An Expert Guide to Diamondback Road BikesPublished on 05/13/2023 · 9 min readCurious about Diamondback road bikes? Cycling Expert Thomas Olmstead lays out the Haanjo lineup from Diamondback so you can find the best gravel bike for you.
Photo by Dmitrii Vaccinium
In today’s cycling industry, there are tons of bike brands and frame manufacturers, and it can quickly become confusing trying to determine which brand might be best for you. Unless your background is in the cycling industry, determining the best brands and understanding what is best for you can virtually be impossible! There are many great brands that help you race and ride hundreds of miles on road bikes, explore the wilderness or get you to your off-the-path destination on gravel bikes, and get you flying down the mountain or riding singletrack on a mountain bike.
The bike brand we are focusing on today is Diamondback Bikes, specifically their gravel bike lineup! Diamondback also offers mountain bikes, but you won’t see any road-specific bikes. This changed during the pandemic, so Diamondback may decide to bring back this lineup in the future. The goal of this article is to inform you just that much more to help you find the perfect bike for you!
Before we dive in, it is important to lay out the differences between road bikes and gravel bikes. As I mentioned above, Diamondback currently only includes gravel bikes in their road bike lineup. And if that sentence confused you, no worries. Think of it like this: A square is a rectangle, but a rectangle is not a square. The same is true for gravel bikes. A gravel bike is a road bike, but a road bike is not a gravel bike. Gravel bikes do a great job riding on regular pavement and tarmac. However, they also truly excel in being put to the test on off-road terrain, trails, and anywhere off the beaten path.
Gravel bikes come equipped with much larger tires, similar to mountain bike tires; these tires allow you to handle off-road riding with ease. These bikes often have a different groupset, which are the parts of the bike which allow you to switch gears, like the shifters and derailleurs. Gravel bikes tend to also have a more comfortable geometry, permitting the rider to stay on the bike longer than they could with an endurance bike.
Why not just get a mountain bike then? The main thing that gravel bikes offer that mountain bikes don’t is that gravel bikes have drop handles and are much lighter than mountain bikes. Gravel bikes allow you to combine putting lots of miles behind you while riding off-road—ideal for those looking for some great adventures. So let's discuss the Diamondback Haanjo lineup as well as which option might be right for you!
The Haanjo 2 is the first and most budget-friendly gravel bike option. This bike is perfect for those looking to dip their toes into gravel riding while still getting a quality bike that should last a long time. The aluminum frame of the bike is strong yet sturdy, and it can handle the off-road abuse you throw at it. The frame also includes many mounts, allowing you to customize the bike to your exact needs.
This bike is equipped with Shimano Claris 2x8 groupset for shifting as well as mechanical disc brakes, enhancing your stopping power. If you are an entry-level rider and want something of quality that won’t break the bank, this could be a great option for you!
The Haanjo 3 is the next gravel bike in Diamondback’s gravel lineup. The Haanjo 3 meets the needs of the entry-level rider who is comfortable moving up into the next price tier, which allows for more speeds and quality within the groupset (making this the main difference between the bikes). I consider this an “upper-level entry bike.”
The Shimano Sora 2x9 groupset uses slightly lighter parts, a bit higher-quality shifting components, and more speeds, allowing you a wider range of terrain and elevation to ride. Like the Haanjo 2, the Haanjo 3 is an aluminum frame bike that comes equipped with mechanical disc brakes to provide you with quick and efficient stopping, as well as many frame mounts for bags, panniers, fenders, or anything else you might need.
The next gravel bike to review is the Haanjo 4, which is where Diamondback takes its gravel bikes to the next level. While the Haanjo 2 and 3 are similar, the 4 is where big changes are made, providing great quality and features typically reserved for expert-level bikes. First, the Haanjo 4 comes with an aluminum frame, but a carbon fork replaces the aluminum fork. The carbon fork dampens vibrations that make their way to your hands, making your ride more comfortable. The carbon fork also saves you weight on the frame, which ensures that it is easier to ride faster and higher.
Another main difference is the drivetrain. The Haanjo 4 uses a combination of Shimano Tiagra 2x10 shifters and Shimano GRX 400 derailleurs — designed specifically for gravel riding. The next upgrade is in the wheelset, with the Haanjo 4 coming equipped with HED Tomcat Disc wheels. Combined with the wide 700x37c tires, this is where Diamondback takes the Haanjo lineup to the next gravel.
Comparably to how the Haanjo 3 is a more scaled version of the Haanjo 2, the Haanjo 5 is like this in comparison to the Haanjo 4, with a few more upgrades — one of which is quite drastic! The Haanjo 5 is equipped with a lightweight aluminum frame with a carbon fork, easing the weight burden of the bike and keeping the rider more comfortable. The 5 uses gravel-specific Shimano GRX 600 shifters and Shimano GRX 810, a great upgrade allowing the rider a 2x11 groupset with lightweight components.
But what was that big difference I alluded to? The Haanjo 5 is the first bike in the Diamondback gravel lineup to include hydraulic disc brakes, which is something I value highly! Hydraulic disc brakes are considered the next step up from mechanical disc brakes. These offer even quicker stopping and even higher stopping power, all with the goal of keeping you safe and allowing you to focus on having fun and exploring. Combined with a HED Tomcat disc wheelset, the Haanjo 5 is a perfect bike for someone who has a passion for riding and is looking to take their adventure riding to the next level.
The Haanjo 6C is a fantastic bike that is actually quite different from all the other gravel bikes on this list, offering some componentry specifically built for intense off-road terrain. The 6C is the first full carbon frame gravel bike that Diamondback offers (ah, that is the C after the 6 stands for!). The full carbon build is ultra-lightweight and provides strength and rigidity on the ride. The groupset this bike utilizes is the SRAM Rival 1x11 groupset, the first option on this list offering a 1x groupset.
In short, the reason you may prefer a 1x instead of a 2x is there is less chance of the chain coming off or something else going wrong. This type of setup is most commonly found on mountain bikes. While this option does only come with mechanical disc brakes, the big change this bike offers that none of the others in the lineup offer is its super-wide tires, measuring at 650x47c. Again, this type of tire is typically reserved for mountain bikes. So, you may be catching on that the Haanjo 6C is an off-road beast that can stand up to any mountain bike, letting you ride through any terrain.
If we agree that the Haanjo 6C is ultra-specialized given the componentry and build, the 7C reverts back to being more similar to the other options, with a few upgrades. The full carbon frame and fork are light and tough, allowing a comfortable ride that will get you excited to explore—no matter where you are. The 7C utilized Shimano GRX 600 2x11 shifting and GRX 810 derailleurs, which are built to handle the rugged outdoors. Hydraulic disc brakes make their way back into the lineup with this option, combined with the HED Tomcat disc wheelset. This is a great first expert-level bike for those serious about their gravel and off-road riding.
The last but certainly not least gravel bike in the Diamondback lineup is the Haanjo 8C, with no stops used in the build of this bike. While the 6C and 7C had carbon frames and forks, the 8C is all carbon. The frame, fork, handlebars, seatpost, and wheels are all built from carbon fiber, making this a ridiculously lightweight and super strong bike. The 8C uses a full GRX 810 groupset from the shifters to the derailleurs. Instead of the HED Tomcat wheelset, this bike comes with Easton EC70 AX carbon wheels, adding to the lightweight and strong nature of the bike. This bike is perfect for the expert rider who is wanting to take their riding to the competitive level!
Overview of Options
Now that we have gone through all of these options, how do you know which is best for you? It may be obvious that a couple of the bikes might not be what you are looking for, but how do you decide between the rest of them? Below is a breakdown with some simple recommendations of what might work for you:
- Haanjo 2 – Great for the entry-level rider who is looking for a budget-friendly bike
- Haanjo 3 – Another great entry-level bike for someone willing to spend a bit more for a higher-quality drivetrain
- Haanjo 4 – For the entry-level or intermediate rider looking to get more serious about riding in general, especially when it comes to gravel and off-road riding
- Haanjo 5 – A fantastic option for the intermediate rider willing to spend a bit more for the quality of components, carbon fork, and hydraulic disc brakes
- Haanjo 6C – For the rider who is looking for a specialized bike that allows some intense off-road and mixed-terrain riding and who doesn’t want to get a mountain bike
- Haanjo 7C – An excellent option for the experienced rider willing to spend more for a full carbon build and high-quality componentry
- Haanjo 8C – Perfect for the experienced rider who is looking for a full carbon racing machine to take their competitive riding to the next level
Of course, these are all my personal opinions. So if you are looking at a bike, but you don’t fall into what I described above, no worries! If you still have questions after reading through this, we have tons of other Cycling articles in the Expert Journal here on Curated.