Video: Jeff Jones—A Man and His Bikes

Filmed over the course of four rides near the Jones Bikes headquarters in Southern Oregon, this latest Jones Bikes video combines riding footage, from rocky trails to urban settings, with Jeff Jones’ explanation of what makes his bikes ride the way they do. Learn more about the riding and the rider that created these bikes and bars, as well the thinking behind them.

Print

Review: Jeff Jones ATB

jones-atb-2

Jeff Jones is something of a mad genius, putting his impassioned theories about the ultimate bike ride into practice with fantastically swooping custom built frames. We’ve been fans of his iconic Titanium Spaceframe mountain bike since riding one for our sister publication, Dirt Rag, six years ago. But as with most geniuses who are drawn to bicycles, Jones believes in sharing his discoveries as widely as possible, so he’s expanded his business beyond custom frames (for which there is a lengthy waiting list) and into factory-produced versions.

This “ATB” bike is so called because it’s intended for all terrain: city, path and mountain. It’s based on Jones’ steel Diamond frame, which started life as a mountain bike. However, with some parts-swapping, this “mountain” bike makes a good commuter or comfy long-distance touring bike as well, with far fewer compromises than your average knobby-tired steed trying to change its stripes. Jones is fond of saying that he only makes one bike—a “high-performance non-suspended bicycle”—that can be used for a variety of riding styles.

What’s the secret to this chameleon nature? It’s in the geometry. Jones frames have a more relaxed seat tube angle and shorter chainstays, putting the rider’s weight further back over the rear wheel. The bottom bracket is settled low between the wheels to add stability. Combined with the Jones Loop H-Bar, which places your hands at a relaxed angle, the resulting position is fairly upright, yet efficient in pedaling and confident in handling rough terrain. Add to that the frame’s huge tire clearance, and you have a bike that can attack just about any situation or riding surface.

Our model was built with the steel Jones Unicrown fork, which has a 135mm hub spacing (wider than the normal 100mm); this stiffens up the front end, particularly useful for loading front panniers. (It also means that you could fit a “fat” front rim and tire, up to 26×4.7, for off-road adventures.) The bike came with 29×2.35 Schwalbe Big Apple tires—Jones is a believer, along with Schwalbe, that bigger-volume tires are actually more efficient on the road due to less rolling resistance, as well as being safer and more comfortable. Tubus racks and Planet Bike fenders round out the build. Jones also sent a set of Ortlieb front and rear panniers and trunk bag, and a frame bag made by Revelate Designs, to provide plenty of options for bikepacking or touring.

A group of Bicycle Times staffers took turns riding the Jones in a variety of ways. (Another benefit of the geometry is that one available size easily accommodates a fairly wide range of heights.)

Read all of our thoughts about the bike here.

Print

Jeff Jones debuts new version of the H-bar

For more than a decade Jeff Jones has been producing his 45-degree sweep bars. In that time, they have always been a multi-piece affair with the grip area welded to the crossbar. After many iterations, including some sold under the Titec brand, Jones has a new one-piece bar, the Bend H-bar.

jonesbend-13

You do lose out on the multiple hand postions of the Loop bar, and it is available only in the 660mm width for now, no 710mm yet. Personally I find that alt-bars like this ride wider than a standard bend bar, so I’m happy on the 660s. Normally I feel weird on anything narrower than 720mm with standard bars.

Click here for more pictures and details.

Print

First Impression: Jones diamond frame touring bike

By Adam Newman

Jeff Jones isn’t afraid to think outside the box. In fact, it’s safe to say he probably isn’t concerned about the box at all. He has been designing and building his own unique brand of non-suspended mountain bikes that have made the pages (and pixels) of our sister magazine, Dirt Rag, for years.

In recent years, Jones has brought a production version of his bike to market and after we reviewed it as a mountain bike, he pointed out that it is just as versatile on the road as on the trail. Since a couple of the staff use 29er mountain bikes with slick tires as all-purpose commuters and touring bikes, the idea struck a chord.

The $850 Jones diamond frame and fork feature everything a touring cyclist could need: rack and fender mounts; room for fat, comfy tires; three water bottle cage mounts; a shorter effective top tube and high, comfortable handlebars. Those handlebars are another of Jones’ original creations, a loop shape that puts your hands at a relaxed 45 degrees and creates a platform for carrying gear.

One of the key elements of what makes the bike unique in mountain bike mode is the ability to use a 29er front wheel or a 26×4.8 fat bike front wheel. As such, the fork is a specially designed unit that uses a 135mm fat bike front hub. When laced to a 29er/700c rim, it creates an especially strong front wheel that tracks straight, even when loaded. The rims are Velocity’s Blunt 35 that measure a huge 35mm wide and give the 29×2.35 Schwalbe Big Apple balloon tires even more cushion. Propulsion is provided by a Shimano 2×10 XT group that is geared low enough for even the steepest hills.

I packed up the panniers and the specially-designed frame bag that Jones sent us to try and had a great weekend riding and camping along the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail. While I wasn’t setting any speed records, the big tires and relaxed fit kept me cruising in comfort.

We’ll be putting the Jones through its paces all summer as we explore the countryside. One thing we’ll be paying close attention to is how the Jones fits a variety of riders, as it is only available in one size. The setup you see here is for my 6-foot-2 self.

Watch for it to make more appearances on bicycletimesmag.com and for a long-term review in an upcoming issue of Bicycle Times. Subscribe now and you’ll never miss an issue! 

Print

Bicycle Industry Insider Profile: Jeff Jones

By Jeff Lockwood

Aside from bicycles, of course, the main reason I choose to continue my futile search for fortune in the bicycle industry is because of the people I know and meet. There’s no shortage of extremely smart and passionate people who are insanely interesting, individualistic personalities. Sure it’s cool to be around famous athletes from time to time, but I much more deeply value the less publicly visible people that make the bicycle world go ’round. As such, I’ve decided to revive a special online series where we do a very brief standardized interview with some of these individuals: The Bicycle Industry Insider Profile Series. I want to share the stories of these people with the rest of the world through the Dirt Rag and Bicycle Times web sites. This week we have…

Name: Jeff Jones

Hometown: Southern California

Current location: Medford Oregon

What do you do for/with/to bicycles?  I design and build custom and production bicycles. I run Jeff Jones Custom Bicycles with my wife and partner Sheila.

What’s the best thing about your job? Working with bikes and the people involved with bikes sure is nice. The best thing is probably the bike riding, but I also really love working in the shop building the bikes.

What’s the toughest part of your job? There just aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything I want to do. I want to ride, I want to build bikes and develop new ideas. I’d love to build a bike for every like-minded cyclist on the planet!

The running of a business, the cost and availability of raw materials, the conflict between cycling as "a fun thing to do" and the harsh realities of the bicycle industry; fashion and hype, copycats and cynics, profit and loss. It’s not nearly as simple as I wish it was.

What was the path that led you to work with bicycles? It is all I have ever done and it is what I have wanted to do. As a young kid I’d ride with my friends. We would build jumps and go on long rides. We all worked on our own bikes and never thought of taking them to the shop for repair.

My dad taught me to stick weld when I was 13. I’d cut up old bikes and weld them back together again making side hacks, tandems  and a recumbent. I used a hack saw and grinding wheel to miter tubing. They weren’t pretty but they were fun to ride!

Hanging out at the local bike shop eventually got me a job, around 1985. I worked there and then another shop for a few years until I landed a job doing quality control at the GT bicycle factory in 1991. There I learned to build frames and all about making bikes. They sent me to Taiwan to oversee bike production for a month at a time. That was a whole new lesson in bike building there. After 6 years at GT, I left I to start a bike shop with my wife Sheila. About 5 years after that we sold the shops and moved to Oregon, and I started building bikes.

What was your first bicycle? I don’t know. I got a bike when I was about 5 and I could not ride it very well. At 6 I learned to ride on a borrowed bike. The first bike I owned and rode without training wheels was a star-spangled red, white and blue bike with a banana seat in 1976. Around 1978 I got a used Yamaha moto bicycle with full suspension. I jumped that heavy thing until the head tube separated from the down tube. Then I got a used Mongoose and rode that until I saved up enough paper route money to buy a black and gold PK Ripper. That was my first big purchase and first new bike.

What bike do you currently ride the most?
It’s a steel bike I built for myself a few months ago for longer rides and more open trails, as well as load carrying.  I’ve been using it mostly for riding into town.

Where is your favorite place to ride? I don’t have a favorite. I just like to ride where I can. I do really enjoy my rides from my shop/home up the mountain, on the forest roads. They go all over and I have different length loops I’ve found. I like that I can ride there often and I always get to finish with a ride home.

Riding on new trails in faraway places with the locals is something I like to do when I get a chance. I usually learn a thing or two.

What music goes through your head while you ride? (literally or figuratively) While I’m riding I think. I’m thinking about the bike and how it’s functioning. I just ride and think about anything, and if the riding gets technical and fast enough then my mind is cleared and I’m just on my wheels moving. It’s not really music but I like it and I am listening.

What are your interests aside from bicycles? Family, fun, the future, what is happening in and to the world.

If you weren’t working around bicycles, what do you think you’d be doing?
I have no idea and don’t want to think about it. No matter what, I’d still be riding bikes.

Please share one of your favorite stories you’ve seen or been a part of while involved with the bicycle industry: Many things have happened, but I don’t have any favorite stories to tell.

Who would you choose for the next subject for the Bicycle Industry Insider Profile Series? Scott Gibson at New Sun Productions.

Why? Every time I see Scott or get to talk with him we end up talking for while and it is always good.

More on Jeff Jones

We’ve written quite a bit about Jones and his bikes through the years. Here’s a quick recap:

Karen’s first impression of his titanium SpaceFrame

Karen’s full review of the titanium SpaceFrame (from Issue #141)

Another interview from 2004 (Issue #105)

Justin’s first impressions of the steel diamond frame in touring mode

Justin’s first impression of the fat front truss fork

A report from Jones’ visit to Dirt Rag HQ in summer 2008

A look at Jones’ Taiwanese-made steel SpaceFrame

Print

Jones Spaceframe In the House

So a few weeks ago I got a long-anticipated shipment from Oregon: two boxes containing one Jones Spaceframe and an assortment of wheels. Party time, excellent!

kb_on_jones_sswc.jpg

Jeff Jones was kind enough to lend me a Spaceframe built as a singlespeed to race with at the Singlespeed Worlds. Quite a nice way to begin a test. But, as is often the case with smaller companies that don’t have lots of bikes just lying around, he needed the frame back to display at Interbike, so my testing joy was short-lived.

Testing joy has arrived again. The two boxes were stuffed with a Merlin-made Spaceframe and a Fat Truss fork (made to accept his custom front wheels built with 135mm front hubs), singlespeed and 6-speed shifter/drivetrain set-ups, and five wheels: one fast-n-light singlespeed set with Edge Composites carbon rims, one heavier-duty 6-speed set with Chris King rear hub and customized 17-34t Shimano XTR cogset (trimmed down to fit on the King singlespeed hub for a dishless build), and a big-ass Fat front wheel composed of a Paul 135mm front hub, 50mm-wide Speedway Cycles rim and Surly Endomorph 26"x4" tire (the outer diameter of which closely matches XC 29" tires). This is a lot of cool stuff to mess with. As Jeff said when I visited his shop last spring (Inside Line issue #136), the interchangeability of his frames, forks, wheels and customized drivetrain parts "is like playing with Legos."

kb_on_jones_ff.jpg
The bike came as a singlespeed, but as I’m feeling pretty lazy as of late, right away I transmogrified it into 6-speed Fat Front mode. Jeff likes to equip his bikes with Avid mechanical disc brakes, so I just had to switch from the Shimano XTR cable brake lever to an XTR Dual-Control for the rear. He had helpfully included an XTR derailleur already connected to the shift/brake lever with the signature stainless steel tubing he uses for cable housing. For the more bendy handlebar sections, Jeff prefers Nokon segmented housing with shrink-to-fit overwraps where it contacts the frame and fork. The phrase "well thought out" is an understatement with Jeff’s builds.

This is also an expensive set of bike Legos. With that in mind, I aim to get in as much riding experience as possible to justify the nearly five-figure price tag.

Did you say "five figures"? Yikes, that much?!? Yes, it’s going to take a lot of riding. But here are some reasons the price is not so ridiculous:

– The Spaceframe comes in only two sizes, 23" and 24" (effective top tube measurement, with a possible larger third size to come), but each can be ridden by a wide variety of people, due to the slack seat tube angle – as the seat is raised, the effective top tube is lengthened by more than that on a "normal" bike would be. Everyone else in the office, with the possible exception of Maurice, can ride this single bike. (We tried this when Jeff visited back in July.) The true test will be to see if Justin can ride this same Spaceframe for extended periods – although we’re not that different in height, we have very different leg and torso lengths and prefer totally different bike setups.

jones_commuting.jpg– Versatility. With the option of singlespeed, 6, 12 or 18 speed (if one adds a 2- or 3-speed crank) and a regular or Fat front wheel for varying amounts of pneumatic suspension, there’s a lot of options for different terrain and riding styles. Since my usual commuting transportation is currently in pieces in my bike room being overhauled (with more parts crying out for replacement every time I look at it), I put its Mavic Speedcity rear wheel in the Jones frame and the Edge/Paul wheel in front, and after a little monkeying with derailleur limit screws and barrel adjusters, have been riding it in to work. With the single 32t front chainring, it’s geared a little low, but not by much. I can keep a mountain rear wheel here at work for a quick transmogrify and afternoon ride. Cyclocross racing? Dual slalom? Dirt jumping? All possibilities not outside the realm of reality. I even plan to take the bike to Ray’s at some point.

– Titanium is forever. You’ve heard this before… but with a frame and fork that I would dare call revolutionary, yet not dependent on technology that may soon be outmoded or unserviceable, this is a bike that will not only last but be rideable and fun for a very long time.

The price of titanium (along with many other raw materials) has been rising precipitously lately. Jeff doesn’t want his cool stuff to remain out of reach for most riders, and has begun offering a steel frame also made by Merlin with his signature geometry. It’s still pretty pricey, but Jeff’s been thinking about ways to make his frames even less expensive. A few other bike makers have already arrived at some of the same Jones geometry fundamentals, such as the laid-back seat tube that bends around the rear wheel paired with short chainstays… lots more people may soon be able to enjoy the benefits of a Jones revolution, even if the vehicle doesn’t come from Mr. Jones himself.

More on Jeff Jones

We’ve written quite a bit about Jones and his bikes through the years. Here’s a quick recap:

Karen’s full review of the titanium SpaceFrame (from Issue #141)

Our Industry Insider interview from 2010

Another interview from 2004 (Issue #105)

Justin’s first impressions of the steel diamond frame in touring mode

Justin’s first impression of the fat front truss fork

A report from Jones’ visit to Dirt Rag HQ in summer 2008

A look at Jones’ Taiwanese-made steel SpaceFrame

Print

Jeff Jones Visits DRHQ

This summer has been rather rainy here in Pittsburgh and the trails somewhat soggy. We were in for a bit of luck though when Jeff Jones dropped by for a visit and ride. It was hot and humid, but mercifully the rain had held off for another day. Jeff had brought along several bikes, including his new steel frame, and we were some of the first on this side of the country to ride the new designs.

2xjones.jpg

The 3D Spaceframe is a gleaming spaceship of a bike. Gracefully flowing lines that hide their real purposes, clean and unfettered with loud graphics. But would it ride as well as everyone was telling me? I’m not a connoisseur of bikes like the rest of the Dirt Rag team, so I wasn’t sure Jeff’s re-engineering would make any difference to a less experienced rider.

Justin, Karen, Eric and Jeff had taken off on their own in the park to put their Jones prototypes through their paces, leaving me to a secluded ride on the Spaceframe “Fat Front” set-up. Under the canopy of the trees in Hartwood Acres, the sun seemed less intimidating and a breeze wandered through the woods on occasion to keep things cool. At my leisure, I was able to experiment with the bike’s new geometry and try it out on familiar singletrack as well as a newly discovered trail that wiggled off through the trees into an open meadow and up and down the banks along our resident creek.

It took only a bit of warm up on the trail before I started feeling right at home on the bike. I can’t say that the Spaceframe instantly made me a better rider, but it was easy to adapt my riding style to the new specifications. That alone speaks volumes for the frame design. So many adjustments and re-engineering, but you just don’t feel it. It all works together and makes for a better ride. In the end, I even found myself willing to be a bit more daring on descents and larger obstacles thanks to the large Surly Endomorph tire on the front.

Jeff has also extended his redesign beyond the frame and the bike I rode had a few different accessories worth mentioning.

The set-up on the Spaceframe included a simple thumbshifter system. You flick the lever on your right handlebar up or down. Up for uphill—low gear, or down—high gear, for downhill. Flicking down was a little tricky at first, but much easier on my artsy left brain than the traditional gears that require all the two-lever stuff.

I was also running with only six gears and you might think that would limit performance on steep climbs, but the gears I did have served well enough and I didn’t miss the extra rings. This again has something to do with the bike geometry and the rider’s position in the saddle. Here’s a link to more details for you gear heads. I’m just as happy to call it magic.

The handlebars are a Jeff Jones creation as well with the handlebar sweep bringing your hands and arms in closer to your body. It felt slightly odd for about two seconds. After that, my only other thought was how sturdy I felt standing on my pedals and balancing on them.

Some lucky Dirt Rag staff member will have the chance to test ride one of these Jeff Jones bikes so look for more detailed review in the future. From experience, I can say that this bike is easy to ride and a real pleasure as well, no matter your skill level. It’s definitely going on my wish list.

jones_bike1.jpg

For more information on Jeff Jones and his frames check out the latest issue of Dirt Rag (#136) and this interview from issue #105.

More on Jeff Jones

We’ve written quite a bit about Jones and his bikes through the years. Here’s a quick recap:

Karen’s first impression of his titanium SpaceFrame

Karen’s full review of the titanium SpaceFrame (from Issue #141)

Our Industry Insider interview from 2010

Another interview from 2004 (Issue #105)

Justin’s first impressions of the steel diamond frame in touring mode

Justin’s first impression of the fat front truss fork

A look at Jones’ Taiwanese-made steel SpaceFrame

Print
Back to Top