This is just a followup to my earlier review of my Vassago Jabberwocky. My original review was written after only having about a month or two on the bike. Since then, I’ve ridden and raced this bike over a thousand off-road miles. I reviewed the Trek Rig I used to own after a full season of riding and wanted to do the same here. Since Vassago is now back in business, I figured it was another good excuse to add some more to that original review.
I haven’t made any significant changes to the setup of this bike other than putting the rigid, Odis fork back on this fall. Unquestionably, the bike handles better with a rigid fork instead of the suspension fork. That may not be unique to the Jabber as I like the feel of a quick front end on any bike. I’m not sure if this is the best set up for racing, but I really like the way the bike feels this way. I also seem to climb a bit faster with the rigid setup. It worked out great for riding the CircumBurke Challenge this fall.
Regardless of whether I’m running rigid or with a suspension fork, this bike is nimble. I initially expected it to be a little sluggish in tight handling situations, but it has been anything but that. Somehow, it does this without ever feeling twitchy, even on high speed descents. Some of my favorite trails to time trial are Riverwood and Pastore Point at Kingdom Trails. Both are full of tight corners and generally wind around themselves repeatedly. Hitting either one of these at full speed with this bike is just plain, unqualified fun.
Another issue that I mentioned in my earlier review was the fact that the bottom bracket on this frame was a bit lower than my previous bike. This still bothers me occasionally. I don’t know if this is somehow worse than I thought or if I just haven’t been able to adapt to it as well as I had anticipated. It’s a minor annoyance, but I still find myself smacking the pedals and my shoes into rocks more often than I care for. Maybe it’s just that my love for pedaling through sharp corners has grown even more now that I have this bike. Over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed that this isn’t as much of an issue when riding with the rigid fork. It doesn’t make any sense but that has been my observation.
The horizontal “drop outs” have held up well. When paired with the bolt-on White Industries hub, this setup has been 100% trouble-free. The only time I need to mess with it is from chain stretch. The minor slippage I was seeing when using a quick release seems to have been a problem with the quick release not holding properly, not the dropout. I swapped out the quick release on my black Jabber and the problem on that bike seems to have disappeared.
The only other observation that I’d like to add is that the rear triangle of the frame is limited to a 2.3″ tire width. Currently, I’m running a Maxxis Ardent 2.2″ rear tire, so this isn’t a problem. I would love to put an even fatter tire back there, like a 2.4″ Ardent, but that’s something I can comfortably live without.
Overall, I’m very pleased with this bike. The better geometry has been well worth the investment. It is exceptionally nice on long rides and races. My lower back hasn’t complained at all this summer. I think this is due to the longer top-tube length but the ride is pretty forgiving as well. I’ve never felt cramped on it (other than my quads).
I’m generally cursed with a propensity towards upgrading things and that has proven to be a major factor in my biking over the years. Surprisingly, I have no desires to change anything on either of these bikes – especially the frame. My plan is to stick with it for the foreseeable future. That’s a strange situation for me, which speaks well of their design. I guess I wouldn’t mind upgrading to Vassago’s Optimus Ti frame (titanium frame with a similar geometry) but that’s not in the budget right now. Perhaps if Vassago would like to sponsor me…