Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Salsa Horsethief review

Posted by DaveC | April 3, 2013 | 12 comments so far

Call the Sheriff, there’s a Horsethief in town

As rider of fine and select 29ers, one of my favourite bikes is my Salsa Spearfish. Time to saddle up and try the big brother, the Salsa Horsethief.

Salsa Horsethief

The Horsethief immediately looks more purposeful that the Spearfish. Chunkier tyres (Continental Mountain King 2.4 – I think that denotes inches and not kg, but I’m not sure!), with tyre clearance to match, longer travel front and rear with a bolt through rear axle and a darker, meaner paint job.

What we have here is a Horsethief 3.

2013 Salsa Horsethief 3 specification
Component Spec Component Spec
Frame Horsethief 3 Aluminum w/ Thru Axle Rear Headset Cane Creek 10 ZS44/56
Forks RockShox Sektor, Tapered, 130mm travel Bars Salsa Pro Moto 3, 11-Degree
Front mech Shimano SLX HDM Stem Salsa Pro Moto 3
Rear mech Shimano SLX Seatpost Salsa Pro Moto 3
Shifters Shimano SLX 3×10 Saddle WTB Pure V
Front brake Avid Elixir 1, 180mm rotor Pedals Riders’ own
Rear brake Avid Elixir 1, 160mm rotor Rims Sun Inferno 28mm
Chain KMC X10 Hubs Salsa 3 by Formula (Front: 15mm Thru Axle, Rear: 12x142mm Thru Axle)
Cassette Shimano Deore 10-Speed, 11-36T Rear Shock RockShox Monarch R, 7.5×2″
Chainset Shimano Deore 24/32/42T Tyres Continental Mountain King II 29 x 2.4″

That’s not too shabby a specification for £2299.99.

Salsa Horsethief head tube badge

The key differences I am hoping to look into are;

  • whether the bolt through rear is really noticable (12x142mm)
  • can I notice the extra 5mm on the chainstays (460mm)?
  • how the slacker head angle compares (the Horsethief is about 69 compared to 71 on the Spearfish)

Over the next few weeks I and a few other Moles will be riding this Horsethief around the Surrey Hills to see how it fares.

Obviously if you’ve read this site for any period of time you’ll know I like my 29ers and also like to keep things simple. Single pivots in the Surrey mud (dust? We have had dust in Surrey in the last 12 months haven’t we?) are a must for me, as I’m not keen on bearing replacement and having done two sets of wheels and bottom brackets in the last month anything that makes life in the workshop simple is a plus.

The other clear winner for me is vanity. Until recently I’d only run into another Spearfish at a major event… oh hang on, that was the importers! Exclusivity rules here! I know there is another Horsethief in the Surrey Hills as I’ve read about it on MTBR, but I’ve never run into it, whereas Santa Cruz are like the Ford Mondeo of mountain biking here in Surrey, especially since allegedly their biggest UK retailer resides here. I suppose Orange fits this description too, but they get a pass on single pivot design and massive mud clearance.

lSalsa Horsethief chainstay logo

The set up as delivered isn’t a light option. My scales put it at a shade over 31lb without pedals and I guess that points to it being more of a gravity device than something to take out for an all day ride. Then again, I’ve already hinted that this is a more purposful weapon than the Spearfish.

That about wraps up my introduction and the next post will have my ride impressions.

For now there are more photos of our Salsa Horsethief 3 on Flickr.

If it’s tickled your interest nodules, there’s more information on the Salsa main site.

The Salsa Horsethief was loaned to us by Ison Distribution, free of charge for this review.

You can also read our first impressions of the Salsa Horsethief 3 and our final review of the Salsa Horsethief 3.

Filed under Bikes, Reviews in April 2013


About the author

Dave's been riding seriously since about 1997 and is one of the founding Molefathers — along with Matt and Mark — that came up with the idea of a MTB website for Mole Valley riders.

He's had several different bikes but it's now mainly 29ers in Dave's stable, apart from an Orange 5.

Current Bikes: Orange 5, Salsa Spearfish and Kona Big Unit

There are 12 comments on ‘Salsa Horsethief review’

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  1. Dandy says:

    I nearly spat out my corn flakes over the iPad this morning!
    “Santa Cruz are like the Ford Mondeo of mountain biking here in Surrey”. Ok, maybe you have a point, but couldn’t you have chosen a slightly more upmarket analogy, Porsche 911 maybe?

    Fancy letting me have a go and seeing if it will do what my Superlight 29er does? Looking forward to hearing how it rides.

  2. MuddyMatt says:

    That might tempt me out onto the trails, especially since my MondeoFiveO is currently in need of some TLC.

    I was quite amused to read the spec and compare it to my Marin Rift Zone of 2003 which had a similar kit list, including LX running gear and Continental Vertical 2.3 tyres. It cost £1450 if I remember correctly.

    Ten years on, for a smallish cost increase(!) we have 140mm travel and far greater inherent ability thanks to judicious geometry and bigger wheels whereas the Rift Zone made do with 80mm travel Manitou Skareb forks with 28mm stanchions! Flexy…

    Of course, a comparison with a 2007 Five is a different matter.

  3. Markymark says:

    Nice machine Dave, looks stealthy and very nice paint job finish. I don’t have a 29er in my quiver yet and fancy trying that out if i can get the chance.

    Pretty heavy thou, around the weight of an XL Orange Five i’d say.

    Extremely low gearing on that particular set up for 3×10 with that frisbee cassette (36T) on 24-32-42 rings upfront… or maybe i’m just riding road too much 🙂

    See you out on the trails… riding her hard.

  4. Dandy says:

    Definitely too much road riding for that nonce 😉
    Getting fit that way is cheating, I reckon. Real men train by eating chips and drinking beer!

    I confess I can only just haul my 29er up to Leith Hill tower with my 24t front and 36t rear, but that could be due as much to my chips & beer diet as to the gearing 🙁

  5. Tony says:

    It looks like a interesting bike although my “common as muck” – Vauxhall – Spec Camber Carbon is was only a few £ more.

    I do like the mental image of D’Andy’s XTR / Chris King clad Superlight be a Mondeo! I think that makes your Horsethief a Dacia Duster? Rare and cheap 🙂

  6. DaveW says:

    I think Salsas are becoming more common. I saw one yesterday in the surrey hills. Quite a nice bright orange Spearfish.

  7. KevS says:

    Meanwhile, back on topic …. That HorseThief sure went well downhill with Dave astride it despite him looking slightly hesitant with the Continental Mountain King rubber on the rims.
    I had to peddle downhill to keep up with him freewheeling! 🙂

  8. Lovely looking bit of kit! Congrats & enjoy!

  9. Related: Salsa Horsethief 3 review – first ride impressions | Muddymoles

  10. Related: Salsa Horsethief 3 review | Muddymoles

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