Diamondback is pulling out all the stops and the results of that are no more apparent than with their Catch and Release models. Both use a virtual pivot suspension design and both feature aggressive parts specs and direct-to-consumer options that can have you from box-to-trails in a jiffy. I’ve had the top-shelf Catch 2 at my disposal and it’s legit.
2017 Diamondback Catch 2 Features:
- Hydroformed alloy frame with Level Link virtual pivot suspension
- 130mm travel front and rear
- RockShox PIKE RC 27+ with Boost 110x15mm axle
- SRAM GX drivetrain with RaceFace Affect SL crankset
- SRAM Level T brakes
- LS LEV Integra dropper post
- Arrives in ReadyRide box
- Weight: 32.6 lbs (actual)
- MSRP: $4000 ($3499.99 currently)
Ready to ride in minutes
With Diamondback stepping up their game in recent years, it’s no surprise that they would jump on one of the best suspension designs on the market — the much-heralded VPP design. Making the platform their own, Diamondback’s design is called “Level Link” and it performs just as smooth as the original designs previously available only through Santa Cruz and Intense.
Level Link is a unified rear triangle that’s suspended via two small linkages at the top tube/seat tube junction and behind the bottom bracket. The counter-rotation of the links is key as Level Link provides a natural platform for pedaling efficiency combined with a progressive, bottomless feel.
While I will naturally compare the Level Link with the VPP, there are notable differences — primarily the placement of the lower Level Link, which is entirely above the bottom bracket and sits level to the ground at the sag point (hence the name). On the trail, I’ve found the Level Link to perform just as expected with a smooth, consistent feel.
The Catch 2 arrived carefully-packaged in a ReadyRide box. Inside, it is 90% assembled, tuned and ready to roll. All the tools you’ll need (wrenches, shock pump, pedals) are also included and it took me about 30 min to dial everything in to my liking.
I’ve got to give the nod to Diamondback for their ReadyRide program since it makes getting up-and-running a cinch. But, getting up-and-running and getting up-and-running with a smile are two different things. Luckily for me, the smile on my face was quick to arrive — perhaps after only a few pedal strokes. Nice, wide bars, the smooth Level Link suspension (with RockShox PIKE and Monarch) and reliable SRAM GX drivetrain all felt comfortable and predictable.
Another great part of the beauty of the Catch 2 is that it runs on 27.5+ tires. These 3″ wide tires allowed me to run at 15-18 psi. without worry. Going tubeless could even drop those pressures and weight further, which would be even more beneficial during the winter months.
One of my typical rides starts from the house and includes about a mile of pavement, 6 miles of gravel and 4 miles of singletrack. This variety of surfaces can expose inefficiencies and amplify problems. While the Catch 2 is not a road bike, it rolls well and handles nicely on the tarmac with just a hint of understeer at speed. It’s equally-great on gravel and really comes to life on singletrack. Over the past few seasons, I’ve pretty much ridden plus-sized bikes exclusively and the Catch 2 is at the top of the list in that category.
Something that’s great about plus bikes is their sheer versatility. The Catch 2 is just that — versatile. You may not get from Point A to Point B fast, but you’ll get there with a smile on your face. And, should you have an appetite to follow that rogue singletrack trail or a faint game trail our of sheer curiosity, you’ll be on a dependable bike that will get you in and back out of trouble. Those wide tires and smooth suspension got me out of some tricky situations a number of times.
The hallmarks of Level Link is the seemingly-bottomless feel of the suspension without robbing power. The Catch 2 delivers smooth, active suspension on climbs and descents. But, keep an eye on the low bottom bracket as pedal strikes are common.
There’s no getting around the fact that this is a 32+ lb. bike, but when slashing tight singletrack or opening it up on wide-open banked turns, you’d never know the wiser. Handling is always superb and it’s easy to maneuver this bike and maintain any line you aim for. That said, the suspension won’t hold you back on climbs, but that extra girth will. Again, you’ll get there and you will have a smile on your face, but you won’t be first to the top (unless your posse is riding DH bikes).
Over time, I did develop some creaking in the suspension linkages. It was a minor annoyance, but something that could likely be remedied with grease ports. Diamondback does have a video outlining the process for greasing the links available here, but a grease port would be a superior experience. The full parts spec — including SRAM’s GX01 drivetrain — all performed flawlessly. As a bonus, the wheelset is tubeless-ready should you wish to go that route (I didn’t bother but would if it were my own bike).
As part of the smart parts spec, DiamondBack should be applauded for spec’ing the RockShox PIKE on the Catch 2. The quality of travel afforded by the PIKE is unmatched and really adds a ton to the performance of this bike. The KS LEV dropper post was also a nice touch and worked well for the most part. I did have a few occasions where it would get stuck in the lowered position, but a butt tap or two always kicked it into gear.
- Level Link suspension is legit (fast, fun, and smooth)
- Excellent parts spec throughout
- Inclusion of a dropper post is always nice
- Excellent overall value
- Plus-sized tires are great for year-round fun
- ReadyRide makes assembly a breeze
- No getting around the 32+ lb. weight
- Ugh… that underside-mounted bottle cage is E. Coli waiting to happen (I got horse poo right on my bottle on one ride)
- Watch out for pedal strikes
The Bottom Line: DiamondBack Catch 2
DiamondBack has delivered a versatile and fun 27.5+ bike with the Catch 2. The Level Link suspension performs well with “bottomless” squish without robbing power. As an aluminum plus-sized bike, you do have a weight penalty, but your wallet with thank you and you’ll be grinning ear-to-ear on the trails.
Buy Now: Available from Diamondback (now $3499)