The Sortie Comp is the more expensive of Diamondback’s two Sorties, matching 125mm of rear travel with a 140mm fork in a package that looks like strong value – on paper. Sadly we didn’t ride it on paper.
Ride & handling: Comfy and agile away from the steep stuff
The Sortie is a different proposition to many full suspension trail bikes. While it’s got 140mm of trail-flattening fork at the front, it handles more like a traditional cross-country bike.
Responses are sharp thanks to a steep, 70-degree head angle and a bar/stem combo that’s narrow and long – 670mm and 90mm respectively. That wouldn’t look odd on a two-year-old XC bike. On tight singletrack and steep climbs it works well, but as things get big and fast enough to suit the fork the Sortie gets out of sorts.
It demands care on steep or fast descents, and stepped impacts get hairy as the already steep geometry gets unstable with fork compression. Those distant, narrow bars don’t help you deal with its desire to jack knife and throw you off. That thin head tube won’t take angle-changing headsets either, so you’re stuck with it.
On the upside, suspension performance is good, with a usefully progressive and vice-free back end. On smoother ground it’s well worth flicking the Fox’s Climb Trail Descend lever to Trail – it holds the back end up a little, although if your pedalling is smooth it’s fine left fully open most of the time.
While stiffness between head tube and pedals is decent, the Sortie has a bit of twang in the swingarm, and that 140mm fork would really benefit from a thru-axle.
Frame & equipment: Clean looks and decent level of kit
The heart of the Sortie is the Knucklebox linkage, that substantial lump of aluminium positioned right in the middle of the frame. It takes the forward motion of the seatstays and turns it into vertical thrust through the shock.
The big advantage of this design is it leaves space for a straight, full-length seat tube, allowing you to slam the saddle right down. It has cable guides for a dropper post, which is the least we expect, but unusually, the Sortie lacks the now almost ubiquitous tapered head tube. Instead it sticks with a 1 1/8in setup, and pairs it with a skinny quick-release rear axle.
Diamondback haven’t taken any chances with the components, speccing Fox suspension at both ends and a complete 10-speed Shimano Deore groupset (with the rear mech bumped up to XT level) and the ever-reliable M445 disc brakes.
Kenda Slant Six tyres are light, fast-rolling and not bad on solid surfaces, but they’re instantly out of their depth in loose ground or mud. Or ‘the UK’ as we call it.
There is a lot to like about Diamondback’s Sortie Comp. It’s well put together, well-equipped and offers capable suspension performance. But there is something of a mismatch between its heavy-duty travel and weight and its more cross-country geometry – it feels like it either needs to lose a couple of degrees off the head angle for proper stability, or a couple of pounds (and 10 or 20mm of travel off the front) to really make sense.