2019 Salsa Journeyman Bike Check
Images and Words by Hunter Edmisten
@digriderepeat / @hedmisten
Note: I created the specific title above due to only have 100 miles on the saddle of this bike. From what I understand, I received the first one from the warehouse after they announced them to dealers, so it’s only been a couple of weeks. For that reason, I’ll call this a bike check and not a true “review”.
It’s fall here in South Carolina, but quickly heading into winter. I’ve already seen a forecast for our first snow of winter, and the south is known well for its ice. The leaves have changed across the Blue Ridge mountains, and have almost finished falling, which signifies night rides and wet, muddy forest roads. Due to the changing of seasons, I find that I always pick up a new bike around this time, realistically, to keep myself sane during the small windows of light in winter. This year’s lucky winner was Salsa.
After tons of research on a new gravel bike, I concluded that I needed a few features that would be deal breakers. Those included tire clearance with 700C platform (at least 700x45s), multiple sets of water bottle braze ons, and a 1x drivetrain. I was a roadie in a previous life. I promised myself after being a downhill and enduro style mountain biker for the last 10 years, that I wouldn’t get on the road with a slick tire again. If you notice my major requirements above, 2 of the 3 on the list are mountain bike solutions. The water bottle cage mounts carry over from my time as a fat bike owner. I want the ability to go very remote with the bicycle and carry whatever gear necessary. While I’ll not use all the features of this bike frequently, but the idea of being prepared, is always my mindset.
The Journeyman has 2 water bottle bosses in the inside frame, with a 3rd below it under the SRAM Apex crank. Along the top tube is another set of spaced braze-ons that allow for bolting your top tube or saddle bags down. Along the Salsa Fantail fork are 3 sets of boss nuts that will allow you to run Salsa’s anything cages, or any other type of bottle holder from a myriad of 3rd party bike packing companies. With Salsa’s Cowbell bars to steer the frame, it’s a really smooth and enjoyable ride.
The bike shipped with WTB Riddlers at 700x37c, but we took those off immediately and added WTB Nanos in Tan Wall. I plan to run the WTB 700x42 Resolutes as the next tire on the rig. With clearance up to a 700x51C tire, there is massive room to run every tire from gravel to bike packing. If you drop down to a 650b, you can run a 2.2” tire.
While my other gravel rig is a 2x setup, I wanted the same 1x drivetrain that my Santa Cruz Bronson has reliably gotten me accustomed to. I love that technology has come from only triples up front to a 40T single with an 11-42T Cassette. For a guy who has built all his bikes on the simplest of platforms, having one less shifter to maintain is a bonus. The TRP Mechanical (Hydraulics are for mountain and urban bikers J ) provide reliable stopping in remote areas where bleed kits aren’t found. The 160mm rotors broke in quickly and don’t seem to fade on steep single-track and roadways.
The paint color for this build spec is the weirdest to try and photograph. I must have messed with the white balance 3 times to try and capture the color in person. With the contrast of the livery against the fork and seat tube, I believe it’s one of the prettiest bikes I’ve owned.