Salsa Cycles May Be Late to the E-Mtb Game, but Two-Wheeling Perfection Takes Time

Notch 27 photos
Photo: Salsa Cycles
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It's no secret that e-bikes are here to stay, and while some notorious brands have already made the shift toward electrifying their lineup, some teams, like Salsa Cycles, have taken a long way home; they've just unveiled two fresh e-MTBs to take your rides to the next level.
Folks, the name Salsa Cycles has been around since the early 80s, and if we do the math, we're looking at around 40 years of cycling know-how. However, it wasn't until around a month ago - early 2024 - that this crew began to unveil what they've been cooking behind closed curtains.

First, they showed us two gravel wonders with which to ride far and hard, climb fast, and even carry cargo on long trips. Yet, this time around, Salsa is taking all they know and love and throwing it into a pair of e-MTBs designed not only for the ultimate riding pleasure but one that some riders can use to bring home the gold.

The two versions are dubbed the Notch and Moraine, and each comes with two different build sets from which to choose. What's important to note is that the Moraine is more for all-mountain riding, or a proverbial XC e-bike, just beefed up to the teeth, and the Notch, an Enduro version with some very neat tricks up its sleeve.

Now, starting us off here today is nothing more than the Notch. As mentioned, this version is designed to be an enduro e-bike, and that means quite a whole lot. Funny enough, Salsa was able to take a an enduro machine and take it to the next level.

Photo: Salsa Cycles
For starters, Salsa begins with age-old aluminum tubes. This heat-treated goodness comes out to T6 alloy standards, so ride on without worry as long as you keep the bike within the riding parameters set by Salsa. But, the real hot topic for this frame is the Split Pivot suspension in place.

At the rear of the Notch, Salsa brings a concentric rear axle pivot designed to maximize pedaling efficiency and braking power. This is achieved in two ways. The first is the constant tension on the chain, and the second is all about where that braking system is placed: on the seat stay.

A bonus of this design is the Notch's ability to accommodate an array of suspension systems ranging from 160 mm to 180 mm of travel at the rear and between 160 mm and 190 mm of travel at the front. Heck, you can even squeeze in a 200 mm double-browned banger and enjoy. Did I mention that there's a Flip Chip in there, letting you adjust your BB (Bottom Bracket) height or that you can rock up to 29-inch rubbers?

As for the electrical goodness behind this new-found Salsa power, none other than industry grandfather Bosch is in on the action with a Performance Line CX that cranks out a peak of 85 Nm (64 lb-ft) of torque. Double that with a 500 Wh PowerTube, and as Salsa's Sam Berkland states, "Rides that used to only be achievable a couple of times a year or maybe only existed as an idea are now monthly and weekly occurrences."

Photo: Salsa Cycles
The rest of the builds are then topped off with either a Shimano CUES or Deore M6100 drivetrain, different forks and shocks, and selling for a starting price of $5,000 for the CUES 10 model. The Deore 12 version is rocking better gear but asking $1,000 more.

The final trick up this version's sleeves comes up due to Salsa's long-lasting history of riding far. That said, be sure to check out this crew's on-bike storage system, letting you bring along frame, seat post, and handlebar cargo bags. Look into some aftermarket fork bags and you're good to go.

Now, I could sit here and chit-chat about this e-bike for another hour or so, but there's another we need to shed light on, the new Moraine. For this version, Salsa aimed for an all-mountain goat that's a bit more sleek than the Notch but priced exactly the same.

Photo: Salsa Cycles
That's because a whole lot of the tech found on the Notch's frame is in place here, too, including that whole split pivot action I mentioned. But, one big difference is the drivetrain provider. Here, none other than Fazua (now under Porsche rule) is providing a Fazua 60 system that cranks out 60 Nm (44 lb-ft) of torque and 430 Wh of battery power.

The neat thing behind this drivetrain is the way it's designed to work with the bike's BB. The all-encompassing unit - battery and motor in one - only weighs 9.2 lbs (4.1 kg) and is one of the easiest-to-use systems on the market. As a result, the size M Moraine Cues 10 build kit weighs nearly 7 pounds less than its Notch sibling, which comes in at a weight of 57 lbs and 4 oz (26 kg). Some of that, however, has to do with the components we also find on the frame.

Nonetheless, for this version, Salsa once again digs into its backpacking history and has designed a frame that can accommodate cargo bags. If you're looking for a more do-it-all kind of ride, the Moraine is for you.

While it may be rather difficult to understand how these bikes feel from where you're standing, even if I start throwing geometry numbers at you, it'll never beat a test ride. So, open up that browser, find a shop near you, and see why it took Salsa so long to hop on the e-bike train; you might need your checkbook for this one, folks.
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About the author: Cristian Curmei
Cristian Curmei profile photo

A bit of a nomad at heart (being born in Europe and raised in several places in the USA), Cristian is enamored with travel trailers, campers and bikes. He also tests and writes about urban means of transportation like scooters, mopeds and e-bikes (when he's not busy hosting our video stories and guides).
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