Diamondback Heist 3.0+ first ride review£895.00

One of our favourite bargain bombers goes plus for 2017

Plus tyres (that’s 2.8–3.0in tyres on 30–40mm internal width rims) add a very obvious amount of lump and bump smoothing ‘suspension’. This hovercraft effect is particularly obvious on more affordable, price conscious bikes where the inevitably clunkier feel of simple suspension and cruder frames is smoothed over by the extra rubber blubber. But how does the Diamondback Heist 3.0+ stack up?

Diamondback Heist 3.0+ spec overview

  • Frame: Alloy butted hydrofomed tubing, BOOST spacing, tapered headtube, forged 148x12mm dropouts
  • Fork: Rockshox Recon RL Soloair 120mm BOOST forks
  • Rear derailleur: Shimano XT Shadow Plus
  • Brakes: Shimano AM315 hydraulic disc brakes
  • Crankset: Diamondback 2pc BOOST 175mm 32T
  • Freewheel/cassette: Sunrace 11-42T Black cassette
  • Front hub: Diamondback sealed BOOST 110x15mm, 32H
  • Rear hub: Diamondback sealed BOOST 148x12mm, 32H
  • Rims: 29 PLUS WTB Scraper I40 32H
  • Handlebars: Race Face RIDE 740mm
  • Saddle: Diamondback MTB
  • Seatpost: Remote dropper, 412mm x 30.9mm
  • Tyres: WTB Ranger 27.5x2.80

Diamondback Heist 3.0+ frame and equipment

Getting the extra width of plus tyres into a bike involves significant chassis and spec changes, which inevitably means extra cost on bikes that are already cut to the bone on profit margin. That means only a few manufacturers have committed to chubby wheels on cheaper bikes despite the obvious ride advantages.

The single ring chainset drives a durable SunRace 11-42T cassette controlled through a Shimano XT rear mech and SLX shifters

Happily for UK riders, it’s brands like Alpkit, Carrera and now Diamondback who have taken the plunge. In terms of value for money for a bike you can buy from your local dealer (rather than online or Halfords) the new Heist 3.0 is an incredible package.

For a start, while we’ve said that plus tyres smooth out the roughness of cheap suspension forks, the Heist actually has a very good fork for a sub £1,000 / $1,200 bike. The RockShox Recon RL comes complete with remote lockout lever and a bolt thru-axle to tame the extra wide (110mm) Boost front hub and a tapered steerer keeps it stiff in the frame. That’s a Race Face Ride cockpit on top with a sensible, tree-friendly 740mm width and steady away 60mm stem.

As cassettes go, SunRace’s is one tough cookie
As cassettes go, SunRace’s is one tough cookie

The single ring chainset drives a durable SunRace 11-42T cassette controlled through a Shimano XT rear mech and SLX shifters for an 11-gear spread, not the 2x10 (or 1x10 if you’re lucky) compromise that dominates in this price bracket.

The wheels use WTB’s benchmark, proper wide Scraper i40 rim to fatten up 2.8in WTB Ranger all-rounder tyres at both ends. Buy some Gorilla Tape and valves and you’ll be ready to go tubeless to maximise survivability and smoothness too. Then, and as if that value hasn’t already put you on the floor, you also get an internally routed dropper post included in the price and, like we say, it’ll all be set up right and serviced by your local DBR dealer, rather than just arriving in a box.

Diamondback Heist 3.0+  ride impression

A bargain plus-size bomber on the trails
A bargain plus-size bomber on the trails

The best bargain parts in the world can’t bring a dead frame or staggering zombie geometry back to life though, so is the Heist a plus on the trail or a minus?

The first thing to get straight is that this is a plus version of a standard, do everything hardtail. In other words, this isn’t a crazy long, slacked out enduro style beast. That’s because Diamondback feels that most mid-range hardtail riders will want something obedient, user friendly and not too weird compared to anything they’ve ridden before. They’ve got that spot on too, with a relaxed 67-degree head angle that self corrects subtly for confidence if things get sketchy, but doesn’t put the front wheel so far away it feels like you’re chasing a wheelbarrow through the woods.

The bar offers decent leverage without wedging between every tree gap and the stem gives prompt reactions without twitching around too much on climbs. In other words, it’s not the most radical ride around compared to bikes like the Alpkit Transmitter, but it’s a user-friendly fit and feel for new or returning riders who are likely to be the main market for this machine.

No need to breathe in between tight gaps thanks to the 740mm wide bar
No need to breathe in between tight gaps thanks to the 740mm wide bar

If you want more length than the relatively old school 580mm (medium) top tube, there’s always the option of sizing up bigger than normal as the kinked top tube keeps standover pretty good.

What all riders will appreciate, though, is how much more easily a plus tyre makes the average rocky, rooty trail, particularly at slow speeds. Once you’ve got the pressure right (we ended up at around 13-15psi, on our local trails — play around with this to get it set up just right for you and your riding) and you get used to going straight rather dodging and potentially ricocheting off everything. It just rolls relentlessly over all the stuff that normally trips you up or knocks the speed out of your wheels. Add the ability to get the saddle out of the way instantly and a wide range sequential gear system for brain free shifting, and it’s just far easier to tackle technical terrain on than a conventional 27.5in tyre hardtail or even a 29er.

Decent damping in the front fork means you can hit big stuff pretty hard without the front end pogoing madly too, and that’s before you turn the tyres tubeless to take their control and impact proofing to another level again. The fact there’s nothing in the spec that needs changing before hitting challenging trails confirms the Heist 3.0 as one of the most overwhelmingly positive 2017 plus bikes we’ve seen thus far.

Diamondback's Heist 3.0+
Diamondback's Heist 3.0+

Diamondback Heist 3.0+ early verdict

Amazingly well sorted, user-friendly plus tyre trail player at an outrageously good price.

This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.

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