The Salsa Rangefinder is Salsa‘s brand-new line of affordable 27.5+ and 29″ hardtail trail bikes available in two different builds with quality components and a performance-oriented aluminum frame.
Rangefinder sits right next to the Timberjack line in terms of prices and components. It’s intended for recreational and all-around MTB riders who need a dependable bike at an accessible price.
There are two complete builds available, SX Eagle and Deore, each in two wheel sizes (27.5+ or 29″). Therefore, there are four models in total.
All Rangefinder models share the same 6061-T6 aluminum frame with double and triple-butted tubing and slack 68° head tube angle. A dropper post is also included on all four Rangefinder bikes.
Another unchanging feature is the 120mm air front suspension that puts Salsa Rangefinder in the XC/Trail category, which is the type of riding most MTB enthusiasts stick to.
Let’s take a look at the nitty-gritty of each of the four available models and find out whether this is the right choice at the right price for you.
Salsa Rangefinder Deore 27.5+
Salsa describes the Rangefinder line as a “confidence-building trail hardtail, designed to deliver thrills on local singletrack or venture into unknown territory without hesitation.”
The Deore 27.5+ model is the cheaper of the two Rangefinders, but not much less capable. This bargain of a hardtail bike rolls on massive 2.8″ wide WTB Ranger Comp tires and offers a dropper post for just over $1,000.
The SR Suntour XCR 32 Air fork gives you 120mm of travel and is also considered to be a fantastic value at this price.
As the name of the bike tells you, this Salsa Rangefinder sports a 1×10 Shimano Deore drivetrain. In addition to that, it comes with Shimano’s MT201 hydraulic disc brakes. The combination is an excellent choice for more technical trails, climbs, and descents.
Even at this price, Salsa offers a dropper post and the 6061-T6 aluminum frame features internal cable routing for the dropper, shifters, and brakes.
To put it in plain words, Salsa Rangefinder is a no-brainer if you are a newcomer to the trails or you just want a bargain MTB for bikepacking or all-around explorations.
Salsa Rangefinder Deore 29
The Rangefinder Deore 29 build has almost the same features as its shorter brother above, except the wheels and the tires.
It’s built around the same trail-oriented aluminum frame with a 68.5-degree headtube angle, a 74.5-degree seat tube angle, and 439mm long chainstays.
Rangefinder’s stem is short and the top tube is long, which gives you excellent maneuverability and puts you in an actionable position over the bike.
Rangefinder Deore 29 has the same 1×10 Deore groupset on the drivetrain and the same MT201 hydraulic disc brakes. The fork is the same SR Suntour Air as well.
The difference is noticeable in the bigger wheels and tires. The rims are WTB ST i29, wrapped with WTB Trail Boss G2 Comp 29 x 2.6″.
The only apparent downside of the Rangefinder line is the Shimano MT200 10x141mm quick-release rear hub, but not everything can be perfect at this price.
All in all, if you want a capable 29er trail bike with utility in mind, you will not be disappointed no matter your level of expertise.
Rangefinder SX Eagle 27.5+
For just $200 more, Salsa Rangefinder will deliver even more in terms of the components and suspension. This build uses the same 6061-T6 aluminum frame as the platform, but pretty much everything else is different and upgraded.
Firstly, this Rangefinder sports a SRAM SX Eagle drivetrain with a 1x crank and a 12-speed cassette. This is a much more preferred option by experienced trail riders due to the range of gears it provides.
The SR Suntour XCR 34 Air fork is newer, lighter, and improved as well. It gives you 120mm of travel, lockout function, preload adjustment, and a 15×110 boost thru-axle.
Moving on to the wheels, tires, and brakes — they’re the same as on the Deore model. WTB ST i40 27.5″ rims and 2.8″ WTB Ranger Comp tires with MT201 hydro brakes.
A good thing about the entire Salsa Rangefinder line is that it is backpacking ready. The frame allows for two water bottles, a top tube bag, and an additional utility mount on the bottom of the down tube.
Therefore, you can easily outfit it for longer daily rides or multi-day backpacking adventures in the area or in a different state.
Rangefinder SX Eagle 29
Want bigger tires and bigger capabilities for the same amount of money? Then get the Salsa Rangefinder SX Eagle 29.
This final Rangefinder build shares the same wheels and tires with the Deore 29 model. The 2.6″ wide WTB Trail Boss tires will get you over any root, rock, puddle, or bump that pops up in front of you.
One of the advantages the Rangefinder line has over other trail hardtails in the same price range is the dropper post. It makes this a versatile MTB that can climb and descent.
It can be used for short and aggressive trail loops or long and steady XC rides and adventures. Like all other builds, this one can also carry a lot of water and gear and sustain you for long periods of time.
High-tech MTB solutions come at a low price nowadays, and you can take advantage of it with Salsa Rangefinder SX Eagle 29.
Salsa Rangefinder models are characterized by sloping top tubes that provide lots of standover clearance, so inseam length shouldn’t be a problem even for very short riders.
Salsa makes Rangefinder in 5 sizes and provides frame size recommendations based on rider height. Consult the chart below to find yours!
- XS: 157cm – 168cm
- SM: 160cm – 175cm
- MD: 173cm – 183cm
- LG: 180cm – 191cm
- XL: 188cm – UP
Which is the Right Rangefinder For Me?
If you’re an entry-level rider or a trail and MTB enthusiast, you probably like what the Salsa Rangefinder has to offer for $1,100 to $1,300. But which one should you choose?
Basically, you should answer three questions:
- What’s your budget?
- 1×10 or 1×12 drivetrain?
- 27.5″ or 29″ wheels?
Other Salsa overviews
If you have an additional $200 to spare, we recommend getting the more expensive build. The SX Eagle groupset offers a big bump in gear range and precision, and the difference in suspension performance is noticeable.
If you want more grip, faster acceleration, and more nimble handling, get the 27.5″ wheels. However, if you want to descent more, run over obstacles with more ease, and pick up more speed, then 29″ wheels are for you.
Whichever way you choose to go, Salsa Rangefinder models are a deal that’s worth the price.