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