Diamondback Mason FS - Interbike 2012

Sep 18, 2012 at 20:30
by Mike Levy  

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Diamondback Mason FS

Backcountry Handyman
Diamondback's 4.5" travel Sortie 29er has been well received, if flying a bit under the radar, but the guys at Diamondback knew that they also wanted a longer legged 29er platform that would give aggressive riders the confidence on gnarly terrain that only more travel can provide. Their Knuckle Box bell-crank rear suspension layout was modified to provide the Mason with a full 5.5" of travel but, more importantly, a relaxed philosophy was applied to the Mason when penning its geometry - the bike has a 68° head angle a 13.5'' bottom bracket height that should make it easy going when things get tricky. The result, Diamondback says, isn't just a 'trail bike', but more of a Swiss army knife-esque steed that is at home on more terrain than either a full-on all-mountain bike or a svelte trail bike.

The Mason (the FS model shown here, as well as the AM hardtail) was to be called Dixon originally, but with that moniker already taken, Diamondback went with Mason, a play on the Mason-Dixon Line that separated the pre-Civil War American South. Regardless of its name, Diamondback's resident

shredder, Eric Porter, says that he now spends most of his saddle time aboard the 5.5" travel 29er, only switching out to his downhill bike when riding the lifts or shuttling, or to his hardtail when at the dirt jumps. After a full year's worth of testing under Porter, it looks like Diamondback is getting close to releasing the Mason FS, although an exact date has yet to be decided upon.

Knuckle Box
Diamondback's bell crank rear suspension layout is used throughout their high-end full suspension lineup, with it also utilized on the Mason FS, albeit in a evolved form. The basic design remains the same, with the bike's seat stays driving the bell crank, which then rotates to compress the shock. The system offers a low leverage ratio that Diamondback says greatly improves small bump sensitivity, a fact that we can vouch for after spending time on their 6" travel Mission Pro, but the layout also centralizes the bike's heaviest suspension components - the shock and the rocker link.

The updates to the Knuckle Box system focus on the bell crank itself, with it now being mounted directly to the down tube instead of above the tube on a welded-on extension, as seen on other models. The bell crank's aluminum main pivot axle passes directly through the down tube and, just like elsewhere on the bike, aluminum hardware holds it in place. The change in location has allowed Diamondback to widen the bell crank as well, a change that, along with a new seat stay bridge, should add even more lateral stiffness to the rear of the bike.

Diamondback Mason FS

Diamondback Mason FS

The Right Tools
Given the bike's versatile intentions, it comes as no surprise that Diamondback has equipped it with all of the ingredients required to handle whatever task may come its way. Dropper post cable routing is taken care of via subtle guides on the underside of the down tube, and ISCG-05 tabs are present around the bottom bracket. If a chain guide isn't required, but two or three chain rings are, a low/direct front derailleur mount has been incorporated onto the swingarm. A 12 x 142mm E-Thru axle out back ties the rear end together.

Diamondback hasn't decided on the bike's component spec at this point, meaning that its price is also up in the air, but the high-end Mason FS will likely make use of FOX's top tier, Kashima-coated suspension, as well as Race Face's SIXC carbon cranks. We've put the Mason FS on the short list of test bikes to spend time on, so expect a feature on the bike when it becomes available.

www.diamondback.com

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57 Comments

  • + 38
 too bad they didn't get around to naming it the moose... you know with the knuckle link and all
  • + 1
 Simply awesome... HAHAHAHAHAHA that made my night :wink:
  • + 2
 was thinking what can we keep in the knuckle box.
  • + 2
 beats the camel with a toe box!
  • + 1
 There IS brilliance on Pinkbike...
  • + 1
 Brilliance? No one has ever accused me of that. LOL
  • + 1
 There's a first time for everything aye mate Wink
[Reply]
  • + 4
 Love my sortie 29er, it rides leaps and bounds better than the mission i came off of even when riding aggressively. The mason fs and ht bikes should be an incredible expansion on db's lineup for the coming years.
[Reply]
  • + 3
 What if a shorter eye-to-eye rear shock is put on this so that it only has 80-100mm travel? It would lower the BB, slacken the ht, and make it like the Mason HT with just a touch of forgiveness in the back.

All my DH buddies are shredding the downhill trails here in Utah on their dirt jumpers, and leaving their DH bikes at home. You just can't pop and flow as well on a long travel hog.
  • + 1
 And you can't (in m experience) have as much fun on a "DH trail" on a HT... Maybe an SS bike or a FS DJ bike (is that what you mean when you say your friends are riding their "dirt-jump bikes"???) If that's the case then yeah, get a short-travel fully with "fun" geo. and you'll be loving life. As heavy as it was, I always had WAY more fun in Post Canyon or Bkack Rock on my Norco 4x4 then any of my DH bikes and I even prefered it doing the "long drawn out" descent that is the Glade Trail on Mt. Hood here. I fully agree what you CAN'T flow and pop off stuff the same way on a full on DH bike, but then you can't go AS FAST on the short travel bike, they're just two different tools for two different disciplines. Personly if you're wanting a short-travel big-sheeler, I'd look at the Norco Range Killer (650B) not really "short travel" at 150mm (160???) but it's got big wheels and is intended to be ridden hard. Something like the Corsair Koenig also has always jumped out at me as looking like a REAL fun frame aye... Short travel bikes are REAL fun. Question is if you are strictly shuttling or having to pedal anywhere cause the "fun" 4x4 got REAL old trying to go UP anything Wink
  • + 0
 Dude, my buddies are on their single speed hardtail dirt jumpers and I can't keep up with them on certain trails. And I'm not sold on 650B yet. They are so marginally bigger than 26" that I don't know if there is any noticable difference.
  • + 1
 Interesting, so are the trails just ULTRA smooth or what is it??? I still say get a 100-120mm travel bike and love life man... short-travel fully's are AWESOME in my book. Enough pop to jump and put the bike anywhere you want to, but just enough suspension to save your aging knees when it get's chattery or you come up short Wink

To me, the 650B bikes I've ridden have been a GREAT split between the 29r that feels like a GIANT wheel to ccelerate and to manual etc. and a 26 that clearly has a disadvantage when roling over objects. I know it's not exactly the same, but when I went from 31" to 33" tires on my truck it was a HUGE revelation in terms of ride quality because the bigger tires just don't "drop into" holes and stuff... 650B feels more like a 29r in ride, but it handles like a 26" wheel so to me it's a GREAT idea. Your needs may varry.

Get a short-travel fult though and I'd bet you'll be keeping up with your buddies and smilling the whole way...

EDIT: wait, you've got a Jamis Parker??? Seems like that thing would be GREAT... maybe a little heavy, but fun to ride. Is it just a matter of not liking the specific bike or???
[Reply]
  • + 4
 looks a bit like commencals old suspension design, should be good, I wish there were more places to demo 29ers id love to try an AM version
  • - 1
 Yes, which commencal copied themselves from Giant...
  • + 3
 which probably copied from somewhere else if you go back far enough... point being the old commencal was a very good bike (my opinion anyway) and with a similar suspension design this bike should be good to
[Reply]
  • + 1
 The more I look at this bike, the more and more FUN it looks aye... I'm interested to hear what Porter's take on the WHEEL'S strenght issues might be... The frame looks plenty strong but if the hoops don't hold up you're out of luck.
[Reply]
  • + 3
 Kind of strange looking too me, but who knows.... I'm not really down on 29's, but I'd give it a go on a demo.
[Reply]
  • + 0
 Too bad in came out two years to late. Now the 29er movement has stalled and the industry is on to a new wheel size and DB is in the rear again. DB is way behind the curve; it's almost pathetic that DB fans are still waiting for a DH bike.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Super cool looking bike, hopefully it can make all the people who complain about 29ers just shut up for once...
[Reply]
  • - 1
 i like the knuckle box design on the mission so im liking the suspension layout but im still not so sure how much i trust 29er's big wheels, just a few days back i talked to a guy walking his bike down the trail standing his front wheel straight up, ends up He had taco'd the wheel in a small shallow root section, and thats only one of 3 instances ive heard of. i could only imagine how many wheels i would go through, and how much i would miss the corner shredding ability of my 26er.
  • + 1
 true, but my buddy tacoed his dt swiss 26er wheel rolling down the sidewalk next to his kid. A spoke over tightened can be a disaster at any size.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I love people who don't own a Diamondback having a negative opinion. Diamondback must be doing something right! Love my Mission.
[Reply]
  • + 3
 sexayyy- id love to try it out!!
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Looks a bit too long in the chain stays for me
[Reply]
  • + 2
 You can have that moose nuckle box.
  • + 1
 FTFY: "Knuckle"
  • + 1
 Hey thanks for the help droopy old lady.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Diamondback???? Last time I saw one, it was the coolest at Costco!
  • + 2
 You should check out the bikes made after 2008 - there are a lot of great bikes in their catalog.
  • + 0
 As a bike dealer...I will only remember the ones sold at Costco/ Gart Sports/ Sports Authority/ REI/ Dicks Sporting Goods...etc...Same with Schwinn, Haro, Cannondale, GT, Mongoose, on and on...once you go to that side of the retail isle...I won't let you back into my store...EVER!
[Reply]
  • - 2
 This bike's destiny is to be be forgotten...no one has every paid attention to 140mm 29ers...much less now w/ the promising future of the 650b wheels size, which might be ideal for bikes in the "trail" category.

"Nice to meet you Mr. Mason. See you never."
  • + 11
 I disagree completely. The Santa Cruz Tallboy LT and the Stumpjumper FSR 29 are both ripping 29" bikes in the same travel category. They are absolute trail slayers. I expect these to stay in the game.
  • + 0
 Yes... they are... and they're not exactly LEAPING off showroom floors either. Neither is the Salsa Horse Thief, nor the Niner WFO, etc.
  • + 3
 thats because they only started getting press in the middle of this year. wait till next year and then we will see if the 650B bikes in the category really take over the spot over the 29ers
  • + 6
 Transition Bandit 29. I know too many people on long-travel 29ers to side with you.
  • + 2
 Agreed.
I can speak for FL freeriders who can't pedal their tanks around our trails...
They go to 29" wheels and 140mm or more to satisfy the need, if they have the coin.

Otherwise, maybe a long-toothed 29er hardtail, but that's usually reserved for XC guys.

I'm in WV now, and I'd love to have this bike here, to try all my new trails on!
  • + 2
 I'd like to see this bike in 650b. I bet you we'll see a concept for it next year. 5.5" might be a nice fit for the size.
[Reply]
  • - 1
 I'm pretty sure the dropper post cable has just not been trimmed in this pic. I doubt that's what the routing will look like. That would be dumb.
  • + 5
 Around the post?? That's the best way to not have it buzz the tire. With a hydro line, it will flex more and makes routing it that much easier. I tried routing it this way with my cable actuated post, didn't work. Look at Pietermaritzburg photo's of the riders there that were using dropper posts. Almost any rider with a RS Reverb had them set up this way. Cedric did just to name one off the top of my head.
  • + 2
 I have the hose on my Reverb like that. Works great. No need to cut the hose and bleed the system. If you've ever had to install a new hose on a brake when you got a new frame because you cut the old hose to length for the old frame, you'd understand why this routing method for the Reverb is king.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Has anyone riden their Mason 29 HT ??
  • + 3
 Yeah, I got to demo a pre-production version for a weeks. It's a total blast to ride. Super fun, you can manual it, and it just plain rips. I'm not really a 29er guy but I loved this thing. I'm going to buy one as soon as they're released.
  • + 1
 Not yet, but I plan to when one in XL is available.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 want this bike just because my name would be on the top tube!!!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 im going to throe up
[Reply]
  • - 2
 Looks like a fun ride. Talk about weird dropper post cable routing, though...
  • + 4
 Try it. The best routing idea outside of stealth.
[Reply]
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