Let’s be clear: I love Spearfish. I am not an unbiased observer. I spent the better part of a week on them in Sedona last year, and followed that up with the build of my very own Spearfish 1, which has become the Superfish. It’s a bad, bad, bad machine. My love of my Spearfish lead me to look at the new Spearfish closely. According to Salsa, the new Spearfish sports slacker geometry up front, and shorter chainstays. A note on those two changes:
When you start riding bikes with short chainstays, you start wishing that every bike you owned had short chainstays. The difference in power transfer and handling with short chainstays is amazing. Amazing. On a mountain bike, the ability to weight the rear tire and unweight the front tire is critical to happy handling on hard trails. So as I look at things to change about my Spearfish, the longer chainstays that make for an excellent and stable XC bike and super-climber are something that I’d love to change, just a bit. The idea of shorter chainstays on the new Spearfish strikes me as a move in the right direction.
And then the front geometry…my Spearfish has race-fast steering up front. That’s great in a lot of conditions, but on downhills, it’s a bit intense. I went to a 110mm fork up front to slacken things out a bit, and have enjoyed that. But on the new stock build, it’s already set up to be a bit slacker. That sounds great.
I had a chance to see the beautiful, annodized blue XX1 build.
If you missed it, the new build weighs in at 23.6 pounds, stock, tubeless.
It sports the Split Pivot suspension that I recently detailed here.
Also, note the Stan’s Crest tubeless-ready XC wheelset and Schwalbe tires.
34T for your XC needs.
I don’t think a 38T would fit…
Fox CTD with boost valve.
Fox Kashima CTD Fork.
Really nice Salsa carbon flat bars and Thomson stem and seatpost.
As I said in the Horsethief review, it’s nice to see a build that comes stock with the parts you’d want…instead of getting the bike and throwing on a new wheelset, stem and seatpost, the Spearfish comes with the blingy parts you want. (I still wouldn’t mind an ENVE edition though…in black.)
Also as I said in the Horsethief review, that bike works so well that it might start infringing on Spearfish territory. A stock Horsethief now weighs what my ‘last gen’ Spearfish weighed stock. This stock XX1 Spearfish weighs what my heavily-modified Spearfish 1 weighs…in the 23 pound range.
I continue to think that the very best argument against hardtail mountain bikes is the Spearfish. I cannot think of a single circumstance where I would prefer to have a hardtail 29er. Particularly with a CTD shock, where you can go into climb mode and essentially lock out the suspension, there is simply no drawback. (And the only time I’d lock out the suspension is for seriously flat riding, like Night Bison. There is no need to lock it out for climbing). The suspension is active anytime you need it, and completely unobtrusive for the balance of the time. No pedal bob, no brake jack. Comparing the Split Pivot to the ‘old’ Spearfish, I think the Split Pivot is better at isolating braking action. I don’t have any complaints about the ‘old design’ for pedaling efficiency, but the Split Pivot might be a smidge better at small bump compliance and remaining active under power.
The shorter chainstays are awesome. I do really envy those–they are noticeable and wonderful. Likewise, the slacker front end is confidence inspiring when things point down, without an untoward effect on race handling. Coupled with the wide bars and slack chainstays, I would venture to say that the new Spearfish is more playful and more aggressive than the previous generation.
The component spec is impeccable. Any regular reader knows my love of XX1, and the brakes functioned perfectly. A well-build set of Crest-based wheels will weigh about the same as a set of ENVEs (though the ENVEs are stronger, more aero (yes, I said it), and prettier).
I’ll go back to a point I made earlier: the Spearfish obviates the appeal of hardtails. Anything a hardtail can do, it can do better. And when you ride the Split Pivot Spearfish, you’ll have a hard time believing it only has 80mm of travel in the rear…it feels like 100+. Seriously…what is the advantage of a hardtail? Cheaper, sure. Maintenance? Not really…I’m well over a year into my Spearfish, and I don’t lose weekend time on rear end maintenance. Lighter? I’m all about lightness, but unless the path is completely smooth, I’d give up a couple of pounds for the rear suspension’s ride any day. It allows you to stay in the saddle, putting down power as you hit rocks, roots and rough spots, instead of having to stand and absorb with your legs. It allows for more speed and greater efficiency. It’s a win-win. I wouldn’t say that of all full-suspension bikes…but the Spearfish is just so good…
If I had to pick between the new Spearfish and new Horsethief, I’d probably ultimately go Spearfish, because the new geometry is great, and because 100/80mm of travel front and rear is all I need to conquer midwest singletrack…and also because I’m a big fan of going lightweight, and did I mention it only weighs 23.6 pounds, bone stock? In the ‘punching above your weight’ class, if I had to pick between a Spearfish and a carbon Superfly, at this point, I’d have to give it to the Spearfish. It’s a fantastic bike.