dirt tourer for mtn biking or mtn bike for touring (ogre vs el mariachi)- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    dirt tourer for mtn biking or mtn bike for touring (ogre vs el mariachi)

    Hi all. I am a longtime lurker on this site but this is my first post since its my first real bike purchasing dilemma. I currently only own a steel frame road bike but I am really excited to get into mountain biking. However, my plan for this summer is to tour for 4-6 months down the length of South America sticking to dirt roads as much as I can. Due to the duration and climate changes of the trip I don't think I can get away with a bikepacking setup (i.e I'll need panniers) but I do plan on using a frame bag and a handlebar bag. Additionally, I plan on using a suspension fork for all my mountain biking (except for on this trip)

    I can only buy one bike, and for the same price (<$1500) I can get a Surly Ogre or a Salsa El Mariachi with basically identical components. Obviously the El Mar will kill it on the single track and the ogre will kill it on the loaded touring, but which will do the other best?

    I am leaning towards the el mar (with a fargo fork for touring) because I have only heard great things about how it rides on trails, but my worry is that it will not be able to handle the rigors of loaded touring, especially if I'm forced to run an alternator rack due to the salsa dropouts. On the other hand, I know the ogre will tour fantastically but I rarely see pictures of them with suspension forks. I am also worried it could be a bit less fun and more to handle on single track since its a heavy stiff(er?) frame.

    Can those in the know either help affirm or contradict my feelings on this? Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Sounds like a great trip. I'd go El Mar for the reasons you already mentioned. Speaking as someone who started touring with a bob, then four Ortliebs, then two Ortliebs, then bikepacking stuff, I'd say if the El Mar encourages you to pack a little lighter, then good riddance to the extra baggage.

  3. #3
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    To be clear, both bikes are mountain bikes. The Ogre simply has more mounts and a stouter tube set.

    This biggest disadvantage of the Ogre is the non-tapered headtube. If it had one it would be the better choice (or if they would put the frickin rack mounts back on the KM), but without, and everything else considered, the El Mar will be a better buy.

    I also don't think they make the Fargo fork anymore. It was replaced with the Firestarter, which has a slightly longer axle to crown measurement.

    Have fun.

  4. #4
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    If you are interested in the El Mar (which I think is a great choice), hold off for a bit if you can. Just sayin. 😉
    "The only way we can truly control the outcome of a ride is not going on it, which is a choice I'm unwilling to make." -K.B.

  5. #5
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    dirt tourer for mtn biking or mtn bike for touring (ogre vs el mariachi)

    I have been riding and loving my El Mar for 3 years now and can't say enough great things about it. You can run a rack but options are more limited. I have an Old Man Mountain rack that mounts thru the axle and with p-clips to the seat stays. Salsa also makes the Alternator rack which is designed for that dropout configuration. You can get a seat post collar from Salsa that has mounts for the upper portion of the rack (which could be used instead of p-clips) The El Mar can definitely handle a hefty touring load so aside from the rack issue, that should not be a concern.

    I have never ridden an Ogre but just wanted to tout the touring prowess of the El Mariachi. The versatility to set it up in various configurations is another feature I love. I have run it suspended, rigid, SS and swapped wheel sets/tire sizes. Every set up feels great. That and it is an immensely comfortable ride.

    I think you will be happy with either to be honest but I am a thoroughly satisfied El Mar owner.

    Oh and I have the steel firestarter fork on there now which has copious mounts for all kinds of things (rack, anything cages and water bottle cages). I absolutely love the rigid setup which replaced an 80mm Reba. With a 3.0 tire up front I feel just as comfy.

    Good luck!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  6. #6
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    thanks for all the quick responses! What was mentioned was exactly was I was hoping to hear about the El Mar as far as touring capability goes. 4/4 responses plus my gut feeling couldn't be wrong so that's what I went with. ...Plus a good deal on a barely-ridden demo didn't hurt either. Can't wait to get on it and see how fun it is! Maybe I'll post some pics once I get it fully set up for adventuring! Thanks again

  7. #7
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    For whatever its worth. . .
    I would really want the ogre for the trip.

    The El Mar is going to be a noodle with 4 panniers. People tried to tell me the same stuff when I was looking at the Crosscheck vs the Long Haul Trucker. I went with the CC and it is a turd heavy panniers on it. It is all over the place. Really has a hard time tracking and responding to power input.

    That being said, I love riding my CC and El Mar when using them as a fastish day tripper and an all day mountain bike respectively.

    I really like the ride of the Mariachi compared to my Karate Monkey too. Nothing wrong with the monkey, just the El Mar feels springier and is more forgiving. I weigh 165 at 6' for a reference.

    So if the trip is the point of the bike, Ogre. If the trip just happens to be something that you will do with your dedicated mountain bike, then El Mar.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by caleep View Post
    Due to the duration and climate changes of the trip I don't think I can get away with a bikepacking setup
    Check out Cass Gilbert's blog.

    Blog | While Out Riding | Dirt road cycling adventures across the Americas and beyond

    He's done lots of extended SA dirt touring using light bikepacking setups both with no panniers and will UL panniers. The key takeaway from reading his blog is all that extra gear you think you need will limit your route choices and make you stick to the tame terrain.

    Going light will really open up the possibilities of where it's fun to go with a bike.

    He's a friendly guy and will reply to comments/emails if you want to bounce some SA touring ideas off him.

    You may have to dig back a bit in the blog to get to the lighter setups as some of his recent trips were family oriented with a young kid and the extra stuff to support the family.
    Safe riding,

    Vik
    www.vikapproved.com

  9. #9
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    It takes quite a lot of planning to do extended periods with ultra light bike packing bags and equipment. I did 3 1/2 weeks in western oz at the end of 2014, loosely based on the Munda Biddi trail with plenty of detours. I mailed dried food ahead from Perth and did it in late winter early spring when water was available without having to cart kilos of the stuff.
    Not including water I reckon I can carry about 5 days +emergency with my current bag only setup, 2 +if I have to carry water.
    I don't know much about South America but to my limited knowledge for a varied trip where you will be taking in a lot of extended dirt road stuff with Long distances between resupply You would probably want something that will has the potential to carry 30kg ish. If I were going for a 6 month trip to a new part of the third world My choice would be heavy duty dirt tourer, my tubus racks and ortlieb front and back roller classic panniers.
    So my bike choice would be the ogre or troll, with the stiffness to carry largish loads, I have a Soma double cross, above 20lb total load it is scary flexi.

    I would also have a frame bag as it is so damn useful, also take a seat bag and bar roll. When the opportunity presents itself you can ditch the racks and go ride single track.

    I do agree with VikB though, the urge to fill your space up has to be resisted, regardless of the space available

  10. #10
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    How about the Fargo? You can get suspension fork for it. Drop bars aren't for everyone, but it is nice to have options for hand placement.

  11. #11
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    "The El Mar is going to be a noodle with 4 panniers. People tried to tell me the same stuff when I was looking at the Crosscheck vs the Long Haul Trucker. I went with the CC and it is a turd heavy panniers on it. It is all over the place. Really has a hard time tracking and responding to power input.

    So if the trip is the point of the bike, Ogre. If the trip just happens to be something that you will do with your dedicated mountain bike, then El Mar.[/QUOTE]"

    ^ This is key. 4 panniers for me is out of the question. I am a light rider (~150 lbs) and I am planning on using a handlebar harness that will carry my tent and sleeping bag, a frame bag, and two light panniers in the back... so hopefully the bike will be able to handle it without too much of a problem.

    I have done an extended tour Canada to Mexico, albeit on paved roads, using only two rear panniers, and I don't anticipate having to bring too much more than I did for that trip, besides some extra spare parts and a few items of clothing for when I stay in cities. I have also lightened my camping gear a bit since then, and I don't think I will have to go more than 3 days max without a resupply. Fingers crossed I will be able to take the weight off and do some day rides on some alpine singletrack while I'm down there.

    I bought an El Mar, picking it up today. So psyched!

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