I really did love my old bike… a 2018 Motobecane Mulekick CX Pro. It was sold as a cyclocross/gravel bike. It came with a complete SRAM Force 1 groupset, which operated flawlessly.

Over the almost 5 years I rode it, I did make a few upgrades. I replaced the stock handlebar with a Ritchey VentureMax. I also replaced the BB30 bottom bracket with a SRAM DUB so that I could fit a chainring that supported a Quarq DZero power meter. And I bought a second wheelset so that I could easily swap between my offroad tires (WTB Nano 40’s) and my road setup (Pirelli Cinturato Velo 35’s).

Motobecane Mulekick

This is the bike I rode for my first century (2018 Livestrong Challenge) and two Texas MS150’s charity rides. It was loads of fun on and offroad and pretty comfortable.

However, as things do, my riding style changed and I found myself longing for more gravel, offroad adventure riding and bikepacking. I thought the Mulekick would serve this purpose, but I found it just didn’t handle being packed very well. So, I got it into my head to get a new bike.

After a few months of research, I finally decided on a steel frame Salsa Fargo. It was going to be fairly easy to just buy the frame and move over what I could from the Mulekick. Unfortunately, when it came time to order, there were none to be had.

So, I went back to researching and after looking at the Surly Grappler, Kona’s Honzo and Unit, and Salsa’s Warbird and Cutthroat, I narrowed it down to one of the Salsa’s. After talking to the guys at the LBS, I concluded the Warbird wouldn’t give me much more new capability compared to the Mulekick. They convinced me to bring my pedals, shoes and shorts and take the Cutthroat GRX 600 they had on the floor out for a long ride. They told me to take it on the road, some gravel, some single track and really put it through whatever I felt like.

I did. And I loved it.

Salsa Cutthroat GRX 600

Well, I mostly loved it. Maybe it just wasn’t dialed in, but the Shimano GRX groupset was shit. But that didn’t concern me as I knew I would be building my own.

The Build

Salsa Cutthroat GRX 600

Like I had planned to do with the Fargo, I moved as much as I could from the Mulekick to the new Cutty. That turned out to be not very much… but enough. I kept my SRAM Force 1 shifters/hydraulic brake levers, my VentureMax handlebar, seatpost and saddle, and the brake rotors.

Because the Cutthroat is designed for a MTB crankset, I bought a SRAM GX Eagle 38T chainring and crank arms.

Rene Herse Fleecer Ridge

I had a 40T chainrain and 11-32T cassette on the Mulekick. For this bike, I wanted more range both high and low. So I coupled the 38T chainring with a 10-42T cassette in the rear. It’s still a 1x11 with significant gaps between gears. But I’m used to it. And not spinning out on a descent plus having a granny gear for climbs is worthwhile trade-off.

The frame required flat mount brake calipers, so I had to replace the post mount calipers from the Mulekick.

SRAM Force Flat Mount Brake Caliper

Because the frame 148mm Boost spacing, my old wheels wouldn’t work. So I opted for some DT Swiss 1900’s. On those wheels I mounted a pair of Rene Herse Fleecer Ridge ‘endurance’ casing tires.

Rene Herse Fleecer Ridge Tires

I had considered getting the Teravail Sparwoods that come on the stock Cutthroat, but reviews said they’re a good general gravel tire, but not great on singletrack or on the road. But I read a lot of good stuff about the Fleecer Ridge tires. In fact, at the local Trek shop while getting my inspection for the 2023 MS 150, I asked the shop guy what he thought about riding them for the 150-mile road trip vs getting some wide slicks. He said he has friends who run them 100% of the time for all surfaces. He confirmed what I read: these are quiet, fast rolling, shed mud pretty well and do great on the road. His recommendation was to use them for everything.

He was right. Since March, I’ve done 40, 50 and 60-mile training rides on the road, plus a little gravel and singletrack (dry and muddy), and have not once been disappointed or wish I had different tires.

Rene Herse Fleecer Ridge Tire

And there ya’ have it. My custom Salsa Cutthroat build.

2023 Salsa Cutthroat

2023 Salsa Cutthroat