When Chris Roberts (organiser of the Mini Enduros and World 4X races) rang me to ask if I would test out the new Diamond Back Enduro bike, I was intrigued as to what it was going to be like. This US company isn’t exactly one of the big players in the high-end trail bike bracket over in the UK. But they have a serious history in the MTB market, having produced one of the first ever mountain bikes way back in 1982 with their Ridge Runner model. Since then they have gone on to produce many bikes, supporting many top world DH and XC stars, This bike is definitely their big hitter in the world of All Mountain.
In the trail bike range there are three versions, one cheaper specified Mission at £2,600.00, with the lower end group-set and two versions of the Mission Pro, with slightly different specs and sizes, both at £4,000.00. Both versions are available in 15, 17 and 19″, I had on test the twin ringed 19″ version.
I collected the bike from Chris on the Saturday morning of the Forest of Dean practice for the weekend of the One Industries Mini Enduro.
On first glance I think this is a burly looking beast, it just looks like a proper attack bike, with the stealthy black colour and beefy looking Knuckle Joint suspension, stocked with the OE Fox 36’s to take the front hits. The bike, although being a 19″ frame, definitely looked short in the top tube, maybe spot on for the UK twisty trails, and with the rear 142x12mm axle, flex is not an issue. My only initial concern was a bike being produced for 2014 with a 26″ wheel in this crazy wheel-size driven current market, maybe Diamond Back are trying to appeal to the originalists who want to keep it real, and lets cut through all the bullshit and remember that Jerome Clementz just won the EWS on 26″ wheels!
I had spent a couple of months on the single pivot Empire Cycle MX-6, and jumping onto something with a linkage definitely felt weird at first, kind of over squishy and too plush over the many roots and bumps of the loamy South Wales track. But I had to admit after the first day’s practice and going into the morning of day 2’s practice I really bonded with this bike. The faster you threw it at the rough parts of the stages, the better it felt, I would go so far as to say the suspension was absolutely as plush as you could get, the nearest thing to a DH bike in uphill form. The back end did tend to bob a bit on the climbs, but I think this may have been exaggerated by me running the Fox CTD shock pretty soft to accommodate the big roots on the timed stages.
When it came to corners and steep sections the bike just soaked them all up and railed tight corners as if on tracks, with the Avid stoppers having massive one finger control and giving uber power to decelerate. At the end of the Sunday’s racing this bike took me to a podium finish, so the proof is in the pudding.
Cons – Quite short, not yet available in 27 1/2, graphics may be a bit too subtle in this new ‘in ya face’ bike market
Pros – Big hitter, one of the plushest rides in All Mountain form, stiffness, turns on a six-pence, Raceface carbon cranks
Words: Jim Buchanan | Pics: Doc Ward, Jim Buchanan