Test Ride Review: Jamis Dragonslayer 27.5+ Hardtail

When 27.5+ first hit the scene, I initially thought that the ideal use case would be long-travel trail/enduro bikes. “Why do we need 27.5+ tires on a hardtail?” I asked myself. “Wouldn’t that defeat the purpose of having a bike that’s as light and fast as possible?” But after riding the Jamis Dragonslayer 27.5+ hardtail, I had to change my tune.


The Bike

The Dragonslayer, like previous Jamis Dragons, features a triple-butted steel frame with slack trail geometry. 435mm chainstays combined with a relatively-slack 68-degree headtube angle make this a trail bike through-and-through. And the component spec backs that up, too.

Sliding dropouts provide the ability to go singlespeed
Sliding dropouts provide the ability to go singlespeed

The Dragonslayer comes stock with a rigid seatpost, but features routing for a dropper. A Fox 34 fork with 120mm of travel doesn’t compromise in the suspension department, and a Shimano SLX Shadow Plus rear derailleur and 2×10 drivetrain are a smart spec for the $2,699 MSRP. Shimano Deore M506 hydraulic disc brakes, Vittoria Bomboloni 3.0″ tires, and WTB Scraper wheels round out the build kit.

Complete bike weight is 30.75lbs.


Out on the Trail

31 pounds isn’t light for a hardtail, but for a hardtail with a steel frame that costs less than $3,000, it’s a pretty fair weight. Since it was a little on the hefty side, the Dragonslayer didn’t scamper up the hill quite as quickly as I would have liked. Still, the killer traction from the plus-size tires and the power transfer that only a hardtail can provide made for decent climbing and pedaling through rolling terrain.

When the trail turns downhill, however, the Dragonslayer truly shines! The trail geometry is in full effect on fast descents, creating a comfortable, confident downhill ride–even on a hardtail! I was able to air off of rollers and drops, and pin straight through rock gardens without a second’s hesitation.

Photo: Patrick
Photo: Patrick

The Bomboloni tires worked great, smoothing out some of the rock garden chatter (the steel frame helped too.) Thanks to the high volume tires, I didn’t have to worry nearly as much about rock garden pinch flats as I normally do on most hardtails. I have a tendency to flat tires and destroy wheelsets, especially when pinning on a hardtail, but I needn’t have worried aboard the Dragonslayer. This bike is spec’ed and designed as a trail bike, and it lives up to the name!

One thing I found myself wishing for was a stock dropper post. While the routing is already present on the side of the top tube, I was forced to dismount and use the quick release lever to raise and lower the seat, in order to get the full effect of the bike’s agro nature. If you are looking at a Dragonslayer purchase, be sure to add the cost of a dropper post upgrade into your calculations.

Calf-Bang Factor

I gave the Dragonslayer a 1/10 on my calf-bang factor scale. This is an absolutely excellent rating, and the Dragonslayer is proof positive that settling for calf-bang is unnecessary. Kudos to Jamis for the great design!

Bottom Line

After riding the Dragonslayer (and other plus-size bikes) at Outdoor Demo, I have to eat some of my previous words a little bit. While I think that perhaps long-travel trail bikes are still the best application for 27.5+ wheels, I’ve personally observed the plus-sized tire benefits in all kinds of mountain bikes–cross country full suspension, trail hardtail, trail full suspension, and long-travel/enduro full suspension.

Based on my ongoing tests, it seems readily apparent that plus-size tires can provide major benefits for many riders on almost all platforms.

The future of mountain biking is here.