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The latest iteration of J.Guillem's Major (pronounced 'my-awe' after the second most popular climb in Majorca) is one of those bikes tapping another nail in N+1's coffin, thanks to its ability to blend a road bike's characteristics with the versatility of a gravel or touring bike. Thankfully though, speed and performance on the road are still very much the main focus.
While it's important to keep an open mind in this job, it's inevitable that presumptions are going to be made on first sight – we're all human. When the Major arrived in the office I was very impressed; the finish of the titanium frame is stunning. Oh, and just in case you're unfamiliar with it, 'N+1' is the answer to the question of how many bikes you should have, with N being the number you already have...
This build doesn't scrimp anywhere with an electronic groupset and some deep-section carbon fibre wheels, but what's this – 35mm tyres? Straight away my mind switched to envisaging big rides to get the most out of what was surely some kind of endurance, slick tyred adventure machine. Oh, how wrong I was.
As you can probably tell by the set up in the photos, the Major is designed for a relatively aggressive position. The front end is low (especially if you knock out the 20mm of spacers fitted here), and with my saddle in position I could get a good drop down to the handlebar for a low slung body shape. It's ideal for a bit of aero-ness or getting out of a headwind.
With great stiffness throughout the frame I could really get the power down, and the Major on the whole felt rewarding to ride.
For a bike that'll take full mudguards and has the clearances that requires, the wheelbase, at just over a metre, is tight enough for the J.Guillem to exhibit a bit of nimbleness. It's not as short as a race bike, so you get an extra bit of stability, but without taking the fun factor away.
The handling is much the same. There is enough speed from the steering for the kind of fast riding where you don't necessarily the need the quickness of a race machine, but it's not slow or sluggish in any way. Goldilocks would be happy with it, if you know what I mean.
With tyres of this size hardpacked trails are also an option, and again the steering is not so fast the Major becomes a handful here either.
It's well suited to being loaded up with frame bags, too. With a family break arranged for a weekend I headed down to Devon under my own steam, with the Major loaded up with a top tube bag, bar bag and saddle bag. The 200km trek of country lanes really highlighted the comfort from he Major's titanium alloy tubing and their profiles.
The geometry worked really well here too, and the Major is easy and relaxing to ride when you aren't the rivet all the time.
Back at home, with the bulk of my riding being squeezed into the small gap between work and the school runs, the Major showed itself to be pretty much everything you need for a fast and fun ride. The only thing taking the edge of is the overall weight of 9.27kg (on our scales), which just hampers the acceleration and climbing a touch.
With a set of light 28mm slicks fitted the J.Guillem feels just like a quick road bike, and even with the smaller volume rubber and higher pressures, overall comfort remains much the same.
Like the majority of titanium frames on the market, this uses 3Al/2.5V alloy, which is titanium mixed with 3% aluminium and 2.5% vanadium. The tubes are extruded, which means that there are no seams or anything to deal with.
Titanium doesn't suffer from corrosion, so no paint or lacquers are required. That's great for keeping your bike looking new and scratch free, but it means that the welder's torch skills are on full display. Thankfully though, whoever built this can hold their head high, as the neat welding is to a high standard throughout.
Boosting the clean look is the newly line-free exterior – the Major's predecessor had external cable and hose routing, while this model is designed for wireless electronic groupsets only and has no cable stops on the outside of the frame. The only entry port is for the rear brake hose, and there's an exit port for the mech wires from the internal battery.
The rear hose exits around the bottom bracket junction, and then is directed along the outside of the chainstay.
As mentioned the Major will accept full mudguards and a rear rack. You also get two bottle cage mounts.
To keep the fork and chainset turning smoothly the Major uses an integrated headset which sits inside the tapered head tube, while the bottom bracket is a press-fit affair.
The rear dropouts and included mech hanger for the thru-axle are CNC machined and look very smart, and as the hanger is separate a crash can damage it without writing the frame off – a nice touch.
At the front you'll find a full carbon fibre fork. If you don't really notice a fork then it's doing its job, and that is exactly the situation here. The J.Guillem fork is stiff where it needs to be, with enough compliance that it doesn't rattle your hands around on rough surfaces.
Available in seven sizes from 49cm to 62cm, the Major has performance orientated geometry. The measurements for this 54cm model are a 555mm top tube length (effective), with a 155mm head tube, and a 490mm seat tube centre-to-centre.
The wheelbase is 1,005mm with 430mm chainstays, while the stack and reach figures are 562mm and 384mm respectively. Angle wise, the head tube sits at 73°, while the seat angle is 73.5°.
The Major is available as a frame, a frameset or in various builds configurable on J.Guillem's website. The builds kick off with Shimano's 105 R7100 Di2 groupset, which we have here.
The shifting is great, as is the braking performance, and while as a standalone groupset it's no longer the impressive value versus performance offering it once was, it can actually be quite good value as part of a full bike.
J.Guillem allows you to select crank length, but the only gear options are a compact 50/34t for the crankset and 11-34t for the cassette. For me those ranges were fine, with the lower gears offsetting the overall weight well.
Our model came with a J.Guillem aluminium stem (a titanium option is available) and matching handlebar with a shallow drop. Stem length and handlebar width are up to you.
For the seatpost and seatclamp though, our build has an upgrade from aluminium to titanium, and very nice it looks too. We've also got a J.Guillem saddle, which comes with titanium rails.
As for the wheels, we were lucky enough to get an upgrade to Scope's R4A full carbon wheelset with deep section rims and a 21/24 spoke build front and rear.
It's a great wheelset that suited the width of the (upgraded) Panaracer GravelKing tyres. It offers a performance build that's durable enough to cope with the odd foray onto firm gravel tracks.
With all of the upgrades our Major came in at €5711 including VAT for the UK, which at the time of writing works out to around £5,000. A standard 105 build with aluminium wheels and components is €4,199 (£3,700), and a frame only is €1,699 or £1,495.
The frameset option basically has everything except the drivetrain, wheels and tyres, and is €2,380 or £2,095.
The Enigma Evoke Mk3 has a similar kind of riding style and geometry to the Major, although it lacks the mounts for mudguards. As a frame only it costs £2,199 or £2,641.99 as a frameset which includes frame, fork, headset and seat collar.
Reilly's T325D Road Disc is classed as a road race/sportive favourite, and is focused on being a fast yet comfortable ride. A frameset which includes a full carbon fork, headset and seat collar will set you back £2,399.
Taking this all into account, the J.Guillem does offer good value for money against some of the competition.
The Major is a very good bike to ride. It can feel like a race bike, an endurance bike or even a fast tourer or adventure bike. The ride quality is excellent, as are its characteristics. The only real fly in the ointment is the overall weight, but that doesn't necessarily show through unless you are on a a massively steep climb. The price is reasonable too.
Titanium road bike with big tyre clearance and a great balance of speed, performance and comfort
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road.cc test report
Make and model: J Guillem Major Shimano 105 Di2
Size tested: 54cm
About the bike
List the components used to build up the bike.
Group Set: Shimano 105 DI2 R7100 2x12spd, (50-34T/11-34T) Disc Brake
Wheel Set: Scope R4A Full Carbon Wheelset, 21-24H
Tyres: Panaracer Gravel King+ Slick 700c Bk/Bn, 35mm
Headset: J.Guillem Integrated Headset, for 11/8 - 11/2"
Stem: J.Guillem Alloy, Sand blasted Anodized
Handlebar: J.Guillem Alloy Sand blasted Anodized, Butted
Handlebar Tape: J.Guillem Microfiber Shockproof
Seat Post: Titanium Seat Post, with Difflock System
Seat Collar: J.Guillem 3AL/2.5V Ti Seat Collar, 34,9mm
Saddle: J.Guillem Saddle, Titanium Rails
Tell us what the bike is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
J.Guillem describe the Major thus; "For the road-riding enthusiast that loves the sensation of riding fast, the Major - pronounced 'My-awe' – is an awesome steed on the straight, in the narrow and around bends. Its stiff, light and durable frame suits an aggressive riding style so it's ideal for the step-up to club racing or solo flights chasing the clock."
The Major is very much a fast road bike, with the bonus of being able to take 35mm tyres, which adds versatility.
Where does this model sit in the range? Tell us briefly about the cheaper options and the more expensive options
The Major is available as a frame only, a frameset, or as a customisable build.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
The frame is welded and finished to a very high standard. The internal cable routing gives the Major a very clean look.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Frame: J.Guillem 3AL/2.5V Titanium
Fork: J.Guillem 11/8-11/2in Tapered Carbon Road Disc Fork, with Mudguard Eyelets
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
The geometry is performance based, only slightly backed off from that of a pure race bike.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
The stacka and reach figures are as expected for a bike of this size and style.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
For such a stiff bike the ride quality is very good. The larger tyres help here too.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Stiffness is excellent both at the bottom bracket and the head tube.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Power transfer is very good, which means it feels efficient when rolling or from a standing start.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so was it a problem?
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively neutral or unresponsive? The fun side of neutral.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
The handling is quick enough to give a fun and involving ride through the bends, while not being so fast that it is a handful on longer rides, or even away from the tarmac.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
The 35mm tyres can be tweaked for pressure to balance comfort and speed.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
The Scope wheels felt very stiff for hard efforts out of the saddle.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
The 12-speed cassette of the 105 grouspet gives a good spread of gears with small gaps.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
The 105 Di2 groupset gives excellent shifting and braking performance.
Wheels and tyres
Tell us some more about the wheels.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels? If so what for?
This is a quality set of wheels. They feel quick and are stiff and durable too.
Tell us some more about the tyres. Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the tyres? If so what for?
Comfortable tyres which roll and grip well, and they're a decent weight for the width.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
The components are all well made, and are comfortable in use.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes
How does the price compare to that of similar bikes in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's well priced against some of the competition I've mentioned, such as offerings from Enigma and Reilly.
Use this box to explain your overall score
This is a bike that delivers a great ride quality and handling, and it works whether you're riding hard or taking it easy. It's competitvely priced too.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
As part of the Tech Hub here at F-At Digital, our senior product reviewer Stu uses the knowledge gained from putting well over a 1,000 products through their paces (including hundreds of bikes) to write in-depth reviews of a huge range of kit. After first throwing his leg over a race bike back in 2000, Stu's ridden more than 160,000 miles on road, time-trial, track, and gravel bikes, and while he's put his racing days behind him he still likes to smash the pedals rather than take things easy. Although, as he spends a fair bit of his time reviewing ebikes these days he's becoming an expert in letting the motor take the strain. He's also waiting for 23mm race tyres to make a comeback!