JAMIS PORTAL C1
MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE
Words by Caleb Ely
Photography by Caleb Ely & Brian Niles
If you watched our Dissected video on the new Jamis Portal C1 few months back then you learned all about their 3VO suspension system, snappy geometry and intentions for this burly 130/140mm aggressive trail bike. Jamis built a bike that is truly capable of everything we threw at it, and trust us, we threw a lot at this poor bike. After Drew put some solid time on the bike for the Dissected feature we passed it off to an 18-year old ripper who just broke his frame and was in need of a replacement to huck his meat. It was subjected to daily rides from 20-mile pedals to shuttle runs in Bellingham, WA on black diamond jump trails to bike park laps at Mt. Bachelor. In his words, “This bike is a true all-arounder would be the best way to describe this bike as it allowed me to charge on steeper downhills and tech, but also mash up climbs and hold speed over any obstacle thrown at it.”
The Portal comes with 29-inch wheels and is designed as a versatile trail bike. Our C1 is the top of the line offering and comes with 130mm of coil sprung Fox DHX2 factory rear wheel travel and a 140mm Fox Factory 36 fork. The C1 is the aggressive, burly-spec’d offering. The rest of the Jamis Portal line up offers bikes with 130mm off travel front and rear travel and an air shock instead of the coil found here. We tested the C1 with both an air and coil to see how the platform would perform with both dampers and found they each had their strengths.
Jamis uses 3VO suspension, which is a unique virtual pivot design. 3VO offers a constant alignment of the chainline, no matter what point of the travel the bike is in. According to Jamis’ claims, this means the suspension is minimally affected by pedaling forces, braking forces and offers efficiency and sensitivity depending on the rider’s needs. To learn more about the 3VO system in great detail, read our interview and feature here.
All Portal frames can fit a full size water bottle and have plenty of room for any extra tools or accessory packs on the frame. The frame also features benefits like an integrated chainstay and downtube protector, as well as a sleek internal cable routing system that minimizes all rattling of cables while on the trail. Jamis offers the new 2020 Portal in several different build kits ranging from an aluminum SRAM SX Eagle option to our lust-worthy C1.
Geometry on the Portal is practical and well-rounded. Jamis is an East Coast company with deep roots in technical and challenging terrain that isn’t always part of the new-school PNW vibe. Instead their bikes ride like precision machines designed to bob and weave through obstacles with ease. They can climb efficiently, navigate over and around terrain without a lot of effort yet it’s still confident enough to ride at high speeds and charge the rough stuff.
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.
The Wolf’s Last Word
The Jamis Portal is designed with an all around feel in consideration for its riders, so as long as it’s kept on all but the steepest and fastest of trails. If you ride cross country, flow, tech, or moderately steep trails, it will perform without hesitation. If you’re looking for a bike to kill a wide variety of conditions and styles of riding, the Jamis Portal C1 is certainly worth a look. It is capable in all reasonable trail bike conditions, and will never let you down with the superb spec list. The Portal stays planted, rips, has the incredibly efficient 3VO suspension design and is overall a bike we would love to stay on and ride everyday in Bend. Simply put, this bike is up there with the best all-around trail bikes on the market today. Uphill or downhill, the Portal attacked all conditions, and truly pushed the max of what we thought a lower travel trail bike could accomplish. With performance like this, we’re excited to see how hard we can push the Hardline next.
Frame: Dyad Pro High Modulus Carbon Fiber, 130mm travel 3VO suspension
Fork: Fox Factory 36 Float, 140mm
Shock: Fox DHX2 Factory Series
Brakes: TRP G-Spec Trail SL 4-piston
Handlebar: Race Face Turbine R, 20mm rise, 780mm
Headset: FSA Orbit IS Integrated
Saddle: Sixpack Kamikaze
Seatpost: Fox Transfer Dropper
Shifter: SRAM XX1 Eagle
Stem: Race Face Turbine R, 50mm
Wheelset: Stans Arch CB7 Carbon 29″
Tires: Vittoria Martello 29 x 2.35″, TNT tubeless
Bottom Bracket: SRAM DUB
Cassette: SRAM XG1299, 12-speed, 10-50T
Cranks: Truvativ Descendant Carbon, 32T
Derailleur: SRAM XX1 Eagle, 12-speed
3VO suspension design
Top of the line build kit
A true all arounder
Short 125mm Fox Transfer dropper
Vittoria Martello tires
Long brake levers
Suspension not super active down steeper terrain
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