Antony hops aboard the Jamis Dakar, a full suspension bike that won’t empty your wallet.
If you’re a regular reader of this website, you’ll probably notice that we feature a lot of very posh spangly bikes. And when you think about it, that’s quite understandable. When the folks at a bike company have an exciting new model, they often send out the fanciest incarnation of it to media outlets in the hope that we’ll enjoy riding it more. Imagine this scenario: you’re an impecunious MTB journalist, you’ve resigned yourself to earning a pittance in exchange for the chance to ride really nice bikes, and a £6k carbon wonder machine turns up in a box with your name on it. What would you do, send it back?
While it’s perhaps inevitable that there is a bit of a focus on the blingier end of the spectrum, we also know that the aforementioned six grand affluence-chariots are a tiny fraction of the overall mountain bike market. “What first full susser?” is a much more frequently asked question than “XTR or X01?”. So if one comes our way, we’ll happily let you know what we think.
The Jamis Dakar A2 is a model that’s exclusive to Evans Cycles in the UK. As one of the bigger players on the UK bike shop scene, Evans has been hit by the general move away from bricks-and-mortar shops to online sales, and they’re now owned by the same parent company as Sports Direct. Fortunately they haven’t disappeared from the UK’s high streets completely, as their in-house brands – Pinnacle for example – tend to offer a lot of bike for a modest amount of cash.
This model of Jamis Dakar certainly promises a good fun to finance ratio. It retails at £1100, and at the time of writing is currently on sale for £880, making it easily one of the lowest-priced full suspension bikes to grace this website.
For that, you get a tidy-looking full susser with 27.5” wheels and 120mm of travel at each end. Bumps at the front are dealt with via an SR Suntour Raidon Lo fork. Whacks at the back are taken care of via a Rock Shox Monarch R shock. Both suspension units are decidedly no-frills. The shock lacks any external adjustment apart from a rebound control, and the fork has a 1.125in steerer that doesn’t match the frame’s tapered head tube, but at least this keeps the door open for future upgrades.
The frame itself may have an unexciting grey paint job, but the profiled tubing looks like a decent amount of design has gone into it, and the frame as a whole is very nicely finished, with neat details like alloy port covers for the internal cable routing. The frame uses a familiar linkage-driven single pivot design, with cartridge bearings. There’s a proper 12mm rear axle for stiffness, and enough room for a bottle cage in the front triangle. It’s non-Boost (as are the forks) but other than that it looks like it could have come from a much more expensive bike.
The finishing kit is also quality stuff, with a Race Face handlebar, stem and seatpost. You don’t get a dropper post for this price, although the frame has internal cable routing for one, and I did fit one for this test. If you’re on a tight budget, the Jamis Dakar does come with a quick release seatpost clamp, and the seat tube is straight enough to drop the saddle a decent amount. The contact points are some decent unbranded lock-on grips, and a WTB Volt saddle, a model which is fairly ubiquitous on complete bikes at the moment. I get on OK with these but there are plenty of other decent cheap saddles if you don’t.
The Dakar rolls on 650B wheels , with WTB STX i125 rims laced to Formula hubs. The rims are tubeless ready and have a decent internal width, plumping up the tyres for extra traction. The wheels and use the standard 32 spokes, so even if you pringle one you should still be able to save it. The Vittoria Barzo tyres have a fast-rolling low-profile tread and are also tubeless ready, as well as having grey sidewalls that matches the frame.
The geometry plays it safe with a 68 degree head angle and a 75 degree seat angle. Reach on a medium size bike is modest, but the wide bars help stop it feeling cramped.
Drivetrain is a proper 1x setup, with a Shimano Deore 10 speed shifter, a clutch-equipped Deore rear mech, and a 46T Shimano cassette. The SR Suntour Duron cranks use an external bottom bracket, rather than a cheap square taper model, and come with a 32T direct-mount ring with a chain-retaining profile. There’s no provision to fit a front mech, but with the bottom gear available you should be able to get up most things with a modicum of grunting.
Getting the Dakar ready to ride was not without its issues. I found that the right hand crank had a dodgy thread that simply wouldn’t accept a pedal until I’d chased it out with a tap. And while the tyres and rims are both tubeless compatible, they proved to be a bit of an uneasy match, refusing to go up even with an inflation device. Eventually persistence paid off, but if you’re planning to go tubeless then you might want to get the shop staff to sort it.
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Jamis Dakar A2 Specification
- Frame // Triple-butted 6061 alloy, 120mm travel MP2 Suspension system.
- Rear Shock // RockShox Monarch R air shock.
- Fork // SR Suntour Raidon LOR 27.5in
- Rear Mech // Shimano Deore Shadow Plus, 10 speed.
- Shifter // Shimano Deore, 10 speed.
- Chainset // SR Suntour Zeron, 32T
- Bottom Bracket // SR Suntour External.
- Cassette // Shimano HG500, 10 speed.
- Chain // KMC X10, 10 speed.
- Brakes // Shimano MT200 hydraulic disc 180mm front, 160mm rear.
- Handlebars // RaceFace Ride 35 x 760mm.
- Stem // RaceFace Ride. 50mm.
- Headset // FSA Orbit 1.5 Zero-stack.
- Grips // Jamis Lock-on
- Rims // WTB STX i25 TCS 27.5in.
- Hubs // Formula 15×100 front, 12x142mm rear.
- Tyres // Vittoria Barzo, 27.5 x 2.35in, tubeless ready.
- Saddle // WTB Volt
- Seatpost // RaceFace Ride 31.6 x 400mm.
- Confirmed weight // 31.46lbs
- Price // £1100