Jamis Portal C1 Mountain Bike
A Portal to Next Level Confidence
Photos & Video by Brian Niles/Treeline Cinematics
When we pulled the new Jamis Portal C1 out of the box, we were instantly stoked! As part of our sponsored Dissected Series, we were excited to work with Jamis’s brand manager, marketing team and the suspension designer behind 3VO to learn more about the brand and their new bikes. Jamis has a history rich in racing and some amazing podium victories, yet over the last couple of years their image and brand visibility wasn’t quite on where they believed it should be. They are looking to change that up with their impressive new line of bikes and unique 3VO suspension platform. The Portal C1 that we used to create this story is still in our possession and will be getting a full-length, detailed review in the coming weeks, but for now, enjoy this detailed introduction to the Jamis Portal’s technology and features.
Progression is a concept often discussed by riders. It’s a term that describes the amount of skill that can be extracted from the many hours spent riding. Progression is what happens to any rider as they grow into the sport and learn those innate and intrinsic little motions that make riding a bike easier, more fluid, and more fun. As your skills progress, so too should your equipment.
Three Variable Optimized (3VO for short), is a from-the-ground-up suspension platform that is a big progression and totally new to the market. The design seeks to create a new image for the Jamis mountain bike line. It’s featured on two of Jamis’ trailbikes, the 130mm travel Portal and the 160mm Hardline.
The original design goals for 3VO suspension go all the way back to when the first 29er full suspension bikes began to appear. Back then, manufacturers were essentially working with designs that were fine for the existing 26ers on the market but had yet to figure out how to make 29er geometry work right.
In 2005, a designer named Chris Currie had a concept for how he felt the axle path needed to move to work with the larger wheels. Chris built a model to prove the theory and has been tinkering ever since. Development began, and a suspension patent was granted in 2010. There are currently about fifteen prototypes floating around from this design time, and all of them are predecessors to the new Jamis lineup.
Jamis began prototyping the first iterations of the original 3VO bikes in 2015, which Currie had already been working on for several years. It was at that time that they started building and test riding some “Proof of concept” frames, which immediately made clear that because of this design’s incredible efficiency and ability to remain active at the same time, that this platform can be as efficient whether it’s on a cross country rocket or a downhill sled.
Around that same time, Jamis began to notice that several other suspension design patents that were becoming “open” to use in the North American market. While those had already been accepted, tested, proven and were tempting to adopt, Jamis saw the designs not without their own unique compromises, and none that could boast the features and benefits of 3VO. Choosing to stick to their own guns, Jamis and Chris Currie began development of the all new suspension platform and built bikes with different travel offerings and wheel size options to suit the needs of nearly any trail rider.
3VO suspension works somewhat like other unique virtual pivot systems. It allows Jamis to build bikes with a wide range of intended uses and ride characteristics, but all with a similar overall feel. The unique feature of the new 3V0 design is its wheel path. Jamis claims 3VO bikes maintain constant alignment with the chainline no matter what point of the travel the bike is in, or whether the bike is accelerating or decelerating. Those automatic “anti-squat” and “anti-rise” characteristics mean that the suspension is going to remain active and absorbing bumps no matter what the terrain is throwing at it. It also means that the rider’s pedaling input is driving you forward, and not being sapped by shock movement.
If you look at spring rate and progression curves–how much firmer the suspension gets as it compresses–a 3VO bike can have a 35% progression curve, a linear curve, or a slightly falling curve. Literally, different strokes for different folks. According to Jamis, the Portal and Hardline use fairly linear curves overall, but with a progression curve in the middle. This gets pretty nerdy, but basically they start off soft, ramp up to be firmer at the sag point and into the midrange, and then remain soft and ready to cushion hits throughout the rest of the terrain.