Adventure cycling? Six hour gravel ride? Overnight bike-packing? Cruising some gravel? Whatever your flavor, Jamis Bicycles provide multiple options to get the job done. Case in point is their Renegade range of bicycles. With three frame materials to choose from – carbon fiber, steel or aluminum – there is undoubtedly a Renegade to suit the adventure cyclist in all of us.
Regardless of frame material, every Jamis Renegade features longer and taller endurance geometry for all day comfort on paved and gravel roads. Disc brakes and forty millimeter tire clearance are shared across the range, with frame material and fitted components determining the various price points. The Renegade Exploit steel bike sits in the middle of the Jamis range, ably equipped to handle whatever you can throw at it…
Our first impressions article of the Renegade Exploit covered many of the bike’s highlights. It also demonstrated my preference for an aggressive fit, which doesn’t necessarily jive with all-day endurance rides. While the Exploit is available in six sizes, I found myself smack in the middle of the size 51 (53.4cm effective top tube) and 54 (55.1cm effective top tube). I chose the smaller of the two sizes, using a setback seatpost and longer stem than stock to get my ideal position; clearly not for everyone.
The Renegade Exploit complete bike is equipped with Shimano’s workhorse 105 11-speed mechanical groupset, Ritchey cockpit parts, Jamis branded seatpost, Alex ATD 470 rims / Formula tubeless-ready wheelset fitted with Clement X’Plor USH, 700c x 35mm tires and TRP’s HY/RD mechanical / hydraulic disc brakes. Topping it off is the “Baja Fog” base paint color with attractive accents along the top tube and fork.
With appropriate tire pressure (between 35psi and 40psi in my case), the Reynolds 631 tubes of the Exploit provided a very comfortable and forgiving ride across every road surface. The Jamis branded all-carbon fork with its 15mm thru axle and hidden fender eyelets helped smooth out the front end of the bike. As mentioned in one of my previous reviews, I’m not a powerhouse rider. During out of the saddle efforts, I could not detect any noticeable flex anywhere along the frame.
Gear and rear brake cables are routed externally, which may seem antiquated to some. Certainly not conducive to shouldering one’s bike, the full-length external housings make for easy and simple maintenance. Essential should you experience issues with the Exploit during your journeys.
Jamis chooses the TRP HY/RD brakeset for the Renegade Exploit, which in my experience are an excellent choice over a strictly mechanical brake. While not as powerful as a full hydraulic setup, they still provide strong and powerful braking with excellent modulation, especially when paired with the Shimano Icetech rotors as spec’d on the bike. Note: Brake rotors pictured on this sample bike differ from the production model.
While a personal choice, Ritchey’s Evomax Comp handlebar with its 12 degree flare, curved top section and shallow drop are very comfortable. Additional comfort is provided by the excellent Fizik handlebar tape and gel inserts. Ritchey’s flared bars were particularly handy when I took the Exploit onto some of the local in-town trails with my limited technical skills!
As expected, Shimano’s 11-speed 105 groupset performed flawlessly. The Shimano 105 crankset on the complete Renegade Exploit build comes fitted with 50 / 34 chainrings. Paired with an 11-speed 12-32 cassette on the rear, they provide a good spread of gears suitable for all but the most arduous of climbs. Being a rider who favors a higher cadence, I would prefer to see a 46 tooth big chainring spec’d on this bike. This would be particularly handy if the bike was loaded down with pannier bags. A gadget like Lindaret’s RoadLink could add further flexibility to the Exploit if one chose to substitute the stock cassette for something even lower.
While the stock 35mm wide Clement tires on the Exploit are good for most hardpack surfaces, their narrow width and rounded profile was not optimal for sandy or loose spots. In these situations, the tires would sink, requiring a good amount of technique and power to pedal on through. These same issues can be be said of 40mm tires in loose conditions, but I feel the flatter and wider profile of Clement’s X’Plor MSO tire in 40mm would be a better choice for the Exploit.
As pictured in this article with the stock groupset wheels and tires, and the addition of my personal King Titanium bottle cages and Shimano XT pedals, the Renegade Exploit weighs approximately 24lbs. Not a light bike by today’s standards, but for adventure cycling, light touring or cruising gravel, this is a moot point.
With the minor tire and gearing quibbles aside, there are plenty of things to like about this bike. From the no-nonsense parts package to the stellar ride of the steel frame and carbon fork, the Renegade Exploit is an excellent machine that serves its intended purpose well. While I didn’t take the bike on lengthy six to sixteen hour rides, I returned home from three to four hour jaunts feeling good and not beaten up.
Priced at $US 1,949.00 for a complete bike, the Jamis Renegade Exploit is a well-priced steel bike perfect for chugging off the beaten track.
Photos and article by Gravel Cyclist.
Jayson O’Mahoney is the Gravel Cyclist: A website about the Gravel Cycling Experience..