|Rangefinder SX Eagle 29|
NOTE: Large doses of "my opinion" will be handed out in gloppy dollops today. You've been forewarned.....
Okay, this seems like a weird bike to add to the line up. It almost strikes me as the Mukluk/Beargrease thing does. One has Alternators and the other doesn't. One has a certain geometry and the other seems like a mild tweak to its counterpart. Both use similar frame materials. Yeah.... It's hard to make distinctions with the Rangefinder and the Timberjack, except when you look at the pricing and some finer details. But on the surface of things, it looks as though the new Timberjacks are up-spec and more expensive and the Rangefinders are priced where the Timberjack used to be.
The Rangefinder comes in two spec levels and in two wheel sizes for each spec level- 27.5+ and 29"er. There are two color choices in each spec level. Four bikes total in the range. One is Eagle SX, two colors, one has 29"ers, the other 27.5"ers. Same for the Deore spec. All four bikes use similar wheels, and the rear wheel is 141mmQR standard. Fronts are 100 X 15mm through axle.
|Rangefinder Deore 29|
All bikes in this range are fitted with SR Suntour forks. I've been in the bicycle business a long time, and SR Suntour has a checkered history in forks and they are not what I consider a good choice if one is really going to be pushing this sort of bike off-road. I've just seen too many disappointed people with SR Suntour spec'ed bikes. And this isn't a bash on Salsa. It's just the nature of this price point. I mean, take the dropper post- a TransX branded one. Yeah..... You just are barely getting by on this price for a mountain bike. Maybe it'll work for you, but don't be surprised when it doesn't. That's my take on this price point. For any brand's bikes at this price point. It is what it is.
That's why people need to be conscious of spec and what their expectations are. Going mountain biking and you don't want issues? Then the Rangefinder may not be for you, that's my opinion. At that point, a Timberjack is where I'd point you in Salsa's line up. The spec is solid where it matters: Rock Shox forks, rear through axle hubs, better drive train spec, and good wheels.
|Timberjack SLX 29|
That's just the fork, add in some good hubs, decent hoops, and a set of tires, and you've already spent more than an entire Rangefinder. I know.....I get it, completes are always a better deal than spec'ing piece by piece. But to illustrate a point, I think it helps to understand that the Rangefinder is not a mid-range spec bike, and a Timberjack is maybe barely that. In the mountain biking world, if you want "no worries" and top performing bikes, you'd better warm up that credit card. It's gonna get used up.
This might be a reason why gravel riding has taken off. You can get a decent rig that will work just fine at Rangefinder pricing. Not "just barely getting by" either, but a really decent bike. Mountain biking is equipment intensive, as they like to say, and the correct tools for the job are going to be expensive.
Then again- ya gotta wonder, do we really need a slacked out, long/low 130mm travel mountain bike in the Mid-West? Just think how much better a fully rigid, slightly steeper MTB could be spec'ed. Maybe an aluminum frame, steel fork, decent components, cost maybe a grand? It'd be all the mountain bike most folks would ever need. I bought a rigid MTB in 1989 for about $400.00. It was serviceable. Today that same money would translate into about an $830.00 bike. (According to Google) So, yeah.... I figure about a thousand bucks is basement price for a fully rigid bike with decent parts. Better wheels, better drive train, and less issues than a compromise that has a suspension fork and dropper post from any brand.
But what do I know.....
Note: Images and some information provided by Salsa Cycles.