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To a person, our testers thought the Xenith Race was a screaming deal. This is a stiff, predictable, raceable carbon fiber frame paired with an all-carbon fork. And it boasts a full Shimano Ultegra build, save for the rear derailleur, which is top-shelf Dura-Ace. Every single one of us double-checked the price. While by no means the lightest bike around, the Xenith is a steal. If you’re looking to get into racing on a budget, you could do a lot worse.
That said, the positioning of the direct-mount rear brake — under and behind the BB — elicited groans. Working on brakes like this is a nightmare. On aero-road bikes, the assumption is that the inconvenience is worth it for the aerodynamic benefit. But why on a bike like this? Jamis says it was a concession that enabled engineers to deliver more of the the compliance and torsional characteristics that everyone is always chasing in all-around race frames.
As we’ve noted, the Xenith is a great ride at a killer price. So maybe the tradeoff was worth it — as long as you don’t end up spending a bunch of extra money to have someone work on your brakes because you just can’t deal.
Elsewhere, the only big concession to cost — aside from frame materials (the weight thing) — seems to have been the entry-level Mavic Aksium wheels. They’re heavy and a bit soft, which one would expect from a $200 aluminum wheelset. But they get the job done and help Jamis deliver a damned good bike for the price.
Component highlights: Shimano Ultegra drivetrain with 52/36 crankset and 11-28 cassette; Shimano Ultegra brakes (direct-mount rear); Mavic Aksium wheelset