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, 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!

Comments (7):

  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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *