Diamondback Mission 27.5
BY: Mike Kazimer
A New Look For Diamondback's MissionSuspension Design
The name might be the same, but Diamondback's Mission platform has received a makeover, and the number 27.5 only tells part of the story. Yes, the new bike is rolling on 27.5” wheels, but the Knucklebox suspension layout has also changed, giving the bike a more ground hugging, low-slung look when compared to previous versions. The rear shock is now mounted on the down tube, nearly in line with the chain stays, a change that lowers the bike's center of gravity and also allowed Diamondback to shave weight off of the aluminum frame. The Mission's 160mm of rear travel and 66.5° head angle make it clear that this bike was designed with downhill performance high on the priority list. There will be three different versions available, from the top-of-the-line, SRAM X01 equipped Pro model at $6,800 down to the 1.0 model that comes in at $2,800 USD. Sizes run from S up to XL, and our size large test bike weighs in at 30.2 pounds without pedals.
The Mission Pro's curvy, Day-Glo orange colored frame is constructed from hydroformed 6061 aluminum, and includes all of the accoutrements you'd expect on a modern all-mountain bike – a tapered head tube, 12x142mm rear thru axle, and ISCG tabs. The rear derailleur and stealth dropper post line are routed internally, and the brake housing runs externally along the top of the down tube. There's no sneaking around in the woods aboard this bike, and whether you love it or hate it, the paint job on the Pro model is one of the brightest we've seen. The loud fluorescent orange color is even more eye-catching than it looks in the photos, especially on gray overcast days, when it glows brighter than anything found in nature.
At its heart, Diamondback's Knucklebox suspension design is a link driven single pivot, relying on a large aluminum rocker arm to push the Fox Float X rear shock through its 160mm of travel. The Mission's rear suspension rotates on large, sealed cartridge bearings, and clevis pivots are found in several locations to help increase frame stiffness. There's also a thick brace joining the two seat stays together to help prevent undue flex from the rear end. Geometry
A 66.5° head angle and a fairly low 13.5” bottom bracket height make the Mission's downhill intentions clear. There's been a push recently towards longer top tubes and shorter chainstays, but the Mission deviates from this, and at 451mm the chainstay length is on the longer side of what we've become accustomed to seeing, while the 416mm reach number for a large is on the shorter side of things. But what a bike looks like on paper doesn't tell the whole story, so we headed out to see just what this new ride was capable of. Build Kit
Diamondback went all out when picking the build kit for the Mission Pro, and the spec sheet reads like a mountain biker's dream list of components. Highlights include Race Face's carbon fiber Next cranks
, a SRAM X01 drivetrain, and a set of Easton Haven 27.5” wheels shod with Schwalbe's Hans Dampf tires. Stopping duties are handled by Shimano's highly capable XT brakes, and a 785mm wide Race Face Atlas handlebar is mounted to a 50mm Atlas stem, a setup that closely mirrors what we'd chose if we were building up a bike of our own.
| It's on the downhills where the Mission 27.5 comes to life, with a well balanced, stable but lively ride feel. This is the kind of bike that encourages doubling up trail features, using a small lump in the trail as a takeoff and popping to a micro-transition a good distance away.|
We received the Mission 27.5 a few days ahead of a local underground ride, an annual invite-only affair that covers over 40 miles of the Pacific Northwest's best trails and includes 9,000 feet of vertical gain. In other words, the perfect trial-by-fire to see how this new bike handled. The ride started with an extended climb up a gravel logging road where the Mission revealed itself to be a rather active climber, and even with the shock switched to the middle Trail setting there was still a decent amount of rear suspension movement, especially when climbing out of the saddle. On longer climbs we ended up using the Climb mode fairly often, which created a firm, almost locked out platform to work with, an easy way to make it feel like our energy was being used more efficiently. When things got technical, switching to Trail mode created more traction, allowing the rear wheel to dig in and claw its way over the root and rock filled trail. The Mission's mullet-like geometry (short in the front, long in the back
) does mean that the front end can feel a little light on steeper climbs, but it's not anything that standing up and getting more weight over the handlebar can't fix.
Every long climb should end with a stellar downhill, and this particular ride didn't disappoint. Miles of of steep, loamy singletrack waited at the end of the dirt road, the perfect reward for pedaling a slack, 160mm bike to the top of a mountain. As would be expected, it's on the downhills where the Mission 27.5 comes to life, with a well balanced, stable but lively ride feel. This is the kind of bike that encourages doubling up trail features, using a small lump in the trail as a takeoff and popping to a micro-transition a good distance away. The Easton Haven wheels deserve some credit here, as their light weight makes getting airborne even easier, although they did emit were a few strange noises that seemed to come from the spokes loading and unloading during hard cornering. And what about those long chainstays? They didn't end up being an issue at all, and somehow the overall geometry of the bike works to make for a much more cohesive package than we would have predicted. Riding through rough terrain aboard the Mission reminded us of charging through chopped up powder on a pair of fat skis - there's a feeling of carving, of blasting through the chunder aboard a solid platform that makes for a highly enjoyable ride. Whether we were diving in and out of tight switchbacks or carving down steep, loose hillsides, the Mission didn't hold us back at all, and proved to be a competent descender no matter how gnarly the terrain. Pinkbike's Take:
|For the rider looking for a bike that's designed with downhill performance as the top priority, the Mission is a solid contender. This is basically a modern freeride bike, although that term seems to have become less popular in recent years. Maybe 'aggressive all-mountain' would be the more contemporary phrasing, but in any case, the Mission is most at home on steep, technical trails, and wouldn't be out of place taking laps in a bike park. At the same time, it's light enough that it can be pedaled to the top without the need for shuttle assistance, opening up even more possibilities for riders searching out the most difficult, remote trails they can find.- Mike Kazimer|