Gravel Grinder News: Salsa Cycles Debuts Journeyman Bikes- by Guitar Ted
Salsa Cycles has been developing their gravel bike designs for a long time now, arguably longer than any company has. The La Cruz steel bikes, La Cruz Titanium, and the venerable Vaya all had at least a part of their DNA derived from their engineer’s and product design team’s time on gravel and racing gravel. Obviously that background drove the design and ultimate introduction of their gravel racing bike, the Warbird, in 2012 and greatly informed the design cues for the Cutthroat. So when Salsa Cycles introduces a new bike in the genre, you’d better pay attention.
Enter The Journeyman: Today Salsa Cycles pulls the curtain back on a line of bikes that will open the brand up to a wider audience of gravel enthusiasts, multi-surface/multi-task cyclists, and those who maybe are looking for a workhorse to compliment their fancy carbon gravel racer. Salsa is dubbing the range with the name “Journeyman”, which speaks to the intentions of the bikes. Coming in at either $1099.00USD for a Shimano Sora equipped bike or $899.00USD for a Shimano Claris equipped model with models available in flat bar or drop bar configurations, the Journeyman should be an attractive choice in a well thought out gravel bike for gravel riding enthusiasts. Models will also be offered with 700c X 37mm shod wheels and some in 650B X 2.1″ rubber. There is a lot going on here, so let’s break it down for you…..
650B Models: The 650B models will come equipped in either Shimano Sora in drop bar or Shimano Claris in drop bar or flat bar models. The wheels and tires that come as stock will be Formula hubs laced to WTB STP i23 rims which will be TCS (tubeless ready) and will have WTB Nano 2.1 rubber mounted. The tires will not be tubeless ready, by the way, as Salsa wanted to keep the prices down on these models.
Flat bar 650B are not offered in the range topping Sora group. The color for the flat bar model is black. The drop bar models are Blue (actually more of a nice teal color) and Olive. Paint jobs have a nice depth and richness to them, (Yes- we’ve seen one) All feature the nice details in the paint like script “Journeyman” decals and details on the fork crown area. The graphics are tasteful and very understated.
700c Models: The Journeyman is also coming in 700c wheels shod with WTB Riddler 37mm tires. The wheel spec is very similar to the 650B wheels with the obvious diameter difference and the use of the WTB STP i19 rim, which is a bit narrower than the i23 the 650B bikes will have. Once again, the rims are tubeless ready but the tires are not. By the way, component spec is the same whether you get the flat bar or drop bar with the obvious exception of shifters (Claris flat bar) and brake levers, which are flat bar specific on the flat bar options.
The Sora drop bar bike is in White while the Claris Drop Bar bike is Orange and the flat bar Claris Journeyman is in Copper. That color being very reminiscent of the old Drop Bar Deadwood.
Frame Details And Geometry: Of course, any bike design lives and dies by its design and the Journeyman benefits here from Salsa Cycles’ long line of adventure and gravel bicycle design cues. The Three Pack bosses on the forks are an obvious nod to Salsa’s “adventure by bike” past. The forks vary on the bikes, by the way. The Sora models get carbon forks while the Claris models get aluminum forks. The forks also feature a center mount on the front of the fork crown for a light or front rack and there are fender mounts as well. Both the carbon and alloy forks will have these features.
The frame, made from aluminum alloy, will feature three water bottle mounts each, one on the seat tube and one on the top of the down tube with another underneath the down tube. Rack and fender mounts exist and look to provide easy installment of most racks and fenders. Salsa also included the hard mounts for a “gas tank” style top tube bag on all models. Brakes are flat mount type on all models. Frames also feature tidy looking internal routing with an exposed run of full length housing at the chain stays for the brakes and rear derailleur respectively. The bottom bracket is a threaded square taper cartridge unit here. Wheel/tire clearances are huge on the Journeyman. The 650B set up will accommodate tires up to 2.2″ wide and the 700c limit is up to 50mm. (!) Of course, rim choices may affect this and not all rim/tire combinations will accommodate this width spec, so some common sense will have to be applied if anyone thinks of substituting in different wheels and tires. I was assured that the popular “Road Plus” 650B X 47mm size was okay to use in these bikes.
Geometry is impressive. Salsa is using a low-ish bottom bracket with 72mm bottom bracket drop across the range. Head tube angles are positively slack for a gravel category bike at 70.5° across the range and this is coupled with 50mm offset forks. Stability seems to be the name of the game here as the chain stay length is coming in at 440mm. In an atmosphere where many companies are setting out cross bike geometry or aggressively short and steep geometry for the gravel category the Journeyman’s numbers seem to be a polar opposite here. Also worth noting here is that the flat bar bikes have a different geometry than the drop bar bikes in terms of front/center and stack height numbers. Salsa also uses a different sizing scheme for the flat bar bikes which is more like the sizing table you might see for a mountain bike. The drop bar bikes use traditional road bike sizing in centimeters.
What We Think: The new Journeyman range is another nod by Salsa Cycles to the first time buyer or to those who have wanted to be Salsa customers but often found their bikes to be just beyond reach. That said, while the Timberjack was a bit of a let down in terms of spec, these Journeyman bikes make a bit more sense with their fully featured frames and decent component spec. The choice to offer flat bar models is curious. While we have noted that some flat bar gravel bikes do exist, the extent of that market is not known. Then there is the “is it a mountain bike or hybrid bike?” conversation that we’re sure a lot of bewildered consumers will be having with salespeople.
This strikes us as a bike that the enthusiast might pick up as a second rig for training, Winter riding, or for foul weather use. It also appeals to those who like to upgrade a bike from stock, and we are sure that this will be happening. By the way, there is no frame only option for the Journeyman, just in case you were wondering. Salsa did not publish any weights for these bikes, but I did get an up close and personal look at the teal (Salsa calls it Blue) 650B drop bar bike in a size 54cm and myself and another man hefted it and we guess about mid-twenties pounds, which is not out of line for a bike that costs just north of a grand and is shod with 2.1 inch tubed tires. So, up-graders may expect to see significant weight saving potential in the Journeyman.
Journeyman bikes are already hitting select dealers and should be on their showroom floors today. The bikes are also being featured today at the Land Run 100 headquarters at District Cycles in Stillwater, Oklahoma. For more details on Journeyman bikes see www.salsacycles.com .
Note: Some information and all images used for this post was provided by Salsa Cycles.