First published in Singletrack Magazine issue 97
The Jones is the complete opposite of the Canfield, with an extra 70mm or so distance between rear axle and bottom bracket and a long, rangy front end. It’s the complete opposite of the Mondraker, too, with a rearward riding position that encourages you to place yourself inside, rather than on top of, the front end. In fact, it’s the complete opposite of probably pretty much every bike on the market, for a number of reasons – but that didn’t stop us finding plenty to like about it.
This is the Plus version of the long-lived Jones Diamond frame. It shares its material – 4130 steel – with the esoteric Truss fork. Both ends can accommodate anything up to 29+ or 26 x 4.8in tyres, with bottom bracket position tweaking available via the eccentric bottom bracket to ensure the ride quality can be retained across the different amounts of height each tyre size adds to the frame. Our test bike was set up as a 29+ version, with Velocity’s 45mm-wide Dually half-fat rims and Surly Knard 3in tyres. Drive comes from a fairly straightforward combination of Surly O.D. double chainset, with Shimano mechs, cassette and shifters. Brakes are XT too and though the performance was good, the stubby, two-finger lever is actually pretty hard to reach from the outer hand positions of the bars when fitted with these long ESI grips – a longer lever blade (or shorter grip) would have been welcome.
Once you get past the initial visual shock of the Jones (which to be fair doesn’t ever really seem to go away, for the rider or for passers-by), the frame is actually pretty normal-looking. Simply treated steel tubing with a few elegant bends doesn’t have much to shout about, and apart from too many sets of bottle bosses to count, it’s devoid of any eye-grabbing details. What really gets your attention is the ride – it’s unique, and initially quite demanding, an attribute it shares with the Mondraker. The H-Bars can take much of the responsibility for this.
Designed to place your hands in a neutral position, reducing stress on your upper body as a whole and drawing on your body ‘at rest’ to make the most of its strength, H-Bars take a lot of getting used to and have a lot of claimed benefits. In combination with the tall front end of the Jones, they place the rider’s centre of gravity further back than it is on a ‘normal’ bike: this means that front end lifts are reported to be easier and steep descents more confidently navigable – both claims we found to be true. We did find that we had to pretty much completely abandon any of our previous riding techniques and start afresh; the bike forces you to re-evaluate everything from weight shifts to pedalling style, which is an interesting experience for riders with years’ worth of bad habits, if nothing else.
The Surly Knards are a compromise: the extra comfort and ground-razing momentum of the low profile tread, versus poor tenacity under braking and no edges to dig in under cornering. On balance, we’d have preferred something with more bite, and felt that our confidence in the bike was inhibited by the lack of grip, even with the pressures as low as we dared.
On stop-start sections, we felt the weight of the bike too – at 31.8lbs it’s not unreasonable for a large, 29+ build, but the extra rotating mass in the wheels is a drag and the inertia was noticeable. Once gravity is on your side though, that inertia becomes momentum and the Jones does feel as though you can steamroller your way over absolutely anything in your path. The rangy wheelbase and tall stance both combine to make sweeping singletrack a thing of joy.
- Frame: Steel Diamond with EBB
- Fork: Steel Truss (ours was Q/R, production is bolt-thru)
- Hubs: Jones 135mm front and rear
- Rims: Velocity Dually 29in
- Chainset: Surly O.D. 39/26T
- Front Mech: Shimano
- Rear Mech: Shimano XT
- Shifters: Shimano XT
- Brakes: Shimano XT
- Stem: Thomson
- Bars: Jones H-Bar
- Grips: ESI Long
- Seatpost: Thomson dropper
- Saddle: Charge Spoon
- Sizes: 24in (tested) or 25in ETT
- Weight: 31.8lb without pedals
|Price:||£1,350.00 frame and truss fork|
|Tested:||by Jenn for|