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Monday, August 20, 2018

Jones 29 Plus LWB - The Build

Last week, I posted some observations from riding a Jones 29 Plus LWB over the past four months on my favorite single track in the Black Hills of South Dakota. In response to several inquiries, I have listed the build specs for this bike, along with a few notes on the selection and build process.

Now that's a meaty bike ready to take on the Centennial Trail, and any Bulldog along the way.
My basic design criteria for the Jones 29 Plus LWB was to build an every day, every trail mountain bike to confidently and comfortably ride single track on everything from short local jaunts to multi-day expeditions. In concept, I envisioned a trail companion to my Black Mountain Cycles Monster Cross that handles all roads. More specifically, I wanted a mountain bike to cruise around with friends, hack around some local races, explore remote back trails in the Black Hills, bike pack on trails overnight and longer, and maybe someday take on the Tour Divide and the Trans America Trail. Yeah, that's a tall order, but this bike is designed to handle it.

Once mentally committed to the Jones 29 Plus LWB, I started the process of selecting components to build it up myself, as I had done for my past several bikes. Upon realizing the extent of truly unconventional things about this bike, however, I decided against buying just the frame set. Rather, I decided to draw from the deep well of knowledge of the man himself, Jeff Jones.

Surveying the scene above Coon Hollow on the Storm Mountain trails.
For Jeff to build up your Jones bike, he asks to talk with you to get everything just right. My two hour conversation with Jeff was amazing. He first sought to learn my riding history, preferences and aspirations. With that basis, he launched into a detailed discussion, analysis and recommendation first on the style, size and material of the frame set and then for every component. Every single one.

The experience of going through this process with Jeff was remarkable. No detail was too small. Jeff covered everything, after comprehensively expressing every pro and every con. For the most part, I followed his recommendations. For example, he eventually talked me out of the new Paul Components Klamper disc brakes, citing too little improvement at too great a cost. In the end, the rest of the build ultimately looks much like I envisioned beforehand. Here it is.

After the build, Jeff Jones sent me this photo, which looks practically catalogue ready. Yes, that's my bike.

Frame Set 
Frame - Jones Steel 29 Plus LWB, Medium (black)
Fork - Jones Steel Truss (black)
Headset - Jones Sealed Cartridge Bearing H-Set (black)
Seat Post - Thomson Elite Zero-Offset (black)
Seat Post Clamp - Paul Quick Release (black)

Rear Wheel  (hand built)
Hub - Shimano XT Boost with CL Adaptor (black)
Rim - WTB Scraper i45 29er (black)
Rim Tape - tubeless tape
Spokes - DT Swiss Competition (black)
Nipples - DT Brass (silver)
Thru-Axle - Jones TA bolt
Tire - Vee Tire Bulldozer 29x3.25
Tube - WTB Tubeless valves, Stan's Sealant

Front Wheel  (hand built)
Hub - Jones 150-F (black)
Rim - WTB Scraper i45 29er (black)
Rim Tape - tubeless tape
Spokes - DT Swiss Competition (black)
Nipples - DT Brass (silver)
Thru-Axle - Jones TA bolt
Tire - Vee Tire Bulldozer 29x3.25
Tube - WTB Tubeless valves, Stan's Sealant

Stem - Thomson X4, 70x10 (black)
Spacers - Aluminum, 50 mm (black)
Handle Bar - Jones Butted Aluminum Loop H-Bar 710 (black)
Grips - Jones Kraton H-Grips for 710 mm H-Bar (black)
Tape - Jones B-Tape, rear crossbar (black)

Front Brake - Avid BB7 200 mm Rotor
Rear Brake - Avid BB7 180 mm Rotor
Brake Levers - Avid Speed Dial 7
Brake Cables - Jagwire Stainless Slick
Cable Housing - Jagwire Ripcord, compressionless (black)

Crankset - Shimano M-8000 170 mm, Boost, 34/24
Bottom Bracket - Shimano MT-800
Cassette - Shimano XT 11 Speed, 11-42
Front Derailleur - Shimano XT Down Swing, top pull
Rear Derailleur - Shimano XT Shadow+ SGS
Shift Levers - Shimano XT Rapid Fire, 11 Speed
Chain - Shimano 11 Speed
Cable & Housing - Shimano SP-51
Chain Stay Protector - Jones
Pedals - Time ATAC MX-4

Frame Pack - Revelate Designs for Medium Jones 29 Plus LWB (black)
Handle Bar Pack - Jones H-Bar Pack (black)
Truss Fork Packs - Revelate Designs for Jones Truss Fork (black)
Spare Derailleur Hanger - Jones DMD Hanger for Thru-Axle
Saddle - WTB Speed Comp (black)
Extra - Jones Tumbler (stainless steel)

Bike Build
Build, tune, test ride, tune, test, check, clean, pack for shipping

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.