This is my main trail bike, and the bike that two lucky people will be winning.
Release 3: http://amzn.to/2nH6WW4
Stem Cap: http://www.bikelangelo.com/Seths-Bike-Hacks_p_81.html
Suspension Video: https://youtu.be/bp0nxWZftdI
We’ll get back to how this happened later. In light of the contest, a ton of you have been asking for a bike check on my 2017 Release 3. After all, this is the bike that two of you will be winning.
The thing is, this bike isn’t much different from the one I rode in 2016. For that reason, I’m going to get into more detail than I usually do, starting with the changes. This year there’s a water bottle mount on the downtube. Also the cable guides have been streamlined a bit, holding closer to the frame. Perhaps the biggest change this year is the color scheme. The red back wheel was fun, but this looks more serious. The whole bike just looks better.
The Release 3 is mid travel trail bike. The fork has 150mm of travel, while the rear has 130. This mismatched travel is starting to get really popular, as it makes for a firm and agile bike that can still take big impacts in the front. I prefer to run 4 volume reducers in the rear to give it a sharp ramp up. Configured like this, 130mm has felt great on most trails.
I’ve read reviews like the one on Pink Bike that found 40% sag in the rear to be optimal. I run mine closer to 30%, which makes the bike feel more playful. It’s possible that this reduces efficiency over chatter, but everyone has their priorities and mine is jumping around.
On the topic of suspension, the Release has a pretty sophisticated linkage. This Level Link platform feels great and is very effective and reducing pedal bob. The only drawback is its complexity, since there are tons of pivot points to keep greased. If you wash your bike recklessly like I do, you might need to break it down a couple times per year to re-grease those points.
I haven’t changed anything on my Release 3 save for the stem cap—oh and the chainring. So what you see here is what it comes with out of the box; Sram Guide Brakes with 180mm rotors, a Rockshox Pike RCT3, a Monarch Plus RC3 DebonAir, a KS Lev Integra dropper post, Raceface Turbine Crankset, Sram X1 Shifting, and quite a few house brand parts, like the bars, stem, platform pedals, and wheels.
They unnecessarily upgraded the factory switch on the KS Lev to the Southpaw lever, something that many companies don’t do. Only someone who’s used a crappy dropper post lever would know how big of a difference that change makes. On the other hand, they saved money on things that don’t matter as much, like the stem and bars, which are house brand. The Blanchard rims that Diamondback also makes are really strong, as we’ve seen, in fact the only rim I’ve ever bent on a Diamondback was an Easton Arc on my Mission 2. I destroyed that twice actually.
As for the dropper post, the KS Lev isn’t perfect, but it is the best option. It sticks in the lower position, and the clamp makes creaking noises unless you grease it really thoroughly, but otherwise I’ve never had one fail, and I’ve owned 5. There are better dropper posts out there, but it’s tough to beat the KS at this price point.
The pedals are house brand platforms with replaceable pins. Considering many bikes don’t even come with pedals I find these to be more than adequate. I’ve had no urge to replace them, although if I did it would be with Raceface Chester pedals.
The Sram Guide Brakes feel good, really good, but they’re not always reliable. On several Sram guide levers over the last two years, I’ve had complete failures in hot weather, particularly when the bike was exposed to direct sunlight. Basically what happens is that the plunger swells up and freezes the brake in place. After it cools down it usually works again, but sometimes the damage is permanent. Luckily, Sram is really good about replacing them under warranty, and rumor has it that the current run of Sram guide brakes do not have this problem anymore. For the record, I did swap the levers on my old bike before shipping it out, so whoever wins it should be in good shape. Let’s file this in the never happens on Shimano folder.
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