With a ten-speed Shimano drivetrain and a triple-butted aluminium frame the Highpoint A2 looks well equipped for the price. But how does it handle the trails?
Jamis bills the Highpoint A2 as a true all rounder and it’s easy to see why. With big 29in wheels to roll over bumps better and a 120mm travel coil-sprung Suntour XCM 32 fork to take the edge of the harshest impacts, it’s designed for speed, but not at the expense of comfort.
Comfort, which is enhanced further thanks to the triple-butted aluminium frame. In fact, the Highpoint A2 offers a more forgiving ride than the Carrera, even though both bikes have the same 2.25in width WTB Trail Boss tyres fitted.
The frame also has a tapered headtube, even if the fork still uses the older 1 and 1/8in straight steerer tube. Not that you can tell when riding however, as the front end feels solid and direct. Bolstered, no doubt, by the stiffer bolt-thru dropouts on the fork.
Cable routing on the Highpoint A2 frame is a mix of internal and external and it desperately needs sorting. The gear cable rattled inside the downtube and one of the C-clips that secures the brake hose under the top tube popped out on the very first ride. As such, we replaced all of the C-clips with zip ties and suggest you do the same.
We’d also recommend sawing a couple of inches off the seat post, as we couldn’t lower it more than 40mm for descending. Thankfully, the frame has routing for a dropper post, so ultimately an upgrade would be the best solution.
With 32mm chromed steel upper tubes and a 15mm bolt-thru axle, the Suntour XCM 32 fork provides good steering precision and confidence under heavy braking. It’s coil sprung, and slightly over sprung for an 80kg rider which makes it nigh on impossible to achieve the full 120mm travel.
That’s no bad thing here though, as it helps maintain balanced geometry and is preferable to it being under sprung. Not least because the cap that holds the spring in place is made from plastic, so swapping a spring, if you can actually get hold of one, could be tricky. Overall the action of the fork is rudimentary. It works, but the friction damping really lacks finesse.
Thankfully there’s nothing basic about the Shimano Deore 10-speed transmission. It delivered smooth, fast, accurate shifting every time. And because of the clutch mechanism on the derailleur, chain noise is dramatically reduced. Jamis has missed a trick with the gear ratios though, the lowest (easiest) gear with the 32t chainring being the 42t cog on the back. For an all purpose 29er, we’d like to see a 30t chainring or, better still, a wider range cassette to make harder rides easier on tired legs.
Tektro’s M275 2-piston brakes are consistent, but don’t offer the same amount of stopping power or modulation as the Shimano units on the Carrera or the Clarks brakes on the Vitus Nucleus 29 VR. The two-piece FSA Gamma Pro chainset does feel solid under foot though, which just adds to the overall sense of urgency.
The combination of the big 29in wheels and well executed frame design make the Highpoint A2 a relatively comfortable place to be for bigger days in the saddle. It feels great on climbs, providing the gradient isn’t too steep, as you run out of gears pretty quickly. In fact the less technical the riding the better, as the snappy steering response and elevated top tube encourage a more sedate riding style.
Stick to more flowing trails and the Jamis carries speed really well which makes it a real joy to carve fast single track on. The 740mm wide bar and 55mm stem offer a good balance between control and navigating tightly spaced trees, but when you need to get the saddle out to the way for descending the Jamis comes unstuck.
And it’s not just the riding position that hampers its ability to shred, that snappy steering response that feels great at lower speeds becomes nerve wracking when the tempo picks up, where the front wheel has a tendency to tuck under when cornering at speed.
The Jamis Highpoint A2 has some real standout qualities. With its triple-butted aluminium frame it offers a fast engaging ride without the rider being exposed to every single bump on the trail. Which makes it great for longer rides. If the Highpoint A2 is to truly deliver on its promise of being a true all rounder though, it’s going to need calmer steering geometry, better standover clearance and a wider range of saddle height adjustment. A broader range of gears would be beneficial too. Taken together, these factors really limit the Highpoint A2’s full potential, and ultimately prevent the underlying frame quality from really shining through.