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.

IMG_20131029_115819083

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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