Jamis Dragon 29 Chronicles #1

In: Just Riding Along, NEWS, REVIEWS By: Jeff Lockwood On: April 8, 2008

This is the first in a series of posts leading up to the Dirt Rag Stuff Review of the Jamis Dragon 29. I’ll informally keep you posted not only with my experiences on the bike, but also with my indoctrination into the 29” machine. This ongoing journal is also an exercise for me to get enough written before my review is due, so I can actually get it in on time.

Yes, folks, it’s true. I admit it. Up until yesterday, I have never done a proper ride on a 29” mountain bike. There are a lot of reasons why I’ve stood by my 26”…and 26”…for so long. I’ll spare you the details, but the main reason is that I love my personal bike. It’s a custom rig, and I have a strong bond with it. But I know that after some time on a 29” bike, I would want one for my own. Thus my current beloved bike would fall by the side.

Sure I’ve done a spin or two on a 29”, but nothing long enough, or with enough substance, to truly convert me. Or for me even to appreciate any differences from the 26”. But now I have to ride one for an extended period of time. Karen put a Jamis Dragon 29 under me, and it’s time to go for it.

So I consider yesterday to be my first true ride on a 29” bike. My friend Dave billed it as a ”leisurely four hour ride” at French Creek. And since I like to punish myself, I decided to run a 5k race a few hours before we rode. (I finished 12th overall, thank you very much). Of course, Dave’s promise turned into a fast and hard three-hour ride instead. It was a tough day, but a lot of fun.

Especially once I got semi-comfortable on the bike.

Aside from already being half beaten down before the ride even started, this was the first ride in a long time where I had gears on a bicycle. After not using them for so long, it took some time to get used to. The bike also feels a lot heavier than what I’m used to. I haven’t put in on the scale yet to find out for sure, but I really don’t want to know just yet.

But the fun doesn’t end there. I didn’t bother to look at the Reba fork before my ride…let alone adjust it. It needed some air, and I had no shock pump on me. Thankfully the fork still worked fine, though I wasn’t able to lock it out.

As for the feel of the ride, I immediately noticed that I felt like I had more momentum with my pedal strokes. Kind of an odd, but cool, feeling. I also have to agree with all the people that have told me that 29” wheels roll over and through things much easier. I liked that, and got used to it quickly. The first several log hops…ok, pretty much all of them…proved to be tough. Getting the front wheel up and over obstacles proved to be more of a challenge on this bike.

But the big challenge for me yesterday was that the bike handles differently than I’m used to. It doesn’t seem as nimble as a 26” rig. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. But it is taking some time for me to get used to.

Overall, yesterday’s ride was great. I had a very rough first hour on the bike. Not only was I getting used to many new variables, I was also dealing with a lot of descents and a lot of climbing. Once I got over that part of the park, the next two hours went much better.

Later this week, I’ll be taking the bike to ride some of the tightest, most technical singletrack in and around Philly. I’ll also get you some of the numbers and measurements for the bike

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