2023 BUDGET BIKE ROUNDUP
JAMIS FAULTLINE A1 REVIEW
Photos by Max Rhulen & Dusten Ryen
Video by Brian Niles / Treeline Cinematic
THE SUB-$3K ROUNDUP MADE POSSIBLE THANKS TO:
LEATT & VERSUS TIRES
The Faultline is the short travel 29er full suspension bike in the Jamis lineup. In typical Jamis fashion, the Faultline aims to bring performance to the entry level to average level riders, and offer good value for money. With two spec levels in their lineup topping out at the $2,599 A1, the Faultline comfortably sits below the price cap for the Budget Bike Roundup. We were interested to find out how the Jamis Faultline performed, and how the slightly more “amateur-focused” design philosophy would feel for our experienced crew.
• 120mm Linkage Driven Single Pivot Suspension
• HTA 67.5
• STA 74.5 (effective)
• REACH 460 (Large)
Price: $1,999 / £1,800 (A2) – $2,599 / £2,200 (A1 tested)
For the Faultline, Jamis opted to use a Linkage Driven Single Pivot suspension design they call MP2, to deliver 120mm of travel to the rear end of this 29-inch wheel trail bike. This system is claimed to offer excellent lateral and torsional stiffness and give a near-vertical axle path for an active feel. For 27.5-inch die-hards, or those looking for a nimbler ride, Jamis also offers the smaller wheeled Dakar with the same suspension system and frame features. Regardless of the model selected, the frame is constructed from triple-butted 6061 aluminum alloy to optimize the weight and strength; and features asymmetrical chainstays to give the desired chain and tire clearance on the drive side while minimizing weight on the non-drive side.
The Faultline frame has most of the common standards and features you’d expect of a premium mountain bike, from the internal cable routing in the front triangle; ISCG-05 tabs for a full chainguide; tapered head tube; and boost axle spacing. There are two spec levels on offer, beginning at the $1,999 Faultline A2. At this price point you get a Shimano Deore 1×11 drivetrain and 130mm RockShox Recon Silver fork with steel stanchions, adding weight and reducing gear range compared with the higher-spec’d A1, but retain features like the dropper post, hydraulic Shimano brakes and WTB tires.
Geometry on the Faultline was selected by Jamis to give comfortable handling for riders of all abilities, with sizes Small to XL to fit riders from 5’2” to 6’4” (157cm to 193cm). As it’s a 120mm trail bike that’s not designed to be pushed as hard as burlier enduro bikes, the geometry is more conservative in a bid to retain agility. There’s a 67.5° head angle; 74.5° effective seat tube angle; 445mm chainstays and 35mm bottom bracket drop across the size range. The size Large tested has a 460mm reach, 630mm stack and relatively long 480mm seat tube; with the total wheelbase coming in at a compact 1205mm, making it the shortest bike on test.
The Jamis Faultline A1 tested retails for $2,599, with a purposeful spec to handle life on the trails. The suspension is delivered with a Rock Shox package featuring the 130mm travel 35 Gold RL fork and Deluxe Select+ RL shock. These are both air sprung, with a lockout lever for improved climbing efficiency and rebound damping adjustment. The gearing is 12-speed Shimano SLX with a 10-51T cassette, which is driven by a Race Face Ride crankset with 32T ring. Shimano handles braking duties too, with their MT401 2-pot brakes stopping on a 180mm front and 160mm rear rotor. The cockpit is provided by a Race Face Ride 31.8mm bar and stem; and a KS Rage dropper post with the Southpaw remote is topped by a WTB Volt saddle. The wheelset is a Stans Flow D rim on Shimano SLX hubs, which is wrapped in a WTB Vigilante and Trail Boss tire combination as standard. However, for this test all of the bikes were equipped with Versus tires to give consistent performance across the board. The large Jamis Faultline A1 tips the scales at 33.7 lbs.
Only having 120mm of rear travel and a 67.5-degree head tube angle, the Jamis Faultline is surely the most cross country-based bike in this roundup. Building up the Jamis was fairly simple for us, but prospective customers won’t have to build it up themselves – instead, Jamis will ship the bike to a bike shop of your choice who will build it up and check it over for you so it’s ready to hit the trails right away. We ran into some issues with the dropper post and remote that required some fiddling around with, but other than that, testers dialed in their preferred pressures and the bike was ready to ride.
That short travel and conservative geometry help the Jamis Faultline climb well and maintain its speed on undulating sections of trail. The head tube angle and fairly long chainstays on the Faultline kept riders more centered between the wheels keeping traction to a maximum on the climbs and turning a tighter radius on uphill switchbacks. The 130mm fork and 120mm rear shock had minimal pedal bob, providing an efficient pedaling platform for riders in and out of the saddle. The Faultline’s cross country prowess and efficiency for a bike of this price point certainly is a highlight, however when seated on the bike, it felt too long for many of the testers. The Jamis has the shortest reach out of all the bikes in this roundup at 460mm in a size large, but the effective top tube is the longest out of the 5 bikes at 635mm. This 635mm effective top tube length is only 5mm longer than the next bike, but when paired with the 74.5-degree seat tube angle, these attributes made the Jamis ride bigger than it truly was. We fixed this by sliding the seat forward on the rails, which still left the bike feeling a bit awkward, but we moved past that.
In the same way that the Jamis was well suited for climbing, it was also well suited for flowy single track. The Faultline was efficient for pumping and popping over small doubles. The steeper head tube angle held the bike back a bit when it came to steeper trails or cornering on the descents. Testers felt that the natural position on the bike was too far over the front wheel, but when compensating by leaning further back over the bike, the front wheel had a lack of weight and lacked grip and confidence. The geometry on this bike seems to be what holds it back in comparison to the others, but then again, it’s also the shortest travel bike on the test.
As for the spec on the Faultline the Rock Shox 35 Gold RL fork performed well, but the Rock Shox Deluxe Select+ RL shock was less impressive. It doesn’t provide much in the way of adjustment, and it was relatively harsh in terms of small bump compliance. The Shimano SLX drivetrain did as asked, and the SLX hub had decent engagement. The KS Rage dropper post worked, but we struggled with the remote. Some of the other bikes in this group review offer a nicer combination of components at a similar price point.
The Wolf’s Last Word
If you’re a rider looking to get into your first full suspension bike and you ride smoother, flatter trails, this is an efficient and relatively cost-effective bike. Jamis does offer more aggressive, longer travel bikes so be sure to check those out as well if you’re wanting to ride some more challenging terrain.
Weight: 33.7 lbs
Frame: Triple Butted 6061 Aluminum alloy | 120mm
Fork: RockShox 35 Gold RL | 130mm
Shock: RockShox Deluxe Select+ RL | 190x45mm
Brakes: Shimano MT401 2-pot | 180mm F / 160mm R rotors
Bar: Race Face Ride Alloy | width: 760mm | rise: 35mm | clamp: 31.8mm
Stem: Race Face Ride Alloy | length: 50mm | clamp: 31.8mm
Seatpost: KS Rage
Saddle: WTB Volt
Rims: Stans Flow D
Hubs: Shimano SLX
Front tire: WTB Vigilante | 29×2.35”
Rear tire: WTB Trail Boss | 29×2.25”
Cassette: Shimano SLX CS-M7100 | 10-51T | 12spd
Cranks: Race Face Ride | 175mm | 32T
Shifter: Shimano SLX SL-M7100 | 12spd
Derailleur: Shimano SLX RD-M7100 | 12spd
Lively riding experience
Dropper post remote
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