I recently went back to riding this bike with the stock wheelset and have been having a lot of fun on it. Some things I’ve noticed:
- The bike is set-up for adding a frame bag, a medium Revelate Tangle fits perfectly and the bottle cages are mounted low enough to accommodate a regular 22 ounce bottle. I wish the fork had mounts on the side or even full rack mounts.
- The stock wheelset completely transforms the climbing. A big part of this is the high-engagement hub, it pushes out the power stroke to the wheel in a slightly longer way that just feels more connected. There is minimal play in the crank before engagement.
- It’s less fun on singletrack than a good steel frame. The ride is more jarring and the frame is just a little too stiff to work well for me. I did a loop at Sope Creek and wasn’t able to ride at speed nearly as well as my Double Cross Disc.
- TRP Spyres are prone to rust and probably need a rebuild if you ever ride in the rain. I’m going to make a video for this. It’s easy but intimidating.
- A frame bag is a much better idea than a front rack. I want to use both but keep most of my every day essentials in the frame bag and then just use the rack as needed for clothes or giant tools found on the side of the road.
- The handlebars are the best handlebars I’ve ever used. Moderate drop so it’s easy to ride in any hand position. Slight flare is great for off-road and on-road, flat portion feels great when you want to sit up and relax and the width is perfect. Wish these were sold individually – I’d run them on all my bikes.
So I’m still riding this bike and still enjoying it. I’ll update once I get some more mores but for now it’s working really well as a bike, to do bike stuff with.
So I have almost two months riding this set-up, about 70 hours. Here are some things I’ve noticed. Remember this bike is set-up with 650bx42 tires and has a trail of 75mm.
The more I ride the set-up the better it feels. I seem to be adapting to the way the load changes the handling. Feels like a normal bike now whereas before it felt a little weird.
It’s more akin to riding a mountain bike than a road bike. Turning at high speed requires body english, leaning the bike and paying attention to where my weight is. It feels totally natural to go from my 80ish-mm trail 29er mountain bike to this bike.
It’s slower. On a strict mile-per-hour basis it doesn’t seem like much; maybe .5-.7 miles per hour per 3-4 hours. But really that’s around 3%-7% speed decrease, not insignificant in those terms. I think this might have to do with a combination of the cornering and climbing changes due to how the front load moves up and down as the handlebars move left and right. In essence, I’m not just pedaling the bike forward I’m keeping the front wheel tracking straight and this requires more power than before. My current load is only 2-3 pounds heavier than what I was carrying in my saddle bag and on my person so I’m not convinced it’s weight related. Might be small aero losses as well or that could just be from wearing a loose cotton t-shirt. Oh well.
There’s an inspired confidence to being able to carry necessities in an easily accessible location. I roll around with a full my full winter complement of additional clothes and have no stress about being caught unaware by weather. If I decide to change my two hour ride to a four hour ride I have extra batteries and clothes to accommodate this.
Find a three pound 16-inch wrench in the middle of the road? Pick it up and strap it to your rack!
This needs a handlebar bag or basket or something. I’ve got a handlebar bag working but I’ve just been strapping stuff to the rack and each other like a bicycle hobo so it works ok but bags/baskets would be better.
I am deep into my imitation of Patrick Plaine, at least in style if not necessarily in substance.
Still above is from this short film: https://vimeo.com/58201809
So I’ve got two rides on my bike now that it’s set-up with a front rack. First ride was front rack + saddle bag load so 2 pounds for the rack(?), 2 pounds on the front rack and 3 pounds in the rear. Steering felt a little heavy and bike was slower to respond but seemed to like the weight and pedaling felt easier and less spinny than previously. Essentially the additional weight made it feel more like a 700c bike than a 650b bike as far as pedaling was concerned.
Second ride I ditched the saddle bag and moved everything up front. 2 pounds for the rack and 3 pounds for the load. Steering feel increased a bit and responsiveness decreased a bit as well. Although really it’s sorta like the responsiveness changed instead of decreased. The bike wants to flop when turning so it requires a lot of body english and counter-steer but it can be made to respond like before, it’s just harder. I also noticed there is a lot of wheel flop during steep seated climbing. The bike wants to wander all over and when I’m really tired it takes more energy to keep tracking straight. However, this is offset by how much better the standing climbing is, which is cool because I am a great stander and a poor sitter.
What really blew me away was how much better the bike felt pedaling in all positions without the saddle bag. Who knew this would be so much of change? It seemed to plane for me in a way that it was not doing before, although I’ve only got one ride this way so it may just be bullshit. I’ll find out I guess.
Added a front rack to my Haanjo Comp today. Perfect day for it too. 67 and warm when I left and 47 with rain by the time I got back.
Made it super easy to carry all the clothes I needed and extra tube. I’m going to figure out a better solution than a hip-pack in a ziploc bag but for right now it’s still awesome. Handling is a little different – bike wants to turn instead of lean but it’s not too bad and certainly not as bad as I would have thought after reading all the Bicycle Quarterly stuff about low and high trail and front loading.
Today was just another one of those days where I feel like I can just pedal forever. Such a good feeling, always forgot how much easier and more fun it is to ride when I’m skinny instead of chubby. Like my legs always have the same strength no matter my overall weight.
I can’t wait to ride some more and see how it works with different load outs. Rack is a Sunlite QR-Tec that mounts 100% to the quick-release. It has a anchor point for the brake caliper hole but I just cut that off and ziptied the back of the rack to the front fender stabilizer.
Right under 2,000 miles/6 months on my Haanjo Comp so I have a little update. Overall the bike is still riding fine. Spent quite a few hours riding in the rain this week and blew through the stock pads on the front spyres pretty quickly. Replaced with Shimano B01S pads and performance is significantly better. Here’s a nice little post from another blogger that was helpful:https://accidentalrandonneur.wordpress.com/2016/02/12/replacing-pads-on-a-trp-spyre-mechanical-disc-brake-caliper/
I did have an unusual issue on Monday; riding in the rain and dark I took a little shortcut in behind a strip mall where all the dumpsters are and ended up riding through an invisible trash pond that went up past my hubs. I have two bright front lights but it was so dark and wet I just didn’t see the huge pond/puddle that had filled the road caused by a series of blocked drains. I managed to ride it out but almost right away my rear shifting had degraded significantly and my front shifting has show a little chain suck as well.
As few days later I noticed my brakes were sticky and took a lot more pressure to squeeze the levers. Nothing else seemed to be affected but I wouldn’t be surprised if the wheel or bb bearings were affected as well, but not much to do about those now. Anyway, I fixed the rear shifting by cleaning the guide area under the bb and adding two turns to the barrel adjuster on the rear derailleur. Front is ok but not 100% like it was before. I know riding through a huge trash pond is unusual but I would still question the wisdom of routing cables under the bb on a gravel bike.
Anyway, the brake issue was a lot more surprising, I cruised through my apartment complex and when I went to brake at the gate I squeezed the lever and nothing happened. OH SHIT!
After a quick panic I SQUEEZED the lever and and felt a solid click/clunk and then the brakes were working ok but took a lot more pressure than before. I suspect the capillary action drew water up into the housing and started the cable rusting or housing corroding. I spent a few days trying to lube it but back to perfect function but I went ahead and just replaced the cable and it works fine now. I didn’t see any rust on the cable but did see a little bit of white corrosion on the cable were it would be under the handlebar tape which is really weird and makes me wonder if there is a hole in the housing? Anyway, weird and unusual and I’ll try to stay out of such deep water in the future.
So, the bike is riding fine and I still like it pretty ok. Wish it had a front rack.
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/