Weight: 21.7 pounds
By Brice Minnigh
Most of our testers spend the vast majority of their time on full-suspension bikes, and some of us had almost forgotten the feeling of riding an ultra-light, screaming-fast hardtail on suitable terrain—that was, until each of us got to rip some laps on our high-speed, cross-country test loop aboard the Jamis Dakota D29 Team
Given that our XC trail featured several slightly technical sections, some of us were quietly wondering if this serious race bike was going to give us a good flogging. But from the first few pedal strokes it was clear that the
converse was the case, as the instantaneous power transfer had the bike up to speed astonishingly quick, propelling all but one tester to their fastest laps of the entire XC category.
When comparing notes at our 'roundtable' discussion later that evening, words like 'rocket' kept popping up. "This bike makes trips to the pain cave an enjoyable experience," one tester proclaimed.
Out-of-the-saddle attacks of each climb had us zipping effortlessly to the top and powering straight into the following descent with speed. As the lightest bike in the category, the sub-22-pound Dakota's speed shouldn't have been too surprising, but the fact that the bike easily held its line through rockier stretches was downright impressive. It felt as if the carbon frame was significantly damping the impact of the bumps.
It was only toward the end of our loop—on the pumptrack-like turns of Kessel Run—that the Dakota truly came into its own. Pushing the bike hard into each corner was pure bliss, as it popped blithely out of one turn and into the next.
Adding to the convincing combination of speed and playfulness was the Dakota's outstanding array of parts, with American Classic Tubeless 29 Disc wheels, SRAM X0 drivetrain and Avid X0 brakes. Everything about this speed demon is exciting.