Interbike has shut its doors and left Vegas for the last time, but that doesn’t mean we’re done talking about what we saw and rode out there. Oh no! Here is another ride report from Bootleg Canyon for your consideration……….
Salsa El Mariachi Titanium: Ride Report: by Guitar Ted
Salsa Cycles introduced the El Mariachi titanium frame earlier this season, but this was my first chance at riding this frame. Salsa Cycles had it “blinged out” in Hope components, a SRAM drive train, and a FSA 2X crank set. This was a nicely equipped hard tail, but how does it ride? That was the question on my mind as I waited for the bike to be set up for me. The El Mariachi was rendered in titanium according to Salsa Cycles’ design by Lynskey. I have tested a couple of Lynskey’s titanium single speed frames in the past, so the workmanship on the titanium El Mariachi was somewhat familiar looking. Still, this was not Lynskey’s geometry, and not their design. Would there be any comparison?
Off I went on the demo loop to find out. Of course, titanium is a nice riding material if designed and constructed properly, and I found that familiar titanium feel soon enough. The El Mariachi was set up with a 80mm travel Rock Shox Reba, a different spec for a hard tail these days, but one that I appreciated on this particular design. It worked quite nicely too, and I didn’t find that I missed the extra 20mm of travel a 100mm fork would have lent me. I did notice that the front end felt reasonably stiff, and I suspect that based upon my experiences with a longer fork on a titanium frame, it wouldn’t have felt as stiff with a 100mm travel fork. That would be outside this designs spec anyway.
On climbs and descents, the El Mariachi titanium was well behaved. Basically, if you have ridden a Salsa hard tail from the last couple of years, you will find the titanium version of the El Mariachi to be very familiar. If you have not been on a Salsa, you might find it a bit quicker than some in regards to steering, a bit longer in the rear than some of the “new school” geometry hard tails,(450mm), but very nicely sorted. I didn’t find any quirks at all on my test ride. I definitely did not find it to be like a Lynskey, that’s for sure.
A quick word on the Selma titanium single speed bike here is in order, I think. I have seen some commentary regarding a possible redundancy on Salsa’s part with regards to these titanium hard tail 29’ers that they have now. I can tell you that the Selma is actually quite different than the El Mariachi titanium rig. The Selma features a very different tube set that is optimized for single speed use. The frame is stiffer over all because of this, than the El Mariachi titanium frame. The Selma titanium rig also has no gear cable stops, and features a 44mm diameter head tube that can accommodate a tapered steer tube fork with the use of an external 1.5″ lower head set cup. The El Mariachi titanium bike does not feature this. Of course, the Selma has the Altenator drop out as well.
Salsa Cycles is billing itself as the “Adventure Bicycle” company these days and the titanium El Mariachi seems to fit in this mold by being a stable, easy to pilot bike that doesn’t give anything up on the tight, twisty trails, but doesn’t go over the line of being too twitchy. It also is titanium, so you have that durable, long lasting metal frame that gives you the sweet ride to boot. I could see this as being a great endurance racer, 100 mile bike, or just a bike to scoot around on for a long afternoon of mountain biking. Frankly, while I was riding it, I just about forgot about the bike and was enjoying the scenery as I went around the demo loop. That to me is a compliment to the bike, the handling, and the ride of titanium.