I have a confession to make. I’ve grappled with an affliction for most of my life, starting with my first Schwinn BMX at 6 years old and on through decades of cyclelogical obsession. The truth is, I’m a bona fide Gearhead.
I’m not only on the eternal quest for stuff that works and won’t break. In my opinion, that’s the baseline for any company touting itself as a purveyor of “freeride” quality today. To the point, I’m a stickler for the nuances of high performance and – I must admit – a sucker for bike bling.While I’m always looking to enhance the foundation of my ride, be it a fork, shock, tires and the like, most recently I made a shift from satisfactory to the superfly with the addition of a entirely new front end of Race Face
components. Like Superman stripping in a phone booth, within moments my ride went from a mild mannered mountain cycle to a super action hero – or at least it looks the part – ready to stomp the fear out of all evil trannies.
Race Face is synonymous with durability. It sits at the round table of high-quality aftermarket manufacturers, sophisticated in their approach and refined in every way. And not only are they durable and dependable, they’ve got a distinctive style that ups the ante when you’re at the purchase point.
For the past two years I’ve been sporting the front end from my stock Specialized Demo 8. Certainly Specialized
specs its bikes well, which is why the pieces are tried, true and found a worthy place at the helm of my most recent delight, the Specialized SX Trail. But this makeover isn’t just about utility, it’s also about style.
For this transformation, the Diabolus line of components were used. Diabolus is, as Race Face calls it, “the ying” to their lighter, all-mountain Deus series’ “yang.” Its intent is specifically downhill and for “extreme freeriders looking for the ultimate in strength, stiffness and of course, flash.” And flash it has… Diabolus Headset
: (1-1/8th, 175 grams) With stainless steel construction and nickel plated crown races for improved corrosion resistance, this thing looks built to last. It has an integrated compression ring top race, stainless steel angular full ball contact bearings and an extended press fit to prevent ovalized head tubes. And perhaps one of the biggest part of the sell is the 5 year bearing warranty and a lifetime warranty on the rest. And to top it off – devilish flame graphics around the bottom cup. Diabolus Stem
: (available in 11/8th, onepointfive and 31.8mm) This little delight is perhaps the crowning jewel of the Diabolus line up. It has unquestionable strength, a classy machined look and the trademark flame graphics that really make it stand out. Available in 30, 50 and 70mm versions, this 6060-T6 aluminum beauty has enhanced functionality as well. The four-bolt bar clamp does holds true, while the “interlocking u-shaped handlebar faceplate” eliminates “stress risers,” which Race Face says causes bars to bend – reassuring to say the least, especially if you’ve experienced handlebar failure and lived to tell the tale. Oh, and a lifetime warranty…and I topped it off with a custom etched cap from Revolution Cycle
: (28 inches wide, 9 degree reward and 4 degree upward slant and a rise of 1.5 inches) Manufactured from cold drawn, seamless alloy and use an internal taper to increase strength without adding weight, and are bead blasted to increase fatigue life. Stronger, lighter and longer lasting. The model I’m riding is the 25.4mm diameter (also available in 31.8mm), weighing in at 330g. Oh, and did I mention the dope subtle matt black flames?Diabolous Grips
: One of the often underappreciated aspects of a bike are the contact points – tires, pedals and grips. After all, that’s what keeps you to the bike and the bike to the earth (when you want it there). Certainly these lock-on beauties, manufactured by grip kings ODI, round out the series nicely. I admit I’ve been riding “Ruffians” as long as I can remember for their narrow profile and stickiness. However, the Diabolus grips have upped the ante. Their dual density compound, narrow profile and slightly convex shape offer the same narrow profile as the Ruffians but with an improved grip.
While I still need to cut down my steer tube to match the lower height of the stem (and I’m trying to come to terms with my manky-looking old Hayes brakes), I have managed a few hours at the helm of my freshly pimped ride. There is a slight weight savings, it’s stiff and inspires confidence – never would failure cross my mind. But perhaps least important of all but sinfully satisfying are the comments and head-turning of fellow riders. It does look all that. As they say, the devil is in the details…
to learn more about Race Face's complete line of hard and soft goods.Tester’s Note
: After two rides the Diabolous headset started to whine and pop. Race Face explained: “There could be a couple of reasons this happened. Because the Diabolus headset is so burly, there’s a ton of steel material that has to get pressed into the head tube. If it wasn’t installed correctly, the retainer clip (holds the bearings in) could be damaged. Another possibility is the headset was uninstalled incorrectly. Again, the issue of extra thick headset cups makes it harder than most headsets to remove from the head tube. Either way, it sounds like the retainer clip was damaged. When the force on the bearing is reversed the damaged clip pops out and bearings fall out. The lifespan of the Diabolus headset is super long and they can withstand a ton of abuse. Any issues like this are generally covered under warranty.”