Line of Succession: Sneak Preview of the 2019 JRI Line
While many have taken shelter from the harsh Australian winter simply content to wait out the 15 degree days until more civilized temperatures return, the propeller-heads at JRI Labs have been finalizing what promises to be the revered marque’s most extensive product offering yet.
Inspired by “distressed” stainless appliances in Mum’s kitchen and following the recent factory-punk trend towards industrial and metallic finishes, the JRI design team has expanded the line-up, offering more dimension and depth than the simple spray bomb matte treatments Batman uses to hide Ikea-weekend morning parking lot door kisses. Cosmetics aside, the devotion to design principles forged from experience gained in cut and thrust, dogfight track duels continues to be a cornerstone – simplicity and functionality feature heavily in the build specs as do an unwavering commitment to proven track geometry designs.
Anchoring the team again this year is 2018’s runaway hit, the Cujo Pro. Now available in a litter of variants, the tested and proven build will be available in four designs, the original matte black, two pearlescent finishes and a new “exposed” raw finish featuring an upgraded tubeset. I could describe the new frames as “…showcasing a new iridescent coating that adds a textural dimension in the form of oscillating rainbow hues using light interference and inspired by the unsung and relatively unknown post-modern mimetic collective made popular by Franziska Schenk” or “the new frames look sick”. And finally if walking around the apartment naked is more your thing, the Cujo Pro will also be available in a raw “exposed” finish – because sometimes “steel is real” is the only statement you need to make. With the exception of an upgraded wheelset and a new alloy fork, the componentry remains unchanged with sealed bearings, alloy componentry, Novatec hubs and Thickslicks.
The Dark Matter also returns in a Version 2.0 retaining the matte black “black is the new black” colorway so popular among Australian males of all ages. New this year is the “Europa” design scheme providing a yang to the original’s yin offering a gloss Alpine White contrast to the original matte black. The new finishes promise to offer an improvement in durability and UV resistance to the original. A new saddle can also be expected while the full alloy frameset, Thickslicks and other running gear remain unchanged.
Officially, the Patrol, Evolution, OilSlick, Townie lineage of the past 2 years has been reduced to a single offering, last year’s light as a feather LowPro, the brushed aluminum Townie. JRI’s design team felt that not much more performance could be extracted through further development without compromising the existing advantages of lightweight, performance and functionality wrapped in a LowPro geometry. Unofficially, the tight-lipped design team relented under the pressure of mind-weakening substances and has hinted to a limited release special edition (or two) version. Pure conjecture, but this author expects some equally random but wonderful variation to replace last year’s supastylin supasexy OilSlick.
Similar to the Townie above, after 6 different design evolutions over 5 years, it’s likely the T-Series development life cycle is nearing completion. JRI’s head designer has suggested that this may be the last year of the JRI icon and it’s a fitting tribute to the thousands of frames built/ridden and copies the design has fostered. A bike that looks and behaves like a purpose-built track weapon that rides comfortably enough to be used for unreasonably long commutes and cruisy sunset rides with that cute step-through from the unit across the hall. This (possibly) final evolution showcases a CuSi-infused 6066 alloy frameset, aero seatpost, alloy component build, Shimano Nexus chain, Thickslicks and refined LowPro geometry accessed through JRI’s aero bullhorn design. There will only be limited numbers available this year so better jump on one if you’re keen.
Can’t say much about this one – there are a few carefully leaked pictures floating in the Great Beyond of the "inTERnet". All I’ve been told is that it’s a badass high-end frame collaboration involving a JRI design and manufacturing by Colossi, the revered Dutch frameset builder that will only be available in limited numbers for a limited time. …oh and that it’s named after one of our favourite cities.
Looking forward, 2019 promises to be more a year of design consolidation than breathtaking change or product introduction - more of a gentle eyebrow shaping, perhaps a subtle and concealable tattoo, if you will… vs. the full sleeve, silica-inclusive body enhancement of the past few years’ new model introductions. Even so, the potential to “crossbreed” componentry to suit custom rider preferences and the aforementioned collaboration frameset promises enough surprises to keep things interesting in the showroom and on the street when long days once again cast long shadows and more civilized temperatures across ‘Straya.
All new bikes and bits due to HQ late October 2018