We’ve been beating on this Jamis Portal for over six months in vastly different conditions ranging from flat and flowy trails in Bend, Oregon, to steep and root-littered trails found in Bellingham, Washington. The 140mm front and 130mm rear travel Portal swings above its weight class with an ability to take hits and ride down trails most people would only trust a full-blown enduro bike on.
There’s a list of characteristics we found impressive during the varying test rides and conditions, but first we’ll start with the awesome build kit aboard the C1 version. This model comes equipped to tackle anything with full Fox Factory Kashima suspension in their team orange finish, a Fox Transfer dropper post, a SRAM XX1 drivetrain with oil-slick color treatment, TRP G-Spec 4-piston hydraulic brakes, and a durable Stans Arch carbon wheelset.
These components could easily be found on a custom-built dream bike, but the Portal comes stock, ready to slay with a well-though out kit. Clearly someone at Jamis knows what’s up. We have to mention how important the suspension was on the Portal, because it really allowed us to push this bike to another level we didn’t expect from a 130mm bike. The DHX2 shock with a climb lever, allowed us to climb fire roads effortlessly and without excessive bob. The feel is stiff, efficient and planted, similar to a Pivot. If any obstacle came up, it was super easy to flip the suspension open, and tackle the trail with a plush front and rear end adjustable suspension.
Beyond the components, the Portal has a unique ability to spring forward with smaller amounts of power compared to other bikes. This quicker acceleration was due to the 3VO suspension design allowing the Portal’s suspension to stiffen up when weight was more forward on the bike, as well as the instant 72 points of engagement in the Stan’s NEO hubs and their quick spin-up. The bike’s rear wheel stayed planted on climbs, with no shortage of power or efficiency. We found ourselves scratching up the steepest pitches, up and over rock gardens with a grin as the bike made difficult climbs not only possible, but fun.
For fast and flowy trails such as in Bend, Oregon, it is a true speed machine. On the flowier and mellower trails around town, this bike is a true weapon. The combination of efficiency and active suspension meant we were constantly setting PRs, and raising the amount of fun we were able to have on certain rides where other bikes felt sluggish or slow.
When it came to really steep and technical trails, we definitely realized the steeper head tube angle and more trail focused geometry had its limitations. There were a couple instances where the bike was put into some gnarly conditions on super steep trails in Bellingham, Washington. On these trails, we noted that the 67-degree head tube angle was a little bit twitchy and the seat was in the way compared to some more aggressive trail bikes. As our body weight shifted on the super steep terrain, arguably outside the Portal’s intended usage chart and more inline with the 160mm Jamis Hardline’s realm, there was a definite decrease in the suspension’s ability to function as intended. Even though the bike got overwhelmed a bit at speeds over 25mph in overly rough terrain or on near-vertical terrain, the Portal did surprise us. We were still able to manage down a lot of trails that all our riding friends were ripping on long travel enduro bikes and DH rigs and kept looking back in disbelief that this trail bike was hanging on. If you regularly spend time on these types of trails, we’d suggest looking at the longer travel Jamis Hardline.
One of the only real complaints we have with the Portal is the 125mm Fox Transfer dropper spec. We found ourselves needing to stop before major descents to drop the post a little extra to get it out of the way and then raise it back up for the longer climbs. Another minor and terrain-dependent change we would like to see on this bike would be more durable and grippy tires. Throughout our time aboard the Portal we ended up popping both front and back Vittoria Martello tires setup as tubeless. Maxxis Minions were then substituted on the bike and we haven’t had any problems with flats since that change over. Although we totally understand, this bike isnt totally designed to be a Minion kind of bike, the Vittorias offer speed, low rolling resistance and descent grip on most soils, we just love to shred and prefer a slight penalty for a burlier tire.