Jamis Sixfifty

I’ve been in contact with Nick from Getaway Cycle Center in Bloomingdale for a few months now to demo a Jamis SixFifty.  It so happens there was a Jamis Demo day he is running at Ringwood this past weekend.  I was getting all stoked to ride this bad boy but then my plans to go were put off for better reasons (cause I’ll be doing the first TM at the Rutgers Eco Preserve!).  However, I shot Nick an email asking if he will have the demo fleet around next week too and he said that he actually had them on hand and I can demo one whenever.  The next day during the week I meet Nick for the first time and out the door I go to test the SixFifty B2 at Ringwood!

Checking the bike out, I couldn’t tell much difference from a 26″ FS bike.  It felt just as light too.  I put my leg over and WoW.  The bike immediately felt right!  The geometry is spot on.  The seat tube angle was comfortable.  It put you in the bike and not on top of it.  On paper the 69* head tube angle  is a little steep for a AM bike but it felt less than that.  It steered pretty quick but felt slack.  The bike also puts you at a very comfortable height.  The height felt stable and it may have looked like a 26″ bike but it sure didn’t feel like one when rolling around in the lot.  Doing some S turns, I really felt the momentum compared to my 26″ FS bike.  On ward I went and hopped over the curb to get on the double track.  It did that just like any 26″ and I honestly smiled.  Seriously.  To test it even further I started hopping from one side of the double track to the other.  I hate to say the F word when talking about the 650bs but yes, this bike is Flickable like a 26″.   

[Vimeo 11069500]   

The first section I hit was a moderately technical long curving climb.  I really didn’t know what to expect.  Ugh, the bike’s climbing characteristics is a bit firm for me.  I’ve heard the White Brothers Fluid fork being a little sticky and that was true.  Another downfall of the fork is that there isn’t any on the fly adjustments and the rebound is set on bottom of the lowers and the compression is set my adding or reducing air which wasn’t convenient.  The rear Rock Shox Monarch 3.1 wasn’t as active as I would like it to be either.  Coming from a Giant Maestro design, the MP3’s small bump compliance really didn’t feel like it was all there.  I had set up the shock to be a little on the plush side and the rebound and gate just about in the middle.  Afterall, the Sixfifty is still a single pivot bike so maybe that’s why what I considered on the plush side wasn’t enough for this design?  I set the suspension up at the shop and I was bummed I didn’t pack a shock pump.  I mean the Monarch isn’t a POS.  I’ve read some great reviews on it.  The SixFifty was an efficient climber but it wasn’t the most active. At least I didn’t feel any pedal bob.  However, as I approached awkward divots in the trail I would give the bike a quick burst of acceleration in anticipation of getting the wheels caught but it coasted over with little effort.  That was neat.  After the climb I hit some more small elevation change areas with singletrack and fireroads.  It was nice!  The bike carried its own speed very well through ST and coming out of some turns I could really get it out of the gate and feel the front float.  I don’t even get this kind of sensation on my 650b HT.  As I was saying the geo it spot on.  For comparison, the BB height on my HT is just about the same.  It’s 12″ with 26″ wheels and 13″ and change with 650b wheels.  The HT has a 71* HA.  I guess that’s where the difference is and the fact that this is a FS bike.  So it allows one to dig deeper in the turns and let the suspension spring you out.  My ReignX is too much of a pig to make this happen at 37#.   

Well, I get to the top of a bone jarring descent and make my way down.  Once again, where I expected my wheels to lock up in awkward spots, they just rolled over with ease.  I had to lock up my brakes a few times and  I experienced brake jack!  Or brake squat?!  Brake jack and squat are different but whatever it was the suspension locked up and I skipped like skipping stones.  This happened a couple of times.  Anyways, I got to the bottom of the infamous double switchbacks and I went up and through them smoothly and then that brought me to Skylands Trail.  I eyed up the Triple Drop and personally, I wasn’t up for it today.  Nevertheless, the bike isn’t even mine.  On the other hand I started testing the bike on some of the larger boulder features there.  The bike went up and down fine.  If you are familiar with some Jersey rock features, the on ramp is always smooth but half the time the exit is broken up and you experience an OTB scare.  However, with the Sixfifty there wasn’t an OTB feeling compared to my 26″ FS even though my 26″ FS has 2.5″ tires and a 67* HA.  I purposely planted the 650b wheel in some awkward places too and I was not sketched.  I liked the security the 650b wheel provided.  The next joy came from the flowy section out of Skylands Trail.  The bike tracked well and fast and before you know it I was lined up to take the 3’+/- drop.  NICE!  No bottom out.  The drop wasn’t a slow flat to flat like the Sourlands stuff.  It was a fast chute.  The Sixfifty handled the features on warm puppy just the same.   

All new Jamis Sixfifty B2

  

Summary – Jamis answers their own, “why 650b?” question with “you get the lightweight flickability and snappy acceleration of smaller 26” hoops, but you’ll also enjoy the relentless roll-over-everything trail ownage of 29’ers without their extra height and heft.  Sixfifty is all-mountain control, in a cross-country package.”  I totally agree.  The bike is a trail bike more than anything but if you put it to it, it will take on all the AM features.  It handled the 2-3 foot drops fine but I did feel a bit hesitant.  I just didn’t feel confident on hitting some of the aggressive stuff because I’m used to my ReignX with 6″+ with a 160mm fork and 36 stanchions.  I was expecting the Jamis to be like the new Trek Remedy. A 30# do it all aggressive AM machine.  At least that is what I am looking for but the Jamis disappointed in that respect.  It needs 36 stanchions and/or 10mm more of travel to get the more aggressive job done.  Especially if you weigh more than me which most people do.  Additionally, this was my first time using a drop post.  I didn’t really like it.  The Joplin dropped all the way and you loose the ability to feel where the bike’s rear is by using your tighs.  It’s just personal preference I guess.  I can see why gravity dropper makes a 2″ drop post now.  I’d rather try one of those.  Also, there is some wiggle in the post which I’ve heard plenty about before but I have no complaints with other components of the bike.  Compared to a 26″ FS, the Sixfifty excelled in carrying better speed through the turns and there is a smoother transition in and out.  The advantage of a larger wheel benefited both up and down too while still being very maneuverable.  It did fine in the tighter spots as well.  I brought the bike back to Nick and we talked about how I felt about the ride.  I was honest and told him mostly what’s on this review.  I looked over at his Sixfifty setup and saw his RP23.  That is exactly what this bike needs I said.  A more adjustable and active rear shock.  Sorry Rockshox but your forks are better than your shocks.  Then I was asked the money question by another at the shop, “Would you buy one?”  I hesitated  and said, “I would have to wait it out.”  Overall, the ride was great.  The larger 650b wheels provided the Sixfifty to excel in ripping up the flowy sections and having better rolling capability while still feeling nimble.  What I did not like was the suspension and if the suspension doesn’t work for you on a FS bike then the purchase would be a fail.  I may just need to spend more time on the bike but there is no denying the validity of a 650b full suspension rig.   Jamis is going to be at JORBA Fest this year and I’ll have you know that I am definitely taking the Sixfifty for another ride.   

Pros – light and nimble still with 650b’s, geometry, carries momentum better but doesn’t compromise control of the bike, no squat or pedal bob, climbs well, 650b’s excelled in flowy singletrack and rolling over   

Cons – White Brothers Fork definitely, either the shock or the MP3 design for its lack of small bump compliance or I just need better settings, brake jack/squat, hideous sliver of reinforcement in the front triangle that runs along the shock

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4 Responses to “Jamis Sixfifty”

  1. bob Says:

    Yep, change the shock and the fork and you’d have a different handling bike! Thanks for the review.

  2. jack Says:

    I want one!

    • thatmanmanny Says:

      WOW! I am so happy a year+ later this post is still useful. I have been off the blogging game. Jobs, trips, life, etc! I hope to return to writing soon 😦

      I still want one too! The new mp4 redesign is looking good!

  3. thatmanmanny Says:

    hmmm. Dunno why the video thumb is not working but please search ” Jamis Sixfifty” on Vimeo. Thanks!

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