First impression: Jamis Dragon 650b

By Stephen Haynes, 

The steel framed Jamis Dragon 650b is an understated beast ready to take you on any quest you may have in store for it. Saddle up and sharpen your broad sword, this bike is ready for adventure.

Right out of the gate the Dragon 650b felt good. I’m not the most tech savvy adventurer there is but I could tell something great was happening underneath that sparkly green paint job. A 68 degree head tube angle is relaxed for an XC bike and makes for great handling going fast and cornering. Relatively short 16.75” chainstays offset the slack HT angle a bit and give the bike a snappiness when you need to make quick turns.

A 120mm White Brother LOOP TCR 650b fork takes the hits out front and is the same model as the fork we tested back in issue #159, but set up for 650b and set to 120mm for the Dragon.

American Classic 32h 650b XC wheels feature a 15mm thru-axle up front and 135mm QR in the back. Kenda Nevegal 650bx 2.1” have performed well so far in a good mix of conditions from dry and dusty to muddy.

The wheel size is the big ticket here. Aside from the very rideable geometry of the Dragon, the 650b portion of the name deserves a little credit too. Easy rolling yet maneuverable, the wheel size instills confidence and gives a stable ride while not feeling like wagon wheels. It really seems to capture the essence of both 26” and 29”.

Shimano SLX 3×10 drivetrain gives you a wide range of gearing possibilities to get you up and over just about everything. Avid Elixir 3 hydraulic brakes do the stopping. The Syncros AM handlebars, with 25mm of rise and 5 degrees of sweep suite my riding style well and compliment the bike.

The only thing I’m not sure of is the decision to route the brake and shifter cables along the top length of the top tube. I’ve grazed my inner thighs a few times already and can see the potential for disaster there.

Jamis has thus far scored a critical hit with this tester. I’m looking forward to many more rides atop the Dragon 650b and the D&D geek inside me is stoked that Dragons are no longer the stuff of fantasy.

Look for the complete review in Issue #164. Subscribe now and you’ll never miss a review.


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