Dirt Rag Magazine

Slingshot DD-M takes on the Rattlin’ 50

By Adam Newman

I know, I know. You’re thinking: Where’s the cable? Well not everyone wants to ride the kind of cable-sprung bike that Slingshot is famous for, so the Michigan-based brand created the DD-M (Double Diamond Mountain, get it?) and built it right there in the Wolverine State.

It’s a Reynolds steel, Paragon slider-equipped, 29er hardtail. Four stock sizes are offered for $1,399 and custom geometry is available for $150 more. Stock builds aren’t yet finalized, but frames can be built up however a customer wishes. They are welded and powdercoated painted right in Michigan.

Upon arriving for testing here at Dirt Rag HQ, I put it right to work in our weekly If-Anyone-Asks-It’s-Not-A-Race short-track race series. It didn’t stay white for long in the gooey, Western Pennsylvania mud.

Then I took the line at the Rattlin’ 50 in Weiser State Forest near Harrisburg, Pa. At first I thought the race was named for Pennsylvania’s timber rattlesnakes, but no, the name clearly derives from the sensation felt in the soft tissue between your ears. The Rattlin’ Creek trails are known for consisting of more rock than trail.

The race starts with a punishing fire road climb that strings out the field and leaves everyone’s pre-race jitters—and likely more than one riders’ breakfast—back along the side of the trail. What follows is two long sections of… well, I hate to call them rock gardens, they’re more like rock oceans.

Before the race I was worried about bringing a hardtail with only 80mm of travel up front for such punishing terrain, but the Slingshot was the perfect rock crusher, with neutral handling and the forgiving ride that only steel can provide. The 29-inch wheels helped me roll over countless sections that I didn’t expect to clean. Still think 29ers are a niche? I only spotted a handful of 26-inch-wheeled bikes in the hundred-or-so rider field.

The middle third of the course dispatched the rocks and morphed into a thin, Rocky Mountain-style vein of 12-inch wide buff singletrack that pulsed its way through thigh-high shrubs or open forrest canopy.

The final third of the 25-mile race option (a cold kept me from tackling the full 50 miles) was a mix of fire road, double track and snowmobile trail ups and downs where I managed to spin through all 30 of the Slingshot’s gears. They were all well-appreciated.

Upon arriving back at the start/finish I was welcomed with great snacks and some cold energy drink; just what I was looking for. I’ll be back next year to tackle the full 50 for sure. 

 

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