the SF. I have taken it down South Mountainís National trail a couple of times now and I am very confident on it.
    4. It looks very nice. It makes a difference for me and the other bikes are kind of feo, no?

    Concerns I still have:

    1. The Formula hubs... I have torn through inexpensive hubs in the past. Luckily I have some Hope hubs that have served me very well if I break them. This might be a non issue though.

    2. Does having a bike this flashy make me a metrosexual?
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Hardtail Junkie switches to Spearfish and is very happy-salsa-spearfish.jpg  

    Last edited by chongoman; 05-20-2012 at 02:20 PM.

  2. #2
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    Congrats and welcome to the cool people club!
    The unexamined life is not worth living - Socrates
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    As a Loooooong-time hardtail junkie (never ridden anything else), I've been reluctant to try out full suspension bikes. This one has had me interested though. Pedaling efficiency pretty good I take it? Notice any bobbing at all? That's what would kill it for me...

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by willapajames View Post
    As a Loooooong-time hardtail junkie (never ridden anything else), I've been reluctant to try out full suspension bikes. This one has had me interested though. Pedaling efficiency pretty good I take it? Notice any bobbing at all? That's what would kill it for me...
    Very minimal bob with excellent efficiency IMO in the conditions I've ridden it in. It's awesome out of the saddle too, which is very important to me since I like to take breaks from sitting to even out muscle use on long rides.
    I only noticed significant bob when pedaling in 1st gear on the road at high cadence. Since that is a rather silly thing to do that I don't think it will be an issue.
    I was worried about bob too and probably put too much air in the shock on the first ride (165 lbs in the shock with me at 165lbs) I dropped it to 155 in the shock today to get more travel when descending the chunky, fast National trail today. It felt great and I didn't get any added bob riding the road back home.
    Bob approves of the lack of bob.

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    Thanks for the write up. It makes me feels better about the order I just placed yesterday. I went off all the write ups and threads, as there is no demo's around to try. I also wanted a FS that climbed like a HT. I'm so use to SS I don't change gears much and stand up to pedal without even thinking about it. Pictures don't do the color justice.

  6. #6
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    is that a rampage 2.35 on the back? If so, do you have any clearance issues? Im running Flows rather than Arches, but I cant get a 2.35 Rampage on the back of my El Mar Ti and that supposed to clear 2.3 tires, as opposed to 2.25 on the Spearfish.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rth009 View Post
    is that a rampage 2.35 on the back? If so, do you have any clearance issues? Im running Flows rather than Arches, but I cant get a 2.35 Rampage on the back of my El Mar Ti and that supposed to clear 2.3 tires, as opposed to 2.25 on the Spearfish.
    Yes, it's a Rampage 2.35 on the back. There is plenty of room.
    If I remember I'll post a photo here later. I wonder if the rim width is the culprit.

    EDIT: here's the photo
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Hardtail Junkie switches to Spearfish and is very happy-002.jpg  

    Last edited by chongoman; 05-21-2012 at 08:18 PM.

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    God this is exactly what I needed to read. I ride in Cave Creek and am looking at a SF. Just waiting to heat some news about a job offer before I pull the trigger.

    I ride a 26" hardtail, and I HATE pedal bob. But my body needs some more give. I think a low travel FS 29er like this is the meal ticket for me.

    How'd the bike do on National? I haven't had the stone to tackle that one on my current ride.

  9. #9
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    move chain stay back

    Quote Originally Posted by rth009 View Post
    is that a rampage 2.35 on the back? If so, do you have any clearance issues? Im running Flows rather than Arches, but I cant get a 2.35 Rampage on the back of my El Mar Ti and that supposed to clear 2.3 tires, as opposed to 2.25 on the Spearfish.
    I have a 2011 el m and got 29-4 bontrager to work. Got a rampage to work as well, since my chain stay is all the way back. Move the 2 drop out back further.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by pointerDixie214 View Post
    God this is exactly what I needed to read. I ride in Cave Creek and am looking at a SF. Just waiting to heat some news about a job offer before I pull the trigger.

    I ride a 26" hardtail, and I HATE pedal bob. But my body needs some more give. I think a low travel FS 29er like this is the meal ticket for me.

    How'd the bike do on National? I haven't had the stone to tackle that one on my current ride.
    It felt great for me on National. I was riding National regularly on my El Mariachi and descending it was always sketchy and tiring. This bike handles it much better and climbs better too. I'm very happy with it so far.
    Good luck with the job offer

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by pa rider View Post
    I have a 2011 el m and got 29-4 bontrager to work. Got a rampage to work as well, since my chain stay is all the way back. Move the 2 drop out back further.

    Mine is the El Mar Ti (titanium), without the alternator dropouts. Built to clear 2.3 vs 2.4 on the steel El Mariachi.

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    I have the Spearfish 1 and also a 2010 Mamasita I have the Mamasita set-uo rigid right now and I WAS thinking the HT bikes where faster going up and on the flats but if it's rooty & rutted & rocky the FS Spear is faster and keeps a straight line through the ruff stuff I have the Manitou Tower Pro 100mm fork on my Spearfish I love both the bikes but IF I could have only one it would be the SF all the way.

    Oh Congrats on the new bike

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by idinomac View Post
    I have the Spearfish 1 and also a 2010 Mamasita I have the Mamasita set-uo rigid right now and I WAS thinking the HT bikes where faster going up and on the flats but if it's rooty & rutted & rocky the FS Spear is faster and keeps a straight line through the ruff stuff I have the Manitou Tower Pro 100mm fork on my Spearfish I love both the bikes but IF I could have only one it would be the SF all the way.

    Oh Congrats on the new bike
    Thanks. I totally agree. The overall feeling stiffness of this bike is excellent even compared to my AM bike.

  14. #14
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    This is very encouraging; thanks for the review!

    I also have been sporting the 2007 El Mariachi setup 1X9 for the past 5 years (1x10 for the past 1.5yrs). I am an aggressive XC/trail rider in the NorCal foothills who loves to stand and attack the gnar going up and down. The big wheels, steel frame and limited gearing worked great for my style. But I was pretty hard on my equipment (particularly rear wheels and seats) and I now tackle more 30+ mile rides than I used to plus want to do some extended "bike-packing".

    So when I found a crack in my El M. at the BB, I was bummed but knew it was time to upgrade to something a little more forgiving that would suit my riding style. Luckily, the frame is being warrantied by Salsa. I am fully planning to credit it toward the Spearfish 2 complete (same as yours). This review has got put me at ease with my decision. Especially since you can fit the Rampages (I love those tires for the winter)! I also see the derailleur routing from the bars is improved (crosses over the headtube and than back over at the BB).

    Anybody attached a B.o.B. trailer? At first I was going to get the top-end 1 Complete, but they were out and I realized I wouldn't be able to attach my B.o.B. with the rear thru-axle. (And I've always wanted an orange bike!) I'm planning on doing some overnights with the trailer and wonder if this exact setup is being run by anyone else in true Salsa "Adventure by Bike" style. I have the IBEX (suspension) version with the longer stays for a 29er.
    Rollin' rocks will never die...

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    Welp, picking my Spearfish 2 up in the morning. Just found out we're moving to PA for a great job opportunity. That, and the new bike jitters has me unable to sleep. lol

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by pointerDixie214 View Post
    God this is exactly what I needed to read. I ride in Cave Creek and am looking at a SF. Just waiting to heat some news about a job offer before I pull the trigger.

    I ride a 26" hardtail, and I HATE pedal bob. But my body needs some more give. I think a low travel FS 29er like this is the meal ticket for me.

    How'd the bike do on National? I haven't had the stone to tackle that one on my current ride.
    And done.



    Seatpost will be black when it comes in. Had it custom fitted and this was the only one they had in stock that worked.

    They're also going to shorten the brake lines a bit.

    Maiden voyage is tonight in Cave Creek.

  17. #17
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    Huh; did you need a post with more setback than the stock post because you have long femurs and/or big feet and couldn't get the seat far enough back on the rails?

    I'm thinking about getting a fit by a guy I work with at the shop, but I think he will be trying to put me into the most efficient position for spinning (ala 'roadie'), instead of a balanced position to be able to ride aggressively and maneuver the bike. I'm pretty adept at doing the measurements myself, already. I scoot the seat pretty far back on the rails for more power and because I've got enough hip flexibility to lean over. But if I maximize my position with the seat farther back, I can't get off the back for drops and sucking up boulders. For a while I evened this out with a longer stem, but found when I switched to a shorter stem for more downhill confidence, I could climb better too! I think this is because it was easier to manual over obstacles and keep my weight over the rear wheel for traction on the steeps.

    It will be interesting to see if you or any of the other ex-Mariachi owners have different seat/stem preferences with the Spearfish. The effective top-tube is almost the same on the 18", but there is almost an inch taller head tube AND a taller fork (although the 1 degree slacker head angle will bring this down). The seat angle is the same but there is almost an inch more standover.

    FWIW, I'm 5'10.5", have a 33-3/4" inseam, 58" inseam-plus-torso, 25" arm length, and wear size 9.5 shoes. I've been told I have longer femurs relative to my height. My saddle height usually ends up around 34.5" from spindle to sit bone contact points.

    ....And apparently I really need to get this bike already so I can stop geeking out online!
    Rollin' rocks will never die...

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by pointerDixie214 View Post
    Welp, picking my Spearfish 2 up in the morning. Just found out we're moving to PA for a great job opportunity. That, and the new bike jitters has me unable to sleep. lol
    Congrats on the bike and the job!
    Here is the SF in action starting the climb up from Molas Pass above Durango.
    Great bike!

    <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/7426275022/" title="IMG_0591 by chongoman, on Flickr"><img src="https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5350/7426275022_f2633fe5fe_b.jpg" width="1024" height="765" alt="IMG_0591"></a>

  19. #19
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    Seeing trails like that makes me want to cry. We've got some fun stuff in Vermont, but nothing with epic above-treeline sections like that. Sigh...

  20. #20
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    Its funny how a hardtail junkie loves his new Spearfish, yet I love mine coming from a Yeti 575. Had a Big Mama and miss it, but the SF so far is doing everything well. It feels like it has more travel than 80mm.
    I had it weighing 26lbs with a carbon post and 2.0 tires, and for most trails here in CT it was fine. But I hated it when riding technical steep trails (going down). The same trails I loved the Big Mama on. Though that bike had a 5" fork on it, and 2.35 Rampages.

    So this past week I put a Rampage on the front and a 2.2 Ardent on the rear, a dropper post and just converted to a 1x9. And extended the fork to 120mm travel.
    I rode it with the dropper post and bigger tires, I liked it a lot better and the weight went up to maybe 27-28 lbs
    Havent ridden it with the 120 fork and 1x9 gearing though, we had a few days of record heat, so maybe tomorrow. Cant wait.
    Had to put low rise bars on after the fork mod, so it feels just right.
    Still looking for a longer travel 29er to replace the BM too

    Tom

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