Similar Products Used: Interloc 853 frame, Salsa El Mariachi, Fat Chance Bro Eddy
Bike Setup: '11 Ala Carte, single speed, 650b with WB Loop
a Cross Country Rider
from Ludwigsburg, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany
Date Reviewed: November 27, 2011
Strengths: Design, geometry, stiffness
Weaknesses: None at all.
Awesome frame, period.
No problems at all with the paintjob btw, and I don't even use a framesock. To the ones complaining about the paint when having a chainsuck: show me a paintjob that doesn't get damaged then....and hey, maybe learn how to adjust your front derailleur properly, might help.
Bike Setup: A mix of xt and xtr components, Avid Juicy fives, Maxxis Crossmark 2.1s. on sun ringle disc-o-fleas.
a Cross Country Rider
from Vancouver BC Canada
Date Reviewed: November 1, 2007
Strengths: The 06 frameset...This bike was built up by someone else..came with XTR, Mavic 321 wheelsetsFSA crabon fibre cranks and bars, so the components are great..just swapped out the older kenda rubber for some new XC Hutchison's
Weaknesses: The paint chips are feroscious...chain rub and shoe rubs has left some paint rub-off..The salsa rep replied to my enquiry about paint touch-up with "good luck go try a paint store"
Like most who have ridden a great steel frame bike, I love this bike, the bright orange is kinda sic but this bike flies...my new devinci never gets ridden much now..this is a great XC bike
Similar Products Used: old scholl rocky mtn hammer, new DeVinci depserado
Bike Setup: FSA carbon cranks/XTR derailluers hubs, Mavic 321 rims, Easton bars, Chris King headset, Manitou R-7 shock
a Weekend Warrior
Date Reviewed: May 11, 2007
Strengths: unbreakable frame !
Weaknesses: not the lightest ...
my paint work ( white with Jellybean ) has held up very well since the late 80's ..... the frame is still as lively as the first day i rode it - and it's been all over Europe ( French Alps , Austrian Alps , Swiss Alps ..... ) what can i say ?
Bike Setup: full XT group from 1990 - almost all still original and works like magic - a few Ringle bits ( purple ) original rasta skewers , Syncros gorilla series post with grey Flite titanium saddle , Salsa bars , stem , Wheels ? XTR hub on the rear , Ringle purple on the front ( cant remember the rims ..... Farmer John and Farmer John's cousin tyres !
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: July 4, 2005
Strengths: Steel is still the real deal! Light, supple, responsive, durable, turns on a dime, what's not to like?
Okay, I've been wanting to review this frame for years. I purchased it at my LBS in 1998 and now have found the time to write this review, finally. As long as my Ala Carte does not get stolen, crushed by a tank, or rust and disinigrate, I will continue to ride this sweet bike, hopefully forever. I am on my second set of wheels and forks, but the frame remains the same. Relaxed geometry, light, supple, responsive, and quick. I am mainly a xc rider (no mountains in chicago to speak of)and this hard tail suits me perfectly. I have raced xc with it, but mainly just riden it for fun for the last 7 years. I can honestly say it is heaven to ride on this frame. For any previous reviews that have knocked the durability of the paint, mine has remained very new appearing despite many muddy rides, wet rides, and plenty of crashes! Powder coating with a clear coat final layer=durability. I still get many looks wherever I ride with this frame. It could be the orange paint, the chillies, but its definitely not me. Thank you for designing this bike Russ!
Similar Products Used: There is no equal, well maybe there is, but I haven't ridden one as of yet!
Bike Setup: Full XTR drivetrain/brakes, Mavic Crossmax wheels, Chris King Headset, Marzocchi Z1 Bomber 2002, Monkeylite riser bars.
a Cross Country Rider
from Tucson, AZ
Date Reviewed: December 10, 2004
Strengths: Sweet long hz drops, light, cozy geometry
After seeing pictures of this bike, Salsa said it was theirs. It has HUGE hz drops. They sent decals, one of which said "ala carte" I am skeptical however. It may even be someone's grage project. Nice beefy bike nonetheless
a Cross Country Rider
from Port Orchard, WA, USA
Date Reviewed: March 17, 2003
Strengths: well designed, time proven geometry, Columbus SLX tubing, sweetest ride ever! And a powder coated finish that has endured 12 years of abuse!
Weaknesses: Ross doesn't make them anymore! Check with Sean and Matt at SoulCraft...
the bottom line is that Ross built me the BEST 2 wheeled friend I have EVER had. I have thousands of miles on this bike both on and off road, and with the sole exception of the old school 1 inch steer tube, there is not one thing I would change. When I die, they can bury me with my Ala Carte! If you want the same feeling, call SoulCraft(in the old Salsa factory in Petaluma), and tell Sean and Matt I sent you. You will not be sorry!!!!
Similar Products Used: When I bought this baby in 1991, I honestly doubt that there were many bikes on the market that I hadn't tried. My buddy ran a high end bike shop, and we got to try just about all the cool stuff....KHS, Salsa, Fat Chance, Rocky Mountain, Kona, Klein, etc....
Bike Setup: I still ride with the XT top mounts, Shimano 600 rear, XT front, Phil hubs, King headset, and now, a SoulCraft rigid fork. Recently upgraded to Avid disc on front, and Control Tech V brakes rear.
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: February 6, 2003
Strengths: still rides like a dream. clims like a bat outta hell.
Weaknesses: none- to all ya'll posers whining about crappy paintjobs, sell your salsa to somebody who really rides. paint rubbing off on the chainstays? that happens on all bikes-it's call "chainsuck"! sheesh.
the bottome line is the salsa ala carte is the real steel deal. can't go wrong with cali chromo! i've fixed my only problem that i had with the bike at first-the low bb height. i was riding rigid for the first 5 months i had it, which was still nice, but i was hitting my pedals on roots and rocks. now that i've got a Z-1 up front, i no longer have that problem.
Bike Setup: marzocchi Z-1, salsa stem and post, selle italia flite ti gel saddle, egg beaters, white industries hubs, sun 0 degree rimz, deore drivetrain:(, cane creek headset, hell bent riserbar, salsa rasta skewers and seat collar, oury grips woo woo!
a Cross Country Rider
from Columbia, SC Usa
Date Reviewed: September 17, 2002
Strengths: rides great, pretty light(4 pounds for a 21') pretty color
Weaknesses: low bottom bracket
this frame has made me a better rider. it just rides great. plus its got lots of personality and style too. you don't see too many of these around. i recommend the vino rojo color.
I was looking for a quality steel hardtail to replace my venerable Teesdale-built Kona Hot, which was built out of no-longer-available Tange Ultimate tubing. The A La Carte wasn't at the top of my list, as it's rather pricey, but I ran across one for $300 new, so I couldn't really say no. The frame was built for a team but never delivered or painted, so I got a frame with no decals and what may or may not be original factory paint, so my paint job may not be representative of most A la Cartes. That said, the paint is not that durable. The frame is beautiful in a retro way: nice Ritchey dropouts, not much slope to the top tube, Reynolds 853 tubing throughout without any frills. It does have a gusset at the head tube/down tube junction. It is fairly light for steel, right around four pounds. I wanted a bike that climbed and accelerated well and was responsive without being harsh. Bombing downhill is less of a priority for me than climbing, low speed maneuverability, and comfort on long rides. The A La Carte does everything I want it to in a simple, yet very finely crafted package. If I was paying list for a U.S. built steel frame, I might have stayed closer to home and spent the same kind of money on an I.F. or a Wojick, but for what I paid for it, I am very, very happy with the Salsa. (My value rating reflects the MSRP, not what I paid)
Bike Setup: odd mix - sram shifting, xtr/valiant wheels, v-brakes, Judy SL and rockshox seat post
Date Reviewed: March 5, 2002
Strengths: reputation.....i f you consider this a strength
Weaknesses: THE PAINT JOB IS THE WORST. CHAIN RUBBING ALL THE PAINT OFF ON THE CHAIN STAY. I DISCUSSED THIS WITH "P-MAN" AT SALSA, AND GET THIS, HE SAID THAT HIS FRAME DID THE SAME THING...HE WASN"T SURE WHY?!!!! I AGREE WITH PREVIOUS REVIEWS... IF YOU LOOK AT THE FRAME WRONG, THE PAINT CHIPS.
IT'S AN OK RIDE...BUT THE PAINT JOB REALLY, REALLY DETRACTS FROM THIS BIKE. ALL THINGS BEING EQUAL...LOOK ELSEWHERE.
Bike Setup: Easton carbon straight bars, Bontrager stem, King headset, Rock Shox SID SL, Salsa seat and post, Time pedals, Mavic Wheels, XT everything else.
Date Reviewed: November 7, 2001
Strengths: Great ride, cool colors, different, quality of construction, 853
Weaknesses: Paint job quality is not that great. Can't fit a wide tire in rear. LOW BOTTOM BRACKET
It's great bike, great ride but the low bottom bracket just blows...I hit every rock and root in the trail with my pedals. Of course it wouldn't be that big of a deal if there weren't any of them. I guess I should have bought a "East Coast" frame. I though the East Vs West was B.S. I knew East coasr bikes had taller BB than normal but I didn't know West coast bikes had lower BB's than normal. It makes the bike stable in descents but... I can't believe nobody has commented about the BB before.
a Cross Country Rider
from Meriden CT USA
Date Reviewed: May 2, 2001
Strengths: Quality construction, no surprises geometry, special features for durability
Weaknesses: Not powder coated; no longer offered in Reynolds 525.
The easiest way to understand my opinion of the Salsa Ala Carte is to see what my ÒframeÓ of reference is. Therefore, IÕll first describe my previous ATB, then list the two framesÕ specs side by side for comparison.
My previous frame/bicycle was a 1990 Bridgestone MB-3. The frame was made of regular Ritchey Logic tubing (not Prestige). The rigid fork was also Ritchey Logic. Bridgestones were known for Òroad bikeÓ geometry within their mountain bike line. That is, their seat angles were relatively steeper, and their top tubes relatively longer than the norm. They also had the steepest head angles in the business. It was a great bike; the short rear end gave great traction on steep uphills, the long top tube helped minimize ÒendosÓ and promoted an aggressive, road-like, flat back position, and the steering was great for tight, technical stuff albeit a little fast at speed. The frame was neither too stiff nor too flexy. After ten years, it broke.
Frame Size (C-T) 17Ó 17Ó
Effective Top Tube Length 23Ó 22.17Ó
Seat Angle (Degrees) 73.5 73
Head Angle (Degrees) 72.5 71
Chainstay Length 16.75Ó 17Ó
Fork Rake (mm) 40 41 (IF Fork)
Wheelbase (cm) 103 104.4
Stem Length (cm)/ degrees rise 11/+20 11/-6
I will say I chose the Salsa sight unseen. Their other products such as their seatpost, welded stem, and skewers seemed well thought out and that was good enough advertising for me. Checking the reviews on the mtbr.com website confirmed what I suspected; the reviews alone practically sold me on the frame.
As far as what I paid for the frame, I canÕt tell you. As a bike shop employee, I get a hefty discount, which would break hearts and wouldnÕt be fair to divulge. Expect to pay about $1k +/- $100 for the frame. Salsa frames are only available through your local bike shop. Any shop that orders spare parts through Quality Bicycle Products (QBP) can get one for you.
The finsh is a tough Òwet paintÓ; itÕs not peeling off easily at the dropouts like a lesser job I experienced. I wish the frames were powder coated; powder coating is even tougher which is more conducive to what mountain bikes endure. Also, the decals arenÕt clearcoated so you image conscious types beware, but theyÕve held up well for me so far.
Tubing-Note that the frame has Reynolds 853 butted main tubes ONLY. The rear end is True Temper OX Gold.
Features-The lower head tube has a reinforcing ring to protect it from ovalizing, a good precaution for the ATB environment. The upper end underside of the down tube has a gusset welded onto it to reinforce the junction from frontal impacts and the forces seen from suspension forks. The seat tube slot is on the front side so that tire spray wonÕt have another way to send dirt and water down the tube. The frame was perfectly aligned except for my rear dropouts, which were 1.5mm short of proper spacing, so that the wheel needs a little tug to drop in. The visible insides of the tubes were immaculate and cleanly machined. Paint in the BB threads made starting the fixed cup difficult so I proceeded with caution. It took me about ten minutes to ensure I wasnÕt cross threading things and was somewhat frustrating. However, once I got it started properly it threaded in easily.
Chainstay clearance- 2.1Ó tires will be a cinch to fit. However, the drive side seatstay is not flattened far up from the dropout end. The result is that shifting from my smallest cog to the second cog is removing the paint from the seatstay. This only occurs while in the big chainring, and hereÕs why: IÕm using a non-microdrive crank with a 46T large ring, and a 12T cog. The frame is probably designed for compact drive cranks where a 42/44x11T is the norm. It is not impeding my shifting, though, and not removing metal.
The two sets of waterbottle bosses are mounted low on their respective tubes which facilitates use of large size bottles. When I mounted my cages, from two different manufacturers, they interfered with each other. I switched position of the cages, seat tube vs. down tube and the problem was solved. Obviously, cages can vary on how they sit on the tube. Literature says the frame comes with their quick release style seat collar. I asked Salsa via e-mail if I could have the non-QR style collar and they said sure, just list that on the order form. Whichever you choose, youÕll get the most well thought out clamp in the industry-the threaded portion of the clamp pivots so no matter how tight you cinch down the collar, the bolt WILL NOT develop a permanent bend as others do.
Fit- Equally important to me as frame size were standover height and top tube length. The Bridgestone fit me fine, but if I chose the closest sized Salsa which also had a similar top tube length, I would give up about 1Ó of standover height. This is because the Bridgestone was designed without regard to suspension forks. I chose the smaller frame with a shorter top tube. I chose a stem for the Salsa that would give me the same effective top tube and stem dimension AND the same stem height . (I calculated the effective length of respective stems with simple trigonometry.)
The Ala Carte sports a shallower seat angle than the Bridgestone but longer chainstays. For a short rider like me, having as much weight as possible over the rear wheel is a luxury and a key to good traction that taller riders take for granted. Likewise, while my SalsaÕs top tube/stem combo is equal to the Bridgestone, with the slacker head angle and resultant longer wheelbase, IÕm hoping I can still keep the front wheel pinned down on climbs while anchoring the rear wheel for traction.
Tips: When installing your fork, mount your stem/bar combo BEFORE you cut the steerer to length. Swing the bars to ensure they clear the top tube. One crash is all it takes to dent something that could have been avoided. I learned this lesson AFTER I cut my steerer. Also, the seatstay and chainstay bridges are threaded for rack/fenders but no bolts are provided. Put some in to help keep water out.
The one glaring problem I had with the frame was the seatpost would not hold its height adjustment. It would slip down about 1Ó in 10 miles. IÕve been wrenching bikes too long to require a torque wrench to tighten this bolt properly, so I knew something else was wrong. I measured everything with calipers and all was in spec. I took two courses of action. First, I noticed the seat tube slot was shorter than on other bikes. It barely cleared the bottom of the seat collar, and in fact measured 10mm shorter than is common. The shorter it is, the less clamping forces will have an effect on cinching down the tube to hold the post. I lengthened the slot to the standard 25mm and drilled another relief hole at the lower end.
Second, the location of the scratches on the post indicated the seat collar was the cause and not the seat tube itself. Most collars have a lip at the top end to keep the collar at the end of the seat tube. So, I rigged up a little jig to remove some of the lip by hand sanding it, checking my progress with a caliper gauge. I sanded until the two I.D.s were about 0.2mm apart. The two approaches worked; the seatpost now holds its height.
So, IÕve now got my position matching my old bike. How does the Salsa ride? ThereÕs no wheel flop in the front end. The slacker head angle cum slower steering gives me greater slow speed line changing ability. At higher speeds, you really need to use counter steering to change your line, though. Even though IÕm a touch further back from the front hub, I can easily keep the wheel pinned down on steep climbs. And although the chainstays are 1/4Ó longer, I canÕt detect any loss of traction. The frame is neither stiff nor flexy; itÕs just fine.
Aside from the seatpost snafu which I was able to identify and correct, IÕm really happy with the frame. I never want to be another mass market drone/clone, which is one reason why I bought the Salsa. If youÕre interested in something out of the ordinary, you canÕt go wrong with the Ala Carte.