Gravel Grinder News: Salsa Cycles Debuts Journeyman Bikes

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.

The Salsa Cycles Journeyman is a range of flat bar and drop bar, multi-surface bikes that should serve many cyclists desires and needs without a huge investment in money.

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…..

Journeyman in Sora drop bar configuration

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.

The Journeyman Claris Flatbar 650B

Journeyman Claris Drop Bar 650B
The 700c Drop Bar Sora equipped Journeyman

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.

Orange is the color for the Journeyman Claris Drop Bar model here.


The Copper of this Journeyman Claris 700c model reminds one of the Deadwood Drop Bar bike of a few years ago.

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.

But besides that oddity, the Journeyman seems like a really good deal to us. The price is the thing here and what you get for that price. Call it “value for the dollar” or “bang for the buck“, but Salsa has packed in a lot of versatility into a very attractive price point here. The geometry is spot on for its intended audience and the bikes have a nice, handsome look to them which should appeal to a wide range of riders. Often times bicycles at this level have to serve a lot of purposes, so Salsa was wise to dial in all the choices folks can make in terms of use and outfitting the bike after purchase. While some of the spec and design choices will baffle or turn off many “bike nerds” out there, this bike wasn’t necessarily designed to appeal to them. An example of that would be the non-tubeless tires on tubeless ready wheels. Many people in this price range are not tubeless users, and those that are hip probably will have their own rubber choices in mind, so why waste a higher priced tire on speculation that it will be a hit?

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 .

Note: Some information and all images used for this post was provided by Salsa Cycles.


Author: Guitar Ted

Guitar Ted hails from Iowa. Home of over 70,000 miles of gravel and back roads. An inaugural member of the Gravel Cycling Hall of Fame and Co-creator of Trans Iowa in late 2004- Guitar Ted has been at the forefront of the growth of gravel events and riding since then. Creator of Gravel Grinder News in 2008, he produced the premier calendar of gravel and back road events. GT joined forces with Riding Gravel in late 2014.

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17 thoughts on “Gravel Grinder News: Salsa Cycles Debuts Journeyman Bikes

  1. Salsa quality seems going down hill continuously. Those new line looks like worse quality of welding and dropouts than before. Do they change the manufacture in Taiwan to China?

    1. Agreed. These look like a step up from $600 department store bikes. Since when are cheap hybrid bikes “gravel bikes”? The geometry and lines are horrible. I guess someone needs to make 5000 % profit margin.

  2. I applaud the desire to have more approachable price point but f@$k, I was really hoping for a steel warbird.

    1. Yeah why the hell is this not steel? I feel like aluminum does not bode well for comfort on the types of roads this is intended for.

      1. @Andrew Ahern @Kenny Cyphers- Why not steel? Hmm……. Vaya? And as well, steel actually costs more to produce. (Mostly due to the fact that Asian factories aren’t set up to do lots of steel frames anymore like they are with Alloy) It would have blown the price points out of the water.

        And……while I am assuming none of us have ridden a Journeyman yet, I can say that not all aluminum rides horribly, and that goes for frames at this price level as well. (A Fuji I tested a few years back comes to mind here) While it may not have the best ride quality, it has to be remembered we are talking an entry point bike here- not a bike with lots of high tech tubing. It is what it is, a bike that gets you out there for not a lot of cash. Some compromises were made along the way to hit a price point. That’s why it isn’t going to ride like a Checkpoint or a Warbird. I think that makes sense for this bike’s intentions.

      2. This bike comes with pretty wide tires (2.1″ for 650b). With tires this wide, on a blind test it will be pretty difficult to tell the difference between good steel and aluminum frames.

  3. Salsa has posted the weight of the bikes in their website. Size 55.5 sora 650b build is 26lbs. Initially, I was a bit surprised by such a hefty weight for a bike with carbon forks and aluminum frame. But, looking at those heavy 2.1″ tire with inner tubes, square taper BB, straight gauge spoke wheels, sora groupset… the weights add up. You are right, a lot of this weight can be reduced if you are looking to upgrade.

    Also, this bike looks very similar to the Fuji Jari. Alu frame, mounts, slack head angles, longish chain stays and low BB height. And the small Fuji jari has head angles from 70.5 to 71 degree and 48 offset. Jari has pretty attractive price point with better components.

    I am really excited that we have such versatile bikes at these price points.

  4. Sheesh! Seems like everywhere I look on the internet people are complaining about the material and welds on an entry level bike that they may, or may not even be in the market for. WTF is that about? And the steel Warbird comment has come up more than once too. Because people don’t see any other options out there besides Salsa?… Wow, just wow.

    1. @Steve- Well, it is the internet chatter we are talking about here. ;>)

      Regarding the Warbird in steel- This design wouldn’t be very light if done in steel due to the design necessitating strong, rigid chain stays and down tube to make it work. In fact, this is exactly why Salsa abandoned titanium as a material choice for the Warbird with the Class V vibration reduction system. Using titanium didn’t give the bike the weight advantage carbon does. Keep in mind that the reduction in vibration numbers that Salsa gave for the carbon/alloy vs titanium were drawn form the original Ti Warbird, not a prototype made with the Class V VRS.

      I’m sure other design challenges exist for steel regarding the design, but weight has to be one of the primary reasons steel wasn’t considered here.

      1. Salsa screwed the Pooch on this Journeyman by leaving a portion of the Down tube unwelded at the BB!

        Trek did that to the Crossrip and it rides like a tuning fork! all for internal Cable routing…. Uhhh, I’d take externally routed full sleeved cables over the extra vibrations that come from exiting internally ran cables that are mostly likely full sleeved anyways.

        When an alloy Synapse on 25’s at 100psi feels better on gravel than a cheap aluminum frame on 700 x 40s at 30 psi there might be issues with the frame!

        the world went to skinny tires, and frames got better. Those who sucked at making frames brought the 650 wide tire back to the market…..

  5. I wanted to point out something worth noting–the Salsa Warbird and these new Salsa Journeyman drop bar bikes are somewhat unique in the market in that the fork axle to crown length is 405mm and the offset is 50mm. I’ve done a LOT of searching around, and the Warbird and Journeyman are the only gravel frames I have so far found whose stock fork is so close to the axle to crown length and offset of Lauf’s Grit gravel suspension fork (409mm axle to crown with sag and 45mm offset).

    In case anyone else is interested in running a Lauf Grit and not risking a massive change in handling/feel from stock, you can’t find a more affordable frame than a Journeyman Claris drop bar. I mention this because I installed a Lauf Grit on my size 48cm 2017 Jamis Renegade Exile (as an upgrade from the stock, chro-moly fixed fork) and I completely blew up the bike’s handling because the stock fork has a mere 385mm axle to crown length and absolutely massive 57mm offset. The change to the Grit sent my bike’s trail into the stratosphere and truly ruined handling. I have to run the biggest tire I can possibly fit in the rear (WTB Riddler 45C is doing the trick) plus a 26″ tire in the front in order for the bike to handle right again. If I had to do it again, for sure I’d either get a Warbird or a Journeyman. Or in my actual case, in the future, I plan to upgrade to a Warbird frame and move all my current components over.


  6. With a little over 150 miles on my new Olive Journeyman 650 B, I am in love with it. Light, nimble with lots of speed to follow. My gravel adventures just got a whole lot better!

  7. I bought a 59.5 Olive 650 B the other day and doing a component swap as I type this. Here is what I am putting on it: 1×10 42T Shimano XT drivetrain with MICROshifter bar end shifters on Woodchipper bars. Selle Italia seat, carbon seatpost, super light Syncross XR 2.0 with DT Swiss 360 hubs (using through-axle adapters – from my carbon Scott Scale 910 ). Rambler tires. Interested how much weight I am going to save from stock.

    Using this build for a 2 day endurance ride from Pittsburgh to DC in May. Interesting build? Am I crazy? Hope to have a video review after the DC tour.

  8. I just bought a Journeyman 650b for the exact reason @Guitar-Ted listed: to ride in the spring when the roads here in northern MN are covered in salt. The Warbird Ti is a beautiful bike, with pricey components, don’t want to ruin those with the salt blasting.
    At the same time, the Warbird Ti has no mountas nad only takes up to ~36mm tires in the back, so this Journeyman with 50mm tires will be a good option for very rough trail rides or bikepacking.

    All this combined with great geometry at a price that is actually affordable to many people, I think it’s a great option.

    That said, if you are looking at 700c “gravel racing” type bikes there are probably better options out there, like a Specialized Diverge or Trek Checkpoint.

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