My New-Old Jamis Renegade

Another bike build…my last for a long time. After a flurry (well, three) of new bikes in the last couple years, I now have to be content to just ride them. That’s okay. It’s what they are made for.

And there were lots of practical reasons behind this rebuild of my Jamis Renegade. The original bike was the base model and featured awful brakes, a Claris 2×8 setup that left a lot to be desired, and a super painful Fizik saddle. It was fine for commuting, and even a few long bikepacking trips, but I wanted something that will serve me better in the short-term while also being suitable for my planned cross-country trip in 2020.

I really wanted a no-fuss 1x drivetrain, a comfortable touring saddle, reliable brakes, and a cool paint job in an earthy tone. I ended up with all that, plus a couple additions that make this a bike suitable for a wide range of adventures. I’m really happy with how everything turned out.

Thanks go to Ian at the Underground Bike Shop for yet another no-hassle, fairly priced, quick build. Seriously, if you’re in Harrisburg and haven’t made this your shop of choice, you’re missing out.



These were the parts of the original bike that survived the rebuild and are now seamlessly integrated into the new machine.

Frame and Fork: Jamis Renegade Exile (56 cm). I had no complaints about this aluminum frame. It’s always felt great to ride, and the geometry is very comfortable. No fork mounts, but pretty much everything else for racks, fenders, a third water bottle cage, etc. Made sense to build the new bike around this frame.
However, I did a custom rattlecan paint job with Royal Oak from Spray.Bike, which totally changes the complexion of the bike. I wanted it to look awesome and blend in when I’m stealth camping in the woods.
Stem: Basic Jamis model with an embarrassing, comfortable upward angle.
Seatpost: Boring, basic, doesn’t matter.
Bars: Ritchey EvoMax. Angled bars for gravel these days are all the rage. I don’t really notice a difference, but they look cool. Good shifting and braking control from the drops.
Pedals: I have no idea what brand these are. Toe straps for the win.


Crankset: SRAM Apex 1x (42t). I absolutely love the clean look of the 1x setup, and I also love the thought of no front derailleur chain rub or cable adjustments. Apex is cheaper than Force and Rival, and since I don’t care about weight on this bike, I decided to invest elsewhere. (Elsewhere ended up being the wheelset.)
Cassette: A pizza. Just kidding. It’s the SRAM 11-42t monster, blacked-out and badass. But it looks like a pizza.
Shifters: SRAM Apex. Same nice ergonomics of the eTap setup on my road bike. The Apex graphic actually looks pretty cool. I like that SRAM doesn’t put stupid beginner gadgets (indicators of what gear you’re in) on their lower-level gear like Shimano does. Show some respect to the experienced riders on a budget.
Brakes: TRP Spyre disc. I have these on my ‘cross bike and they have worked well. No rubbing, no fuss. Massive upgrade over the shitty Tektros I had before. I can actually stop now.
Saddle: Brooks C17. Nice of Brooks to offer saddles that aren’t made of cow hide, for the animal lovers out there. I’m not quite sure if I ended up with the all-weather version as intended, but mine is apparently waterproof. The saddle is nice and wide, and though I’ve only sat on it for thirty minutes so far, feels exponentially more comfy that the Fizik Airione.
Fenders: Planet Bike Cascadia (aluminum). I try to avoid riding in the rain. But sometimes when you’re touring, you don’t have a choice. I opted for these to complete the rig. They also add a nice bit of black to the color scheme, matching the seat and bar tape.
Wheels: Velocity Dyad 700c. I hadn’t planned on a new wheelset. Then, I realized that the 8-speed hubs on the old wheels weren’t going to cut it. Fortunately, I found these American-made, bombproof wheels for a pretty affordable price. From all the reviews I read, they will serve me well. I opted for high spoke counts (32 in front, 36 in rear) just to be on the safe side. The retro-looking decal is a nice touch, though the yellow doesn’t match with anything.
Tires: Panaracer GravelKing (32mm). For the most part, I’ll be riding this bike on pavement. But I also wanted something that could handle a bit of dirt or gravel, without slowing me down. I wanted puncture protection. I wanted a cushy ride. I wanted tan sidewalls. I didn’t want to spend more than I would on car tires. These fit the bill.

Free at Last

If you were a fly on the wall (weird), you would have seen me in my living room last night, wrestling with the near wheel of my bike wielding scissors and knives like some kind of demented surgeon. There was cussing, strange noises, and things breaking. What in the world was I doing?

Only trying to remove the dork disk, the world’s most harmless-looking, unnecessary, frustratingly difficult bike component. You’ve seen them. Maybe you even have one on your own bike. They are the dinner plate-sized plastic discs that bike shops are required to insert between your spokes and cassette, Trojan horses of goofdom that remain unnoticed on people’s bikes for way too long, sneaking home with you like a tick in your armpit. I’ll say it again: they are unnecessary. Sure, maybe your chain could slip off your biggest sprocket. A lot of things could happen. A childish ape could become president. But come on.


The dork disc had remained on my Jamis Renegade for way too long. I tried a few times to remove it, wildly attacking it with dull scissors, but I was unsuccessful. Since it’s my get-around bike and I don’t ride it too often, I was content to let the disc remain, though I was never happy about it. The risk of being judged by a fellow in-the-know cyclist while running errands or camping in a state forest was pretty low.

But in preparation for this weekend’s bikepacking trip, I decided the disc had to be demolished, once and for all. The scissors wouldn’t work. I would need another tool. What could I find in our sparsely populated kitchen drawer?

Dull butter knife, can opener, plastic fork. No, no, no. Then the epiphany. That little-used (quite frankly, terrible) Christmas gift from a couple years ago: super strength knife set. The kind you see on infomercials that can apparently cut through granite blocks or a human femur or whatever. I’ve never used them for food, and thought I gave them all to Goodwill before my last move, but luckily somehow one was still lingering in the back of the drawer. Bingo.

I began sawing through the disc, and sure enough, the knife worked. Damn, the infomercials weren’t lying, I thought. Halfway through, I ran out of space; the knife was dangerously close to the near derailleur cable, and I accidentally put a few saw marks into a spoke or two. So I turned to my other tool: brute force. That’s where the cussing started, as I tussled with the disc, sliding it around, finally breaking bits of it until I could get an opening to saw through the rest. Towards the end I just pulled until the plastic shattered.

Then, in a glorious gesture of triumph, I ripped off the last chunk, heart rate spiking. I looked at the pile of plastic, which now appeared so meek and fragile, like it was innocently saying “what do you mean, I caused you so much frustration? I’m just a little bit of plastic.”

But I knew better.

Dork-free, finally