Diamondback Mission Pro Review

Jul 16, 2012
by Mike Levy  
 
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TESTED
Diamondback
Mission Pro
WORDS Mike Levy
PHOTOS Fraser Britton

The term 'all-mountain' is a touch ambiguous when it comes to describing a bike's intentions. This is especially true when you consider how capable many of today's bikes are - there are four and five inch travel machines out there that are clearly built to handle more abuse than some of the longer legged bikes on the market. The picture of Diamondback's 6'' travel Mission Pro is far clearer, though. With a solid component spec that includes FOX's 20mm thru-axle 36 fork, chain guide tabs, a 12 x 142mm thru-axle, as well as a shred-friendly 67° head angle, the black brawler's intentions are very straightforward. No, it isn't going to win the weigh-in contest, but Diamondback has designed and spec'd the Mission Pro for the real world... a world that just might include a few jumps and hucks after that big climb to the top.


Diamondback Mission Pro Details
• Intended use: all-mountain
• Rear wheel travel: 152mm/6''
• Hydroformed aluminum frame
• Tapered head tube
• ISCG-05 chain guide tabs
• 142 x 12mm E-thru axle
• 67° head angle
• FOX 36 Float R Air fork, 160mm
• Fox Float shock w/ Adaptive Logic, 152mm
• Weight: 31lbs 2oz (w/o pedals )
• MSRP $5,000 USD

Frame Details

The stealthy looking Mission Pro frame may not attract as much attention as a flashier bike, and there are some interesting details that can easily go unnoticed at first glance. Hidden underneath the bike's hydroformed top tube are two aluminum, bolt-on dropper hose guides that do a good job of tucking the extra line out of harm's way, and the top tube itself is also dropped down to give the rider more crotch clearance. A compulsory tapered head tube is employed, and a 12 x 142mm E-Thru rear axle ups the stiffness over last year's model. All suspension pivots rotate on high-end Enduro Max bearings that should spin smoothly for a long time, but maintenance should be easy when the time does come thanks to Diamondback making it possible to access all suspension hardware without having to remove the crankset.


Diamondback Mission Pro. Photo by Fraser Britton
  The Mission Pro's burly frame is complimented by a 12 x 142mm rear thru-axle (left), and a tapered head tube is used up front (right)


What is Knuckle Box?

The heart of the Mission Pro is Diamondback's Knuckle Box suspension design, a single pivot layout that employs a bell crank (the triangular rocker arm ) to activate the vertically mounted FOX shock. Much like other rocker link designs, this allows Diamondback's engineers to build in the leverage ratio that they are looking for, a ''linear to slightly progressive'' rate on the Mission Pro that is claimed to offer excellent small bump compliance with the help of a gentle ramp up to the end of the travel for bottom out resistance. The layout also puts the major suspension components - the shock, rocker link, and all associated hardware - in a very central location within the frame that may give the Diamondback an advantage when it comes to weight distribution. Remember, it often isn't as simple as how heavy the complete package is, but rather where on the bike the weight sits.

Component Spec

The Mission Pro's $5,000 USD MSRP puts it firmly into the dream bike category for many riders, but Diamondback has done well to spec the bike smartly right off of the showroom floor. The bike's air sprung suspension is an all FOX affair, with a heavy hitting 36 up front and an RP23 out back. The 160mm travel fork makes use of FOX's open bath damper - riders have only a red rebound knob and air spring pressure to tinker with - instead of the higher end and more adjustable FIT cartridge that we'd like to see given the price of the bike. The diminutive RP23 boasts FOX's position sensitive Boost Valve technology, as well as three levels of descend mode adjustability via the Adaptive Logic lever.

Diamondback Mission Pro. Photo by Fraser Britton
  Cockpit duties are handled by Easton's high-end Haven bar and stem.

Easton's Haven lineup is spread throughout the Mission Pro, with the smart looking 711mm wide bar and 70mm stem combo up front, and a matching, tubeless ready wheelset that is shod with Kenda's all-around Nevegal rubber. Putting the emphasis on Diamondback's desire to assemble a shred ready package is their decision to spec RockShox's Reverb telescoping post, a move that we wish we saw more of on other bikes. The bike is slowed down via a set of Hayes' Prime Pro brakes that depend upon an 8'' front and a 7'' rear rotor combination. While our 2012 test bike is shown with an FSA crankset, all production bikes come equipped with Race Face's über-light, SIXC Carbon, all-mountain cranks.


Specifications
Release Date 2012
Price $5000
Travel 152mm
Rear Shock Fox Float, Adaptive Logic
Fork Fox 36 Float R Air, 160mm
Headset FSA No55 Taper 1.5 / 1 1/8" Alloy cups, Sealed Cartridge
Cassette SRAM PG-1070 10spd Cassette (11-32t)
Crankarms FSA
Bottom Bracket FSA
Pedals DB Sound Alloy w/ molded traction pins
Rear Derailleur SRAM X-0 10spd
Chain SRAM PC-1031 Power Link - Gold
Front Derailleur Shimano XT dual pull, top swing 34.9
Shifter Pods SRAM X-9 10spd trigger
Handlebar Easton HAVEN 20mm Rise 711mm width 31.8mm
Stem Easton HAVEN CNC 0 degree, 31.8mm
Grips DB4L "Lock on" 135mm Kraton
Brakes Hayes Prime Pro
Wheelset Easton HAVEN
Tires KENDA Nevegal 2.35, w/STICK-E rubber compound, Folding
Seat WTB Silverado
Seatpost Rock Shox Reverb 30.9 125mm Dropper Post




Riding the Mission Pro


Climbing

Looking at the Mission Pro's build kit and burly 6'' travel frame, it's clear that Diamondback put an emphasis on the bike's descending abilities. But what goes down must first go up, at least usually, and the large majority of Mission Pro riders will be getting up under their own power. The black bike does so admirably given its 31lb weight. No, it isn't going to buzz up hills like a sporty trail bike (Diamondback offers their 5'' travel Sortie model if that's what you are looking for), but climbing on the Mission Pro also doesn't feel totally without pep. This is especially true when activating the RP23's Propedal lever, a quick flick that breathes a lot of life into the Mission Pro when climbing. We found the blue lever especially handy for any and all out of the saddle efforts, a trait that is true for nearly all bikes in the 6'' travel category. Long climb ahead? Your best bet is to hunker down and spin to the top - you'll be rewarded with an efficient ride that doesn't feel wasteful in the slightest.

While the Mission Pro makes easy work of uncomplicated grades, things get tougher as the terrain ramps up. The combination of a 32 tooth large cog and 24 tooth small ring means that the gearing is a bit tall considering the bike's proportions, making steep, technical sections of trail more challenging than they should be. A wider spread cassette that includes a 34 or 36 tooth pie-plate large cog would make all the difference. Compounding the bike's trials in the technical sections is the 160mm travel, non-Talas Fox Float fork that can make line choice somewhat of a fishing expedition when the trail points up. Those two kinks aside, though, the Mission Pro gets to the summit where the fun can begin. Which is, of course, what most Mission Pro riders will be saving their enthusiasm for.

  The Mission Pro isn't going to be the quickest to the top, but it's all worthwhile when the trail points down.


Descending

The fact that the Mission Pro throws punches in a higher weight class than some other 6'' travel steeds may knock a few points when grading its climbing abilities, but those punches start connecting in a big way when the bike is pointed down the hill. Solid, predictable, and confidence inspiring get used all too often as fodder in bike reviews, but those are the exact words that we'd used to describe the Mission Pro. The bike is incredibly stiff in comparison to lighter weight 6'' travel bikes, giving us the sensation of riding a downhill bike that was left in the dryer for far too long. And we're talking about the entire package here, from the bike's 12 x 142mm rear end right up through to the front of the bike - it simply made some of our other test bikes feel like wet noodles on rough, twisting bits of trail. This, along with the 67° head angle allows the Mission Pro to hang with even longer travel bikes than itself when the trails get gnarly.

As usual, the little FOX Float shock had us shaking our heads at how competent it is when it comes to pushing hard. The long stroke, high volume damper (it's fitted with FOX's larger XV air can) feels to be perfectly tailored for the bike's Knuckle Box suspension, offering a forgiving ride that fights the wallowing that many 6'' travel bikes are guilty of. Given the support offered by the FOX shock, the top of the stroke is surprisingly active. No, it isn't a coil shock, but it responded well to small impacts and trail chatter without transferring it to the rider. At the opposite end of the stroke, bottom out never felt like it came too soon. Before riding the Mission Pro, we had it in our minds that it could be an ideal candidate for a coil shock, but the air sprung Float stepped up to the plate. The Float was a smart choice for yet another reason, though, in that we used its Adaptive Logic Propedal lever to add some pep to the bike on less demanding, smoother downhills. This was made simple by the easy to reach position of the shock that puts the Propedal lever just under the top tube, allowing us to give it a flick without any trouble. Up front, the 160mm travel FOX 36 Float R fork is a rather simple slider that allows for only rebound and spring rate adjustments, but it proved to be trouble free and as stiff torsionally as we've come to expect from the 36mm diameter stanchion fork.

  The 6'' travel Diamondback often felt like more of a mini-DH bike, than an all-mountain rig.

There is certainly a place for lightweight 6'' travel bikes, and we'll be the first to admit that we have a ton of fun riding the latest carbon fiber wonder rigs, but there is a reassuring feeling offered by the Mission Pro that those bikes can't compete with. The bike's solid demeanour and dialled suspension mean that we wouldn't hesitate to take it to the Whistler Bike Park for a big day of gravity riding, and we'd would go so far as to say that it is likely more fun than riding a big DH bike on most jump trails. In fact, bolting on a guide and wider handlebar, as well as mounting up a set of dual ply tires, would easily transform the Mission Pro into a proper park slayer, which says a lot about the bike's capabilities.

Diamondback Mission Pro. Photo by Fraser Britton
  The Hayes Prime Pro stoppers require too much lever force to slow the bike down, even with an 8'' rotor used up front.

What about those parts?

• We simply never felt comfortable with the bike's Hayes Prime Pro brakes. Stopping power is down from what we've come to expect from a contemporary disc brake, even with an 8'' front and a 7'' rear rotor combo, and their modulation isn't on par either. We like the ease of adjustment, especially because there doesn't seem to be any dial migration during use, but the lack of power and feel was a shame given the Mission Pro's descending abilities.

• Props have to be given to Diamondback for spec'ing RockShox's Reverb dropper post as stock equipment - too many bikes in the same category as the Mission Pro come without a telescoping post. We know that it adds to the overall price of the bike, but it is such an important piece of equipment, especially in the 6'' travel bike category, that it should be considered mandatory.

• The bike's Easton Haven wheels were a great choice for the bike given their relatively light weight and sturdy feel, and their sealed rim bed makes for pain free tubeless conversions. The Haven stem and 711mm wide bar also add to the bike's bling factor, although we would have liked to see the wider, 750mm Havoc bar spec'd instead.

• The bike's lock-on DB4L (which stands for 'Diamondback 4 Life') are thin and very comfortable. A small detail, but one that we appreciate.



2013 Mission Pro

Consider this look at the '13 Mission Pro a sneak peek at what's to come, including a run through of Diamondback's 2013 lineup beginning on July 21st, exclusively here on Pinkbike. Next year's Mission Pro is assembled around the same burly frame, but features a host of important upgrades, the most notable of which is the move to Avid's new four piston XO Trail brake. We've spent quite a bit of time on the new stoppers and have come away very impressed with both their outright power and lever feel - they should be more in line with the Mission Pro's intentions. Also included is the new clutch equipped XO Type 2 rear derailleur. Suspension for the '13 Mission Pro is bumped up to include FOX's CTD dampers, further allowing the rider to tune how the 6'' travel bike behaves by utilizing the 'Descend', 'Trail' and 'Climb' settings to get the most out of the bike. MSRP is set to come in around $5,500 USD.


Pinkbike's take:
bigquotesWith carbon fiber frames and travel-adjustable proprietary suspension designs, it is easy to forget about the tried and true aluminum 6'' travel bike. And that is exactly what the Mission Pro is - it isn't the lightest, and it doesn't use the latest suspension design that is being touted as the second coming of Christ, but it's simply a dialled package that can be pushed hard on difficult terrain. Do you simply want to get to the top, so that you can enjoy the descent? Do you often find yourself parting riders like the Red Sea on the downhills? If so, you'll likely be very happy aboard the mission Pro. - Mike Levy

www.diamondback.com

80 Comments

  • + 16
 I've been rocking a Mission frame since 2010 and I love it. The frame is basically the same from then except that thru axle. I actually called DB to ask if I could buy just a rear triangle and they said no. They have improved the spec a lot since then. You can tell they listen to the team's advice when they make changes. Great job DB! Also great review Levy. I would describe my ride much the same way.
[Reply]
  • + 10
 love my mission. cant wait to get my hands on a syncline and mason this summer though Big Grin
[Reply]
  • + 8
 I agree with the article. I had a earlier mission built up as a mini-dh bike, with a 66 though. It ripped. It corned good. Unfortunately I sold it. I would buy a new mission for my second bike again.
[Reply]
  • + 8
 Like mnorris122 said... 5000??? There are better bikes for less out there that actully stop. I'd pass on this.
  • + 1
 X9 shifters, X0 rear der, 36 fork, rp23 and a reverb... I shopped a lot in that category and if you go below 5k you usually don't get the telescopic seatpost, you get a float 32, a RP2 and sometimes x7 shifters.
[Reply]
  • + 8
 Good spec, but for $5000 I want Kashima fork/shock.
  • + 1
 Do you ride with one/do you really notice that much of a difference?
  • + 15
 Doesn't matter if it really works or not, seeing the gold is satisfying Wink
  • + 2
 I dont ride one, but after reading reviews its seems that people really notice the difference. And for a top of the line bike I would expect top of the line spec
  • + 1
 I do ride with one, and it barely makes any difference. It is pretty though.
[Reply]
  • + 6
 nice to see chromag stuff on a stock bike, shame they went with hayes though.
  • + 1
 The Stock seat is actually a WTB Silverado - the Chromag was a seat that another tester had placed on it during testing. The studio shots took place with this saddle and not the stock one.
  • + 1
 Whoops, the Chromag seat is a fave here in the office and we put it on during testing. It isn't a stock item, sorry.
  • + 3
 Shame they went with the Hayes??? Are you serious? The Prime Pro Experts are unreal. Better than any Avid or Shimano in the same price range.
  • + 1
 I agree Hayes brakes are awesome. Avid and shimano soften up pretty fast
[Reply]
  • + 2
 I have this exact model of DB Mission Pro, and I love it. It totally feels like a mini DH bike that you can climb up the hill. I have not had any issues with the Hayes brakes either with modulation or with stopping power. Love love love this bike.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Mike Levy's final comment sums up the Mission to a "T": "...that is exactly what the Mission Pro is - it isn't the lightest, and it doesn't use the latest suspension design that is being touted as the second coming of Christ, but it's simply a dialled package that can be pushed hard on difficult terrain..." I loved my 2010 Mission and missed it when I had to replace it because I stripped the BB when I removed a seized bearing cup- the Mission wasn't glorious going up the mountain but it got me there and it was plain phenomenal on the way down for a 6" bike and, fit my riding style exactly. The boys and girls at DB have an excellent platform with the Mission series and as soon as I can I will be riding a DB again.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 To correct my previous statement, it is the Commencal Super4 this DiamondBack is pretty well exactly the same as (not the meta4 i mentioned earlier) yes the DB has 6'' instead of 4'' but the seatstay and bb pivots look to be in very similar places on both but the shockmount/i2i/stroke length are different on the DB to get the 6''. I agree if an idea works why not use it and yes lots of bikes copy each other and im not an serious Commencal fan but i get tried of seeing almost identical bikes with only the different companys braiding on them being the only way to tell them apart on track. I know im gonna get neg proped but other people must feel the same ?
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Had a mission and that bike is responsible for getting me into mountain biking. Bullet proof and seemingly bottomless travel for a 6" bike. Still regret selling it. Happy to see DB making a push again in the biking industry again. They make great bikes that hold up well and often come at a great price point. DB FTW!
[Reply]
  • + 2
 It's exciting to see this bike reviewed. I ride a 2011 but only because I got it at a deep discount. There simply just isn't much media about this bike so I took the plunge and don't have any regrets. It's as the article says, you can pedal it up hill and plow it down. I do wish I had the new rear end tho!
[Reply]
  • + 4
 I find that pinkbike's final take is good, but any chance you guys could give a score like /10
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Great review, PB! I have been rocking a Mission with a 32 15QR for a couple of years. Had a great rip on it with some other Diamondbacks yesterday.
FWIW my XL rig with that fork, Crossmax STs and Noir cranks is a hair under 30#.
[Reply]
  • + 0
 I really like seeing old brands getting revived and all but it looks to me like Diamondback isn't pushing the envelop enough, the linkage looks like the ones from 2-3 years old, like no real innovation here. Don't get me wrong, it looks nice, just not as up to par as it should have.
  • + 2
 Seen a Kona lately? Wink
  • + 2
 If a linkage is old, does that make it work any worse? I'm curious as to what par is.
  • + 2
 @cyrix: The linkage of the Mission works great. There are different designs for many reasons, mostly financial.
What is often overlooked (even in this review) is that shocks are tuned for each suspension design. The bike manufacturer sends is kinematic data to FOX or RockShox or whomever, and then the damping is tuned to that specific chassis.
As with most issues on PB forums, the best thing to do is to go to some bike shops and take some test rides, and draw your own conclusions.
  • - 4
 @cyrix: It's not that it isn't working well. That isn't the point. The point is, it's not innovative in ANY way. It's like a movie I've already seen. Bike industry, you either keep invigorating or you're out. It's that simple. Despite all, it's a nice bike and probably works very well, I didn't not say or imply it isn't.
  • + 1
 @cyrix Thanks for today's daily dose of tautology.
  • - 3
 Getting neg propped by the trolls in here... as usual.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 in 2009 or 2010 they spec'd the missions with the hammerschmidt. Why did they stop? I love mine; the chainguide-bashgard properties of it work so good I might get one for my DH bike too.
  • + 1
 My 2011 has it. Love it too
  • + 1
 On the facebook page they put it to a vote. To keep costs down they had to dump either the 36 or the hammerschmidt and the schmit got dumped. I'd have taken a hammerschmidt with a Duralux and feel like I got the best of both worlds, but people do love their 36's. . .
  • + 1
 I ran my Mission with a Hammerschmidt for a while too. I found it very reliable and trouble-free, but I don't miss it as much as I thought I would. I have Noir Carbons now and I appreciate weight savings.
[Reply]
  • + 4
 Sick specs on that thing
  • + 0
 Its pretty good spec, the only initial thing that lets it down is the finish, its welding finish its very unattractive. Apart from that and the Haven wheels, I think its a solid bike.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I have to give them props for speccing quality wheels/bars/cranks, but shouldn't top end dampers be included first and foremost in a top end ride?
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Knuckle Box? For me it is similar solution as in Commencal Meta 2008-2011 ...
  • - 1
 the linkage is nearly the same design. only major difference is that the DB has another pivot point on the seatstay just forward and above the rear wheel
  • - 1
 Yeah, it's almost the same. Actually, it IS the same linkage, just looks a little bit different.
  • + 3
 Z, if you compare this bike and the Meta, you'll notice that they have the same amount of pivots, just placed on different places. On this DB there is a pivot above the rear der. and on the Meta there is a small link between the triangular rocker link and the swingarm. So the seatstay on the DB acts like the small link on the Meta - it actuates the rocker arm. Smile
  • + 3
 The '08-'11 Commencal Meta is more similar to the even older (2003-2005) Giant VT series.
  • - 1
 Lethel, that's the exact point I was trying to get across haha, you did a better job putting it into words than me
  • + 1
 that cockpit is saweeeet!
  • + 1
 But you will sacrifice elsewhere. those wheels don't come cheap for one. Or those cranks if you remember the recent review.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 I have a Mission and Scape Goat and love them both!! They climb great but descend and corner amazing!!!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Strange, my Hayes Primes have as much stopping power as my Saints? Did you try re-bleeding them?
  • + 1
 I'm running these Hayes on a Transition Bandit and love them. I could maybe see a call for improvement in modulation, but they have plenty of power - I'm 200lbs and riding Galbraith and other pretty fast trails. They shut it down great. So, I guess I also wonder if something was up with PB's pair?
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Hmm so which one is it now? 711mm wide bar or 720mm wide bar? You guys need to get someone to proof read your articles.
  • + 1
 It is 711mm
  • + 1
 Thanks for pointing that out, Seraph. It is 711, must have slipped by the multiple proof readings that were done. Whoops.
[Reply]
  • - 1
 Should be called a DiamondBack Meta 4 ( there are many models of the Comemencal Meta, but if u look at the Meta4 (4'') the pivots are even in the same places. How the hell did DiamondBack get away with this ?
  • + 1
 Commencal wernt the 1st company to use that design,.
  • + 1
 @danny-oli Yeah, but when you realise that the new Diamondback proto dh bike uses pretty much the exact same suspension linkage system as the old Commencal supreme dh v2 you gotta ask yourself whether Diamondback just took all of Commencals used ideas as soon as they introduced the new supreme and meta models. www.pinkbike.com/news/Diamondback-Prototype-DH-Bike-2011.html
  • + 0
 or they bought the rights to the design, ever think about that? alot of companies do it.
  • + 1
 Because Commencal copied the Giant VT design.... because there's nothing trademarked or patented about the design in the first place. bell crank rocker links have been used for ages longer than Commencal has existed as a brand.
  • + 3
 There are only so many ways to layout a rear suspension design without it being different for different's sake... which isn't a good thing. Remember that slight differences in pivot locations (and they are in different places relative to the BB and to each other) can produce drastically different characteristics. Also, the bell crank layout was used long before Giant employed it on their VT.
  • + 1
 Lets just all pay royalties to Isaac Newton for his physics and let bikes be free to rock.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 the welds on it are like '$5000 WTF?!'
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I'm starting to like DBR back, after several years now.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I doubt the Trailmaster seat is stock
  • + 1
 It isn't... it should have been switched before photos were taken. Great seat, though.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 For a db I think it's sick
[Reply]
  • - 1
 Good to see a good bike for the best company, unlike all these fake brands such as Santa Cruz, Trek, Specialized, Intense and Giant with their rubbish suspension designs
[Reply]
  • + 0
 This is just me talking out of my ass...but $5k for a single-pivot bike seems a bit steep?
  • + 0
 So if it would be a four-bar than the price would be justified?
  • + 1
 It would seem to be more value at the asking price if it was a more sophisticated design is what I'm getting at.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Bashing on hayes.
  • + 8
 It's not bashing, they just don't work well. At all.
  • + 1
 they are a bit like the magura mt8... the concept is really convincing, but in reality it does not really work. and both are their high-end models, that's somehow a bit disappointing.
  • + 5
 I miss my Hayes Nines, those were the days!
  • + 1
 I like my hayes..
  • + 2
 @SandersB - No bashing here, they simply don't work as well as other brakes on the market. We've got time in on multiple sets of Primes now, with big rotors and different pads, but no luck. We have to call it how it is
  • + 4
 Mike, I'm sadly disappointed the super amazing yet awkward "i just shat myself face" photo wasn't used. As such, I'd like to share it with our audience. Just for the awesome. www.pinkbike.com/photo/8386618
  • + 3
 I have a lot of respect for Hayes (most of us used them back in the day), but I'm glad they are going with Avid's for the 2013 model and ditching the Primes.
Hayes was truly a pioneer and we have a lot to thank them for, but truth be told, there are much better systems out there nowadays.
  • + 1
 Been pretty happy with my primes. Certainly prefer them over my buddies avids. Stopping power is def on par and the modulation is better. But maybe that's just me.
[Reply]
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