Diamondback Sortie 3 Review

Diamondback Sortie 3
Tested by Oscar Newton Mason, images by Jacob Gibbins and Jamie Edwards

AW3C0089 (Custom)

“Blimey! That looks pretty good for a Diamondback!” was what greeted the Sortie 3 when I pulled it out the box.

I agree, DB’s 140mm trail bike looks good with its simple, blocky black and white graphics and subtle branding. It’s fair to say that I was excited to get on the Sortie. I’ve always felt that the trend to run 150/160mm on a trail bike is a bit much so have been looking for something with the geometry of a long travel bike but that had a manageable amount of squish. Had DB come up with the solution?!

The frame is T6 “Weapons grade” Aluminium which helps if you’re riding with Matt Hunter in Afghanistan I guess. It has a 142×12 bolt through axle to match the fork, tapered head tube and ISCG tabs. Up front is a Fox Float 32 RL open bath fork which is tapered with a 15mm bolt through. A nice Float RP23 Adaptive Logic High Volume rear shock is out back. You’ve also got Mavic rims, a mixture of Shimano kit that’s mostly SLX or XT but quite a portly budget Dynasis chainset.

I ended up putting on a few of my own parts that I personally like. The odd 100mm stem was the first to go, replaced by a 50mm stem and a bar that I’m more at home with. I also stuck on a knobbier front tyre and got rid of the triple chain set for a chain guide and a 36t ring.

AW3C0097 (Custom)

From the first ride on the bike it was obvious that the geometry was right at home on fast, pedally trails. I took the bike round some standard ‘trail centre’ stuff and it felt really at home, ideal for anyone out lapping the Forest of Dean, Llandegla or Cwm Carn every weekend. The size and the head angle really were quite good and the bike pedalled and accelerated really nicely. Heading up to Scotland for a week of riding between the British Downhill Series and the World Cup only reinforced that. Glentress and Innerleithen were fun and effortless rides.

Up at the top of Glentress in the jump park I was again surprised by how much fun the Sortie offered and despite being a ‘pedalling bike’ spent a sunny evening relearning one handers, big silly whips and tables.  The Sortie pedalled the trails all day and jumped the jumps all evening, surviving the lot and ready for more the next day again.

SQ LabsLeaderboard


With the trail centres in the bag I knew we had to find something steeper and more challenging for the Sortie so tapped up enduro pro Mark Scott for some local knowledge and hidden trails. Mark treated us to some of the best trails I’ve ever ridden, too tight for a DH bike but so steep that you wished you were on one. I was hoping the Sortie would lap them up.

The steeper, off-piste, technical terrain was where the Sortie got me thinking. The suspension is interesting. The combination of DB’s ‘Knucklebox’ linkeage and Fox rear shock generally works well and is very, very plush. It’s very comfortable on small bumps but does suffer when you start to push it harder. For trail centers it’s comfortable but for faster riders on rougher terrain you can see its limits. That’s nothing a bit of a custom tune wouldn’t fix though.

It was also cornering on the technical trails where I felt the Sortie could do better. Whilst the suspension encouraged me to go faster and push the bike harder the steep 70degree head angle would suddenly reel me back in and slow me down a bit. My instinct was to fit an offset bushing kit to slacken the bike out but I was disappointed to find that only one bushing is replaceable on the Sortie so the benefit would be minimal. There’s also the tyre clearance issue. The bike is clearly designed with dust rather than mud in mind, offering a maximum clearance of just 2.25”. That’s fine if you just ride surfaced trails on a fast, narrow tyre but is a pain if you want to take the bike to bigger terrain and fit bigger rubber.


To sum up it’s fair to say that the Sortie is a great bike if it suits your style of riding. It struggles in steeper, gnarlier terrain due to the steep head angle and in the mud due to the modest tyre clearance.  For trail centre riding though it’s great. It climbs fairly well, the suspension is awesome and the overall package is bombproof.

The Sortie 3 will cost you £2400.

Thanks to Raleigh and DiamondbackUK for making this test happen.