|A Journeyman 700c Sora build from the shop where I work|
The lowdown on all the variations of the Journeyman can be found here. I won't get into all the details in this post, but I wanted to give my take on the bike after having built up one and handling another brought in by a sales rep.
First of all, I hear a common complaint about this new model that goes something like the following: "Well, it seems like a crappy spec for a gravel bike." To this I always say, "This bike isn't being sold to you." The "problem" is understandable from the aspect that almost everyone I know is a "bike nerd" and already has a few, if not more than a few, really awesome bikes that probably tip the scales above a grand or two for price point, brand new. Of course these folks are going to say the Journeyman's spec sucks, and that it is (like this is some kind of pariah), an "aloominum frame" and that because of that it sucks. Well, again- this bike isn't being marketed to you.
It is a bike that is actually really awesome for getting into gravel riding. That's what it is about, so looking at the Journeyman from that perspective, is it going to work as a bike to get new folks on gravel? That's the big question here, and if the Journeyman cannot do that, it will be a bust. I'm thinking it just might actually pull this off though.
The bike has great geometry, first off. Almost to a "T" what I would ask for to provide a reasonably good handling experience on gravel. That's a big plus in this bike's favor. Then you have all the versatility incorporated into this design. Two wheel sizes, humongous clearances for up to 45mm 700c tires, (Salsa actually claims 700c X 50mm will fit), and rack, fender, and Triple Boss mounts for all sorts of attachment fun. This bike could be a touring bike, a commuter, a RAGBRAI bagger bike OR a RAGBRAI fast machine with carrying capacity, or a darn fine gravel travel bike. In fact, it can be all of those things. That's a lot of bang for the buck right there.
|Journeyman 650B Image courtesy of Salsa Cycles|
If I had one ding on these bikes it would be in the wheel department. These bikes have cheesy hubs and spokes that are, well......beyond their gauge, we don't know what they are. At least the rims are WTB's TCS style for tubeless compatibility. To my way of thinking nothing else puts a new or casual cyclist off than bad wheel spec, when it eventually goes bad. It's not a matter of if, but when. Replacing wheels is a shockingly expensive ritual to the casual cyclist, and since this bike is kind of aimed at getting some of these folks onboard with "adventure by bike", the wheels should not ever be a concern. Maybe they won't be........
And then there are those that are hot to upgrade the Journeyman. It certainly is a worthy platform for that. It has all the gee-gaws, as previously mentioned, and looks great. Salsa did a bang on job with the graphics and paint here. One could make quite a fetching, high end spec steed out of a stock Journeyman with the right parts swaps. The weight stock is in the mid-twenties, so getting down around 20 pounds isn't unreasonable. Ditch the heavy, tubed wheels and wire bead tires. That would be the biggest place to save weight here.
Anyway, it will be fun to see what happens with the Journeyman. I think Salsa hit the nail on the head here, and did it with a great looking bike that has great geometry.