Today I have the privilege of introducing the latest evolution of the Mamasita hardtail 29er.
In its relatively short lifespan, the Mamasita has earned a fine reputation as an XC racing and singletrack-riding machine. It loves singletrack and going fast…preferably both at the same time.
Evolution Of A 29er Hardtail
As part of the product design team at Salsa, I had a hand in the continued evolution of this frame and have spent a substantial amount of time riding the bike. Let me walk you through the changes we’ve made and share the results of those changes with you. I think you will like them.
If you are reading this blog, you probably have the understanding that all bikes are not the same. They have different goals they seek to accomplish. That is not just true of types and categories of bikes, but of models of bikes within what can be thought of as narrow categories.
Take for instance the Mamasita. It is a 29er hardtail. Within that category we offer several other models: El Mariachi, Selma, and Mukluk in steel, alloy, and titanium. Each of these is designed to achieve a certain goal within a given set of parameters. These parameters can be set by everything from supply chain, cost of materials, competition in the marketplace, price, time, manpower, knowledge, weight, materials, desired ride quality, product goals…and the list goes on.
The Mamasita’s primary goal is Efficiency. That efficiency comes from maximum power transmission. With this evolution, we’ve removed weight and improved features while maintaining the previous generations ride quality and lowering the price. Let’s take a look at how this has been accomplished.
The 2012 Mamasita is crafted from the same EV6 Xtrolite aluminum tubing we use on the Spearfish. That’s right, the frame is no longer Scandium or a Scandium Carbon mix.
The switch to Xtrolite tubing gives us much greater freedom in tube shaping. That tube shaping allowed us to maximize the ride quality of the Mamasita, add features like a tapered headtube and PressFit 30 bottom bracket shell, while still beating the previous frames’ weight and maintaining the same fatigue level.
New ‘Modern’ Features That Make Sense
This evolution of the Mamasita adds both a Tapered Headtube and a PressFit 30 Bottom Bracket Shell. We believe both of these ‘newer’ standards offer performance advantages for this type of frame.
The tapered headtube and the larger downtube boost steering precision. The PressFit 30 bottom bracket shell stiffens the frame laterally, improving power transfer and drivetrain efficiency. Match these changes with the increased circumference of the downtube and you get yourself a stronger frame because of the increased weld area.
Stiffness Isn’t Everything
While adding those features improved frame tracking, power transfer, and efficiency, we wanted to retain the ride quality heritage of the Mamasita.
Anyone can design a stiff bike. Designing a stiff bike that doesn’t beat you up is another matter. We continue to use multiple tools to make the Mamasita a bike that doesn’t feel like your run-of-the-mill alloy hardtail.
Tubing type and butting profiles play a part in this of course, but so does tube shaping. The Mamasita continues to use custom-shaped chainstays and seatstays to maximize lateral stiffness, while creating vertical compliance for bump absorption.
Ride quality is also enhanced by the use of a tapered seat tube that allows the Mamasita to use a 27.2mm seatpost. The wider end of the seat tube helps stiffen the frame around the bottom bracket, while the narrower end allows the smaller diameter seatpost to add comfort. Only our full-suspension bikes use a seatpost larger than 27.2mm…and that is because they’ve got several inches or more of rear suspension working for them already.
‘No carbon?’ you ask. Nope. We’ve accomplished the same ride quality as the previous Scandium/Carbon Mamasita while reducing frame weight and price, and improving durability.
Now remember, this is a 29er hardtail. It is not a softail, nor is it a full-suspension bike. But we are very proud of the ride quality we have created using this design. It gives you maximum efficiency and the trail feedback you want without beating you up.
The Devil Is In The Details
For those that haven’t noticed, the bike world has developed more standards than ever of late. If you decide to build up a bike starting from a frame, we highly encourage you to work with your local bike shop, as they are a wealth of knowledge in a constantly changing bike world.
The 2012 Mamasita frame uses a tapered headtube. We chose to use Cane Creek’s ZS standard to maintain a low stack height and clean look. The Mamasita is a racing bike and we feel this is a benefit to those riders.
This frame, with its PressFit 30 Bottom Bracket Shell accepts any PF30-compatible mountain double or triple crankset. Beside performance benefits, the thing that sold us on PF30 is the compatibility. There are several different styles of adaptors already available that allow you to cleanly run a 24mm spindle crankset. The ability to fit a wide variety of cranks is about more than just building up a frame. It allows the owner to choose which crankset they wish to use for a given course or event. Perhaps a double would be best for a fast, rolling course, while a triple may be necessary for long climbs in big mountain territory.
Shaped Downtube: This maximizes the weld area at both the headtube and bottom bracket. This allows us to maximize stiffness in the desired direction in those areas, boosting steering control and drivetrain efficiency
Custom Rear Dropout: We designed a forged, Wright-style dropout for the Mamasita. Actually, we designed multiple dropouts, as they are frame-size specific. These dropouts are minimal in size and weight and feature both a replaceable dropout and an integrated brake mount.
Cable Routing: This always brings out the opinions, which is good; because where there are opinions there is thought and reasoning. For the Mamasita we are running the rear brake housing centered under the toptube. This keeps the cable out of the way and eliminates leg interference while also allowing you to run your brakes regular or ‘moto’. Although we prefer full housing on many of our bikes, we opted to shave a few grams by running the bare shifter cables under the downtube and adding cable stops near the headtube.
The Proof Is In The Pudding
The time I’ve spent riding the new Mamasita has me enthusiastic about the final product. I’ve spent time riding it on our local singletrack and in the mountains out west. I’ve run it in a variety of configurations, including 1x9, a semi-fatbike winter bike with an Enabler fork, and Larry tire up front, and as a singlespeed via the E46 bottom bracket being developed by the geniuses at Problem Solvers.
The first thing I noticed when riding the updated Mamasita was the reaction from the rear end. It felt like I was directly connected to the tire. Each pedal stroke has a nice, stiff, direct responsiveness. The rear end feels smooth and solid.
Combined with the large shaped downtube and complementary toptube it really helps bring the frame together and connect the front and back end of the bike. I find myself diving into corners and having more confidence in the front-end tracking. I love how the Mamasita allows me to keep my weight centered and make the 29er wheels feel smaller than they are in tight corners. Any mountain biker knows how fun it is to carve a turn.
This bike loves curvy, swoopy singletrack. I think the biggest thing I appreciate about the Mamasita is that it disappears underneath me. After the first few miles I noticed the bike less and less. It does exactly what I need it to do; connect me with the trail without any extra frills.
The Bottom Line
If your #1 goal is efficiency and power transfer in a 29er hardtail, this is your bike.
Mamasita framesets are available now from Salsa Authorized Dealers. MSRP is $599
Complete bikes will be available in November from Salsa Authorized Dealers. MSRP will be $2099
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Sean 'Mailman' Mailen
I was born and raised in the hills of Tennessee. I decided in high school I wanted to design the best bikes and parts possible; I’ve been following my dream ever since. I love about every possible mode of cycling, mountain biking is the most fun, but if I’m on two wheels I’m happy.