First impressions are that this Diamondback is far better equipped than the majority of bikes at this price. The frame is nicely designed, the drivetrain is decent, the disc brakes are hydraulic, the wheels are tough and the tyres are better than usual for a sub-£500 bike.
As usual at this price, it’s the fork that compromises overall trail performance, but it wasn’t as bad as some we’ve tested at this price.
Ride & handling: Let down by suspension
The Peak’s poor fork performance detracts from an otherwise confident ride. The stiff spring action, even on minimum preload, conspires with a fair bit of stiction in compression to create a bouncy ride rather than a shock absorbent one. Running the tyres at low pressures helps, in terms of boosting comfort, traction and shock absorption, but a softer spring in the fork would help more.
Check production bikes in the shops though, because the performance of Suntour’s low budget forks does seem to vary a lot. We had no moans about the handling, and the reasonable weight (13.8kg / 30.4lb) makes the Peak feel livelier than a lot of other bikes at this price.
Frame & equipment: Tektro hydraulic discs for less than £500
Diamondback use hydroformed tube profiles throughout to achieve a variety of shapes that incorporate reinforcements at all crucial points without excess weight. The top tube standover clearance is generous, there’s loads of mud room around the big tyres and the geometry is a good balance of neutral handling and a decent top tube stretch for efficient pedalling.
There’s lots of adjustment potential in the stem, saddle and seatpost but we were surprised at the lack of luggage rack bosses on the seat stays. There’s one set of bottle bosses.
The fork has a decent lockout on top of the right-hand leg as well as a preload dial on top of the left leg so you can theoretically fine-tune the spring stiffness to suit your weight or ride preferences… But it didn’t make much difference.
The compression across bumpy terrain is sticky and the rebound to full extension is harsh, to a point where you need to hang on tight if you’re tackling a series of hard-edged bumps. We initially achieved about 70mm (2.8in) of the listed 100mm (3.9in) of travel but had to strip and service the fork after the first wet ride.
The wheelset is a highlight on the Peak, mainly because of the tyres – 2.25in Schwalbe Rapid Rons are proper off-road treads with a big enough profile to considerably boost comfort as well as offering decent grip in most conditions and, as the name suggests, a rapid roll due to their low knob profile. The build of the wheels is good too, and the Tektro hydraulic disc brakes are great after a little initial bedding-in time for the pads.
The Shimano Altus 24 gears are slick and precise, although the SR Suntour crankset is not as smooth in shifting as the Shimano alternatives that occasionally appear on bikes at this price. Most riders liked the 26in high-rise bar, and the stem, seatpost and saddle are all good quality Diamondback own-brand offerings.
This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.