Diamondback’s new Release and Catch trail bikes – first ride review

130mm travel trail bike and Plus version use new Level Link suspension

27.5 All Mountain Trail Plus
The Level Link is Diamondback's take on a dual counter, short rotating linkage.

The Level Link is Diamondback’s take on a dual counter, short rotating linkage (click to enlarge).

Patents in the United States generally last twenty years and recently, several of the oldest patents on mountain bike suspension designs have expired. This has allowed brands from overseas to enter the market and enabled others to create variations of existing platforms.

The most recent suspension patent to expire was Santa Cruz’s Virtual Pivot Point (VPP), a fact which enabled brands like Intense to create their JS Tuned suspension. This has also paved the way for Diamondback‘s new Level Link platform.

This system was built in conjunction with independent designer Luther Beal, the owner of Level One Engineering, who created the well received Breezer M-Link and Transition Giddy Up systems.

This system was built in conjunction with independent designer Luther Beal, the owner of Level One Engineering, who created the well received Breezer M-Link and Transition Giddy Up systems (click to enlarge).

Suspension

This new suspension system shares visual similarities with Santa Cruz’s design, but is functionally different enough to merit its own patent – which is currently pending. Like VPP, Level Link utilizes dual short counter rotating links, but on the Diamondback the lower links sits parallel to the chain while the upper link sits perpendicular under sag. When pedaling, the lower link stays inline with the chain while the upper link is free to move and react to bump forces.

The Catch is a plus sized model with a more trail oriented geometry.

The Catch is a plus sized model with a more trail oriented geometry (click to enlarge).

The Catch

To take advantage of the new suspension platform, Diamondback is releasing two all new 130mm full suspension models. Up first is the Catch, a budget friendly 27.5+ model with 130mm of travel front and rear that will be available at two different price points. The more expensive version retails for $3,500 and is smartly spec’d with a 34mm Fox fork, Monarch RT3 shock, SRAM GX 1x drivetrain and Guide brakes. That price also includes an externally routed KS dropper with a Southpaw remote.

The Catch two also utilizes a Fox fork, although this model uses an open cartridge, rather than the new Fit 4 damper.

The Catch two also utilizes a Fox fork, although this model uses an open cartridge, rather than the new Fit 4 damper (click to enlarge).

For a thousand dollars less, the entry level Catch ditches the dropper for a regular seatpost and gains a front derailleur. Both models roll on 2.8” Kenda Havok tires, which are mounted on Diamondback’s new Blanchard rims.

Bonus points to Diamondback for using a threaded bottom bracket and including ISCG05 tabs.

Bonus points to Diamondback for using a threaded bottom bracket and including ISCG05 tabs (click to enlarge).

The Release

The other new model is the Release, which is a more of a do-anything steed. The frame still has 130mm of rear travel, but was designed around a 150mm fork for an aggressive 66 degree headtube angle. Out back, the chainstays were made as short as possible.

The two higher price point models will ship with 1x drivetrains, but the Release also has provisions for a front derailleur.

The two higher price point models will ship with 1x drivetrains, but the Release also has provisions for a front derailleur.

The Release will be available at three different price points starting at $2,500 and creeping up to $4,400. At the press launch, we had the opportunity to thrash the highest end model, the Release 3. This bike came equipped with a Pike RCT3, Monarch Plus w/ Debonair can, SRAM X1 drivetrain, Guide brakes, and KS Lev Post. Out of the box, there’s not a single component I’d change. It even ships with great tires.

Unusual color scheme be damned, we’re happy to see plenty of tire clearance out back.

Unusual color scheme be damned, we’re happy to see plenty of tire clearance out back (click to enlarge).

If I had to nitpick, it would be due to the color scheme of the frame and wheels. Whenever I see a part like a frame or wheelset that is mismatched, I assume the rider snapped something and couldn’t get the matching replacement part.

Continue to page 2 for riding impressions and full photo gallery »

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