Well after riding my trusty Kona Unit single speed now for about a year or so I really wished I had a 17 inch
frame instead of the 16 inch Kona Unit. So when a chance to buy a complete 2013 Salsa El Mariachi came about it did not take me long to decide to get it. It uses Salas unique sliding dropout system called the alternator which is very simple to use and trouble free , making chain adjustment very easy for single speeding apart from that its a light but strong frame set and comes complete for a nice mix of parts mainly Salas own brand bars, stem and seat post. Salsa spent extra money to get Formula ( the hub maker ) to make them a nice set of single speed hubs in gold with the Salsa logo etched into them and the hubs use good quality sealed bearings and the rear single speed cassette hub is totally silent and being a cassette hub you can easily change cogs to get the perfect gearing.
The El Mariachi also comes with Avid Elixr 5 hydraulic disck brakes, I have never used these before but loved my Avid BB7 mechanical brakes so will test them out to see how they preform, they are only an entry level brake set but as I am not a hard core racer they should easily stand up to bike packing trips no problem.
The front chain ring was an alloy 33t which is my favorite size chain ring so I swapped that out for my Surly stainless steel one of the same size and later on will replace the rear 18 T cassette cog for a 16 T stainless steel one instead. It comes with a good quality ally chain ring guard so I have left that on for protection
The nice Cane creek headset was taken out and replaced with my Chris King insert headset which is super smooth and the new Cane creek head set will be fitted to my old Kona which will be for sale soon at my shop.
The current rear cog as mentioned is only an 18T cheap steel cog, these type of steel cogs and stamped out when made and are very thin which in turn will cause damage to your cassette hub body. One you have figured out your perfect gear ratio spend a few dollars on a good quality single speed cassette cog, both Surly and Chris King make very nice single speed cogs that have a wider base which does not damage your cassette hub, they are also other companies making good quality cogs as well. But if you a running a stainless steel front chain ring with a stainless steel rear cog your drive train will last a lot longer than if using ally cogs. You can also see in the photo below Salsas sliding dropout system as well which they use on a wide variety of their bicycles.
So if you are in the market for a very well made single speed MTB, check out Salas El Mariachi as its perfect for a daily commuter or take it on a long bike packing adventure which I intend to do a lot of this year.