Magic Carpet Ride

A Jones Titanium LWB Spaceframe sighted in Oaxaca!

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

Jones LWB Spaceframe, size M, shod with Jones C-Rims and Vee Tires Bulldozers 29 x 3.25in.

With a blind eye to cost and as a big fan of the Jones geometry, 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 but… 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. And, 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. 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 a little beyond the minimum insertion point.

This is a rehashed Insta post.

Sept 2022 update: read my full review on Bikepacking.com here!

Comments (21):

  1. Leafslayer

    24 August 2021 at 1:54 pm

    So is the bike still working out? Like you, I fit in-between sizes. Jeff strongly recommended a medium LWB but I ultimately went with a large. At times I have thought of adding a 2nd frame to the stable, SS, and if I did , after seeing these pictures, and your review, I could see myself going medium. All my previous bikes, even ones that were big on me, required a mountain of spacers to get the bars where I want them.. I do hope Jeff will go 30.9 on the ST with upcoming frames to allow for more dropper post options.

    Reply
  2. Cass

    24 August 2021 at 2:39 pm

    Hey!

    I do mean to write some more rounded thoughts in the near future, rather than a rehashed Insta post (-;

    I have a PBH of 91.4cm and tend to ride with my legs a little more extended than some. Granted there are other variables (saddle rail height, shoes, EBB position) but all this meant that for me, I’m right on the edge of an M in terms of exposed seatpost. Hence the need for the Thomson dropper. It does bother me that I’m locked into a specific model but 1/ luckily it’s a great dropper and 2/ I think this sizing is truer to how JJ has always preferred people to ride his bikes – ie a long rigid seat for added comfort. I agree though, I think 30.9 does make a lot of sense these days.

    But as I was envisaging this bike for trail use predominantly, I figured it would be interesting to size down (same goes with lack of framebag space, which is less of an issue for day rides). Whilst I don’t remember my Large Plus feeling too big or unwieldy in any way, this bike really does feel fantastic off-road, particularly over more technical terrain: it’s still super stable, great over steps and roots, and confidence-inspiring on really steep descents, but perhaps that bit more manoeuvrable when I want it to be. To be honest, it’s as good as I can imagine a fully rigid mountain bike feeling. Without riding them back to back, it’s hard to be super specific, except to say that the M doesn’t feel too small at all, reach-wise, and the front end is still easily high enough for my needs too. Now of course, I’m curious to ride an L again… but that’s always the way, right (-;

    Ultimately, I’d still stick to an L for the SWB, but I’m definitely more open-minded about an M in the LWB. In my 2 bike dream scenario, I can imagine an L SWB Unicrown for bikepacking/gravel riding/travelling, and an M LWB for trail riding and single speeding. Whilst they’d be plenty of overlap, I think the differences would be enough to be meaningful, especially specced with different tyre choices. I love the riding position of these bikes, so it would be cool to be able to jump between two very comfy bikes, tweaked and set up for different applications.

    Reply
  3. Cass

    24 August 2021 at 2:44 pm

    PS Happy to post some pics and take some measurements so you can see handlebar height/saddle height, stem angle/length etc…

    Reply
  4. Leafslayer

    24 August 2021 at 3:26 pm

    Thanks for the response. My saddle height is 90cm in flat pedals, a little higher if using spds. I use a 70cm stem. I would love to see a side view of your frame without the snack bag just to see stack height. My LWB really feels plush and tends to roll over stuff with ease but I wonder about having that combined with a frame a little more nimble?

    I hope the Bulldozer 3.25s become available again, would love to try them out.

    Reply
    • Cass

      24 August 2021 at 7:09 pm

      Hm, I’m not sure if we’re measuring the same way, but my saddle height is around 81cm. That’s from the midpoint of the crank spindle to (roughly) the top of the saddle. I’m running 170mm crank arms. I added in pics of the stem/spacer setup, too.

      Reply
      • Leafslayer

        25 August 2021 at 5:51 am

        Sorry, my pbh is 91 and SH is 80cm.

        Thanks for adding the images. The bike looks properly proportioned for what it’s worth.

        Final question, I ride with the bb in the high position to minimize pedal strike, what’s it like in the low position? I imagine it’s great for dirt roads and rambling.

        Thanks again for the responses.

        Reply
        • Cass

          25 August 2021 at 3:10 pm

          Not too sure, as I ride with big and wide Hope flat pedals, so have settled on running the BB in the mid position, as it can be super rocky here and the 3.25s add a little ground clearance too. If I was off on a dirt road tour, I’d be tempted to drop it back down, just for a bit more of that ‘in the bike’ feel.

          Sounds like you’d be on the upper end of an M too, with the same dropper limitations. My saddle height can vary a little, depending on shoes – either Bedrock sandals or 5.10 shoes.

          I just checked, and I’m about 2-2.5cm beyond the minimum insertion point for my Tranz-X dropper. So it’s close! And if you run your saddle a little lower than me, you might just get away with it… This said, the Thomson dropper is incredibly smooth.

          Reply
  5. Eric Owsley

    28 December 2021 at 2:59 pm

    I’ve followed your Jones experience here and on the Radavist and any other places your insights have popped up. After being Jones curious for 5-years, I finally made the leap last month. I’m glad I did. Took possession of a 2015 Jones Plus steel diamond frame with steel truss fork in size large. I’m amazed by the comfort of the riding position and what being comfortable can do for letting the body maneuver with the bike in and around terain that on the surface seems ill-suited to a long rigid wheelbase.

    I am struggling with tire choice, however. The bike came with well-worn Maxxis Chronicles on the original i45 WTB Scraper rims. When I have traction, the bike climbs everything in site, but I’m finding the rear wheel spinning out on me earlier than I would expect. I’ve also been struggling with off-camber corners and steep side-hills covered with wet leaves in Virginia’s Blue Ridge mountains. In short, I’m enjoying the benefits of the 3-inch rubber for cushioning and float, but have actually felt less traction overall than my 29 x 2.5 Maxxis DHF/Agressor combo on my previous rigid ride (Esker Hayduke).

    Like most people, I’m hesitant to go overboard on traction (or rather weight and rolling resistance), but I also know that I am missing out on so much of the performance the bike is capable of. I already have the EBB at the 12-o’clock position for clearance on rocky and rooty singletrack. I’ve looked at some of the 29 x 2.8 tires on the market, but I’m leary of the bottom bracket height and don’t think I want to give up the advantages that the full-size 29+ platform offers. With limited selection in the 3.0 and larger realm, do you have any recommendations? Was thinking of trying the Maxxis DHRII front and rear, or maybe Bontrager SE4s, but neither is readily available or cheap. I want to make as informed of a purchase as possible and then get to exploring the limits of what a purpose-built rigid all-mountain bike can do.

    Reply
    • Cass

      12 August 2022 at 4:32 pm

      Hi Eric!

      Apologies for the delay. This site gets so many spam comments that I forget to check it for real ones!

      I’m really glad you’re enjoying your Jones Plus after taking the plunge. It does feel a it like a leap of faith!

      I expect you’ve already figured out what you need, but still, with regards to tyres… My experiences are a bit potted. I’m not a massive fan of Chronicles though I do find they wear slowly. I really like WTB Ranger Toughs and I think they’re a great general duty tyre with fantastic traction on loamy trails, though I do find they wear a lot more quickly than the Chronicles. The Toughs set up really easily tubeless too – for some reason, I had real trouble setting up the ‘Light’ set I recently tried on some WTB rims, and the sidewalls are definitely on the papery side too.

      I tried various 29 x 2.6s front and rear as the tyres are so much easier to find and there’s so much choice. I adjusted the BB position and whilst the bike was a lot of fun, I definitely felt I was missing out on comfort over harsh terrain. So right now my compromise is to run a 3.25 Bulldozers up front (traction isn’t necessarily the best, but I make up for it by running low air pressures – down to 7 or 8psi on 50mm rims) and a firmer 29 x 2.6in Specialized Butcher at the back. The Butcher seems like a great tyre, it sets up tubeless SUPER easily, and it’s easy to get hold of locally (at least here in Mexico).

      Like you, I’m hesitant to run tyres narrow than 2.6s, because I love that big volume of air on a rigid mtb, and so pedal strikes don’t bcome an issue. I bet the Minion in a 29 x 3 would be ideal (I may try and get hold of a set myself), and I heard good things about those Bontragers too. I think Mike at https://lacemine29.com/ has a lot of 29+ options in stock, but I expect they’re all on the spendy side.

      Cheers!

      Reply
  6. Tudor

    31 March 2022 at 10:34 pm

    Hi Cass, just wondering about your choice of handlebars. I see some pics of the normal Jones H bars and others with the Jones Bend versions ( I think). Any reasoning as to which you run and when? All the best from North Wales. Tudor

    Reply
    • Cass

      13 August 2022 at 12:04 am

      Apologies for the delay, Tudor!

      I tend to err towards the Bends as they’re more accommodating of a top access bag, like a Carradice, or the BXB Goldback Medium that I have (though routing can be a bit awkward with mechanical brake levers). The Bends are also light and well priced.

      All this said… I do love having the extra attachment points on the full Loop and although I don’t use the front of the loop as a handhold, I use the sides. It also makes a great cradle for my tent – just add straps!

      Reply
  7. Darren

    22 August 2022 at 4:40 pm

    Cass…really have been appreciating your comments on the Jones platform. Its certainly tough making decision on frame size when you can’t throw your leg over one unless in Jeff’s neighborhood. I’m in the process of a custom build and still debating the M vs L question for me…6 foot/35 inseam. Did you find both the M and L cockpit feel the same with stem length adjustments? I’m leaning towards the L based upon my riding style and plans for some touring. That said, I don’t want to invest so much and realize the L is too big…ie too MUCH reach. I care less about the nimbleness…more about building a comfortable ride for long, relatively straight rides. Thanks again.

    Reply
    • Cass

      25 August 2022 at 10:53 pm

      Hi Darren,

      Both Medium and Large are definitely ‘short’ in terms of reach (compared to other brands), so I don’t think you’ll find the L too reachy (especially with a slight adjustment in stem length). I feel nice and upright on both sizes.

      If it helps, I have a PBH of around 91.4cm and consider myself slap bang in the middle of the two sizes (I’m 6’1/2″).

      I ended up buying the L originally, just because I’m so used to that being my size. M just sounded too small! Now that I’ve spent time with both, I’d have no hesitation in riding either. I love the big framebag on the L and still find it a lot of fun on trails. Plus, I have a few more options with droppers – with the M, I’m just beyond the minimum insertion point for more affordable models (Thomson is longer, but also super spendy). That said, the M feels great, extra lively on trails, and there’s an argument that a longer seat post adds a bit of comfort.

      When it comes down to it, I know that Jeff thinks I’m best off on an M, but there’s no denying that I’m grateful for the L’s cavernous framebag – I can really load it up and get a nice and low centre of gravity, with less weight at the extremities. It sounds like an L could work for you, for this reason too?

      Reply
  8. Alex

    2 September 2022 at 10:32 am

    Hi Cass!

    I’m planning to build a fully rigid, offroad expedition bike from the frame up based around a Rohloff hub and 29+ wheels. Was originally intending to do it with a Tumbleweed Prospector. Though now, having read yours and others’ praise for the Jones LWB/SWB, things are getting a bit complicated for me 😅 especially since I’ve already gotten along pretty well with a double butted loop bar these past couple months on a bike with classic touring geometry.

    Unable to test either frame beforehand, I’m very eager to hear your opinion between the three framesets for a rugged, do-it-all, but comfortable and confidence-inspiring expedition bike. After giving it some test runs around the Blue Ridge Mountains in north Georgia, I’m intending to take whatever this bike turns out to be to the Scottish Highlands next spring/summer. Looking to test it (and myself) on the Highland 550 (at a party pace, as they say). Maybe Nepal, Russia, Mongolia, or even Colorado one day!

    Many thanks for your time and looking forward to your response!

    Reply
    • Cass

      3 September 2022 at 7:06 pm

      Too many nice bikes to choose from! I don’t think you will go wrong with any of them.

      In my mind, here are some pros/cons:

      LWB: A unique geo that I really enjoy riding, probably more than any other bike. Great off road. Upright and super comfy and fun on trails. However, it’s a big and long bike to pack for travelling (truss fork is great for additional cargo but fiddly to remove)

      SWB: really nice all rounder, I like it a lot as a ‘gravel bike’ and it’s fun on tight trails, but for me, LWB has a little extra special sauce, at least for the riding I like most.

      TW: Great Rohloff integration, great mud clearance all round, sus fork compatible, on the heavy side, nice geo but more conventional. Super solid travel bike!

      I’ve never tried a Boost-spaced Jones with a Rohloff, not sure what model or adaptors it needs. The Tweed uses a more common 135QR Rohloff and the integration is kind of its speciality (cable routing etc) I’ve toured on both an older Jones w/Rohloff, and a Prospector w/ Rohloff, and both were great bikes to tour on.

      Reply
      • Alex

        3 September 2022 at 8:56 pm

        Thanks Cass!

        Funnily enough I saw that you posted your full review of the Titanium LWB Spaceframe just a day prior. Having read that a couple times and then investigating the Jones geometry further, I think I can sort of feel how the bike might ride. It appears to allow for the kind of control, stability, and playfulness that I have oftentimes wished for on my current setup. And pushing body’s own suspension from the arms to the legs is something else I’ve really craving for on technical, steep stuff. It sounds like Jones might be my thing too! Cycle monkey have built a Ti Spaceframe with what appears to be a quick release Rohloff, so I’ve emailed them to see what’s required to fit it into the frame. I’ll report back here when I find out in case you need to pass it along later.

        That said, I think I’m sold on the LWB. If the ride is fun, safe, and comfortable, I don’t think I would mind the difficulty of boxing it, etc.

        Now my only puzzlement is Diamond or Spaceframe. On the one hand the diamond gives a lot of framebag space, but the stand over height, the vertical compliance (especially of the Ti version), and that elusive, magical description Jeff offers of being “in the bike, not on it” is ever so enticing. I know you wrote at the end of your review that you’re not try to convince the reader to drop 5 grand on a Ti frame, but I’ve now gone from not considering any Ti bike at all to seriously considering this one (thanks a lot! 😡)

        Sorry to prod you again, but I’m curious whether you would go for the diamond or Spaceframe for any duration of adventure knowing what you know now. I imagine it’s not that frequently on long journeys on all sorts of terrain that the qualities of a spaceframe shine, but I suspect that when they do, it’s something quite special indeed…

        Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience. It’s genuinely been really helpful.

        Reply
  9. Cass

    8 September 2022 at 8:37 pm

    Well, it does sound like the LWB is your style of bike, and if you accept its ‘foibles’, here are some thoughts!

    All the LWBs I’ve tried are really comfortable, whatever material and frame design you choose, and have that ‘in the bike’ feeling – thanks in part to a low BB and short cranks. There are differences, but they’re incremental and subject to the law of diminishing returns.

    The Spaceframe ti is in my mind the ‘ultimate’ Jones. It really is a joy to ride and admire, and there’s a little extra spring to it when unladen. But it’s not without its compromises. It’s limiting with frame bag space, as you mention, and I didn’t find it as well suited to carrying more substantial loads (I guess you can’t have everything) Both of these factors would seem to be important when choosing a travel bike, so for this reason, I’d go with a diamond frame.

    If you have the cash (and spending it isn’t going to impact your life too greatly), I can see that titanium is definitely very appealing. It will certainly save a little weight (to offset some of that Rohloff heft!) and it promises a lovely, corrosion-free finish. This said, I’m not sure there are any noticeable ride quality improvements over steel, and the latter could even be more durable. For a travel bike, I’d be tempted to go with a steel frame and a ti fork, if only because it’s not quite as heartbreaking if you do ding that top tube! The ti truss is lovely, great for carrying extra cargo (without the need for an additional rack) and definitely lends the bike that iconic Jones look, even if a unicrown is a bit more practical.

    I’d love to know more about your Rohloff findings with regards to a Boost frame. As mentioned, the Tumbleweed is definitely unmatched in this department. It would be great to know if there’s a good workaround solution for the Jones. My Jones Plus worked like a charm with a Rohloff TA and a Monkey Bone Brake Adaptor, but it’s the old 135mm spacing.

    Reply
    • Alex

      18 September 2022 at 10:58 pm

      So, after much deliberation, a chat with Jeff, and partly delegating to the universe to decide for me, I think I’ll be going with the Ti Spaceframe. The primary reason I think is this slight obsession I have now with safety. I’m eight weeks into recovering from a pretty bad wrist and scaphoid fracture that required surgery to fix. Got knocked off the bike descending a shoddily paved stretch of tarmac on the Pennine Bridleway up in Lancashire (was following the GB divide at that point). Can’t entirely blame it on the bike, but the setup wasn’t forgiving (of my mistakes) at all (525 Reynolds Cromo in touring geo, which is super stiff vertically but very torsionally flexy especially with a load, with 1.75″ schwalbe marathon plus tours tires – min 45psi, and rim brakes). That said, not having ridden any of these Jones LWBs yet, my assumption with the extra springiness (and perhaps the standover height) of the Ti Spaceframe is that it is the most forgiving frame on bumpy stuff, even if ever so marginally – and likely even more marginally given a frame setup with low psi 29+ tires. In my head and my experience, smoother is safer, and even if it’s a 1% lower risk of coming off the bike, that takes priority in my calculus at this point. I admit that I could be totally wrong about all that! But I also LOVE the aesthetics of the bike 😉

      As for the Rohloff, Cycle Monkey directed me to Germany to inquire about conversion as only an A12 TA (which doesn’t even have an actual through axle) hub will work (though Salsa and one other brand do make spacers for 135mm hubs that fit into their own branded boost frames – I suspect Jeff wouldn’t consider machining his own). According to Rohloff, it is theoretically possible to convert an older 135mm QR to the A12 TA, but it would require a complete disassembly of the hub, measurements of the new tolerances of the internals accounting for wear, and as a result would ultimately cost the same as buying a brand new hub. For that reason they don’t actually offer the conversion as a service (I was advised to sell my current hub secondhand in order to help finance an A12!). On top of that, Rohloff will only sell the A12 hub if an Authorized Dealer/Servicer takes possession of the frame in question and measures the dropouts, sending the data to Rohloff. If Rohloff approves (which some frame I’m told it won’t), then they’ll machine the appropriately sized spacers/axleplates to be shipped with the A12 hub. It’s a bit of a faff.

      I did talk to Jeff about the Rohloff and he mentioned that there have been a few instances of customers whose Rohloff torque arm broke the disc brake tab. I would really like to try the Kindernay hub which does have an actual thru axle, but the 48.5mm chainline seems a bit sketch with 29×3-3.25″ tires. It’s also possible the torque arm and disc tab might get into a kerfuffle like with the Rohloff. I might also prefer that they had a mechanical shifting option instead of hydro exclusively. For now I think I’ll give up IGH’s and give 1×12 a shot and see how that goes. Alas! Maybe I’ll come crying back to my Rohloff hub in the end.

      Reply
  10. Cass

    25 September 2022 at 9:47 pm

    Wow and congratulations! I’m sure you will love the bike, whether it’s quite what you were expecting or not!

    Very interesting with regards to the Rohloff/thru-axle conundrum. It does sound like it’s more trouble than it’s worth – I better hang onto my 135mm Plus frame, then. Interesting to hear there have been issues with disc tabs, too. I know Rohloffs put a lot of torque through the dropouts, which can be an issue for frames that aren’t designed specifically for them (I had an older Surly frame crack once, likely down to stress from the Rohloff. Being steel, it was cheap and easy to fix).

    I actually like 1 x 12 drivetrains for the kind of riding I do. They’re nice and crisp to shift compared to the Rohloff, with no chain crosing issues to worry about. Thankfully cassettes are becoming more affordable too. My only issue is on muddy climbs. When you’re in the lowest gear and you’re running Plus tyres, the chain can collect mud and transfer it around the drivetrain.

    Well, when the Spaceframe makes it to you and you’ve had a chance to ride it, let me know what you think!!

    Reply
    • Alex

      26 September 2022 at 6:33 am

      If only mud were a viable lubricant!

      It’ll be some time before it’s built up as I’m waiting for my wrist to fully heal before I get back on a bike (it’s torture to not be able to explore on two wheels for so long!!). But I will absolutely let you know my thoughts. And whilst I’m (hopefully) grinning ear to ear throughout the north Georgia mountains, I’ll certainly be thinking of the kind, fellow adventurer who turned me on to it in the first place. You talk about Jones bikes in the way I talk about small batch teas (tea was my thing before bike travel) – that means quite a lot and was no small factor in my taking this leap of bike geo faith. So thanks!

      Last thing, is it worth trying to fit the LWB Spaceframe in a ground effect tardis or just forget it?

      Reply
  11. Cass

    1 October 2022 at 10:13 pm

    I don’t think they’ll fit without removing the fork, as you can’t just spin a truss fork inwards, as you would with a unicrown fork.

    Unfortunately, that’s kind of a fiddly process, especially if the removable steerer tube has seized a bit and takes some persuasion to slide through. The wide 150 front hub/wheel also takes up some extra space.

    Still, worth the inconvenience I think. On my Plus, I actually ended up getting a steel unicrown fork to make it more basket-friendly, and for ease of travel. But I do prefer the truss!

    Enjoy the ride!

    Reply

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