First Look: Jamis' New 3VO Suspension - Sea Otter 2018

Apr 22, 2018
by Richard Cunningham  
Sea Otter 2018
The 160-millimeter-travel Hardline

Jamis launched two new suspension bikes here in Monterey. The 27.5-inch-wheel Hardline and its 29-inch-wheel sister ship, the Portal, showcase an interesting new rear suspension system designed by Speedgoat's Chris Currie. It's called 3VO - a short-link, four bar suspension that is configured to create an instant center near the top of the chainring, which remains in alignment with the chain as the suspension compresses. That trick, says Jamis, creates a pedal-friendly rear suspension that is, " to combine the efficiency of a hardtail with the proper support of precisely controlled active suspension."

Sea Otter 2018
3VO suspension is a short-link, four-bar system, but its instant center migrates behind the bottom bracket centerline. Conventional "virtual pivot" suspensions remain at or well forward of the BB.

Jamis admits that those words are well worn, but they do a decent job of describing the primary reason that the longstanding brand from New Jersey dropped its more conventional single-pivot swingarm suspension like a hot potato to adopt a little known linkage design from an outside source. Reportedly, when Currie brought 3VO demonstration prototypes to Jamis, it only took one ride to sell them on the concept. The result was two aluminum-framed all-mountain trail bikes, a 130-millimeter-travel 29er, and a 160-millimeter-travel 27.5-inch wheel version.

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The 130-millimeter-travel Portal translates the benefits of 3VO suspension to 29-inch wheels.

Jamis isn't the only brand that has been impressed by Currie's patented design. A number of potential suitors have been whispering about the firm pedaling action and responsiveness of his patented design for well over a year, and Currie's prototypes have been the subject of a few first rides in the media as well.

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Sea Otter 2018

Jamis was all in with their 3VO project - to the degree that they chose a small, high-end manufacturer that caters to a hand-picked group of the world's most prestigious brands. The construction is absolutely top notch and, while Jamis is not on the vanguard of current geometry, the numbers are solid: the 27.5-inch wheel Hardline sports a 74-degree seat angle, a 65.5-degree head angle, and short, 16.9-inch chainstays. The reach is 439mm (17.3") for a medium size bike, and there is room for tires up to 2.6 inches and one down tube water bottle. Portal 29ers have slightly steeper 67.5-degree head tube angles and 74.5 seat tube angles.

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The close proximity of the swingarm led Jamis to engineer a dedicated top guide.

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Vertical shock mount allows room for a down tube water bottle.

Sea Otter 2018
Sea Otter 2018

All the details add up to a very promising bike, so you can bet Pinkbike will be riding one soon. Keep an eye out later this summer when production bikes start rolling out. in the meantime, you can find more information here.

MENTIONS: @SeaOtterClassic

Author Info:
RichardCunningham avatar

Member since Mar 23, 2011
974 articles

  • 92 0
 I worked for Chris at the Goat nearly 10 years ago now, its rad to see his design come to light. He worked his bajingas off to make it happen, I hope Jamis can pull through on its side.

Also since when has a frame breaking stopped a company from greatness? Sup yeti.
  • 6 0
 Did you work with him in PA or Chicago? That shop in PA was heaven on earth.
  • 5 0
 This is exactly what Jamis needed in the MTB department. They have had a few gems here and there, but I have always found their dual suspension bikes a bit lack luster. Company was always a pleasure to deal with when I was at a shop that was a stocking dealer. Their rep was super knowledgeable, but cared more about riding trails than trying to sell you something--definitely a family feel with that company. Would not hesitate to throw a leg over this new design.. let's hope they bring a competitive price to market as well. This could be big news for the MTB side of that company.
  • 1 0
 @Rigidjunkie: The Chicago location. Left to go work for SRAM for a while. Bounced out of Chicago after that so I could actually ride
  • 2 0
 Congrats to Chris indeed. I rode the Asylum Prototype of this design, it's efficient as hell.
  • 48 3
 If it had DW's initials on it you'd all be geeking out how it's the best thing ever. Lame how many mountain bikers are brand whore bro's...
  • 28 3
 Jamis is legit. Nice people and a reliable business to deal with. Bonus point for having a woman owner /CEO who made it thrive. Trail bikes work really well these days and we are lucky to have new designs like this.
  • 2 1
 Are you riding one Traber?
  • 3 2
 @bubbrubb: Nope I'm on a Turner. Jamis is local to the Hudson valley. Bike shops like them. They have been making bicycles since the seventies. Speedgoat popped out of the way back machine in New Jersey.
  • 2 6
flag bubbrubb (Apr 23, 2018 at 18:42) (Below Threshold)
 @Trabes: sure I know a lot about them too, but it’s not like I’d throw $ at them. Most of the industry is full of good people. It just happens that your buddies were selling some snake oil for years. Too many frame failures. The end.
  • 26 1
 Get some decent engineers and a few top notch athletes like Syd and Macky on board an you never know where a brand might go. These look promising!
  • 14 3
 People may moan about RC’s articles sounding like old MTB Action ones, but when I see that he’s authored an article here, my attention turns. He finds the really interesting stuff and always asks good questions. Jamis has never really been on my radar, but this had my interest.
  • 7 7
 You mean MTF? Mountain Bike Fiction?
  • 10 0
 Suspension videos need to be in slow mo with cliche'd porn music
  • 10 1
 Thanks for the sweet suspension action video. Looks like a nice bike!
  • 8 2
 Does anybody else *not* want hardtail efficiency? Sacrifices to comfort and traction are unavoidable, and if I wanted to get slammed in the ass by my seat I'd be riding a rigid bike.
  • 5 2
 Funny you should say that, I was thinking the same thing. I'm a big-ish guy (about 230#), and reasonably strong. So you'd think that I would appreciate hardtail-like efficiency on climbs. Yet even on my (very-much-not-hardtail-like) Process 111, I don't fully lock out my shock when climbing steep fire roads - I'd much rather deal with a little bobbing than lose the traction, and I definitely like the smooth and compliant ride, so I keep it in that middle trail mode setting. And on climb trails, I'll often leave it fully open to get the traction over roots.
  • 13 3
 pedal bob is killing more and more Americans daily.
  • 1 0
 @g-42: bikes can have little to no Bob while pedaling but still have active suspension
  • 1 3
 @allenfstar: no bike, to my knowledge, has active suspension.
  • 1 0
 I think this is a valid point. I have a Wreckoning and really don't mind climbing on it, although people always ding Evil for that. It does have eagle, but traction is good and I just sit and spin. It's a lot heavier than my more trail bike (trek fuel) and not near as fast up hill, but I never notice. I ride for the downhill's anyway. It's comfy.
  • 1 2
 @g-42: not trying to be a dink. But I don't think you have ridden a recent jamis. Or even one in the last ten years. Linkages changed a bunch a shit. I dunno much about much but I'm willing to bet you have never even seen one so stop having an opinion.
  • 1 1
 They're linkages*
  • 1 1
 Their? Dunno, cant spell Smile just sayin
  • 5 0
 @racerfacer: When you wrote that I just imagined a serial killer named Bob waiting in the woods with a comically large pedal wrench and a park tools apron...
  • 2 0
 @focofox37: Sort of a Kevin Smith horror flick spoof - Pedal Bob strikes again...
  • 1 0
 @drej: I didn't express an opinion on Jamis' linkages. I've seen some of their recent bikes, but haven't ridden one. I did, however, agree with the post I replied to that "hardtail efficiency" can be a double edged sword.
  • 1 0
 @g-42: I'd pay to see that
  • 9 0
 linkage videos are tup
  • 7 0
 Jamis was a brand I just somehow always forgot about, but now I really want to try this.
  • 7 0
 I've owned 2 Jamis bikes ( both hardtails) and they've been very reliable bikes that rode great and didn't break the bank.
  • 6 1
 Regressive shock rate on a long travel bike. Yeah, that's not going to end well.
  • 2 0
 aerius -> are we talking about the same thing? Regressive leverage rate means the leverage rate decreases later in the travel which will help with ramp up, making the bike feel more progressive. So a "progressive" feeling frame (bottom out support) actually has a "regressive" leverage curve, if i have that right.
  • 3 0
 @WasatchEnduro: that's my understanding. Falling rate is progressive.?
  • 4 0
 @WasatchEnduro: I'm not sure, we should define terms to ensure we're on the same page. When I use the term regressive shock rate, I'm referring to a leverage curve that makes the shock easier to compress as you go deeper into the travel. This is what's shown in the graph of the leverage rate.

In short, does it become harder or easier to compress the shock a given amount as you go through the travel. In this case, it becomes easier since the linkage design increases the leverage that the rear wheel has over the shock starting about halfway through the travel, and for the last 20mm or so, it has more leverage than the start and thus an easier time compressing the shock.

Unless you use a shock with a low volume air chamber or stuff a regular shock full of volume spacers, you're gonna slam right though the travel and bottom it out hard if you ride it with any degree of aggression.
  • 2 0

Yeah, but who's on first?

Anyway, interesting bike. Kinda like that homegrown cf bike that dude in Idaho made. DW-ish but with the lower link in front of the down tube. Lotsa links tho.

Jamis will you be at Outerbike Moab this fall per chance? Would love to give the 130mm 29er a spin?
  • 1 0
 yea, not like the guy hasn't been working on this for a decade and it wasn't good enough for a large brand to sign on board and use on their new bikes. Clearly they're smoking the devil's lettuce.
  • 8 7
 Linkage designs (VPP, DW) made sense when we needed to locate the IC far ahead because of the radical 3x chainlines. But they are somewhat pointless now with 1x. Single pivots keep the IC directly in line with the chain with far more simplicity. It's why the ABP and Split Pivot designs are now equally regarded.

And was the third link to control the leverage curve really necessary? There's no award for the most links.
  • 3 1
 Interesting point - can you elaborate? As far as I understand, the current DW-link (gen 5) is optimized around a 32T chain ring.
  • 3 1
 @simenf: what he is saying is that on single pivot bikes the IC is fixed and does not move. it is simply the location of the bottom bearing on your swingarm. With 1x your chainring is fixed and doesn't move. As a result you can always have IC above the chainring

I disagree that four bar suspension is useless with 1x but I do understand his point. 1x makes suspension design way easier
  • 2 0
 @oversteermybagel: Yep, 1x sure seems to negate some of the apparent advantage of more elaborate suspension designs. Add that to the whole simplicity argument (fewer pivots, less hardware, fewer stressed small parts), and it explains why single pivot designs (especially linkage driven ones) haven't gone all Dodo bird on us.

My wife rides a Juliana Juno - she never bothers to put on pedaling platform in her shock. Years ago, around the time she got that bike, I test rode a Bantam (it's Santa Cruz equivalent) back to back with a Solo/5010 (same basic bike, but with VPP instead of the single-pivot on the Bantam). Yes, the VPP was a little more efficient - but honestly, had I decided to buy a Santa Cruz trailbike at that time, I would have gone Bantam. It was smoother, better behaved on the descents, and the small efficiency gain wasn't worth it considering the higher price.
  • 3 0
 @ tcmtnbikr

Totaly agree. Don't see the point of such a complicated linkage to end with a regressive curve, even slightly...
From the IC position it's not very tricky to infer that the AS will be huge and increasing with travel, so will be pedal-kickback...
Checking curves of recent bikes with linkage software, I see a growing number of "enduro" bikes design with high AS/PK and linear or weakly progressive ratio curve... I wonder if such curves are designed to attenuate the effect of PK on suspension action ?
  • 3 2
 Split pivot and abp have nothing to do with pedaling efficiency. Their purpose is to isolate the suspension. From braking forces, which has very little relation to a 1x drive train
  • 1 1
 LOL ok guy
  • 3 0
 My first 'proper' MTB was a '05 Jamis Dakar XLT. I loved that thing.

This thing looks rad.
  • 2 0
 I remember the Dakar, which came out in about 2002. MBA did a feature on it (might have been RC who wrote it). It was grey with a Horst link set up. It looked like a bombproof bike at a really great price. I think after that model year they might have used a single pivot set up. Must have been paying Specialized too much to make it cost effective.
  • 1 1
 @stacky00: I had a 2003. It was shit with shit angles compared to my other rides at the time. It also broke. Thankfully
  • 1 0
 @makripper: Thanks for the reality check. I never actually rode one, but everything was looking good at that time compared to the Giant ATX 870 hardtail I was riding then.
  • 1 0
 @stacky00: lots of junk designs back then haha
  • 1 0
 Posted some close-up videos of how the suspension deals with bumps while climbing and braking over here: Words and videos don't mean much compared to actually riding the bikes, but I have a Portal and Hardline built up, and I'm happy to take photos, send more info. and try to answer any questions, if anyone's interested. You can contact me on the site at
  • 1 0
 The Portal seems having a "The following MB" similar geometry. The Evil is really fun but the rear suspension is not so active when you brake. I've read a pdf pre-release about the Hard line and the Portal for Europe, specs are not the right ones but it gives an idea. I hope the final build kits will be better and the prices lower!!
Delivery in December 2018.
  • 3 0
 How does this suspension compare to the new suspension that Marin is using?
  • 1 0
 RC a test with Marin Wolfridge, Tantrum & Jamis 3V0 is needed...
  • 1 0
 @bodynaut: this needs to happen, I want to see a rest of the next generation. Who will be the next DW?
  • 4 1
 i would love to try one of these, this 29er looks rad
  • 4 0
 Jamis bikes rule
  • 3 1
 Great to see Richie Cunningham has transition from Happy Days to suspension videos. Happy for him
  • 6 3
 True Story: The only reason I know what a Jamis is = Syd and Macky.
  • 5 0
 True Story: I don't even know who Syd and Macky are.

I suppose you're new to the mountain bike scene? Or maybe if you're not from North America it could be normal... But Jamis were already in Mountain Bike Action and every others magazines available 30 years ago! Wink
  • 1 0
 Internal transmision cables as the only alternative, no straight 1.5 headtube in 29er, 6061alu, steep headangle in Portal, no 160mm a new 2018 project?????
  • 1 0
 Honestly these bikes are pretty stupid and a real pain in the ass to work on. 0/10 wouldn't buy one but that's way too late because I already have one
  • 1 0
Do you know the eye to eye length and stroke of the rear shock?
  • 1 0
 Never been a fan of Jamis but this new suspension design looks promising. I like it now tup
  • 2 0
 That sure is a whole lot of linkages to maintain.
  • 2 3
 "able to combine the efficiency of a hardtail with the proper support of precisely controlled active suspension". No bike, as far as I know, has "active suspension".
  • 5 1
 They mean that when braking the suspension stays active now quit being a dumbass and saying shit you read 2 minutes before in the comments above you.
  • 1 0
 Doesn't the Canfield Brothers design do approximately the same thing?
  • 1 0
 Are jamis available in the uk?
  • 12 11
 Jamis is still a brand?
  • 18 4
  • 4 5
 The front wheel bike stand is the only thing I want in this post.
  • 4 2
 Looks like you could make one for about $10 in pipe fittings. Or, if you like, I can make one for you, paint it day glow, and then call it a Mountain Bike Front Stand and charge you $150?
  • 2 2
 How heavy is this thing?
  • 23 1
 About 3 linkages heavier than you'd expect.
  • 1 2
 Hands off any Jamis! Seriously!
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