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Perhaps it is time to stop dogging on aluminum. At first, we didn’t realize this was an aluminum bike. That little oversight speaks volumes about how the Jamis Icon Elite feels, especially at this affordable price.
The frame’s 6061 aluminum tubes are butted, minimizing weight while retaining overall rigidity. The tubes are not hydroformed, which somewhat limits what Jamis can do to tailor the overall ride quality and comfort. But this too helps keep the price down.
You’ll get some of that characteristic aluminum buzz on rough roads, but the Icon Elite manages to shirk the metal’s less-than-stellar reputation as an unyielding backbreaker.
Still, Jamis admits the Elite is no comfort bike, and the focus here is on speed — Jamis calls it “ruthless efficiency.” We certainly felt that out on the road.
If comfort isn’t your highest concern, you’ll be impressed by the Icon’s pedaling response. With 12-millimeter thru-axles front and rear, plus a PF30 bottom bracket and full-carbon fork, the Icon Elite railed corners and felt solid when sprinting out of the saddle.
Jamis made one notable misstep in frame design, however, by building this bike with a 31.6-millimeter seatpost. We’ve always found that a skinny 27.2-millimeter post is the simplest way to keep a bike from beating us up, and we wish the Icon had one. It’s not a deal-breaker, but with rigid aluminum beneath, this would be an opportunity to add some compliance. We also would prefer more generous 25-millimeter tires over the 23-millimeter Vittoria Rubino Pros that come stock.
Those quibbles aside, we had a blast riding the Icon Elite. It is lively and quick with a 73-degree head tube angle, 977-millimeter wheelbase, and a short 140-millimeter head tube. Downhills were exhilarating with a low bottom bracket (68.5-millimeter drop) and the power of Shimano’s hydraulic disc brakes at our fingertips.
If you want an affordable, disc-brake equipped race bike, Jamis’s Icon Elite is a fine ride. Riders looking for more versatility would do better on a bike with wider tires, perhaps lower-profile rims (the alloy American Classic Victory 30 wheels might contribute to the bike’s stiff feel), and more generous gearing with compact chain rings.