DIAMONDBACK DIVES HEADFIRST INTO ELECTRIC

DIAMONDBACK DIVES HEADFIRST INTO ELECTRIC

Originally in BMX racing circles and later as a force in mountain biking, Diamondback started making BMX bikes in Newbury Park, California, in 1977. The company then got into mountain bikes, and eventually gravel, road and triathlon bikes. They’re now under the umbrella of Alta Cycles, which also produces Haibike, Redline, Raleigh and Izip. 

Like every other bike brand with an eye towards a future revenue stream, they’ve now jumped onto the e-bike wagon with four new pedal-assist models: the Current, Response, Union 1 and Union 2. Their marketing tagline is, “Get amped!”, as a play on acoustic versus electric guitars. 

THE BIKE

The Current is Diamondback’s entry into the fast-growing gravel bike market, which can be defined as off-road-capable road bikes. The Current starts with an aluminum frame and fork in a traditional diamond shape. There are two bottle-cage bosses inside the front triangle (though proper gravel bike set-up usually calls for at three) and nicely done internal cable routing.

THE PARTS

One of the most distinctive features on the bike, something you notice immediately, is the wide handlebars. The small frame comes with 480mm, while the medium and large both have 500mm-wide bars. They flare further outward through the drop, reaching nearly 100mm wider in the drops. It certainly offers stability when hammering along a gravel or dirt road. Soft Velo tape covers the entire handlebar. 

Too wide for some, the Current takes the wide-handlebar fashion to the extreme. Yes, the handlebars are especially wide on this bike.

 

Diamondback chose to go full Shimano, with the gravel-optimized GRX 1x drivetrain, along with GRX hydraulic brakes with a 180mm rotor in front and 160mm in the rear. The shift lever is integrated into the right brake lever. 

Black anodized rims, spokes and nipples give the bike a cool look, and they’re fitted with knobby Maxxis Rambler 700x40c tires; both use thru-axles. The Wellgo aluminum platform pedals come stock, attached via FSA forged alloy forks made specifically for the Bosch system. 

The rear-mounted kickstand is a nice touch instead of always needing someplace to lean your bike. If you’re not a fan, it can easily be removed.

THE MOTOR 

Diamondback chose the Bosch Performance Line Speed motor, which features 350-watt nominal output with 85 N/m of torque to get you going. It’s a Class 3 bike that will give you power assist up to 28 mph. 

The battery is a Bosch PowerTube 500-Wh battery located in the downtube and fully removable for charging or swapping batteries to increase range. We were happy to find Bosch’s premier Kiox display, as it allows more connectivity than most other Bosch displays and shows speed, battery power, rider torque input, ride time, trip meter and more, which are all customizable via the display or the app.

“This bike can cruise at nearly 28 mph pretty easily, which helps when keeping up with traffic.”

It can record trips and send all the relevant data via your smartphone’s Bluetooth connection using Bosch’s eBike Connect online portal. You can even connect it to your heart-rate monitor to help in training. That same connection can be used for free software updates, one of which now includes a navigation function. 

One of the better features of the display is that it’s held on by magnets, which means when you stop and get off the bike, you can remove it and the system won’t power up without it. That same magnet will allow the display to pop off instead of breaking due to impact. It also has damage-resistant glass. Kudos to Bosch on that one!

A Shimano GRX 1×11 drivetrain offers plenty of range for even steep hills.

 

The included charger is a normal Bosch charger with their proprietary plug, and it puts out 4 amps, so it should fully recharge your battery from near zero to 100 percent in just under five hours. You can charge the battery on or off the bike.

WHO IT’S MADE FOR

The Current is a solid, entry-level e-gravel bike. It would be a good commuter, especially as a Class 3 bike, and is ready to go off-road any time you’d want to. 

THE RIDE

Because there’s no suspension or extra parts, the bike is fairly light and feels it. Taking off is smooth. The Bosch acceleration is slightly exaggerated, but in a really good way. The tires have a tread pattern that is fairly smooth and quiet in the center, but the knobs get more aggressive as you go towards the sidewalls to make cornering on most any surface sure-footed, and the bike feels planted on road or dirt in corners.

Shimano GRX brakes offer ample stopping power and good modulation.

 

Lacking any suspension, we found ourselves riding out of the saddle a fair amount over rough pavement. The WTB saddle didn’t help much, as it might as well have been a chunk of masonry. To be fair, it didn’t fit us like some other saddles do, and that, coupled with spartan padding, would likely be the first thing we’d swap.

 The shifter can take a bit to get used to. Downshifting is accomplished by pressing the rear brake lever left, and you can do up to three gears per press, depending on how far you press it. Upshifting requires pressing the lever just inside the brake lever; each tap can only go up one gear at a time. If you’re not used to this system, you’ll adapt pretty quickly, but it may take even a little longer to master downshifting while braking as you come to a stop. If you can anticipate this, you can downshift before braking. 

Some parts of the Kiox display change color to help make it easier to know at a glance what mode you are in. Eco is green, Tour is teal, Sport is blue and Turbo is an angry red. On the main screen, there’s a torque indicator that shows how much power you’re using. The display can show a dizzying amount of information. It shows distance traveled, overall odometers, calories burned, heart rate, range, distance, power, and so much more, some on different screens. It’s very easy to toggle from the control pad. It also shows how much of your battery is left as a graphic percentage, and it can do the same for your phone battery if connected.

We couldn’t find anything that was outside the gear range in terms of climbing. Power delivery was smooth but powerful, and this bike actually did make it easy to get to—and over—28 mph. There’s a subtle drop-off at 28, but it isn’t early. This bike can cruise at nearly 28 mph pretty easily, which helps when keeping up with traffic. It can actually be safer and can get you where you’re going faster.

Most Class 3 bikes are most comfortable to ride at 22–24 mph, but that extra 4 mph is plenty of extra exertion. Diamondback has really done something right with this setup on the Current. 

THE VERDICT

We really like this first e-bike from Diamondback. It’s solid, fun to ride, capable and good value for the money. It certainly helps that they’re under the same umbrella as the other companies with much more experience making e-bikes. It’s nice to see that Diamondback offers a five-year warranty on the frame and a 30-day money-back guarantee.

If you’re a beginner-to-intermediate gravel rider, or on a budget, thanks especially to the upper-level Bosch products, the Current is definitely worth a look.

SPECS

DIAMONDBACK CURRENT

Price: $4100

Frame: 6061 T6 oversize aluminum alloy

Fork: Aluminum

Motor: Bosch Performance Line Speed (Class 3)

Battery: Bosch PowerTube 500Wh

Controls: Bosch Kiox

Charge time: 4–5 hours

Top speed: 28 mph

Range: 35–65 miles (claimed)

Rear derailleur: Shimano GRX 11-speed long cage

Chain: KMC x11e, e-bike-specific

Brakes: Shimano GRX, hydraulic disc, 180mm front, 160mm rotor rear

Saddle: WTB Volt Sport

Rims: Alex aluminum 700c, black anodized, 25mm ID

Hubs: JD XQR-15 (front), Formula, sealed bearing, thru-axle (rear)

Tires: Maxxis Rambler, 700x40c

Weight: 47 lbs, 3 oz

Color choice: Gloss Gray

Sizes: Small (48cm), medium (53cm) tested, large (58cm)

www.diamondback.com 


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