The Highpoint A1 and A2 are the more affordable of Jamis’ 29in-wheeled trail hardtails (the A1 being the pricier of the two). The A1 comes with some great kit considering the price, especially compared to its peers. This includes a RockShox fork, Shimano 1x drivetrain and WTB tyres. While that’s all well and good, the Highpoint A1 falls short in other, arguably more critical areas. The tall front end contributes to some steering quirks that take time to adapt to, making it feel less intuitive to ride on certain sections of trail when pitted against the best Budget Bike of the Year candidates.
Jamis Highpoint A1 frame and specifications
Though internal, the cable routing contributed towards some rub on the head tube. The frame is made from 6061 triple-butted aluminium tubes. The head tube is tapered (1.5in lower, 1 1/8in upper). The gear cable is routed internally, while the rear brake has a full-length outer running underneath the top tube and secured by twin cable guides. There’s routing for a front derailleur should you want to up the gear count (and handlebar clutter) further.
The Jamis is a little tall at the front end, so slam that stem as low as you can. The entry and exit ports on the top tube are finished neatly and Jamis has included an extra hole for an internally routed dropper post. Reliable, smooth shifting comes courtesy of the Shimano Deore 11-speed drivetrain (with an FSA crankset and KMC chain).
We liked the Shimano 1x drivetrain. The build sheet of the A1 specifies Shimano MT200 brakes, though my small test bike came with Tektro brakes as featured on the cheaper A2 model. The A1’s most redeeming feature is the RockShox Judy Silver TK 120mm-travel fork, which is nicely smooth over rough ground and rooty trails alike.
Jamis Highpoint A1 geometry
The laid-back seatpost effectively made the 74-degree seat angle slacker and contributed to the awkward stretched seated position.
|Seat angle (degrees)||74||74||74||74|
|Head angle (degrees)||68||68||68||68|
|Seat tube (mm)||381||431.8||482.6||533.4|
|Top tube (mm)||585||610||635||660|
|Head tube (mm)||90||100||110||120|
|Bottom bracket drop (mm)||60||60||60||60|
Jamis Highpoint A1 ride impressions
The Highpoint feels happy chopping and changing lines through corners. The RockShox fork is by far the Highpoint A1’s most redeeming feature. Being able to adjust the air-spring pressure (to tailor it accurately to my weight) and rebound damping (found on the opposing fork leg to the air spring) meant it had a surprisingly plush, responsive feel for a budget fork.
Twisting the lockout dial firms up the fork for smooth climbs. Its action was far superior to the coil-sprung Suntour XCR fork found elsewhere in the Budget Bike of the Year test, which I wasn’t able to adjust for my weight. The Highpoint A1’s 635mm stack (on my size small), together with the 15mm cone spacer found beneath the stem, 20mm riser bars and 60mm stem, put my hands up rather high in relation to my feet, giving the feeling that I was seated deep down low ‘in’ the bike.
The laid-back seatpost may compromise your position on the bike. The laid-back seatpost (where the seat clamp is offset) effectively made the 74-degree seat angle slacker and contributed to the awkward stretched seated position. Unlike the efficient, cross-country-esque pedalling position of the Specialized Rockhopper Elite also in this test, the Highpoint A1 put me at a disadvantage when it came to pedalling hard along flat trails and descending fire roads (seated). Of course, there’s scope to switch to a lower rise bar and shorter stem, as well as swapping the laid-back post for an in-line alternative.
WTB’s Trail Boss is a decent tyre on a budget bike. There’s also the possibility to ditch the 15mm conical spacer beneath the stem (though this doubles as a headset top cap, so you’ll need to speak to your local bike shop to ensure this is possible). Of course, this will add to the overall cost. I shifted the saddle forward on its rails, which did help alter the seated position. However, it’s worth adding that the post won’t let you alter the angle of the saddle, which limits adjustment somewhat. Our test bike suffered from some side-to-side play on the FSA Gamma Pro crankset spindle, resulting in a clunk with every pedal rotation when climbing.
The saddle was shifted forward to improve the climbing position. This, coupled with the chainslap when rolling through rough ground, certainly made the Highpoint A1 feel a little cheaper and less sturdy than many of the other hardtail mountain bikes in its category. Another of my niggles comes down to the cable routing, which causes the rear brake and gear cable to rub the head tube and will likely wear away the paint. My test bike had Tektro disc brakes, which lacked the power and urgency the Shimano MT200s have in spades (these can be found on the Specialized Rockhopper Elite 29).
Shimano brakes are on the spec list, but our bike had cheaper Tektro stoppers. This immediately put the Highpoint on the back foot, because I rode much more cautiously and slowly than the bikes fitted with Shimano or Clarks brakes. This gave me more confidence, safe in the knowledge I could pull on the anchors and quickly scrub off speed, especially heading into steeper sections of trail. The wide bars add some control to the steering, which is a plus. Handling could be improved further by fitting a short stem to sharpen up the steering. While there’s a decent number of negatives in here, once you get used to the tall front end (and slam the stem as low as it’ll go), the Highpoint A1 is a fun bike to ride (if a little rattly at times).
The air-sprung forks enable plenty of rider-weight adjustability. While the Jamis doesn’t exude the same finesse and confidence as the best bikes in the test, the smooth-rolling 29in wheels, wrapped in the WTB tyres, offer reasonable levels of traction. The supple, well-controlled RockShox fork helps to keep the front wheel exactly where it’s needed too. That all adds up to a bike that, once you’re accustomed to it, happily chops and changes lines or can be popped over trail features, even if it doesn’t feel quite as capable over bigger drops or jumps as its counterparts.
Jamis Highpoint A1 bottom line
The bike is fun to ride, but is a little rattly over rocks and roots. On paper, the Highpoint A1 comes with a more favourable spec than many of its competitors, but it wasn’t quite enough to make up for the tall stack height and awkward seated position, which seemed to hinder both climbing and descending. There’s scope to make some changes and upgrades, though, which should make a positive impact on the ride feel, even if it does add to overall cost. Importantly though, the tyres, drivetrain and suspension fork (the priciest bits of kit) are all pretty much sorted from the get-go, which is great.