Modernizing an El Mariachi Hardtail - How to slacken the headtube angle, and how slack to go?

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Modernizing an El Mariachi Hardtail - How to slacken the headtube angle, and how slack to go?
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Posted: Apr 12, 2021 at 12:49 Quote
I'm in Michigan, where hills aren't very large for going up or going down. Steel is still real - and I'm riding a 2015 Large Salsa El Mariachi. I've always found the ride quality of the bike strange, especially going downhill. What I've been doing is modernizing the geometry by setting the bike up to mimic modern hardtails (like the Kona Honzo).

I got a short stem and wider bar, changed the cockpit, added a dropper etc. It's now more comfortable and fun to ride, but it still is twitchy on the descent.

I was thinking of slackening the head tube angle to give the bike more stability descending. The question is, how should I do that, and how much? The current head tube angle is 71 degrees with a 100mm fork installed. Full geo specs are here.

Option 1: Works Components Angle Adjust Headset. Comes in 1, 1.5, and 2 degree changes, but not adjustable.

Option 2: Add a 120 mm fork. The extra 20 mm should feel like a 1 degree slackening of the headtube. Greater offset will create more trail, which should also make it more stable.

Option 3: All of the above.

How should I go about making this decision? How slack do I want this old school bike? Option 3 would let me get to an 68 degree head tube angle feel, but I have no idea what that would be like on a bike with somewhat long chain-stays and a slacker seat tube. Has anyone done this?

Posted: Apr 12, 2021 at 15:22 Quote
I would say to make a noticeable difference you should go with option 3. You may already be aware of this but there a few other geometry changes that will take place. When you install the angleset, you will lose a bit of reach but also lower your BB ,lengthen your wheelbase and steepen your seat tube angle. Some of these may be barely noticeable or cancel each other out.

Posted: Apr 12, 2021 at 15:34 Quote
Angleset is only about $80, so I'd start there and see how it feels.

I did that on my 2017 Jamis DragonSlayer (originally 68° hta, 73° sta , 445mm cs) and it feels so much better. It was also super easy with a $30 press off Amazon.

Posted: Apr 13, 2021 at 6:29 Quote
Given the relatively "low" cost of hardtails, would it make more sense just to throw down a couple hundred dollars more at a new frame with more contemporary geometry?

Posted: Apr 13, 2021 at 7:25 Quote
maxxx wrote:
Given the relatively "low" cost of hardtails, would it make more sense just to throw down a couple hundred dollars more at a new frame with more contemporary geometry?

Perhaps it would...but such frames are actually hard to come by at the moment. And when you think about it - if this plan doesn't work - then I'm only out the cost of a headset and will just swap all my parts over to a new frame whenever I feel like it. It is also just an interesting challenge to see if I can figure out what geo I'd like to be riding.

Posted: Apr 13, 2021 at 8:34 Quote
DJ-24 wrote:
I would say to make a noticeable difference you should go with option 3. You may already be aware of this but there a few other geometry changes that will take place. When you install the angleset, you will lose a bit of reach but also lower your BB ,lengthen your wheelbase and steepen your seat tube angle. Some of these may be barely noticeable or cancel each other out.

Yeah, I'm aware (although hadn't really considered BB height, as I've been preoccupied with rider position on seat and bars, so thanks for that). Do you have any idea what would be good numbers to aim for? I can always try the headset first and then go for the fork later...

Posted: Apr 14, 2021 at 7:53 Quote
I would aim for the full 2 degrees with the angleset to make a noticeable difference. Also, if you don't want the extra 20mm of travel and cost of a fork, Reverse Components makes a crown race spacer that is 10mm tall and will take away another.5 degree.

Posted: Apr 14, 2021 at 18:17 Quote
Nice! I've never heard of that crown race spacer...I'll look into it.

Posted: Apr 14, 2021 at 21:29 Quote
DJ-24 wrote:
Reverse Components makes a crown race spacer that is 10mm tall and will take away another.5 degree.

That's cool, thanks. Too bad it's a pain to get in the US. I spent half of today trying to track one down. All the distributers I could find here are out. Cheapest shipping I found was through bikeinn ($10, Spanish co., I think? I ordered some rock climbing stuff from them a few years ago), for anyone looking. But I ate it and ordered one. Since the part itself is only $15 the total's not too bad.

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