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  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Nov 2010

    Salsa El Mar 2 need some opinions

    So I'm contemplating purchasing a 2013 Salsa El Mar 2. To set a back drop here I'm currently racing and riding a Niner Air 9 Carbon dream bike....This bike is stiff, light, fast and just sexy as hell. Set up with almost the exact same drive train and front sus as the El Mar 2. But its kinda like dating that super high maintenance chick, you only date her cause she is hot but she's a real pain in the @$$. Internal routing is of the devil and every time I turn around i'm dumping more $$$ into this bike.

    I've only ever rode alum and carbon when it comes to mtn bikes, but i'm a new dad now and looking for a bike to go the long haul instead of upgrading every two years. Guess I just want some opinions on if this El Mar 2 will be a solid racer and if Steel is as "Real" as "they" say it is! I probably would give up about 3lbs on total build weight vs my Niner with hopes of throwing on i9's on the El Mar later.

  2. #2
    mtbr member
    Reputation: mjc_n_tucson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    I have a 2011 El Mar SS rigid. I can see it being a race bike. Yeah, it will not be very light, but it is comfortable, stable, and great for that long mileage. I can move in My El Mar, but it is not as snappy as my Mamasita. It doesn't accelerate like my Sita. However, I noticed I nail sharp turns with a little more ease on my El Mar vs my Sita. I feel that the El Mar is a little better balanced. (This could be because of the rigid fork too..) I had a carbon specialized expert stumpy and I sold it because I prefered the ride quality much more of my Sita. Personally, if you are dead set on a El Mar, I would build it up as a 1x and depending on where you race, with a rigid fork too. This will save you a lot of weight. If you want something with a little more snap, then check out the Mamasita. Yes, it is aluminum, but IMO, it is very well designed alum frame. My buddy has a Carbon Air 9 with a Sid fork and I took a spin on it at a local trail. It was a nice handling bike for sure. Honestly though, I wouldn't say it had much better ride quality characteristics then my Sita or my El Mar for that matter. The El Mar will be last you a while, plus if you ever want to go SS, you can without dumping to much money into it.

  3. #3
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    I've got an El Mar 2 (2013) and totally love it. Was coming off a 3 year hiatus without a 29er, riding my old steel Ala Carte (26" Salsa) rigid. Thought it would take me some time to adjust, but not at all. Rides great. Definitely a bit portly, but then again, so am I, so who cares.
    Can't compare it to your Air9C, but sounds like we have similar builds in mind. I always build/buy bikes for the long haul, and the El Mar is no different. Seems like it'll hold up for a long time, and I'm a big dude. Heck, on my second ride, I ate shit and crashed into a tree, separating my shoulder. Bike was fine!

  4. #4
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    May 2006
    I have a 2012 El Mar 2 that I bought as complete bike. If I had it to do over again, I'd definitely just buy the frame because I wasted a lot of money replacing parts on the stock 2 build I couldn't deal with (stem was too long, x-7 shifters just aren't as smooth as x-9's, wheels too heavy, different tire preference, prefer shimano brakes, etc.) and selling the stock parts for used for way less.

    The El Mariachi frame, however, is awesome. For steel it feels pretty responsive, but feels much more comfortable at high speeds on rough trails than any carbon or alloy ht frame I've ever ridden. I raced on mine for a while, though I have to confess that for racing I did grow tired of the extra weight and lack of super responsive pedal feel and recently built a Niner alloy race bike. An alloy or carbon frame just feels more like a race bike to me, but my Niner is much more harsh feeling on rough descents - enough of a difference that I can definitely descend faster with more control on the El Mariachi. So, like most things in life, it is a trade off. I love my El Mariachi, but overall it is not my choice as a geared race bike. I'm currently rebuilding mine as a rigid SS.

  5. #5
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    I've been riding aluminum framed mtn. bikes since the mid-90's. I recently got an El Mar for my wife and a a Krampus for me. Both are steel framed bikes. I last rode a steel framed bike in 1993. There's just something about steel that feels so right. Yes, the weight is more, but the feedback... the compliance... the forgiveness are wonderful by-products of that material.
    The El Mar comes nicely equipped for the money... and you won't have to fuss with it like your race bike. It should be a great all-arounder for what you seek. You will become a Salsa fan very quickly.

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