By Ben McCoy, MPLS Bike Love
Where to begin? My name is Ben McCoy and I like to ride bikes with my friends Adam and Charles. We call ourselves the #GENTS and (more often than not) we wear matching outfits. So unless you knew better, you’d assume we know what we’re doing. Hey you, it’s me – Ass.
At any rate, we three GENTS were heading up to Cuyuna and The Racery generously offered to let us test ride some of their MTBs. They started carrying Diamondback mountain bikes and wanted to collect some feedback. We scoped them out online and were pleasantly surprised. The bikes looked legit!
After comparing models at theracery.com, we were curious to compare the Catch and the Release, Diamondback’s full-suspension duo featuring the new 27.5-inch wheel size (something none of us had ridden). The difference between them is that the Catch uses a PLUS (27.5+) tire size, which is fatter (wider) than the ‘regular’ 27.5 wheel featured on the Release.
Charles and I both ride large, so we requested one of each. Unfortunately Adam’s shorter legs (and a finite amount of rack space) meant it was one or the other. So with that idea in mind, The Racery built up a large Catch 2, a large Release 3, and a medium Release 3.
The Diamondback Catch 2 comes in a eye-catching green, while the Diamondback Release 3 (which does not feature on theracery.com) is mostly black. Otherwise, the difference between the 2 and 3 designations is the groupo. The Catch 2 featured a SRAM GX set-up, while the Release 3 was outfitted with SRAM X1.
The Cuyuna Mountain Bike Trail System, is a nationally recognized MTB wonderland near Ironton, a small town located in central Minnesota. Known for its iron-rich red dirt, the trails are carved into the hillsides of an abandoned pit mining operation (which once fueled the local economy and has since been reclaimed by nature).
We stayed at True North Basecamp in Crosby, MN. True North features 6 utilitarian cottages situated on a lakefront, along with campgrounds that cater to mountain bikers and other outdoor enthusiasts. It also provides direct access to the trail system, which is maintained by the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Crew.
Charles Youel is the best MTB all-rounder of our group. Even though he’s just getting back into MBT after a long hiatus, he’s fast on the descents and aggressive in the climbs. He’s also our most astute observer with a knack for putting wisdom into words.
QOD #1: “Full-sus does not reward you for standing up.”
QOD #2: “27.5+ is very forgiving of bad bike handling.”
While he has no intent of trading in his (beautiful) 29-inch Ti hard tail anytime soon, he preferred the 27.5+ set-up. It felt more stable through the corners and allowed him to lean in without fear of washing out. It also felt more stable through the rocky sections.
Adam Turman is our bike-handling master (and field mechanic). He is the faster as most proficient downhill rider of us all. Due to his shorter stature he has a love/hate relationship with 29-inch wheels, so the 27.5 suited him well. Between the full-suspension and the smaller wheel size, Adam took to the Release 3 like a fish to water.
His only real criticism was that the full-sus took some steam out of him in the climbs, which are not his strong suit to begin with. More unfortunately, because he’s shorter than Charles and I, he didn’t get the opportunity to ride the 27.5+, which I’m sure he would have preferred.
When it comes to MTB, I'm pretty timid. As something I came to later in cycling, riding single-track is both exciting and scary as hell. And frankly, I’m not the most nimble cat in the litter.
As a tall, gangly individual, a 29er should favor me; but I may have fallen in love with 27.5. I felt great on both bikes, but on the 27.5+ made me I feel like a champ. The smaller diameter and wider footprint felt super solid across the board. They roll up, over, around, and through everything with total confidence.
On the other hand, the 27.5 (non-plus) version could really move. So for those with the skills, it’s a better option. And it truly felt like the middle ground between the traditional 26 and 29-inch options.
I also really like the full-sus set-up. It provided additional confidence on the descents, while the 1x drivetrain had ample gears to make seating climbing feel effortless. Admittedly, I had to make some adjustments to my climbing style, but those adjustments were made easier by the bikes’ upright geometry.
Aside from that, it was a question of components. Between them, the biggest difference for me was the drop post lever. I never actually used the drop post while riding because the descents weren’t severe enough to require it. That being said, the Catch 2 control was really hard to manipulate, while the Release 3 switch worked like butter.
In terms of drivetrain (and comparable suspension) the GX platform is already above my pay grade, so the X1 was gravy. If you can afford the latter, enjoy the gravy!
Pound-for-pound, the difference between the Catch and the Release is one of speed. As the names imply, the Catch is best suited to those looking for more control, while the Release feeds the needs of faster riders.
Amongst the GENTS, each of us would have chosen the Catch 2 over the Release 3 simply for the tire width. However, I’m guessing the Catch 2 would be the dream machine, at least for me.
It’s also worth noting that the bikes drew quite a bit of attention. Several people asked what they were and what we thought, so props to Diamondback all the way around.
Check out this little snippet of us riding Cuyuna!
We did find a small manufacturing error on the 27.5+. The rear mount for the disk brake was slightly too narrow. The screw heads securing the disk break on will occasionally rub against it. It didn’t seem to affect the ride quality, we just heard a small 'tick' as the screw heads and frame slowly shaved each other down. Fortunately, those parts are aluminum, so rust isn't a concern.
For more information about Cuyuna, I highly recommend you check out the following article written by Charles for ARTCRANK.com: