Time to say “goodbye” to my venerable On-One Inbred 29er that has served me well for many year. Time to say “hello” to my bright Orange Salsa El Mariachi!
This started out as a frame swap. You know the sort of mental reasoning, cheap cost, very few new bits needed etc… I did keep the saddle, brakes and front chainring!
I saw the El Mariachi as a good general replacement for my singlespeed. The “Alternator” drop outs allow easy chain tensioning if being run singlespeed and chainstay length adjustment if running geared. The 2014 model features shorter chainstays than the 2013 model but unlike the new Horsethief and Spearfish it isn’t specifically designed to run with 51mm offset forks. As it happens the Manitous hedge their bets and offer 48mm offset, bang in the middle of the “normal” 44mm offset and the “Gary Fisher” 51mm.
Planning wasn’t going to be too spectacular, RockShox forks would be on the plan and a wheelset based on the Stan’s rims would be ideal with a hub to suit a bolt through axle. Sorted. So I now have a bike bike with Manitou Tower Pro forks and some rather lovely Halo Vapour 29er rims in silver. This Silver has set the theme for my “retro” colour scheme. Silver is retro because it was all silver when I started in the post purple anodising era.
Full build is as follows;
- Salsa El Mariachi Frame 18″
- Manitou Tower Pro forks 100mm, 15nn axle
- Halo Vapour 29er rims on Superstar Switch Evo Hubs
- Schwalbe Nobby Nic 2.35 front and rear
- On-One seat post (silver)
- On-One stem (silver)
- Bontrager carbon bars
- Superstar foam grips
- Shimano SLX calipers with XT lever, Staitline conversions (all old)
- Superstar Braided brake hose
- Specialized Avatar Saddle 155
- Uberbike components titanium headset spacers
- Superstar Titanium top cap
- various Ti bolts!
- Specialized white bottle holder
- Old XT cranks, hand stripped and polished (never again!)
- VeloSolo front 32T chainring
- Rear 20T sprocket and chain from VeloSolo
The build went together really well over about 2 months. “2 months” I hear you cry? Yes, I got a virus, or multiple viruses and ended up being very ill and run down for almost 3 months. Cathie got quite worried as the Salsa frame box sat in the hallway for hours, then days and finally weeks before I could even muster enough interest to put it in the garage.
Stripping whatever coating Shimano use on their cranks was another interesting process. Forget all the current eco-friendly (read fecking useless) paint strippers. I ended up dipping it in Caustic soda (don’t do this inside people!) which got most of it off, then a process of fine sanding paper and polish with the dremel got it to the state you see here.
The VeloSolo 32T ring also started out gold from the Inbred and got reverted to plain in the caustic bath. It won’t last in that state as aluminium is rather reactive but it’ll do for now and the odd polish with Autosol should keep it looking OK.
First ride was a “gentle” ride over to Epsom Downs and back with Kevin on his newly SS converted Specialized Stumpy. It took a lot out of me but I was getting the feel for the bike as well and it performed great in our muddy routes. Second ride took me over Ranmore and this was a lot more climbing that I might have been ready for on a mid-week evening ride. On less muddy trails I realised I needed to dial in the forks a bit more but the handling was feeling sharp, sharper than the Inbred.
So far so good, everything is working as it should, the frame feels compliant but the handling sharp. The dropouts are staying put keeping the chain tight. Sunday’s ride had me out for 26+ miles in terrible mud and I thoroughly enjoyed the bike. I’ll post some other reviews detailing the components and another El Mariachi review once I have had more mile son it and some “dry” miles (so… err… don’t expect it to be this side of May!)
More photos on Flickr