Jamis Renegade Elite: At The Finish- by Guitar Ted
The Jamis Renegade Elite has been put through its paces here for a few months now and the final verdict is up. The carbon fiber chassis of this bike is the heart of the experience one has when riding this rig. That said, there are parts and pieces on the bike that bear mentioning and in this post I’ll get around to those before rendering my final say on this stealthy looking rig. Check out the previous “Checkpoint” and “Getting Rolling” posts by clicking on those hyper-linked titles. There is a lot more there for you to learn about this bike.
The Renegade Elite has a lot going for it as a frame/fork, but the components bolted to it are a big part of the recipe here as well. First and foremost is how well the Shimano running gear works on this bike. The Ultegra componentry shifted flawlessly throughout the testing, never needing adjustments. Front shifts were snappy and I never had any hesitations or chain issues with the bike. One finger, easy pressure braking was always on tap with the hydraulic levers. In fact, one could argue that the brakes are too good for gravel. The ergonomics of those levers though! Oh my! That hood position is one of the best for my paws I’ve tried, and I’ve had many Shimano levers that were merely “okay”. But that is always going to be a personal fit issue and you may not agree here. Finally, gearing wasn’t quite my cup-o-tea. The 50/34 crank is not what I would end up with here. I still like my CX style 46/36, but I get it. Some of you have longer climbs and need that deeper gear the 34T granny can give you.
The seat post from Ritchey, the carbon model here, is really nice and contributes a lot to the smooth feel the Renegade Elite imparts on rough gravel. I’m not quite so enamored of the handle bars, another Ritchey product, as they are traditional, non-flared drops. I’d likely swap out to the much more favorable Ritchey Venturemax bars we tested here. But that said, the bars weren’t bad.
The Renegade Elite comes with a fizik saddle which I am intimately familiar with, having used one for a time, and it does a fine job. It just isn’t quite a fit for me, so after the initial test rides I installed a Brooks Cambium saddle for the remainder of the test period. Besides the aforementioned use of the Industry Nine wheels we tested here on this bike, no other changes were made to the Renegade Elite. I did go back to the American Classics for the last few rides on the bike to get a feel for the differences between the wheel sets.
At The Finish: In short- I loved this bike. Despite its few quirks in spec it was a joy to ride. Smoother than you might think on gravel, the Renegade Elite is also stable and with the light weight chassis, it allows you to feel faster and that is always fun. Hills felt less hard, and headwinds less draining. I loved how the bike handles choppy pavement and rough gravel. Grinding out miles was no problem for me on the Renegade Elite.
Part of that was due to how Jamis used water bottle attachments on the fork. Self-supported, longer rides are attainable when you can have four or five bottles on the bike. The fork mounted cages were never an issue either, despite their precarious positions on the outer legs of the forks. I imagine that if you were to stack it up hard on this bike those mounts might give way, but fortunately I never had the occasion to find out that part!
That said, not everything comes up roses on this bike. I was really annoyed every time I had to adjust the seat height because of the awkwardly placed seat post binder. Which, admittedly, isn’t often. However; the lack of tire clearance, for me, was disappointing. With everything this bike has going for it, being limited to 38mm tires, if you want true mud clearances, was a head scratcher. Why not allow room for bigger tires and make this a bike that can go long on the roughest of gravel, or at least allow for much better mud clearances? Then too, that might open up the possibility of using 650B wheels. Perhaps future Renegade Elites will allow for this. I should mention that the steel framed series of this bike model does have room for bigger tires and allows for 650B wheels as well.
Besides that one potential deal killer, this bike is excellent. I can see a person with “more paved than not” ambitions gravitating towards the Renegade Elite. It gives no quarter to popular endurance road rigs and can go places such road bikes cannot go easily, or at all. The gravel conditions in many places do not call out for big, meaty tires, so maybe tire clearances are not an issue where you live. This bike could be all you need then. My experience on the Renegade Elite was mostly positive and fun. As long as I strayed from the truly heinous rock for miles, didn’t expect much for traction in single track, and didn’t get anywhere close to mud, I was having a great time. And isn’t that why we ride bikes in the first place?
Note: Jamis Bicycles sent over the Renegade Elite at no charge for test/review to Riding Gravel. We are not being bribed, nor paid for this review and we strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout