Today we’ll be taking a look at my Diamondback Sync’r Pro, and comparing it to my old Trek 4900. If you’re just popping in on this review then you might be thinking that’s a weird comparison to make, but it’s very relevant to my subscribers. Over the last year we used this bike to learn how to bunny hop, perform trials techniques, and even ride skatepark, so my new Diamondback has big shoes to fill.
Indeed, it seems suited for the job. Many companies are adding super aggressive hardtails to their lineups, with slack headtubes, disgustingly wide bars, and no nonsense drivetrains. Bring it on… I feel like this category was designed especially for riders like me.
Before we go on to the rest of the bike, note that I threw some stems and sealant in these wheels and made them tubeless, which was super easy. Also, I added a KS Lev Integra dropper post, using the port back here for the cable. It looks nice and clean, with the release routed through the seat tube.
So clearly this bike is an upgrade over my Trek. Literally every part on it is better than what you see here. But what about the handling? The wheels, tires, frame, and handlebars are all bigger, which you think would have some effect on the maneuverability. The Sync’r does feel bigger, and there are times on the trails, particularly on tight turns where the Trek just feels easier to manage, but that’s pretty much where it ends.
One thing you’ve all seen is how the trek was able to handle the skatepark almost like a BMX. The 26 inch wheels and small frame would have a lot to do with this. Because I’ve pushed the Trek to its absolute limits, it’s easy to assess where the Diamondback is better, and where it falls short.
For instance, its bigger size makes it harder to 360, but only slightly. In fact, after a few tries it didn’t feel so bad at all. One area where I was really surprised was bunny hopping. Despite its bigger size, the Sync’r is easier to bunnyhop on. It seems obvious that the suspension should get credit for this, but actually it’s the geometry. Note how your riding position is close to the rear axle but also close to the bars. While this design could result in a ridiculously short bike, the slack head tube angle makes up for it, positioning the front wheel further away. This seems to be a deadly combination for hopping, at least for me.
Speaking of the slack headtube angle, it’s noticeably better for descending. When the bike is angled down a slope, the fork points outwards to absorb the bumps more directly. On a hardtail, you can use all the help you can get on descents, so this is a nice feature.
On to the components. It’s no secret that I like Raceface, in fact my drivetrain hasn’t changed that much at all. The biggest difference here is that I’ve gone from a 10 speed to an 11 speed, and from Shimano XT to Sram GX. I appreciate the lighter touch required to shift the GX, but also the military grade build quality of the Shimano. They’re both great derailleurs and you can’t really go wrong with either one.
One of the biggest upgrades the Sync’r has over my Trek is the fork. The Fox 34 has more travel, and a much better build than the Rockshox Recon, which I’ve had some serious reliability issues with. These forks aren’t even close to the same price range, so this might not be hard to believe. Just like the Rockshox, I have my Fox 34 set to max pressure most of the time. Originally I didn’t have it set to max, and I bottomed it out hard. To be completely fair, I don’t think this is what Fox expects you to do with a mid travel trail fork.
So, that’s pretty much it. Having this new bike has made me want to ride trails more. I’ve gotten some funny comments from fellow riders though, like “where’d you get that, Sports Authority?”. Obviously they’re alluding to the fact that Diamondback also offers budget bikes found at many retail stores. As soon as we get out on the trails though, they can clearly see that this Diamondback is nothing to joke about. As many of you know, any bike that can hold up to my terrible habits is perfectly suited for any type of trail riding.