A Reynolds 631 chrome-moly steel main triangle and taper-gauge chrome-moly steel stays give the Nova just the right blend of stiffness and ride to make it sing over rough pavement. That’s no coincidence, since the Nova’s cantilever brakes and chunky 32mm tires mark it as a cyclocross bike, a road bike-turned-dirt machine. Ritchey aero wheels and the new Shimano 105 10-speed drivetrain keep things fast on the pavement. The Avid Shorty 4 cantis are road lever-compatible and the compact-chainring crank, burly Giga-X bottom bracket, powerful brakes and rack- and fender braze-ons make it an ideal loaded touring bike or foul-weather trainer.
Strengths: Plush, rugged, steel frame
Good component values
Weaknesses: Heavy (downside of steel)
No bar top brakes
Rear dropout interferes with my trainer
Was looking for a cross bike for light XC MTB trails, road riding (ugh), commuting, trainer wrokouts, and actual cyclocross racing. I own numerous MTBs, but haven't owned a road bike for about a decade. After trying out quite a few cross bikes, I went with this one (57cm). It fit me well, and I like the idea of a steel frame.
Most of the miles I've put in on this bike have been at Fatasy Island, a local Tucson MTB trail, and the 10 miles of road between my house and the trail. It is awesome to pass some dude on some $5k full suspension MTB and drop him on a bike that looks like a road bike. The steel frame and carbon fork ride very smooth. I though the tires would be useless, but they hook up much better than I expected in dry hardpack and rocks (don't think they'll work in mud).
I just got a second set of wheels to keep road tires on for the trainer, commuting, and other road rides. This bike can now cover about 70% of my riding.
My only disapointments:
No bar top brake levers. I do technical decents in the drops, but sometimes just riding along on the bar tops a corner will sneak up on me and I will scramble to get on the brakes.
Seatpost slips no matter how tight I tighten the bolt. I cleaned off all the excess grease, which didn't help. I'm going to try shimming it next.
10 spd - I would have prefered 9 spd for durability
I can't complain that it's heavy, because that's the price you pay for the ride of steel without the Ti or carbon pricetag.
Similar Products Used: My first cross bike, but have ridden my wife's (much too small) Jake the Snake.
Bike Setup: Stock, but soon to have bar top brake levers
Date Reviewed: November 30, 2007
Strengths: Smooth, buttery ride. Strong frame, but not too heavy.
Weaknesses: "Squishy" or whatever is the opposite of "stiff".
I have the Jamis Nova frame circa ~2003, built as a touring bike. This is a real put-put bike, meaning it likes to cruise, not to race. A really soft ride- the frame is not very stiff, but eats up bumps in the road. I put Mavic Open-Pro/Ultegra wheels to speed my transit across Seattle, but the frame is just kindof squishy. The quality steel frame will probably last forever.
Bike Setup: Fast touring setup: Ultegra/OpenPro wheels, Cantilever brakes, bar-end shifters, Truvativ Roleur carbon triple.
Date Reviewed: July 3, 2007
Strengths: Overall high quality components, including complete Shimano 105 drivetrain.
Fender / Rack capability.
The 2006 came with pedals, which the 2007 doesn't, so the 2006 seems like a better bike actually.
Weaknesses: Weight, but as I mentioned, compared to other cross bikes it isn't a heavy bike.
I would have liked the spokes on the rear wheel to be triple crossed instead of double crossed.
PRICE - the MSRP price in Canada for the 2007 is $1919.00, which is basically outrageous, considering that the U.S. price is $1300.00 (our dollars are almost equal these days) and that the fairly similar Kona Jake the Snake is about $1500.00 Canadian.
Luckily, after calling a few stores, CyclePath in Willowdale said "let's see if I can get you a 2006 for a better price than the 2007" and lo and behold they found one for me and gave it to me for $1600.00 Canadian. I would NOT have bought it at $1919.00 Canadian - it's a good bike, but not that good.
I wanted a cross bike for three main reasons: a) for long/fast/comfortable commuting b) to sub in for a road bike if necessary c) for cross races.
I was a bit limited in the cross bikes I could choose from, because I was requiring that the bike have rack and fender capability, which ruled out the Fuji bikes and some others. I eventually test rode the Nova and something inside me said "Yes!"
Here's a review of the Nova broken into three parts corresponding to the three reasons why I wanted a cross bike:
a) As a commuter - the Jamis is really awesome. The steel frame and the 32mm tires absorb nearly all of the road vibration, and you get a really comfortable ride on this bike. The gearing provides enough range to cover anything you'd usually come across during your commute as well.
b) As a road bike sub-in - Hmm. No. Even swapping on road tires, at almost 23 pounds, the Nova is never going to let me do a duathlon and actually lay a hurt on the course. It doesn't climb hills with much zip, nor does it accelerate all that well. It does hold it's momentum well, but getting it up to speed in a race would be tiring.
HOWEVER - even the lighter aluminum cross bikes end up around the 22 pound mark, so the NOVA is by no means heavier than the average cross bike.
c) A cross bike - well I finally got it onto some narrow country roads this weekend, and it handled gravel nicely, even climbing in gravel and turning in gravel at speed, so I'm pretty happy about the idea of using it on a cross course.
So despite the fact that it fails on one level (road bike ability), the Nova is a really strong bike. I particularly like the full Shimano 105 drivetrain. SO MANY other cross bikes around this level (Yes this means YOU Bianchi Axis) try to make you buy a 105/Tiagra mix, or worse, and I find that kind of cheap.
Strengths: Steel. Good components. Good price.
What more can you want ? Great training bike.
Weaknesses: Paint is very chippy. I think Jamis should look into their primer, because it chips down to the metal.
Fun, fun, fun!! Did I say FUN !
The more I ride this bike the more I enjoy the comfort of a cross bike, with the ability to go almost anywhere.
My road bike is my baby and the conditions are not always favorable for using the machine, so I bought this bike as a pre-season trainer. I enjoy this bike so much I may not ride my other road bike,..... well maybe .
I switched out the Shimano 105 with Campy Centaur shifters and carbon derailers and a Mavic conversion cassette, only because I found the switch over to Shimano awkward.
All my bikes are steel (steel/carbon) and would not ride anything else but maybe carbon, this frame is stiff enough and very comfortable for long rides.
For the money it’s by far the best value out there and would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good cross bike.
P.S. I'm not the kind of person that writes a positive review just because I own the bike. I've have had the opportunity to try and own many bikes in the past and truly believe this bike is a great value.
Now available as a frameset so you can build it the way you want it.
Great geometry for a comfortable, stable ride on any terrain, even singletrack.
Tradition horizontal top tube and steel construction make for a handsome profile.
Weaknesses: Poor paint quality on the '01 but the newer one seems a lot better.
The gear cable stops were poorly positioned on the head tube of the early model but have also been corrected.
Factory part spec is a little too heavy for serious 'crossing.
I own a couple of these, an '01 I think it is and an '03. I bought the first one to use as a touring bike and fell in love with it after only a few rides.
From epic day rides and daily commuting to trail riding and elite cx racing, my Novas have done it all. It is always the first bike I reach for when I have the choice of what to ride that day. The frame is ideal for 'cross and worthy of upgrades if you are competitive. I've ridden mine to Masters Provincial podiums and National top 10's.
I won't give the bike a five star value rating while it is still outfitted with 105. In my opinion (and yes, I've owned and worked on them all) that stuff is no better than Tiagra and falls well short of Ultegra.
Since buying my first Nova I've chosen Jamis products for all my bikes. I couldn't be happier with them.