Diamondback has a deep rich history in the bicycle market, and was one of the first to market a variety of mountain bikes when the genre was created. For many years, they sponsored major international mountain bike teams anchored by hall of fame riders like Dave Wiens and Susan Demattei who won an Olympic medal in 1996. In the Diamondback mountain bike reviews we are including our views of one of the leading brands in the market.
Diamondback is under a resurgence in the market now. New designs, improved models, and better logic to match riders to the bikes they desire is helping considerably. It is nice to see a company react to the market trends in a way that benefits consumers significantly, and makes purchase simple.
The mountain bike lines of Diamondback revolve around mostly full suspension bikes with 27.5″ wheels and tires, while there is a few selections of 27.5″ and 29″ models. Additionally there are several hardtail bikes in both carbon and aluminum frame types. Diamondback finishes up with Women’s specific designs for adults, and a few kids models if you are going to outfit the whole family.
My top choice out of the Diamondback line is the Overdrive 29c 1 carbon hardtail bike. When you do the math, where can you find a carbon frame bike, 11 speed drivetrain, and good stuff all around for less than $2000 msrp?
Top Pick – Overdrive 29c 1
While it might have been easy to pick out the most expensive full suspension bike and call that a top pick, many people are finding that the added weight, and geometry of full suspension detracts from ride quality. While it can be fun blasting downhill, going back up with extra weight and inefficient suspension can make your ride more work.
The Overdrive is a great bike, that can easily be upgraded. Whether you choose the carbon frame, or a budget friendly aluminum, there is still great value to be had. On the Overdrive 29c 1, the bike gets excellent reviews from owners, not just bike shop nerds like myself. Out of the box it is raceable, but even with the current wheels and tires, it works well enough at 24 pounds. Adding on better wheels and tires, going tubeless, and you will probably drop another pound off that figure.
The Overdrive runs a RockShox Recon Gold fork. This fork works well and has plenty of adjustability. It is an air oil fork, but features both compression and rebound adjusters. Pair this with some great tires and you will have excellent traction, and shock absorption.
The only drawback on this bike is the centerlock brake discs. Shimano makes some great brakes and discs, don’t get me wrong, but centerlock limits other choices. Yes, there are centerlock adapters out there, and they can work on some bikes, but the thickness of the adapter could make brake alignment more than difficult.
Best High End – Mission 1c Carbon
The Mission 1c Carbon full suspension should be a consideration for everyone. It has some great features and a competent design that can work for most everyone. Also, the look of the bike is nice and curvy! Whats not to like?
When you get down to it, long travel suspension is really meant for going downhill. While a few friends can fight it and sprint and win the uphill KOM on a full suspension, the reality is its more fun go fast downhill and that is what the Mission is designed for.
Whether you choose the carbon or aluminum version, the design here works really well. The level link suspension design is a proven setup licensed by many companies. Few companies are exclusive to a design anymore, except Specialized. It costs too much to patent a design, and most are patented already.
The Mission is equipped quite well. With 180mm front and 160 rear, you have more than enough travel to soak up the most difficult trails. That is 7 inches front travel on the RockShox Yari RC fork!
The SRAM components are what you should expect on this level bike. The GX drivetrain and Eagle 10-50 cassette can get you through anything! It also runs boost on both the front and rear hubs with through axle on both as well.
Womens Top Pick – Rely 2
Diamondback offers 5 Women’s specific models. That is if you need such a thing. With the wider variety in men’s sizing, it doesnt take much to find something that fits in one of those models. Also, recent studies have found that not all women require special sizing of short frames and long top tubes, which can be found in “mens” bikes.
Overall, the Rely 2 really packs a punch. It runs the 27.5+ tire sizing, so you get a larger diameter wheel with bigger tires to allow you to tackle gnarlier terrain. While not the bigger 29, the 27.5 is a happy medium allowing you to cover more ground easier like big wheel bikes, but the smaller size accelerates and turns better.
Add in the boost compatible wheels that are tubeless ready and you have a pretty good bike for the weekend warrior type. The SRAM drivetrain will handle difficult riding with ease, and the hydraulic disc brakes make stopping a breeze.
One thing that Diamondback does well is create excellent choices for the budget minded rider. Not everyone has thousands to drop on a bike, and the point is to get more people out riding. The Hook 27.5 is a great example.
The Hook has an MSRP below $700, but even with the low price, the bike is equipped well. The frame and fork are designed well, and while not fancy, the Suntour fork does ok for a starter bike. It has a coil spring in it, so you dont have to worry about rebuilding hydraulic parts there.
The SRAM 8 speed drivetrain does really well, with good solid shifts and a wide range of gearing to get up the hills. The mechanical disc brakes work well, and can be setup to have a very solid feel. The pad adjustment is super easy to do, so you can tune these yourself if they are making noise.
Just for fun – El Oso
The newer trails by my house are usually super rocky. From loose gravel to larger rocks, it can be a bit to master at first. Try out a fat bike for stuff like that. Even if you live in a colder climate, a fat bike has purpose.
The goal of a fat bike isn’t speed, its stability. The extra wide axles make a huge difference. You can gain immediate balance at slow speeds because of that width.
The El Oso Dos is a great selection. This is a rigid fat bike, so you are lugging around a 6 pound suspension fork. After all the huge nearly 5″ tires are your true suspension. The Kenda Juggernaught folding tires are fairly light, have a tough casing and a good tread design.
The Shimano Deore drivetrain is very respectable and will give years of service. The TRP brakes are a premium quality with good feel.
Kid’s MTB – Line 24
Kids are getting involved in mountain biking at earlier ages. We are seeing huge crowds at events like Sea Otter Classic, where they have hundreds of kids trying out short and long races. Even high school mountain biking is a big sport now.
One way to get your kids started is on a high quality bike. Many parents buy a cheap bike, because they will grow out of it. But if you are going to be serious and use the bikes, invest in better quality. Cheap Walmart quality sucks to ride.
Diamondback offers two 24″ wheeled choices and a couple of fat bikes for kids. They feature decent suspension forks and good drivetrains that are serviceable. The Line 24 is an excellent choice.
The SRAM 8 speed drivetrain should make shifting easy, and with a wide range of gears, allow riding on most any hill. The Tektro brakes are easy to set up, and have good braking power for smaller hands.
If you are in the market for an excellent mountain bike, check out the Diamondback line of bikes. There is something there for everyone.
More importantly, make sure you budget for several accessories that are a must for trail riding this summer. First off, get a good comfortable helmet with a visor. While you might be a safe rider, when you are off road, and by yourself, anything can happen. So protect your head!
Always bring water with you. Whether you put bottle cages on the bike itself, or use a hydration pack, bring something with you as many riders have issues with dehydration. I like to bring water and some type of sports drink for electrolytes.
Flat tires while off road will eventually happen. Grabbing a spare tube, some tools and some type of inflation device is important, unless you want to walk back home! Yes, you could be running tubeless, but a spare tube makes sense. I also carry both CO2 cartridges and a pump as back up. CO2 is a popular way to inflate tires after a flat.
Whether you choose the hardtail Overdrive, or something fun like the Mission full suspension, you will be impressed like many other owners are. The Overdrive is a great all around bike, with the right equipment to get you anywhere. The Mission is even better because it will take you down the mountain at speed with a great suspension setup.
There are so many choices in the mountain bike market it is hard to navigate them all. We try to recommend brand names due to the quality and support of the product. Diamondback has been a trusted name in bicycles for decades now, so check them out for your next ride!