First Impressions & Weigh In: 2014 Diamondback Steilacoom RCX Pro Disc Cyclocross Bike

Diamondback Steilacoom RCX Pro Disc cyclocross bike review and actual weights

After seeing it more than a year ago at Sea Otter and waiting out a recall for the headset, a Diamondback Steilacoom RCX Pro Disc landed just in time for Asheville’s 2013 cyclocross season.  We’re about half way through our regional series, and so far the Steilacoom has delivered.

The Steilacoom RCX Pro Disc is a subtle and clean looking machine with just enough detail work to make it intriguing. That includes a piece of plated design work mounted on the top tube. The silver frame/white fork combination is pure looking. It’s not going to attract a lot of attention, but the bike has a confident and sturdy appearance. I look at and think “this is a purpose built cross bike, saddle up partner.”

Up front, the carbon Easton EC90 XD fork is beefy and stiff with a tapered 1.5” carbon steerer and made specifically for disc brakes. The frame is fully butted 6061-T6 alloy with an integrated tapered head tube and a formed top tube to make it flatter for easy throws over the shoulder and scoops on barrier approaches. Other details include a braze-on front derailleur mount, disc specific dropouts in the rear, and external cable routing throughout. For those of you that crash as much as me, it also has a much appreciated replaceable rear derailleur hanger…always a plus for the carnage that is cross racing.

Diamondback Steilacoom RCX Pro Disc cyclocross bike review and actual weights

While the brand’s had it’s ups and downs, they know racing. And this Diamondback doesn’t disappoint. It has a zip and a quickness. I’m faster than I can ever remember in and out of turns and feel like I can take the more aggressive line when needed to gain a position. I attribute this to the bike fitting me like a glove (sometimes it just happens that a company nails the geometry that you need and want with one of their standard production sizes) and having catlike reflexes….or should I say snakelike??? The alloy frame is stiff and coupled with a monster carbon fork, tapered steer tube, a BB30 cross crankset, and super sweet Easton EA90-XD wheels. I got very little flex out of the package.

Diamondback Steilacoom RCX Pro Disc cyclocross bike review and actual weights

Granted, I am 5’5″ and 125 lbs and don’t mash the pedals with monster truck force. So, for me, this bike is plenty stiff enough and produces ample acceleration when you flip to GO.

But it transfers the power without an overly harsh ride, a major complement for a small, alloy frame that’s built for speed. The flattened seatstays contribute to that ride quality, as do the flat/rounded dropout section that joins them to the chainstays. The only downside to that design is it seems to squeeze the metal closer to the tires at the brake bridge, leaving enough clearance, but not a ton. Probably won’t fit much more than a 33c tire in here, but hey, it’s a race bike, and so far I haven’t had an issue despite riding and racing in some pretty sloppy conditions.

The Avid BB7 mechanical disc brakes (160mm front/140mm rear rotors) don’t mind the mud either. Go ahead, aim for the nearest mud puddle that everyone else is dancing around. This bike will tear through it with the Michelin Mud 2 700x30c tires. That’s right, 30c tires…narrower than what most folks are running these days. Though I haven’t logged huge numbers or every type of terrain on these tires, I am finding them up to be very capable.

Diamondback Steilacoom RCX Pro Disc cyclocross bike review and actual weights

The hourglass headtube flares to meet Easton’s massive fork crown.

It’s also nimble and flickable, taking my inputs and rapidly transferring them to whatever surface may be below me, sometimes so much so that if on a very sketchy surface, the bike could be gone from under me in a flash. I like sharp handling bikes though, so for me, I wouldn’t ask for it to be changed, I just have to remember if it gets really precarious to handle with care. Numbers wise, the 50cm (tested, smallest size offered) has a 71º head angle and 75º seat angle. The HA gradually gets steeper, up to 73º on the largest size and the SA slackens to a 73º, in-between size frames get numbers in between those.

Diamondback Steilacoom RCX Pro Disc cyclocross bike review and actual weights

The shaped tubes take full advantage of the PFBB30 shell.

So far, I am loving this bike and I know some of that probably has to be that my general excitement around cyclocross makes me start loving everything. Something about oxytocin. But, objectively speaking, there’s a lot of features here to like and it’s been a solid performer for me. Also, I have had zero issues with the bike thus far and have only performed basic cleanings and maintenance. It is well specced and fits the bill for purposeful ‘cross riding.

Diamondback Steilacoom RCX Pro Disc cyclocross bike review and actual weights

Diamondback Steilacoom RCX Pro Disc cyclocross bike review and actual weights

I love the sport. The mud, cowbells, anything goes terrain, beer, wipeouts, music blasting over loudspeakers, camaraderie, beautiful fall and winter days, fans, costumes, and people usually not taking themselves too seriously. All good things. And having a bike that can handle the shenanigans of off days as well as the I’m-feelin’-it-today days makes it even better.

Diamondback Steilacoom RCX Pro Disc cyclocross bike review and actual weights

Check back at the end of the season for my final thoughts. In the meantime I am going to do my best to punish this bike and put it through its paces.

QUICK SPECS:

  • Fully butted alloy frame with race geometry
  • FSA SLK carbon cockpit
  • SRAM Force drivetrain w/ S950 cranks
  • Avid BB7 mechanical disc brake calipers
  • Easton EA90 XD tubeless wheels
  • Easton EC90 XD carbon disc fork
  • Michelin Cyclocross Mud 2 tires
  • WTB Saddle, DB cork/gel handlebar tape, FSA headset
  • $3,500 MSRP
  • Diamondback.com

Comments

Andy - 12/12/13 - 6:37pm

Braze-on FD? Really? Sure makes it great if you just run a single ring.

mike - 12/12/13 - 6:49pm

Funny we are still using this archaic derailleur mounting option isn’t it? They work so good the New Shimano derailleurs feature a small grub screw to help keep them from flexing…. Can’t we have Direct Mount for Road bikes?

Derek - 12/12/13 - 7:52pm

That’s a BB30 crankset, not BB386.

mudrock - 12/12/13 - 8:42pm

Is this your first review? your syntax is a little weird.

Devo - 12/12/13 - 9:12pm

Great cover photo: specialized red tape herding the competition.

Tyler Benedict - 12/13/13 - 9:29am

mudrock – Evan’s not a frequent writer, but he helps us test plenty of equipment so we have varied opinions on stuff rather than the same voices (and arses) on everything. Plus, he’s the only one of us here in NC that would fit a 50cm frame!

Haya - 12/14/13 - 3:10pm

They’d better pray that that specialized barrier tape is genuine.

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