Jamis Trail X2 £279
20th Jun 2011 | 16:00
Eye-catching entry-level hardtail
Jamis’s Trail X range certainly isn’t a ‘me-too’ design – it’s unusual to encounter a bike so distinctive at this price. And the X2 isn’t even the cheapest in the Jamis range – there are two bikes with the same frame below it.
Ride & handling: Short cockpit and clunky fork restrict off-road capability
The Jamis is shorter than a lot of other entry-level bikes, with an inch less top tube than some. A long stem makes up some of the difference. It feels nimble and easy to turn at low speeds, but when you go a little quicker, the X2 begins to want to tuck and dive in corners. The short cockpit makes it hard to stretch out for better power delivery on climbs too, and with the X2’s extra pounds, power is what you need.
In some ways it’s a little disingenuous to criticise the X2 for its upright ride posture – it’s not done by mistake, Jamis have purposely designed it that way to be less intimidating for beginners and to give a better view in town. It’s certainly quite happy dodging through traffic, but if you’re looking for an introduction to mountain biking, the X2 will prove to be quite limiting quite quickly.
This isn't helped by the RST suspension fork, which is a seriously bouncy bit of kit, with aggressive rebound and a top-out clunk that’s almost as bad as just hitting the bump with a rigid fork. It deals with the odd root or bump adequately, but as soon as you want to start going a little faster the fork will make you change your mind.
Frame: Unique looks, plus low standover height boosts confidence
The Trail X2 frame is an eye-catching beast, thanks to the combination of a low-slung top tube, extended seat tube and extra strut to help support the latter. The top tube and square section down tube both curve gently, although the look is spoiled slightly by the cables running under the top tube – they don’t curve, leaving them hanging in space along the underside of the tube.
The rear triangle is compact and carries a disc mount on the left and a replaceable gear hanger on the right. One drawback of the low-slung frame is that there’s only room in the main triangle for one set of bottle mounts.
Equipment: Impressive spec for the money, although discs aren't very powerful
The most eye-catching components on the Trail X2 are the Tektro cable disc brakes. Discs are a rarity on £400 bikes, let alone £279 ones. They’re not particularly powerful, being outgunned by some of the V-brakes found on bikes at this price, and they add to the X2's weight. But on the plus side they’re consistent and unaffected by wobbly rims.
Jamis have specced a Shimano MegaRange screw-on freewheel with a 14T top sprocket and a monster 34 low, but with an enormous jump from the adjacent sprocket, it’s very much a ‘bail-out’ gear for when all else fails. Combined with the 24/34/42 rings on the Suntour chainset, you get a usefully low bottom setting but not much range – the 42/14 top end isn’t very big at all.
Shimano EZ-Fire gear levers do the shifting, with an easy-to-use thumb lever and top-mounted finger trigger. They’re not as ergonomically sound as the higher-end RapidFire+ levers, but they’re easy to use and reliable.
This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine.