After wasting the season looking for just the right mountain bike, I finally picked up this 2013 Jamis Exile Comp 29er from the Toronto Fall Bicycle Show. I’m a roadie through and through, but after taking my cyclocross bike on to some of the local single track trails, and having to shoulder it out after most runs caused pinched flats or blow-outs, I simply couldn’t deny that riding in the wilderness is a whole lot of fun and great for developing ones bike handling skills for the road.
The Exile Comp is a butted aluminum hardtail frame with a tapered head tube, spec’ed out with a 9-speed Shimano drivetrain counted out with an Alivio rear mech, Acera front mech, Alivio 44/32/22 170mm Octalink chainset, SRAM cassette, Alivio pull-push shifters, Tektro Draco 2 hydraulic disc brakes and a Rockshox XC30 100mm fork.
Many reviews of the Exile liken the feel of its cockpit to that of a beach cruiser, but it’s safe to say that these reviewers haven’t ridden a cruiser in a very long time. While not as aggressive out of the box as most of the Cannondales, Specializeds or Rocky Mountains that I tested, the Exile has the rider sitting mostly “between the wheels” instead of in the “over the [front] wheel ” stance that these reviewers and many MTB frame engineers seem to favour, the theory being that more weight on the front means better handling. The differences are minute, but it gives the bike a more balanced feel that’s best appreciated when climbing, during fast descents and when going over rough terrain.
While it isn’t as “flickable” as my brother’s 26” Norco Wolverine, a quality that’s most recognizable when bombing through segments of tightly wound single track, the difference is made up by the increased bite that comes from riding high on 29s. I have more confidence in the corners than I would otherwise on a 26er, knowing that I’m unlikely to dump the bike even if I have to change my line while going into a corner.
As with all 29ers, it accelerates noticeably slower than a 26er, but once the wheels are turning it tears up double track in a way that most 26ers can’t even come close to matching. If you can push it — and as a roadie I can — the extra big ring exploits the potential of the 700C wheel size by giving you some more hard gears to use on the road and on the expanses of smoothie trails.
I’m 5’ 6-9/16”, which puts me on the borderline between the 17” and the 15”. While I originally took the 17” home, a mistake that I will attribute to my disproportionately long inseam, I went back to the distributor and got the 15” instead. The 17” felt okay, but the slightly shorter effective top tube length of the 15” just took the handling up a few pegs by fitting much better to my relatively shorter trunk. I feel more “over the wheel” but not to same extent as I did on the Rocky Mountains that I tested.
Because Jamis produces the best women’s-specific frames on the market, they’re used to dialing in the geometry for shorter riders with my general proportions. (I love the fit of their women’s road frames). A lot of other brands struggle with their smaller frames, but Jamis does it right. This is evidenced by the fact that I really had to try my damnedest to find some toe overlap. My heels were practically on the pedals before my toe connected with the front wheel during a slow turn. The engineers also worked out most of the handlebar height issues that bedevil older and poorly designed small 29er frames.
All in all, I’m very excited about this bike and I can’t wait for next season or for this bout of shitty autumn weather to turn around.
Rode my hardest — set three new PRs on the course, tore both of my vastus medailus obliques, entraped my perineum nerve from sitting on the bolt for two hours and shredded my gluts — but still came up very short. Basically TT’ed the whole time. To hell with “neutral starts”, they only benefit the weak.
Gratuitous picture of yourself Wednesday!
I’m going to flood your dashboard of me derping like a champ, but still looking pro, at Le Tour de Terra Cotta!
Oh, you naughty Sagan
I don’t care if Sagan is cycling’s wunderkind, he’s a level 50 douche.
Climbing on a cruiser is difficult. Even when you’re up and out of the saddle, the rolling resistance and gearing, if one is lucky enough to have a cruiser with gears, makes even a gentle grade feel like a category four climb. Still, whenever I see people walking their cruisers up hills, I’m so tempted to shout at them. “Ride it up!”
this blog is all class (via pure-evil)
The idea of just “cruising” on a bike is alien to me. I need to go fast, and you know what makes you slower? Smoking. So actually no, this guy is a goof and I can’t support it. Shut it down!
hands up everyone who’s tried this (via Cool bikes and cool people)
New rule; if a cyclist is breaking the posted speed limit by at least 8km/h, they can take the whole lane. Especially where the margins of the pavement get really sketchy.