Jamis Renegade Expert review£1,400.00

Just an upgrade away from true off-road ability and on-road speed

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US-based brand Jamis has a great reputation as far as mountain bikes go, and is forging similar prowess on the road by delivering great value machines. The Renegade Expert’s carbon frame is fitted with a 15mm Maxle thru-axle fork and features a 105 drivetrain and hydraulic brakes – looking impressive on paper.

Jamis has put a lot of thought into the Renegade’s chassis, which has been designed from the ground up to withstand the knocks of the roughest surfaces.

The frame’s carbon has been structured to maintain total rigidity at the head tube and down through to the bottom bracket shell. The seatstays have been dropped slightly, and flattened and narrowed to offer compliance, while the low-slung top tube leaves plenty of carbon seatpost exposed, for extra comfort in the saddle. The tall chainstays flare outwards at the bottom bracket for increased clearance, which in this case is enough for 40mm wide rubber.

The renegade expert is brilliantly capable off road, handling the rough impressively:
The renegade expert is brilliantly capable off road, handling the rough impressively:

The Renegade Expert is brilliantly capable off road, handling the rough impressively

Our 58cm frame’s ECO – Enhanced Compliance Offset – fork is a neat design with the extra offset designed to improve comfort. The fork legs feature internal reinforcing ribs, ensuring the lateral rigidity required for off-road riding. The large diameter 15mm thru-axle – with RockShox’s mountain bike-derived Maxle Quick Release system – further boosts that rigidity.

On tarmac the Renegade feels well balanced, thanks to its 72.5-degree head and 73-degree seat angle. The reach is only a little shorter than you’d get from an all-out race bike, though the height puts it squarely in sportive/fondo bike territory.

The fork offset extends the wheelbase to a lengthy 1065mm, so the Renegade doesn’t feel that nimble on road, especially when you add in the big, heavily treaded 35mm Clément tyres. The middle ridge is firmer than the diamond-shaped tread on the sides.

When riding in a straight line you know you’re riding a heavier tyre, though progress is reasonable. In faster corners the diamond-shaped knobs on the tyres’ shoulders squish and settle a little. We did get used to their quirks and once accustomed to the need to shift as you lean, we enjoyed the good grip. But if you’re used to 25mm, dropping onto fat 35s will seem slow.

TRP's hybrid cable/hydraulic brakes offer superb power and control

On dirt, dust and mud, though, they make sense. Their compliant casing and excellent grip make the Jamis seriously quick over broken surfaces, especially when you add the superbly smooth fork’s ability to track straight even on seriously rough terrain. The fork also made steep dirt descents a breeze, while the longer wheelbase and grippy tyres made it easy to maintain traction on gravel climbs. The Jamis also stands out among its peers as being a bike we could get out of the saddle and attack an ascent on.

The spec is good for the price, even if the wheels are a little heavy, but the rims are at least tubeless ready. The 105 drivetrain is consistent, though we had to make minor cable adjustment tweaks after riding rough sections – it seems Shimano front derailleurs are prone to a bit of cable slip after miles on bumpy ground.

The TRP HY/RD brakes have superb feel, plenty of power and are the most cost-effective way to get the advantages of hydraulic braking without pricy hydraulic STI levers.

The Renegade Expert is brilliantly capable off road. We were impressed with the way it handles in the rough. On the road, though, the weighty tyre and wheel combination holds it back just a touch too much, but with a lighter upgrade in rolling stock the Renegade would hit the all-rounder high water mark with ease.

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

Warren Rossiter

Senior Technical Editor
Approaching two decades of testing bikes, Warren can be found on a daily basis riding and exploring the road and off roads of Wiltshire's Salisbury Plain in the UK. That's when he's not travelling the world to test the latest kit, components and bikes.
  • Age: 44
  • Height: 188cm / 6'2''
  • Weight: 92kg / 203lb
  • Waist: 86cm / 34in
  • Chest: 112cm / 44in
  • Discipline: Road
  • Preferred Terrain: Big, fast descents and rough surfaces like cobbles or strada bianca
  • Current Bikes: Decade Tripster ATR, Dedacciai Temarario, Cannondale Synapse, BMC Granfondo Disc Di2, Genesis Day One CX, Parlee Z Zero Custom, Storck Scenario Comp Custom, DMR Trailstar, Bianchi Pista, Cube SUV 29er e-bike
  • Dream Bike: Bianchi Oltre Disc, Bianchi Specialissima, Cannondale Slate, Buffalo Bike
  • Beer of Choice: Brew Dog Punk IPA
  • Location: Wiltshire, UK

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