TLDR: It is basically a mountain bike with drop bars… and it’s awesome!

I recently got myself the Salsa Cutthroat 2019 with the Apex build kit. I would’ve wanted to opt for the Force 1 build kit but they didn’t offer the frameset in black, so I had to swap out some parts:

  • Replaced Apex groupset with a Force 1 groupset with hydraulic brakes.
  • Replaced the WTB wheels with the DT Swiss CR1600 Spline
  • Replaced the 18T star ratchet with a 54T star ratchet on the DT Swiss 350 Hub
  • Replaced the PG-1130 cassette with an XG-1180 10-42 cassette
  • Replaced the WTB saddle with a Brooks C17 carved

I basically wanted to emulate the Force 1 build on the black frame which ended up costing a bit more than the stock Force 1 build kit. But it’s all good since I got to know the bike more by replacing the components. I could also offset the cost by selling the parts I swapped out.

The bike has a carbon frame and fork with 29″/700c wheels which can’t be interchanged with 27.5/650b wheels. You can swap out the rigid fork with a suspension fork though, or get the build kit with a Rockshox Reba fork. But what really sold me on the bike was it’s versatility. You can run it light without any load, roughly 9kg with pedals; or you can use it for touring with frame packs and still keep the bike weight relatively low. The ride is surprisingly supple and compliant without having any active suspension. The small size frame also fits me just right at 5’6″ and still allowing me to stand-over the frame with both my feet planted on the ground. There are a lot of things I really like about the bike which makes up for the few things I dislike. Here are the high’s and low’s of the bikes as I see it:

What I like:
  • Lots of mounts on the frame and fork for bottle cages and racks.
  • Availability of bike specific frame packs and bags. Salsa bags have a similar build quality to Ortlieb bags which I also like.
  • Versatile bike for bikepacking or gravel grinding. You can also swap out the drop bars and build it up as a straight hard-tail.
  • Low maintenance, with no active suspension. The rear wheel is easily removed thanks to the clutch read derailleur from SRAM and almost tool less disassembly of the DT Swiss 350 Hub
  • The black on Black version of the bike complements their camo-green frame packs really well.
I dislike:
  • No 27.5/650b wheel support
  • Expensive. You can build
  • not much information like reviews and long term ownership on the bike and brand

To sum it up, it’s a niche bike for people who want something specific and a bit unique. It’s a polarizing take on bike builds where you’ll either dig it or pass on it which suites me just fine. If you’re into adventure riding or bike packing but want to do some light trails or single track then I can’t think of any better bike than this, especially something that’s available in the Philippines. If you can swing the heavy price tag then I’d say go for it, you won’t regret it.

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