Author Topic: Jamis Dragon 29er, Reynolds frame -- worth looking at?  (Read 796 times)

Svend

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Jamis Dragon 29er, Reynolds frame -- worth looking at?
« on: June 14, 2012, 09:48:39 am »
Back to Reynolds bike frames, and some feedback requested from Liam and Josh, if possible....

I happened upon what seems like a pretty good deal on a brand new frameset of a Jamis Dragon 29er, 2009 model, and am tempted to buy it.  Price is ~$425, which is about 1/3 of list.  Full lifetime warranty on the frame.  Online reviews of this bike are good, at least of the ride quality.  Complaints seem to be only about components, but then I would be buying only the frame, so this is not relevant.

Question is.....is this a good bike? A good brand? Jamis is little known up here in Canada, so I don't know their reputation.  You just don't see them around much, except their lower end stuff in the big box sports stores.

The specs look OK on the frame:  Reynolds 853 steel main tubes; chromoly stays; 72 deg. HTA (steeper than my present bike, which is OK, but maybe too twitchy?); 74 deg. STA; 17.72"/450mm chainstay (not bad, could be shorter; still a good climber?).

If I buy this frame, I am thinking of either stripping and moving over all the parts off my Paragon and selling that frame, or just slowly acquiring new parts for the Jamis when they come on sale and building up the frame from scratch, then selling the complete Paragon.  The advantage of the latter is that I can add what I want -- UST wheels, 2x10 drivetrain, etc..  Disadvantage of this is the cost -- adding everything up may equal the cost of a complete bike -- cranks, wheels, shifters, etc. are all expensive aftermarket parts.

Edit:  I just looked at Niner frames, and their pricing is better than I thought.  About $850 for an MCR9 frameset.  Not bad...  How does the Jamis quality compare to Niner?

Any thoughts, guys? Thanks!
« Last Edit: June 14, 2012, 02:11:31 pm by Svend »


bushwacka

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I wouldnt say either is better quality. There is a good chance they are produced in the same factory.

I actually owned one of these although it was 26inch and a SS.



It was light fast nimble and handled technical terrain very well. Also BTW the number for the dragon are based off running a 80mm fork. Personally I would run 100mm(at least) with a 15mm though axle over 80mm and a QR.

building your own bike is costly but you can get something that is normally not sold.


Svend

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Hey, thanks Josh.  I might go and take a first hand look at the frame, and then find a Niner dealer in Toronto to compare.  Niner has good detail pics on their website, but Jamis does not, so it's hard to compare the build and design.  A couple of the reviews said the rear triangle of the Jamis was rather soft, which is not an attribute that I would care for.  More research is needed.

If I build it from the frame up with new parts, I can take my time and wait for good deals.  I already found a pair of new WTB wheels, UST, for ~$320 the set.  That's not bad.  But....if I'm going to go to the expense of building from scratch, I really want to make sure the frame is worth it.  Start with good bones, in other words.

The 100mm fork makes sense.  More travel; slacker head angle.  Good idea....

If I strip the Paragon, will I even be able to sell the frame? Is there much of a market for used frames?

BTW, great pic that you posted.  No wonder you run tubeless with rocks like that on your trails.   ;)

bushwacka

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for used Al frames like the paragon 100 bucks would be lucky.

also make sure the wheelset can be converted to 15mm thru. IMO QR are another design that should just die off.

bushwacka

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I do not even know how people ride with high pressure and/or tubes








Liam

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My thoughts are very similar to bushwhackers...I owned an older 26er Dragon and loved it.  Niner quality and Jamis quality are about equal, and since there are not many Taiwanese factories working in 853 Reynolds steel frame construction, chances are very high the MCR and the Jamis dragon are made in the same place.

400.00 or so for a new reynolds 29er frame is pretty decent, in my opinion.

Caveat-While I have no qualms about Niner quality, I have never cottoned to their geometry.  I spent 2 weeks on a SS Sir 9 my buddy was looking to unload.  Good bike, had a nice spec, but just felt pretty blah about the handling....on the other hand, Niner has many, many enthusiasts who say other wise.

I got a chance to put in some rides on a Demo Giant XTC Carbon 29er....I'm not usually a carbon bike fan, but that bike rode wonderfully, looks good, and accelerates better than any big wheeled bike I've ridden.  Geometry is very nice for endure style racing.   

Bush, big, chunky soft compound tires make that sort of riding doable (and people have done it for years) even with tubes-Best rider I know runs Ardent 2.4 29ers, with Tubes @ 30psi-doesn't flat and kills it in New England Chunk...but,  I agree that those same tires  run Tubeless will handle even better.

Svend

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Thanks for the input, Liam.  I really need to research this a lot more before I decide to pull the trigger and commit to building up a bike from a frame.  As I said, the bones have to be good, otherwise it's not worth the cost and the time. 

I think you're right about the geometry of the Jamis and Niner steel bikes.  It doesn't seem particularly up to date....a bit old school, actually.  This was one of my main concerns with the Dragon frame, was that the handling of the bike would actually be worse than my Fischer.  The HTA is steeper, but the chainstay is longer.  I actually really like the way the Paragon handles -- with a 70 deg. HTA and a 440mm chainstay, it has a nice balance of reasonably agile steering (esp. with the new flat wide bars), good climbing, and downhill stability.  So going to a Jamis would be a possible gain in more plush ride quality, but would lose in handling and weight.  Probably not worth the tradeoff.  Better to look for a newer Reynolds or Scandium frame.

Interesting comments about the Giant.  I know a guy who rides Giant carbon 26ers out on the west coast (very rocky, rugged terrain), and loves them.  I have never viewed Giant with much respect, as the components on their bikes didn't mesh with the price tag.  In the $2000 range (for a hardtail), there was much better value with others.  Maybe this has changed in past years, or isn't true of their higher-end models.

Josh, your trails are certainly much more gnarly than what we have up here.  I will post a couple of pics soon, but basically they are smooth hardpacked clay, with some roots, round stones, and the odd sand pit thrown in for amusement.  There is more rugged stuff around, but I would have to drive a bit to find it.  There's enough to explore within a two hour drive to keep me happy for years.  Hence the lack of need for really burly tires -- we do just fine with lighter XC tires.


Svend

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Caveat-While I have no qualms about Niner quality, I have never cottoned to their geometry.  I spent 2 weeks on a SS Sir 9 my buddy was looking to unload.  Good bike, had a nice spec, but just felt pretty blah about the handling....on the other hand, Niner has many, many enthusiasts who say other wise.

Liam, I'm curious....what do you look for in geometry in a bike? And, following that, what kind of handling characteristics do you like? I ask this with the understanding that your needs may be quite different from mine because of where you ride, the terrain, what kind of riding you do, etc.

Considering the smooth trails we have here in southern Ontario, an XC bike suits most people perfectly well, and will handle 95% of the terrain.  You will rarely see an all-mtn. bike or heavier rig.  There is still a good market for XC hardtail 26ers, actually, and I would guess that about 40% of bikes we encounter on the singletrack are of that species.  My wife and 13 year old daughter ride one, and manage perfectly well -- there is almost nothing they won't or can't tackle in our woods.  29ers are becoming more popular, and about 20% ride those -- all hardtails, with the odd singlespeed in the mix.  The other 40% are light XC full suspension bikes.

Personally speaking, the geometry that I seem to prefer is moderate HTA (say 70 deg. or so) for balanced handling, and a shorter chainstay for good climbing (there are a lot of steep, short climbs).  I know little about how STA affects handling, other than determining how short the chainstays can be, and how the rider's legs align with the crank.  Re. the HTA -- I have ridden both extremes, too steep and too slack.  I spent time on an '09 Stumpjumper Comp 29er that must have had a steep HTA, because it was so twitchy and nervous that I would not want to take it around any tight twisty singletrack, or down a fast descent.  A hiccup would have sent me into the trees.  OTOH, I have been spent a few days on full-suss all mtn. 26ers with slack head tubes, and they handled like grandpa's old Buick.  Boring.....  But if I rode in more rugged terrain, I would own one, and can see the merits of a high BB and slack steering.

Anyway, interested to hear what your tastes are.  From Josh's pics, there seems to be some rugged stuff you guys need to get through.  Is your area similar?

Svend

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Hey Josh, your mention of Kona got me looking around their website.  I came across the Big Kahuna hardtail 29er, and that may just be my next bike.  Scandium frame (nice!), decent drivetrain/fork/brakes, etc., and with geometry almost exactly like my Paragon.....I like it! Reasonable price too.