Diamondback Mason: Out Of The Box- by Guitar Ted

Last week I introduced you all to the Diamondback Mason, one of a cadre of short chain stayed, slack angled, long travel hard tails that have started to appear on the scene for 29″er fans over the past couple of years. (Here is the link for that post.) Here I will detail the bike out for you and go over the intentions of this unusual hard tail design.

2013 Diamondback Mason

Design Intentions: While this is a departure from the standard issue hard tail 29″er, it isn’t a departure from “mountain biking” as it has always been defined. Diamondback strongly identifies the Mason as an “All Mountain” hard tail 29″er bike. Really- that’s what mountain bikes were back 25-30 years ago too. One bike did everything- It went up, it went down, and it went over trails everywhere. Now we have better geometry, bigger wheels, better components, and a new term for the bikes that “do it all”, which is All Mountain. Not a bike you’d go race the XC circuit on, and not the bike you’d go do the Red Bull Challenge on, but you know- those are extremes on either end of the mountain bike continuum, right? :)

Well, in steps the Mason, a 29″er hard tail design hatched by the minds at Diamondback to be the bike you go up, down, and over trails on anywhere. To that end it features some very different parameters than your typical XC/Trail oriented hard tail 29″ers out there. Let’s take a look at what separates the Diamondback Mason from the rest:

Long Travel: The long, 140mm travel Fox Talas 29 CTD dominates the visual real estate up front. The Talas features 34mm stanchions, the new “Climb, Trail, Descend” compression settings, and a tapered steer tube with 15QR lowers. The Talas feature allows the rider of the Mason to drop the front end a bit for extended climbing and this reduces travel to 110mm.

Geometry: That long fork looks “kicked out” and your eyes do not deceive you there. The Mason features a very All Mountain-like 66.5° head angle. (Unsagged- 140mm travel setting) The seat tube angle is a very climbing friendly 73°. Our 19” test sample, (other sizes are 15.5/Small, 17”/Medium, and 21”/XL), features a 24.4” effective top tube length, which is right about what you might expect for a size large 29”er hard tail. The bottom bracket height is at 13”/330mm, which fits the All Mountain character of this design well. But there is one more unusual trait to speak of yet….

Short Chainstay Length: The Mason features a 433mm/17.04” chainstay length, which is pretty short for a 29”er. Diamondback achieves this short length by using a slightly offset seat tube to bottom bracket junction with a very noticeable forward bend in the seat tube. Diamondback still leaves clearance for a 2.3”er. (We’ll try fitting a couple of different combinations to see what the limits are here.)

Components: The Mason is spec’ed with components you might expect to find on an AM build. The bike features Race Face components from its “Respond” model line including the bar, (740mm wide), the stem, (60mm), and crankset, (10spd compatible 32T ring, no bash guard) The Mason has a 1 X 10 set up with a MRP direct mount type chain guide up front and a SRAM Type 2 X-9 derailleur which both help keep the chain in place on the chain ring. (Note: There is also an ISCG tab on the frame for use with ISCG mounted chain guides/bash guards.Finally, a high direct mount front derailleur can be fitted, but Diamondback recommends going with a 2X set up and not a triple crank.)

Frame Features/Wheels: The AM theme continues here with a tapered head tube, low slung, hydro-formed top tube, and 142 X 12mm through axle rear drop outs. The frame is made from Diamondback’s “Weapons Grade” aluminum in the 6061-T6 flavor. There are mounts for one water bottle on the down tube only. The wheels feature WTB’s Frequency i23 rims laced to Diamondback spec alloy 15mm through axle front and 12mm through axle rear hubs. Sealed cartridge bearings all around and the rear through axle is a SRAM Maxle.

Dropper Post: The Mason features an infinitely adjustable KindShock “Drop Zone” dropper post with 125mm of range, a handle bar, cable actuated remote control, and is a 30.9mm diameter.

Other Highlights: The rest of the bike is kitted out with parts from SRAM including the 10 speed 11-36T cassette, Avid Elixir 5 brakes with a 200mm frt/180mm rear rotor set up, a Diamondback Signature saddle in an arresting red color, and the unusual combination of a Kenda Nevegal front tire and a Kenda Slant Six rear tire.

Notes: This Mason was culled from Diamondback’s demo fleet and shows the wear and tear of previous usage. Other than nicks and scratches, I’ve not noticed anything untoward that would affect the review here. Finally, I am using my own flat pedals on this bike. (Nothing to write home about either! :) ) With these pedals, ready to ride, the Mason weighed in at 31.09lbs.

That about delineates what Diamondback thinks of as an “All Mountain” hard tail 29″er. We’ll see how it measures up in terms of capabilities and whether or not a short chain stayed, slack angled 29″er might make a good all arounder in my neck of the woods. I’ve already been bombing around on the Mason getting things dialed in. Stay tuned for a First Impressions post coming soon.

Note: Diamondback sent over the Mason for test/review at no charge to Twenty Nine Inches. We are not being bribed, nor paid for this review. We will strive to give or honest thoughts and opinions throughout