The best £1,000 full-suspension bike we’ve ridden
Does the Jamis Dakar A2 entry-level full-sus boast the firepower to outgun the benchmark Bossnut? 120mm-travel trail bike available on Cycle To Work scheme!
Calibre broke new ground with its entry-level full-suspension bike, the Calibre Bossnut. By bringing high performance to an impressively low price point, it effectively democratised the benefits of suspension and delivered a package that could keep much more expensive metal on its toes.
Jamis Dakar A2
But we knew that its monopoly on the budget suspension bike market wouldn’t last forever. That someone would come along, find a way to iron out the few creases in the Bossnut’s package, and issue a challenge for the £1k throne. Well it looks like that time has come, and it’s Evans Cycles that’s on the warpath with its UK-specific Jamis Dakar.
So what do you get for your money? Firstly, the frame is sculpted from triple-butted 6061 alloy into a pleasing, fluid shape that doesn’t look to dissimilar to a Santa Cruz. The clean lines are accentuated by internal cable routing, and there’s room inside the main triangle for a bottle cage. So far, advantage Jamis.
Four sizes are available, from Small all the way to XL, which is one more than the Bossnut, and the fit is actually more generous, too.
Jamis loses out a touch on travel, with 120mm out back compared to the Bossnut’s 130mm, but on the trail, the performance swings back in favour of the Jamis. Why? Well, the Calibre damping can feel a bit heavy handed and recalcitrant, particularly if you’re at the lighter end of the weight spectrum. No such worries on the similarly RockShox-equipped Jamis however, which is eager and lively with plenty of grip. And yet it never hits the eject button when you go through a high-speed compression. In short, it’s effective and confidence inspiring and helps ensure the Dakar is a lot of fun to ride.
Even with a steeper head angle, the superb Race Face cockpit puts you in a commanding riding position for descending, while the steep seat angle and longer than average chainstays aid traction and keep the front end from lifting on the climbs.
Best of all, there’s a 1x drivetrain that knocks the Bossnut’s twin-ring set-up into a cocked hat. Why? It’s lighter, it’s simpler, and the chain stays metaphorically welded to the chainring, never de-railing on rough descents.
I know what you’re thinking; they’re must be a catch, right? Well, yes, there is a chink in the Dakar’s armour, and that’s the tyres. The Vittoria Gomas are narrow, the tread is relatively shallow, and the rubber compound is pretty hard. Which means that the Dakar quickly flounders on anything much more technical than a canal towpath. It’s like expecting Usain Bolt to run a 100m with his shoelaces tied together. On the other hand, releasing the Dakar’s full potential is simple and relatively inexpensive, as a WTB Vigilante/Trail Boss combo, as fitted to the Bossnut, will set you back from around £45 online.
Despite appearances, this is not a direct comparison test against the Bossnut V2, but I’m confident that were we to do one today, the Jamis would win. Except that Calibre has a new, improved Bossnut on the way, and it’s due out imminently. So this is one match that’s heading for a tie-breaker, and a full-on test later this year.