Leave it to me to buy a bike that is "obsolete" before I even got a chance to take it on a real ride. In the last few months I'd been mulling the idea of getting something more dirt worthy since I sold off my Specialized Epic Comp a few years ago. At first I was really attracted to the simplicity of the Specialized Crave/Carve SL 29er. I'd never owned a single speed mountain before and the idea of an aluminum and carbon big tired bike was intriguing in its simplicity. Truly a bike to ride hard and put up wet in the mud and muck of winter trails around here. And the added bonus was that the Carve was reasonably easy to convert to a geared bike if I found I needed the extra gearing.
But it wasn't long before I was being lured by that ever present love of steel and a number of friends were suggesting a look at the Salsa El Mariachi. It's a pretty bike to be sure and has a great reputation but I found myself annoyed that it was less easily converted to a geared configuration.
Then it occurred to me that my OCD was a little out of control and that if I was so concerned about whether I could convert to a multi geared bike that perhaps I needed to just get over the single speed thing and it was at that point that I came across this 2013 Jamis Dragon 20th anniversary model being sold new from a shop for a blowout price. I suspect they were trying to get the bike off their inventory and were dumping it for less than half of what it was listed at.
The more I looked at that bike I realized it had what I was looking for. And here I am looking at it in my living room and dazzled by its beauty and realizing what an odd duck of bike it is in our current mountain bike industry. Here it is, a steel hard tail with a strong lineage. I remember first seeing a Jamis Dragon in 1993 in Lincoln, Nebraska, when I was first getting into serious riding. It was a pretty bike but I as already smitten with my Bridgestone MB-2 and the Bstone cult.
Twenty years on the Jamis Dragon is still a great bike. But I look at it and think how odd that it's a steel hard tail, celebrating the two decades of the model, and has 29 inch wheels that apparently are now no longer the best choice for trail riding. This video (below) came up when I was looking for a tutorial on youtube about tweaking my front brakes. Apparently 26 inch wheels are virtually no good for anything now. Oh how oh how did we ever ride trails with 26 inch wheels these past couple of decades?
It's interesting to me that the 26' is now "dead" and the 29er may be following closely on its heels. Strange too because I have been quite invigorated by renewed love for the Bridgestone MB-1 I've been using as my snow bike this winter. That quick aggressive handling (and "small" wheel) is wonderful and something that I think people who have never tried a high quality early '90s bike that has no shocks are missing out on. Everything feels so precise on that bike.
So here I am with an obsolete new bike…celebrating its own 20 year history. How will I ever be able to ride it now that the 650b is the new king? I guess I'll just ride it and take my chances. It'll be interesting comparing the ride of the Jamis with the Bridgestone and with the Specialized Epic Comp that also had 26 inch wheels but was full suspension. One of the reasons I sold the Epic was that I was not using it much because it felt so niche. And yet being full suspension and with disk brakes it was probably the bike that was most readily in the shop getting tweaked here and there so the suspension was dialed or the brakes didn't squeal. Perhaps the new bike will be the perfect compromise.
A gallery of photos of my new bike:
And for good measure, a little Tina in honor of the title of this post. I couldn't help but think of this song when all the pearl clutching was going on about Miley Cyrus singing and dancing provocatively a few months back. This is just as scandalous in its own way, except...you know, Ms. Turner is really, really talented.
For over 12 Years I wrote the Reno Rambler Blog covering everything from Bicycle Advocacy, Reno Politics, Popular Culture, and my experiences as a long-time cyclist.