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Description

Big wheels roll faster over everything. Big wheels, big squish

The recent introduction of long-travel 29er forks has given frame manufactures like Salsa a chance to explore what larger wheels are really capable of. Salsa has taken full advantage of the new potential with a 120mm travel frame that'll happily run forks in the 120 to 140mm range — the Horsethief. This bike opens up possibilities and terrain never thought to be in the 29er's realm.

These long travel bikes need to be light, yet rugged enough for aggressive, all-day riding. Salsa's engineers and designers have developed a unique suspension design that reduces moving parts and hardware, effectively dropping weight without sacrificing durability. The standout feature is the one-piece alloy rear triangle with flexible seatstays.

The highly manipulated seatstays are designed to offer just over five millimeters of horizontal deflection. Notice how the stays are slightly flattened? This allows vertical flex, without hindering lateral stiffness -- encouraging a plush ride with responsive acceleration.

If you're hesitant to throw a leg over a frame which purposely flexes aluminum, keep in mind this isn't a new technology or approach to suspension design. Flexing stays has been used in many mediums, including carbon, Ti, and steel. Salsa pioneered this technique with an aluminum alloy in its Dos Niner almost seven years ago. The design has evolved after extensive R& D, and Salsa engineers have gone to great lengths to ensure this pivotless design will outlast the frame itself.

Tying the one-piece rear triangle to the hydroformed front are a forged 'dog bone' link and oversized cartridge bearings at the main pivot. The link's been optimized, like the bearing-less rear, to reduce needed hardware and to enhance the Horsethief's ride. The link shares its pivot where the seatstays and shock meet the link, making use of a shock pin redundant, and keeping the link light and rigid.

A custom-tuned Fox Float RP2 with Boost Valve controls the rear suspension motion. It's been dialed for the Horsethief's shock rate, and its ProPedal switch offers two distinct settings for simple and effective on-the-fly adjustments. With the ProPedal on, the Horsethief will pedal with hardtail efficiency, but once turned off, it'll take full advantage of the 120mm of rear wheel travel.

The hydroformed 6061-T6 aluminum top tube and down tube are shaped to offer excellent rigidity and connect to a stout, tapered headtube. This prevents flex and ensures the 120mm Fox 34 RL won't overwhelm the frame. At the rear of the frame, the dropouts are forged — as all of the frame fittings — and it uses a 142 x12 mm Maxle quick release rear axle to ensure durability and reduce flex.

The Horse Thief rolls on Stan's widest rims, the Flow 29er, and they're laced to Formula hubs. The wide rims let the voluptuous 2.4in Continental Mountain Kings make full use of their volume, and give them a nice round profile for confident traction. This traction helps prevent lockup from the powerful Avid Elixir 5 hydraulic disc brakes.

A SRAM S1000 22/36-tooth crankset twists a 10-speed, 11 – 36-tooth SRAM cassette. This combination offers an ideal ratio range without overlap or excess gears. An X9 rear derailleur and direct mount X7 front are controlled by X7 shifters for light action, fast shifts, and long-lasting performance. Salsa Pro Moto 2 post, bars, and steam with a WTB Pure V saddle finish off the build.

The Salsa Horsethief is available in the color Twister Grey and in four sizes from Small to X-Large.

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