It may still be 2016 on the calendar, but 2017 bikes are already starting to roll into our warehouse. And one that we’ve been especially excited to talk about (and had to keep under wraps until now), is the Diamondback Haanjo Trail Carbon Gravel Bike – 2017. Last year we got to test out the uber-capable, and aluminum-framed, Diamondback Haanjo Trail Gravel Bike, so we couldn’t wait to see what Diamondback up their sleeves for this completely redesigned carbon do-everything bike.
The Haanjo Trail Carbon Gravel Bike starts with a full carbon fiber frame and fork are built lightweight, stiff and tough, because drop-bar fun doesn’t end just because the pavement does. Improvements over the original alloy Haanjo include braze-ons for front and rear rack mounts and fenders, front and rear thru axles, and room for 40+mm tires that can churn through single track, gravel, and pavement. The Haanjo Trail Carbon can even be run with a 27.5” wheel with 2.1” tires, or 700x28mm+ road wheels.
A Shimano Ultegra 11-speed drivetrain with Shimano RS685 hydraulic disc STI levers and a SRAM Rival compact crankset handle the shifting and stopping duties on the Haanjo Trail Carbon, while HED Tomcat rims wrapped up in beefy 700x40mm Schwalbe G-One tubeless-ready tires keep you rolling on, wherever the adventure takes you.
So how does all of this new design translate into the real world? Really well, according to Thomas, from our bike buying team, who’s been riding a Haanjo Trail Carbon Gravel Bike for a few weeks now:
I have been using the Haanjo Trail Carbon Gravel Bike as a commuter and out on the trail. On the weekends I like to ditch the car and get around as much as possible by bike or on foot. This is a highly capable bike, with all the regular mounts for racks bags and fenders that you need. It has a smooth stable ride with a comfortable geometry. For its size, the bars are a little wider than I would ride on my road bike but this makes sense as soon as you hit the gravel. Like a mountain bike, a wider bar offers confidence and stability so I quickly settled in. The saddle did not work for me, but I have never taken to any stock saddle so no surprise there. But here’s what I loved about the Haanjo Trail Carbon Gravel Bike.
1. The brakes. I am a bit of a masochist when it comes to carrying gear – I love loading up my bags to carry loads, be it sinks, dogs, lumber, giant bags of rice or whatever canned goods are on sale, up and down the steep rolling hills where I live. I truly believe that when carrying heavy loads you can not have enough stopping power, and not just raw power but highly controlled stopping power. All my previous commuters have had flat bars because that was the only option with brakes that stopped with good modulation, but the Shimano hydraulic brakes on the Haanjo Trail Carbon Gravel Bike, combined with a confidence inspiring geometry, allowed me to stop under load and not feel like I am trying to slow down an overloaded pickup truck.
2. The thru axles. I have ridden plenty of disc braked bikes with 9mm quick release wheels that worked fine, but they do sometimes have issues that these axles address. First is wheel drift. On some mountain bikes and commuters that I have owned no matter how hard I tighten the QR’s the wheel would shift in the drop out when brake force was applied. This is a general issue with forks and frames alike and it does not inspire confidence when you finish a gnarly section and you look down and your front wheel is crooked. The other big advantage is that the whole wheel system is not just clamped, but truly bolted into position with a beefy 12mm axle so when you hit the gas or hit the brakes the bike feels like one solid piece instead of a collection of parts.
3. The carbon layup. Now, I could get into a whole debate about the merits of steel or aluminum and power to weight and how dollar for dollar you get more bike with blah blah blah. My opinion is that carbon, when manufactured properly, is better. This bike really rides great. I was pleasantly surprised how fun it was. After a few trips to a local park and after hauling a bunch of stuff around, I stripped all the racks and extra stuff off and went out for a few really hard rides through my neighborhood, dealing with traffic, jumping curbs, riding gravel trails, hopping logs, and trying to see how much fun I could have on this bike. Everything I dished out, it took like a champ. The handlebar layout and fork rake allowed me to descend some sketchy sections without feeling like I was too far over the front wheel, but still felt sporty enough to sprint for the county line. I hate to sound corny but it did remind me of how I used to ride back in the early 90’s when I was a teenager with nothing to do between weekend mountain bike races!
There were really only 2 small issues that I noted, and they were pretty minor. The Schwalbe G-One tubeless-ready tires are great on pavement and feel super sticky when cornering or stopping, which makes them great for around town, but out on the trail they aren’t as confidence inspiring. A little more tread may have made the difference – but you are always going to have a trade-off in grip versus rolling resistance. Issue number two was a chattering chain off-road – but thoughtfully Diamondback has put a big rubber chainstay protector over the carbon so it will be just fine. A derailleur with a clutch would get the chain under control, but alas this isn’t available yet in a road rear derailleur from Shimano.
So in conclusion, this is a really great bike. I have had a ton of fun pushing its limits and look forward to many years of dutiful service out of the Diamondback Haanjo Trail Carbon Gravel Bike – 2017.