Salsa El Mariachi 2 Complete Bike - $1,998.95

Maybe you're an established rider that can spot a gimmick from a mile away. On the other hand, you could be a greenhorn climbing the mountain ranks. And if you're the later, purchasing a new bike can be daunting with the variety of components available today. Add on top of that a finely tuned, hook-line-and-sinker marketing world, and you find yourself struggling to tread water in the choice pool. However, one way to quickly cut through the fog is to comb over a manufacturer's specs, and not surprisingly, the Salsa El Mariachi 2 Complete Bike is a case study on how to do it right. Parts kits tell plenty about dedication to either the rider or the bottom line. Reflecting the ideal balance of frugality and quality, the Mariachi flirts with the $2k price point, but its numbers rival rigs that'd demand an additional Grover Cleveland to play. Do your homework and try to find another 29er at this price that comes with Stan's NoTube rims, triple-butted, size-specific tubing, and a tapered thru axle fork with rebound and lockout. But, if you do find something else with that criteria, there's still the drivetrain and cockpit where bean counters cut corners and hide cost-cutting measures. A notorious spot is opting for a triple crankset. They're readily available, but those are the same cranksets that you'll find on 26ers. Bigger wheels dont need the 42t outer ring -- it's redundant with the large wheel's roll-out. You'll find the correct tool for the job on the El Mariachi 2, though -- even if it meant cutting into Salsa's beer fund. Compared to a triple, the double SRAM S1000 crank with a 26/39t gearing gives you a reduced weight, a reduced complexity, a better chain line, and better ground clearance. This superior 29er crankset is connected via a KMC X10 chain to a SRAM PG-1050 11-36t cassette -- another spot where penny pinchers like to boost bottom lines. Instead of a cheap, full-steel cassette, the PG-1050 sports an aluminum carrier. - $1,998.95