I’m in the fortunate position of having ridden and written about a range of bikes over the years. But with all the upheaval in the world, I haven’t had an opportunity to pedal anything but the Jones SWB I left the US with back in early 2020 – pre-Covid. Not that this is a sob story, because I’ve loved every moment with this amazing bike.
But… things are changing!
I recently swapped out the SWB for its big brother – an LWB – using my existing wheels and a smattering of new and old parts.
And… it’s a titanium Spaceframe, no less!
Jones LWB Spaceframe, size M, shod with Jones C-Rims and Vee Tires Bulldozers 29 x 3.25in.
With a blind eye to cost, this is probably as close it gets to my ‘ultimate’ bike. It’s one I’ve coveted since I first saw it online, as it promises to blend the quick-yet-stable handling I enjoy so much in my own steel Jones Plus (the predecessor to the LWB), the heady lightness of a titanium frameset, along with the compliance of 3.25in tyres and a curvy spaceframe design. It probably helps that I love the way it looks and as a side note – that bend in the top tube makes a great portage handle!
Trails never looks steep in photos, right? This local slab is actually quite the handful. On a bike that’s completely devoid of active suspension, big tyres can be run at lower pressures for more grip and comfort and are less likely to get knocked off course. At slow speeds, they add confidence by rolling over ruts rather than dropping into them. The LWB has lots of fork offset, too. This pushes the wheel far in front of you, reducing the chances of catapulting over the handlebars! Running a dropper post is also key. Aside from encouraging me to get my weight back and letting the bike roll over rocks and down steep chutes, it helps on mellow trails too, as I can lower my center of gravity to really lean in and carve through turns.
The ti SWB frameset will be returning to Jones Bikes. But it’s such a great all-rounder that I plan to build up a steel version for city riding and touring. Think Schwalbe G-One 2.8s, a travel-friendly unicrown fork, some wide mudguards for the rainy season, fit and forget Avid BB7s, and the same lovely Buckhorn framebag I’ve been running for the last few months. As thrilled as I am to be having these chances to ride beautiful titanium frames, there’s a part of me that will be happy to have regular access to a steel bike again. Ultimately, it resonates more with me most as a material. It’s robust, recyclable, long-lasting, and relatively inclusive, price-wise.
Living in Mexico has meant being apart from my fleet of other prized bikes, which also happen to all be steel. Between New Mexico and the UK, I have Surly Big Fat Dummy for load-hauling, the Pugsley fat bike I rode across South America, a burly Tumbleweed Prospector that integrates perfectly with the Rohloff I’ve owned for 15 years, and a diamond Jones Plus. Sending gear – let alone bikes – to Mexico is complicated and costly, so it’s been a good lesson in patience and enjoying what I have. At least a few of my bikes are out on loan right now to friends, as it’s better to see them being used and enjoyed than gathering dust in my storage container…
As much as I love riding trails, I spend much more time riding dirt roads, so it makes sense for me to have a bike that’s well suited to non-technical terrain too. I also really value a comfortable riding position – which is definitely my experience with all the Jones bikes I’ve tried. Whilst the SWB makes an excellent cross-country trail bike and is more adaptable when it comes to wheel and tyre size options, the LWB really comes into its own when the terrain gets burly.
I’m very much in between two sizes. I’m running an 80mm stem on this LWB Medium , with a 17-degree rise. This puts my handlebars at a similar position and height to how I run them on the Plus Large (the predecessor to the LWB) that I have back in New Mexico, albeit with a shorter stem. Note too that the length of seat tube in a Medium frame – along with its 27.2mm diameter – means I’m limited to a Thomson dropper post. Unfortunately, my TranzX sits beyond the minimum insertion point.
This is a rehashed Insta post. More rounded thoughts coming soon!