Diamondback Sync 3.0 review

Useful utility bike with spec and shape issues

Our rating 
2.5 out of 5 star rating 2.5
GBP £460.00 RRP

Our review

Harsh ride, dated geometry and limited fork undermine off-road ability
Pros: Rack and mudguard mounts for everyday use
Cons: Short reach/long stem ride position reduces confidence on rough/fast terrain, SunTour fork locks out on steps or in tough sections if pushed too hard, stiff frame and wheels create an uncomfortably firm ride
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Diamondback has some great bikes in the £500 to £1,000 price bracket, and the Sync 3.0 has some useful utility features. Unfortunately, its geometry and suspension limit its off-road potential.

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Diamondback Sync 3.0 frame and kit

If you’re looking for a bike that’ll take you to work all week and then take you off-road at the weekend, then the Sync is well equipped.

Not only does it have fixtures for a four-point rear rack, but there are also mudguard mounts on the reinforcing bridges between the rear stays. The shaped aluminium tubing has extra cable guides for a dropper seatpost, in case you want to add one later. As it is, the bolted (rather than quick-release) seat clamp rules out quick, tool-free adjustment of the stock rigid post.

The extra spokes mean the wheels should take a walloping
Andy Lloyd

For the price the Sync has some downgrades, most obviously, the Shimano Altus transmission only has an eight-speed rear cassette, while the Tourney crankset is from Shimano’s ‘trekking’ rather than ‘trail’ range and has non-replaceable steel chainrings.

The SR Suntour XCT fork uses a coil spring and has no rebound adjuster to control how fast it bounces back after an impact. It also has 28mm stanchions (upper legs), which limits front-disc rotor size to 160mm. You still get hydraulic rather than cable brakes though, which can feel numb and low on power.

Diamondback Sync 3.0 ride

What first stands out about the Diamondback isn’t its parts but its ride position. To be fair, a 430mm reach (the horizontal distance from the centre of the bottom bracket to the centre of the top of the head tube) teamed with a 90mm stem would have been normal on a size-Large bike a decade ago. The 70-degree head angle wouldn’t have seemed odd either. But by today’s standards the geometry is dated, and the difference in control is obvious.

The Sync just isn’t as stable or as capable of holding a line in slippery conditions, and the long stem means it’s harder to catch the front tyre if it slips or reposition it if your line needs tweaking. In short, you feel remote and removed from control rather than ready to get stuck in.

The skinny fork legs affect accuracy too, bending backwards under braking and over rocks, roots or steps — and, in the process, choking the suspension stroke to a thumping standstill. Without any effective rebound damping, there’s nothing to stop the fork twanging back up with clanking force after big compressions too.

The Sync isn’t as stable or as capable of holding a line in slippery conditions
Andy Lloyd

Narrow tyres (53mm) and stiff 36-spoke wheels do nothing to soften the stiff feel of the alloy frame, so there’s no respite from rougher sections. This meant the Sync ran out of smoothness and speed as soon as I headed into tougher terrain. It wasn’t long before the unclamped grips started slipping round the bar too, but at least that’s easy to solve (with a squirt of hairspray).

On the bright side, the extra spokes mean the wheels should take a walloping, and the low-tread WTB Ranger tyres combine easy speed with enough grip for occasional off-roading. The frame stiffness and smaller wheels help acceleration too, so the Sync felt relatively lively.

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I’d recommend saving up for a bit longer to stretch your budget further up the Diamondback range if you want a proper mountain-ready bike.

Product Specifications

Product

Name Sync 3.0
Brand Diamondback

Available Sizes 14in 16in 18in 20in 22in
Rear Tyre WTB Ranger 27.5x2.25in
Wheelbase (in) 43.31
Top Tube (in) 23.82
Seat Tube (in) 20.28
Chainstays (in) 17.13
Bottom Bracket Height (in) 12.2
Spoke Type 36x 14g, black
Weight (kg) 14.79
Stem DBR alloy, 90mm
Shifters Shimano Altus M310 (3x8)
Seatpost Alloy
Seat Angle 73
Saddle DBR MTB
Rims Double-wall alloy
Rear Wheel Weight 2950
Rear Hub Alloy QR
Bottom Bracket semi-sealed square taper cartridge
Headset Type Semi-integrated, 1.125in
Head Angle 70
Handlebar Kore XCD 2, 720mm
Grips/Tape DB Trail Grip
Front Wheel Weight 2310
Front Tyre WTB Ranger 27.5x2.25in
Front Hub Alloy QR
Front Derailleur Shimano Altus
Frame Material Hydroformed 6061 aluminium
Fork SR SunTour XCT-HLO, 100mm (3.9in) travel
Cranks Shimano Tourney, 42/32/22t
Chain YBN
Cassette SunRace, 12-32t
Brakes Tektro Hydra, 160mm rotors
Frame size tested 20in