2016 Diamond Back Catch and Release

Words Jon Harris
Photos Paris Gore
Date Mar 1, 2016

Santa Barbara was the chosen location for Diamondback to amass a gaggle of media to show off their new creations. Two new bikes based around Diamondback’s new Level Link suspension platform were at our bidding and based on the fervour within the Diamondback ranks they are pretty stoked on these new bikes. 


Emerging from the fog to the east is the new Diamondback Release featuring the new Level Link suspension design.

There with the media folks were Diamondback’s certified crew of rippers; local Vancouver girl and social media maven Micayla Gatto, the man with the most impressive forearms, Eric Porter and the ever-energetic Mike Hopkins. At our beck and call was a party bus for the weekend to get to the awesome trails that sit in the mountains above Santa Barbara.


The new Diamondback Release Three with Level Link suspension. I think the new bike cuts quite the sleek silhouette and certainly comes well specced with hooning potential.

Level Link is a twin link suspension system and will be the basis for DB’s bikes going forward. There is no getting around that fact that, yes, this is the first alternative take on the VPP style suspension design that has been so well executed by Santa Cruz (and Intense). Big shoes to fill then. The patent on that suspension layout expired allowing Diamondback to design the Release around the counter-rotating twin links. This is not a knock off of the Santa Cruz or Intense bikes, though. In fact, Diamondback has tweaked this system enough that they are now pursuing their own patent for the Level Link design.

The trick with Level Link is that the lower link is designed to be level (alas the name) and in line with the chain line when the bike is sagged. This means that the forces created by you laying some watts into the crank shouldn’t affect the rear suspension. As ever, the goal is in the search for a balance between big hit plushness and a snappy feeling under acceleration.


Looks familiar but not quite the same. The first of the VPP-esque suspension designs now that the patent for counter rotating twin links has expired goes to Level Link. Although it looks similar there is enough different here for Diamondback to be applying for their own patent.

The Release is a significant step forward for Diamondback. The limitations of the old design made for certain frame features that are not favourable with today’s modern geometry tastes. Specifically the long chainstays the Mission had. Those are gone and 425mm chainstays are in their place. The new frames are obviously lighter (has a new bike come out that is heavier than its predecessor?) and reflect the longer and lower modern take on geometry. On appearances alone the bike has a good stance and looks game for some aggressive riding. The numbers back that up with a 66 degree head angle.


Collet hardware (on the other side of the frame) and pivot axles that can all be removed from the non-drive side along with full Enduro bearings are a quality touch.

The devil is in the details and the new bikes feature Enduro bearings for the pivots, collet hardware and axles that thread in from the non-drive side. The rear hub is boosted and that aids with the frame being 1, 2 or 3-by compatible. The one “modern” feature that is notable in its omission is internally routed cables; everything is external with the exception of the dropper post which enters at the bottom of the seat tube on the Release Three.

Party at the front and business at the rear was the term used to describe the set up on the Release Three. The party being a 150mm travel Rock Shox Pike RCT3; business is in the form of 130mm of travel at the rear, damped by a Monarch Plus RC3 with the Debonair can. That is a pretty serious shock for this amount of travel so I’d argue that the business end of the Release Three likes to let its hair down on the weekends. I’ve written about this kind of set up recently, bikes where a longer travel fork is mated to a shorter travel frame are what a lot of us ride, even if we haven’t purchased that bike off the shelf. Some may look at that as unbalanced, but given that you have some pretty serious dampers in the form of your two legs that focus on controlling the rear of the bike, it makes a lot of sense.


The party bus got well used this weekend getting us around. The road to this point would have been hard work to drive in a Mini let alone this beast. After a sturdy 10 mile loop in the morning the afternoon rip was shuttle-assisted.

 Of course we were there to ride and thankfully the presentation of the bike was efficiently taken care of and we were quickly loaded onto the bus to get to the trail. I got the sense that the Diamondback crew was so stoked on the new bikes that they wanted to get us out riding them instead of talking about them. Given that they designed this bike to be something that they wanted to jump on and shred the local trails on this makes a lot of sense. Something like a bike for the masses that like to just go ride and aren’t focussed on anything other than the grin that those two wheels can put on their faces.


Enjoying the fruits of his labour is the bike’s designer: Luther Beal.


Part time forearm model Eric Porter was all grins this weekend and for good reason, he has a fun new sled to shred.

It was a good tactic and they picked trails that had everyone grinning, even giving us a sturdy climb to do to get to the top of the first trail head. I’m not going to review the bike here after a single day of riding and we have a Release on its way to us for more shredding on the local dirt. What I will say is that this bike is a huge step up for Diamondback.

The rear suspension is well damped, with a great feeling of support through the stroke without ever hanging up on square edged hits,which were plentiful in some of the rock gardens we rode. In fact it felt so deep that if you didn’t know the travel you’d suspect it was the same 150mm as the fork. DB could have thrown the full 160mm travel Pike on and I don’t think it would be a detriment, something that could be adjusted down the road maybe.


Yours truly trying to keep up with the rad train in front of him. The trails we got to ride in Santa Barbara were fast, loose, rocky awesomeness.


Vancouver local Micayla Gatto on the Romero Trail. There were a lot of flats picked up in the rock gardens on this trail. We really got to taste the new bikes on some varied terrain in one day.

The angles when in motion feel pretty bang on for aggressively throwing the Release down the trail and while we didn’t hit anything particularly steep, the speeds were hella-fast in a lot of sections especially when I was trying to stay on the tail of the rapid Ms Gatto.

 DB Release Geo

The geometry for the Release shows a sensibly slack head angle for all around fun times. The top tube lengths are roomy with my large having a 635mm (25″).

The stability and composure suggest that steep stuff won’t phase this bike. Fit wise things are of course longer in the reach than previous frames. I chose to ride a Large frame but I fall between that and an XL. Reach felt pretty bang on for me though with the 635mm (25″) top tube not too long to compromise the bike’sclimbing ability. Personal preference has me wanting to try the Release with the bar a touch higher, but that is a minor adjustment.


Random fact generator Mike Hopkins (center) has already taken this new bike on some adventures.


Molly Ritterbeck letting her riding do the talking and about to dust Paris’s lens.

The Release Three that I rode retails for a very reasonable $3900 USD with a smart build based on SRAM X1 with Guide RS brakes, a KS LEV Integra dropper post, Schwalbe Hans Dampf snakeskin tires and good quality suspension front and rear. Diamondback branded components feature in the cockpit and wheels. The wheels are actually a new design by Diamondback with a wider profile, 28mm internal on the Release, an asymmetric design and spoke drillings. They look pretty smart too with the rear rim reflecting the rear triangle colour on the Release that we rode.

Level Link 4

Speaking of adventures look for the sweet video that Diamondback rider Mike Hopkins has been working on. With shots like this from their shoot you are guaranteed some stunning visuals.

There are two other models in the Release line, the One and Two, priced at $3500 and $2500 USD respectively. Both feature 150mm forks and 130mm rear travel but with the shocks downgraded slightly at each step. Full specs and details can be found on Diamondback’s website.


Yes, there were some fatter tires around this weekend. The sibling to the Release is the Catch with 130mm travel front and rear.

So where are the 27.5+ tires you ask? Well this launch wasn’t devoid of fat rubber as the Release has a sibing, the Catch. Catch and Release. Geddit? The Catch actually has a slightly different frame, despite appearances, with the suspension tweaked to suit the ride and matched travel front and rear. The Catch 2 pictured will retail for $3,500 USD with a SRAM GX build and the Catch 3 at $2,500 USD.


Bluebird skies and ripping fast trails. It was a good day to be out on bikes. We will get our hands on our own Release for longer term assessment on our home trails.

Details on the Catch and Release are available to drool over on the inter webs now and the bikes will be with their dealers in a few weeks. If you are so keen they are available for pre-order now.

Based on my first impression I think that these are a solid deal for riders that don’t want to spend double on a carbon super-bike and to be honest I’d have a hard time justifying a more expensive bike based on how the Release Three rides. This was just a first taste though and I’m looking forward to throwing the Release down some familiar lines on my home turf, which incidentally is also Diamondback’s.

For all the nitty gritty details go to Diamondback’s website.

Is this the first of a flood of counter rotating link bikes now the VPP patent has expired? Time will tell.

Trending on NSMB


Matthew Edward Carey  - April 1, 2016, 6:44 p.m.

Jon, did you ever end up on an XL? I'm right at your same size and would love to hear how it felt on the trail!


boomforeal  - March 1, 2016, 9:49 a.m.

appreciate you taking this review seriously jon. that sounds like a weird thing to say, but i've skimmed a couple of other looks at this bike and the ironic smirk was palpable: "hey look me slummin' on a diamond back!"


Jonathan Harris  - March 1, 2016, 11:36 a.m.

Thanks, all bikes deserve to be approached with a clean slate, no preconception. Seems like diamondback have worked hard on this and the goal of bringing great bikes at a good price point is refreshing over the Gucci rides we usually see.


MJGson  - March 5, 2016, 9:10 p.m.

Hey Jon, I have been reading every review of this bike, and it seems like it's the real deal! How tall are you? I am 187cm and some reps at DB suggest I get the XL, but I am curious what you would think since you are a 'tweener' between the L and XL frame size. Thanks!


Jonathan Harris  - March 7, 2016, 3:29 p.m.

I am 6'2″, so pretty much the same height. Yeah, I'd be torn on which size to go for. I really had no issue riding the large even on the steep switchback climbs that we did. I'd like to try an XL as like I mentioned in the article, I wouldn't mind a slightly higher bar height. Sorry I don't have a firm conclusion on that one.


MJGson  - March 7, 2016, 3:32 p.m.

Thanks for the reply! I agree on the bar height, the Large I tested out in my LBS just felt cramped. I ordered an XL. Hope I can still throw it around on the trail, but I wanted something that didnt cramp me up, as I plan on some long rides.


Matthew Edward Carey  - April 1, 2016, 6:43 p.m.

Did either of you end up on an XL? I'm spot on at 187 cm as well (6′ 1.5″) and would love to hear how it felt on the trail!


MJGson  - April 2, 2016, 10:30 a.m.

Dude 150,000% go XL. The bike runs small. I am very happy with the XL. You can adjust the saddle to help and also get a different stem if you wish. The Large just felt cramped.


Matthew Edward Carey  - April 2, 2016, 10:49 a.m.

Thanks for getting back to me! And for anyone else who reads this, I actually just got back from by LBS and tried the Large . . . exact same impression. It was CLOSE . . . but felt a tiny bit cramped (and I wanted to bring the bars up a cm or two). Ordering the XL as we speak!


MJGson  - April 2, 2016, 4:03 p.m.

Right on bro. Are you ordering the Release3?? I hear those are hard to find now! Get the 3 if you can it is so nice dude and people on the trail love it. Ignore the color scheme skeptics it's a great looking bike and it is mostly all black it isn't "loud" like a lot of other bikes


Matthew Edward Carey  - April 3, 2016, 9:03 a.m.

Ordered the Release 3, but it turns out I lied - couldn't get my hands on the XL so I went with the L instead. If anyone stumbles on this thread later on and wants a review on how the L feels when you're between sizes, ask away and I'll get back to you ASAP! Taking it out to Moab in a month so it should get a thorough thrashing.


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