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509 Jabit III 29+ Review

Last time we spoke, I had just taken possession of one very green 509 Cycles Jabit III.  This particular Jabit was decked out a la fat-bike in Plus bike clothes. My initial impressions were good.  The Jabit was a good-looking bike that had an equally nice ride (steel and curved seatstays will do that). Fast forward two months and overall, my initial impressions haven’t changed – it’s a great bike, especially since you are setting yourself up for the possibility of two bikes in one as the Jabit is a very capable bike when run in 29+ mode.  And with 29+ tires almost the same diameter as a 26×4.5” tire, the geometry doesn’t suffer.

Overall, it rides like a well-balanced mountain bike.  I love the ride of a good steel bike and the Jabit didn’t disapoint.  Handling on the Jabit is pretty neutral.  The 70* headtube angle isn’t too twitchy, isn’t too slack (click here and scroll down for full geo specs).  The chainstays are fairly short so the bike climbs well and its easy to throw the rear end around.  The rear end stays put thanks to burly custom dropouts and there was very little flex in the bottom bracket area, especially important on a steel frame capable of running 5″ tires.  Obviously, things like clearance and tire rub aren’t a problem when running 3.0” tires on a frame capable of clearing 5.0” rubber (the Jabit can run up to a 36T chainring in 1x applications).  About those dropouts, the Jabit utilizes an interesting design where the derailleur hanger fits directly into the drop out.  This was done to minimize the hanger attachment points, which can get fouled in the conditions a fat-bike might see making removal difficult.  Its a pretty solid setup.

Custom Dropout Derailleur Hanger

The test bike was a medium and it felt a little small at first (I typically ride a bike with a bit longer effective toptube) but with a bit longer stem and some extreme saddle adjustment, I had it closer to my ideal postion.  However, this leads me to my only major nitpicks with the Jabit – lack of standover.  Despite being a medium frame, I had to use all of my 32” inseam.  This isn’t the most desirable trait, especially for a fat-bike.  Obviously, your mileage may vary but it’s worth mentioning.  Another minor nitpick (and again, your mileage . . . ) is the lack of mounting points, which have become fairly common on fat-bikes.  The Jabit only has two water bottle mounts.  No attachment points for fenders/racks/cargo.  Of course, neither does the Manitou.  If you just use frame/seatpost/bar bags, then this really isn’t an issue.

All the moving bits and pieces were on point.  Everything preformed as it should, which is what you would expect from a solid build (this test bike as spec’d sells for $2,700).  The XT drivetrain is a workhorse.  The RaceFace Æffect cranks went around and around smoothly.  The SunRingle Düroc 40 wheel set rolled straight and true despite some abuse. The Sram Guide brakes made the bike stop (and they were problem free the entire time).  The Manitou Mattoc Pro fork, while it took a little dialing in/adjustment, was a nice change of pace from my rigid daily driver.  The WTB Rangers, which I had my eyes on before this bike arrived, hooked up nicely in dry conditions.  Once things got a little moist/sticky, they started to get a little sketchy and caked up quickly (I think I’ll be sticking with Chupacabras/Bombolonis for the time being).

Plenty of clearance. No chance for rub chain, tier, or otherwise.

But don’t take my word for it.  Fellow Bike Black Ribbon Test Pilot Larsson got to spend a day mashing on the Jabit as well and sent me some words . . .

When Julio shot me a message about going for a ride and I received a day pass from my wonderful wife, my day couldn’t have started off on a better note.  I arrived at Julio’s lair to find a very green bike all loaded up with a question of, “do you want to ride the Jabit today”?  Yes, yes I would.  Coming from my Surly 1×1 this bike looked huge!  I mean the frame is bigger, the tires, the wheels, everything.  My 1×1 looked like a kid’s bike next to it, but after adjusting the saddle and throwing my leg over, I felt like I sat inside of the bike.  Not on it.  The top tube seemed a bit high and could be a nut crusher in the snow but that might just be a sizing issue.  Making our way into the single track I immediately felt a difference in how I was steering this bike.  It was more from my hips as I skipped and dipped into the turns just like a motorcycle would respond. I could make small adjustments while entering the apex and as I exited, the speed that I carried was simply amazing.  I was so unused to it that I had the problem of accelerating out to early just to jam the peddle into the ground causing some interruption to the flow.  I had to make an effort NOT to peddle too soon because the bike could lean over so far thanks to the grip of the 29+ WTB Rangers that kept me cemented to the dirt.  The momentum that the Jabit kept was unreal!  After learning to trust my tires, I was carrying speed around like I’ve never done before.  The climbs seemed shorter and the descents faster.  I do need to give some credit to the Manitou Mattoc Pro fork for that, because after coming from a ridged bike, the cushioning was welcomed and extremely appreciated.  My arms and teeth thank you Manitou.  But the bike with the 29+ setup gets all the credit for my ability to keep up with Juliodotcom on that Sunday funday.  Overall, I give the Jabit III a big thumbs up and I could definitely see myself on this bike as a “do it all” 4 season fat/plus bike.

 

During my time on the Jabit, I kept wondering how it would perform as it was originally intended — as a fat-bike, since it did so well in Plus mode.  We made the suggestion to the kind folks over at Broken Spoke and they agreed. So, in the near future, we’re going to covert the Jabit over to fatbike mode and I’ll be back with some further musings.  Stay tuned . . .

 

For more info on 509 Cycles and the Jabit, click here

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