Diamondback Release 29 2 Review


Words by Nic Hall | Photos by Drew Rohde

Diamondback seems to improve their offerings year after year while still managing to keep their prices low. We’ve always been pleasantly surprised with how they perform on the trail, so we were excited when Diamonback sent us the Release 29. The Release 29 is Diamonback’s budget 29er trail bike with 130mm rear wheel travel and 140mm up front. A majority of the cost savings come from the aluminum frame and lower spec component group. Still focusing on performance however, Diamondback choose to stick with higher end suspension so aggressive riders could get the best experience possible and make smaller, more affordable drivetrain upgrades as they wore out parts. At only $2,800, with free shipping, we were curious to see if this budget mountain bike would be able to hang with the pricier options on the market?

Diamondback continues using their Level Link Suspension, which is a linkage driven four bar design that was originally designed to limit chain grown and decouple pedaling input from suspension performance. It is similar to other VPP designs with a very short lower link that remains parallel to the chain line. The suspension is designed to be very sag dependent as it will spend most of it’s time in the middle of the stroke.

Diamondback Release 29 2 Review

Geometry is respectable for a trail bike, but nothing over the top. Reach is 449mm, chainstays measure 446mm, with an overall wheelbase of 1,185mm. The seat tube angle sits at 73 degrees, and the head tube angle is 67.7 degrees on our size large. While the numbers may portray a mild sounding bike, we found the geometry to be very balanced in respect to both pedaling and downhill performance. The seat tube angle was just about perfect to get up and on the power when climbing and the front end tracked nicely when descending.

Build spec is spot on for a nice blend of value and performance. Brakes and drivetrain feature Shimano SLX 11 M7000 series, which incorporates some of the best features of Shimano’s high end 11-speed design in a bit heavier package. Race Face AEffect cranks and Ergon grips are standout parts on the build. A Fox 34 Rhythm with Grip damper and a performance Fox Float shock on the rear offer really solid suspension that still has a good amount of adjustment. The only thing we didn’t love was the shorter 125mm TranzX dropper. It worked well, but a large bike with that steep of a seat tube really needs a 150mm dropper.

Diamondback Release 29 2 Review

Like Diamondback’s other dual suspension mountain bikes, climbing performance is outstanding. The Release 29 is very quick on rolling terrain and long climbs alike. The suspension has very little pedal-induced movement, and once the sag was dialed in, had excellent traction on technical climbs. The combination of the steep seat tube and moderate head tube allowed the bike to track well on tight switchbacks and easily switch direction. Even on very steep climbs, I never felt the front end wandering or that I was too far off the back over the seat. The bike’s suspension design can transfer a little bit more feedback to the rider’s butt while seated and going over larger roots or square-edge rocks, but is a small trade off for the speed and performance.

The downhills are nearly as good as the climbing. The bike feels very planted for only having 130mm of rear travel. In fact only larger hits off bigger drops and large square edge obstacles had us finding the bottom out point of the suspension. While the Fox 34 rhythm was very good, it did get overwhelmed in continuous high speed rock gardens and stanchion flex is apparent in hard cornering. But this bike never claimed to be a long travel enduro ripper. The more we thought about it, the fact we could push this 130mm trail bike hard enough to get the Fox 34 fork to be an issue is a testament to Diamonback’s impressive feat of making a sub-$3,000 bike shred so hard. That being said, the Release 29 is a trail bike built for all-around trail riding, and it does that well. The Release 29 is agile and lively, but planted on the descents. It was very quick to get up to speed thanks to the 29 inch wheels and predictable enough to break the rear wheel free when required.

Diamondback Release 29 2 Review

The Wolf’s Last Word

In today’s market, you would hard pressed to find a better bike shipped to your door for $2,800 USD. If there was one word to describe the Release 29, it would be wow! It isn’t the lightest or sexiest bike on the market, but it is just about perfect for a do it all trail bike. It is nimble on the climbs, rides lighter than it is, and can handle all but the gnarliest descents. If I was on a budget and had to put my hard-earned cash into a trail bike, the Release 29 would be hard to pass up.

Price: $2,800
Weight: 33.41 lbs
Website: Diamondback.com


Frame: Hydroformed Tubing, Level Link Suspension Platform, 130mm Travel
Fork: Fox Rhythm 34 29″, 140mm
Shock:Fox Float DPS EVOL LV

Brakes: Shimano SLX M7000, 180/180mm
Handlebar: DB35 Alloy, 780mm Wide, 15mm Rise
Headset: FSA No. 57 Sealed Cartridge
Saddle: WTB Volt Comp
Seatpost: TranzX YSP32FL Internal Dropper
Shifter: Shimano SLX M7000 Shadow Plus
Stem: DB35 Alloy, 50mm Reach

Hubs: Alloy, Alloy, Boost 110x15mm (f), Boost 148x12mm (r)
Rims: Diamondback Blanchard 28R
Front Tire: Maxxis Minion DHF 29×2.3″ EXO, TLR, Folding
Rear Tire: Maxxis Minion DHR II 29×2.3″ EXO, TLR, Folding

Bottom Bracket: Raceface Outboard Bearing
Cassette: Shimano SLX M7000 Cassette, 11 Speed, 11-46t
Cranks: Raceface Aeffect Cinch, 30t
Derailleur: Shimano SLX M7000 Shadow Plus

Diamondback Release 29 2 Review

We Dig

Price for Performance
All Around Trail Ripper

We Don’t

Aggressive Riders May Need Volume Reducer in Fork

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