Review: Jango 7.1 Bicycle

Well, it has been a few months with the Jango, and finally I’ve gotten around to writing a review of the bike. As mentioned in our preview, the Jango is a novel concept in bicycle manufacture and sales. Basically, there are several base models to choose from. From there, a purchaser can select “trim packages” to suit a rider’s needs, or the base model can be outfitted with a wide range of accessories designed specifically for the bike.

jango
(shown with optional fenders)

In the preview, some people objected to my comparison of the Jango to a car-purchasing experience, but it is really the most accurate way to describe this unique setup. Subtract the pushy salesmen, the cheap suits and the stale coffee and you’ve got a very similar arrangement: choose your base model (from seven different bikes) and accessories (over thirty to choose from), or pick a base model and go with a pre-set package of accessories (there are nine trim levels to choose from). It seems like another bike manufacturer tried something similar back in the 1990s, but I don’t remember any of the details. In any case, this model of sales and accessorizing can make real sense — with a dizzying array of bicycles on the market and literally thousands of aftermarket accessories, Jango has figured out a way to both streamline the experience and offer specific tools for a rider’s needs. Select the stuff you want and get riding!

From Jango’s website, here is a bit about the main features of the model we tested, the men’s 7.1:

Bell: Jango integrated courtesy bell, black
Lights: Jango integrated front and rear LED lights
Pedals: Ergonomic Jango Dual Fit safety pedals
Saddle: Pressure free Allay Racing Sport saddle with AirSpan technology
Sizes: XS (430) / S (475) / M (500) / L (550) / XL (600)
Tyres: Jango light weight 700c x 38c
Wheels: Jango light weight wheel system
Grips: Ergonomic grip
Gears: Shimano Alivio 3 x 8 24 speed
Brake: Levers Jango with integrated bell mount
Fork: Jango suspension fork with magnesium lowers. Oil / Nitrogen hydraulic damping with elastomer spring. Variable compression with lock-out function. 50mm travel
Frame: Jango design with patented modular Plug in Play ports and personalized head badge theft deterrent system. Comfort geometry, high strength 7005 alu, double butted
Kickstand: Jango integrated kickstand
Seat Post: Jango with quick mount socket
Bar/Stem combination: Ergonomic Jango Vario Stem with adjustable angle and height. Forged Alu
Brakes: Jango disc brakes with integrated front disc lock
Colour: Jango Silver

The parts spec for this bike is nothing too exotic….lots of workman-like parts; e.g., the Shimano Alivio drivetrain…nothing fancy but perfectly satisfactory for the job. The drivetrain gave me no problems whatsoever throughout the testing period — clean shifts and easy adjustments once the cables bedded in.

alivio

The mechanically-operated disc brakes were satisfactory — not too grabby and easy to modulate once the discs and brake pads were broken in. Disc brakes can make a lot of sense on a commuter bike, particularly in areas where there is sloppy weather in the form of rain and snow. We sure don’t get snow here in Florida, but plenty of rain. I didn’t have to worry about wet rim brakes and the associated wear and tear on the rims from rain-deposited grit…the discs were a blessing in this application. And Jango did their homework, too — the rear brake body is mounted to the chainstay rather than the typical seatstay location, allowing fitment of accessories such as fenders and a rack without additional hassles. As you can see in the photo below, there is clearance galore for the rack and fender eyelets:

brake body

One additional feature of the brakes is the integral disc lock on the front brake. In the photo below, right at the base of the brake body is a small yellow circle:

front brake

That yellow circle is the keyway for a tubular lock. Press the button in the center and a hardened pin goes through the brake disc, immobilizing the front wheel and preventing its removal, even with the wheel’s included quick-release skewer opened. That’s a nice touch and provides a little measure of extra security.

The aluminum frame of the bike is strong yet fairly lightweight…7005 aluminum alloy with nice welds throughout. Styling-wise, the bike looks very “concept bike” — something you might see over at Bicycle Design. I wasn’t too big a fan of the “look”, initially, but I grew to like it over time. It’s snazzy without being overly flashy, and the logos and decals are fairly subdued.

frame

The frame and suspension fork are peppered throughout with attachment points: two waterbottle cage locations, a port for the integrated kickstand, rack and fender eyelets and a host of other “plug n play” ports for additional accessories. Some of these will be shown when we review the accessories Jango sent. There are even a few spots where I have NO idea what goes there. Here’s another one of the ports…this one is for the modular rear rack and the rear blinkie:

rear

The frame isn’t “buzzy” as some aluminum frames can be. The frame feels stiff enough, but the worst of the road chatter is eliminated by the included suspension fork. To me, such a fork can be gimmicky on a commuter bike; a lot of extra weight and complexity for little benefit. If it smooths out some of the road imperfections, though, it can be worth it for many riders. This fork has adjustments for preload and can be partially- or fully locked out to reduce bobbing while pedaling.

fork

The wheel choice is a bit perplexing, in my opinion. The 700c wheels are “paired spoke” and have a low spoke count (24 up front, 28 in the rear). Such wheels fit the modern “look” on this bike, but I’m not convinced they are a great choice for urban use. Because paired-spoke and low spoke count wheels use very high spoke tensions to maintain trueness, a single broken spoke can render a wheel very out of true. This isn’t as much of an issue with bikes equipped with discs rather than rim brakes, but it is still a concern. Heavier riders are wise to be a bit more concerned about these wheels, too. Extra weight on low spoke count wheels can be a no-no…

All that being said, I had no problems with the wheels — they stayed true and rolled smoothly throughout the testing period. Tampa has notoriously rough streets, so they provide a fertile testing ground for evaluating the durability of wheels.

The frame is set up, like many other bikes billed as “urban” or “commuter friendly”, to give the rider a very upright position. Coupled with the big 700c wheels, it is a confident machine — plenty of above-traffic viewing possibilities and speedy rolling with the big wheels. I tend to prefer a slightly more aerodynamic position on my commuter bike, though — in wind, an upright riding position is like being a human sail and robs a good bit of forward momentum. It gets pretty windy here, particularly in the cooler months. Using the adjustable stem that comes stock on the Jango can help dial in a bit lower position, but for the most part we’re stuck…short top tube and deeply-sloping frame geometry limit what you can do to get more “aero”.

One part of the bike I didn’t care for at all was the saddle. Those of you familiar with my bike reviews know that I often take issue with stock saddles…many of them don’t suit my anatomy. The stock saddle is a Topeak “Allay” model, which has a user-adjustable air bladder to fine tune it. For me, no amount of fiddling with air pressure made the saddle comfortable to ride around on for more than a few miles. It’s a easy swap to a more suitable saddle, however, and like other bikes I’ve tested, I’m not going to give negative marks for something that is a very personal choice.

ouch!

Overall, the bike is configured in a way that may make it quite suitable for urban and commuting use. Still, there are a couple of concerns, such as the wheelset. Mostly, though, the Jango 7.1 is a stylish bike that has many of the features we’ve come to appreciate in a capable around-town bike and comes stock with a couple accessories (integrated bell and both front and rear LED lights) to make it more user-friendly. Add in some of the other accessories Jango/Topeak offers and this could be a real winner.

In the next couple weeks I’ll have a review of an assortment of accessories for the Jango. In the meantime, swing on over to Jango’s site to see what’s available and to take a look at the other bike models and trim packages on offer. Please stay tuned!

tampa theatre


27 Comments

  1. Rantwick September 21, 2009 10:18 pm 

    Hey, this time I’m not going to go off my nut regarding the Jango bike. I’ll just thank you for a good review, and echo your concerns about those great looking but impractical wheels. I can’t see them holding up well for very long…

  2. luigi the magnificent September 21, 2009 11:20 pm 

    I’m a tourer (long time / long distance) and I’d like to try one out ,but not yet available in Australia.The wheel size is the only thing that bugs me ,I’ve found 26″ is virtually available everywhere not so with the 700c, can you get 26″ wheels and tyres with the Jango ?

  3. Kermit September 22, 2009 8:35 am 

    Is the rear tail light too low or can it be adjust to be higher, it seems the wheel and fenders may block it.

    Also where the housing goes into the frame is it water tight? Is it just continious housing? Seems like that may be a pain on a commuter.

  4. Ghost Rider September 22, 2009 9:10 am 

    The rear light isn’t adjustable, but it clears the fender enough for full visibility.

    The port where the front derailleur cable goes in has a matching exit port at the bottom of the bottom bracket shell, allowing drainage. There’s a full cable housing between them (not a bare cable). Although I’ve ridden in the rain, I haven’t checked to see how effective the drainage is…but I don’t hear any sloshing inside the frame!

  5. Doug Jesseph September 22, 2009 12:18 pm 

    I agree, the wheels make no sense whatever for commuting. The main point of a low spoke count is to shave grams from the rotating mass, which hardly seems a priority for a commuting setup. Given the sorts of hazards most commuters face, a wheelset like that would run a serious risk of losing a highly-tensioned and heavily loaded spoke.

    Is it available with a more reasonable wheelset?

  6. Raiyn September 22, 2009 8:37 pm 

    I’m not seeing how a blog about wheelchair cup holders and accessories relates to bicycle commuting.

  7. Ben September 22, 2009 8:59 pm 

    I made a mistake the sale price is $399.97 for the 7.0 and $499.97 for the 7.1 and these are $700 to $800 OFF msrp of $1199.99 Sorry

  8. Ghost Rider September 22, 2009 9:04 pm 

    @ Raiyn — yeah, I’m right there with you!

    @ Ben — those are some screaming deals…why the deep discount?

    @ Doug — no, those are the only wheels available on the Jango line. The weird thing is, though, that all of the bikes pictured on Jango’s site are shown as “regular” wheels, not paired-spoke models as the bike we got to test. Could be a running change or some sort of oversight…

  9. Ben September 22, 2009 9:31 pm 

    They bought a bunch at a huge discount end of year deal and we know if we have a huge discount the word will travel fast. Than after they start moving we will raise the price. Word of mouth is cheap advertising for us.

  10. Trisha September 23, 2009 5:54 am 

    Nice review! I’ve been curious about these bikes since I saw an ad for them in Momentum last year.

  11. Moe September 23, 2009 8:56 am 

    I remember when I first saw this bikes @ interbike, I thought that its a cool concept.

    @Ghost- Do you know the weight limit on those wheels? ‘Cuz I don’t understand what the big deal is with pair spoke wheels, I have pair spoke wheels on my Freeride and XC bikes and never had a failure. Not only that, RL, who’s over 200lbs raced Downhill on a front pair spoke wheel, I think you guys are being biased purely on the looks of the wheels, wheel technology has improved a lot, check out the Crank Brothers wheels.

    Just my two cents.

  12. Ghost Rider September 23, 2009 11:47 am 

    Moe, good points, but I’m thinking about these in terms of reliability…one spoke breaks on a paired-spoke wheel and the wheel could very well be too out of true to ride. Again, having discs rather than rim brakes reduces potential problems since you don’t have to worry about clearing the pads with a wobbly wheel.

    If you can’t ride, though, you might be late to work, whereas on the trails you can simply walk back to your car.

    Perhaps it is the traditionalist in me, but even with my light weight, I have a hard time trusting low-count wheels for “mission critical” applications other than racing.

  13. Moe September 23, 2009 12:04 pm 

    I think that the reliability is there. Yes, you are correct that it would be harder to ride a low spoke wheel if a spoke brakes.

    As far as mission critical applications go… Think about Downhill Racing, we truly rely on our equipment not failing, you may be late to work, but we may have to take a trip on the ambulance…

  14. Ghost Rider September 23, 2009 12:57 pm 

    Alright…you got me there!

    Tell you what, I’ll bomb these wheels down some staircases here in downtown Tampa and see how they hold up. It’s the closest thing I’ve got to downhill around here!

  15. Moe September 23, 2009 1:07 pm 

    Just make sure you wear pads and a full face helmet!

  16. Raiyn September 23, 2009 11:08 pm 

    Despite Moe’s arguments to the contrary, I won’t be sold on paired spoke wheels, or even carbon fiber for that matter. Their failure modes are far from what I’d call attractive regardless of how far technology has come.

  17. Powerful Pete September 24, 2009 5:24 pm 

    Nice review. But you are right that those wheels are just wrong on what is an urban bike. Sheesh.

  18. Steve September 27, 2009 6:47 pm 

    I looked this bike over carefully at a bike show last year. I’m sure it rides OK, but the wheels are ridiculous; the front suspension seems silly for most uses the bike would be used for; and it’s overpriced (really low-end components for a $1200 MSRP bike).

    Really, it just seems like a platform to sell accessories. I hope they learn something useful from this so their next version of the bike is much better.

  19. .matthew October 9, 2009 10:22 am 

    Is there really a market for an expensive commuter bike?

    I ask the question bc it’s well beyond what I’ve ever paid for a commuter. It seems to me that for $1200 I could buy a very nice basic commuter and outfit it w/ some of the nicest commuting specific accessories on the market.

  20. Michael October 17, 2009 10:55 am 

    what about a BionX PL-350 Kit on this bike ?

  21. Joe July 14, 2010 4:02 pm 

    Hey, I would like to buy the full suspension and I am about to buy the 7.1 from cross lake, but wanted to see if you had a line on the full suspension. 7.21 is preferred and wonder where I can get it. But with the pricing at cross lake, I will prob just stick with them. If you know where to buy full suspension would appreciate the info.

  22. Spytech May 8, 2011 10:47 pm 

    Like Joe, I am very interested in the 7.21 full-suspension. I see Jango must have discontinued the full-suspension model. I still would like to find one to buy though.

  23. Spytech May 10, 2011 5:02 pm 

    Actually, it still is available, just hard to find.

  24. Will i Am December 16, 2011 1:38 pm 

    Unfortunately, some of us guys 6′ 3″+ get over 200 lbs easy and I have a knack of snapping spokes on the paired spoke applications. One such instance was the middle of nowhere Iowa, I have since changed wheels from SSR race lites to Shimano ultegras….no more problems. Have you gone down those stairs yet?

  25. Ghost Rider December 17, 2011 12:38 pm 

    @Will i Am — I bombed down many a set of stairs on that bike, adn the wheels took all the abuse I could throw at them before the bike went back to the manufacturer. Of course, I only weigh 135 lb. soaking wet, so a heavier rider may do more harm to wheels of this nature.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *