Diamondback launched the Release 29 about a year and a half ago, which might as well have been a lifetime. The bike dropped with two build options, and this fall the brand is adding an even more affordable, entry-level build dubbed the Release 29.1. I just got one in for test, and here’s a preview of what I’ll be looking at over the next couple of months.
Framing the discussion
Priced at $2,500 (available online from Amazon and Diamondback), this full suspension mountain bike is not going to be for everyone. First time mountain bike buyers will likely consider it expensive, while experienced riders will skeptically assume it’s not a very capable bike. Like most things, the truth is likely somewhere in the middle.
Let’s start with the facts: the Diamondback Release 29 features 140mm of suspension travel up front, and 130mm in the rear. That places it solidly in the trail bike category, and the component selection outlined below fits with the bike’s intent. The aluminum frame and budget-friendly components combine for a 35.5lb. weight, without pedals, for the size extra large I’m testing.
Looking at the geometry, the numbers aren’t particularly progressive with a 67.7° head tube angle and a fairly lazy 73° seat tube angle. However, considering other bikes in this consumer category, it’s not uncommon to see, for example, head tube angles around the 68° mark, likely because it’s a pretty neutral angle and offers a position new riders find comfortable.
The Release 29 features Diamondback’s Level Link suspension design, which the brand claims offers a “playful attitude.” It’s clear this bike is designed for having fun on the trail, as opposed to say racing, so I’m looking forward to experiencing the ride feel for myself.
Aside from the inlet for the dropper cable, the Release 29.1 frame doesn’t feature internal cable or hose routing. The upside is simpler maintenance and repair down the line, while the downside is a slightly unkempt look. Unfortunately, it also means there aren’t mounts for a water bottle cage inside the front triangle, only along the underside of the downtube.
The paint color seen here is called ‘Russet Brown Matte.’ So, it’s a potato. I’ll editorialize a bit here by saying that while it’s not the flashiest or prettiest color, at least it won’t show dirt like a lighter, brighter color might.
Starting at the front, Diamondback selected the SR Suntour Aion fork, with 140mm of air-sprung travel. While SR Suntour may not be one of the two most popular mountain bike suspension brands, their gear tends to offer a good value. This particular fork boasts adjustable rebound and 35mm stanchions which shouldn’t feel too flexy. The included SR Suntour Edge shock also features rebound adjustment. Moving up to the more expensive Release 29.2 build gets a Fox Rhythm 34 fork and Float DPS shock.
Buyers will be stoked to get a 1×12 drivetrain at this price with a SRAM SX cassette, shifter, and crank set. The 32T chainring could be a little hard for some new riders to spin — sometimes bikes in this category go with a 30T — but swapping it out is easy enough.
TRP Slate brakes tick the hydraulic checkbox, though not surprisingly they are the 2-piston version front and rear. It’s great to see a TranzX dropper post with a 1x remote on a build at this price point, and the one on my XL test bike measures 150mm of travel. Sitting atop the dropper is a WTB Coda saddle, and after just a couple of quick spins I think I’m in love. Like, where have you been all my life, Coda!?
The Release 29.1 rolls on Diamondback-branded Blanchard rims that are said to be tubeless-ready. Mine shipped with tubes installed, but I plan to remove them to test those tubeless claims shortly. Two-dot-three-inch WTB Vigilante tires front and rear are a safe choice for most riders and in most conditions.
Finally, the aluminum, Diamondback-branded handlebar and stem feature a 35mm clamping diameter for stiff, controlled steering. Flanged, lock-on Diamondback grips give riders a handle.
I’ll be hitting my local trails on the Diamondback Release 29.1 this fall so stay tuned for the full review.