Tested : Pete’s Jamis Dakar Review.

Pete swings a leg over Jamis’ entry-level full suspension mountain bike to see what £1,300 of bike gets you these days.

For anyone of a similar age to me (35), the thought of a Jamis Dakar will invoke images of red and yellow bikes probably being ridden in the desert in a head to head against a camel by Helen Mortimer or Will Longden.

Times have changed though, and the Jamis Dakar sits firmly at the US brand’s entry-level offering. Pete casts his verdict on the budget trail machine.

Photos by Pete Scullion.

Key features:

  • RockShox Judy Silver TK 120mm fork
  • Rock Shox Monarch R shock
  • Shimano Deore 10-speed drive
  • Shimano MT200 2-piston brakes
  • WTB STX i-25 tubeless rims on Shimano MT400 hubs
  • Race Face Ride alloy seat post
  • £1,300.00 RRP
  • GoOutdoors.co.uk

The Jamis Dakar is aimed squarely at offering an entry-point to full suspension trail riding without the price tag we’ve become accustomed to of late. At £1,300 or currently £999 if you’re a GO Outdoors member, there are few bikes that offer what the Jamis offers on paper for the price.

So what do you get for your money? The Dakar has a 6061 alloy frame with Jamis’ MP2 suspension system, essentially a single pivot with a small rocker link, offering 120mm travel. Spec is solid, with a healthy dose of Shimano’s 10-speed Deore offering on drivetrain duties, the cassette in this case having a step up to the biggest cog to offer those easy pedals on the climbs. Shimano units also make up the brakes and hubs, MT200 and MT400 numbers respectively. Rims are WTB 27.5 hoops with WTB Vigilante and Trail Boss rubber. Finishing kit is mostly RaceFace Ride with a WTB Volt saddle. Simple, yet effective.

Geometry

The Jamis Dakar is available in XSmall, Small, Medium, Large and XLarge.

Reach on the Medium is 440mm with a seat tube of 432mm. Head angle is 68 degrees with a seat tube angle of 75 degrees. Chainstays are 440mm across the sizes with the wheelbase of the Medium of 1150mm.

Setup on the Dakar was relatively straightforward with the Judy forks and Monarch shock having air pressure and rebound adjust only. The long MT200 levers need work to get them in the right place but feel great once they’re dialled in. Pop the saddle up to the right height and away we went.

First impressions were that the Dakar covered the ground well, with the MP2 system not wallowing much on the climbs when out of the saddle. Jumps to the top cog on the cassette were laboured but get there eventually.

Merida One-Sixty LeaderBoard 2023

The size Medium on test felt suitably roomy on the climbs and the bike feels lighter than expected in the hand and when winching it up longer ascents too. It’s worth noting though that with the BB well forward of the saddle, reach and effective top tube lengths only really work when seated climbing. Out of the saddle, despite the numbers being right for me, I felt well over the front when stood up.

This feeling would continue on the descents too with the bike feeling quite short in the cockpit, especially on any steeper sections of trail. Once I’d got my head around where I needed to centre my weight to balance the bike out, it performed well, and on mellower, flowing singletrack the bike felt well-balanced with the Judy and the Monarch working well together removing most of the trail chatter.

While the MT200 levers felt great, they did seem to lack stopping power, especially on the longer descents but this was mostly attributed to the brake pads, and a swap to some sintered numbers soon saw the anchors come into their own and the confidence levels increased.

The Dakar’s prowess lies in exactly what anyone looking for an entry-level full suspension would want, that is easy speed on what is most likely trail centre trails that are fast and swooping. In that, the Dakar provides a balanced ride with a frame that will accept plenty of updates. Whilst it lacks a dropper, there is internal routing for one, and the full length seat post will accommodate plenty of dropper length.

Geometry is the main thing holding the Dakar back, and that’s mostly in the difference between the cockpit room you have seated, which feels perfectly adequate, versus the cockpit room when out of the saddle. The two don’t translate, and the Medium feels small despite the numbers on the geometry chart being similar to the other bikes I have on test.

What do we think?

Jamis have done a solid job of creating a full suspension trail bike that has a solid spec, a frame that is ripe for upgrades and a price that defies the current trend of everything being far too expensive.

The cockpit geometry is the only thing that lets it down, so we’d suggest riding one if you can prior to splashing your cash. If you find a size that fits right, then it’s your ticket to the world of trail riding.

We love:

  • Plenty of bike for the money
  • Great entry point to MTB
  • Solid spec
  • Covers the ground well

Could do better:

  • Need to demo one to get the right size

You can check out the Jamis Dakar over on GO Outdoors’ website here.