New Steel Ala Carte and El Mariachi

It’s not everyday that you get to reintroduce two very important bike models to your line up.We’ve been patiently riding, testing and riding.The time has finally come to share our new Ala Carte and El Mariachi.

Some might ask what is the big deal? It’s a steel hardtail. We’d answer, “Exactly, it is a steel hardtail!” Steel hardtails founded mountain biking. They do it all and take you just about anywhere. They do it time and time again. They are the true workhorses of any bike collection. For most of us here at Salsa, if you asked us what mountain bike would we keep in our collection if we could only have one, most of us would say the Ala Carte or El Mariachi.

When we set out to redesign and update both of these models, we had a couple of goals in mind. First, we wanted to improve the versatility, functionality and make them both singlespeed compatible. Second, we wanted to improve the strength and durability of each frame, both inside and out. Today, we are just going to highlight two of the key design elements. Over the next week or two we will be posting a little more detail about each of these things. Let’s take a closer look.

Alternator dropout – Our new dropout system. Here are the key features.

  • Geared or singlespeed
  • Quick and easy chain tension adjustments
  • 17mm adjustment range
  • Adjustable dropout serves as a replaceable derailleur hanger
  • All threads are in the adjustable and replaceable dropout so if you strip something out no harm is done to the expensive part of your frame

Kung Fu tubing – Designed in house by kung fu master Peter Koski

  • New proprietary triple-butted Japanese Sanko seamless steel tubing
  • Design based on our 20+ year experience with working with steel tubing
  • Custom butting profiles put material where it should be resulting in a doubling of fatigue life compared to a standard butted tube

Other Details

  • Frame only - $599 MSRP
  • Painted to match CroMoto forks available for both Ala Carte & El Mariachi available for $110
  • Late June availability
  • Durable powder coated finish
  • New woodcut graphics by our very own Andy Wood

We hope you are too and can’t wait to see just where these bikes take you.

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Jason Boucher

Jason Boucher

Growing up as a Minnesota farm boy, I developed an appreciation and love for land and open space. This appreciation has fostered two passions, cycling and photography. Both of these passions provide freedom, encourage me to explore and foster creativity. More importantly though, my journey with a bike and a camera reminds me that the world is big and I am small.


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Will | April 15th, 2010

Wowzers!!  Home run!!  I’ve been bike lusting that style of drop-out for awhile.

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dave b | April 15th, 2010

Looks nice!  Is the steel El Mariachi geometry the same as the Ti version?

Hollis | April 15th, 2010

Are they both 29ers? Complete bike specs to come I assume.

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Bob | April 15th, 2010

“Alternator dropouts” - because they adjust like an alternator belt?

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captain bob | April 15th, 2010

Love the el mar.  Better start saving my money, huh.

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Hand/of/Midas | April 15th, 2010

Is Todd Ingerman Pissed at you for stealing his dropouts?

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lukas | April 15th, 2010

Wow the el mari looks great - whats the weight of the new el mari frame?

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JP | April 15th, 2010

Powder coating.  Nice.  Yet, while powder coating is indeed durable, Salsa’s paint job (among other things) used to differentiate its frames from Surly’s. Will powder coating be the standard on Salsa steel frames going fwd, or is it just on these two?

Kung Fu triple-butted Sanko Steel.  This frame material karate kicks some real triple butt!  As they’d say in Japan: Subarashii!  I think Salsa is right to stick to the best CrMo available (in lieu of pricier, overhyped steel) on its steel offerings going forward. 

Frame only?  Por qu??

All we need now is:

1.  a re-birth of the La Raza geared road frame, with non-sloping top tube, a tallish headtube, capellini pasta-thin stays, clearance for up to 32mm tires, and QUADRUPLE-butted Kung Fu Sanko steel frame (with matching steel fork).  After all, La Raza was the iconic, classic Salsa road model, just as Ala Carte was/is the iconic, classic Salsa mtb model.  This would replace the Pistola.

2.  a La Raza singlespeed/fixed road frame iteration of #1 above. This would replace the Casseroll Single.

3.  something to replace the Podio?

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Wally | April 15th, 2010

I like it! I was about to pull the trigger on a steel frame not to be named here but wanted to wait to see what Salsa did. Very cool. I only wish the colors offered where reversed. I would kill for that green color on the El Mariachi.

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HugoFar | April 15th, 2010

The return of the steel El Mariachi is a pretty interesting exercise in sexing up an already excellent frame,into something hopefully more.
It looks great and I do have a few of observations.

1-The original El Mariachi had rear rack braze ons that allowed the easy attachment of a rack.This new one lacks these. Seems like a backwards step and limitation of use to me.

2-The previous very simple and dependable Bushnell EBB has been replaced by what looks like a far more fiddly,heavy(?),dirt trap. If you only ride in bone dry areas this probably wont be an issue. Also,how easy is it to get a side to side balance and wheel direction alignment with the two screw adjusters?
It’ll be interesting to compare claimed frame weights when they get posted.

3-“Our new Kung Fu tubing dramatically increases frame strength while preserving low weight”. How is this measured against the “TrueTemper OX Platinum -Heat Treated ultalight weight,air hardened alloy.Tubing Made In USA” (as taken off frame sticker)of the previous model?
My thought was that the TT Ox Platinum was right up there with Reynolds 853. How is a 4130 cromoly stronger?

4-I do thank Salsa and QBP for keeping good steel frames in the market at an affordable price,and for trying new things.I do also like to see claims quantified to reassure me they are more than just marketing.

Keep up the great work.


PS;the photo tease was IMO frustrating and fun.So, I’d say it worked well.And,good to see the Enabler fork get released.

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Wally | April 15th, 2010

I already commented once, but have kept looking at the frame when I could steal a moment…so are the ugly decals also a new direction? You guys used to do decals so well, minor thing sure but always caught my eye. Will they come off easy? These look like something a 4 yr old did with Dad’s med point sharpie. No “ride and smile” any more…

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Elvis | April 15th, 2010

HugoFar: 1- how far back are we going to call the El Mariachi “original”? I have a LE and no rack mounts to be seen and the red one sure didn’t have them. (maybe the earlier blue one?)

2-as noted above, I have an LE with the Bushnell BB. I’ve not had one problem at all with it. And I know that many riders love them. But I’ve also read far to many accounts of riders in all kinds of riding conditions having no end of problems. I’m guessing that Salsa are covering all bases here.

3- the main issue, and I’m sure a Salsa person will pop up soon to correct me if I’m wrong, is that the True Temper tubing does NOT currently pass the European CEN tests. Which means that bikes/frames built using True Temper tubing can not be sold in the EU. (a large chunk of market to any manufacturer)

My only complaint is that the El Mar’is blue. I like the green better…


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HugoFar | April 15th, 2010

1-I used the term “original” in a casual way.I bought my Blue frame in 2008,as ‘last years model’(2007) and if you check the new Steel El Mar product page on this site it claims that was when they were first introduced. This did actually surprise me as I thought they’d been around quite a bit longer.
I do believe the same year the frame also came in a Washed out pale Green colour too.And then there was the LE(limited Edition?)(year?) model in a brown/red? My point is the braze on issue,rather than which one is “original”.

2-I also have never had any trouble with my Bushnell EBB. Even after the Great Divide Ride,or the Pacific Coast Ride. I removed it to check,clean and regrease. Once out I realised that wasn’t even necessary. Also makes converting to ride in the New Zealand SS champs last year a breeze. 

3-Thanks for the note re Euro CEN tests.It’ll be interesting to hear more from Salsa re this.

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Elvis | April 15th, 2010

no probs. I only meant that I wasn’t aware of an El Mariachi with rack mounts is all. My wife has one of the apple green ones, and a friend of mine has the red one. Neither has rack mounts. I guess your earlier blue one did?

to each their own.


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Handy | April 15th, 2010

The El Mariachi better than I ever thought it could be. Perfect bike for me, other than the color. I wish it was that rad green. That is all.

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Gnat | April 15th, 2010

Hello from Sea Otter.  We had a fun day showing the new bikes.  Saw a lot of Salsa riders too. 

Thanks to all for the comments, feedback and questions.  Some of the questions require dedicated blog posts as they are not simple answers or explanations.

Hollis | April 16th, 2010

I’m not an expert on the export requirements but I spoke to Salsa a while back and they said a major reason why they were updating the Ala Carte and El Mariachi were so that they would meet export requirements so I would be surprised if these bikes failed that but maybe they weren’t able to solve that piece of the puzzle yet who knows.

MG | April 16th, 2010

Thanks guys.  These are great updates of two Salsa staples.  You know I liked the EBB on the El Mariachi, but the appeal of a system that allows the adjustment of effective chainstay length is strong.  And you guys did it right.  Strong, easy to adjust, fully-replaceable… Good stuff.

Kid, you have my address, right?

MG | April 16th, 2010

;-)... (hope you guys are having a blast at Sea Otter.)

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captain bob | April 16th, 2010

Yeah, you have my address too, right!
I am a bit surprised by the broad differences in opinions on the new bikes.  I didn’t realize how big a role the el mar played in the salsa line-up and how personally everyone feels about their ideal el mar. I personally love the new el mar, so happy to see swingers instead of sliders.  Ebb? Mine works fine on the selma but will love the adjustable chainstay length on the new one.  Long stays for long ravel rides and short stays for tight singletrack!  Couldn’t be better!  Thanks.

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louis | April 16th, 2010

The swinger dropouts are interesting.  Is there any chance one of them could be swapped for one with a slot that accommodates the torque control tab (or whatever it’s called) on a Rohloff hub? The Surly Big Dummy has this feature (non swinging), so I’m hoping it’s on your radar too.

A fully rigid El Mariachi w/ Rohloff would be a great low maintenance bike for busy parent who might grab a few hours to ride on a weekend, but lack time to wrench.

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jonnyx | April 16th, 2010

This evolution brings about some interesting stuff.
I’m really happy with my red mariachi - love the sparkly paint, so the new less blingy powdercoat and shall we say more “woodsy” graphic treatment is not really my thing.
I do like the more dirt-jumper look of the new geometry though , the bike just looks so “ready to go”.
I’ll second louis’ call for the rohloff compatibility and while we’re there how about possibly splitting the rear triangle somewhere for some carbon drive action? - a fully rigid 29er thats super flexible, maybe in the next evolution?
Thanks for keeping cycling exciting.

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trevor m | April 16th, 2010

I would be quite satisfied with either the old sparkly red or the green on the el mariachi.

Not sold on the blue.

MG | April 19th, 2010

... fortunately we don’t buy our bicycles based on color, do we?

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Wally | April 19th, 2010

If we didn’t give a hoot about color, we’d all be riding raw clear coated frames…

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CJ | April 19th, 2010

We’ll done Salsa.

Glad to see the 100mm travel compatibility! This is a big step forward and something that was holding back the previous frame as it was designated (I’d still like to see 120mm ;) We know it affects the geometry but if your riding steep nasty terrain you want more clearance and a slacker HA anyway.

So question. Either the new tubeset is stronger… or built heavier than the OX platinum version were riding now? Reynolds 953 would have made a nice option. More detail on the new tube set would be appreciated.

I like the blue, love my red El M. I’m hard on my bikes so powder coating is a welcome update all the same.

MG | April 19th, 2010

Wally—I love that my newest bike is raw, paintless…  Of course, being ti doesn’t hurt anything, either.  But it’s a dream of a finish to take care of and it’ll never need repainting.

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Mike | April 19th, 2010

oh, brutally cool

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Nick P | April 21st, 2010

Wow! I can’t wait to get my hands on a Ala carte! When are they going to be available for order on OBP? May 4th ish? I love the 100m correction! I cant wait to build it up and ride leb! I have everything for my new mtb except this gorgeous frame!

dicky | April 21st, 2010

That looks awesome.  Well played.

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Nev | April 28th, 2010

I have a set of fixed disc 29er wheels that have been waiting for this frame. Please Lord let me obtain the green!

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trevor m | May 11th, 2010

hey just wondering, when do complete specs come out?


Gnat | May 17th, 2010

Hey folks, thanks for all the comments.  We wish to keep this an open forum.  Please keep comments constructive and please don’t argue here on the blog. 

I would also like to make a few comments on the EBB and our move to the new drop outs. 

We moved to the new drop outs because not because the EBB stunk.  Some thinks so while others love it.  I am from the love it and still ride my EM with EBB often.  However, the Bushnell EBB was made in the USA while our frames are built and shipped from Taiwan.  There were a number of sourcing issues with it.  In the end, we decided to build something else. 

Hope this helps explain our decision(s).

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tony | May 31st, 2010

what’s the weight of the frame only?.

Vito | July 2nd, 2010

I can hardly wait to get a new Salsa. I just can’t make up my mind…El Mariachi or Fargo??? I am leaning towards the El Mariachi.
What will initial availability be for the El Mariachi frame? Do I need to get an order in now?

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David | July 21st, 2010

Hoping the new release date for tomorrow on the El Mariachi is correct, I’ve been holding off and hoping to build her up before the Wausau 24 next weekend! As for the “ride and smile”, that’s what the tat on my calf is for :).

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dub | July 25th, 2010

Any word on when the 18” Mariachi will be available?

Nev | August 22nd, 2010

So is this a done deal or what? Can I pick one up tomorrow?

Kid Riemer

Kid Riemer | August 23rd, 2010

Yes, the new El Mariachi and Ala Carte frames have been shipping to dealers. Contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) if you would like them to help you find a dealer that has them.

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Spinymouse | September 8th, 2010

Any word on what your “complete” El Mariachis will look like and when they’ll be available?

Kid Riemer

Kid Riemer | September 8th, 2010

Spinymouse: We will release the Complete El Mariachi on the first day of Interbike (Sept 20th). Please check our blog out that day as that is just one of the items that we’ll be featuring.

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