New Bike Preview: 2015 GT Grade

One of the most exciting bikes of the year is the 2015 GT Grade gravel bike. This thing has been lighting up trade shows, magazine reviews, and “Best Of” lists since it was first announced. In fact, they’ve been in such high demand for test rides and reviews that even we hadn’t seen one in person until last week– and then it was a prototype demo model.

The 2015 GT Grade in it's element

The 2015 GT Grade in it’s element

For those of you who are seeing this bike for the first time, the Grade is a gravel bike that’s designed for going on-road, off-road, or anywhere in between. The carbon fiber frame has huge tire clearance and a super comfortable geometry, but also has some innovative features like Continuous Glass Fiber seatstays that almost like a suspension, and the triple triangle design for improved frame durability.

The first question we always get when we mention the Grade is “when does it come out?” We’ve even gotten that question on Facebook and Instagram apropos of nothing. So to vaguely answer your questions: soon, soon, terribly soon. Just be patient a little bit longer.

Until then, we took some tasty photos of the demo model Grade to whet your appetite for Enduroad adventures. And trust us, as soon as it’s in stock, we’ll let you all know.

*please note that this is a prototype demo model bike, and does not have the same equipment as the final retail model. Actually, it’s pretty close. But the retail model will have Shimano RS685 hydraulic mechanical levers, instead of the R785 Di2 hydraulic electronic system shown here.

Ridden and Reviewed: Diamondback Haanjo and Haanjo Comp

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The Diamondback Haanjo Comp (left) and Haanjo Flat Bar (right)

You might have read lately about “adventure” or “gravel” bikes. Part cyclocross bike, part road bike, part touring bike, these rides are designed to help you go anywhere your imagination can take you—on or off road.

Over the past few weeks we got a chance to test out Diamondback’s Haanjo. We loved it so much that after the test was over we bought one for ourselves.

About The Bike

The Haanjo comes in two models, both of which we got to test out. Both are built around a high end aluminum frame and fork, with disc brake mounts, fender mounts, and rear rack mounts. The geometry of the Haanjo is pretty relaxed, with huge tire clearance (both bikes come with WTB All Terrain 32mm tires). The emphasis here is clearly on keeping the bike capable of going off road while staying stable and comfortable for the rider.

The Haanjo Comp comes with a Shimano 105 10-speed road group, short cage rear derailleur with an 11-28T cassette, drop bars, FSA Gossamer 46/36 ‘cross crankset, and TRP’s exceptional Hy/Rd mechanically-activated disc brakes.

The Haanjo comes with a Shimano Sora 9-speed flat bar road group, long cage rear derailleur with an 11-30T cassette, flat bars, FSA Gossamer 46/36 ‘cross crankset, and Avid BB5 mechanical disc brakes.

We tested both bikes.

Adventure awaits

Adventure awaits

 Unboxing and Set Up

Unboxing and set up for both bikes was pretty straight forward, since the bikes come 90% assembled. Just put the front wheel on, put the handlebars in the stem, and install the seatpost/saddle (already assembled). Each bike also comes with a pair of platform pedals, spare spokes, and some zip ties whose purpose remains a mystery, since they weren’t really necessary for setup.

Both bikes did need to have the brakes and derailleurs adjusted, but it wasn’t anything too major. The Avid BB5 brakes set up like any other mechanical disc brakes. The TRP brakes can be a little more frustratingly simple, so let us save you the headache: look for the knob with a picture of a lock on it. Unthread it counter clockwise until it pops up out of the socket. This will unlock the actuating arm. Once that is done, proceed much like you would with any other mechanical disc brake set up.

We added our own pedals, bottle cages, and saddle packs.

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The Ride

After spending a few days riding the Haanjo, we pretty much fell in love with the bike. It rode like no other bike we’ve ever tested… and we ride a lot of bikes. The best word we can think of to describe the ride feel is “confidence”. Whether we were on the road or on the trail, on the flat bar version or the drop bar version, we always felt confident in the bike’s ability to handle anything in its path.

The bike actually feels less like a CX bike-meets-road bike than it does a rigid mountain bike-meets-road bike…something that sounds admittedly dubious in theory but turns out to be amazing in reality. The Haanjo is easily the most versatile bike we’ve ever ridden. It doesn’t really excel in any one thing—it’s not as fast or lively as a road bike, nor as capable and controllable as a mountain bike—but it does very well in pretty much everything.

On the road the bike accelerates nicely, with smooth, predictable handling. The geometry on both bikes is also really nice for long days on the bike. The tall head tube, and slung-back geometry put you in a nice upright position that makes it easy on the back. The aluminum frame and fork feel nice and stiff for fairly snappy acceleration without any noticeable frame flex (even with a loaded rack on the back). Surprisingly we didn’t get any of the harsh road chatter we expected from this full aluminum rig, and the ride felt plush and comfortable. The WTB tires aren’t exactly the best for road riding, since the beefy tread and increased rolling resistance can slow your roll a little. For extended road riding, we replaced the WTB All Terrains with some Continental Gatorskin Hardshell 700x25c road tires.

Off road, the bike was just awesome. The handling almost felt more like we were riding a 29” mountain bike, instead of a twitchy CX bike. Thanks to the more upright geometry we were even able to take the bike over some more technical sections of trail without worrying about it too much—we felt totally in control of the bike. Off-road is also where the WTB tires came into their own. They really hooked into the trail nicely, with plenty of grip in the corners and hills, so we had the confidence to go full bore when we wanted to. The easy CX-style gearing meant that we had plenty of low-end gearing to make it up even the hardest inclines.

The stopping power of both the Avid and TRP disc brakes was impressive, even in the rain, mud, and dirt.

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The Verdict

Just awesome. If, in some sad alternate world, we could only own one bike, it would easily be the Haanjo. Its ability to literally do anything and go anywhere is unmatched. Sometimes with a bike like this, one that tries to be all things to all people, you end up with a bike that’s really nothing to anybody— but not in this case. Diamondback really cracked the code and delivered up something truly remarkable… which might be why every shipment we get sells through so quickly.

We did everything on the Haanjo: commuting, road riding, trail riding, gravel riding, bike camping with a fully loaded rack. The Haanjo is a bike that’s limited only by your imagination.

When the test was over and we had to give the bikes back, we were a little sad. So sad in fact that we decided to go out and get ourselves a Haanjo flat bar. We look forward to seeing where it takes us in the days ahead.

The Haanjo felt right at home anywhere we went

The Haanjo felt right at home anywhere we went

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