Salsa’s latest mountain bike mastery makes two bikes out of a single frame. The Blackthorn and Cassidy offer impressive versatility with their modular design — but is it worth it?
Today, Salsa announced two new mountain bikes, the Blackthorn and Cassidy, that use the same frame. The Blackthorn is a 140mm rear travel all-mountain 29er that — by the look of it — should ride any trail, anywhere, all day.
Meanwhile, the Cassidy stands as an enduro-focused 165mm rear travel bike. Salsa claims it’s a well-rounded shredder, built for steep and technical terrain, that hammers through as fast as possible.
The Buckthorn and Cassidy use a frame design similar to Guerilla Gravity’s modular frame platform. Both bikes share a single adaptable frame. This can be set up with various amounts of suspension travel and associated geometries by changing the rear shock, link set, and fork.
The Blackthorn’s 140mm rear and 160mm front travel can convert to match the Cassidy’s 165mm rear and 180mm front travel — and vice versa. We’re guessing that few riders will actually make this change. Buying a second fork, shock, and link won’t be cheap.
It’s a cool idea but likely one that saved the company money on frame molds more than it offered a feature Salsa customers will widely take advantage of.
Salsa Blackthorn, Cassidy Mountain Bikes
We haven’t had a chance to test these bikes yet. But Salsa says the Split Pivot suspension holds the keys to the frame’s ability to magically transform. This suspension design allows riders to swap control and clevis links. The Split Pivot suspension isolates pedaling and braking performance, so (according to Salsa) swapping the links does not affect pedaling or braking.
Additionally, the bikes feature a flip chip. This allows riders to make each bike slightly more slack with a few turns of an Allen wrench. To top it off, the frame uses super-boost spacing.
There are many bikes in both the all-mountain and enduro categories — most every bike company has at least one model in each, and many companies have multiple models in both categories. But the Blackthorn and Cassidy are uniquely Salsa. Both come with accessory mounts for bikepacking bags and accessories but can also hold everyday tools, straps, and bags.
In addition, both the Blackthorn and Cassidy run 27.5 and 29er wheels and tires up to a monstrous 3.0-plus tire. And they both use Salsa’s Split Pivot suspension system, which advertises efficient pedaling, superb traction, and more even trail riding — whether you’re hammering or cruising.
Especially interesting, Salsa will offer both the Blackthorn and Cassidy in carbon and aluminum frames, with a range of builds.
Salsa Blackthorn & Cassidy: Our Take
The idea of a bike that can morph personalities is appealing, but the cost of actually making the swap might be as much or more than buying a second bike — perhaps not worth the space savings in the garage.
Still, we can’t wait to try the Blackthorn and Cassidy. The Split Pivot shock is intriguing, and Salsa has a reputation for making great bikes. So we look forward to letting these loose on a nearby trail as soon as possible for full ride impressions.
Both carbon frames cost $3,199, and aluminum frames cost $2,099. Full builds for the Blackthorn start at $3,199 (aluminum, 12-speed Deore). Cassidy builds start at $3,899 for aluminum SLX. And Salsa sells conversion link kits for $150. Learn more here.