Here's a secret: Jeep offers a mind-boggling variety of bicycles. Not weenie low-end bikes, either-its Jeep bike line is comprised of quality stuff that cyclists can appreciate.
Take, for instance, their full suspension line of bikes. At the time of this writing, the collection contains 9 models, from the entry-level Cherokee S ($194) to the high-end Sahara all-wheel-drive model ($3,000). In between, there's a bike for every budget. One of which is the Cherokee Scrambler, which we recently had a chance to test.
The Cherokee Scrambler is inexpensive in the world of modern bikes, and it'll only set you back a tad over $300. But for this little bit of green, you get a mean collection of features, including an aluminum suspension frame with coilover shock, long-travel front suspension fork, and 21-speed Shimano drivetrain. This is also Jeep's lowest-priced full suspension bike to incorporate the hottest new feature in bike technology: a front disc brake.
If you've never ridden a full suspension bike, you need to. The difference between this technology and a rigid bike is truly staggering whether you ride on- or off-pavement. The difference reminds us of how shocked we were the first time we drove a smooth-riding coil-sprung TJ Wrangler after years of bouncing down the trail in a leaf-sprung YJ Wrangler. Over and above the inherent differences between the two types of bikes, though, the Cherokee Scrambler does an admirable job of absorbing rough trail terrain. We tested the Cherokee Scrambler using two riders of vastly different weights; one weighed in at 100 pounds, the other at 210 pounds. We found that even with the heavier rider at the helm, the suspension did a fabulous job of absorbing the rough terrain without bottoming out during normal trail riding. Both riders reported that the Shimano derailleur controls were easy to operate, and the handlebars offered a more upright riding position than many mountain bikes. This translated to a bike that was comfortable for even extended rides. The front disc brake blew us away. We had never ridden a bike equipped with one of these before, and we came to be huge fans the first time we pulled the lever. The braking is unbelievably smooth and far more effective than standard linear pull brakes, plus brake-lever feel is excellent-not too touchy, nor too firm.
Bottom line: The Cherokee Scrambler offers a lot of features for the money, and it's a great buy. Plus, it's quite a conversation piece because almost every component is clearly branded with the familiar Jeep logo.
Model: Jeep Cherokee Scrambler
Base price: $304.99
Rear shock: Lu Jin 750 lb-ft, adjustable
Fork: Kingtech single crown with 65mm travel
Headset: Black, threadless, 1 1/8-inch
Crankset: Alloy/steel 28/38/48T, 170mm
Front derailleur: Shimano TZ50
Rear derailleur: Shimano Tourney
Shifter: Microshift trigger shifter
Hubset (f/r): Alloy quick release/nutted
Spokes: 14g UCP
Rims: Alloy, 26 x 1.5, 36H
Tires: 26x1.95 all-terrain
Brakes (f/r): Mechanical disc/alloy linear pull
Brake levers: Alloy
Pedals: P.P. MTB type
Handlebars: MTB with 30mm rise
Grips: PVC 125mm
Stem: Steel 25-inch rise, 100mm extension
Seatpost: Jeep alloy
Saddle: Jeep MTB-style