Jamis Exile 29 single speed review

I got a Jamis Exile29 Single Speed for review earlier this year. The Jamis Exile is a steel (Reynolds 631) hard-tail frame. Although ‘Steel is real’ I think we can add heavy to the end of that saying. However, with that added weight comes a great ride and feel of the bike.
Carbon bars
For this test, the bike has a Rock Shox, Reba fork up front. The reba is coupled with an aerus 110mm stem, and aerus carbon riser handle-bars. I like a wider handlbar on a single-speed bike. I have found that on a single-speed you end up pushing and pulling much more than on a geared bike, and the Aerus hasn’t let me down.

The front tire is a Kenda Nevegal 2.2.
The rear tire is the Specialized Fast Track – 2.0.
Truvative bottom bracket and cranks, with a 32 front chain ring & a 20 tooth rear cog.

adjustable position, 20t gear

Jamis set-up their single-speed horizontal drop-outs by placing wheel position bolts in the rear dropouts. Anytime you change a cog, you would have to change the position of these bolts. I ride with several people that have SS’s, and I have had to wait several times for them to re-adjust their bottom bracket (BB) positioners (which is some bike manufactors way of keeping the single speed chain ). Once you adjust your positioners with the Jamis, the rear skewer will keep them in place. With the other BB there is a lot of torque and movement going on there, and riders seem to have to re-tighten often, or make double sure they are tight enough to begin with.

Chain keeper

It has a chain keeper in the rear. Which seems over-kill until you go about changing out the gear, then it is a nice added feature. When are about to take your rear wheel out, you simply take the chain off the rear cog, and ‘hang’ on the chain hanger on the rear of the frame. This keeps the chain from dropping down. It’s a small detail, but one that I appreciate.

Braking is done with the Avid Juicy Threes. This Jamis is set-up with 180mm rotors up front and 160mm rotor in the rear. This is done so that you have enough stopping power up front where your weight will shift slightly, but not so much stopping power in the rear that you back tire locks up every time you feather the rear brake.
Although with the Fast Track on the rear, locking it up while braking is my only complaint.

Even being a single speed, this bike is a heavy weight – 27lbs. This is part due to the heavy wheels, but lets face it, the 631 steel frame is heavy material, however, it is a great riding frame.

Single Speeding at Chicopee with Apollo

This is not a bike that I would want to start out the season riding. Single speeding can be brutal on the wrong course if you are not in shape. I did a long ride w/ a friend and his kids, and at a slower pace, you mash the gear & my legs got worked!

I think every Single Speed needs a handle-bar mounted Front fork lockout! Loosing momentum from a bobbing fork on the trail sucks! And with a Single Speed, when you hit the uphill section where you notice your fork isn’t locked out, it is even tough to sit & adjust with out loosing momentum.

The Ride
This bike is FUN!!!
This is the first single-speed bike I have ridden, and although it seems like it will be too tough to ride much on a single-speed, I have found that most terrain is actually very rideable. Granted, I didn’t dare take it too the foothills of the Appalachian Mts when I went, but I have surprised myself with the climbs that I have gotten over with the single speed. As most Single-Speeders will tell you, usually, if they have to dismount and push, most geared Mt bikers have to dismount and push also.

Exile SS

This bike handles very well, and with the single-speed, I have noticed that I can whip the rear end around much more than with a geared bike.
The single speed causes me to look ahead to what is upcoming, so that I have a better chance to prepare for the terrain. If it is uphill, I will look for a place to gain some extra momentum before the climb.

The wider Aerus handle-bars allow me to push, pull hard on the climbs, or anytime I’m accelerating, and they also allow me to lean it hard into corners – which I think is necessary for a 2Niner.

Overall, I have been impressed with how smooth of a ride this bike has (smoother than my other aluminum 2niner frame) and what I thought would be a bigger challenge of only a single-speed has actually been a gift of simplicity.

Cyclist Strength training Myths

There are some myths and mis-information about weight training for cycling.

Myth: Going to the gym will improve your cycling.
If you follow a good plan will be True, however this can also be False.

Myth: I’m doing crunches to work on my core.
The purpose of your core is stabilization. Most people are already in a position of a flexed spine (for example, one a bike or hunched at a desk) and doing crunches only effects 1 small part of your overall core.

Myth: Do what the body builders do.
This is False – an Athlete and a body-builder have very different goals.

Myth: Working out will just make you bulk up and carry extra weight on the climbs.
Please, You see everyone in the gym looks Huge? No, because everyone has different nutrition, workout frequency, and different workout intensity. The Big guys are always at the gym, and almost always doing single joint exercises, and often doing very low reps to failure.

Myth: Doing exercises that work both legs at the same time.
This is fine for some people, however, you should have a goal of doing a Single Leg squat. Again athletes have different goals from body builders. So try 4-6 weeks of squats, then lunges, then try the single-leg squats.

If you want to inside info on how to get stronger for cycling,
If you want to get stronger on the hills,
If you want to start cycling faster, then

– invest in my ebook 4 Things for Stronger Cycling

Support independent publishing: Buy this e-book on Lulu.

Conserve energy by Drafting

Drafting is a way of conserving your energy by allowing a rider ahead of you to separate the wind while you stay in their slip stream. By doing this they say the second rider can use about 20% less energy to go the same speed.

I have read articles that say ‘don’t over-lap wheels’ and ‘don’t break’ when drafting, but when you are drafting properly you are at most about 6″ from the wheel in front of you. Now add in variations of effort, grade, and rider energy into the mix and there is no way that you can not either over-lap wheels or touch your brakes at some point!

Which of the 2 you do, I would suggest, is based on the rest of the group around you. In all situations you should first attempt to adjust how much pressure you are putting on the pedals to best adjust your speed. I will also use gearing to assist in this process. When I’m attempting not to brake I will spin an easier gear w/ higher cadence – when I’m going too fast, I first stop spinning as fast (but keep the legs turning when I can).

This was best learned at the velodrome where the bikes do not have brakes, only fixed gears (so no coasting). When you don’t have brakes on the bike you become very alert to your cadence and the ability to adjust your cadence based on how close you are to the rider ahead of you.

Working Man's Madison | Day 2

In a group of less experienced riders I would suggest NOT overlapping wheels! Less experienced riders tend to move side-to-side more than experienced riders. In this situation I would first try adjusting speed by not pedaling as fast, then if necessary by lightly feathering the brakes. As you get better your use of the brakes should become not as strong, just enough to add some drag.

Racing at the Dick Lane Velodrome

Although it is the responsibility of each rider to not hit the rider ahead of them, it is also good to keep in mind that you have other’s well being in your hands based on your actions. No one is perfect, but there are some riders I will avoid or go around ASAP! Yet, there are some riders that I have no problem drafting behind them as long as possible.

When other riders are involved what can happen is that the whole or parts of the pack can do a paceline. A pace line is a way for the group to maintain a higher speed using Drafting, by alternating who gets to draft, while giving each rider a chance to recover from the brief effort of speed.

If you are in the paceline and you are having trouble keeping up the pace, it is OK to sit-on and take a break for awhile! When you are pushing beyond your limits is when fatigue sets in and accidents happen. And when pace-lining, your accident can involve several other people.

Remember the group is only as fast as it’s slowest member (weakest link). If the group is going too fast for a rider then that rider either will not be able to pull through very much or they can sit-on the pace-line.

Cherohala Crossing 2011

In this years edition of Cherohala crossing, I had redemption in mind! You see at last year’s Cherohala (2010), I had a long steep uphill/downhill the day before at the Drama Queen ride, then didn’t properly get nutrition after the ride & was basically doomed from the start of the Cherohala ride.

This year I felt that I was better trained, and had better preparation. We did a fast, flat, fun ride at Jack Rabbit the day before. Got good nutrition after the Jack Rabbit ride. Had a great dinner and adult beverages that evening with friends.

Up early the next am for a great breakfast feast & off we went to downtown Murphy, NC. We meet up with everyone, get prepped, someone gets bit by a friendly dog while attempting to grab the stick, get a pre-ride photo and off we go.

Cherohala Crossing Crew

The ride rolls out at a very friendly pace, we head towards the airport just East of Murphy, suddenly we make a turn, and the pavement ends. First climb of the day & it is 6 miles of gravel uphill. This climb is only steep in a couple sections, although definitely uphill. The 6 miles of climbing seems to take a really long time, especially if you don’t know the climb.

Everyone is regrouped at the top & we charge down the other side. Just before the road turns to pavement, we find Gary, Angela, & Gary’s Mother who is driving the 2nd sag wagon. We grab some food, refill bottles & start the pavement section over to the base of the Cherohala parkway (base of ‘Tail of the Dragon’).

The Cherohala crossing is mainly a CX bike ride, however, I do it on my mt. bike – although it is a dis-advantage on the uphills & roads, it is an advantage on the downhills – where the least amount of energy is used.

climbing Cherohala skyway

Upward again for 2 miles, then a quick turn back onto the 1 mile gravel decent – up 2, down 1? – back to the climbing, uphill for 7.5 miles this time, and it was on this climb that once again my body decided it wasn’t happy. the alternating elevation changes of climbing, slight downhill, climbing (and last night’s beers MAY have had something to do with it?!) CRAMPS. I could get on the bike pedal for a little while, stand, sit, avoid it all I could, but suddenly I would cramp again, stop stretch, drink, eat, pedal again, cramp again – repeat….

I was battling M.J. for last place & after seeing him in the car, I envisioned everyone at the top, waiting. I finally decided to give in and catch the broom wagon to the top. Once there, everyone seemed to be still busy chatting & getting nutrition.

Once again, shortly after the last person arrived, we all headed down off the Mt. and into Tennessee. Once down onto the pavement we went a few miles and stopped at a local country store for refreshments. By now my stomach was not happy with everything I had consumed in attempts to halt the cramping, so I opted for a Sprite. I headed out a bit sooner than everyone else, but it seemed that they caught up quickly.

We went up the road a bit further and it started to rain just as we were getting to the next gravel climb – but this gravel road was being worked on, so instead of dust we were getting some mud. This climb kicks more at the beginning, then rolls more towards the top. I was happy to get over the climb with out any more cramping and figured I would pick up some folks on the decent….. No. everyone was Gone! I dropped down the road only catching 1 person before getting back onto the pavement. Up the road we went & made the turn for back to Murphy, NC.

From FarmerG ‘finish in about 7:40 total with a ride time a bit over 6:00.’
Awesome area & beautiful views – if you can pick your head up enough to see them.

What bike should a new triathlete buy

I have this question asked quite often by beginner triathletes: “What kind of bike should I get?” People that are just getting into triathlons are often confused with all the bikes out there. Although they are looking for which brand of bike to purchase – we usually answer with ‘A Road Bike‘. After the odd look, I start to explain my reasoning.

Tri-athletes may think I am crazy when I tell them that they should get a road bike and not a triathlon bike. But there are many important reasons why your first bike should be a road bike, and not a triathlon (TT) bike like this:

Leader 735TT bike

Some of my reasons are:
1) Your hands will never be far from your shifters.

2) Your hands will never be far from your brakes.

3) Your weight is not shifted as far forward (on a road bike) due to less vertical seat tube angle.

4) On a Triathlon bike, your arms & steering points are not as far forward past the steering tube – stem length + aero-bar length.

5) On a triathlon bike, your points of contact are now very narrow, rather than tri-angle shaped (road) points of contact – seat, Left & Right hand. This makes it harder to maintain a straight line while riding.

AND the most Important reason is you can focus on your bike handling skills FIRST!

Unfortunately people often go into bike shops and say, I’m going to do a triathlon, I need a tri-bike. Truthfully, they do NOT. They need a road bike, so that they learn how to ride on the road, before riding a bike in a triathlon or time trial position.

Riding on the road is dangerous. Learning the fundamentals of steering, braking, shifting, dealing with traffic, riding near other cyclists, food and drink, all should be learned before purchasing a triathlon bike. Although it may sound expensive to purchase a road bike to ride for 2 years before getting a triathlon bike, it is actually a much smarter decision to work on the fundamentals of cycling. Also, a Triathlon bike is not the ideal bike for every triathlon, a road bike can be a faster bike on some hillier courses.

Team RoundHere Racing new Parlee bikes

A great tip that I give to people attempting to fuel while on the bike is to use the hand that controls the front brake to get food, drink. This way your rear brake hand remains near the rear brake. It maybe awkward at first, but it can save you a lot of trouble in case anything happens.