Salsa has introduced a new entry level trail hardtail, The Rangefinder. This new hard slots in ever so slightly beneath their long running Timberjack lineup. Available in both 29 and 27.5+ configurations the Rangefinder starts at an entry level price of $1,099.
That entry level price will get you a 10-speed Deore drivetrain, Shimano MT201 2-piston brakes and a SR Suntour XCR 32 120mm air fork. You also do get a Trans-X dropper post, which is a welcome sight to see coming standard on a entry level bike.
On the flip side there are still a few old vestiges that we’d rather see disappear. Both the base build and the upgraded SX Eagle build come with a 10 x 141 mm QR rear hub. At this point it feels like 12 x 148 mm rear through axles should be ubiquitous. 29″ versions of the bike come with WTB Trail Boss G2 Comp 29 x 2.6″ tires, while the 27.5+ versions are fitted with the WTB Range Comp 27.5 x 2.8″ tire.
The geometry of the Rangefinder is pretty conservative. The headtube angle is a relatively steep 68.5 degrees and the chainstays are a relatively long 439mm. The seat tube angle falls right in with most hardtails at 74.6 degrees and the reach on a size medium is relatively spacious at 444.4mm.
The Rangefinder frame comes with two water bottle mounts in the front triangle, plus additional mounts on the underside of the down tube and on the top of the top tube. This allows the Rangefinder to accommodate extra tool / supply storage including bolt-on top tube bags such as Salsa’s own EXP Top Tube Bag. Thee frame also features internal cable routing for the rear derailleur, dropper post and rear brakes.
Even with these features as I look at the Salsa lineup between the the Rangefinder and the Timberjack I’d have to favor the base build Timberjack for most buyers as a recommendation. The Timberjack, for $150 extra in price gives you a 130mm fork and alternator dropouts in the rear that allow you to run singlespeed, QR or through-axle along with adjustable geometry. You also get a degree and a half slacker head tube angle and 19mm shorter chainstays.
Some riders may find the Rangefinder a more comfortable bike to start on, but I would encourage thinking about your options up just a tiny bit in the Salsa lineup.