Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 77 total)
  • Mason Insearchof vs Salsa Cutthroat
  • Premier Icon theothernickh
    Free Member

    Hi folks,

    First post here; hope you can help!

    I live in the Peak District and i’m looking for a drop bar bike that is as capable as possible on the mountain bike side of things. I want to ride gravel and also venture onto singletrack and use for bikepacking in the UK and abroad. Particularly interested in doing routes like An Turas More in Scotland.

    Two bikes have caught my imagination: The Mason Insearchof and the Salsa Cutthroat.

    I’ve ridden the Salsa Cutthroat and loved it. Riding the Mason Insearchof is harder as Brighton is a bit of a schlep from the peaks. I’ve spoken To Dom from Mason and the Insearchof seems (on paper anyway) close to my perfect bike.

    Both bikes seem capable off road, will take wide tyres, are setup for bikepacking and are fairly light.

    I ride a Cervelo C3 at the moment so I’m used to riding a lightweight carbon bike (perhaps why I liked the Salsa) so not sure how much of a shock the Steel Insearchof would be?!

    Just wondered if anyone had ridden either or both of these bikes and had an opinion?

    Is there anything else I should be considering?

    A long shot I know..

    Thanks!

    Premier Icon winston
    Free Member

    Unfortunately I have only ridden one and its the same one you have. Like you I loved it and I’ll probably get one eventually. I am a bit of a Salsa fan boy though and already have a Spearfish and a Mukluk.

    Surely it comes down to whether you want carbon or steel? They are both basically drop bar rigid 29ers.

    I suspect the ISO has a more compliant ride but its not slow – josh ibett just won the gbduro on one. I do think Salsa probably has more form when it comes to design in this area and I hate the mudguard thingy on the iso, but really like the salsa framebag which is bolt on.

    Metal or carbon – whats your poison?

    Premier Icon theothernickh
    Free Member

    Thanks Winston…food for thought.

    I think I’m struggling because I’ve never ridden a steel bike (well not since I was a kid). Only alu and carbon.

    The lightness of the carbon does does appeal.

    I’ve watched a few of the josh ibett videos on YouTube. Inspiring stuff.

    Premier Icon theothernickh
    Free Member

    The Mukluk looks like a heap of fun!

    Premier Icon sockpuppet
    Full Member

    I’m sure the ISO is great to ride. It certainly goes fast (with a Josh on board at least). And I love Mason.

    I own a Mason.

    But I can’t get over the looks. Sorry! Not for me.

    The cutthroat seems great, and if you like the ride I’d say “that one!”

    Premier Icon johnnystorm
    Full Member

    I’ve only sat on an ISO so I can’t comment on one but I have got a Cutthroat that I used for the Atlas mountain race. Its a fantastic bike and so comfortable and efficient.

    I know steel is real and all that but the Cutty has the Class V rear end which does a great job of killing uncomfortable vibes.

    I’ve got a bolt in frame bag from Straight cut and you can fit loads in it.

    Pop Cutthroat into the search bar on Advntr.cc as I did few write ups about them.

    Cutty in Morocco

    Premier Icon theothernickh
    Free Member

    Agree the Mason isn’t a looker!

    Having a read on Advntr.cc now. Cheers.

    Premier Icon darkroomtim
    Full Member

    I think biketreks (now moved from Ambleside to Ings) have them for demo

    Premier Icon theothernickh
    Free Member

    cheers. will check Biketreks out.

    The Atlas mountain race looks right up my street.

    Crossed a desert in the Sudan earlier this year.. not by bike though!

    Premier Icon DavidB
    Full Member

    I rode a Cutthroat in last years Tour Divide race. Obvs that is defined territory but i will never ever sell it. An amazing drop barred off-roader if you are into big miles

    Premier Icon Hanky
    Full Member

    I’m biased as I’ve got a green ISO in Canada and love it, amazingly capable and comfortable mile-muncher. I got it for future adventures such as TD. I’ve never ridden a Cutthroat but did consider it.

    What swayed it for me is that I already have a Bokeh which I love, and I’ve been really impressed with the design, thought and level of service from the Mason Team. The looks definitely grow on you and the integrated front mudguard / carrier is ace. The new Vela colour looks great too. Both excellent choices.

    Premier Icon jkomo
    Free Member

    Can we have an STW rule…
    No ‘VS’ threads without photos and or links.
    Thank you.

    Premier Icon carbonfiend
    Free Member

    I have an ISO ridden it comprehensively over all those terrains you mentions and its an amazing bike as Mason say ‘Fast Far’- it’s a bike that just wants to keep going . I posted about my ride experiences previously in another thread. I haven’t ridden a Cutthroat but do own a Salsa (El Mariachi). The Mason really does exactly what its designed for with aplomb its exceptionally well balanced particularly when fully loaded with bags front & rear also water bottles on the fork. I’ve also played around with it as an XC MTB here in the Chilterns & it snaps in & out of singletrack corners with fun and speed. I went for the ISO due to its leanings towards being more off road – its boost spacing has a 1x XT front ring can be converted to 27.5 and frankly its just that bit more bespoke. I have carbon XC bikes but for me when it comes to the adventure side of riding it has to steel, I just feel more comfortable about it taking a hit and having ridden steel before its a no brainer. Regards the looks it different but frankly its more about its performance I also like it’s uniqueness. The only downside I can find with the ISO is its not fast on the road but I feel this is mainly due to the spec that made me choose it (XT 34 front ring & wide tyres & rims) but it still feels really comfortable on the road & not out of place. GRX is amazing as well along with the Venture Max bars (I went with 44 rather than the spec 42).

    Premier Icon carbonfiend
    Free Member

    null

    Premier Icon theothernickh
    Free Member

    Carbonfiend and Hanky: thanks so much for your input on the Mason. Great info.
    I will search out Carbonfiend’s writeup on this forum.

    My first priority is off-road and bikepacking functionality. Looks are secondary.

    The thing that most frustrates me about my current bike is that I find myself wanting to get back to some of my local trails. So whatever I get has to be comfortable on the singletrack I have right outside my door.

    The attraction of the Mason is its off-road ability, and its an exciting bespoke build from a UK company who I can call on with anytime I fancy.

    Coming from a carbon bike for the last few years though steel is a bit of a leap for me.

    To complicate matters I’ve been offered a great deal on a new Cutthroat.

    @jomko some links!

    https://salsacycles.com/bikes/cutthroat/2020_cutthroat_grx_600

    https://masoncycles.cc/shop/categories/insearchof-bikes

    Premier Icon theothernickh
    Free Member

    @Carbonfiend @Hanky

    Have you tried a suspension fork on the ISO?

    I was listening to a podcast from the designer of the Cutthroat and he was espousing the benefits of using a suspension fork on it to tackle tougher singletrack. Also to beat the rider up less on long routes.

    I know the Mason is specced to take a suspension fork.

    Premier Icon carbonfiend
    Free Member

    I haven’t used a suspension fork, I have an XC F/S for any type of riding I feel a suspension fork would be required and I bought the ISO with its spec fork in mind. Ive also been riding rigid carbon forks for a number of years on my El Mar so riding rigid doesn’t really phase me for want of a better description. I’ll stick my neck out and say if its more trail oriented riding & bike packing you want then its the ISO, this is what this bike is designed for. There’s a 100k ride I do in the Chilterns its a mixture of mainly single track trail, Ridgeway bridlepath & 10% road & I choose to ride it on the Mason as I can carry all the provisions I need including extra water as theres only one shop on route which is near the end, I wouldn’t ride this route on any other bike I own.
    FWIW I would say if you test an ISO one aspect I quickly realised is this bike is best ridden almost entirely on its drops -I never go on the hoods like a road bike even when climbing. The ergonomics of the venture max bars & the geometry of the bike make it such that it fits so well ridden in this position & the GRX brakes are perfectly positioned for single finger application.

    Premier Icon winston
    Free Member

    I can definitely echo the awsomeness of Venturemax bars. I have the 44cm with super grippy Lizard Skin DSP on my Arkose and on the drops you feel so locked in the control is fantastic.

    Premier Icon theothernickh
    Free Member

    “I’ll stick my neck out and say if its more trail oriented riding & bike packing you want then its the ISO, this is what this bike is designed for”

    cheers. that exactly what I want to do.

    I rarely ride on drops but I did hear that about the Venturemax bars. Its sound like the geometry on the ISO is really sorted.

    really useful info. thanks so much.

    Premier Icon happybiker
    Free Member

    “I’ll stick my neck out and say if its more trail oriented riding & bike packing you want then its the ISO, this is what this bike is designed for”

    Sounds pretty much like a Fargo with Cowchippers, not sure if you’ve considered that option.

    Premier Icon theothernickh
    Free Member

    I sat on a Fargo… just didn’t do it for me I’m afraid. Kept looking at the Cutthroat!

    Premier Icon Hanky
    Full Member

    I haven’t tried suspension on my ISO but have seen some interesting builds with Lauf etc. I don’t need to go in that direction as I also have XC HT and FS. There’s definitely some overlap with my other bikes but the Mason is a unique proposition and a fast smile-inducing bike-packing rig. I regularly ride it on mixed terrain with a mate on a Scott gravel bike and as soon as the gravel gets looser the benefits of the 29er 2.4 tyres and confidence inspiring geometry help it maintain speed, so overall there’s little in it. I’m also a big fan of the 44cm Venturemax bars, and the GRX brakes plus XT Di2 combination is brilliant. The luminance package with the Sinewave Beacon was a good upgrade, and I’m looking forward to Dom and the team releasing the ISO front carrier that they teased a while ago.

    Premier Icon jameso
    Full Member

    I rarely ride on drops

    Then, controversial opinion here I know but – why buy a drop-bar 29er? I love drop bar bikes but there’s a clear line for me. If the tyre that really is needed is a bigger 29″ tyre then drops just tie one hand behind my back on anything fast that requires a bit of handling. Into a headwind on smooth sections a set of drops might gain you a bit of time but a bar with MTB brakes and a more MTB XC riding position will handle better off-road in general. IME if the drops are low set to be used as a lower position benefit then they stress you too much on long off-road rides and you end up on the hoods a lot which in’t good for comfort or control compared to an MTB bar, if they’re set higher, well then they’re just like a very narrow flared MTB bar.

    Something like the Tour Divide is unusual in that there’s a lot of open, mid-grade dirt road and I can see drops of MTB bars being 50-50 personal choice stuff. But on ‘UK Gravel’ like a Scottish estate track that leads to some nice singletrack or a mix of byways and woodland trails, drop bars make little sense to me. Riding bikes in circles generally makes little sense either so I don’t want to sound too polarised here : )
    For road touring with a few off-road sections, no problem on drops. But then I’d want a bike that’s light with a quicker geometry that feels more road-like anyway. Or maybe a Fargo for more heavy-duty touring.

    Premier Icon carbonfiend
    Free Member

    I found there’s a real difference between a flat bar XC style geometry when on long distance bike packs. I used to bike pack my El Mariachi & the switch to drop bar specific adventure bike was huge, far more proficient, safe & balanced handling. Efficiency too & the angles of say an ISO lends itself to one being perfectly positioned for long periods of time (days) with an ability to effortlessly switch from one terrain to another (trail, singletrack, road & gravel). I think what sometimes gets conflated is the difference between a gravel & adventure bike, I get often asked about my ISO as if its a gravel bike, then I explain the differences (boost single 34t front ring geometry & loading capacity) – check out the load Josh Ibbett put on his front fork for GBduro.
    The venturemax bars on an ISO aren’t low set as you would equate to a road/CX or gravel bike – this is what caught me out when I first rode it and why I suggested to the OP to go straight to the drops, there is a contour to them that fits perfectly into your palm plus the higher pivot point of the GRX brakes allows you just cruise in & out of corners and never feel twitchy on anything technical – It really is a one of a kind bike.

    Premier Icon theothernickh
    Free Member

    @carbonfiend eloquently described.

    @jameso when I say I rarely ride on drops I’m talking about my road bike. I believe the ISO is setup in a different way. Although obviously I’ve not ridden one.

    That’s the major sticking point for me buying an ISO, its a leap into the unknown!

    The bikepacking ability of this bike seems to be exactly what I want though. Being able to ride on drop bars through all kinds of terrain, fully loaded up. I think one reviewer described it as a bikepacking superbike.

    Obviously I’ve been reading tons on Bikepacking.com and other sites and it seems that steel is much favoured for its forgiving ride quality, fixability and toughness.

    I did find myself looking at pure steel mountain bikes this afternoon. Particularly the Bombtrack Beyond with its Jones bar as an alternative that still provides multiple hand positions for longer rides.

    When I say I haven’t ridden steel I actually forgot that I one owned an Orange C16R (yes I’m that old!) one hell of a mountain bike!

    Much to ponder still!

    Premier Icon burko73
    Full Member

    Bombtrack also do the steel hook adv which has a sus fork and a great paint job, the beyond adv has the Jones bars but theres also the drop bar beyond Which may be worth looking at.

    I’ve got a Bombtrack hook extc which is a great do it all gravel/ adventure bike. Fast and light at 9kg but lots of mounts for packing it up as well.

    Take a look at the Bombtrack Facebook group. Lots of beyond and hook users on there.

    Premier Icon nickb
    Full Member

    Hi Nick – trying to message you about the Cutthroat offer you’ve had, but I can’t get the PM working on here! Let me know if you’re willing to share details.
    Cheers
    Nick B (another Nick!)

    Premier Icon jameso
    Full Member

    Carbonfiend, I don’t doubt it’s a good bike for you, what I’m getting at is that the good things it offers over a lot of MTBs for bikepacking will be things like quicker-steering and that drop bars just don’t enhance off-road riding. They might work OK, you and I may like them, but there are situations where I’d have a fiver on being able to ride faster, safer and smoother on a more MTB-like set up with the only drawback being a less road-like feeling on the road. Which imho isn’t really a drawback, it’s just about what your used to and the preconceptions. Anyway .. not saying either of these bikes are wrong, just a counter-point to the trend for drop-bars off-road at the moment.

    when I say I rarely ride on drops I’m talking about my road bike. I believe the ISO is setup in a different way. Although obviously I’ve not ridden one.

    Yes they look a lot higher which makes sense so you can actually use the drops most of the time. But my point about the higher ‘dirt drops’ then being just like narrow, very flared flat bars stands.
    I’m sounding like a bit of an arse here perhaps : ) plenty of riders like Jaquie Phelan and Richard Cunningham had preferences I wouldn’t question and that’s all this is, preferences and riding attitudes. I do question the general logic of dirt drops once you go beyond a basic randonneuring / rough stuff type of use but I guess it comes down to your riding attitude.

    Being able to ride on drop bars through all kinds of terrain, fully loaded up.

    If you want to do it on drop bars then they look like good options : )

    Premier Icon theothernickh
    Free Member

    “Trying to message you about the Cutthroat offer you’ve had, but I can’t get the PM working on here!”

    Me neither! I got an email saying I had a message but nothing in my inbox. I am new here though.. not quite sure how it works!

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Free Member

    I use my rigid El Mariachi as my ‘adventure’ bike and I find it perfect. The angles are ideal for mile munching on road, for me. But along with the ability to take proper big tyres it also means it’s an MTB so I can ride all manner of singletrack if I want.

    If I lived in the Lakes I would not be happy with 2.0 tyres. I use 2.3 in South Wales and this lets me ride as fast as I like on the rocky trail descents, and also take advantage of the singletrack that links them up. I have much more riding options available to me on the bigger tyres.

    I have set it up for speed, with a 660mm high sweep bar and a low stem. I have compromised on chainset with 1x but it can take a front mech if needed.

    I would love a Cutthroat, but I would never part with my El Mariachi for the riding I want to do.

    Premier Icon burko73
    Full Member

    Brother mehteh is another option in steel.

    Premier Icon Clink
    Full Member

    Brother mehteh is another option in steel.

    Nice bike, but it won’t run 29er tyres so not comparable.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Free Member

    I used to bike pack my El Mariachi & the switch to drop bar specific adventure bike was huge, far more proficient, safe & balanced handling.

    I’d like to add that my flat barred Salsa is the best balanced and best handling bike I’ve ridden by far. Drop bars are not a necessity for that!

    Premier Icon tuboflard
    Full Member

    Complete curve ball but have you looked at a Kona Sutra LTD? I took a punt on one and love it. Can run up to 2.25’s I think, currently got 50’s on it and it’s very capable round the Peak District where I do all my riding.

    They’ve also brought out the ULTD this year with dropper post and geometry which to me at least looks like a Unit.

    Anyway, feel free to ignore OP, just a thought.

    Premier Icon Clink
    Full Member

    Complete curve ball but have you looked at a Kona Sutra LTD? I took a punt on one and love it. Can run up to 2.25’s I think, currently got 50’s on it and it’s very capable round the Peak District where I do all my riding.

    What’s it like off-road?

    Premier Icon theothernickh
    Free Member

    “Complete curve ball but have you looked at a Kona Sutra LTD?”

    Funnily enough I had been looking at this bike. An interesting option for sure

    There’s so much to consider though. I would like to have the option to ride 29’ers as well at as 27.5in

    The one thing I’m now sure of is the bike is going to be made of steel or titanium (except maybe the fork)

    Debating whether I should consider a steel hardtail with flat bars and add some options to get a more aero comfortable position for longer gravelly stretches and road.

    Did a mega road/gravel ride yesterday ending with a lap of Ladybower. Made me think I’ve grown so used to riding on drop bars though now and I’m used to the feeling of speed I get from them.

    I wouldn’t be riding a drop bar bike over anything massively technical though. Its more about doing epic rides and covering a lot of ground.

    so far my shortlist is now:

    Mason ISO (perhaps still my favourite)
    Bombtrack Beyond+ ADV with Jones Bars
    Sonder Broken Road Titanium

    Premier Icon tuboflard
    Full Member

    What’s it like off-road?

    Very good. Capable of riding pretty technical singletrack. Clearly not super-fast, but if you know local trails in the Peak, I’ve ridden everything at Blackamoor on it (Piper House Gate DH for example) as well as slightly tamer stuff round Eastern Edges, Shilito Woods, Linacre Reservoirs and Cartledge Lane.

    Premier Icon theothernickh
    Free Member

    Very good. Capable of riding pretty technical singletrack. Clearly not super-fast, but if you know local trails in the Peak, I’ve ridden everything at Blackamoor on it (Piper House Gate DH for example) as well as slightly tamer stuff round Eastern Edges, Shilito Woods, Linacre Reservoirs and Cartledge Lane.

    Interesting to know you’ve ridden trails like that on it.

    Might try and track one down to have a look.

    Premier Icon tuboflard
    Full Member

    Where in the Peak are you? Welcome to take a look at mine (I’m in Totley). Word of warning though, if you’re after a lightweight bike, look elsewhere…!

    Premier Icon theothernickh
    Free Member

    Where in the Peak are you? Welcome to take a look at mine (I’m in Totley). Word of warning though, if you’re after a lightweight bike, look elsewhere…!

    Ha. As light as possible but had realised that I need a reliable rig that can Bikepack so not being a weightweenie on this one!

    Glossop. Not too far.

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