DiamondBack Haanjo EXP adventure bike review

Modern, aggressive design blurs line between touring and mountain bike

Gravel
The Haanjo EXP brings together modern frame geometry and materials with classic drivetrain capability.

The Haanjo EXP brings together modern frame geometry and materials with classic drivetrain capability.

Lowdown: DiamondBack Haanjo EXP

When I opened the box and got a first glimpse at the DiamondBack Haanjo EXP, my eyes lit up and a big grin emerged. In an age where everyone is pushing 1x drivetrains, DiamondBack went out on a limb and took things old school, spec’ing a carbon frame and fork with 3x up front, 9-speed in the back, and the piece de resistance, bar-end shifters. Blending a tried-and-true drivetrain with modern materials and frame geometry, on paper it seems the DiamondBack Haanjo EXP (short for “expedition”) is suited for a huge range of riding duty, including a four-day, 150-mile bike packing shakedown test across the Sierra Nevada. Read on to learn how the bike performed on the trip.

Stat Box
Frame: DB Carbon, Endurance Geometry Brakes: TRP Spyre disc 160mm rotors, TRP levers
Fork: DB Carbon 1.5” tapered alloy steerer Handlebar: DB X-Durance 8-degree flare, 31.8mm
Cranks: Shimano M591, 48/36/26t Stem: DB X-Durance +/- 7 degree rise
Front derailleur: Shimano Deore M591 Saddle: DB Eldorado
Rear derailleur: Shimano XT M772, 9-speed Head tube angle: 71 degrees (size L)
Shifters: Shimano Dura Ace BS77, 3×9 speed Chainstay length: 430mm
Cogset: Shimano XT M770 11-34t Sizes: S, M, L, XL
Chain: KMC X9 MSRP: $2300
Rims: HED Tomcat Disc tubeless ready Weight: 21 pounds (w/o pedals, set-up tubeless)
Hubs: 142x12mm rear, 12mm front thru-axle Rating: 5 Stars 5 out of 5 stars
Tires: Schwalbe Smart Sam, 27.5×2.1”

Pluses
Minuses
  • 27.5×2.1” or 700x45c tires
  • 12mm road standard front thru-axle
  • Carbon frame/fork with attractive design
  • So so braking
  • Wide gear range
  • Three bottle cage mounts
  • Rack and fender mounts
  • Internal cable routing
  • Affordable

Review: DiamondBack Haanjo EXP

Putting old school bar-end shifters on a brand new bike, especially a carbon one, is no doubt a big gamble. But the product manager at DiamondBack should big up him or herself, because in my opinion the Haanjo EXP is a stroke of genius. It’s designed for bike packing and multi-day backcountry adventures, and anyone who’s ever packed 25 pounds of gear on a bike knows that having 3x front shifting is a must. They also know that bar-end shifters don’t interfere as much with front packs and are more durable than integrated shifter/brake levers.

But why 9-speed instead of 10-speed? For one, 9-speed is less expensive. Also the bar-end shifters play nice with the Shimano Deore XT rear derailleur. Besides, with 3x up front, 10-speed really isn’t necessary.

But there’s added detail to the Haanjo EXP that makes it even more appealing: Mounts for fenders and racks, internal cable routing, three bottle cage mounts, and even Di2 electric shifting compatibility, not that you’d need it with bar-end shifters. The frame design is also well thought out, featuring a taller head tube and longer wheelbase than a traditional cyclocross bike for increased stability at speed, especially when loaded with gear.

An attractively designed composite frame and fork with drab olive green color scheme is well suited for this adventure rig.

An attractively designed composite frame and fork with olive green color scheme is well suited for this adventure rig.

The dark olive matte paint scheme is also a nice touch, classy and understated while looking rugged and tough, like a human-powered Land Cruiser set up for overland adventure. There is no big fanfare or bright pastel colors, the Haanjo EXP gets the job done without drawing undue attention to how awesome it is. Those who know a good bike when they see one will be immediately drawn to the Haanjo EXP.

Even with 25 pounds of gear on the bike, the Haanjo EXP could still reasonably rip down Pioneer Trail near Nevada City. Photo by James Adamson – dropmedia.tv

Even with 25 pounds of gear on the bike, the Haanjo EXP could still reasonably rip down Pioneer Trail near Nevada City. Photo by James Adamson – dropmedia.tv

There couldn’t have been a more fitting torture test to sort out the Haanjo EXP than doing a four-day, 150 mile bike packing trip across the Sierra Nevada, featuring nearly 15,000 feet of climbing. That’s exactly what Eric Porter, James Adamson, and I did back in early June, following the historic Henness Pass Road wagon route across the Sierra. The route in California included a mix of smooth, fast fire road between Verdi and Jackson Meadows, some stellar singletrack in Forest City and along the Pioneer Trail east of Nevada City, and rocky 4×4 roads with hellishly steep pitches in and out of the Middle and South Forks of the Yuba River.

Continue to page 2 for more of our review of the DiamondBack Haanjo EXP »

About the author: Kurt Gensheimer

Kurt Gensheimer thinks the bicycle is man’s most perfect invention. He firmly believes ‘singlespeed’ is a compound word. He sometimes wears a disco ball helmet. He is also known as Genshammer. He is a Gemini and sleeps outside in a hammock.


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  • Jim Lowe says:

    The standover height for the smallest frame size is 31 inches- a little big for me at 5’8″. All my bikes have 30 inch standover. I guess they need a XS.

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