Salsa Journeyer Review — Updated geometry, new builds, and genderless name
The Salsa Journeyer all-road bike is a re-release of the incredibly popular Salsa Journeyman.
The new Salsa Journeyer is more versatile and capable than before. Some changes include an updated frameset and geometry, thru-axles, a carbon fiber fork option, extra cargo capacity, and internal routing for a dropper post.
In response to customer feedback, Salsa changed the name to a more inclusive, non-gendered one while preserving the bike’s adventurous spirit.
Salsa offers it in various tiers to suit different budgets and preferences. This Salsa Journeyer review will discuss the bike’s main features and shared characteristics, ride quality, and the differences between the builds.
A do-it-all adventure bike with Salsa's renowned versatility and reliability, perfect for riders who like to mix it up.
- Tons of frame mounts
- Stable and comfortable geometry
- Various build options
- Excellent tire clearance
- Highly capable off-road
- Slightly overpriced compared to competition
- Poor saddle
Salsa Journeyer 2023 Main Features
- Price: $999 to $2,799
- Frame: 6061-T6 Hydroformed aluminum frame
- Fork: Waxwing Carbon thru-axle / Fantail Deluxe aluminum thru-axle / Fantail aluminum QR
- Drivetrain: 1x or 2x chainsets. Shimano / SRAM / Advent
- Handlebar: Salsa Salt Flat bar / Cowbell 3 drop bar
- Tires: Teravail Washburn. 700c x 38mm or 650b x 47mm
- Tire Clearance: 700c x 32-50mm / 650b x 47-50mm
- Saddle: WTB Volt Medium steel
- Seatpost: Salsa Guide (dropper compatible)
- Weight: 22 to 26.4lbs
The Salsa Journeyer adventure bike is a jack-of-all-trades designed to handle most terrain and meet a broad range of rider preferences. You could use the Journeyer for commuting, bikepacking, fitness riding, touring, or gravel riding. As a result, almost any rider can enjoy what this bike has to offer.
To achieve this versatility, Salsa updated the old Journeyman’s geometry to be more stable and comfortable with a relatively upright, relaxed position, perfect for endurance rides. In addition, they loaded the frame with mounts for a full range of accessories and frame bags, as well as standard fender and rack mounts.
Each of the nine builds has an option for 650b or 700c wheels. Likewise, you can choose between three flat bar and six drop bar options. This range of possibilities perfectly aligns with Salsa’s goal of making a highly-inclusive bike.
Salsa Journeyer Full Review
The Salsa Journeyer gravel bike series is incredibly diverse, offering something for most entry-level and recreational riders. Although the components are quite different from model to model, the bike’s DNA is preserved across the line, providing a versatile, capable, and confidence-inspiring ride on mixed terrain.
Frame Design and Mounts
Each Journeyer has a hydroformed 6061-T6 aluminum alloy frame, heat-treated for strength and durability. This frame is relatively compact, with small triangles that enhance stiffness and heavy welds at the joints.
The simple, monochrome finishes give the bike a sleek look, and each frame has internal cable routing, which adds to the clean appearance.
One excellent feature of the new Journeyer is the dropper post compatibility. Adding a dropper to this bike would significantly improve the off-road capability, giving riders more control and stability on steep descents.
The Journeyer frame is loaded with mounts. These include rack and fender mounts, two Three-Pack mounts on the fork, one on the top tube, and one on the downtube for an accessory. In addition, you have space for one, two, or three bottle cages depending on the frame size. Salsa went all in to ensure you can make various accessory combinations and create a highly-personalized experience.
Finally, there are 12 different colors across the 18 models, with five frame size options (XS-XL) for the flat bar model and six frame sizes (49-60cm) for the drop bar bike.
Fork and Axles
Salsa added more variation and quality to the new Journeyer lineup. Firstly, most of the models come with thru-axle frames to improve stiffness and performance. The only models that use quick-release frames are the $999 flat bar and $1,099 drop bar models.
In addition, the series has three forks, Waxwing Carbon (thru-axle), Fantail Deluxe aluminum (thru-axle), and Fantail aluminum (quick-release). Carbon fiber provides the best stiffness to weight and more shock absorption. The Waxwing fork is on the $1,799 Apex 1 and above.
The Journeyer’s geometry is optimized for long days in the saddle, with a relatively high stack and short reach that create an upright and relaxed position.
Compared to the previous Journeyman, this bike has a longer effective top tube, a lower bottom bracket, and a slacker head angle, maximizing comfort and stability.
If you’re looking for a racey bike to charge down descents and singletrack, the geometry of the Journeyer does not make it the best gravel bike for that purpose. However, if you want to haul a packed bike up steep gradients and ride confidently on bumpy trails, you’ll love the feel of this all-road bicycle.
Wheels, Tires, and Tire Clearance
Each of the nine Journeyer builds is compatible with 650b and 700c wheels, with options for both available to buy.
The smaller diameter 650b (27.5″) wheels offer more acceleration and agility, benefiting off-road riding on tight and technical tracks. In addition, the 650b wheelset comes with high-volume 47mm tires, which are more comfortable and provide better traction.
On the other hand, the 700c tires roll faster and more easily over obstacles and bumpy terrain, allowing for a higher average speed. As a result, these wheels are best if you ride primarily on roads and light gravel paths. As they come, the 700c wheels have narrower 38mm tires which aren’t as comfortable or grippy but are much faster.
Whichever wheel you choose, you can fit tires up to 50mm wide. However, the 700c wheels can go as narrow as 32mm for an endurance road bike feel, whereas the 650b has a limited range of 47 to 50mm.
The Teravail tires are a pretty impressive component for the cheaper models in the series but become less so for the higher-priced Journeyer builds. They utilize a smooth center tread to maximize rolling speed paired with light side lugs that provide decent traction while cornering on loose surfaces.
The final significant difference between models is the handlebar. There are three flat bar bikes and six drop bar bikes.
The flat bar looks like a typical hybrid bike with extra off-road stability. In contrast, the drop bar Journeyer is a standard gravel/adventure bike.
Drop bars give more stability when descending and cornering on relatively smooth but steep terrain. In addition, gravel drops flare out to provide further stability while riding in the drops position.
Another advantage of these bars is that they allow riders to change hand positions between three places, relieving the wrists on long-distance or multi-day trips. Flat bars don’t offer this luxury but are adequate for short to medium-distance rides.
What Can Be Better?
Overall, the Journeyer is a pretty well-rounded bike. It fits neatly into the adventure/touring category with its geometry, spec options, and frame mounts.
If you choose the Journeyer to accompany you on multi-day trips, the saddle leaves a little to be desired. So the first component that we would upgrade is the WTB Volt saddle because it could cause numbness issues as the hours add up.
The only other issue with this bike is the price, which seems slightly inflated compared to some similarly spec’d competitors. For example, the $1,499 Deore model only has mechanical disc brakes, which is disappointing for a gravel bike at that price.
Salsa Journeyer Ride Feel
As we’ve seen throughout this review, the Journeyer is a true all-road bicycle, perfect for multi-day tours or bikepacking trips, mixed-terrain commuting, and day-to-day fitness or leisure riding. The overall ride feel is one of comfort and stability on varied terrain. Impressively, these characteristics hold up over long distances.
As an adventure/gravel bike, it won’t perform well on technical singletrack and aggressive downhill trails, but this bike provides a confidence-inspiring ride everywhere else. However, the trade-off for comfort and stability is always a little speed and agility, so it’s best to consider a more aggressive bike if you need it for gravel racing.
Finally, it’s worth reiterating that the Salsa Journeyer 700c gravel bike is better suited to roadies who like to mix it up on varied terrain. Choose the 650b wheels if you mainly ride off-road with some stretches of pavement thrown in (or have a pair of each if that fits your budget!).
Salsa Journeyer Complete Builds
There are nine different builds, with a Salsa Journeyer 650b gravel bike and 700c option available for each, totaling 18 choices. Six of the nine builds use a drop bar, and three use a flat bar. The six drop bar builds include:
- $1,099 – Advent, Claris
- $1,499 – Sora
- $1,799 – Apex 1
- $2,399 – GRX 600
- $2,799 – GRX 810
The MicroSHIFT Advent, SRAM Apex 1, and Shimano GRX 810 have 1x drivetrains, while the Claris, Sora, and GRX 600 are 2x. The cheaper Advent and Claris models use the Fantail quick-release fork, and all others use the Waxwing carbon fork. Unfortunately, only the two GRX models have hydraulic disc brakes.
The three flat bar models include the MicroSHIFT Acolyte and Shimano Altus ($999) and the Deore ($1,199). Both the Acolyte and Deore drivetrains are 1x and the Altus a 2×9-speed. The Salsa Journeyer Deore has a Fantail thru-axle fork and hydraulic disc brakes, whereas the cheaper models use the Fantail QR fork and mechanical brakes.
Salsa Journeyer Sizing
The Salsa Journeyer has two sizing methods, one for the flat bar and one for the drop bar. The flat bar bikes are sold in five frame sizes, from XS to XL.
- XS – 4’8″ to 5’1″
- S – 5’1″ to 5’4″
- M – 5’4″ to 5’8″
- L – 5’8″ to 6′
- XL – 6′ to 6’4″
The drop bar bikes are available in six sizes, from 49cm to 60cm.
- 49cm – 4’8 to 4’11”
- 51cm – 4’11” to 5’2″
- 53cm– 5’2″ to 5’6″
- 55cm – 5’5″ to 5’9″
- 57cm – 5’8″ to 6′
- 60cm – 6′ to 6’4″
If you fall between two bike sizes, we recommend test riding the two frame sizes at your local Salsa dealer. Alternatively, compare the geometry of the bike you currently ride to that of the Journeyer, paying particular attention to the stack and reach.
Bottom Line: Should You Buy a Salsa Journeyer
The 2023 Salsa Journeyer is a thoroughbred adventure bike with buckets of versatility and capability, making it a solid do-it-all choice. The only downside is you pay a little more for the Salsa name.
Commuters, bikepackers, tourers, and leisurely gravel riders will enjoy the stable and comfortable ride feel and the array of mounting points for personalizing the Journeyer to your tastes and requirements.
Likewise, you can choose between nine different builds, each of which can run 650b or 700c tires. With all these options, this bike undoubtedly achieves Salsa’s goal of making a fully-inclusive adventurer.
We recommend adding the Journeyer to your shortlist if you’re a rider who likes to mix it up and doesn’t want to be limited by their equipment.