First Impression: Diamondback Sortie 3

By Adam Lipinski

I’m glad to report that the Diamonback Sortie 3 is not the department store bike so many people perceived it would be. I’d be pretty shocked if a company tried to pan off department store bikes for $2749.95.

Diamonback, like many other companies, makes lower-end, affordable bikes and also competent machines. The Sortie is an all-mountain rig that has two little siblings, the 1 and 2, and an older brother, the Black. The Black is the top-o-the-line but the 3 is definitely holding its own. Two things jump out as soon as you lay your eyes on this bike, the gnarly "knuckle" in the rear suspension and the graphics.

The large rocker, or knuckle, is a blue anodized chunk of aluminum that activates the rear shock. It — as well as the bulk of the rear suspension — is centered and very low in the front triangle. That’s a good thing. The 5 inches of rear compression are handled by the tried and true Fox Racing RP23 air shock. There is a minuscule amount of flex in the back that is hardly noticeable unless you’re trying to pinpoint it. I’ve been pitching this thing into fast corners for the last few weeks with no problems.

I ended up running just over my body weight of air pressure in the rear shock, 15 pounds or so below body weight was suggested. Even at lower pressures I never felt any harsh bottoming, but the o-ring on the shock was always pushed to the bottom of the shaft. Pedaling is pretty neutral — no big surprises or quirks — it just does its job.  One small negative I noticed in my early winter rides — is the lack of rear tire clearance. The stock 2.1 tires are left with very little room to spare where the brace crosses between seatstays.

The front suspension is handled by the Fox 32 Float RL Air fork with 130mm of travel. I would like to see a QR15 dropout at this pricepoint.

It’s a sharp looking bike. The matte black frame has blue graphics that appear almost faded until you see them in bright light. There is a tribal like pattern on many of the tubes that is quite busy, but because of the subtle coloring they are not over-bearing.

I’m not convinced the new 10-drivetrain is best suited to our winter weather here in Pennsylvania. I think I had the same complaint when 8 and 9-speed cassettes were introduced as well. It just seems very finicky and hard to keep in time. I will not give up on it yet: better weather may prove me wrong.

A host of Shimano parts and other reputable components round out the package. The only other gripe I have is the tires. The 2.1 WTB Wolverines hold their own on the dry days, but hold nothing but mud on the sloppy ones. If you really push the tires into a wet turn they will eventually bite, but it takes a lot of confidence to make it happen. They slide sideways, until the desired effect is achieved.

Keep an eye open in the near future for the complete write-up of the DiamondBack Sortie 3, in the luxurious pages of DirtRag.

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