Diamondback Release 3 - Review

May 4, 2018 at 12:31
by Richard Cunningham  
My ongoing search for performance trail bikes that won't break the bank led me to Diamondback’s Release 3, which sports an aluminum frame, contemporary geometry, and DB's sharp-pedaling Level-link suspension. We took a look at this bike back in 2016 when it was first released, but it now carries a $2,850 MSRP, and with the popularity of shorter-travel all-mountain bikes on the rise, it made sense to include it as part of our affordable trail bike series. This mid-travel shredder can run with big-name competitors that cost much more.

The Release 3 has a 130-millimeter-travel chassis built around 27.5-inch wheels and a capable, 150-millimeter-travel RockShox Pike RCT3 fork. Geometry is a just-right balance between flow-trail playful and natural-trail purposeful, and the heart of
Diamondback Release 3
• Intended use: trail / all-mountain
• Travel: 130mm rear / 150mm front
• Wheel size: 27.5"
• Frame construction: Aluminum / Level Link suspension
• Head angle: 66º
• Chainstay length: 425mm
• Colors: Black
• Sizes: S, M, L, XL
• Weight: 30.05 lb (13.66 kg) - size medium, w/o pedals
• Price: $2,849.99 USD (*May 2018 )
• More info: Diamondback
its needs-nothing component selection is a SRAM X1 11-speed drivetrain and Guide RS brakes. Diamondback sells direct, so your Release 3 arrives at your doorstep, tuned and 95-percent assembled, with a pair of CNC-machined flat pedals. If you can turn an Allen wrench and inflate a tire to correct pressure, you can be ready to ride in less than a half hour.

bigquotesThere always seems to be a little handling in reserve to ease you out of a risky situation. You'll run out of suspension long before you'll run out of confidence. RC




Diamondback Release 3 review
Diamondback's Level Link rear suspension is a derivative of the Santa Cruz VPP design in that its rocker links counter-rotate. The horizontal lower link a key difference.


Construction and Features

Diamondback designed the Release for accomplished riders who need one bike that can thrive in every kind of terrain and handle any feature that lies within the realms of cross-country-trail and all-mountain tech. Weighing in at 30 pounds (size medium), it’s light enough to inspire reasonably fit riders to tackle alpine-style ascents, and it has enough meat on its aluminum bones to withstand considerable abuse under strong descenders.

Some may balk at its moderate, 130 millimeters of rear-wheel travel, but Diamondback chose that figure because they wanted the Release to feel energetic under power. Perhaps more important to its mission statement, they also wanted it to shine on jump-park-style trails, where deep rear-suspension travel often conflicts with timing and preloading the bike.

Diamondback Release 3 review
A jog in the seat tube and offset swingarm pivots anticipate a derailleur comeback story that probably will never be written.
Diamondback Release 3 review
External housings and hoses, and a threaded bottom bracket.

Diamondback Release 3 review
Room for tires up to 2.6 inches, with short, 16.7-inch (425mm) chainstays.

I was impressed by the quality of the frame construction. The welding is well done, and the linkage rockers and bearings run smoothly. The chassis is stiff without feeling dead and it rolls silently, which is always a good thing, a threaded bottom bracket shell and ISCG 05 bosses are also a plus, but I'm going to ding Diamondback's designers for their busy-looking external hose and cable routing, and for nearly making room for a water bottle on the down tube, but putting the bosses underneath it where your bottle is guaranteed to be funkified — or lost. That said, I'd trade the convenience of a down tube bottle for the extra performance of the Release 3's RockShox Monarch Plus reservoir shock - which, according to DB, is why they didn't put a bottle there in the first place.


Geometry & Sizing

With the exception of the Release's 73-degree seat tube angle, Diamondback's choice of geometry is contemporary. Top tubes are relatively long across the four sizes (the medium size TT is 24"/610mm), so you can slam the seat forward on the rails to emulate a steeper seat angle without cramping the cockpit. The bottom bracket is low enough to enhance cornering without banging the pedals into rocks and roots, and the fore/aft weight distribution feels spot on. Basically, the Release is long, but not too long, and slack, but not too slack, which keeps it fun to ride on blue trails, but at the same time, it provides a comfortable margin of error that makes you want to push this minimal-travel trail bike to eleven on the downs.

Diamondback Release 3 2018





Suspension Design

Their Level-Link suspension system also played a key role in the decision to minimize the rear travel. Its linkage kinematics are designed to separate pedaling forces from the suspension action, which means that the Release can aggressively power up and over punchy climbs with its shock damping set wide open. In short, the rider can use all of the suspension travel all of the time, so the bike feels more capable than its numbers would suggest.

The basis of Level Link is that the lower rocker remains parallel to the chain as the suspension cycles, which isolates chain torque from affecting
Diamondback Release 3 review
the suspension. The action is most effective in the mid-stroke, where most of your pedaling takes place, so you can leave the shock's pedaling control off and push as hard as you want and it feels pretty efficient while the rear wheel is sucking up the bumps. There are times when I flipped the compression lever to firm up the pedaling, but only on paved or super smooth dirt sections. Because the Release only has 130 millimeters of travel, you never feel like you've exceeded the Level Link's sweet spot.


Specifications
Specifications
Release Date 2018
Price $2849
Travel 130mm
Rear Shock RockShox Monarch Plus RC3 DebonAir
Fork RockShox Pike RCT3, 150mm Travel
Headset FSA
Cassette SRAM XG1150, 11 Speed, 10-42T
Crankarms Race Face Turbine, 30T Direct Mount
Chainguide NA
Bottom Bracket Race Face threaded
Pedals DB CNC flat
Rear Derailleur SRAM X1 X-Horizon, 11 Speed
Chain KMC
Front Derailleur NA
Shifter Pods SRAM X1 11 speed
Handlebar DB35 Alloy, 780mm Wide, 15mm Rise, 35mm Bar Bore
Stem DB35 Alloy, 40mm Reach, 35mm Bar
Grips DB4L "Lock on" 135mm Kraton
Brakes SRAM Guide RS, 180mm rotors F/R
Wheelset Diamondback build
Hubs DB Boost 148 R/110 F
Spokes 14g Stainless Steel
Rim DB Blanchard 28mm IW
Tires Schwalbe Hans Dampf 27.5" SnakeSkin 2.35"
Seat WTB Volt Pro
Seatpost KS LEV Integra Dropper, w/ SouthPaw Remote, 31.6mm


Diamondback Release 3 2018
The Release 3's RockShox Pike RCT3 fork put on a good show. Schwalbe's Hans Dampf, however, was not the best choice for a front tire.

Diamondback Release 3 review
I forgot how stable SRAM's X1 11-speed shifting is.
Diamondback Release 3 review
Wide, 780mm x 35mm handlebar, and a short 40mm stem.

Diamondback Release 3 review
Guide RS brakes with 180mm rotors are solid mid-price performers.







Test Bike Setup

Diamondback's Release 3 comes ready to rock. The handlebar is 780-millimeters wide, the grips are comfortable and the shifting was spot on out of the box. The tires were set up tubeless, so all I needed was two air pumps - one to set the fork at 20-percent and the shock at 30-percent sag, and the other to air up the tires to 23psi in the rear and 20psi up front.

The shock's leverage curve feels very linear through the mid-stroke, with a mild ramp-up at the end. That creates a lot of support in the mid-stroke, but makes it easier to bottom the shock. It works for me, but I don't slam the bike around and I was pushing the O-ring to the end on the downs. I expect to be using full travel on a 130-millimeter-travel bike, but more aggressive riders might consider adding one or two volume spacers to boost the Monarch shock's end-stroke spring rate. Leave the fork alone, though, it was a near-perfect balance between supple and support — its 150-millimeter stroke is a good choice for the Release.

I had the Diamondback for an extended time, so it's seen a wider range of terrain and conditions than the loose gravel, cement-hard clay and embedded rocks that are Southern California's standard fare. It's enjoyed hero dirt, sloppy mud and everything else, except for Pacific Northwest loam - we don't have that here.

Greg Lambert photo

bigquotesDiamondback intended the Release to be a do-everything ride, so they chose a 30-tooth chainring (instead of the typical 32) as morale booster...RC

Climbing

Thirty pounds used to be the outer limit for a good trail bike, but enduro racing has pushed that number a few clicks higher and nobody seems to be complaining. I consider 30 to be the break point — below that number a good bike feels like it's "happy" to climb, and above that figure, "willing" to climb. The medium-sized Release 3's weight is right on the cusp, and it feels easy enough on the climbs to have become my go-to bike for all-mountain rides. I like that I can leave the rear suspension wide open for techy ascents, and depend upon the bike's moderate travel to maintain support. I get the best of both worlds: maximum traction, without any wallowing under power. It climbs smoothly, carries momentum at pace, and works its way up technical pitches without drama.

There is no ignoring that the Diamondback's wheels are on the heavier side of the spectrum, and that rotating mass creates a little lag in the pedal stroke when accelerating from a slow corner, or laying down a short burst of speed to get up and over a steep roller. It's noticeable, but rarely an issue because the overall feel of this machine is so enjoyable that it's easy to forgive its quirks. On that subject, Diamondback intended the Release to be a do-everything ride, so they chose a 30-tooth chainring (instead of the typical 32) as a morale booster for long grinders.

Greg Lambert photo


Descending

I first heard about the Release from Diamondback's Eric Porter, who has competed in just about every mountain bike venue. Porter said it was his perfect bike, because he could enjoy it anywhere — hit the dirt jumps with his friends, bust out an all-day trail ride, or play at the bike park. I'd have to agree. I had the same experience riding the carbon-framed Release 5C, and the good news is that the aluminum version is no less fun. There is a snappiness to the bike. You can push through the suspension and get a sense of where the ground is. Any substantial rock or bump in the trail becomes a launch ramp. No trail is boring. The Release keeps you searching for bonus lines that can become step-ups, mini wall rides and hucks to flat.

Greg Lambert photo


The steering isn't so slack that I had to precede every tight corner with a sweeping counter-steer. It's reaction time is quicker, and that makes it easier to carry speed down unfamiliar trails. That said, there is enough straight-line stability to keep the rubber side down should you botch a steep chute or rock roll. What the Release doesn't do is lure you to the threshold of its handling and then leave you hanging after you make a mistake. There always seems to be a little handling in reserve to ease you out of a risky situation. You'll run out of suspension long before you'll run out of confidence.

Saving the best for last, I think the most rewarding attribute of the Release, and the better new-school mid-travel trail bikes in this class, is how solidly they turn corners. Less suspension translates to greater stability, because the chassis loads up evenly front-to-back and stays that way. Long-travel bikes squat and nose dive, which alters their geometry and weight distribution unless care is taken to set the bike up for the corner. By contrast, as long as you are somewhere near the middle of the Diamondback, it will rail turns like a boss... well almost. Unless you like drifting or live in Santa Cruz, California, where just about any tire will grip, you'll need to ditch the Hans Dampf tires for something with proper edging blocks.




Diamondback Carbon Release 5c
Diamondback Release 5c
Diamondback Release 3 review
Diamondback Release 3

How does it compare?

Diamondback was on the vanguard of the mid-travel fun-based all-mountain revolution when it first launched the Release. At that time, there were few comparisons on the market, but that is not the case now. PB's reviewed impressive 120mm and 130mm AM/trail bikes from Rocky Mountain, Intense, Commencal, Transition, Trek, Kona, and the carbon version of the Release in recent times, and the ones we like most weigh under 30 pounds, have steep seat tube angles in the neighborhood of 75 degrees, and slack head tube angles near 66 degrees. Most of those were also upper-end carbon machines, sporting MSRPs, double that of our aluminum-framed review bike.

I'll compare apples to apples then, using Diamondback's carbon Release 5c that I reviewed earlier against its aluminum sibling. Both bikes come up short on the seat tube angle. Their 73-degree angle is ergonomically perfect for efficient power output on level-ground and moderate grades, but that's a rare occurrence in the all-mountain environment. Push the saddle forward a half inch and you get something close to 74 degrees, but you'll lose room in the cockpit. Both the Release 5c and the '3 squeeze by on the weight, with the Release 3 at 30 even, and the carbon framed '5c at 29 pounds. Seat angles aside, the rest of Diamondback's numbers are spot on.

Looking at the bottom lines, then: The Release 5c weighs 29 pounds and offers a carbon chassis, a SRAM XO1 12-speed Eagle drivetrain and Fox suspension (Float 36 FIT4 fork and DPX 2 reservoir shock), and real tires (Maxxis DHF and DHR) for $4800 (*new MSRP as of May 2018 ). The Release weighs only one pound more, features a SRAM 11-speed X1 drivetrain and RockShox suspension (Pike RCT3 fork and Monarch Plus RC3 shock) for $2849. So, if you upgrade to the carbon Release 5c, it will cost you about $1950 USD to get one extra gear, save one pound, enjoy slightly better suspension and get a real set of tires. That makes our Release 3 look like a pretty good deal, if you can live with an 11-speed transmission.

Diamondback Release 3 review
I used to think LEV meant "Least Evolved Version," but the last three KS posts have been golden.
Diamondback Release 3 review
SRAM's Guide RS brakes ran drag free for the duration of the review.

Schwalbe Hans Dampf 2.35 tire
The stock Hans Dampf tires needed stronger edging blocks to keep pace with the Release. The good news is the 2018 Hans Dampfs will have them.


Technical Report

SRAM Guide RS brakes: RS-level Guide brakes modulate well, and are an excellent performance value, but they lack the precise bite-point of higher-end competitors.

Hans Dampf Tires: Schwalbe has re-designed its Hans Dampf with edging blocks similar to the Magic Mary, but the original version of the tire appears on both ends of the Diamondback. Considering how much more capable the Release is, that's a fail. Inside info says that Diamondback will be switching to more aggressive tires mid-season.

KS LEV dropper post: Good choice, now that KS has worked out the kinks, but a technically capable trail bike like this should come with a longer-stroke, 150mm post in the medium through XL sizes.

Greg Lambert photo


Pros

+ This is what a trail bike should ride like
+ Contemporary geometry
+ Pedal-friendly suspension
Cons

- Needs more aggressive rubber
- Shock could use more bottom-out resistance
- Wishing for a down-tube bottle mount

Is this the bike for you?

Diamondback's aluminum Release may be more relevant today than when it first debuted. It's burlier than cross-country trail bikes that may share similar suspension travel, but probably won't hold up to the abuse that the Release is intended to thrive upon. This is a good choice for an accomplished all-mountain sender who wants to step down from an uber-capable squishy 160-millimeter enduro bike to a more playful, cross-country friendly machine, but still wants to go big on features. Cross-country trail riders, however, who want a lightweight climber with slacker geometry and extended technical capabilities should probably shop for another bike like Rocky Mountain's Thunderbolt , or the new Intense Sniper.



Pinkbike's Take
bigquotesDiamondback's Release 3 is a good value for its $2849 asking price, and its range of performance is perfect for so many riders out there with pro-rider skills and entry-level jobs. The message is that good handling eclipses lots of suspension travel. Armed with a reasonably good skillset and a mid-travel trail bike like the Release, you'll enjoy almost every trail, not just the occasional ten-minute descent.RC



Visit the high-res galleries here and here for more images from this review.




156 Comments

  • + 108
 Good review RC. This bike looks like a legit performer for those who can get past the brand identity. The only thing I disagree with is the knock for externally routed cables. After hours of swearing in my garage trying to thread internal cables I've come to realize that I prefer things externally routed.
  • + 19
 Agreed on external. But I think he was saying that the routing from the downtube to seatstay was messy. You could always diy them out the chainstays and add a bottle mount.
  • - 64
flag Brytrl8tr (May 7, 2018 at 10:13) (Below Threshold)
 Diamondbacks
are a lot of fun to ride until your friends sees you on it. Smile
  • + 66
 @Brytrl8tr: You have shit friends man, if you're having fun you're having fun.
  • + 3
 So funny. Everyone mocked Specialized for the rat’s nest that was their external cable routing on the Enduro. It was isually the one dig on just about any review.
They finally acquiesce and now I see people complaing that it’s too difficult and they want external.
I guess Spesh did it right though because running internal housing and cables is a breeze on the new Enduros and if the trend is to go back to external I hope they take a long time to follow.
  • + 2
 @jeremiahwas: most people that I know that had specialized bikes complained of the cables hanging under the bb. It was nasty looking sometimes to see them dragging 2-3 inches lower than the bottom bracket.
  • + 1
 @jeremiahwas: My Spesh's internal cable routing is mint, takes barely any longer to install my dropper and derailleur cables internally than it would externally. Some bikes have shit internal cable routing, that's when it becomes a real pain. If done well, internal routing is no problem.
  • + 5
 I have a Diamondback Release 2 and everyone from my friends to random people on the trail compliment the bike. It rips, its flashy (especially the 2016 version with the orange rear wheel), and it's inexpensive.
  • + 2
 I paid $1300 for a brand new diamondback mission 1 shipped directly to my house and the only thing I added to it was a dropper. Put around 200 miles on it all around the PNW in the past 7 months. Raced downhill at Port Angeles on it, hit 30+ foot jumps on it, and just overall take that bike to its limits on a regular basis and that thing is a damn beast. Anyone that thinks the Diamondback brand name is synonymous with "cheap" is dead wrong. They make excellent direct to consumer products comparable in quality and value to Commencal and YT. Highly recommend looking into the Mission and Release if you're in the market for a killer all-mountain bike.
  • + 2
 @RRMonster: Agreed. They offer great value for the money and they even supply the bikes with a shock pump and all of the tools necessary to setup your bike the way you like it. I bought a Release 2 last Spring and absolutely love it. Great bike for all types of riding and I've never had a problem with it. If these bikes are good enough for factory riders like Mike Hopkins and Micayla Gatto, surely it'll handle whatever you and I are able to throw at it.
  • + 2
 @lobohusky: I completely agree with @lobohusky and @RRMonster. I own a 2017 Release 3 and love it. Just got back from riding The Whole Enchilada in Moab last week, and the Release 3 handled everything like a champ! I have also taken the bike to multiple bike parks last season as well, and it has taken a beating...and still rides like a dream! I couldn't be happier with the quality and performance of my Diamondback Release 3! I've seen the Release 3 online go for as low as $2,100 during Black Friday sales.
  • + 100
 “Good deal if you can live with an 11 speed transmission” give me a break. So now 11 speed is just ok.
  • + 25
 I live with 11 gears. An 11-36 10-speed on the squish bike, and a singlespeed HT. Life is f*cking great!
  • + 16
 Yeah, wth? I'm fine on 10 with my bike. Jeez.
  • + 4
 It's also really easy and pretty cheap to add any number of manufacturers higher tooth count cog add-ons to these systems. I have the SRAM NX 11-42 cassette and derailleur and added the Wolftooth 49 tooth cog which gives me almost Eagle-like range for $80, and keeps my 11 speeds. Works flawlessly and I'm loving it. Wanted to keep my 32 tooth chain ring, but for my area (and my fitness) topping out at a 42t just wasn't going to cut it.
  • + 8
 Gee, all you fancy pants with all your gears... I've only got a unicycle... Frown
  • + 9
 Give him a break, he's used to having at least 24 speeds.
  • + 1
 @handynzl: is it a mountain unicycle?
  • + 2
 I prefer 11 speeds. Lighter and usually on sale.
  • + 4
 1x12 on one bike (400km), 1x11 XT on the other (1600km). Hands down prefer the XT Everytime.. shifts quieter, stays in adjustment longer, doesn't sound quite as bad when it's super wet and Sandy. Eagle sounds horrible on that weird out of sync shift every now and then. Only advantage of Eagle is the massive bail out gear...
  • + 6
 @RowanH: Im gonna be that guy..... I put an 8 speed sram setup on my HT for winter, whole thing cost less than 35 quid including chain NEW! I Usually ride XT 11spd and have always been a Shimano guy, but i have to admit, being forced to ride 8 speed over the winter has cut through alot of the bullshit for me; its basic, strong and really over engineered. I Love it, Genuinely think ill go back to 9/10 speed on my patrol would go 8spd but the 28t top ring is a little too extreme for me.
  • + 79
 big round of applause for bikemakers like Diamondback - it's great to see that a good bike doesn't have to take a five-figure bite out of your bank account.
  • + 9
 My wife has a DB and every time I look at it I see another detail that impresses me.
  • + 75
 Your talking about the bike right?
  • + 0
 @fecalmaster: Pretty sure he wouldn't refer to his wife as it. :p
  • + 6
 @m1dg3t: different folks ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  • + 36
 This is an insane value. It cannibalizes DBs own higher end 5C. Refreshing
  • + 4
 Word on the street is that the new Release 3 model will see some downgrades because of this.
  • + 3
 @pumpjumpnflow: That's right. This is probably best bang for your buck spec'd bike out there right now!
  • + 29
 Glad PB reviews a bike that the average Joe* can buy.
*Everything's relative
  • - 10
flag TheR (May 7, 2018 at 10:01) (Below Threshold)
 Yeah, everything's relative, but what do you want? There's a bottom line to what you're going to pay for something of quality, and this is about as low as it's going to get these days.
  • + 24
 Diamondback! One of the OG's in this silly culture, standing tall next to GT and Mongoose for those of us that know what's up... Don't believe the hype with all this $10k carbon zip-zoom mega machine garbage. This is a solid bike, affordable, and shred-ready. Some of PB's Nancy ladies will try to tell you that they "can't build a bike they would actually want to ride" within this $2k realm. Ignore those clowns and have some fun.
  • + 11
 Not really $2k though... listed for $2850... more like $3k. Which is still good, but there's quite a few aluminum bikes in that area that don't get reviewed by PB. Just off the top of my head the Norco Range A3 (160/170) and the Norco Sight A3 (140/150) can be had for this same price.
  • + 4
 @ianwish: If you visit DB’s website you’ll see a bunch of their alloy models for sub $2,000.

The real winner to me is their custom carbon Release program- for $4,600 you get a carbon frame / Fox factory coil suspension / XT drivetrain & brakes / Fox dropper. That’s a good deal if you ask me.
  • + 4
 @ianwish: While it is listed for $2850 -- Diamondback has numerous ways to bring that price down. Lots of corporations get a discount to them, plus coupon codes, and cash back from Active Junky. All told I could ship one to my house for ~$2300 today.
  • + 12
 Yes, that is pretty good value for money. In terms of comparisons - I would love to hear how it does against its natural competitors (Scout and such), but good on ya @RichardCunningham for doing the 'here's what an upgrade to the higher model buy you' bit. The entry level models of many bikes are often just a matter of not getting what you paid for, but paying for what you get as you have to replace under-spec'd components well before their time. This seems to run on a pretty decent spec (although the house brand hubs/wheels are always an unknown). My preferences run towards the simplicity/reliability/ease of maintenance of Shimano brakes over SRAM, but man, a sub-3k bike with a Debonair shock and a Pike and a decent dropper, that's a decent deal.

More importantly, though, this:
"There always seems to be a little handling in reserve to ease you out of a risky situation. You'll run out of suspension long before you'll run out of confidence."

To me, that's the essence of a good trail bike in the one-bike-quiver sense. It's what I enjoy about my Process 111, it's why if looking at new bikes, it's probably why (to pick an example) I'd prefer a Smuggler over a Sentinel. Short/mid travel bikes have come a long way and are just ridiculously fun these days. Good times.
  • + 2
 Not sure that quote makes sense to me... "There always seems to be a little handling in reserve to ease you out of a risky situation. You'll run out of suspension long before you'll run out of confidence."

I would think I'd rather have a bit more suspension to get me out of a risky situation when my confidence runs out. Because if I'm in a risky situation, and think "oh feck, this was a baaaad idea", an extra inch of travel to regain control sure would be nice.

Maybe it's because I often ride out of my depth, but there's been more than a few times I've thought precisely that as I bash my way through a rock garden going way too fast... and thank Dog for all my fancy suspension.
  • + 2
 @slyfink: When my buddy was bike shopping he wanted an Giant Anthem (before they went 29er) but a friend was selling a Giant Trance and I said to him, if you could buy a 5 inch wang over a 4 inch wang wouldn't you buy the bigger one. We laughed and he bought the Trance!
  • + 7
 @slyfink: I'll take geometry over suspension to some degree. When I go down a rock roll that's a little steeper than I anticipated, an extra inch of suspension won't do much to keep me from going OTB; a slacker head angle/longer front center will. And too much suspension can make fore/aft balancing while cornering a bit vague - so if I overcook a corner, I'm more likely to get through it OK on a bike with less squish. All of that, of course, doesn't do anything for me if the way I'm getting in over my head has to do purely with shock absorption (huck to flat; casing on a double). Your example of going too fast through a rock garden is an interesting one - yep, extra squish would help a little, but having the front wheel a bit further out would, too. Guess it depends on the particular hazard you're trying to stave off.
  • + 3
 @NRZ: why didn't you buy a karpiel Armageddon?
  • + 13
 so much bike for the money...my next bike will be something from a direct to consumer company. nice to see DB come back from oblivion.
  • + 6
 As a former sponsored DBR rider back in the mid-90's, I agree.
  • + 3
 @handynzl: I have my old DB Axis TR (1994) in the hallway at the moment, it's my son's daily ride to school! I absolutely loved that bike it's still fun to ride! It cost more than my car at the time.
  • + 1
 @Dallasdownunder: Man you've got me pining for my '91 Apex - couldn't afford the Axis to get XT, but the DX was pretty solid anyway. I put that bike through so many incarnations of MTB, commuter, front suspension MTB, Scott AT4-handlebarred adventure bike.... I sure had a terrible time adjusting those DX cantis though - went to V-brakes as soon as they came out. I hope it found a good home after donating to bikeworks.org in Seattle. I'll always have a soft spot for DB.
  • + 1
 @Dallasdownunder: My Axis Ti (1995) is still one of my favorites. Set up as a single-speed, rigid bar bike -- it makes me feel like a 12 year old kid everytime I ride it. Considering a dropper for maximizing urban-exploits.
  • + 7
 With the help of 2 main things Diamond Back is becoming more and more popular like it once was back in the day.

Youtube vloggers and lower price points.

Other reasons include: killer video promos and updated and current technology/geometry that appeals to most riders.
  • + 7
 2011 "What Pinkbike Thinks About Hans Dampf
We like riding Schwalbe's big-volume all-mountain tires, but have complained about the short life span and the small tread blocks of the lighter weight models we've tested. The Hans Dampf has silenced our criticisms about durability and set a high bar for how much traction one should expect from a 2.35-inch all-mountain/trail bike tire."

2018 "Hans Dampf Tires: Schwalbe has re-designed its Hans Dampf with edging blocks similar to the Magic Mary, but the original version of the tire appears on both ends of the Diamondback. Considering how much more capable the Release is, that's a fail. Inside info says that Diamondback will be switching to more aggressive tires mid-season."

For sure says a lot about how much better geo and suspension is today.
  • + 2
 This. The all-mountain segment has gotten so damned capable over the past couple years.
  • + 2
 @daweil: Or maybe it says more about how PBs reviews work? In 2011 when HD was released the initial review had to be positive (as pretty much any new product review here) to keep advertisers happy, but in 2018, in a different product review and with the new HD on the horizon, RC can for once be honest about the old version.
  • + 6
 This bike looks like a giant piece of...........wait for it.................

Fun!

Big props to DB for making a bike that a vast majority of riders would enjoy for a decent price. The $$/fun ratio of their bikes looks very impressive.
  • + 6
 DB is doing really good things. Great customer service, solid bikes at a good prices, financing....Amazing, probably one of the better legit reviews from PB, and on a solid, inexpensive bike at that. Do more bikes around this price point.
  • + 5
 If they'd build an enduro-ish bike I'd absolutely put them on my shortlist for the next bike. Maybe 29", 66-65HA, 74-76STA, 475-500mm reach XL, 135-160mm travel, threaded BB and water bottle space...

I bet they'd sell a lot more bikes than only having this offering and their burlier offering (which has dated geometry). Pleeeeeease DB....please?
  • + 0
 Sadly, if you want a bike with those numbers right now, you'll have to pay this bike's price for frame only. Aluminium frame that is, not an ocean filling material one.
  • + 9
 @jollyXroger: Guerrila Gravity would fit the requirements, too. ridegg.com
  • + 5
 You just described 2 of Norco's Bikes at the same price point as this bike... more Enduro - the 2018 Range A3 - www.norco.com/bikes/mountain/enduro/range-alu/range-a3

Or the bike I own, more All Mountain - the 2018 Sight A3 - www.norco.com/bikes/mountain/all-mountain/sight-alu/sight-a3
  • + 5
 Mega 290 on sale
  • + 2
 Check out the new Bird Aeris AM9 29er.

HA 65.5
STA 76
CS 440
Reach 500 (L), 522 (XL)
150mm travel
BSA
1xbottle

It's British and it rocks.
www.bird.bike/aeris-am9
  • + 4
 @ianwish: @ianwish: I've got the Sight A 7.2 and love it. Anytime I'm on another more expensive bike I actually miss mine! Norco is overlooked sometimes, but they are great. This DB is a pretty sweet deal as well.
  • + 1
 @Thorjensen: I have a Bird Aeris 145, great all round bike.
  • + 2
 @Thorjensen: This has slipped under my radar. Thanks!
  • + 2
 @jollyXroger: can't know everything ;>}
I'm on my second Bird now, started off with their HT Zero AM but needed an all purpose trail bike. Ordered the Aeris 120 frame kit and made a custom solution. Their geo is SPOT on with long reach combined with an 31mm stem. Just feels right...
Bird offers custom builds, as seen on their HP, so you can fav where you want to go all in on parts.
  • + 1
 @Thorjensen: At 191cm I am a bit wary of opting for XL fearing that ETT might be a bit excessive. How tall are you and which frame size have you bought?
  • + 2
 @jollyXroger:
I'm 188cm and went for a Large 120 frame with 495 reach.
If I was taller and had to choose between a L frame and 50ish mm stem and XL frame with a 31mm stem I would go for the XL short stem.
  • + 2
 @ianwish: The Release 3 still has better specs, geometry, and suspension which puts it at a better bang for your buck.
  • + 7
 Been Riding a DB Mission for a year now and the bang for the buck is off the charts.
  • + 3
 "The most rewarding attribute of the Release, and the better new-school mid-travel trail bikes in this class, is how solidly they turn corners. Less suspension translates to greater stability, because the chassis loads up evenly front-to-back and stays that way. Long-travel bikes squat and nose dive, which alters their geometry and weight distribution unless care is taken to set the bike up for the corner. By contrast, as long as you are somewhere near the middle of the Diamondback, it will rail turns like a boss."
Nailed on the head with that statement RC.
My Following has got my 160mm bike gathering much dust on the wall.
  • + 3
 I talked my friend into a diamondback. Good bike, great bike for the money. But man things were messed up on arrival. The housings were routed wrong and every one was 6" to 1' too long. Had to strip everything and reroute. Took us a few hours to build because we kept finding things were wrong - nobody was getting that bike ready in 30 minutes... And then I retensioned the wheels. Made me appreciate all the invisible prep that bike shops need to do. Honestly I'll tell the next guy to take it to a bike store, let a pro handle it.

Bike is great though.
  • + 2
 Diamondback allows you to send it to a bike shop and have a mechanic assemble the bike for you for free with free shipping, but most people I know who purchase these can wrench their own bike and don't want to wait around for a shop to build their bike Wink
  • + 3
 Who's the creator behind this? Looks like a typical David Earle (Sotto Group) design. They all seem to ride similarly... burly and easy to ride. Not a record setting machine, just a classic [all] mountain bike.

Seems all of 'em have very similar front triangles, and this one is a throwback to the old Blur [LT] he designed.
  • + 4
 Nope! Level One Engineering.
  • + 5
 Nice....just a good, well-priced, well-spec'd.....mountain bike. Being a one bike kinda guy, this bike just makes a lot of sense to me. Praise be to external BBs and cabling!
  • + 6
 Seths bike hacks where you at?
  • + 4
 If the world went Mad Max, I would never align myself with the "but it can't fit a water bottle" survivors. I dont think they would survive too long. Pretty whiny bunch.
  • + 2
 I love my release 1 previous owner upgraded about everything, wheels, fox fork and shock, turbine dropper, all I did was convert to 1x. Does great on NC singletrack but also has the capability to do the fun stuff in Pisgah and such. People like to give me shit for being a diamondnack but I embrace it. Have a couple buddy's that like the way it rides more then their Bronson and trance. If diamondback made ot a neon color and added more angilatity to the frame people would love them, people will pay more for that stuff for some reason.
  • + 2
 If you or anyone you know is interested in this bike, I have one for sale with some sweet upgrades including a carbon frame, MRP bash guard, tubeless setup, and more, already assembled and ready to go this season! It's a killer deal as I'm asking just a smidgen more than the MSRP on the regular Release 3 and you get all the upgrades for a better spec bike than the 4C for less money! Smile

www.pinkbike.com/buysell/2358401
  • + 6
 "Needs more aggressive rubber" ...........
  • + 11
 Ribbed or knobbed?
  • + 3
 "For the money", I can't think of any other bike that beats this. Suspension design is actually not a typical single pivot on their entry level bike. Kudos Diamond Back!
  • + 2
 You can typically find these on sale in the low 2000s, I recently found the Release 4C on sale for 2150. Pretty tremendous value! I seem to go back and forth between my desire for one of these vs. the catch 2 model.
  • + 1
 The claim that you can run 2.6" in the rear is not true. I ran 2.4 Magic Mary in the rear and got stopped dead in mud. With the stock Hans Dampf and Magic Mary, there was chainstay chafing as well. I switched to the DB Catch, swapped the 2.8 Schwalbe Nobby Nic out back for a 2.6 Maxxis DHF and the clearance is nice.
  • + 4
 @jommymb I am riding the just released (no pun intended) 2.6" Hans Dampf tires in the photos. After the review period I switched out the tires. They measure the same width as Marys, but Marys may have taller center blocks..
  • + 1
 Just a heads up to those questioning the wheels. Yes they are heavier than some but can take a serious beating. My kid 5'11" 135lbs has beat the crap out of these and they have held up riding Sedona, Moab , All over Washington , casing proline jumps , smashing rocks, blowing tires and only needing to be re-tentioned. No flatspots or wobbles. Hope this helps those questioning them.
  • + 1
 HORRIBLE QC ALERT!!!

OK, I'm not being hyperbolic with that all-caps headline. What I found was pretty awful indeed. Just received my 2018 Release 3 direct from DB. Having my own small shop and being somewhat anal retentive, if not full on cynical, I disconnected the shock to see how smooth the rear was. I found that it had an almost spring loaded mid point that the upper link would get past, about mid-travel. It was severe, bizarre, and I knew it could not be correct. So I got down to taking it apart. First thing, the cone washers need a 5/16 allen, NOT an 8mm. Many people have discovered this but DB has not changed any of the info on the site or their videos. POOR FORM DB. Next thing is, expect to give a bit of torque with that 5/16 to have the cone washers give way. Almost feels like your snapping an alloy bolt, scary. But all good. Grease them when reinstalling.

Popped the bearing covers on the bottom links. Bearings were not dry, but close enough that a month of wet riding would probably render them toast. Injected some high quality grease and replaced the covered. All 4 bearings for the lowers felt pretty smooth, one was a tiny bit clicky.

Top two pivots were a nightmare. First thing is the lower of the two uppers (long axle), was very tough to remove the axle. Almost like it was slightly warped. Had to tap from the other side with a wooden dowel. Then a random metal spacer was behind the engineered bearing caps, on the drive side of this one (the longer axle set). I knew this couldn't be right, watched all the videos I could find, scoured the net. Yep, random substantial metal washer/spacer. Those bearing were both clicky. Needed lube.

Then the upper upper (with the short axle). After it unscrewed it would not come out. Took substantial tapping from the other side, way worse than the other one. Finally got it out. Bearing lubed as now usual. Both bearing really very clicky. Putting it back together I had to mallet the hell out of the axle to get it to reach the threads. I experimented and it seemed the bearing on the thread side was just a hair different inner diameter than the OD of the axle, which hung it up on removal and made it tough on install. Way more than just tapping, used a rawhide mallet to whack it good.

Torqued everything to spec and found the rear moved smoothly enough. No bizarre spring loaded mid point notch. But certainly not smooth the way my S-Works Enduro and other rigs are. I'm going to break it in and see if it smooths out, but I predict the bearings are shot/crap from install and will need replacement shortly.

That's as far as I got today. Going to remove the BB to inspect tomorrow, and maybe check the headset too. Any more fun discoveries and I'll update this.
  • + 1
 Update #1: Missing one of the four stem bar clamp bolts. ????
  • + 1
 UPDATE #2: Sunday, May 20, I submitted an online form to customer service about this. Never got a ticket confirmation or anything.

UPDATE #3: Tuesday, May 22, I called at 7am PST as the website says they are available at that time. Nobody there. Turns out they are there at 8am PST. But at 8:10am, the online chat function was still indicating they were not open. Called. After a long wait, I got Cameron. He was super knowledgable and suggested that we either do a frame swap or a whole bike swap. Seemed like the safe thing was whole bike. He could not set it up for me, I had to do it through their warranty submission page. But he said I could note his name and extension in that form and he'd get it. However, upon filling it all out, uploading all the files, every time I hit submit I get "The website encountered an unexpected error. Please try again later." OK now I'm officially annoyed. I called Cameron back but got his voicemail. Left a message about what was going on. Even best case scenario I'm not riding anything for 2-3 weeks since they have to issue a tag, I have to pack the thing up and ship back. They have to receive and then they send one out. Debating just asking for a refund at this point, maybe go YT instead.
  • + 1
 UPDATE #4: Tuesday, May 22, engaged in the chat function when I still didn't get a call back. Chat person said they were indeed receiving the warranty claims. I kept telling her I was getting that error message every time. She asked if my pictures were too big! I told her three iPhone pics, about 1.3mb each. She again said it was working, asked if I was doing it from my phone. I told her from laptop. Then she said Cameron would call back shortly. Indeed he did. He also said the warranty submission form was working, asked if I had cleared my cache. I told him it was both Safari and Chrome and I tried from two different machines. But then he said he saw my 6 submissions! So they were actually going through, but I was getting an error message. He was apologetic about that. I suggested this was definitely an IT issue since the submissions were actually going through. He was personally going to process mine then. So now I'll wait to see how this goes. I'm willing to get another bike, then do my tear down to see what I find. Sucks to hear I'm not alone in these issues, and doesn't fill me with confidence. But what the heck, I got other rigs I can ride for the interim.
  • + 1
 Oh yeah, the frame has held up great too.
For those wanting to save some $, the clutch 2 and release are identical Geo wise and there are a few Diamond back Clutch 2 and older release bikes still out there on the internet on deep discount. Some labeled as a girl's bike but a smoking deal for under $2k.....
  • + 3
 Now review the Aluminum Spectral which comes with an eagle drivetrain and cost 2399.
  • + 3
 What's that? Sounds like a bike unavailable in Canada...
  • + 0
 Currently riding an older version of this bike, it's a lot of fun. Mid-travel with slack angles equals a lot of fun on the downs and pretty spritely peddling. If I had the cash I'd happily add one of along side the 'big' bike.
  • + 2
 wow pike, dropper post and monarch for under 3 grand....diamond bike is doing it right....hopefully the frame holds up and doesnt crack
  • + 4
 Diamond Back bikes keep getting better and better.
  • + 2
 Any talk of another 29" coming from Diamondback? I still ride my bright orange Sortie 29, but it's woefully short in reach and getting somewhat dated.
  • + 2
 Stay tuned...
  • + 1
 Saw reports of a carbon Sync’r 27.5+ / 29er just this morning!
  • + 4
 Looks better than current Santa Cruz's
  • + 3
 and finally SC owners can shut up about how superior and unique their counter rotating linkage is
  • + 1
 More of these reviews please!

A shame it comes specced only with SRAM/RockShox. I'd like to see an equally specced Shimano/Fox version, but that's just me...

Still a solid bike/build for the $$$
  • + 3
 Did DB recently raise the price of the release 3? Pretty sure it was more like $2650 a few weeks ago
  • + 2
 They did have it at $2650. I paid $3100 last march for mine and I thought that was a deal. They always have sales and what not.
  • + 2
 After the sale they just had last week, the prices actually shot up past where they were before the sale. The Release 4c was $2,999, it's now $3,299 as of this past weekend. The 5c was $4,399, and it's now $4,799. :/
  • + 2
 Hey guys and gals, any chance you would start using geo charts that are readable on mobile? Thanks.
  • + 1
 Just tap on the chart to bring up a higher resolution image of it.
  • + 3
 wait it comes WITH pedals?! I'l take 3!
  • - 1
 Dirty cabling for today's norms. Trail bike without bottle holder? They are taking away standard feature. Water bottle is much more convenient than reaching for water in our backpack.
  • + 3
 Way to get after it RC!
  • + 2
 Are they making any money on this thing?
  • + 2
 It's probably more like expensive bike brands are making even more money on their offerings than DB is here.
  • + 2
 @wpplayer18:

Yup, DB is making the same as if it were sold to a 3rd party that then marks it up to an msrp $1000+ higher.
  • + 1
 years ago the Italian importer was freewilling .. what a pity now that in Italy is untraceable ...
  • + 1
 poor thing comes with an 11 speed...haha! With the money you save, throw on n eThirteen cassette and "real" tires.
  • + 0
 How does LEV stand for Least Evolved Mechanism? I just don't get the joke, unless mechanism starts with a V in some English dialects...
  • + 8
 i'm actually surprised at the hate on the LEV. i've had two that have been perfect (huge sample size, i know). i know he comes around and says it worked great, but i thought even their older offerings where still good.
KS seems to have nailed it in the dropper arena, but they rarely come stock on bikes, so everyone ends up with a reverb...
  • + 3
 My lev integra also works perfectly. Had it serviced just to get the most out of the 2 year warranty, and they replaced practically all important parts. Great product and superb service!
  • + 1
 @cherbein03: Been riding my Supernatural LEV(lever actuated) 150 for.....4 years now and have never done a thing to it! It came on the bike my buddy built in 2011 and i'm not sure he ever did anything to it either and it still goes up and down with no problems. I actually just bought a remote for the thing. Of course it will be externally routed and I have to say I love KS. I bought a LEV DX for the wifes bike, externally routed as well, installed it and it works great. She loves it. I think it's a fair price for the quality and i'll stick with KS until they give me a reason to move on to another brand.
  • + 1
 I used to think LEV meant "Least Evolved Mechanism"...

I do not think acronyms work the way RC thinks they work. ;-)
  • + 1
 @cherbein03: Yup. I agree. I have had a KS Supernatural, and I have 2 LEV DX's and 1 LEV Integra. I haven't had to have one serviced yet in 3 years. Crossing my fingers.
  • + 0
 @bishopsmike: @sk133872: it actually says "Least Evolved Version", so um..yeah.
  • + 2
 Diamondback por vida!
  • + 1
 Great review!

Now... where can I find these trails in the photos?
  • + 1
 Nice looking bike. Well done Diamondback.
  • + 1
 Rt turbines are dope
  • + 1
 20 and 23 psi lol!
  • - 1
 3 what?
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