9 Reasons To Love The Alternator Dropout

The past couple years have presented plenty of reasons to love the Alternator dropout, the versatile dropout system we started developing back in 2008 and first introduced at Sea Otter in 2010:

1. Versatility - The Alternator's adjustable swing plates allow the use of geared or singlespeed drivetrains on the same frame without chain tensioners or adaptors. It also means that when a hanger bends beyond repair, or a derailleur explodes, you can quickly and easily convert to a singlespeed drivetrain, and get yourself rolling back towards civilization (or home).

2. Easy - The bane of singlespeeds with track-end style dropouts is tedious wheel changes. With the Alternator's vertical-style dropout, it's a snap. There is no brake adaptor to loosen and no chain to re-tension. Just pop the wheel out, then back in, and go.

3. Slip Free - The swinging design and fixing bolts create a slip-free system using just one fixing bolt, compared to other systems which typically use two fixing bolts per side. The Alternator's lower fixing bolts are sized to do their job, and do it well. They do it so well that the set screws are not needed to prevent slipping. In fact, all the prototypes we tested did not even feature a set screw. We decided to add them to the final design to make chain tension adjustment super precise for the tweakers out there. Once adjusted and torqued, the set screws can be removed and the dropout will not slip under drivetrain or brake forces. Try it! It's another 5g lighter! 

4. Variable Chainstay Length - Besides chain tensioning, the Alternator's swing plates also double as a geometry adjust. The 17mm of throw allow a direct variation in chainstay length and overall wheelbase. It doesn't sound like much, but just 5mm of chainstay length adjustment can make a huge difference in how a bike handles. This allows riders to fine tune the handling of the bike to their liking, or for the application at hand. Salsa's own Sean Mailen ran his Alternators in the rear-most position for the entire length of the Tour Divide route to maximize mud clearance and stability. On bikes like our Mukluk Ti, this adjustability also serves as a tire clearance adjustment, when every millimeter counts.

5. Minimal Maintainence - The Alternator holds fast and steady, and there are no surfaces that ever need to be cleaned or regreased. This means no creaking and no slipping.

6. Replaceable - All easily bendable or stripable features (like hangers and threads) are contained in the swing plates and hardware. Nothing crucial to function is part of the welded frame assembly. This means that if anything every does get tweaked of stripped, it's easily and readily replaced, and your frame is not rendered scrap metal.

Salsa design engineer Sean Mailen putting the Alternator dropouts to the test on the Great Divide Route...

7. Reliable - The Alternator has now completed several trips up and down the Tour Divide Route, a 2752-mile, off-pavement journey with nearly 200,000 feet of climbing that is notorious for exposing any and all weaknesses in bike frames and components. The Alternator has successfully completed this real-world torture test...and did it in both geared and singlespeed configurations.

For 2012, I'm happy to announce that we are also adding two very cool new reasons to be excited about the Alternator dropout:

8. 12 x 142 - Were adding a pair of plates compatible with a 12 x 142mm SRAM Maxle (which will be included). This will offer improved lateral stiffness, and open up the option to use the latest and greatest mountain bike hub and wheel offerings.

9. IGH - We're adding a left-side swing plate that uses the Rohloff OEM1 standard. Couple it with our singlespeed drive-side plate and let the IGH-enthusiasts rejoice!

Both of these new offerings have already been put through the paces and are currently in production. We expect to have them available July 1st, 2012.

This post filed under topics: El Mariachi Mukluk New Product Pete Koski Tour Divide

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Pete Koski

Pete Koski

Hi, I'm Pete and I am a product development engineer for Salsa. I like all kinds of riding from commuting to dirt jumping. I think flat pedals make you a better bike handler, that the thru-axle is vastly superior to the quick-release for off-road applications, and that moving through the world on bicycle allows one to see things they might not otherwise. I suffer daily from hunger-induced anger, also known as [i]hanger[/i]. Outside of work and riding, I enjoy kiteboarding, traveling, and watching hockey.


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Matt | March 21st, 2012

So… when is the Mamasita going to get them?

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Scott | March 21st, 2012

Very cool Pete - I just got my Selma frame yesterday, and think I’ll wait to build a wheelset with 142x12 rear!  Now - will you make an SS-specific version of the 142x12, or will I have to hack off the tab and “anodize” it with a felt-tip marker?  The good side of this is that I can start riding sooner if I use my old wheels…  :o)

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Luke | March 21st, 2012

Could this day get any better? 12x142 = awesome.  Now I can build an El Mariachi and swap wheels with my Spearfish 1.  It’s like you guys read my mind before I even had the idea.  Thanks and keep up the good work.

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Bob | March 22nd, 2012

Interesting. Seems like Fargo would want these, especially with Rohloff compatibility, doesn’t it?

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cmherron | March 22nd, 2012

I agree with Bob…  The Fargo seems like a great candidate.
Additionally, the VAYA should get these as well.  I run my Vaya as a single/dingle speed and I would LOVE to have the alternators give me the option to run a cassette or my single speed setup.

Maybe you should just put them on all of your non-race oriented bikes…!

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Evan Simula | March 22nd, 2012

fargo fargo fargo please

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Daniel | March 22nd, 2012

HOORAY!! I just set up my Mariachi with a Rohloff, and had to use a brake adaptor for the torque arm.  This new OEM 1 plate is a total game changer. Thanks so much for having this made!

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Tim H | March 23rd, 2012

Add this to the Casseroll while you’re at it!

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Jkersting | March 23rd, 2012

The alternators on my 2012 El Mariachi have been stellar. I’ve used every system out there and this is by far the best. Paragons are a close second. Eccentric bbs just seem obsolete. Best of all, lots of muddy rides and no creaks!!!!

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Bob | March 23rd, 2012

Comparison of the pictures above with the close-up of the Fargo dropouts shows that the Alternator would need to be yet again redesigned to include Fargo’s rack and fender eyelets. So maybe you’re not going there. But then, it would be a design adventure, and adventure is what you’re all about, right?

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Kevlar | March 25th, 2012

Any talk of belt drive compatibility?

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Gerco | March 27th, 2012

Any chance of putting these on the Fargo??  :-D

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Steve Jones | April 1st, 2012

Sounds great, good thinking to have this kind of versatility in the dropouts. Problem for me is that I’m not tall and I need a 26” bike to allow enough room for moving around while riding trails. Despite what the specs always say for 29er bikes, in reality , they don’t give enough stand over, (Yes, even with sloping top tubes)  they are too tall for people around 5’ 4” in height. A lot of us. And the Salsa line up is almost all 29”.  So…... I decided to build a Surly Troll instead which also gives me the option of using V brakes which I like.
Salsa seems to have decided everyone wants discs and 29” wheels! Nope.
So I hope you’ll think about being adventurous and brave enough to come up with a 650b size frame now that they are fashionable. how about it?
Love the alternator though. Wish my Rohloff equipped tourer had it.

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zach | April 1st, 2012

IGH alternator dropouts on the fargo would be sweet!

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Val Garou | April 18th, 2012

It’s true.  This option for the Fargo would get me to cut a check the day it was announced.

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dave c | April 24th, 2012

+1 on the fargo

i need a new commuter and you know i ain’t giving up my igh

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Medo | May 1st, 2012

Marv Shapiro - Well done.  Keep up the good work. As my most recent song/video seicetlon on FB suggests, you can only go so far on your bike.  Your foundation is your family, and your primary goal is not miles, but your family’s love for you and you for them.  Love, Uncle Marvie.

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Kasara | May 24th, 2012

More photos!  This is great, Steve, almost as good as the photos you sent me when you were making my guitar.  That Hauser looks like it could fill an auditorium all by itself.  The Ganz-Bernabe looks like a younger cousin to mine…  Keep the blog going!

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Colin | May 29th, 2012

When will we see the Alternator on a Ti El Mariachi? I’d love the option of running gears or IGH.

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Brian | June 19th, 2012

Will the 142 x 12 dropouts be included with the Selma Ti going forward or can these be purchased seperately?

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Eric | July 10th, 2012

I, too, would love to see these on the El Mariachi Ti. I’m ready to buy one - the only thing holding me back is the lack of Alternator dropouts. My other option is the Ridgeline-SL, but I really want to go Salsa.

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fit insoles | September 23rd, 2012

Not many blogs that contain such consistently readable and informative content as is on offer on yours, you deserve the miniscule amount of time it takes to express my
admiration at your work. Thank you.

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Kurt | October 4th, 2012

I am in no way bashing the progressiveness of salsa products and their ability to get us to farther places easier. If you guys offered the el mariachi with belt drive capability plus these awesome drop outs, the bike would be perfect!  I hope this happens!

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Scott | March 8th, 2013

Yet another request to add Alternator dropouts to the Fargo for use with IGHs (especially Rohloff).  Paragon has rocker dropouts with rack and fender mounts, so I assume that it would not be too hard for Salsa to add them to the Alternator.

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Lipozene Reviews | April 26th, 2013

Hi there I really like your blog. I am going to subscribe, so I can learn more. I can’t wait to receive updates through e-mail.
Lipozene Reviews

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richnyc | May 29th, 2013

Yet another request to add Alternator dropouts to the Fargo for use with IGHs (especially Rohloff)

^^^^ What he said!!!!

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Michael | June 5th, 2013

I ride a 2013 Mariachi 3. So far I like the bike a lot. Iam wondering what are the effects of playing with the alternator dropout? shorter chain stay=more agile bike? is longer better for long distances? Do you recommend shortening the chain if I shorten my dropout?

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Laura | June 10th, 2013

Could you tell me a little more about the reason #1, “quickly and easily converting to singlespeed” to get myself home? I ride in the San Juan Mountains and would like to start bikepacking, or taking my mountain bike adventures to a new level. I have some knowledge of bike repair; but I have never converted a geared bike to singlespeed. Know of any manuals, blogs or youtube videos that could teach me how to take full advantage of the alternator dropouts? Thanks!

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Clint | May 21st, 2014

Ditto Laura’s comment.  I bought the El Mariachi to bikepack the San Juans and I’d like to see instructions for how to use it in an emergency situation.

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mike | August 4th, 2014

Just shorten the chain and tension it with the swinging dropout and you have a single speed!

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