Before purchasing this bike I was reading some forum chatter about it and the thing that really stuck in my mind was the comment “eh, it’s a bike. does bike stuff.”
Like 99.9% of modern bikes it’s fully functional and has no dangerous or unsafe design/manufacturing choices. If you had whatever amount of dollars this bike cost and wanted something to ride I’d say “sure, go ahead and buy it, it’ll work fine until it doesn’t.”
That’s it. Looking at the Diamondback website and online retailers that sell the bike you’ll find the marketing/product info also follows this sentiment. It’s a fully engineered gravel bike incorporating excellent modern technology and a great parts suite but there’s no puffery or breathless takes on how awesome it is. I mean: hydroformed tubes, mega exo threaded bb, flared gravel bars, 11 speed, HED wheels and 40c tires are pretty awesomely on trend for 2016/2017.
Contrast this with Specialized Diverge series with the impressive amount of buzzwords and marketing non-speak.
“D’Aluisio Smartweld technology”
“proprietary Zertz inserts”
“double BlackBelt protection”
This is funny but the reality is that it makes it hard to talk to other people about bikes. They internalize the bullshit without understanding the concept of functionality and this often creates a stilted, awkward conversation.
So the bike, looks good on paper, doesn’t blow anything up your ass. That’s a start I guess.
Since I qualify for the employee pricing through my corporate overlords buying this bike was a no brainer. Right now I’ve got a little less than 400 miles on the bike and have ridden everything from quick 4 mile sprints to a 100 mile/7,500’ trip to the North Georgia Mountains. Some gravel, some rough roads on the near Northeast side of Atlanta and lots of just regular old road riding. All this is on my 650b wheelset, I prefer this (for now) to 700c and I’ve used this set on my previous two bikes so it’s been interesting to compare the changes due to frame material and geometry.
Looking at the spec sheet and you’ll note the geometry is relaxed and kind of weird. The bike rides like this as well. It’s lazy going into turns and wants to shed speed and stay upright. The rear end is planted and it feels stable on bumps when leaning and during hard acceleration. Front end is stable but tends to want to wander during slow, seated climbing. This gets worse as the grade and rider power output increase. When I’m really tired and just trying to survive it takes a bit of focus to keep tracking straight up a very steep grade. This is too much wheel flop manifesting itself. I guess I’ll see if I get used to this over time.
The bike is also sized small. Most riders will fit either the M or the L. I got a M and needed a 20mm longer stem and it’s still a little shorter than I prefer. I thought about this a lot and it kinda makes sense. If you’re going to mainly ride road with some cross or gravel riding get the smaller size and if you’re going to ride mainly gravel and dirt get the larger size.
On gravel the bike feels good, behaves almost the same as it does on pavement. It’s not as good at dodging rocks and potholes. Are they potholes when the road is dirt? I think they’re just holes? Handles wash boarding like you’d expect. You bounce all over but feel stable and it’s easier to put down power than some other bikes I’ve ridden.
Component spec is B+. TRP Spyre brakes are great (change the stock pads), Shimano 5800 is current and works great and the Mega Exo crankset gives the benefits of outboard bearings and big crank spindles without the creaking issues inherent in press fit BBs. One item of note is that the bottom bracket as installed was completely dry. After about 200 miles there was a loud, consistent creaking during the 1-4 o’clock phase of the left pedal stroke. I, and most likely you will as well, had to buy a new tool as the BB cups are a larger standard that I was familiar with. You’ll want the Park Tool BBT-29 to remove the cups and properly grease. The crankset can be removed with just a 8mm hex key. 24/24 spoke wheelset is dumb. Should have been 28h in the rear but whatever, I’ll probably sell the wheels without ever riding them anyway.
I’m still getting to know the bike so I’ll update as we move into colder weather and I put some racing miles under it’s belt.
Here’s a little update: https://drandalls.wordpress.com/2017/04/03/2016-diamond-back-haanjo-comp-review-update/