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Salsa Journeyman Review

Last updated: May 21, 2020

Category: Gravel Bikes

Prepared to accompany you on touring and backpacking excursions, gravel trails, and any adventure you can think of, the Salsa Journeyman bikes are an excellent and robust set of rides ready for action.


Designed to be reliable yet rapid, the Salsa Journeyman bikes can be likened to a regular gravel bike in its geometry and capabilities. A multitude of mounting points for panniers, racks, fenders, and bags, you’re given the ability to attach most anything you like.

Available in both flat bar and drop bar configurations, you can select according to the terrain you figure you’ll be approaching most. Attractive styling cues and a reasonable cost accompanies both sets.

GroupsetFrame materialFork materialBrake type
Journeyman ClarisShimano ClarisAluminumAluminumMechanical Disc
Journeyman SoraShimano SoraAluminumCarbonMechanical Disc
Journeyman ApexSRAM Apex 1AluminumCarbonMechanical Disc

With three types of Journeyman to choose from – the Apex, Sora, and Claris models, they’re named according to the quality of components used and a price reflective of this.


Employing a frame design that is reminiscent of most gravel bikes, you’re put into a partially aggressive yet comfortable position which allows you to gain good speed and handle well while on rough roads.

Journeyman ClarisJourneyman Drop BarFantail Aluminum Fork
Journeyman SoraJourneyman Drop BarFantail Deluxe Fork with Three-Pack Mounts
Journeyman ApexJourneyman Drop BarFantail Deluxe

Each of the three Journeyman rides uses the same aluminum alloy frame which is definitely durable enough to stand the test of time. Lightweight and attractive, they’ve done a great job with the overall frame design.
While the Journeyman Claris picks an aluminum front fork, both the Sora and Apex models instead use a carbon front fork. Improving on handling and vibration dampening while reducing weight, the difference between the two materials is certainly noticeable and worth keeping in mind going forwards.

Beyond that, there’s not much difference between the models in terms of the frame. For those long backpacking trips or extended outings, the vibration reduction associated with a carbon fork is especially useful and will be well appreciated further down the road.


As the naming convention implies, each of the Salsa Journeyman models use the related set of components. These improvements are quite noticeable and also something to keep in mind if you’re going to engage in numerous long-term trips.

The Journeyman with Shimano Claris pieces is definitely fine enough for medium and light riding, but not quite desirable for performance-related endeavors. This groupset is commonly found on budget and mid-range rides and while it’s certainly good for most uses, it doesn’t quite hold a candle to better bits and pieces.

Journeyman ClarisJourneyman SoraJourneyman Apex
ShiftersShimano ClarisShimano SoraSRAM Apex 1
Front DerailleurShimano ClarisShimano SoraN/A
Rear DerailleurShimano Claris GS 8-speedShimano Sora 9-speedSRAM Apex 1
CranksetFSA Tempo Adventure, 46/30tFSA Vero Pro Adventure, 46/30tSRAM Apex 1 X-Sync, 40t
BrakesPromax DSK-330R flat mount 160mmPromax DSK-330R flat mount 160 mmTRP Spyre-C Flat Mount, 160mm rotors
CassetteSunRace 8-speed, 11-34tSunRace 9-speed 11-34tSRAM PG 1130, 11-42t

Shimano Sora components on the Journeyman Sora are a noticeable step up over the Claris, however still not quite what we would consider being a premium set of parts. Absolutely, they’ll do very well for the majority of applications and like the Claris, parts are available everywhere and they’re great for spirited driving.

The Journeyman Apex outfitted with SRAM Apex components is a clear step up over the others and is much better suited to intense riding. Losing the front derailleur, reliability off-road is widely improved and overall the groupset performs significantly better than the other two, though parts aren’t quite as common.

They all hire a set of mechanical disc brakes to get the job done and while we would’ve liked to see hydraulic brakes on there to improve stopping power, the brakes included are more than enough for the vast majority of cases.


Choosing sturdy 32-spoke wheels with WTB Nano tires to match, all three Journeyman bikes are ready for abuse and rough roads to say the least. The 37mm-wide rubber selected is quite grippy at the expense of higher rolling resistance, though this is definitely worth the tradeoff when off-road on gravel or single-track trails.

Journeyman ClarisFormula, 32h, 100mm, WTB STP i23 TCS 650b, 2.0mm spokes, brass nipplesWTB Nano 27.5 x 2.1″ Comp
Journeyman SoraFormula, 32h, 100mm, WTB STP i23 TCS 650b, 2.0mm spokes, brass nipplesWTB Nano 27.5 x 2.1″ Comp
Journeyman ApexNovatec, 32h, 100mm, WTB ST i23 TCS 2.0 650b, 2.0mm spokes, brass nipplesWTB Nano 650b x 2.1″ Comp

We can’t see an immediate upgrade being warranted and the 32-spoke rims are definitely strong enough to handle a hefty chunk of abuse and heavy loads without a hitch.


Contemporary gravel bike design philosophies do offer much-appreciated comfort and a nice seating position while retaining the handling necessary for non-pavement surfaces. The seat it comfortable, and both the flat and drop handlebars are about as good as you could hope for them to be.

Journeyman ClarisWTB Volt Sport 142Salsa CowbellN/A
Journeyman SoraWTB Volt Sport 142Salsa CowbellN/A
Journeyman ApexWTB Volt Sport 142Salsa CowbellN/A

While there isn’t quite anything to write home about in the comfort and ergonomics aspect, the wide array of mounting points allows you to customize and dial in the exact accessories you want – fenders, panniers, a saddlebag and more.