I bought myself a new bike – yippe! My intention is to write a review here. For now, I’ll just add pictures.
-1th Day Review: (Expectations and Impressions so far)
I just ordered the bike on Amazon, and am yet to receive it. Why would anyone write a review even before having received and ridden the bicycle ? Well, I’ll tell you why.
I have been researching bikes for more than a year now. All along, I had a cheap Walmart bike (which I bought to get me across campus at University, so don’t judge me.) – a GMC Denali, which was a road bik-ish bike. It had the geometry of a road bike, 700*32 tires, and although it had it’s pain points, for < $200, I don’t see how anyone can complain. Chief among the issues was that the bike did not have integrated shifters – it had twist shifters to keep the cost down. But the frame was pretty decent, (Aluminum), and I didn’t have complaints about the bike in terms of weight and such. (Although if others had such concerns/complaints, they are justified in having them.) I have done some 1000+ miles on the bike, and though I haven’t done a 50mile ride or a century yet (the best I managed was some 44 miles.), I feel I can do it on a day with good weather. 🙂
Now back to the researching, I have been on the lookout for bikes for a long time now, though never in a hurry to buy one. I took time to read about the different frames, race vs endurance, different component groups …etc. I also read a couple of bicycling magazines regularly. I think from everything I read there, Specialized Allez, Trek 1.X, Giant Defy, Cannondale Synapse were some of the models the reviewers suggested for someone looking for a bike < $1000. While, all these bikes are good, you will find that for a $1000 equivalent, you will get Sora components.
Now, I moved recently from Tempe, AZ to Austin,TX and sold my Walmart bike in the process. After moving, all my known canal paths were no more available, and generally, from what I see of Austin, (and this may depend on where I live -South Austin.) not as many roads have bicycle lanes. I am yet to explore canal path equivalents. So, I was thinking, I’ll get a better bike than my last bike, but maybe in the $300 ish range. I checked and found some Schwinn bikes, Vilano, Giodarno …etc. Although, if you wanted integrated shifters – it cost you $600-$700. And with those models, you got either 2300/2400 or Sora components.
(There are other brands like Orbea, Fuji, Jamis …etc, but not all stores carry these bikes.)
I almost decided on a Vilano Forza 1.0, and then I saw this bike on sale on Amazon for $750, and when I saw 105 components on it, my eyes lit up like Christmas tree lights! (The Vilano Forza 1.0 for comparison has a no-name crank, 105 rear derailleur only, and Tiagra shifters, front derailleur …etc.) I then took time to read several reviews, and saw that stores like REI carried it. Well, I was floored! The only thing I don’t like about the bike so far is the white hood! I’m a little surprised mainstream magazines and websites haven’t started noticing Diamondback bikes yet. For the kind of prices, these bikes are a steal. Even for the full price of $1200, you’ll be hard pressed to find other bike brands with the same components.
I’m licking my lips in anticipation of getting the bike. I know I can assemble it – I have fixed broken spokes, fixed multiple flats, and tightened cables on my previous bike. I have also put together bikes for friends (although cheap college bikes – nothing fancy.) I am not sure how well, I’ll end up tuning it, but that’s why you have your LBS, multiple internet videos, how-to’s and books.
0th Day Review: (Unboxing and Assembly)
I took pains to write an update here, but that mysteriously disappeared. (Bummer!)
The box was left my UPS at my door. My apartment office does not take boxes larger than a certain size, so I guess that left the UPS delivery person with few options. Still, I would have liked for it not to be left unattended outside my door – considering it’s a $1200 bicycle. (Although I paid only $800+ for it.) Another thing I was slightly peeved about was that there was a spanner sticking out the hole in the box which is generally for lifting the box. (Photos attached.) The small parts box inside is meant for this, and I am not sure why it wasn’t inside that.
Coming to the packing itself, it was packed extremely well, with attention paid to detail. Every part that could be dinged was wrapped nicely in packing material, and there were plastic end-caps for the wheels, the fork …etc. Pretty impressive. The handlebar, the front tire and the seat-post are detached, but everything else is in place. After watching a video on youtube, I guess I understand that this is pretty much the standard way of packing good and expensive bikes. (The video haid a more expensive cervelo bike in it, and it was marginally better packed – i.e., the fork didn’t hit the bottom of the box, and most components were not assembled. But that’s the price you pay for semi-assembled.)
These are the parts the bike came as,
1. Frame with rear wheel, rear casette, derailleur, bottom bracket, crank arm, both gearing cables, rear brake cables, rear brake already assembled.
2. Seat/saddle. This is a decent Diamondback saddle.
3. Front wheel. (The picture doesn’t do justice to the wheels – they are DB Equation, but seem to be pretty good.)
4. Front brake caliper. (This needs to be mounted, and then you run the brake cable through and adjust it.)
5. Pedals! – Yes, the bike came with Wellgo pedals. Now, these won’t work with cleats/biking shoes, but are pretty decent otherwise. I bought another set of Wellgo pedals as I wasn’t sure if this came with it or not. Those will work with cleats.
6. Manuals – User Manual, Assembly Guide (which is pretty useless compared to the Diamondback website.) and individual sheets for the derailleurs, crankset ..etc.
7. Tool set – The spanner, that barely made it, and a set of Allen wrenches for assembly. (One of them was a Philips screwdriver I think.) I used my own tools, and didn’t bother using this or the ones in my multi-tool. (Those are for emergencies, you know.)
8. Extra spokes, and wire-end crimping thingy. (I don’t know what they are called – they look similar to the spoke nipples, except they are to keep your cable ends from fraying.)
The handlebar was separate, i.e., not connected.
Assembly is fairly easy, if you’ve done this before, use the DB website instructions, and have a decent set of tools. I only had to connect the seat post, tighten that, fit the handlebar, fit the front wheel. (with a quick release skewer), fit the brake caliper, and then connect the front brake cable through the caliper.
I did fine tune the brakes to make sure the contact was optimal on the rim.
Cutting the front brake cable with my cheap pliers that came with my tool box (not supplied with the bike) was a struggle. I knew it would be so, and tried cutting it 2.5in instead of 1.5 – 2in. (so that I would have room to work with if it went bad.) It did go bad, and horribly, and the end started fraying!! I then had to go rush and buy a better quality $10 pliers, to cut the cable, and put the crimping thing, on it. There is a special tool available for cutting the wire and crimping it, but I think at $30+, those are aimed at bike shops and not one time users. I didn’t buy it because I didn’t think I’d need it.
I put 2 lights on the handlebars – 1 to focus on the road and remain always on, and the other to make me visible to road motorists, by keeping it on the blinking mode. On the seat post, I mounted my Topeak wedge pack, put in my CrankBrothers multi-tool, a spare tube, tire levers, patch kit, emergency contact information, and some cash + bandaids. I also mounted a red reflector and a red light on the seat post. I attached two Ibera bottle cages I bought on Amazon next – and under one of them went the portable pump (Topeak pocket rocket) and it’s mount. I bought Aluminum colored ones, but maybe white would have gone better with the bike. I am still waiting for my Sigma cadence wired computer to be delivered, and that will be next to go on the bike. I also used some 3M reflective stickers to make myself and the bike more visible at night. (done tastefully, and not garishly.)
The bike did not come with a chain stay protector, and I have ordered one on Amazon. My previous bike took some hits to the chain stay, and I think having one is generally beneficial.
I didn’t want to install a kick-stand , and I wasn’t even sure if I could on this bike. I looked up some bicycle stands, and they all seemed expensive for what they were doing. Generally $30 or more. I finally decided to get a Fluid Trainer from another website to also double as a stand. The weather is pretty cold this time of the year, so I figured a trainer would be useful.
I am 5’11” and after looking at some fit web-sites, and looking at the sizing guide itself, I decided to get the 58cm instead of the 56cm. I am glad to report that the standover height is > 1inch, and the bike fits me very well. (The previous bike I had was a 57cm, but the frame geometry might have been quite different. so it’s hard to compare with just one number.)
Couple of pain points – they stuck a couple of stickers on the bike that I wouldn’t have wanted – I’ll just need to find a way of removing them without causing any issues with the paint.
1st Day Review: (First Ride)
I got to have my first ride yesterday – it was a short one. It was 35 degrees outside, so I just wanted to take a quick ride within my apartment complex, and see how the shifting works, and if the brakes were ok, if my riding stance was comfortable …etc. Full marks on all fronts – the bike fits just perfectly. My saddle height adjustment seemed to be just right. Shifting was nice and smooth. (It took me a while to figure out that the smaller lever was for a smaller cog, and not an easier gear (on the rear casette.) 🙂 On the front crank, the smaller lever takes you to an easier gear. ) Brakes were pretty good, and the bike feels comfortable while being plenty fast. Once I get in a couple of longer rides, I’ll find out how much better this bike is than my previous bike.
xxx mile Review:
When I get to it.