Great geometry and sizing
Does the Jamis Dakar A2 entry-level full-sus boast the firepower to outgun the benchmark Calibre Bossnut? 120mm-travel trail bike available on Cycle To Work scheme!
Up close and personal, the quality of the Jamis Dakar frame really belies its price tag. The swoopy top tube and clean lines combine with the matt titanium finish to give it the look of a Santa Cruz, albeit without the VVP suspension and jaw dropping asking price.
Jamis Dakar A2 review
Boasting 120mm of travel front and rear, the Dakar A2 is trail bike through and through, with geometry and sizing that are every bit a modern as its look. Not only does it have the most generous reach measurement in test, but it also sports the longest wheelbase. Factor in the lowest BB height and the Dakar really is ready to rally down any trail.
And like it any contemporary trail bike it ticks all of the must have feature boxes. Ample standover clearance to keep your junk safe, check. Internal cable routing for a clean look and easier cleaning, check. ISCG tabs on the BB for fitting a chain device, check. It even has bottle bosses on the down tube for a bottle cage, bonus.
What really sets the Dakar apart from the other bikes in this test however, is its 142mm bolt-thru rear end. Not only is this much stiffer than the quick release dropouts found elsewhere, it’s more secure too, the closed dropouts and 12mm axle eliminating any chance of the rear wheel accidentally falling out.
Jamis may have bolstered rear end stiffness with bolt-thru dropouts, but the 120mm travel RockShox Recon RL suspension fork still uses a spindly 9mm quick release to secure the front wheel. As such, the steering precision and tracking isn’t as good as the Bossnut even though both forks share the same upper legs and internals.
Keeping to RockShox front and rear is the trusty Monarch R shock. With external rebound adjustment and controlled progression it’s a massive leap forward in terms of performance over the Suntour shocks found on the Voodoo Canzo and Polygon Siskiu. Sag gradients on the shock body make setup easy, you simply adjust the pressure in the shock to achieve the correct sag for your weight and riding style. It’s the same shock on the Calibre but that’s not to say the suspension feels the same. More on this to come.
Branded components always add a touch of class and the Race Face kit adoring the Jamis is first rate. The 760mm handlebar has a great profile while the oversized 35mm stem clamp adds steering stiffness. If we are being really picky though, the lock-on grips are a touch too slender for bigger hands.
Shimano’s 1×10 Deore gearing has one less cog than the SRAM NX kit on the Bossnut, but it shares the exact same gear range. Shifting is every bit as slick too and the low-profile rear derailleur means it should say that way too.
One area where Jamis has really dropped the ball however is tyres. The 2.25in Vittoria Gomas have ample volume and a decent tread pattern that works fine in the dry, get them on anything damp however (so 70% of UK riding) and it’s hard to keep the Jamis rubber side down.
From the get go the Jamis Dakar A2 impressed us with its good looks, generous sizing and bang up-to-date geometry. Perfectly proportioned, the quality of the frame only served to highlight shortcomings in the specification. We’ve already mentioned the tyres, but the extra flex in the quick release fork also prevents the Jamis from capitalising on the frame’s full potential. Confidence is eroded and much as we praised the both-thru rear end, the bike would actually be better with a bolt-thru fork instead.
The rear suspension needs work too, as it lacks sensitivity off the top and combined with the poor rubber choice and stiffer rear end, the back of the bike tends to step out all to easily.
There are other minor niggle too, like the cables rattling inside the down tube. So even though the Jamis Dakar was the only bike to rival the Bossnut, work still needs to be done if it’s intent on beating it.
The Jamis Dakar A2 frame has everything in place to be the ultimate £1,000 full suspension bike. It has great sizing and geometry, and it looks standout, but it’s not there yet. It needs a stiffer fork even if that means forgoing the 142x12mm rear end to get a bolt-thru up front. It would also benefit from a softer tune on the Monarch shock to give the rear suspension a lighter initial touch, boosting traction and comfort. For now though, we’d settle for better tyres as the Vittoria Gomas are what’s really holding the Dakar A2 back.