Wednesday, February 13, 2019

A Long Talk With Jeff

The Blackborow from a recent ride.
Late January of this year I posted about my desires for a mountain bike. This, apparently, got the attention of Jeff Jones of Jones Bicycles. Jeff reached out to me and asked that I call him so we could speak about this.

I missed the call and a week later I finally connected with Jeff. He talked to me for an hour and discussed his vision about what a "bicycle" in 2019 should be for most people. We covered styles of riding, set ups, tires, wheels, handle bars, and about everything you could think of concerning bicycles.

There were a lot of take-aways, but the one I wanted to focus on today was about the Carbon H-Bar that I have on my Blackborow. Jeff explained to me the concept about the H-Bar, how he thought it should be set up, and it's benefits in his design schemes.

The number one thing he told me was that a lot of people erroneously think you need a longer stem when switching out to a H-Bar. Jeff says you probably should seriously take a look at going shorter on your stem length. Jeff explained that while portions of the H-Bar will stick back further than your original bars, the forward parts of the H-Bar need to be easily accessible without overly stretching out or scootching forward on your saddle. In fact, Jeff said your H-Bar isn't set up right if you have to move back and forth on your saddle to reach all the intended grip positions. 

He also explained that you might want to raise up the bar via using a riser stem, as the idea with "Jones geometry" is that you should basically have your weight planted on your feet, not so much on your hands. Jeff said he's seen many folks using odd grip ideas on his bars and that those shouldn't be necessary as you should basically barely have any weight on the bars if they are set up correctly. The standard Jones style grips, either the old ESI made ones or his new ones, should be all you need there.

I used the stock stem on the Blackborow, cork grips, and leather tape for grips.
So, I took a look at my Blackborow with the Carbon H-Bars I've had on there for a couple of years now. I did not go with a shorter stem, and I suppose I could try one, but I think my issue is more height related than length related. I often feel as though the bike rides a whole lot better when I sit a hair more upright. So, my plan is to get a rise stem, maybe a Whiskey one, and try getting the bars up about 5mm from where they are now. That will be about right, I think.

I may end up pushing the saddle forward a few millimeters as well. But one thing at a time here. I'm really close to nailing the ideal position on the bike, so I don't want to get too crazy. In fact, I'm okay right where it is at, but I am thinking small tweaks are necessary and will improve my riding a touch.

Anyway, the conversation did not lead to a purchase of a Jones Bike now. I'm just too broke at the moment to consider getting one. But if I were to get one, based upon what Jeff and I spoke about, it would be the Plus LWB model with 29+ wheels and tires. Here's why......

I could use a Jones Bike Plus LWB as a commuter, gravel exploration machine, a bike for softer soils and roads, a Winter commuter when fat bikes are overkill, and as a mountain bike. I like the eccentric bottom bracket idea as a fail-safe single speed bail-out option. I like 29+ wheels and tires for the lower rolling resistance, flotation, and all-around uses that they can cover.

I'd get a steel one, of course, and as far as a fork, well, Jeff explained the benefits of the forks he offers- the Unicrown and the Truss style fork, and I'd likely go with the truss, just for the stability of that fork while mountain biking. It makes sense as a new bike for me because I can get that bike and retire two others. It is simple to maintain, and it would be a long term solution.

So, now I would just have to come up with the money. Honestly, while Jeff was trying to get me to bite on a complete, I'd get a frame and fork. I am definitely capable of setting up my own rig, and wheels aren't alien to me, so I'd likely build my own. Jeff usually goes with a 50mm wide rim on the 29+ builds, and he sometimes goes with i45 wide rims. That's about right, I think, so I'd likely go that route. Anyway, I'd build my own rig for sure. While that would bring the cost way down for me, I still need to do some saving up.

Stay tuned........


CrossTrail said...

Jeff Jones is awesome. An ultimate bike geek who is creative, engaging, independent, intelligent, perceptive and passionate. He spent at least that much time with me going through each and every detail of the frame, fork and build for my steel Jones 29+ LWB last year. I love everything about the process and result. Highly recommended. No reservations.

FarleyBob said...

I recently put a shorter stem on my Blackborow with the Surly Moloko bar. I wanted a slightly more upright position and so far I really like the change. I installed the Moloko last summer with my stock stem, and after some long rides this winter(Tuscobia 160), I could tell I needed to make an adjustment. So far so good!

Bob said...

Why steel rather than titanium?

Guitar Ted said...

@Robert Jones- Steel = $$$'s Titanium = $$$$'s My bank account currently = ____. Did ya see any $'s in that last part? :>)

Seriously, the Ti would be great, I just cannot swing what Jeff asks for those on a bike mechanic's budget. I made the least amount of money working in 2018 than I have since the early 80's. So, that should tell ya something.

Michael Lemberger said...

I've owned a Plus LWB for about a year and a half, and I've been telling people it's the rigid steel mountain bike I've been wanting for the last thirty years or so. If you want to ride some single track or ATV trails while loaded for bike camping, it's the bike for that.

Not to mention that it's cool looking.

jdc said...

Spot on about the stem coupled with Jones bars. I went considerably up and back on my Moonlander after reading Jeff's setup advice. I was hesitant, did it anyway, and was very pleased by the much improved result. It ends up being that the old "normal" setup just feels wrong. Being that our shop is a Specialized dealer, I used one of their 24 degree rise Comp Set stems in a length that is 20mm shorter than what I usually go with. With the rotatable inner sleeves that these stems use, fine tuning is a bonus.