This review is a collaboration between Mountain Bike Tales and Francis Cebedo. Mountain Bike Tales tested the Comp Version while Francis of mtbr rode the Pro version of the Jamis Dakar Sixfifty B.
A Bit About Wheels
Collectively, the mountain bike industry isn’t huge on the idea of change. It creeps and crawls along, working its way into our hardware at just such a pace so as not to frighten us away. This is why the hot topic of late is wheel size. Unlike the addition of more cogs into our transmissions, shocks and pivots or fluid powered brake calipers squeezing a rotor, wheel size is a much more dramatic change.
After decades of dominance, the 26″ wheel was suddenly thrust into battle with what many considered an advantageous 29″ hoop. Like always, there was immediate resistance followed by compromise. Initially designers tried to mix and match the strengths of the two different wheel sizes by literally mixing and matching the two different wheel sizes. 69ers (29″ in the front, 26″ in the rear) came into being in the hopes of capitalizing on each of the two wheel size benefits while minimizing the disadvantages. Some models worked pretty well, others not so much.
This all brings us to the latest in wheel revolutions: the 650B, which measures in at roughly 27.5″ or 40 percent between the 26 and 29″ wheel. Momentum on the 650B movement has been understandably slow considering many insist there simply isn’t room in the market for three different sized tires; a fact especially relevant when you stop to consider that the new wheel size itself is only the beginning. Tires, forks, even frame geometry itself all have to be built around the diameter of the wheel. These days more and more aftermarket companies have decided to join the fray and that brings us to the Dakar Sixfifty B Comp from Jamis- the first bike to enter our test shop from a factory spec’ing 650B hoops.
Taking a look around the Dakar Comp reveals a pretty decent spec/dollar relationship even if you couldn’t care less about the size of its wheels. Bringing the squish is an X-Fusion Velvet RL 650B-specific fork good for 5.1″ of travel and a RockShox Monarch R air shock (also 5.1″ of travel) in the rear. The 30-speed transmission (10×3) is made up mostly of Shimano SLX bits (exception: SLR Rapidfire Plus shifters). Braking comes from Avid’s Elixir 3 hydraulic discs front & rear. Those 650B wheels come in the form of WTB LaserDisc Trail rims & hubs wrapped in Kenda Nevegal rubber. Odds and ends include Shimano M552 Hollowtech cranks, a Ritchey Mountain Riser bar, Ritchey stem and WTB Volt saddle. All told our size medium test sled weighed in at 33-pounds and one can be had identical to ours for $2679
We must have been spoiled around here by testing a rash of hardtails these past few months because when we first took a look at the Jamis Dakar, we had a tinge setup anxiety. Not to worry though, taking a little time to dial in the bike’s suspension is time well spent. The X-Fusion fork in particular can appear a bit intimidating to those of us used to Fox, Marzocchi or so on but the fact of the matter is that there’s nothing abnormal here. Pump the fork’s air spring up to about an inch of free sag based on the manufacturer’s weight chart and fool around with the rebound adjuster until you find your own personal sweet spot based entirely on feel.
The shock is simpler still with easy to read sag gradients printed right on the stanchion. We tried a variety of different air pressures and eventually settled upon roughly 25-percent sag as the ideal state of tune for our east coast trail conditions.
Finally, and like any bike, fine-tuning of the seat height and rotation of the bars in the stem (along with position of the levers/ shifters) are all that separate you from blasting trails.