Throw a leg over the Salsa El Mariachi Ti, cue up the guitar music, and hit the trail. If you thought Salsa's new steel El Mariachi was the bees knees, the titanium version will just about knock your socks off. A monster-sized, two-inch head tube gives the El Mariachi Ti all the front-end stiffness you need, while the Rock Shox Reba 29er fork provides eighty millimeters of bump-smoothing suspension so your wrists don't feel like you've spent a week on the jackhammer.
Strengths: Comfort, Weight, Simplicity, - A pleasure to ride!
Weaknesses: Can't downhill like a DW link Turner!
If I tell you that I have a Turner Flux in the garage that’s hardly been ridden 9 months since I got the El-MarTi then that should tell you something.
I should say I’m not a great technical rider I hardly ever get airborne but I love to go downhill really fast on rutted stony bridleways and to ride flowy forest singletrack.
The El-Mar Ti with no rear suspension can do almost everything I can do on the Flux and, even with big wheels, it’s over 2 pounds lighter and very easy to clean!
Okay- it can’t quite match the Turner downhill and on really rough stuff, but for my kind MTB Club rides on forest singletrack and stony South Downs bridleways and Occasional Marathon events it is fast, comfortable and perfectly capable.
When I first got the El-Mar, I was just blown away with how comfortable it was on my regular riding. Yes my brother (riding my Turner) kicked my ass bigtime on a fast stony downhill where I usually beat him. My reaction at the time was “Okay the Salsa can’t downhill like a Turner but it can climb and cover ground much better unless it’s really rough – so that’s a fair tradeoff.” Since then I’ve learned to ride the Salsa better and am now far quicker and more confident downhill and can more or less keep up with my brother.
You’ll maybe think I’m damning the El-Mar with faint praise but I say you’re wrong! I’m actually saying this light, simple, easy-to-clean 29er hardtail compares extremely well with one of the best full suspension marathon bikes in existence!
Favorite Trail: South Downs around Funtington, Compton & Cocking
Duration Product Used: 9 Months
Purchased At: That online auction
Similar Products Used: Cotic Soul and Soda.
Santa Cruz Superlight, Heckler, Nicolai Helius CC, Turner Flux (my current suspension bike)
Bike Setup: Stans Arch Ex wheels on Stans hubs and DT supercomp spokes
Thomson Post and zero degree 90mm stem, SGD Bel Air saddle
Salsa 11 degree sweep flat bar, King headset.
Fox F29 15mm bolt-thru
Hope X2 Evo brakes
Full XT drivechain.
Date Reviewed: July 5, 2012
'Long rides'-friendly geometry
Traditional BB interface
Light weight, yet solid and strong build
Weaknesses: Long-ish chainstays may not be favorable for 'fast' XC racers
Traditional BB interface doesn't support newer BB30/PF30 cranks
Not easily SS-able
Pricey compared to Al or steel
NOTE: Review of frame only
I've been riding the El Mar Ti now for a good 3 months and have loved the ride. Being Titanium, you can expect to get pretty much all of the usual Ti benefits; lightweight compared to steel, absorbs trail chatter better than steel and Al, and durable. Yes, you can get a lighter bike frame in Al or carbon, but Ti has such a great feel that you just have to experience. Once you do you're hooked. I've owned a Ti 26er before and that experience led me to getting the Ti El Mar.
The things that distinguish the Ti El Mar:
1. Large diameter 2" downtube: With the bigger 2" downtube, I feel less flex in the BB area. My previous Ti mtb was a 26er with a 1.5" DT. Flex was noticeable in high torque situations, like out of the saddle acceleration. While it wasn't 'noodly' it definitely took more effort to bring the bike to speed. OTOH, the Ti El Mar is nice and solid with the 2" DT. I feel every pedal stroke gets the power down immediately.
2. 44mm headtube: I like the option of being able to use 1-1/8" or tapered forks. The 44mm headtube is great for that. But from a riding aspect, I feel the 44mm headtube lends itself to a laterally stiff front end. The biggest difference I noticed when on my first ride with the Ti El Mar was how well it tracked. Yes, I did also have a tapered fork, but from the feel at the handlebars I noticed less 'wandering' on tight turns, as well as fast swooping turns. I definitely enjoyed the more 'point and shoot' feel.
3. All-day, long ride geometry: While I do enjoy some XC racing, the geometry of the El Mar really shines during long rides. Sure it's not super fast in the turns. But it definitely cut in turns better than my previous bike (Niner SIR9). I think the combination of the longer chainstays and stiffer front end keep things nice and stable for long rides. While the HT angle and longer fork offsets of newer forks help to quicken the steering without being twitchy. Also, while one might think the long-ish chainstay might hinder climbing, my experience has not been that way. Whether in a 'sit & spin' situation or punchy, power climbs that get me out of the saddle, the El Mar has climbed very well - even better than my old Niner bike with shorter chainstays.
4. While some might criticize the lack of the alternator dropouts, I don't intend to SS the El Mar so it's a non-issue. Also some might see the lack of BB30/PF30, or Maxle (142x12), interface as a negative. But I don't. I still like using square taper cranks and BB's, and I still have wheels that are stiff enough for any kind of XC riding or racing I do, so those newer 'standards', I think, are solutions for problems that don't exist for your typical hardtail mtb.
So far, overall this has been my dream bike frame. Light, strong, and (expected to be) durable. Also, being welded by Lynskey in TN is a great plus. And really at the price, it is a good deal for a Made in USA Ti frame.
Strengths: Purchase the frame only- my dream hardtail! Beautiful titanium frame made by Lynskey that rides great as well. Went from an alluminum hardtail to this. Feels great on the trail and definitely seems to absorb more (hands and lower back are happier). Extremely well made and has handled my tumbles with grace. Looking forward to riding this bike for many, many years.
Weaknesses: No alternators! But maybe I'm being greedy.
Good stuff but not cheap, but cheap for ti. Long term bicycle investment of awesomeness.
Similar Products Used: Fisher Ferrous
Motobecane Phantom Pro
Bike Setup: Fox F29 FIT RLC
Flows to DT Swiss 340
Salsa carbon risers
Avid Elixir CR
a Weekend Warrior
Date Reviewed: March 2, 2012
Strengths: Fantastic geometry. Joy to ride. Stable, light, fast and made in USA. No paint. Very high quality construction. Cool red pepper on seat and fancy metal pepper on headtube. Beautiful. Great tires for hard pack. Wonderful brakes once broken in properly (important!). Very positive shifting. Great fork. 2x10 is fantastic. 26.3 lbs with pd520 pedals
Weaknesses: Expensive. Front brake requires break-in procedure that, if not followed, will require pads to be serviced and broken in properly. Once done, you will love them. You may have to wait for one as many stores do not stock them.
I would buy again. Fun to ride! Don't buy if you don't love long, fast fun rides; or, if all you care about is having the lightest most fragile bike.
Similar Products Used: Specialized, Trek, Gary Fisher, Kona, Orbea
Bike Setup: 18" frame, cheap Shimano spd pedals, the rest is stock. Reba fork set for 160 lb rider (I am 150).
a Cross Country Rider
from Missoula, MT, US
Date Reviewed: January 28, 2012
Strengths: Extremely well balanced bike - shortish chainstays combine with 71 degree head angle to make this bike a superb climber. Super stiff front end combined with a Reba thru axle fork makes it track really well through hard fast chundery corners. Very flickable for a 29er. Build specs are outstanding for the price. Especially notable are the Stan's Arch rims which go tubeless very easily.
Weaknesses: Only fits up to 2.3 tires. I know, this is supposed to be a cross country bike, but it handles well in big techy stuff and it'd be nice to have the option to put 2.5s on there for the gnarly trails of the world.
Kick ass Ti ride with killer build and perfect geometry for the price. It'd get a five with room for 2.5s. Buy it if you like to rip fast singletrack and do big climbs.