News center
Our merchandise has a loyal following that continues to grow.

Jamis Highpoint A1 review

Nov 04, 2023

Can this high-spec entry-level hardtail deliver on the trail?

This competition is now closed

By Sarah Bedford

Published: June 8, 2023 at 12:00 pm

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.

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 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).

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.

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.

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 (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.

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.

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).

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).

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.

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.

More affordable mountain bikes are the best they’ve ever been.

These wallet-friendly machines give an insight into all the thrills and spills that mountain biking has to offer, along with being versatile enough to handle the commute or a quick pedal to the shops.

The best budget mountain bikes should combine up-to-date frame features, geometry and componentry that will feel confident and capable everywhere from the towpath to the trail centre.

In an ideal world, the frames will enable you to upgrade to even more capable parts when you inevitably get hooked on the sport.

All eight bikes in this test challenge the preconception that ‘budget’ is a code-word for ‘not very good’. The overall standard and quality on offer mean you’re in for a good time no matter which of these you select. But there could only be one winner.

With that in mind, we selected a wide variety of trails in Scotland's Glentress Forest, where we could put the bikes through their paces, before reporting back to you on the wisest purchase when it comes to quality, performance and value for money.

After weeks of back-to-back testing on increasingly technical tracks, we were able to whittle down which bikes were most capable of taking on ever gnarlier trails where, despite what the price tag might suggest, they felt more than at home.

Thanks to our sponsors Crankbrothers, MET helmets, Bluegrass Protection, Supernatural Dolceacqua, Le Shuttle and BikePark Wales for their support in making Bike of the Year happen.


Sarah's been riding MTBs for 20 years, across the UK and abroad. She has honed her skills on the varied terrain of Scotland's Tweed Valley, host to the UK's round of the Enduro World Series and 2023 MTB World Championships. Although Sarah's passion lies at the more extreme end of the mountain biking spectrum, where she prefers to ride enduro, with the number of miles she puts in she's got the fitness of an XC racer. Being out on the trails more often than not makes her the perfect person to put any product or bike through its paces.