We take the term “pro-level” very seriously. This isn’t just a marketing term for us. We take pro-level to mean it’s what pros demand and deserve. Xenith SL is the definition of pro-level. And we prove it, under the legs of the Jamis/Sutter Home men’s squad and Colavita/Forno D’Asolo women’s team, two teams at the top of USA Cycling’s 2011 NRC calendar week after week. For 2012, we modified every Xenith mold to be compatible with FSA’s new PF30 BB system, offering all the advantages of the original BB30 system – lighter, stiffer, stronger – with press-in cups that makes later bearing replacement a cinch. Our advanced NearNet molding process, unique to the SL, is still the benchmark for the ultimate in compaction, yielding incredible stiffness, precise road feel and amazing power transfer that extends from fork tips to rear dropouts. Stand on the Shimano Dura-Ace crank and the SL responds. Right now.
Strengths: Mind blowingly fast. Insanely comfortable. Light as air. Extremely well balanced.
Weaknesses: People don't wet their pants over it, as they would a Pinarello Dogma or S-Works Venge, say.
I finally had to write it. I buy and sell tons of bikes on craigslist. I buy them, ride them for a month or two, sell them for what I bought them for or a little more, and get to ride lots of pro-level bikes for free. I have owned many of the top bikes ridden in Le Tour, including: Trek Madones, Canondale Supersix's and Synapses, Specialized Tarmacs, and even a Kuota KOM. I eventually sold them all, except my 2008 Jamis Xenith SL. It is by far the one with the least wow factor among my friends, and I don't get nearly as many compliments as I do on other bikes. That said, it outperforms anything else I have ever ridden (though obviously all of these bikes are top machines and I wouldn't have much bad to say about any of them).
I ride an SLR saddle which is extremely minimal, and comfort is never a problem. The only bikes that have been equally comfortable that I have owned are my glorious steel Serotta CDA and the Cannondale Synapse. When I say comfortable, I'm not referring to an upright riding position (like a Synapse). The frame on the Xenith SL just takes the harshness out of the road without making you feel disconnected from it (like a Synapse). I have heard other reviewers list this as a weakness of the bike (and it may be because I have the 2008 pre BB30 frame or because they don't have the SL version) but my bike glides over rough tarmac like butter. I wouldn't want more or less road feel. I rate this as the frame's greatest strength.
Now, lets talk stiffness. I think the Kuota KOM is a little stiffer, but if so, its marginal. This bike makes a Madone 6.9 (which is a really nice bike) feel like a noodle. Matched with Zipp 404s this bike sprints like a dream. It has the snappiness of a crossbow, and every watt of power output goes directly to the road. It just feels fast, and makes you feel powerful.
Finally, with pedals, cages, and Stans ZTR wheels, my bike weighs under 14 lbs. With the older Zipp 404 clinchers its 15 exactly. There are lighter bikes out there (not many), but to quote the venerable Zap, "I'm not a weight weenie, I'm a ride quality junky," and a quality ride is what the Jamis Xenith SL delivers.
In the 4 years since I've owned this bike, I have owned 10 others, at least. I thought something newer would be better, but I'm not sure it's out there. I sold the Kuota KOM to a friend, and would recommend that frame very highly as well, but the other carbon race bikes went back on craigslist. If you get a chance to grab one of these on the cheap, you will not be disappointed at all. If you are blowing the kids' college fund on a new one, tell me what you think. If I were going to buy a brand new bike (and I never will) I would certainly put this one at the top of my list to test ride.
Similar Products Used: Trek Madone, Cannondale Supersix, Cannondale Synapse, Specialized Tarmac S-Works SL2, Kuota KOM, Serotta CDA (which I still have and love and use for pulling my daughter's Burley Solo on group rides) and countless other lesser road bikes.
Bike Setup: I have the 2008 version of this bike. I bought it in 2010 from craigslist.org. I have it built with SRAM Red Shifters/Crank/Rear Der/Force Front Der/KCNC C7 Brakes. I have Zipp 404 (non-firecrest) clinchers on it, as opposed to the stock tubulars (I'm a sucker for aluminum brake tracks). I have a 3T cockpit and Selle Italia SLR saddle.
Strengths: STIFFNESS, stupendous value, light, racy geometry, rock-solid fork, looks/paintjob, explosive power delivery when accelerating, the most confident descender I've ridden, comfy enough for long rides.
Weaknesses: It's comfy enough, but not the most comfortable out there (soaks up road buzz/texture nicely, but isn't cushy over bigger bumps)
I actually have the Xenith Race (a lesser version of the SL) but the Race doesn't have its own entry so I'll review it here. This is the best bike I've ever ridden, and I've ridden high end bikes like the Litespeed Tuscany, Cervelo R3, Ibis Silk SL, and the BMC TMR01. As mentioned in the strengths, it does pretty much everything well, but its standout quality is how well it descends. Even the TMR01 didn't have the Xenith's blend of stiffness, stability, and solidity. In short, the best bike I've ever ridden and I'll ride this one until it dies.
Strengths: My first impression was WoW!!! I had to wonder, is this thing too good to be true, or does it just feel this great because I have not pushed it yet? It is; Amazing! Light. Fast. Stiff. Comfortable. Smooth. Stable. You can ride it for hours and feel just as comfortable as if you rode it for 15 minutes. I had just come off a beautiful titanium Guru and wondered if i would ever ride a nicer, smoother more comfortable bike. This bike is every bit as amazing as the titanium Guru (no small feat) and stiffer and more responsive. If you get a chance to ride one, do it! You will be very impressed. World class top level performer with all day comfort. Way to go Jamis!!!!
Weaknesses: None. Certainly have not encountered any yet after two summers.
It is a bike you will love. Likely just as good as any bike on the tour without the big name recognition. (Not that Jamis is not well known) Don't be fooled by more popular brand names. They may be just as good as this Jamis. Try it, you will be impressed!
Weaknesses: does not live up to the name. Cracks at the first sprint or climb. Way to thin to handle any serious racing torque....
Take your money some other place if your a serious racer. This frame is weak. Also, if you do find yourself with a jamis frame, your going to always be waiting for at least 6 months if you need to get a replacement frame and you will if you ride seriously.
first ride on the jamis today and all i have to say is WOW!!!!! the bike is a rocket. way stiffer than my old 2009 5.5 madone. but it does not beat you to death either. it rides really smooth. jamis has done there homework. i think the biggest difference is in the fork. that thing is really stiff and you notice it the first time you get out of the saddle to sprint, very snappy. it tipped the scales at 14.14 pounds with my Rolf TDF 58's on it. that was before i had cut the steerer tube and the seat post. got that done today but sis not have time to weigh it again. i am really excited to go on a longer ride tomorrow.