Test Ride Review: The New Diamondback Catch 27.5+

The Diamondback Catch 2 is a 27.5+ trail bike that I recently had a chance to ride in Santa Barbara, California. As my first experience riding a plus-sized bike, all the trite descriptions of plus-sized riding entered my mind: fat, sluggish, big, heavy, and even cheater! I had to pedal this giant beast of a bike up 4+ miles of fireroad. Ugh. But after spending a day with the Catch, I found it to ride as well or better than my own (tiny) 26er back home. 

Diamondback Catch
Diamondback Catch 2 before descending on the Camuesa Connector Trail

Ready for the downhill on the Cameusa Connector Trail, this beast of a bike tore up the loose, dry singletrack. I normally fear sections of rutted out trail but for this test ride I opted to point the wide tires right down the center. As I got more comfortable on the Catch, I could tell this bike was capable of going faster than other bikes I’ve ridden before. Pretty soon I was grinning through every stretch of singletrack, knowing I could ride it smooth and fast.  

The Level Link suspension system delivered, especially when paired with cheater–I mean, plus-size–tires, maintaining excellent traction through high speed bumps and ruts. I even managed to use up every bit of the 130mm of travel after launching the bike (sometimes unintentionally) off rocks and ledges.

I was beginning to really feel connected and confident on this bike through the first few descents, but as with every trail there will always be some short, steep climbs. I am all too familiar with short steep climbs, being from the east coast, so I’ve had lots and lots of practice muscling up these hills. Unfortunately there were many times I couldn’t get the Catch to power up the steeper sections. Perhaps it was the limited range of the 1×11 drivetrain or fatigue was starting to set in–after all my test bike weighed about 32lb and there was nearly 1700 ft of climbing on this ride. Given the weight of this build and the slower plus-size tires, many riders may want to opt for the Catch 1 which features a 2×10 drivetrain.

Despite some of my climbing challenges, I have to say the Level Link suspension platform felt very efficient with little noticeable pedal bob. Overall the geometry felt like a good compromise between a stable descender and capable climber and the cockpit on my size small test bike was a surprisingly good fit for my 5-foot height.

Me getting my speed on the Romero Canyon Trail photo: Paris Gore for Diamondback Bicycles

My second ride on the Catch was a downhill run on the Romero Canyon Trail. Downhill? No pedaling? I was stoked! I guess I had very selective hearing about what to expect on this trail. While it was 90% downhill with minimal pedaling, I missed the part where “some technical sections” actually meant “mile-long rock gardens that they don’t have in Georgia!” Needless to say, my technical skills were challenged on this trail and I really loved having the dropper seat post at my disposal.

Now we all have a weak side on switchbacks and despite some hesitation on those weak-side turns, I surprised myself and made a lot of them, thanks in part to the short, nimble rear end on the Catch. I had to suppress those misconceptions I had that the wheels and handlebars were too wide to maneuver tight turns, as the Catch was really agile.

Lots or rocks on the Romero Canyon Trail
Lots or rocks on the Romero Canyon Trail

After snaking down the singletrack I came upon the rock gardens. The bumps were small at first and as I slowed down out of caution, the rocks seem to grow bigger and scarier. It is so easy to lose confidence after a couple of falls on the trail! Thankfully I was riding with pro racer and instructor Simon Lawton of Fluidride. Simon coached me through some tough sections and most importantly reminded me the Catch can handle it. How quickly I forgot! Of course, big wheels, big bike, let’s get back to using it to my advantage.

I still fell countless times in the rocks and in the bushes and I walked a lot of rocky sections, but I kept on getting back on that bike and trying to roll over a new line or a bigger rock.  All it takes is a little trust.  Get outside of your comfort zone, push a little more, go a little faster, and Catch your biggest desires!

Click here for more information on Diamondback’s new bikes, the Catch and Release.

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