The Jackal rant…..

2008 –  Santa Cruz Jackal

Recently I had the opportunity to ride a Santa Cruz Jackal. I thought I could ride pretty quickly on the firepit pumptrack, railing through corners and berms and getting round the track pretty quickly. I had seen various overseas riders ride on the Jackal and I was curious to know how a bike of that type, which has essentially been built for riding jumps and pumptracks, worked.

I was blown away how this bike performed on the pumptrack.  It has a phenomenal ability to rail corners. My experience with the Jackal has changed my perception and experience of pumptracks and turned it into something very, very different. I’ve gone faster and quicker through corners on the Jackal than I have with any other bike.   It’s an addictive bike. I would have to say it has the highest fun rating of any bike I’ve ever ridden by far, from full suspension to downhill bikes.  It’s certainly got an instant grin factor.

Photo: Grant Stirling

There’s a pumptrack design guru in the States called Lee McCormack, who said that you can get up to 2-3 Gs going through a corner. I definitely believe that when going on the Jackal.   The back end of this bike is incredibly boxy and stiff, and when you start to push it through the corners and over the rollovers you get instant speed progression. It continues that speed through and out, so in a sense you are just getting faster and faster on the track.

The bike feels incredibly safe and fluid through the pumptrack.  The tyres I’m running on are semi-slick models from WTB, the Wolverine and the Vulpine. They seem a very good combination with the Jackal, as on the pumptrack you need volume without tall tread. When you start pumping through the rollovers and berms, the force through your hips and knees seems to progress into the back end incredibly quickly, so you’re up and pumping very fast and cranked over through the corners.

We’ve had many people come through to ride the firepit  pumptrack.  A number of them have ridden this bike and there certainly is a struggle to take the bike back off them once they’ve ridden a number of loops of the track. Fortunately, there’s one thing with this bike: because you are going faster and quicker and pumping more through corners, your aerobic threshold is just going through the roof. Three or four laps before collapse is normal.

Moving from my old steel cross country bike that I was riding on the pumptrack to the Jackal, is a jump of light years.  It’s like hopping into a Formula 1 racing car.  It’s instant on, just super fun.

The skills that I’m learning on this bike, I am taking to the trail and basically learning how to rail and pump through singletrack with more control, which is making me a smoother and faster rider.

The bike I was riding was a 2008 model. The 2009 Santa Cruz Jackal is to be released in March, and I’d certainly recommend checking one out when it’s available. If you are looking to progress your pumptrack experience, jump on a Jackal.

By Damian Stones, email damian@BikeWorks.co.nz

Get more about pumptracks at www.firepit.co.nz
and follow us at www.twitter.com/pumptrack


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