Diamondback Mountain Bike Reviews of 2018 & Buying Guide
Mountain biking has technically existed as long as there have been bicycles (since paved roads weren’t common in the 1800s), but the sport as we know it was created in the 1960s and 1970s in Marin County, California, when avid riders updated their vintage bikes to tackle Baltimore Canyon. The sport didn’t gain mainstream fame until the 1990s, most notably when it became an official Olympic sport in 1996.
Nowadays, mountain biking is enjoyed by riders of all ages and athletic abilities, all across the world. Some enjoy it for the speed and unpredictable thrills; others simply love riding in nature, knowing they can keep on riding long after the sidewalk ends.
Diamondback Bicycles has been around almost since the advent of mountain biking itself. The company didn’t start selling them until 1993, but had been selling BMX models (a close cousin to mountain biking, in industry terms) since the 1970s. They’ve grown with the industry, and are one of the few companies out there who provide both exciting innovations and affordable mid-level bikes.
Our buyer’s guide will take a closer look at this decades-old brand, and showcase a few of our favorite Diamondback mountain bikes to start your search.
Diamondback Sorrento Hard Tail Mountain Bike
Diamondback Overdrive Hardtail Mountain Bike
Diamondback Laurito Hardtail Mountain Bike
Recoil Full Suspension Mountain Bike
How did Diamondback Bicycles get its start?
Diamondback Bicycles was founded in 1977 in California (today the company is based out of Washington). Originally a BMX brand, they were first sold under the name Centurion by Western State Imports; today, they’re owned by Accell and produced in China by the Kinesis Industry. The same company also purchased the famed Raleigh Cycle Company in 2012.
BMX enthusiasts have long favored this brand, which sponsored competitive riders as early as 1979. They moved into mountain bikes in the early 1990s.
Today, the company sells bikes for comfort, racing, and much more, including children’s models. Many of their bikes are included in their ReadyRide category, meaning the bikes are pre-assembled as much as possible before delivery, so consumers can easily put them together themselves.
Note: not all bikes are classified as ReadyRide/pre-assembled. Check the item description before purchase.
What makes Diamondback unique from other bike companies?
As long-time innovators in the industry, one might expect Diamondback to come at a steep price. In reality, their bikes are mid-level, in both quality and price. Riders generally see them as the “next step up” from cheap box store/entry-level bikes, but not quite on par with professional bikes with prices $3,000+.
Their most notable contribution to the cycling world was their “Knuckle Box” suspension on their full-suspension mountain bikes. They sell mountain bikes (both full suspension and hardtail models), hybrids for comfort or racing, road bikes, cruiser models, children’s sport and sidewalk bikes, BMX bikes, and even clothing and exercise gear, such as ellipticals.
The company also partners with cycling teams, charities, and sponsorship programs, making them an integral part of the cycling community—not just a faceless corporation off in the distance, but a group of people who love the sport as much as their customers do.
Over the last 4 decades, this brand has grown and evolved with the times. Instead of fading away when the industry changed, they rolled with it—and, in the case of mountain bikes’ rising popularity in the 1990s, embraced it. Today, they enjoy a well-deserved reputation in the BMX and mountain bike communities—but they’re not stopping there.
In 2016, one of the company’s engineers partnered with the University of Toronto’s Institute of Aerospace Studies to develop the Andean Aero-Core, a bike with the strangest frame design you’ve ever seen—and the fastest speeds any triathlon rider could imagine. The frame has no gap between its wheels, and the pedals hug the frame very closely for optimal aerodynamics.
It also features built-in containers for food, trash, water, and even your wallet, as well as spare parts in the event of a tire blowout or other race-time disaster. It’s available directly from the company via custom builds, but be warned: this bike can cost upwards of $8,000, even with standard options. Nevertheless, innovations like these are an excellent indication of Diamondback’s commitment to and passion for cycling, and willingness to not just survive the changing industry, but to thrive in it.
What if I want a bike specialized for light off-roading, rather than rugged or steep trails?
One of our favorite things about Diamondback is the fact they understand the many uses of mountain bikes. They sell options for both trail riding and recreational/sport use, with features designed exclusively for those purposes—and some designed for both.
Their trail bikes feature full suspension for smoother riding, and the knobby tires give riders the option to head down rough or muddy paths to their hearts’ content.
On the other hand, their hardtail models are lightweight, so you can take them on smoother trails or even around town. All in all, any of their models would be suitable for multi-faceted use, and some are lightweight enough to use as commuter options.
Buyers will also be happy to hear that Diamondback has prices that suit all budgets. Whether you’re looking for a cheaper entry-level bike, or a pricier one meant for seasoned riders, chances are good that Diamondback has something you’ll love.
What’s their customer service like?
Diamondback Bicycles features a Contact Us link at the bottom of their website. It has an email form, a phone number, a mailing address, and a fax number. Their call line took just over 4 minutes to reach a live person.
Additionally, the company has a LiveChat pop-up window at the bottom of each page. We were connected to a Diamondback Expert, Sarah, in less than one minute.
She was incredibly knowledgeable about all the brand’s products, including the children’s lines, and was also very pleasant (we even exchanged a bit of casual conversation).
Their warranty covers manufacturing defects that affect the performance or safety of their products, but not wear and tear from use. There are different terms for these warranties, depending on the product/component you buy:
- Rigid Bike Frames: Lifetime for original owner/buyer.
- Full-Suspension Bicycle Frames: Five years from original purchase on front triangle; one year on swing arm.
- Forks (Diamondback Brand): One year from date of original purchase.
- Forks (Other Brands): Consult specific dealer for details.
- Components (Diamondback Brand): One year from original date of purchase.
- Components (Other Brands): Consult specific dealer for details.
- Finish and Decals: One year from original purchase.
- Suspension Parts (Pivot Bearing, Bolts, Fasteners, etc.): One year from the date of original purchase.
- Accessories, Shoes, and Clothing: One year from the date of original purchase.
Diamondback Mountain Bike Reviews
1. Diamondback Overdrive Hardtail Mountain Bike Review
Hardtail models (bikes with front suspension, but no rear) are, admittedly, not the most comfortable to ride—but that’s exactly why so many enthusiasts love them. They allow for a more immersive riding experience, since you have to brace yourself and map out the route in front of you more carefully than a bike with full-suspension.
They also tend to be cheaper, which is a plus for beginners. The Overdrive from Diamondback has 24 speeds, disc brakes for quick stops, and is available in the company’s ReadyBike setup: it arrives partially pre-assembled, so customers can easily put it together and get riding.
If you’re ready to upgrade from a box-store bike—or if you already have, and figure it’s about time for a replacement—the Overdrive is a natural and welcome next step. It’s affordable, constructed with quality, and capable of excellent performance, whether you’re taking it down a campsite path or up a craggy mountain trail. We don’t recommend this to riders prone to backaches, who might need that rear suspension, after all.
2. Diamondback Recoil Full Suspension Mountain Bike Review
If you’re a beginner who’s not too keen to feel all those bumps you’re tackling (or if you’re a hardtail rider who’s ready for a smoother ride), consider the Recoil.
This model has a front fork, but it pivots into the rear suspension for a firm control whether you’re chugging uphill, or barrelling back down towards home. The front and rear disc brakes don’t hurt, either.
Even if you decide to upgrade your shock absorbers later on, the Recoil is a bargain for a mid-level mountain bike. We suspect it will still be favored by many over hardtails, so some riders might find the stock absorbers offer plenty of support already.
3. Diamondback Sorrento Hard Tail Mountain Bike Review
Another hardtail option, the Sorrento has a clean look and very affordable price, both of which will appeal to riders tired of paying for bells and whistles they don’t really need. It’s suitable for daily use as well as off-roading, with a strong but light aluminum frame and knobby tires.
You might not want to take the Sorrento on a steep, muddy hillside, but for dirt paths (or city commutes where you’ll cut across a lawn or two), it does a fine job. We recommend this to riders who plan on off-roading casually, rather than carving through nature.
4. Diamondback Laurito Hardtail Mountain Bike Review
As one of Diamondback’s hardtail options for women, the Laurito boasts a step-through design (although we wouldn’t quite call it “step-through” so much as deeply angled) for easy mounting.
Its flat handlebars give riders more precise control, along with a steel front fork, and its 21 speeds come courtesy of reliable, easy-fire Shimano derailleurs.
Other than the top bar angle, sizes, and color choices, we see no difference between the specs of the Laurito and Diamondback’s men’s models—which is exactly as it should be. Female cyclists who are tired of the patronizing add-ons in “women’s bikes” will welcome this model, which is designed with women in mind, yes—but for high performance, more than anything else.
Diamondback Bicycles has grown steadily over the last four decades, from a reputable BMX brand to one of today’s most well-known cycle companies. Their mountain bikes, in particular, utilize the best technologies without any unnecessary add-ons, and are affordable without sacrificing one ounce of quality or performance.
We hope our buyer’s guide has answered your questions about Diamondback Bicycles, and effectively evaluated a few models to begin your search.