DIAMONDBACK HAANJO GRAVEL BIKE REVIEW

WE GUESS IT RHYMES WITH “BANJO”

As a company most famous in the ’80s and ’90s for their BMX and mountain bikes, Diamondback is still around and has most recently remade themselves into a consumer-direct brand offering all categories of bikes. As with any bike company looking to stay current with the latest drop-bar trends, Diamondback, too, had to jump into the gravel bike game. 

The Haanjo 8C represents the high end of Diamondback’s eight-model family of gravel bikes, each numbered in succession that starts with the $785 aluminum Haanjo 1. Within the family tree, three bikes use a carbon frame, starting with the $2600 Haanjo 6C.

THE FRAME

Our 56cm Diamondback had a relaxed 71.0-degree head angle, 102.5cm wheelbase and 43cm chainstay. The fork is flat-mount disc-compatible with a tapered steerer tube, as well as mounts for touring gear. The rear triangle has mounts for touring racks or bags, and logically there are three water-bottle mounts. From our measurements, it looks like you could safely fit up to a 45mm-wide tire. The 8C frame comes in white with bronze gold lettering, which looks really sharp in person. The bike weighs in at just over 19 pounds.

As set up from the factory, the levers/hoods were mounted too far forward on the handlebars and had to be repositioned to ride.

THE PARTS

As the highest quality build in Diamondback’s line of gravel bikes, the 8c shares its carbon frame but differs from its lower-cost siblings with its component outfit. The handlebars and the wheels are what separate it from the Haanjo 7C. The 8C runs with a gravel-specific Shimano GRX drivetrain and tubeless-ready Easton EC70AX carbon rims with 37mm WTB Riddler tires. The handlebars are the carbon Easton EC70AX with a 16-degree flare. For the drivetrain, the 8C is running a direct-mount Praxxis Girder crank with 48/32t chainrings paired to an 11-speed, 11-34t cassette. 

The Praxxis/Shimano’s GRX drivetrain performed capably. Between the rear derailleur cable guides and excess amount of cable, the Haanjo was ripe for getting the cable snagged.

THE RIDE

From the moment one starts pedaling, the Haanjo 8C reveals a light, comfortable and stable feel. The 37mm WTB Riddler tires worked well in the variety of situations this bike encountered—from asphalt, gravel to singletrack. While the gear ratios worked for most applications, on long, steep climbs a lower gear would’ve done much to reduce overall fatigue.

Along with the Easton handlebars and wheels, the WTB saddle and tires were nice additions to the Haanjo.

Available in four sizes, the Haanjo had a capable road bike feel on the asphalt. Once we reached the gravel roads, it still felt smooth and handled the common gravel road chatter-bumps effortlessly. Singletrack trails were a non-issue; the bike absorbed the bumps and offered predictable handling in the rocky sections.

THE VERDICT

As opposed to many big-box bike brands that usually spec an array of no-name components, we were happy to see that the Diamondback was outfitted with a variety of name-brand components from brands like WTB and Easton. On the other side was the big-box blues as evidenced by the poor attention to detail in assembling the bike with its excess cable housing and brake-lever position.

PUNCH LINES

Shimano GRX drivetrain

Less than 1:1 gearing

Big-box brand with name-brand parts

STATS

Price: $4600

Weight: 19.3 pounds

Sizes: 50, 53, 56 (tested), 59cm

www.diamondback.com

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