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Frame, capacity, design, versatility
Wheelset, paint job
The Salsa journeyman is a remarkable gravel grinder that consists of rich features to provide you with a high-performance that will bring a new meaning of fun to your off-road expeditions. It is comfortable, stable, and a joy to ride; and despite having a modest price tag, it comes with the specifications to rival pricier models in the market.
When it comes to off-road riding, there’s nothing like cruising on a new gravel bike.
These powerful two-wheelers turn the struggles of taking on those rough backcountry terrain and uneven trails into a breeze, ensuring that you get a comfortable and satisfying biking experience.
However, this will only be the case if you find the right bike to take you on the adventure.
With so many brands and models available in the market, finding the ideal bike can be a headache, especially if you are not cognizant with the features of a quality tough terrain bicycle.
To save you all the trouble, we will do a review of the Salsa Journeyman, an off-road machine that has tongues in the biking world wagging.
Let us put it to the test by delving into the various specifications and overall performance it offers.
How does it stack up against the competition? Is it worth spending your hard-earned cash on? Continue reading to find out…
FRAME: Hydro-formed aluminum alloy frame
BRAKE TYPES: Promax DSK-330R flat mount 160mm
SHIFTER: Shimano Sora
RIMS:Formula 32h, 100m, WTB STP
TIRES: WTB Riddler 700 by 37mm Comp
The Salsa Journeyman is built around a hydro-formed aluminum alloy frame, to go with a carbon front fork, giving this adventure bike the toughness it needs for the rough off-road conditions.
Its Salsa Cowbell handlebars are a nice entry into drop bars, coming in with a minimal reach that allows your hands to melt smoothly in the Sora hoods.
The 12-degree flare on the bars results in a comfortable geometry that gives you a natural feeling when you go for a ride.
This bike has a long wheelbase that handles well when descending downhill, resulting in a smooth and stable ride as it glides over the tiny bumps.
If you are planning a multi-day adventure, the Salsa journeyman has you covered.
The ready-for-anything frame comes with numerous mounts that can carry all manner of water bottles, racks, and adventure tools from the front to the rear.
Furthermore, the fork features mounts for "Salsa’s Anything Cages " that can carry light bags and extra-large water bottles.
You also get front and rear mounts on this bike, meaning you can run through puddles without spluttering water or mud on your pants.
The journeyman is available in five different frame sizes that range from 50cm to 59.5cm.
These will comfortably accommodate a rider height of between 152-190 cm, ensuring that you won’t miss the ideal fit for your size.
Overall, the bike has a well-balanced geometry that will make things easy for you on both single track and meandering trails.
Its internal cable routing system only sweetens the deal for this exciting gravel grinder.
The journeyman comes equipped with Promax DSK-330R mechanical disk brakes, which I feel have relatively low-end cable-actuated mechanisms, but still, get the job done.
The brakes have enough power to bring the bike to a stop when you need them to, so you’ll have all the rider confidence you need when descending those steep slopes.
The mechanical disk brakes pairing with the shallow-drop Salsa Cowbell handlebar should enable you to ride longer in descents without any dramatic changes in position.
The Shimano Sora shifters on this bike have been paired with a 9-speed Shimano drivetrain that provides you with the right speed for the different terrains.
The shifter levers shift smoothly and naturally, adding to the joy of riding the Salsa journeyman.
This bike is available in several build options that feature either 700c or 650b wheels.
It has been designed in such a way to accommodate either size, giving you the luxury of choosing a wheelset that you prefer.
This also means that you can always switch between the two whenever you feel like.
Having said that, the journeyman uses WTB TCS rims that are tubeless-ready and will roll down easily on the unforgiving terrain.
They are durable enough to take the beating that comes with biking off-road.
However, I must say that the wheelset is relatively heavy and might slow you down a bit if you are carrying luggage for your adventure.
The WTB Riddler 700 by 37mm tires provide you with great traction on all kinds of surfaces.
Whether you are riding on loose dirt, gravel, or mud, the cornering grip will keep you stable on your bike and give you the control needed to exploit any territory with confidence.
These are responsive, quick, and efficient, allowing you to get out and fly when you want to.
Thanks to the wide tire clearance on the Salsa journeyman’s frame, you have the opportunity to go with bigger 700 by 50mm tires for your riding pleasure.
Alternatively, you can switch to 650b wheels and try on some 2.2” mountain bike tires.
The only issue is that just like the wheels, the tires are also heavy, so this might not be good news for small-bodied riders.
Salsa Journeyman Line
The Salsa Journeyman is available in three models; including the Sora (Which we’re reviewing), the Apex 1, and the Claris. All these are available in both 650b and 700c wheel and tire options to fit your different tastes.
If you don’t fancy the drop bar design on the journeyman, there is a flat bar build that Salsa provides in both 700c and 650b. Not only is the bar completely different, but the frame also features a flat bar specific geometry.
What We Like
The Salsa Journeyman ticks on so many fronts and this is what makes it a force to reckon with in the off-road bike scene.
First off, the bike is very pleasing to the eye. It has a cool design with unique drop bars, which blend in well with subtle white on the frame and black on the tires.
This bike lives up to its name by providing you with enough capacity to go on a multi-day adventure.
Its huge frame is fitted with multiple mounts where you can carry water bottles, tools, bags, and other accessories you may need for your trip. All this capacity makes it the perfect bike for the ultimate “journeyman”.
The ergonomics on this bike are spot on right from the very get-go. The aluminum frame and carbon fork, as well as the Salsa Cowbell handlebars, work to provide a stable and comfortable feel on the bike.
This makes the Journeyman a dependable partner to have on the harsh terrain.
The wheels on the bike are stable enough to handle the rough backcountry trails. And the same is true for the tires, which have cornering grip to give you the rider confidence to take on steep descents and meandering paths.
At 367mm, the Salsa journeyman has quite a short reach; shorter than the compact Specialized Sequoia (387.1mm). This helps to put most of its riders in an upright position while keeping the bike maneuverable.
Finally, Salsa designed this bike to offer immense versatility. It was built with wide tire clearance and can take either 700c or 650b wheels, which will handle great on all kinds of surfaces.
Whether you are riding on dirt roads, loose gravel, or slippery grass, you can expect the same kind of quality performance.
What We Don't Like
The paint on the bike’s frame is not the greatest quality you can get. A few bumps and scratches and you may notice minor chips coming off. Luckily, the frame is made out of aluminum alloy so you need not worry about rust.
The wheelset and tires may prove to be quite heavy for riders with a small body. This can pose a challenge for those setting out on an adventure that requires a significant amount of luggage.
What Users Say
Verified Purchase on REI - Jan, 2020
Verified Purchase on REI - Jan 2021
The Salsa journeyman is a high-performance gravel bike that offers the kind of versatility to take you on multiple kinds of off-road adventures. It is designed with rich features that make it suitable for gravel riding, bike packing, and other rugged terrain experiences.
The best part is that you don’t have to spend the big bucks to get your hands on this functional gravel bike. I wouldn’t think twice about recommending it to any avid adventurer looking for a reliable two-wheeler.
Salsa has earned a deserved reputation for producing fun and quirky bikes that enhance the feel of biking in the backcountry.
This is quite evident from bikes like the Journeyman, which makes off-road expeditions something that you look forward to.
Despite being one of the least expensive models in the brand, this bike is still stable, comfortable, good-looking, and comes with all the features you’d need in an off-road machine.
Whether you are going on a multi-day adventure, gravel grinding, or simply touring within… the Salsa Journeyman will be good to go!