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Before I get to the actual bike review, I have to throw out a huge thank you for the great customer service from Salsa Cycles. :thumbsup:

Four weeks ago, I decided to order a Salsa El Mariachi from my LBS. One of the questions was whether or not it would arrive in time for me to race it at the Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival (Short and Fat) on September 18 . . . Unfortunately, it became clear that it wasn't going to arrive in time, and I was frankly pouting about this fact on the Salsa forum, when Tim from Salsa chimed in . . . after inquiring what size I needed, he offered up his personal prototype El Mariachi for me to race! When we finally met to do the exchange, he apologized because his bike had to go to Vegas for Interbike, so instead he brought me the ti version! How sweet!

So . . . how was the bike? Holy cow! It was a real eye-opener. I've been riding my 2002 GF Mt. Tam for the past 8 years, and was astonished at how the geometry of a modern 29er is different. The bike was a totally different ride, with a much more stable feel, and much more efficient climbing position (which is really a big deal in this race). The bike was set up with a nice Fox fork, XO 2x10 drive train and Stan's No Tubes wheels with Chris King Hubs. It accelerated quickly, and was so stable at speed, especially in the corners.

But, was it fast? Oh yeah! I think I was definitely in pretty decent shape for me this year, but the bike made me faster. I finished this year in 1:33:33, which is 4.5 minutes faster than my lifetime best! For the first time, I made the top 20 in my age class (18th out of 82). Was it all the bike? No, but it was definitely a factor. I can't wait for my real bike to arrive. I know it won't be quite the same as this ti beauty, but I'm now more excited than ever to get my new bike.

So again, thanks, Tim! I'm going to try and add a couple of pics of the bike in action. Ignore the fat old man riding it!! Also included is a picture of my 14 yr old daughter and I just before the race. She also had a great day, dropping 10 minutes from last year, despite a pretty nasty fall/crash and a sliced up knee!

Thanks, Bill
 

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Congrats on the great finish. I like hearing stories of good CS. So many times we hear horror stories and the good ones are left out. I'm going through a nightmare right now with Whirlpool on a $2,500 refrigerator that has been broken for 3 of the 5 months I own it, so I know how important good CS is.
 
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