Affordable and versatile, but a bit heavy
Jamis picked a flashy color for the Supernova Elite, but this ‘cross rig is truly a blue-collar bike: A reasonable price tag and durable component package give you a compelling argument to roll it out of the garage even when ‘cross season has come and gone.
The Supernova Elite is a solid value at $2,799. It comes with a full-carbon fork and carbon frame that boasts size-specific tubing, a beefy BB386 bottom bracket, internal cable routing, and thru-axles front and rear.
This frameset (the same as Jamis’s top of the line Supernova Team) is dressed with modest but capable parts, including SRAM’s Rival 1 drivetrain and hydraulic disc brakes, as well as an alloy Ritchey cockpit. The Alex ATD 470 wheels are tubeless-ready, but a bit heavy, especially with the chunky 11-42-tooth cassette. The Jamis weighs in at 21 pounds, which is one of our biggest gripes about this otherwise capable race rig.
And while you’ll probably like the wide-range cassette if you’re climbing gravel roads all day, it’s an upgrade opportunity for those looking to enter the local cyclocross races. A pair of light tubular wheels would make the Supernova Elite a contender in the local races — especially with a lighter and more performance-oriented 11-28-tooth cluster.
However, a new wheelset won’t remedy one of the bike’s quirks: excessive toe overlap on our 54cm test bike. Know that this concern is contingent on shoe size, frame size, and cleat placement. Riders on larger bikes may not have to worry. We traced the complaint back to a 73-degree seat angle and 72-degree head tube angle. On the other hand, a 54cm Cannondale SuperX has a 74- and 71-degree seat and head tube angle, respectively. Despite the overlap, the Jamis’s geometry led to a neutral steering feel — not road bike twitchy, but responsive enough or aggressive passing and cornering.
In the lab, the Supernova’s front end proved to be exceptionally solid at 0.43 millimeters of deflection. The bottom bracket didn’t fare quite as well at 0.74 millimeters of deflection, though a good set of stiff carbon wheels could offset this figure to some degree.
Despite the extra weight, that 11-42-tooth cassette makes the Supernova very versatile for rides beyond the confines of the course tape, and its low bottom bracket (69-millimeter drop) gave us confidence at speed on loose dirt roads. If versatility on and off the course is a principal concern for you, the Supernova Elite could be a good match.
Above all, we love it when a cyclocross bike encourages us to ride it year-round. Jamis did a good job of keeping the Supernova Elite from becoming a garage ornament in the summer months by adding the extra gearing and road-friendly geometry.