Jamis bicycles have been around since late 70s with 25 years of bicycle manufacturing experience and compete aggressively based on quality and value. One of their major achievements was when they introduced the industry?s first vacuum-resin-transferred-molded carbon fiber monocoque frame, dubbed the Diablo, back in 1998. The dual suspension frame caught a lot of attention during Interbike and was nominated for a Bicycling Magazine Editor?s Choice award as one of the most innovative products for 1998.
Jamis was first introduced to Singapore in the 90s but sales at that time did not pick up mainly due to consumer?s perception. Local consumers tend to go for brand names with high exposure and shun away from brands that are relatively lesser known. If you have not taken notice of Jamis, this review on the Dakota frame might give you an idea on what you have been missing out.
The Jamis Dakota range was first launched way back in 1983 in steel version. As aluminum became more and more popular as the choice material for frame making, Jamis offered an aluminum version of the Dakota to provide consumers with a wider variety. However, Jamis did not forgo their steel making heritage, and still offers a couple of steel frames in its range.
The 2005 Dakota AL main tubes are manufactured from 7005 triple-butted Kinesis Superlight aluminum tubing. By choosing Kinesis tubing over Easton ones, Jamis is able to offer a frame of high quality at a much lower cost. Our 17? frame comes with pretty standard cross-country numbers. The top tube measures 22.77?; the head tube angle is 71; the wheelbase is 41.54? long; and the chainstay, 16.73?. The frame weighs in at 3.25 lbs. Frame features include common S-bend/D-shaped stays, a replaceable derailleur hanger, gusseted down tube and International Standard disc brake mounting. As an additional feature, the Dakota AL also has mountings to accommodate touring rear racks. This makes the Dakota AL very versatile, as it is capable of doubling up as a cross-country race steed or as a tourer.
In terms of aesthetics, the Dakota AL comes with a beautiful matt grey paint job that looks deceptively like an anodized job. And due to the colour, many fellow cyclists often mistake the frame for a titanium one instead. All decals on the frame are painted on and it even comes with a metal head badge.
Our test ride comes with complete Shimano XT drivetrain, Rock Shox SID fork, Shimano XTR/Mavic wheelset, Maxxis Mimo Tires and some in-house stems, handlebars, seatpost etc. From the specifications, it is easy to see that we have a capable XC racer at our disposal.
We brought the bike to multiple offroad rides both locally and overseas to ensure that we get a good feel of the frame before penning the review down. Generally, the reviewers like the frame but do have some different opinion regarding specific characteristics. At 11kg for the complete bike coupled with a relatively short chainstay length, the Dakota AL felt nimble during climbs but yet stable when going down slopes. Despite the steep head tube angle, some reviewers commented the steering felt a bit slow. This trait is especially prominent when we were negotiating the tight single tracks in Plentong, but for local conditions, the bike felt agile enough to breeze through Bukit Timah and Pulau Ubin trails. Being slower in the steering would naturally mean the bike has better stability at high speed. Riders who appreciate such stability would like the frame.
For an aluminum frame, the Dakota does not fall into the category of super stiff frames like the Klein. It felt more forgiving, and did not give a bone shattering riding experience. While it might not be super stiff, the Dakota did not compromise on the rigidity of the frame. It still felt stiff enough to provide good acceleration during both seated and out-off-saddle sprints. Cornering on the bike felt good too. The rear end held on well and we did not feel any excessive flex under hard cornering. We also liked the stiffness of the seatstay under hard braking. There was minimum flex and the rear brakes were not robbed of any braking power in any condition. Brake boosters are redundant on the Dakota AL.
We also like the paint job on the frame. The matt finishing is able to withstand more abuse than a glossy counterpart. You do not get those hairline scratches on the Dakota easily – even if there are any, they will not be obvious. This translates to ease of maintenance and more fun time on the bike.
How do we like it
At $480, we think the Dakota AL frame is really good value for money. One thing they have really done right is the choice of Kinesis tubing instead Easton ones which brought down cost and yet maintaining a high level of quality. A similar frame using Easton tubing might have cost in the region of $600 to $700.
In addition, we can see that a lot of thought has been put into the design process of the Dakota AL. Geometry aside, the frame was built to be light, but not to the extent of compromising on strength. The gusset is welded onto the down tube to strengthen it so that the frame can withstand years of abuse. It is also not common to see both disc brakes and v-brakes cable/hose guides on frames at this price range. And there are always the rear rack mounts in case you decide to build it up as a tourer. To top it off, the Dakota AL comes with a 3 years limited warranty, so you know that you are buying from a manufacturer that stands behind its products.
If you are looking to build a bike that is versatile but not too expensive, you might want to have a look at the Jamis. With proper parts selection, this frame is good enough for you to take part in races, yet still bring on a tour or an epic adventure. If you want to save the hassle, the Dakota AL does come as a complete bike option, in which you can just pick and go and not have headaches over what parts to choose.