Words & Photos by Cole Gregg

Jamis has been making two-wheeled fun machines since 1979, which is long enough to have a pretty storied history of creating trail-worthy bikes. Their East Coast experience with bicycles has shaped the brand into what it is today. Their first full suspension bike debuted in 1995 with a whopping 55mm of travel out back, their product line and focus has shifted and changed through the years, ultimately leading up to the Enduro race ready Hardline, a bike that features 160mm of 3VO suspension design.

Jamis is sure to please crowds with the Hardline C4’s ability to handle 27.5”, 27.5+ and 26+ wheels. This 160mm enduro bike is an interesting option for those looking for something different from the PNW longer, lower, slacker trend. Our test model featured the standard 27.5” wheels wrapped in Vittoria Mazza rubber at 2.4 inches wide front and back. The massive Enduro Max Sealed Bearings keep the 3VO suspension system operating without a hitch.

We did an in-depth dive on the 3VO system a few months back when looking at the Jamis Portal. If you’d like to learn more about this unique and efficient platform, check out our video and story here.

First Ride Report: Jamis Hardline C4 - Beauty Shot

In short, the 3VO system has a nearly vertical axle path minimizing braking forces while remaining highly active with the help of a high anti-rise. The first portion of travel (20mm – 60mm) has a very slight rising rate followed by another increase at 60mm – 80mm, at 100mm you hit the max rising right with increased anti-squat. Followed by a slight falling rate from 100mm – 120mm maintaining the linear feel. From 120mm to the full 160mm the there is a falling rate that eats up impacts but also provides plenty of bottom out resistance. It’s a unique feeling system that offers great pedaling performance, even with 160mm of travel.

The Jamis Hardline starts at $3,199 for the aluminum A2 and goes all the way up to $8,499 for the C1. We got our hands on the Hardline C4, which is the most affordable carbon offering in the line and retails for $4,199. Jamis spec’s the Hardline C4 with a reliable and solid kit that offers solid performance but still keeps budget in mind. I found the Shimano Deore 12-speed drivetrain to be very smooth and reliable and didn’t leave me wanting more. The same can be said about the Shimano MT420 4-piston brakes, while there is no adjustment on the levers there is plenty of power for someone my weight (170lbs). Jamis has done a nice job of picking performance-ready products that keep this bike at a competitive price.

A Fox DPX2 Performance series EVOL shock keeps the 3VO system in check out back. I am very picky when it comes to shocks, even more than when it comes to a fork. In my opinion, the Fox DPX2 is the perfect fit for this bike, even without compression adjustment the balance of small bump compliance and big hit support was perfect. Being a chronic climb switch user, I found myself shying away from this as the 3VO system has great pedaling support. It was a unique feeling of having plenty of small bump support and traction through corners while still having more than enough support on extended climbs. Up front the Fox 36 Rhythm was plenty enough for most riding situations. I’ve been very impressed with what Fox has been able to accomplish with this fork on several bikes we’ve tested lately.

Geometry is where Jamis’s bikes may start to polarize readers and riders alike. As an East Coast brand who build bikes that they themselves like to ride on technical, challenging terrain, the need to create the longest and slackest bikes with the lowest, rock-bashing bottom bracket height isn’t there, and for many riders that is great! If you are a high-speed, steep chute rider in Squamish looking for the most modern enduro racer, then the size large bike’s 461mm reach will have you scratching your head. If you live in an area with more technical terrain that’s not vertical, the shorter reach, 65-degree head tube angle and 429mm chainstays could be exactly what you’re looking for. All of the bikes come with a 73.5-degree seat tube angle and 13.5mm bottom bracket drop which give the bike a pretty awesome pedaling position and clearance.

Editors Note: We received a size Medium (439mm reach) for testing due to inventory issues and our primary tester for this first look is 6’0” tall, which we believe had an effect on weight bias/suspension performance overall. For our long term review coming down the line we’ve found a shorter rider that has already begun logging miles.

First Ride Report: Jamis Hardline C4 Action

On the trail the Jamis Hardline really opens your eyes to small rollers that transform into fun jibs, it is a very playful and snappy bike. The support from the 3VO system keeps you higher in the travel when under load, acting as if it were a hardtail, yes, we know it still has some bob when smashing the pedals but the balance Jamis has found is perfect for those looking for a firm feeling bike. This bike shines on flat terrain where momentum is king, green trails become playgrounds and gas to flat situations do not destroy your ankles with the falling rate at the end of the travel.

The downside to this awesome performance on flatter, slower and more techy trails in our early testing, however, is that there’s some issues we need to keep working on when it gets rougher and faster. On some of the deep, higher speed braking bumps and fast, rough rock gardens a fair amount of pedal feedback or packing from the back end became present.  I was not able to experiment with volume reducers on back-to-back runs due to weather but with an added reducer and slightly lower pressure on some other trails I found that this helped smooth out that mid-travel feel. We look forward to experimenting more in the future and are curious to see how the bike would perform through this terrain with a coil shock’s added compliance.

The bike’s conservative geo does leave some space in the cockpit to be desired, and not just because we were on a size medium. The large with a reach of 461mm is definitely on the shorter side, however if you enjoy a bit smaller bike this would be a perfect fit for those who love to manhandle their rigs. The XL has a 482mm reach, 765mm standover and 613mm stack height, in case you’re curious about sizing up. The 65-degree headtube angle is right on the border of being enough to tackle steep double blacks but does a great job of keeping the bike snappy enough for more mellow terrain. Rider confidence and terrain will really dictate what’s best for your terrain and if the occasional steep chute’s skittish feeling is worth having a lot more fun and snappy-feeling bike 95% of the time.

The Fox 36 Rhythm fork, even without having the adjustments of the higher end offerings performed quite well. I generally run high speed fairly open and rely on volume reducers and air pressure to get the feel I want from the fork. The compression adjustment did leave some room for improvement as with anything, I found the Open setting was too firm for my liking. The steep technical trails I spend the most time on generally require a bit less compression than the fork had to offer. On fast, flowing singletrack this was not a bother at all, and the bike came alive.

What does an initial rising leverage rate followed by a falling rate mean on the trail you ask? It’s pretty simple, you have a fantastic amount of pedaling efficiency and great ramp up. In the middle of the travel in a sprinting situation the added anti-squat really helps get the power to the ground. There is loads of support when pushing out of corners, feeling as if you have a leaf spring under your feet giving you a boost of speed into the next section of trail. The overall vertical axle path makes this bike a dream through tight corners and gives you more confidence through flat corners, it provides a very predictable feel. The slight initial reward axle path really keeps pedal kickback to a minimum in most situations.

First Ride Report: Jamis Hardline C4 Action

The Wolf’s First Impression

Out of the box the Jamis Hardline C4 offers a lot with a high-end frame mated to a competent parts kit and clever suspension design, all without breaking the bank. If you are a rider that loves to pop and play down trails, smash into tight corners and spend hours in the saddle grinding up a mountain, the Hardline is going to be a great option for you. The 3VO suspension system has fantastic pedaling support without sacrificing small bump sensitivity. Upgrading the Fox 36 Rhythm down the road would be the perfect complement to this all-around trail machine. We look forward to having a shorter rider spend a lot more time aboard this bike in a variety of terrains to report back in the future.

Price: $4,199
Weight: 31.96 lbs

We Dig

Overall value
Climbing efficiency
Corners, all the corners
Short reach is snappy and fun

We Don’t

Fox 36 Rhythm could hold some riders back
Short reach on super steep, fast downhills
Packing in highspeed chatter


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