The Jamis Nemesis XC hardtail builds upon four years experience making 650b bikes, let’s see how it shapes up.
Using a high-temperature manipulation process called SuperPlastic Forming, Jamis says that it is able to sculpt the aluminium tubing on the Jamis Nemesis more effectively than with traditional hydroforming techniques, further optimising tubing profiles and saving weight. The frame certainly looks sleek. It’s bang up to date too, with its zero-stack tapered head tube to keep the front end nice and low, and oversized PressFit 30 bottom bracket for maximum power transfer. Cable routing is neatly tucked under the top tube but, as you’d expect on an XC bike, there’s no seatpost quick release or line guides for a dropper post remote.
The 100mm-travel X-Fusion Velvet fork is air sprung, has rebound adjustment and can be locked out for that all-important finish line sprint. The hydraulic lockout has a high threshold blow-off that is firm enough to resist rider and most trail inputs, but still opens up to give some cushioning on really hard impacts. With 32mm stanchions (upper tubes) and 9mm quick-release dropouts the Velvet is plenty stiff enough for cross-country use, but heavier riders would benefit from beefier 15mm dropouts.
Red anodised hubs and matching graphics on the Alex 650b rims lend a sleek appearance, but the basic cup and cone bearings are anything but. External seals, designed to keep the grease in and the gunk out, ramp up rolling resistance, so much so that we’d suggest removing them for any dry, dusty races.
We’re big fans of the PressFit BB30, with its bigger, more durable bearings and lightweight, aluminium crank spindle. So imagine our dismay when the front shifting went to pot on the first ride because the driveside crank arm had worked loose to the point where it was about to fall off. Luckily, we caught it in the nick of time and it’s been fine since we nipped it up to the correct torque setting. With the crank and shifting fixed, our attention was drawn to the non-Type 2 rear mech, which makes the Jamis Nemesis noisier than it needs to be.
It’s been quite some time since we’ve had a test bike that sports a stem length in triple figures. Rather than instantly swap out the 110mm Ritchey stem for something shorter, we decided to give it a go, just to see how Jamis intended the Nemesis to ride. We didn’t get far before realising that wasn’t such a good idea.
On smooth, groomed trails, like the Verderer’s in the Forest of Dean, the Jamis Nemesis felt well within its comfort zone, railing berms and pumping rollers with almost BMX-like agility and razor-sharp steering. Granted, the chain slap was deafening and would derail at the mere sight of a braking bump, but it was manageable. Get the Nemesis on anything remotely challenging, however, and the only way to deal with the super-steep head angle and roller-skate wheelbase was to back off and ride more slowly — something no bike, especially a race bike, should make you do. OK, so the stock Schwalbe Racing Ralph tyres weren’t the best choice for loose, damp conditions, but the problem was more fundamental than rubber compound or knob size. Ultimately, the Jamis Nemesis needs more length in the cockpit (not the stem), or a slacker head angle to improve its handling and bring it more in line with the best XC bikes.
The Jamis Nemesis may sport the newest wheel size and have all the latest frame features, but the overall ride experience felt like stepping back in time. With a super steep head angle, 110mm stem, narrow bar and a pretty short cockpit for a supposedly XC race bike, the only saving grace was that the low BB brought a modicum of stability to an otherwise white-knuckle ride. The spec isn’t bad for the price, but it’s all just glitter when the geometry and handling are this far off the mark.
MBR rating: 5
Frame 7005 triple butted aluminium
Fork X-Fusion Velvet RL 650b
Wheels Formula HiLo hubs, Alex XD Lite 650b rims Schwalbe Racing Ralph 2.25in tyres
Brakes Avid Elixir 5 160mm
Drivetrain SRAM S1000 chainset, X7 shifters, X5 front mech, X9 rear
Sizes 15, 17, 19, 21in
Weight 12.3kg (27.1lb)
Size tested 19in
Head angle 71.2°
Seat angle 73.6°
BB height 305mm
Front centre 650mm
Down tube 672mm