As a bicycle manufacturer, it’s essential to have bikes that perform well in your lineup. While some brands simply purchase the rights to existing designs that are widely considered effective, it’s a much bigger point of pride to break out with your own concept. The folks at Diamondback are pretty stoked to announce the Level Link- the company’s first suspension design that they’ve decided to patent.
The Level Link platform is a short link, counter rotating four-bar suspension system. Now if you’re thinking that sounds similar to some existing bikes you’re correct – Recently the patent covering those design elements expired, allowing Diamondback to create their own iteration without infringing on other brands or having to license the technology. After putting their magic into the design, Diamondback’s patent is currently pending.
Read on to find out how the Level Link has Diamondback’s new Catch 27.5+ and Release 27.5 (pictured above) grasping at the all-mountain ‘holy grail’ of efficient pedaling with excellent bump absorption…
After working for nearly three years with team rider Eric Porter and suspension wiz/engineer Luther Beal, the brand says they’ve made their best trail bike yet. Diamondback wanted to take aim at the industry’s biggest players and develop what they consider the best pedaling trail bike on the market. Their major goal was to isolate pedalling forces from suspension inputs to provide that ‘XC bike up, freeride bike down’ balance that trail bikes typically strive to achieve.
Looking at the big picture, the suspension system was designed hand in hand with the frame geometry to ensure the whole bike works in harmony. Beal also developed the Blanchard wheelset to complement the ride qualities of the Catch and Release bikes – he explained that since Diamondback has no intention to produce their own shocks or forks, developing a wheelset was the next most influential (and feasible) factor in tuning the new bikes’ on-trail performance.
With slack geometry and a low center of gravity, the new bikes aim to balance their efficient climbing prowess with fun, confidence inspiring descending capabilities – because after all, it is all about the ride.
So let’s get down to the science of it all – the Level Link moniker references the fact that the lower link stays parallel to the chain as the bike moves through its travel. This keeps the instant center in line with the chain all the way through the stroke, so pedalling forces won’t activate the suspension or hamper bump compliance.
The upper link is positioned to react to trail inputs. At the sag point, where the bike rests as you pedal, the two links sit perpendicular to each other. With the upper link sitting nearly vertical, it resists bobbing up and down but offers a linear shock rate with excellent absorption of small bumps and big hits at the rear wheel.
The Level Link’s axle path starts slightly rearward, then moves forward to provide optimal bump absorption and cornering stability. The design also allows necessary chain growth around the sag point to ensure good traction while pedalling over bumps, but keeps overall growth to a minimum when the bike dives deep into its travel.
The new Catch and Release bikes both come in a few different models, which we’ll check out in an upcoming article, so keep an eye on Bikerumor for the specs and a ‘first ride’ report on the Release 3…