Mtbr's 2016 Winter Biking Gear Reviews and Roundups





Salsa Cycles Ala Carte Frame Frameset

4.75/5 (32 Reviews)

Product Description

Salsa Ala Carte Frame

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Reviews 1 - 15 (32 Reviews Total) | Next 15

User Reviews

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Herb a Cross Country Rider

Date Reviewed: September 25, 2013

Strengths:    Incredibly balanced. With my 15.5 axle to crown fork it is a little quick steering - kind of like driving a 911, but it does exactly what you ask, so be careful. Lots of fun every time. Tracks like a freight train if you let it.

Weaknesses:    Are you kidding me!? The bike was stolen on Christmas eve, and I got it back unchanged 3 years later. I'd give this frame 10 stars if I could.

It is a little sketchy decsendin extremely steep, loose trails - but what isn't.

Bottom Line:   
Single track, predictable and precise steering, great climber, stiff - yet supple. This is a majic bike. I am the original owner from 1994. It was a spur of the moment purchase - 1 of 125 made that year. Made the order to Ross himself - added 3 bottle mounts and rack/fender eylets. White with Jelly Bean of course. Shod with slicks it'll sail past 8 thousand dollar road bikes. Wearing knobbies, it'll pass top dollar dual suspension bikes climbing, descending, or single tracking. They always ask - "what kid of bike is that?"

Ross hit the nail on the head with this one. The Ritchey Road Logic is the only bike I've ridden that I like as much. I'll have it copied if it ever breaks.

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Favorite Trail:   Around Steamboat Springs no name?

Duration Product Used:   19 years

Price Paid:    $3000.00

Purchased At:   Mercer Island Cycler

Similar Products Used:   Bontrager Race Lite, Rithy Comp, NORCO TNT

Bike Setup:   XT, XTR, Syncros, Salsa, Mavic, DT, Answer, Selle Italia, Onza

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by chikachik

Date Reviewed: June 7, 2013

Strengths:    Butted steel frame - piping tuned and fettled by santa cruz royalty Ross Shaffer
Ross knows his market and buyer and this frame and fork combo is a fetlers dream
set it up geared or SS rigid or hard tail the choice is yours
geometry will be familiar to salsa and Bontrager fans
alternator drop outs work a charm
extra long fork lets you run rigid or suss without spoiling the trail and BB height
what's not to like

Weaknesses:    Steel isn't the lightest but the flex it offers easily makes up for the extra grams
the hideous green paint is growing on me - I think

Bottom Line:   
If you want a bike to ride and thrash then pull to bits and reassemble
slightly differently and then trash again - look no further
lets face it we've all got several bikes now
retro, full suss, SS- add the alacarte and tinker to your hearts content
I built mine up from ebay bits n bobs and its great - hope chris king stans no tubes total £1000.00 or so
I have a 1994 Bontrager race lite - rigid and a 1994 bontrager race - front suss
so am biassed to butted steel frames, always fancied a salsa too.
the alacarte is set up SS. The ride and handling are easily up with the mid 90's bontragers
the extra long rigid fork really makes the package, as this was always a weakness when fitting a suss
fork to a retro frame, cocking up the geometry. Ross S knows what you want - get one

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by ranier a Cross Country Rider from Schoenaich, Germany

Date Reviewed: December 19, 2011

Strengths:    quality steel frame, Alternator drop outs

Weaknesses:    none, really

Bottom Line:   
The '11 Ala Carte is a hella nice steel frame that can wear different hats. Run it geared, run it SS, 26er or 650b... its pretty versatile. The Alternator drop outs make SS tensioning easy peasy.

Mine is set up 650b single speed with a 100mm WB Loop fork and it rocks. The ability to switch back to 26 wheels and geared make for one helluva bang for the buck on this steel frame.

Salsa no longer lists the Ala Carte in it's 26er line up which is a shame. The Ala Carte has been an icon in the Salsa range of bikes. Get one while they're still available!

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Favorite Trail:   somewhere in the woods

Duration Product Used:   Less than 1 month

Purchased At:   innerwebs store

Similar Products Used:   Interloc 853 frame, Salsa El Mariachi, Fat Chance Bro Eddy

Bike Setup:   '11 Ala Carte, single speed, 650b with WB Loop

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by palerider69 a Cross Country Rider from Ludwigsburg, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany

Date Reviewed: November 27, 2011

Strengths:    Design, geometry, stiffness

Weaknesses:    None at all.

Bottom Line:   
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.

Expand full review >>

Duration Product Used:   3 months

Bike Setup:   Ala Carte 2011 frame, DT Swiss XRM 100 Twin Shot fork, Quad Sting breaks, Veltec V-Two wheels, drivetrain all XT except for the SLX crankset, rest all Ritchey WCS.

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by jeff jackson a Cross Country Rider from birmingham alabama

Date Reviewed: March 26, 2008

Strengths:    Beautiful construction. Clasic Look, totally rideable.

Weaknesses:    It's steel, so it,s a touch heavy. I'm 6'4 so mine is huge... my bike!

Bottom Line:   
If you are a steel hard tail kind of guy or girl, go for it. People ask me about it all the time.

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Duration Product Used:   More than 3 years

Price Paid:    $750.00

Purchased At:   BoB's Bikes

Bike Setup:   A mix of xt and xtr components, Avid Juicy fives, Maxxis Crossmark 2.1s. on sun ringle disc-o-fleas.

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:4
Submitted by Geoff Parkyn 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"

Bottom Line:   
Like most who have ridden a great steel frame bike, I love this bike, the bright orange is kinda sic but this bike new devinci never gets ridden much now..this is a great XC bike

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Favorite Trail:   "its still out there..."

Duration Product Used:   3 months

Price Paid:    $1200.00

Purchased At:   privately

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

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Mike Wood a Weekend Warrior from Scotland

Date Reviewed: May 11, 2007

Strengths:    unbreakable frame !

Weaknesses:    not the lightest ...

Bottom Line:   
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 ?

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Duration Product Used:   More than 3 years

Price Paid:    $1600.00

Purchased At:   Alpine bikes in Aberdeen

Similar Products Used:   ParkPre

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 !

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Piazzano a Cross Country Rider from Chicago

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?

Weaknesses:    None!

Bottom Line:   
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!

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Favorite Trail:   I'm not gonna tell you!

Duration Product Used:   More than 3 years

Purchased At:   LBS

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.

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by chris everist a Cross Country Rider from Tucson, AZ

Date Reviewed: December 10, 2004

Strengths:    Sweet long hz drops, light, cozy geometry

Bottom Line:   
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

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Favorite Trail:   AZTrail

Duration Product Used:   Less than 1 month

Price Paid:    $100.00

Purchased At:   friend

Bike Setup:   Single speed

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Tim O'Mahony 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...

Bottom Line:   
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!!!!

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   Suntop

Duration Product Used:   More than 3 years

Price Paid:    $800.00

Purchased At:   Local Bike Shop

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.

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Tristan a Cross Country Rider from colatown

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.

Bottom Line:   
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.

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Favorite Trail:   the happy one

Duration Product Used:   6 months

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!

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Tristan Moss 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

Bottom Line:   
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.

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Favorite Trail:   tsali

Duration Product Used:   3 months

Price Paid:    $800.00

Purchased At:   Outspokin'

Similar Products Used:   univega alpina506 (kinda)

Bike Setup:   rigid. deore drivetrain, salsa stem and post
gonna upgrade when i sell enough dope

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:3
Submitted by Dirk a Cross Country Rider from Vermont

Date Reviewed: August 9, 2002

Strengths:    Nimble, responsive, comfortable, clean welds

Weaknesses:    paint

Bottom Line:   
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)

Expand full review >>

Duration Product Used:   Less than 1 month

Similar Products Used:   Kona Hot

Bike Setup:   odd mix - sram shifting, xtr/valiant wheels, v-brakes, Judy SL and rockshox seat post

Overall Rating:2
Value Rating:2
Submitted by tom from denver

Date Reviewed: March 5, 2002

Strengths:    reputation.....i f you consider this a strength


Bottom Line:   

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Duration Product Used:   1 Year

Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:4
Submitted by Mike a Weekend Warrior from Hollister, CA

Date Reviewed: November 20, 2001

Strengths:    Great ride quality. Has the comfy steel ride.

Weaknesses:    The paint job is worthless. It chips if you just look
at it wrong.

Bottom Line:   
A little expensive. Paint job should be better for the
price, but overall it's a fun ride and I'm happy with it.

The steering is scary fast. It took me a while to get used
to it. You have to just have a little faith at
first and then as your confidence with the bike grows
it get's less scary.

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Favorite Trail:   all

Duration Product Used:   6 months

Price Paid:    $1000.00

Purchased At:   Bicycle Trip Santa Cruz

Similar Products Used:   specialized, cannondale

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.

Reviews 1 - 15 (32 Reviews Total) | Next 15

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