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So,

As simple as the title states, I have a chance to buy a '10 stumpy comp HT for 1600, Or, El Mariachi complete (spece'd salsa factory)

which would a recreational midwestern racer want?

El Mar. is 1.5 lb heavier,

El Mar has maxle (is this good or bad? less cross compatibility, but stiffer)

El Mar is 2X10, Specialized stumpjumper is 3X9

My main concern is that I'll get the salsa and then decide its not racey enough.

I'm coming from a 2005 Specialized Epic
 

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On wuss patrol
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Hey Huey.

I guess it depends on if you've ridden both steel and aluminum and which you like best. I think the SJ has more of a xc race feel at the weight and gearing it is. For an all day ride or endurance racing, I'd prefer the steel frame on the El Mar in spite of the extra weight and then figure some ways to lighten it if I wanted.

Both are great bikes and it's hard to go wrong either way but I prefer steel with an HT.
 

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Geometry and fit are the most important. Next is comparing components to components. Like others will say, the steel will ride differently than the aluminum, but at the cost of weight. Really though, you can't go wrong with either, and I think that is going to be the general answer you are going to get. Personally, I would go with the El Mar...because its not Specialized and there is less people riding Salsa rigs.
 

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Get the El Mariachi. It is cooler, has cooler dropout, made by a cooler company, is a better bike, steel is real, lots of people still race steel. It is cooler.
 

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The difference in weight is mostly the steel frame that is absolutely worth the small weight penalty unless you ride very buff trails. The maxle is a plus as more and more wheel sets and forks will be heading in that direction in the next few years. El Mar gets the nod.
 

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I am also having a hard time deciding between Salsa El Mariachi 2 and Specialized Stumpjumper Comp 29. I am not into racing and usually ride/tour all day crosscountry and on bad roads. At present I have Trek 4500. Any suggestions?
 

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I am also having a hard time deciding between Salsa El Mariachi 2 and Specialized Stumpjumper Comp 29. I am not into racing and usually ride/tour all day crosscountry and on bad roads. At present I have Trek 4500. Any suggestions?
both are good bikes. don't listen to the folks who say go with the salsa because there aren't as many around. go with the bike that fits better. as you've read, a steel and alum feel different to many people. also, the geometry of each bike it different. are you able to ride both to see which one you like more? i rolled the dice and ordered an el mar without riding it- it worked out really well for me. the el mar is an excellent bike but so is the stumpjumper.

either is going to feel a ton better (and lighter) than your trek 4500.
 

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I owned a '10 Stumpjumper Comp carbon ht and recently replaced it (after it was stolen) with a '12 El Mariachi 2 complete. I also tested the '10 Stumpjumper Comp alloy before buying the carbon version. Here are my thoughts:

1) I did not at all love the feel of the alloy Stumpjumper. IMO, it feels harsh over bumps but also not particularly laterally rigid. I bought the carbon version mainly because it felt so much more responsive under pedaling power. In general, I don't think alloy 29er ht's make sense or at least I've never ridden one I like compared to either steel or carbon. (Although I do really like my Selma that is Scandium with carbon seat stays).

2) Comparing just geometry, I like the El Mariachi better. IMO Specialized tends to make their top tubes too long, making it harder to properly weight the front tire when cornering. Salsa geometry tends to feel perfect to me (comparing XL sizes in both). Also, I thought the Stumpjumper chainstays were slightly too short, and the bb was a little too low. In general, with a 29er, I think putting the bb as low as the stumpjumper makes the bike feel less agile in technical situations. One nice thing about the El Mar frame is that you can adjust the chainstay length to your preference (though even the shortest possible choice is slightly longer than the Stumpjumper).

3) The El Mariachi is not the most lively feeling steel frame I've ever ridden, but it feels pretty good to me, at least in the XL size. It also feel relatively laterally rigid for a steel frame. Comparing steel to carbon hard tails, I think that carbon feels a little better at damping high frequency vibrations but steel feels much better on big hits. Overall, I'd choose carbon for XC racing but steel for all day riding. However, I've done a couple of races this season on my El Mariachi, and I was very happy with the performance of the bike (the performance of the rider could use improvement:) ).

In summary, I'd choose El Mar over alloy Stumpjumper every time. If I was choosing between carbon stumpjumper and El mar, it would depend on whether I wanted a faster bike for racing vs. a better bike for all around XC riding.
 

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Yeah, definitely have to test ride.

I had the opportunity to test ride a few bikes on singletrack. I thought for sure I was going to end up with an X-Cal this spring. The El Mariachi sitting in my garage is a testament of how comparing bikes out on dirt can show you what comparing things on paper can't.

Good luck, and have some fun testing bikes out!
 
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