Jamis Dakar AMT Pro 650b Review

Yes your eyes don’t deceive you, that’s Sram X0-1.

Yesterday I was able to demo the Jamis Dakar AMT Pro with 650b wheels. Before I tell you what I thought of the bike, it is imperative that you know my background and thoughts about 650b wheels (or 27.5” for you nerds.)  I am tall-ish (6′ 1.5”) and once I rode a bike with 29” wheels, I thought that there was no need for me to ever ride smaller wheels again.  That was great for a couple of years until 650b wheels gained popularity and people started arguing with me about how great they were.  I thought, “Nah, they’re just a fad that will go away soon.”  I couldn’t have been more wrong.

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The actual demo bike with a dropper post. (It was radical.)

When I first mounted this beast, I was impressed with the geometry.  As an All Mountain Bike, I expected it to be very slacked out and climb like this.  (Poorly if you don’t feel like clicking the link.)  The front wheel did feel slacked out, which added a lot of control and handling, but the bike climbed great and didn’t feel like it was robbing me of much energy up the hills.  This was not by any means a cross country race bike, but the up hills were all certainly manageable.

But the downhills make me want to write this like a teenage girl… OMG!!! This was one of the most fun bikes I’ve ever ridden.  On a descending or flat trail this bike takes off like it has a jet engine.  Rocks, roots, switchbacks; the Jamis AMT 650b rolls over everything  with speed.  The geometry and suspension are set up perfectly so that you can get through everything quickly, comfortably, and with a smile on your face.  At least that’s what I did for our entire ride at Ringwood. The Sram X0-1 shifted incredibly smooth, and the chain never came off of the front chainring.  The three-point adjustability worked flawlessly on both shocks which made climbing or riding on fire-roads a lot easier.

Now for the 650b… The hype is real, as this is the do-all wheel size.  I rode right over big pointy rocks with the same confidence I would on a 29er, but was able to really lean the bike over in the corners which enabled me to go faster than if I were riding a 29er.  The conclusion that I came to about these 650b wheels is that they are the ultimate all-purpose wheels if you want to have fun on a mountain bike.  The only time I though that 29” performed better is at slow speed in large rocks.  Does this minor drawback really outweigh the benefits? No not really.  In those circumstances a 650b wheel is much more maneuverable than a 29er which enables you to choose your lines and put the front wheel where you want it to go.  In my opinion, 650b is the only choice for an all-mountain style bike.

A big thanks to Mark for an awesome demo day, trail guidance, and burgers!

A big thanks to Mark for an awesome demo day, trail guidance, and burgers!

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Marty Cross – An Introduction to the Oddity of Cyclocross

Marty looks good in blue!

What is cyclocross? It is a kooky sport for sure, originating in the early 1900’s in Europe.  Professional road racers would often race each other from one town to another.  The catch was, they were allowed to cut through farmer’s fields, hop fences, and carry their bikes up and over obstacles to shorten the distance they had to ride.  For them it was a way to have fun and stay in shape during the winter months.  When the Frenchmen Octave Lapize won the Tour de France in 1910, he told the media that his amazing fitness was due to cyclocross training in the off-season.    Since then the sport has taken off and blossomed into a whole new way to race a bicycle.

Matthew Tyler aka “The Bearded Knight” demonstrating perfect barrier technique.

Now, in an effort to emulate these old school “field races,” we create short 2.5km courses in fields that utilize sections of grass, mud, and pavement.  Instead of fences, we put up barriers that are low enough to step over, but high enough so that most riders will have to dismount, carry their bicycles over, and then remount at speed.

The races are done on bicycles that look very similar to road bikes, but have wider, knobby tires to grip the grass and slog through the unforgiving mud.  Racers often bring two bikes with them and leave one in the “pit.”  The pit is a place in the middle of the course where a racer can change bikes in case of a mechanical failure.  These races are done by time ranging from 30 minutes to one hour.

Spectators be hecklin’!

Spectators are often encouraged to heckle riders during the race and give out “hand-ups” to riders which may include dollar bills, beers, Mallomars, or just about anything to entice a rider to go faster than the person next to him/her.

Racing in these events is one thing, but being part of the planning, set-up, and tear down is tough, but extremely rewarding when it all comes together.  One of the best parts of Marty Cross 2013 was definitely the Kid’s Race.

We had a blast at Marty Cross this year and worked hard to set up a great course and atmosphere.

Uncle Ben!

Staking, Taping, Getting the van stuck on the hill…

Thanks to all who attended and helped out.  It was great because of you!  You can find more pictures and media from the race on our Facebook page.

Weekend Happenings

We had a nice Fall ride to the Hackelbarney Cider Mill on Sunday the 29th. The ride left the Morristown store at 8:00 am and we got a nice group photo at the cider mill.  I opted for an apple turnover instead of a doughnut.

We don't sell BMC bikes, but that's ok!

We don’t sell BMC bikes, but that’s ok!

My mom said this picture looked gross, but it tasted good.
apple turnover

This weekend we had Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day. Specialized sent us some good promo stuff and JORBA lead the ride. I put up a signup form on the Martysreliable.com web page with some info on the event. We had about 30 kids show up and everyone seemed to have a good time.

Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day

Take a Kid Mountain Biking IMG_0834

On Sunday Marty and Jesse lead a wet ride from the Morristown Green. It was a nice easy family ride before the wellness yoga festival on the green. It was kind of rainy but fun was had by all.

That thing the kids are is called a WEEHOO. Ask Jesse about it.

That thing the kids are in is called a WEEHOO. Ask Jesse about it.

photo (39) photo (40)

On Sunday I went out to Trexlertown PA for the Bicycling Magazine Fall Classic. They had several ride options and I opted for the 90 miler. I hadn’t done one of these gran fondo style rides yet and this one looked to be pretty good. It turned out to be a great ride and I met some nice people. There were some timed climbs for a little competition, but between the climbs we just rolled at a nice quick pace.  George Hincapie was in front group with us and that was kind of cool. The ride ended with a loop around the velodrome, lunch and free beer.

Bicycling Fall Classic

George rolling along with us.

George rolling along with us.

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Mark did a ride with Peggy and it was so good that she kissed him.

Mark and Peggy

Mark and Peggy

Mark did not kiss Marty, but here is a photo of them on the Green.

Mark and Marty

Mark and Marty