Jamis is betting that the rider who wants a steep, short-travel cross-country bike is moving away from steel and looking for newer and lighter materials like carbon fiber. Thus they have redesigned the Jamis Dragon 29 to appeal to the more aggressive trail rider. Looking over the dramatic changes for the new model, I think some pretty wise choices were made.
Gone is the 100 mm fork, in favor of a 120 mm Fox Float 32. Head-tube angles have been slackened from 70 degrees to 68.5. The rear QR has been replaced by a 12×142 thru axle to match the front’s 15 mm. The head-tube diameter is increased to 44 mm so it can accept today’s tapered forks. The fixed chainstay has been updated to include a sliding dropout that allows the rider to adjust the chainstay length between 435 mm and 455 mm. The sliding dropout also allows for an easy singlespeed conversion if you feel so inclined. And the inclusion of ISCG05 tabs are always a good thing. Let’s not forget a dropper post and a 2×10 drivetrain featuring a clutch derailleur. Just goes to show, you really can teach an old dog new tricks.
The Dragon Pro features Reynolds 853 heat-treated steel. Compared to the Reynolds 520 steel (same thing as 4130 chromoly) found on the less expensive Dragon Sport, 853 steel is stronger at the weld points and the tubing doesn’t need to be as thick to achieve the same strength. Since I don’t have the Sport version of the Dragon I can’t compare the two, but I can say that the Pro is everything you’d want in a steel frame. The tubing is svelte, the bike feels just stiff enough, and you can probably find someone to repair the frame if you need to. The Pro frame also weighs 300 grams less than the Sport.
As with any hardtail mountain bike, the Dragon’s lack of rear suspension makes high-speed forays into rock gardens and the more technical sections of trails a bit more interesting. However, the increased power transfer to the rear wheel during climbs and quick acceleration are welcome benefits. This is where the inclusion of the KS eTen dropper pays off in spades. Being able to fully extend my legs on climbs and get low and compact when picking my way through rocks or carving through berms makes all the difference. While not the best dropper I have used, the eTen performed well and offers a smooth 100 mm of travel. The handlebar remote is easy to use, and the post reacts quickly enough when called upon. With the popularity of internally routed posts, I do think Jamis should have provided an access hole in the seat tube.
Now let’s talk rubber…
I’m not a huge fan of Jamis’ tire choice for the Dragon, the Vittoria Barzo, but tire preferences are always going to be pretty subjective. For me the Barzos rolled very well but lacked a bit in cornering ability. The tires performed well in most trail conditions, but there were a few times they lost their grip when I found myself relying on the side knobs. Your mileage may vary, but the Dragon is an aggressive enough bike to handle more aggressive tires.
No complaints from me on the SLX brakes and drivetrain. With a 180 mm rotor up front and a 160 out back, there is more than sufficient braking power. The shifters feature Shimano’s dual-release mechanism on the upper trigger, so you can pull or push it to shift. I also really dig the way Shimano designs the upper shift lever. The slight protruding shelf makes it incredibly easy to find with your thumb and operates smoothly with very little power required.
Because Jamis is marketing the Dragon in the “aggressive trail” market, I do question the Fox Float 32. While I think the 32 is a great lightweight, all-around fork, it doesn’t instill the kind of confidence I want while riding through technically challenging sections of trail. A slightly beefier choice would go a ways to stiffen up the front end when tackling rocks, roots and other protrusions. Since forks generally are a high-cost upgrade for the consumer, getting the right one on a bike at the time of purchase is an important consideration. It’s not a deal breaker, just somewhere I think Jamis could have made a bigger impact with this bike.
Overall Jamis did a great job updating the Dragon Pro so that it would appeal to a broader range of riders. When compared to a few other hardtails at a similar price point, it stacks up well, and it’s great to see steel bikes maintaining relevance in today’s marketplace. With a few tweaks here and there, the Dragon Pro would be a welcome addition to my stable.
- Price: $2,799
- Sizes: S, M, L (tested), XL
- Wheelbase: 44.69 inches
- Top Tube: 24.41
- Head Angle: 68.5 degrees
- Seat-Tube Angle: 73.0 degrees
- Bottom Bracket: 12.36 inches
- Rear Center: 17.1-17.9 inches
- Weight: 28.86 pounds
Ryde Rims showed up to our booth one morning with a new rim. Ryde was until recently known as Rigida, and is now going after a higher end part of the market.
This is the Trace rim ($135), which will come in 22, 25 and 29 mm internal widths in both standard and asymmetric. A second series of rims, Edge ($85), will have the same width and asymmetry, but are a bit heavier. All rims will come in 26, 27.5 and 29, in any color as long as it is black.
Tubeless ready with the addition of rim tape and a valve, these rims look to challenge NoTube’s dominance of the market. the website isn’t live yet, but bookmark www.ryde-usa.com for more info later.
Rever MCX1 Disc Brakes
Rever brakes are aimed squarely at road and cyclocross bikes, not the mountain bike market. With the Avid BB7 growing long in the tooth, and most of the big money seemingly going into developing hydro discs for road, Rever should be able to serve the part of the market that is after a premium cable disc brake.
How premium? $150 a wheel. That includes a 140 or 160 mm rotor, ISO and direct mount adaptors, stainless slick cable (uncoated, thankfully), two meters of compressionless brake housing, and all related hardware.
The caliper is a dual piston system, with separate adjustments for each pad, plus a cable adjuster. Pads can be replaced easily from the rear, and can use an Shimano G-series type pad, so any option under the sun is out there for metallic, organic, or semi-metallic.
Power is claimed to be reduced from a BB7, something that may be welcome on bikes with skinny tires and reduced traction. riderever.com
Marin 2016 steel mountain and adventure road bikes
Marin is celebrating 30 years in 2015, and half its booth was set aside for vintage bikes. The other half of the booth had these two new models built to celebrate three decades of building bikes.
The Pine Mountain name isn’t new, and although this bike seems a little retro, it is entirely up to date. A steel frame and fork with sport a single chainring Shimano SLX drivetrain with a wide range 10 speed SunRace cassette. The Vee tires shown will be replaced by the new 27×2.9 Schwalbe Nobby Nics. This is a sharp looking bike for $1,100.
Coming in at the same $1,100 level, this is the new Four Corners touring bike. Room for at least 40 mm tires, a quality steel frame and fork, triple bottle mounts, and disc brakes should make it ready for all kinds of adventures. The bags and racks are not included, nor is the big bottle of beer.
Jamis Dragon Slayer
There is still much love for the long-running Jamis Dragon. Not many steel hardtails, if any, have remained continuously in production. It currently has four models, in 27.5 and 29, and soon to be a fifth model in 27plus.
With a Deore 2×10 drivetrain, Boost hubs front and rear, Vittoria Bombolini 27×3 tires and Fox Float 32 fork, all this thing needs is a dropper to be ready for some serious business. And you heard it right, Shimano will be supporting the Boost standard from now on, even though it began life as a SRAM/Trek project.
Stoked to see the sliders, for single speed conversion, either on purpose or after roaching a derailleur out in the backcountry. The stays are right around 17 inches, a plus in my plus-size book.
This is the first peek we’ve seen of the new Vittoria plus size tire in 27.5. Glad to see some well supported side knobs.
The Dragon Slayer is ready to go long, with triple bottle mounts and rear rack braze-ons. Glad to see some versatility coming back to hardtails.
Manitou, Sun and Answer
The Hayes Bicycle Group has been through some ups and downs the last few years, but some new products and OE spec seems to be righting this ship.
This is a cut-away of the new Magnum plus-size fork. We’ve been riding one on a Trek Stache and so far have been hugely impressed. Lots of tech from both the Dorado DH forks and Mattoc trail fork, but in a 34mm stanchioned packaged for either 27plus or 29plus. You’ll be looking at $900 for the Pro model, less for the Comp when it becomes available. Only two travels, 100 and 120 mm, 15×110 hub spacing and room for tires up to 3.4 inches.
The Mulefut 50 is the skinnier brother to the well received 80mm fat bike rim. It’s tubeless ready (with rim tape to cover up those huge rim cut-outs) and Sun claims these are the lightest aluminum 50mm rims you can buy. These will set you back $140 a piece.
Everyone seems to be talking short stem talk right now, and Answer adds to the chat with a 30 mm AME model. You’ll be able to get it in red, black or white in a 31.8 bar clamp. If 30 mm is too short, you can get one in 40, 50, 60, 70 or 80 mm. Any size or color for $80.
Miss our earlier coverage? Click here to read all our tech coverage from Sea Otter 2015.
Editor’s note: Here at Dirt Rag we don’t really do “comparison tests” or “shootouts” or declare “winners”. Every bike we review has a story to tell, and they’re all interesting. That said, we rounded up six full-suspension trail bikes in the $2,500-ish range to see what’s really out there in the heart of the mountain bike market. To get the party started, we spent a week riding in and around the beautiful Shenandoah Valley, Virginia. Watch for full reviews of each bike, as well as more about the trails, in an upcoming issue, but for now, a teaser:
As hard as it is to believe, high-end bikes can get boring. Riding nothing but top-o’-the-line bikes that use proven components and geometry usually results in reviews that are pretty predictable. How many ways can you say “this bike is sweet but a lot of money”?
After floating this $2,500 round-up idea around the office, and getting some push back from our group of spoiled-brat bike testers, I realized we’d become way too coddled by XTR and XX1. Time to recalibrate the snob-o-meter!
I assigned myself a pair of trail bikes, a Specialized Camber Comp 29 and a Jamis Dakar XCT650 Comp. Read the full storyTweet Print