by Jamie E May 05, 2018

Carbon Full Suspension Trail Bike With Level Link Suspension

Redesigned with high energy, Diamondback brings a formidable competitor to the high end trail bike category. The Release 5c will be a welcome addition for those desiring a relatively budget friendly option in the hotly contested all-rounder category.

This carbon trail bike is almost too good for it’s price. The top model is fully loaded with Fox 36 Float Performance Elite front suspension and SRAM X01 Eagle 12-Speed components. The super-stiff but intuitive Level Link Suspension can accelerate and climb with blazing efficiency thanks to the counter rotating suspension linkage.

Sensible components keep this within the price range of more people looking for the thrill of an all-mountain package without breaking their budget like some of the other super bike competitors in this category.

2018 Full Carbon Monocoque Frame

The first full suspension carbon frame from Diamondback does not disappoint. The tube profiles are unique and flow smoothly. The aesthetic is robust yet elegant with front and rear triangles matching nicely. The design crew at Diamondback have looked after the finest of details, allowing cables to be routed inside the frame. This tube-in-tube cable design makes swapping housing simple and painless.

They have equipped the frame with typical trail bike necessities like ISCG-05 chainguide mounts, Boost axle spacing (148 x 12mm), and direct mount disc tabs.

The rear suspension pivots are tight and clean looking and are not hampered by creaking. Expect the suspension to operate smoothly with a minimum amount of maintenance.

The geometry is a bit on the anomalous side for the trail bike category. With a shorter than normal rear chainstay, the ride performance of this rig is noticeably distinct. The rear chainstay is slightly shorter than other comparable bikes in this category. This also shortens the overall wheelbase of the bike. Expect a bike that is more flickable and agile with a firm rear end that is more resistant to lateral movement.

Level Link Rear Suspension Technology

The Release 5c Level Link Suspension is another variation of the famed VPP system used by Santa Cruz. The design used by Diamondback is dubbed ‘Level Link’. Like other counter rotating linkage systems, this one performs well and efficiently transfers power with little noticeable energy loss. Expect to get serious traction with a correctly dialed in rear shock.

Paired to the suspension is the Fox DPX2 rear shock which has been tuned for low compression suppleness. Even while under power the suspension is free to rotate and provides smooth action over both big and small terrain undulations. This sensitivity to compression and extension on technical climbs helps to maximize traction and give confidence on the steeper climbs that your rear wheel is not about to spin out.  

Enduro Build With Trail Bike Feel

Matching the Fox DPX2 to this suspension system provides plenty of tunable options like a three position lever to fine-tune compression. This is Fox’s most advanced trail shock and works for both small bump sensitivity and big hit impacts using a recirculating oil damper to provide better control for riders.

The front end is ready to handle the heavy blown-out terrain. The Fox 36 Performance Elite Float fork has a Fit4 damper with 150mm of travel for absolutely bomber shock absorption. Use the compression adjustment lever to tune damping on-the-fly. Choose from Open, Medium, and Firm for varying trail conditions. This fork is smooth over smaller stuff with plenty of mid stroke support to prevent diving.

Shifting duties are handled by the SRAM X01 Eagle components driving a Descendent carbon crank for maximum power. The 12 Speed shifter and rear derailleur is coupled with a massive 10-50T cassette providing a huge 500 percent gear range. The crank is fitted with a 34T Eagle Chainring.

The full carbon monocoque frame rolls on hefty 27.5” Race Face Arc30 wheels. Smashing the rock gardens is an afterthought with this setup. Race Face Arc30 rims are tubeless ready and laced to a Novatec hubset that keeps the bike humming through the burly parts of the trail. These rims are versatile with 30mm width and relatively low in weight.

Stock tires are 2.5 inch Maxxis Minion providing ample amounts of traction. They have been remodelled structurally to work specifically with 30mm internal width rims. This is an excellent all condition tire with exceptional grip and matches well to the Race Face rims.

Some notable misses include a lack of inner frame water bottle mount. It is not possible to mount a water bottle inside the frame. Some people may not prefer the stock Ergon grips since this is a very personal choice but is an item that can be easily swapped for a preferable rubber.

The bike weight is around 32lbs. This is a bit on the portly side but can easily be lowered by swapping some of the heavier stock components.

Superb Ride Quality 

With specs that could be interpreted as an enduro build but a more trail bike like travel of 150/130mm front and rear setup, the Release 5c has many virtues. The geometry and stiffness make for an interesting ride.

Looking at other comparable bikes in the market leads to the Santa Cruz Bronson and Trek Remedy. The ride quality of the Release 5c does not suffer in comparison, featuring similar geometry. The chainstays are relatively short at 425mm and the 130mm rear travel loses some to the leaders in this category. The overall wheelbase is a bit shorter than the Bronson due to the shorter chainstays.

The interesting geometry choices for this bike make it agile and whipable when sliding sideways or railing tight singletrack. Most enduro bikes are built to plow through the tougher sections but the Release 5c is more jumpy and agile. It’s possible to ride this bike hard like an enduro bike but also with only 130mm rear travel needs a capable rider to guide it through the track.

Shifting performance is quiet and fast providing a clean feel through the entire range of gears. Power through the gears while climbing or hammering the descent without worrying about mis shifts or dropped chains.

Diamondback Release 5c Pricing

Ordering a bike through Diamondback includes it’s Ready Ride package which means the bike will come 95 percent assembled. Key tools will be included such as a shock pump, tubeless valves, torque wrench, extra derailleur hanger, and flat pedals.

Visit the Diamondback website to see ordering and delivery options.

Conclusion

If you are tired of the many overpriced superbikes in this category, find reprieve with the Diamondback Release 5c. It is a sensible compromise that has been dialed in with sensible restraint. The component build is top notch and on par with more expensive competitors. Equally good is the ride quality and the lack of a hefty price tag.

If you like your rides vivid, tightly responding to the toughest technical sections but also agile enough to power up the climbs and singletrack, then it doesn’t get much better than the Release 5c from Diamondback.

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Jamie E
Jamie E

Jamie enjoys mountain biking and road cycling. She trains for races and travels, exploring new and exciting routes all over the globe. When not on her bike she is reviewing products related to her favorite outdoor activities. As an amateur chef, she is often seen at farmers markets buying the freshest organic fruits and vegetables. Cooking fabulous dishes at home or while camping outdoors has become a passion. She has not met an olive oil that she didn't like.



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