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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.