Originally published on www.cyclist.co.uk | Words by Marc Abbott for www.cyclist.co.uk – August 25, 2021
Every so often, a bike appears that reinforces everything that is good about cycling – its power to engage, to delight, to transform a mood and boost your fitness. It won’t be too big a spoiler to let you know now that the J.Laverack J.Ack III Di2 is very much one such bike.
Besides all of the above reasons, its incredibly classy appearance, the boutique experience of the J.Laverack headquarters and showroom, and the ridiculous ability of this bike to offer a combination of light weight and supreme comfort on even the most rippled and pitted road surfaces make the J.Laverack J.Ack III Di2 a bike that’s fit for four-season riding in almost any situation.
It’s no wonder that this relatively small brand is attracting the most discerning clientele – F1 driver Sebastian Vettel was even spotted riding one of the Rutland company’s bikes at this year’s Monaco GP…
Pedal to the metal
This incarnation of the titanium-framed J.Ack all-rounder differs substantially to the Shimano 105 version I first rode five years ago, with the highest quality groupset and finishing kit combining to make the riding experience even slicker. But let’s take a look at the frame first.
The J.Laverack J.Ack III Di2 frameset is made from 3Al-2.5V titanium – an alloy which includes 3% aluminium and 2.5% vanadium, otherwise known as ‘Grade 9’ titanium, which offers a goldilocks mixture of strength and light weight, not to mention being corrosion-resistant and highly formable.
In practice, riding on it is a far preferable experience compared to most steel frames, and it’s just as attractive, especially in the hand-brushed finish and bead-blasted details on this example.
Zing is in abundance, and vibration through the metal frame is isolated on the J.Ack III by a carbon seatpost, exceptionally flexible Brooks C13 saddle, PRO carbon handlebars and – crucially – 32c tubeless tyres.
The choice of tyres on the J.Laverack J.Ack III Di2 (you can spec yours however you like, by the way) has been made to allow its endurance-ride capabilities to shine.
Unsurprisingly, it achieves the desired result. As well as the 32c Continental GP5000TL tubeless tyres offering insane levels of grip whether in the dry or on damp, post summer shower roads, their comfort is unparalled.
At pressures as low as 40psi, you can pretty much roll over anything on the road while still enjoying cornering confidence. Pumped up to 80psi, just shy of their maximum recommended inflation, there’s a little more immediacy to cornering yet still vibe-killing volume.
The AERA AR (‘All Road’) 36 carbon wheels (£2,070 in this Chris King-hubbed spec) ably accommodate the wide tyres, with an internal diameter of 21.1mm and external width of 28.1mm (in fact, they’re claimed to accept 23-43c tyres).
Importantly, the contact points of the J.Laverack J.Ack III Di2 allowed me to enjoy one of the best rides I’ve had all year, simply chewing the fat with a good friend with zero interruption from a numb rump or dead wrists.
The frame and forks have clearance for up to 38c tyres (or 35c with mudguards) so there’s never any danger of frame rub.
Having a bike that fits is a riding requirement often ignored or simply misunderstood by a lot of riders. A bike fit at the hands of J.Laverack’s co-founder, Dave Clow, at the brand’s Oakham HQ identified not only that I’ve been in the right fit ballpark all these years, but also some improvements to be made.
Shorter cranks and a better idea of optimum reach were the two big takeaways, and J.Laverack offers a custom geometry option (up to £350; they’ve made custom frames as small as 44cm and as high as 64cm) for individual builds to accommodate your personal anatomy and flexibility.
You can, in fact, go crazy with the extras, with personalised bead-blasted graphics from £180, paint starting at £845, and additional lugs for strapless frame luggage costing from £90. Think of this company as a cycling boutique rather than a ‘one size fits all’ affair.
Their recent acquisition of a custom-made jig will even allow them soon to branch out into bespoke steel-framed bikes, hand-built on site.
While the ease of progress when sitting behind the carbon PRO Vibe handlebars of the J.Laverack J.Ack III Di2 is undeniable, the bike also has more than enough up its sleeve to take a few scalps on a Sunday ride.
The 400mm bars matched to this 52cm frameset are ideal for grabbing a handful of the drops and getting your head down.
Seamless (and I mean ‘seamless’) gear changes from the Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 shifters enable rapid progress on rolling roads, while uphill stretches – which I often find is where metal-framed bikes let themselves down – are dispatched with smooth shifts and a frame that’s responsive to input.
No bottom bracket play from the threaded BB, no rub from the tyres or discs (thanks, 12mm thru-axles)… just you, a titanium bike with traditional appearances and a thoroughly modern groupset.
The thrill of riding the J.Laverack J.Ack III Di2 fast will increase with narrower tyres, but in this guise it’s all you need for year-round riding pleasure, with the added plus of always being a talking point at the cafe stop.
Yes, it’s a lot of money to spend, but when you can specifiy so much of the build – including the frame tubes – I’d argue that, for a bike this adept and potentially individual, it’s a price worth paying.