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.

Frame: DB Carbon, Endurance GeometryBrakes: TRP Spyre disc 160mm rotors, TRP levers
Fork: DB Carbon 1.5" tapered alloy steererHandlebar: DB X-Durance 8-degree flare, 31.8mm
Cranks: Shimano M591, 48/36/26tStem: DB X-Durance +/- 7 degree rise
Front derailleur: Shimano Deore M591Saddle: DB Eldorado
Rear derailleur: Shimano XT M772, 9-speedHead tube angle: 71 degrees (size L)
Shifters: Shimano Dura Ace BS77, 3x9 speedChainstay length: 430mm
Cogset: Shimano XT M770 11-34tSizes: S, M, L, XL
Chain: KMC X9MSRP: $2300
Rims: HED Tomcat Disc tubeless readyWeight: 21 pounds (w/o pedals, set-up tubeless)
Tires: Schwalbe Smart Sam, 27.5x2.1"
Stat Box
[TD] Hubs: 142x12mm rear, 12mm front thru-axle[/TD]
[TD] Rating:
5 Stars
5 out of 5 stars [/TD]
[/TR]


Pluses

Minuses
  • 27.5x2.1" 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.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9BlhFFTFZzk

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 4x4 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 »


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 27.5x2.1" 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.