I had a “new bike day” the week of Thanksgiving last November. I haven’t talked about it much because I knew I wouldn’t be riding it until Spring time. I have my winter bikes. They are the only bikes I use for winter riding. This one was never intended to be used for winter riding. The only reason I bought it in November is because I didn’t know if this particular bike would be offered or still in stock come Spring time. It’s a Jones Plus SWB Complete. Jeff Jones dances to his own tune. He builds and designs bikes of his own design without a need to follow what other builders or bike companies do. He is known for his Space Frame designs with truss forks and handlebars unlike anything anyone else makes.
I first ran across Jones Bikes in 2007 when I was searching for an alternative to a flat bar handlebar to use on my Surly Pugsley I had bought in 2006. I was training to do my second Arrowhead Ultra 135. I have a history of tendonitis in my elbows and the flat bar positioning caused massive flare-ups. I found Jeff’s H-bar handlebar to be the solution. I’ve had his H-bar handlebars on two of my bikes since 2007. I use them on my Pugsley and my Xtracyle. Up until last summer you had to order a custom build if you wanted a Jones. He worked with titanium and steel, and did small runs of production frames in both titanium and steel. They were expensive. Last summer he released a production bike that was affordable at $1799. Although there is no way to get it for that price because you can only buy it directly from him. Shipping cost around $160. The real price of the complete bike is closer to $2,000 when you factor in shipping.
My riding habits have drastically changed over the past four years. Up until 2015, when I left a job I had been at for 14 years, I used bikes for transportation everyday. I didn’t own a car for 15 years. If I wasn’t riding for transportation I was doing long leisurely rides on pavement. Then I changed jobs, started to feel my age, developed a fear of the modern motorist and their inability to focus on driving, and stopped riding on pavement as much. Then in 2017 I bought a car. A requirement for a new job I had started. All my rides turned into leisure rides. I did very few rides for transportation. I started to ride the Pugsley for rides in the summer. It was my only “off-road” bike. There was an explosion of mountain trails in Duluth with multiple trailheads built only a mile from my house. I also had access to unofficial trails, old ATV trails and gravel roads near to my house. My road bikes got used less. For the first time since owning the Pugsley it became my go to bike all year round. Then last year I realized, “Hey, I have a car.” I can drive my Puglsey to one of the nearby National Forests, pack it up and do some bikepacking. I loved that. It wasn’t an ideal bike, but I love my Pugsley. It is sooooo familiar to me after years of extreme adventures.
This Fall I was contemplating replacing the 12 year old Pug with a modern fatbike. The Pugsley doesn’t go around corners on the local singletrack very well. I wanted a bike I could take bikepacking, ride singletrack, ride gravel, and just do it all. I wasn’t interested in a full on squishy mountain bike. I don’t like to ride singletrack everyday. I like to mix it up. I came very close to buying a Surly Ice Cream Truck. I really like the redesign they did last year. I was planning to buy a second wheelset so I could ride fat in the winter and plus size tires in the summer. That way I’d use it for summer bikepacking and gravel and singletrack. All the stuff I ride these days.
And then I starting reading up on the Jones. This is a mountain bike that can do it all. It ticks all the boxes for the bike I wanted. Plus, I’ve always wanted a Jones. I’ve always had the Jones Bars. Now I have the bars AND the bike that goes with it.
It arrived nicely packed. They recommend you have a certified mechanic do the final assembly. I’m very confident in my mechanic skills. So I did the assembly myself. Checking every bolt and nut. It only took me about an hour.
The same week it arrived Cedaero packs announced a 25% off any custom frame bag special for one day only on Small Business Saturday. Since Cedaero is local for me, I was already planning to have them do a custom fit frame bag for me. My plan was to buy everything I need to pack this bike up for bikepacking before Spring arrives. A frame bag would be the first purchase. I took the bike along. They took measurements and pictures of my bike, took an order for what extras I wanted and said it’d be done in a couple of weeks.
I picked it up three weeks later. It made for a nice 30 mile drive up the North Shore of Lake Superior to Two Harbors, Minnesota. Cedaero is part of three businesses, the other two being a bike shop, Spokengear, and a coffee shop called Cedar Cafe. I picked up the frame bag, browed the bike shop, and had a great cup of coffee in the cafe. One of the extras I paid for was to have screws to mount it to the downtube bottle mounts. The Jones has two bottle mounts on the downtube. One is a three hole mount. It’s a nice clean way to mount it to the bike without the use of straps on that tube.
Then the bike sat for the rest of the winter.
The first ride happened on a Thursday just over a week ago. The snow is mostly gone, but the trails are mud and ice. The first ride was all on roads. I knew the Jones would feel and ride different than any bike I’d ridden before. And it did. You sit very up right. The bars are wide and feel very close to you. It’s odd at first. But after a while I started to get it. The amount of control you have is astounding. There is no twitchiness to the steering or handling, but it is very precise. It inspires a great deal of confidence. I’m really looking forward to trying it on some local singletrack once the trails dry out.
I have a habit of changing out parts when I buy a bike “off-the-rack”. I told myself I would give this bike at least a few hundred miles before I changed anything. But the seat that came on the bike got swapped out after the first ride. My saddles of choice are mostly WTB saddles or SDG saddles. I happened to have a brand new SDG Bel-Air saddle that I swapped for the saddle that came on the bike. Huge improvement. The saddle on the bike had a strange boxy shape to the rear end of the saddle that just didn’t agree with my backside.
I took advantage of a few deals and coupons from REI to start acquiring gear for bikepacking with my Jones. I was looking for a good dry bag to use on my forks. Revelate Designs just so happened to release a brand new dry bag in February that met my requirements. It’s called the Polecat. I bought two and some straps from Revelate Designs. I plan to mount them to the forks with Problem Solvers Bow-Tie Strap Anchors.
Last summer I bought a handlebar harness from Revelate Designs to use on the Pugsley. I liked it a lot. But decided I would like to have a dry bag up there. I bought their Salty Roll Dry Bag to go with the harness.
The second ride on the Jones happened a few days after the first ride. The bike was already feeling better. The “oddness” of the seating position was fading and it was starting to feel “right”. I’m looking forward to getting in a lot more miles and a lot more adventures on this bike.