I had the pleasure of testing the new DiamondBack Mission 3. I received the frame in the mail with the instructions to build it to the way I normally ride. Well, I’m 5′-7″ & 210lbs so, I’m not the fastest climber but, I do get to the top in a decent amount of time. I’ve been riding bikes all my life and mountain bikes for 20yrs of that. My type of riding would be classed as Flow, which is to climb to the top of the mountain and then decent through the tree covered single-track /switchback /drop offs with the least amount back wheel lock up and dabs. I promptly clamped the frame to my bike stand using the furnished Easton E50 seat post and seat clamp. A zero stack headset was also provided for the formed alloy cups. The first thing you notice about the Mission 3 is it’s hooded hydroformed top tube which explains itself later on the ride. The main section of the DiamondBack Mission 3 frame is its Knuckle Box design. The Knuckle Box is what keeps everything stable, add in the Fox RP 23 rear shock with a three stage select tuning pro-pedal and a full open stage and you get 6 inches of plush travel which will also explain itself on the ride. Combine all this and you have your self an efficient climbing machine at a good price tag.
I built this bike up with a Nixon Elite 115/145 fork, Kore 90mm 5* rise stem, Hellbent riser bars, ODI lock-on grips, Shimano XT 9spd shifters, Shimano XT levers to Shimano XT 4 piston calipers on a 180mm front disc and a 160mm rear, a SDG seat, Race Face XC ride cranks 2 rings with a bash guard, Shimano XT front and rear derailleur, Shimano 9 spd cassette, Shimano HG chain, Shimano XT
hubs laced to Mavics double walled beefy wheels, a Panaracer XC fire pro 2.1 rear, a Kenda Blue Groove 2.3 front.
Once built, I had to choose a suitable location for it’s first test ride. I picked Mount Wilson, part of the San Gabriel mountain range in the Angeles National Forrest. Mount Wilson can be seen towering over the cities of Pasadena / Altadena in southern California. Off the top of Mount Wilson you will encounter 14 mi. of the best rocky technical single-track around. A great challenging first ride to dial in the suspension for the DiamondBack Mission 3.
This is a rocky ride so my tires are set around 43 psi and my RP23 even though I had it full open my Pro-pedal for climbing was set at Stage 2 at 200psi. Right from the start I could feel the DiamondBack Mission 3’s low center of gravity with it’s bottom bracket height at 348mm, combined that with it’s 6 inches of travel and you might hit a big rock or two when fully compressed. It took me about three hits to my pedals to adjust my riding stance.
My previous bike was an XC with a much higher bottom bracket clearance. I had to remind myself to keep my pedals level and to relay on my bash guard to do its job. The steering response was excellent, this is where the hooded hydroformed top tube comes into play making for a fully ridged frame, even at 145mm the 68* head angle worked great when negotiating the step down switchbacks. The Mission 3 will add some more weight but, the strength and price make up for that.
On the upper section of my test ride I stalled on a G-out and went off the side. Luckily, I only went down a few feet and landed on a rock shelf formation. While falling I thought to myself I’m going to loose the bike off the side so, I reached out and grabbed a hand full of cables. It was like a action movie, there I was spread eagle on a cliff side while holding on to a dangling bike by it’s cable housings. My two riding buddies came to my rescue and got me out of there. I thought for sure the paint was chipped and scratched up but, I remembered that the Mission 3’s frame is anodized and with a nice metallic light blue too. I looked and to my surprise I did not find any scuffs or scratches. All the impacted must have went to the bars and pedals.
The rest of my ride went off with out a hitch and towards the end I started too purposely put the bike in stressful and awkward situations to see how well it would react and respond. The same thought kept popping into my head over and over……. “STABLE”.
I finished my test ride with a pleasant sense of satisfaction. It happens from time to time that I will finish a test ride with a cheated sense or maybe a some things missing feeling but, not this time. My experience with the DiamondBack Mission 3 was very pleasant, I adapted to it’s travel early on and after that it wasn’t an issue. Don’t let the name fool you, this is not your low end bike. The Mission 3 can hold it’s own against the pricier competition.
I feel the DiamondBack Mission 3 hasn’t been pushed to it’s limits so, I took it to Mammoth CA. for three days of hard pounding free-riding and down hilling. Stay tuned for that review. R. H.