I spent the last eight weeks riding a Beaux Jaxon from Bearclaw Bikes. Our demo bike was set up by Chet Bearclaw himself. Earlier this year we decided to take a more focused approach on the expanding role of adventure/gravel machines into the grey area between mountain/gravel and plus bikes and all of that wheel size – tire and rim width – jazz. The Beaux Jaxon is the third adventure bike that I’ve reviewed in 2019 and you know what they say? The third time is a (bleep)’n charm.
Our much-anticipated demo bike arrived at the end of September and right out of the box, it set a slew of PR’s on my regular gravel haunts. The bike feels fast – and now thanks to my Wahoo is verifiably fast – which is exactly what I was looking for. JP and I were signed up for the Hibernator100 up in Laona, WI in the first weekend in October. That gave me just enough time to get the bike sorted out before the race.
The first thing that I noticed after I built the bike up was just how enormous the Teravail Coronado tires are. Even though I’d set new PR’s on the first ride, I immediately started to think about smaller and smoother tires for race day in Laona. I’d ridden the same course this past spring and other than two short mud bogs I thought a light mountain bike ‘race’ tire would be the hot set-up. While I continued to dream about race tires, I got the bike dialed to my personal tastes. I installed a Selle Anitomica saddle and a pair of SPD’s. I swapped over H2O cages and a Revelate Half Frame Bag from my Crosscheck and I started putting plenty of mileage on the Beaux Jaxon and it continued to set PR’s across all of my usual Strava nonsense.
The day before the race, mi amigo Alex from Bontrager set me up with a set of XR0 Team Issue 27.5 x 2.0 race tires. I mounted them up and headed up to the race. My rear tire had a slow leak in a totally deja vu moment from the race that I did up in Laona last spring. Nothing seals a slow tubeless leak better than riding it right after you add the right amount of pressure. But that’s pretty normal till the sealant clogs every tiny leak. The weather leading up to the race was nice and dry, however, the forecast for the day of the race called for temps in the low 40’s and steady pissing rain. That made me second guess my tire choice but sometimes you just have to roll the dice and make your best scientific wild ass guess. I bet that conditions wouldn’t be that soft. I guess it turned out to be a good choice because I survived.
Sometimes I get deep into what tire to run with the bikes that we review. I stubbornly argue with myself about it in my mind during rides. I ran 4 different sets of tires on our BJ. The bike came built with a set of Teravail 27.5 x 3.0 Coronados. I ran the set of Bontrager 27.5 x 2.0 XR0 ‘race’ tires. I mounted a pair of Schwalbe 27.5 x 3.0 Rocket Ron’s and in late October put studded 45NRTH 27.5 x 3.0 Wrathchildren in play during a bit of early winter weather hit – and then I finalized my time with the Beaux Jaxon back on my favorite of the group – Los Coronados de Teravail. For such a large knobby tire, the Coronados feel like they roll very easily and they seem to possess the ability to roll over just about anything in their path. Looking back at the time spent thinking about alternate ‘race’ tires, I should have just run it as Chet had set it up. But I guess sometimes I try to explore multiple options to reveal a bigger (and more confusing) picture. In this case (and most cases) mi Hermano, Adam Blake was right. I should have just stayed with the Coronados
The Industry Nine Enduro 305 Wheelset that came with BJ has a 30.5 mm inner width performed flawlessly and set up tubeless as easily as it gets. Both the 2.0 and the 3.0 tires are outside of the sweet spot for this rim width according to most people that I’ve talked to, but they seemed to work just fine.
The Sram Rival shifty bits and hydro brakes worked better than anything else that’s in the current stable of bikes around the test lab. That might be due to the relatively young age of the components or maybe a slightly less filthy working environment compared to the mess that we put fat-bikes through.
The Beaux Jaxon has the ability to carry everything that you might need for multi-day backpacking trips with triple mounts everywhere. The thing that stands out about the BJ that might haunt me till I can find/feel it again is the way the bike put my hips in a position to put the power to the pedals. The BJ felt very much like a road bike from the waist down and a capable 29+ drop-bar mountain bike from the waist up. I swear that for the first couple of weeks, I wanted to take the bike to some of my friends and have them ride it because I felt that it was something of a small revolutionary step in the evolution of off-road bicycle DNA. There’s something special about this bike and that special feeling was most evident when it had the 3.0″ tires mounted. Something about those taller and wider tires really makes the BJ rock the casbah! The smaller tires seemed to tame the ride down, but with the Coronados mounted the Beaux Jaxon felt rambunctious.
The Beaux Jaxon would relace two bikes in my quiver – (In my mind) The BJ would replace a Surly Crosscheck and a Krampus. This bike combines both of those fine bicycles best attributes into an all-around rad titanium adventure platform. Chet designed BJ to excel in Michigan’s geological sandbox. I think that the Beaux Jaxon would be every bit at home on Iowa Chunk to piles of Northwoods pine needles and (of course) Michigan sand. If I could swing it, I’d own one myself. If you get a chance to throw a leg over this bike, you should settle in and then…when you get comfortable, get out of the saddle…apply some power to the pedals and I think that you’ll agree that the Beaux Jaxon is something really special.
For more information about Bearclaw Bikes visit – https://bearclawbicycleco.com/