At the end of the adventure, our Haanjo EXPs suffered not a single problem, not even a flat tire. Thanks to the relatively slack 71-degree head tube angle, the Haanjo EXP was extremely stable and composed, even when approaching 50mph while loaded down with nearly 25 pounds of gear, a testament to its long wheelbase geometry and upright position thanks to the tall head tube. When we reached the historic mining town of Forest City, a mere six miles as the crow flies to the south of the legendary mountain bike Mecca of Downieville, we unleashed the bikes and took off all the bags, ripping around on a little known network of buff singletrack that surrounds Forest City. As rugged and capable the Haanjo is for off-road bike packing duty, it’s equally nimble, quick, and an absolute thrill to ride as a trail bike.
Depending on rider preference or terrain, the Haanjo EXP can be outfitted with either 700x45c cyclocross tires or 27.5×2.1” mountain bike tires. It’s a unique capability that most other drop bar bikes don’t offer. We ran the 27.5” wheel size, which was much welcomed during numerous prolonged rocky descents, especially the jagged rock jaunt down the Plumbago Mine Road to the Middle Fork of the Yuba River. The climb out was absolutely punishing, ascending nearly 2500 vertical feet in little more than three miles, and if it weren’t for the 3x drivetrain, we surely would have been pushing our bikes uphill instead of just barely being able to ride them… most of the time.
The 46mm wide DB X-Durance Gravel drop bars with a slight outward flare made descending comfortable, especially in the drops. And much to my surprise, the stock DB Eldorado saddle was quite agreeable, without a single taint complaint the entire four-day adventure.
On the topic of complaints, with the Haanjo EXP there are very few. Although the TRP Spyre brakes always worked without fail, their lever pull resistance and limited modulation left something to be desired. They’re not bad, but they could be better. For those who purchase the EXP and want to upgrade the brakes without going hydraulic, just get a set of mechanical Klampers from Paul Component Engineering, as they boast superior lever feel and modulation compared to the TRP Spyres. The addition of some Klampers to the Haanjo would take this bike’s game up yet another notch.
The only other slight bummer is that although the rear axle is 142x12mm, the front axle is a road standard 12mm thru-axle, meaning for those who already have a 27.5” or 29” front mountain bike wheel with 15mm thru-axle laying around, it won’t work on the Haanjo EXP without swapping end caps.
So who is this bike for? The Haanjo EXP will appeal to those who find themselves riding a lot more dirt than pavement in search of solitude and adventure. And thanks to its versatility, the Haanjo EXP also makes for a terrific commuter bike when its not raising a roost in the dirt. Diehard mountain bikers who swear they’d never own a “road bike” will take one look at this drop-bar shred machine and start scheming of ways to get their hands on one.
The folks at DiamondBack have truly thought of everything designing the Haanjo EXP. It might just be the most capable, versatile and affordable drop bar adventure bike with carbon fiber frame and fork that I have ever ridden. With an MSRP of $2300, I get the feeling DiamondBack will be selling a lot of these whips, especially considering how popular adventure riding has become. The Haanjo EXP is just the latest proof of how great off-road bikes are these days.