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Sunday, August 12, 2018

Jones 29 Plus LWB - What It Is

The Jones 29 Plus LWB is an odd looking bike from any perspective.

What is it?

It's a mountain bike. It's a surprising, thought-provoking, fun mountain bike.

The Jones Plus 29 LWB in its single track element along the Centennial Trail
above Pactola Reservoir in the central Black Hills of South Dakota.
For the past four months, I have regularly ridden a Jones 29 Plus LWB on a variety of local, familiar single track trails. Despite its exceptionally long wheelbase, slack geometry, tall and wide tires, and upright body position, it rides like a mountain bike. A really fun mountain bike.

The Jones makes a big first impression. As in, that's a really big bike. But hop on it and the thought vanishes, immediately replaced with another, more concerning one. That's an odd body position on a bike. Very odd. One sits very upright, with hands very high, very far back and very wide. Picture Miss Gulch riding her bicycle during the tornado scene in The Wizard of Oz. That's a mountain bike?

Oh, yeah.

Most common question - What's with that fork?
Next most - Is that a suspension fork?
Jeff Jones has been designing and building his unique Jones mountain bikes for many years now, with significant press coverage and reviews over time. In late 2014, Jeff announced the Jones 29 Plus in an extended, explanatory blog post, with subsequent videos explaining and demonstrating his designs. Bike geeks will love the innovative thinking and tinkering behind it all. New Jones 29 PlusJeff Jones Videos.

I'll leave the technical discussion to Jeff, who has developed his designs over years of creative thought, analysis and experimentation. Besides, with so many variables off the norm, it's difficult for me to isolate cause and effect of any one in particular. Somehow, it all works together marvelously.

Up and around Storm Mountain on classic Black Hills single track.
I will share some of my observations, starting with traction. Even on the steepest, loosest and roughest pitches I've attempted in years, I still haven't spun out a rear or washed out a front. Maybe it's the 3.25 inch rubber. Maybe it's the low gears on the 2x11 drivetrain. I think maybe it's the spot-on centered body position over an exceptionally long wheel base. In any event, there's no need to slide forward to the saddle nose or lean over the handle bars to weight the front. Just stay seated, or stand straight up, and the bike stays planted both front and rear. Straight up the loose, rough stuff.

Ditto for steep, loose and rough descents. I've yet to slide off the back of the saddle to move weight back and I'm riding harder and harder stuff every week. Admittedly, I'll never be much of a technical trail descender, no matter the bike, but this Jones is making more descents possible and more fun.

Let's go to cornering. One would think that a bike with 19 inch chain stays and a 48 inch wheel base would turn like an aircraft carrier. One would be wrong. Even at slow speeds, the handling is very intuitive, once I stop trying to analyze everything. When those 29+ tires spin up to faster speeds, it grips and rips through turns. Regardless of speed, I'm learning to think less and just let it go.

Comfort. The very upright body position and swept handle bars create a Barca Lounger ride, with essentially no body weight pushed forward. With several 3-4 hour rough single track rides so far, I have yet to experience what I would consider "normal" hand, wrist or arm fatigue. The upper body simply controls the bike, without supporting much, if any, other body weight. I can see this bike being very comfortable for all-day and into the night rides, day after day, on all kinds of trails.

Just cruising on the Centennial Trail.
I'm having a blast riding the Jones 29 Plus LWB on all my favorite local trails.

I can't wait to take it out for the primary reason I chose it.

Bike packing.

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