Salsa Cycles El Mariachi 29er Hardtail

DESCRIPTION

You'd be hard pressed to find a more versatile and functional bike for off-road riding than a hardtail 29er. Make it from steel, and you have a bike that will last very near forever, tackle almost any terrain you can find, and won't dynamite your wallet on the way. The Salsa El Mariachi 3 is just such a bike. Salsa's Kung Fu Cro-Moly tubing is triple-butted to reduce weight without sacrificing strength at the joints, so you never have to worry about cracking the frame at a weak point. Salsa's innovative Alternator dropouts also allow quick-and-easy singlespeed conversionsAAAwhether they're planned, or just a way to get you home after a massive mid-ride mechanical. The Alternators utilize a swing-style design, and are kept in place with the aid of tension bolts, so you don't have to worry about getting both sides right with just bolt torque. This swinging style also means that you can tune the ride characteristics of your El Mariachi easilyAAAkeep it in tight for short effective chainstays and quick handling, or move it out to lengthen the chainstays and add stability. El Mariachi, like all Salsa bikes, lends itself to the lengthy and epic, and is an ideal candidate for multi-day backcountry bikepacking. This is not to say, of course, that you can't race itAAAEl Mariachi eats up short-track XC races just as well as it handles hundred-mile days through the woods.

USER REVIEWS

Showing 1-10 of 66  
[May 21, 2017]
Jake
All Mountain Rider

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
Strength:

Dirt simple. Rides great. Climbs great. Components right out of the box are good.

Weakness:

Plan your breaking if you are used to a 26 inch bike with 8 inch rotors.

I actually have a 2. Bought it in 2013. I had the S&S couplers put on it and I ride the crap out of it when the snow melts. I ride in the big AK so my season is short. I just put some 27.5 3 inch tires on it as a test case. You can do all sorts of stuff with this bike. Ride it as a single speed of you want to. Nothing but good things to say about it. This could be a persons one bike quiver for sure.

Similar Products Used:

SX trail...
Specialized Enduro

[Apr 22, 2014]
Philber
Cross Country Rider

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Strength:

Strong, simple, great SS dropouts, good value.

Weakness:

None.

I have the 2014 El Mariachi Singlespeed, which is a dedicated singlespeed (no derailer hanger, singlespeed rear hub). It's stock (Deore hydro brakes, Salsa SS wheels, Salsa steel fork), except I swapped out the aluminum Salsa bar for a carbon Salsa bar, I upgraded the cranks to something lighter, and I threw in my Thompson layback post. The El Mariachi is pretty great. From the moment I threw a leg over, I felt comfortable. It rides ... like a bike. There is no one thing that is awe-inspiring, but the overall package just feels right. The geometry is just right. The brakes are good. The wheels are good enough. At about 23 pounds, it's not super light but it's not heavy either. The carbon bar made a difference, and takes the edge off the little bumps. The big bumps are no problem for the Salsa steel fork, especially at a weight of only just over 2 pounds. All in all, I love this bike. And for the price it's great value. All the parts are pretty good right out of the box, but upgrading here and there makes this a very, very nice ride.

Similar Products Used:

Damn near everything.

[Nov 06, 2013]
Burnt
Cross Country Rider

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
3
Strength:

Pretty, Steel, Dropouts, Saddle

Weakness:

Heavy, Cranks, Wheels, 2 x 10 gearing

So I COVETED an El Mariachi, in a nearly carnal way, but I don't swing towards metal so I keep it legit on the trail. The bike is sexy. I got the #3 in green. Swapped to the matching steel fork which lightened it up a bit. The stock wheels were pretty bad. Didn't roll, heavy. I felt the need to get better wheels and a set of White Industries mated to Stans rims did the trick. Tubeless. Respect. I put on carbon bars which made things silky smooth up front. The frame has 2-3lbs on a carbon frame, but I'm not superficial, I can handle a little heft if it delivers where it counts. Does it deliver? Well, I have to admit I'm superficial. I test rode a Trek X-cal which had an arguably slightly better spec and the geometry was better dialed than the El Mar. But it was friggin Trek. Why would I want to ride a Trek. Fall in love with a Trek? That's like saying I love my Honda. Nobody loves a Honda. And if they claim they do then they need to look up love in the dictionary. I bought the 2012 El Mar 3 without a test ride because it looked nice and had a good rep. The thing just rolls. Like a steamroller. Very neutral handling. I like the shorter fork better than suspension, but with the right sag it's all good. But the GEARING, the gd 2x10 gearing. I was asking, what the heck is wrong with my legs? I'm in my easiest gear, what is wrong with my legs??? I went over to Sheldon Brown's gain ration calculator. The 2x10 was 4 gears short on the easy pedalling end compared to my old 3x9. I had no granny! Simple, though, right? I just need a smaller small ring in the front. BOOM --- REALITY. The FSA Comet 386 is a crappy 3 bolt, something crank with a 27t as the smallest available chainring option. New crankset needed. FRAK. I bought this bike and to make it serviceable I had to spring for wheels and now cranks? My legs are ultimately tender and not often enough trailside so I need my granny and I went for an x9 crank with a 22t and the park tool to put in the GXP bottom bracket. It's okay now. I've also heard many complaints about the Avid Elixir 1 brakes. Sure, they squeak and are hard to adjust and have to be bled and are a pain in the ass, but at least they stop me better than my old V-brakes, so I'm grateful. Honestly, I should be grateful I have such a pretty, fancy, sweet ride and shouldn't complain. It's loads better than my old 94 Nishiki. It tends to float along the trail and the tubeless sucks up the bumps. Much like a retired Florida widower, I wanted a classy ride to grow old with. The El Mar delivers, though she could stand to walk around the track at the community center a few times, and she keeps hitting me up for cash. I guess that's what happens when you marry for looks.

[Aug 23, 2013]
Fg Love
Weekend Warrior

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
Strength:

Looks, Value, Tower Expert Fork, Sturdy, Shimano SLX Drivetrain

Weakness:

Conti Trail King are Heavy Tires! Avid Elixir 1 Brakes Inconsistent

My El Mariachi complete Build came with Full SLX Drivetrain, with Deore M552 Cranks, Avid Elixir 1 Brakes and Conti Trail King 2.2 Tires, and Manitou Tower Expert Fork. The Frame is great for long rides. I think it shouldnt really be positioned as an XC racing bike, like it says on the Salsa website. You could race it, but, not on Short XC courses, maybe on long Endurance Races it comes more into its Element. I am 6ft 165lbs and the Large Frame fits me right, but at first I felt the bike handles slow and heavy, so I changed the stock 110mm Stem to 90mm, and changed the tires to Specialized Fast Track Controls, this dropped the weight by 1.3lbs!!! The tire change made its so much more agile, felt so much lighter to pedal. The tight switchbacks I couldnt clear on the stock conti's are now much easier to manage. The long top tube with Shorter Stems also gives me better handling on Rocky Descents. The Flex on the steel frame is perfect for me. The thing I like most is the fact that it just looks so good, especially when parked beside other alu and carbon racer bikes, my bright red frame with white manitou fork stands out of the crowd! The geometry just looks so cool and different, even compared to other steel bikes. I wont say much about bike weight as there are a lot of ways to reduce the weight and a lot of reasons to keep it the way it is. The avid elixir 1 brakes have been inconsistent. Had to bleed the rear brake once, it makes some noise, but I have been able to live with it, brake feel can be better, but it does well in stopping the bike and power is adequate. If there is something Salsa could do to improve the complete build, is to spec a different brakeset and lighter stock tires, as 29ers and heavy tires are not good. Overall I am happy with what I got for the price paid and aside from the tires, I have not upgraded anything else, the stem replacement is more of a fitting issue anyways. I crashed the bike once and bent my saddle and my frame has a 1 inch scar on the top tube, crashed it quite hard on a turn i miscalculated, so I can safely say that the overall build is good as the only thing I replaced was the wtb pure v saddle, which I change with the exact same saddle as its quite good for me. In closing, the El Mariachi really best portrays Salsa Brand Slogan of "Adventure by Bike", good comfort, sturdy, easy to handle, and makes you excited for the next adventure!

[Jun 02, 2013]
fire lantern

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
Strength:

Great frame, alternator dropouts, good spec

Weakness:

Wheels, tires, 2x10 for some, weight

This is an udpate to a review I wrote shortly after buying the bike. I've had my El Mariachi for a bit over a year now and have logged a lot of miles, mostly on loose over hardpack singletrack in interior BC. I love the bike, it's really a fantastic, versatile ride. Where I ride, it's mostly smooth rolling trails, but it's also dry and dusty with poor traction in late summer. A steel 29er is the perfect companion in these conditions and I'm thrilled with the El Mar. That said, there are some issues that hold it back from being a 5 star bike (if I had the option, I'd put it as 4.5 stars). First, the wheels and tires. The wheels are heavy, which leads to an overall pretty heavy ride on the bike. This was somewhat expected, but some lighter, stiffer wheels would really improve the ride. My bike came with Conti Mountain Kings. They're light and have low rolling resistance, so feel pretty fast, but are super sketchy in loose over hardpack. I've since switched to Nevegals front and back and it's made a world of difference. Bit slower climbing, but the difference in control on flats and downhills is huge and has made a big difference with the overall handling of the bike. For 2013, I think they've switched to 3x10, so this isn't an issue anymore, but on my 2012, the 2x10 is just too stiff for this bike due to the weight. Maybe I'm just a weenie, but I often find myself wishing for slightly easier gearing on extended steep uphills, of which I have a lot. I haven't switched to singlespeed yet, but appreciate having the option and will probably do so someday. The Avid 1s are a bit underwhelming but get the job done. Thinking of switching to a larger rotor. I don't mean this review to be overly negative - like I said, I love the bike and I'd certainly buy it again in a heartbeat, it's a great riding, super versatile bike and with the 3x10 on the new versions, I think for lots of people this could be their one bike (as it is for me).

[Jan 18, 2013]
borders83
Cross Country Rider

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
Strength:

Ride Quality, Quick Handling, Stable downhill handling, Single Speed or Geared Option, Paint, Price. Less expensive than similar Niner products (ie Sir9 or MCR). No EBB

Weakness:

tad heavy but don't buy a steel bike if you're worried about that

I've been riding my 2011 Sasla El Mariachi (slate blue) for almost a year now. I've ridden it in three 50+ mile endurance races. Love, Love, Love the ride quality and handling. I'm running a 32x19 single speed setup in the midwest. We have a good combinations of climbs, rocky, & smooth single track. The swinging rear drop outs work fantastic, never slip or creak. This will be a bike I keep for a LONG time because it's just FUN, performs great, looks good, strong, etc...

Similar Products Used:

Haro Mary SS

[Dec 21, 2012]
GranvilleGravel
Racer

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Strength:

Awesome all around ride.

Weakness:

None for the target this bike hits.

I have many bikes including an uber carbon full susp 29er. This is a 2010 El Mariachi bike that is about 2 lbs heavier than than my race bike, but I find myself riding this bike a whole lot more. It is just plain fun. The steel frame is sweet. I got stans arch wheels which are just fine (set up tubeless), and the x9 group is very functional. I do most of my trail training on this bike and find myself really loving it. It was a tremendous value for me at $1600 OTD. It has this whole underdog thing going for it and just gets the job done. I can't imagine a better value exists for the same money. I imagine throwing a bunch of carbon parts at it to drop a pound or two, but then it just wouldn't be the same bike. I'll just keep it as is and ride the heck out of it.

[Dec 04, 2012]
dogscycletoo

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Strength:

Light and stiff frame for a tri butted steel frame

Weakness:

Just finding one, Salsa make more and make it easier to buy from your LBS

MTBR doesnt have the SS 2013 edition, so this will have to do. AMAZING!!!!! What comes stocked on this bike is enough to make you want to stay as a SS and drop the gears. My former bike was a Sawyer, and changing to this is soooo much lighter. I bought it to get ready for the race season, and now I just want to ride it regardless. The Stans wheels are nice, love the cont tires, and the avid elixir 5 brakes worked perfect.I love this bike and will never look back. Just finding one is a bi*ch

[Oct 01, 2012]
Paul Dun
Weekend Warrior

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Strength:

Comfortable, feels lighter than the bike is in real, great steering with rigid fork, great climber!

Weakness:

None so far.

This is the second bike i build all by myself, the first one was a Kona Kula Supreme a real XC racer, but now it must be a steel twenty-niner. And i love the Salsa for many years and not without a reason.
It's a very fine bike, it handles like a pencil, fine steering, comfortable en plush, what a bike!

Similar Products Used:

This is my first 29" mtb

[Apr 30, 2012]
Jason Lackey

OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
4
Strength:

Great looks, plush ride, gear ratio, steel frame.

Weakness:

Weak factory rims

After visiting literally every bike shop in Austin for about 6 months, I narrowed it down to two bikes with steel frames, and this is the bike I went with because of the overall aesthetics, and it's a brand name that you don't see around every bend of the trail. After riding both aluminum and steel, I decided on steel because the ride was very plush, and it just felt great riding it around. The primary flaw that I have experienced so for as the cheap wheel set that came with it. The front wheel split at the seam on a hard turn 6 days after buying the bike, and both the bike shop and Salsa did not want to warranty the wheel claiming it was crash damage, which it clearly was not, so I was very disappointed with that experience. Otherwise, once I had a come to Jesus with the shop and they got me a new wheel, the ride has been great. This is the first bike that I have owned with suspension, so that's a whole new world for me, but I feel this bike handles well. I have been riding 2 to 3 times a week for about six months now, and this bike joined the fleet at the end of march, and it has been a joy ever since, other than the few weeks of down time waiting for my new wheel to come in. I do recommend this bike, although for a few hundred dollars less, you can get the Jamis Dragon 29er that has a better overall drive train.

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