My first 29er mountain bike was a Diamondback Overdrive Expert - a very price driven package that works very well for median sized riders, and somebody of my size, being 6'2" and 240lb with gear, was pushed beyond design parameters of the parts on it - but there were three things about that bike I absolutely loved - the geometry of the frame felt absolutely dialed, the 29" wheels for all the places I rode were fast and approach angles on bumps were fantastic, and the WTB Wolverine 29x2.2 tires were simply superlative across the array of conditions found in the high desert of the southwest. I have since rode a considerable diversity of other bikes, but the Diamondback Overdrive Carbon seemed to be the answer for everything I loved about that bike, but with a drivetrain I consider to be the best setup going for the money, and solid enough parts I can really just get out and enjoy riding.

This bike doesn't share a frame with the rest of the Diamondback Overdrive Carbon line, it just shares the graphics package with those bikes. If you look carefully, the seat tube is straight on the Sport (the rest are curved), there are internal routing ports just behind the tapered head tube (absent on the non-Sport Overdrive Carbons), and the rear triangle is quite different with fatter seatstays and chainstays, as well as a separate seatstay crosslink that is considerably closer to the tread on the tires. Despite those obvious differences, regardless of whether you'd consider the 'Overdrive Carbon' name a misnomer, this bike is by no means an impostor. What it does share is the same industry standard internal bladder and pre-preg carbon fiber layup construction that makes light, stiff carbon frames a reality - in DB parlance the AMMP Advanced Monocoque Molding Process. This particular frame is more closely related to the KTM Aera Comp 29er Carbon Hardtail, which is another excellent budget oriented XC-Trail bike, but this bike comes with parts I consider to be better in most parts, and still at a slightly lower price point than it's close relative.

[For Comparison:]
2014 Diamondback Overdrive Carbon Sport Review (Didn't fit in User Review Section)-31-1675-gry-side.jpg
Diamondback Overdrive Carbon Pro - note the forward seatpost bracing, bent seat tube, narrow seatstay, tapered, chainstay, 12x142mm TA, and shifter cables routed under the top tube. Not visible is the inter-seatstay bracing at the behind the seatpost, which is a unified piece connected to the seatpost, and with about an inch of clearance away from the tread of the tire. Since its introduction in 2013 model year, the Overdrive Carbon frames have all shared these traits.

2014 Diamondback Overdrive Carbon Sport Review (Didn't fit in User Review Section)-31-1577-car-side.jpg
Diamondback Overdrive Carbon SPORT - note the unbraced and slightly shorter seatpost, straight seat tube, slightly less tapered chainstay, QR dropout, and the awesome internal routing for the front and rear shifter cables. Not immedidiately visible is the non-connected inter-seatstay brace that is considerably closer to the tread of the tire.

2014 Diamondback Overdrive Carbon Sport Review (Didn't fit in User Review Section)-p1020612.jpg
2013 KTM Aera Comp - just for reference, as this appears to be a sibling of the Carbon Sport with regard to frame design - the internal routing and front derailleur mounting is different, but the rear triangle, seat tube, and overall shape are really quite similar

he 'Sport' version of this bike is simply a different frame, but not so say a conclusively worse one. While this frame lacks the 12x142mm through axle rear (instead has a more conventional 9x135mm droupout at the rear which is compatible with more budget oriented wheelsets), it does actually add internal routing for drivetrain cables to both derailleurs, and accommodates the external bearing crankset from Shimano which is in my opinion better than the SRAM PF30 common across the rest of the Overdrive Carbon line. While I would prefer a more future-proof 12mm through-axle on the rear to complement the superb 15mm RockShox 15TA on the front, there are still a plethora of good 9x135mm QR hubs, as well as excellent wheelsets made with them. I do really like the internal routing for the drivetrain cables, and at my size (6'2" 240lb) the bit of added stiffness from the slightly larger chainstays and seatstays of this frame is excellent.

I remain confused to this day why Diamondback specs the SRAM triple cranksets on every other Overdrive Carbon short of the lofty Pro version, as the SLX 2x10 drivetrain on this version provides a more than adequate range of gearing, not to mention lighter and simpler operation. The XT Shadow rear derailleur works well, though if given the opportunity I'd try and convince the product manager devising the next specification for this bike that the Shadow+ variant with the clutch would be a considerable improvement for this bike, even if it meant having to specify a 1x10 drivetrain with an eThirteen or other aftermarket 40T granny cog on the rear for cost and savings. Still, compared to virtually anything else in this price range (and the next two Overdrive Carbons up the food chain) the SLX/XT 2x10 drivetrain is simply better, and a well thought out decision.

The details of the cockpit are again better than I expected for a set of parts built partially around a price point - the DB4L lock-on grips are exceedingly comfortable, the saddle is better than most place-holder items, and the 680mm width and 5 degree sweep of the handlebars works very well with the 100mm stem shared by the L/XL sizes of the bike. I wound up having to omit the nice gear-shift indicator attachments on the SLX shifters in order to arrange the brakes how I prefer for one-finger usage, but that is the epitome of a minor complaint.

The brakes are Avid Elixir 1 hydraulic disc brakes - I've had issues with these in the past, but in my experience as long as they are functioning these brakes provide really solid modulation and adequate power for most uses, I just happen to prefer the slightly greater outright power of the SLX brakes from Shimano, and the compatibility with the I-Spec system to co-locate the shifters and brakes with one another. Really tiny complaint to be honest, as one doesn't see the full SLX-iSpec combination on bikes until prices start cresting the $3000 mark.

The SLX shifter themselves are an absolute favorite - the dual-direction small levers work for SRAM and Shimano fans, and the large lever allows for comfortable shifts to larger chainrings on the front and two snappy downshifts on the rear. These are simply the best shifters short of the uber-high end stuff like XTR/XX1 type setups on the market, the only change worth considering would be to use the Shimano I-Spec system to also mount brakes to the same mounting spot on the handlebar.

The wheelset is an OEM machine built set of Stan's NoTubes ZTR Rapids. While I would have otherwise assumed a lightweight carbon cross-country oriented bike would receive very light (but potentially fragile) wheels, these 21mm internal width, 25mm external width rims are really quite stout, and this is easily the best set of machine built wheels I've ridden. They do weight in over 2100g, but I'm much happier with a durable stiff set of wheels on such a stiff fork and frame combination over saving a few grams but feeling a need to tiptoe wherever trails get interesting.

The same theme of choosing stiffness and durability within the budget applies to the fork - the Recon Silver TK 100mm fork isn't something the weight weenies on the internet will lust after (2069g per SRAM), but this is a very solid fork that rides exceptionally well within the bike's comfort zone. Most importantly, it is a solo air fork which allows for vastly superior tunability for very light and very large riders without having to source a different spring. The 15mm thru-axle and hub that come with this fork are yet another improvement in stiffness and ease of use. This fork really shines with regard to the feel of mid-range support for me, especially when having to climb somewhat technical stuff out of the saddle, it allows the front wheel to soak up small bumps without wallowing and robbing crucial power from pedal strokes. In lockout, it feels nearly rigid, but still has adequate valving to keep big hits from transmitting too much shock should you forget and leave the lockout on before hitting gnarlier terrain.

Finally the pedals, a set of Wellgo alloy platforms - for general use, on pavement, fire roads, and real cross-country stuff they're fabulous pedals, especially considering that most bikes in this price point only come with some air in the threads of the crank arms. Over genuinely choppy stuff (where most sane people tend to want a bike with rear suspension anyway) the pedals lack the lateral bike to really keep my feet solidly locked into place, but considering how much cheaper this bike is than anything that can really compete with it on level ground, I could rather easily head out and pick up a set of light, durable, and excellent pedals like the Forte Convert pedals. Come to think of it, with just the Team Performance Points of this purchase and have enough left over to pick up a shock pump, bike pump, spare tubes and patch kits, and even a Stan's NoTubes conversion kit. Needless to say, my high rating for value needs no further explanation.

What few complaints I have with this bike can be easily fixed: it needs a chainstay protector, my DIY works excellently but that's an immediate investment need; the frame being very tight against the rear tire (vertically, not laterally) means the rear tire is constantly pinging gravel off the frame (likely less of an issue with the actual Overdrive Carbon frame), and the rest would involve spending a lot more money to save a bit of weight. My dream spec on this bike would be a full SLX with XT ShadowPlus RD, and SLX I-Spec mounted brakes - that's probably a $200 cost premium that changes subjective control function and look of the cockpit more than overall performance. A lighter fork and lighter tires are always on the wish list, but going any lighter without spending a lot of money would give up some of the superb stiffness and responsiveness in this package, and I still commend the product manager who stuck to their guns on this bike for insisting that rigidity and durability were worth an extra pound over something noodly and fragile - besides, the end user can still quite easily install an aftermarket upgraded wheelset and keep the ZTR Rapids as a backup, instead of being forced to buy or repair a wheelset that looks great on paper for being lightweight but won't stay true.

So, how does the bike ride? In a word, it's fast. In more precise detail, it's a stiff, responsive, and well sorted bike in the cross-country and trail arena, striking an excellent balance between high speed stability with the somewhat slack ~71 degree head tube, but retains rather nimble handling for the wheelbase of the bike (keep in mind that I'm on the 22" XL size frame, with a gargantuan 44.5" wheelbase). The bike is impressive on moderately technical climbs, and quick in short acceleration bursts. While it isn't able to ride imperiously over gnarly downhills like the Misson 29 or other long travel bikes, it behaves quite predictably and still allows the rider to select an appropriate line through interesting bits of trail, and has enough compliance to stay rubber-side-down over technical terrain. In its element, ridden flat out over dirt and gravel trails this bike is a rocket ship; when pushed over challenging terrain it stays composed, but once the trail opens back up the bike begs for more speed to jet off towards the horizon.

f you're still hung up on this bike not really being a Diamondback Overdrive Carbon, then just look at it objectively - it's still a very lightweight carbon hardtail frame, and one that carries with it not only the manufacturer support of Diamondback, but also carries the outstanding lifetime guarantee from PerformanceBike. Remember that first Overdrive Expert I mentioned? I was basically unkind to that poor bike while I owned it, destroying both rims, one brake disk, the entire crankset, and the rear hub in the short week I owned it, and PerformanceBike stood behind it absolutely. I bought two more bikes through them, and for both of them my local store stood behind them even to my absolute bewilderment despite the abuse (second bike) or disinterest (third bike) they were subjected to.

TL;DR Review - Really solid, fast bike with outstanding parts spec at a truly exceptionally good price, where the parts spec saves money it favors stiff, rigid, durable stuff over lightest possible; and most importantly it comes with the outstanding backing of the PB lifetime guarantee.