DiamondBack Haanjo EXP adventure bike review

Modern, aggressive design blurs line between touring and mountain bike

Gravel
The Haanjo EXP is at home fully loaded down with frame bags. Photo by James Adamson – dropmedia.tv

The Haanjo EXP is at home fully loaded down with frame bags. Photo by James Adamson – dropmedia.tv

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.

When the bags were taken off, the Haanjo EXP really showed how quick and nimble it can be on trail. Photo by James Adamson – dropmedia.tv

When the bags were taken off, the Haanjo EXP really showed how quick and nimble it can be on trail. Photo by James Adamson – dropmedia.tv

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.

For $2,300, the Haanjo EXP is well equipped and a standout value.

For $2300, the Haanjo EXP is well equipped and a standout value.

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.

Eric Porter taking a lunch break during a four-day bike packing adventure. Photo by James Adamson – dropmedia.tv

Eric Porter taking a lunch break during a four-day bike packing adventure. Photo by James Adamson – dropmedia.tv

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.

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.


Related Articles


NOTE: There are two ways to comment on our articles: Facebook or Wordpress. Facebook uses your real name and can be posted on your wall while Wordpress uses our login system. Feel free to use either one.

Facebook Comments:



Wordpress Comments:

  • 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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*
*



THE SITE

ABOUT ROADBIKEREVIEW

VISIT US AT

© Copyright 2020 VerticalScope Inc. All rights reserved.