Out on the trail, the performance of this bike is definitely weighted in favour of going down hills rather than up them. If I had to give that split a number then I'd say 30% for going up and 70% for going down however that's pretty much the essence of what a 5" travel, aggressive trail bike is about. After all you wouldn't really ride a trail bike aggressively up a hill would you? You work your way up the hills, pushing your legs through the pain because you know at the top you'll catch your breath and then reap the rewards on the way down. As you can probably guess, getting this bike up those never ending climbs was a bit of a struggle at times. I found that I needed to extend the seat post to its fullest position for ups and flats and also use the easy to reach lockout function on the forks to save energy. Do this and on flat sections the bike copes admirably well and pedal bob is barely noticeable. You can then lower the seat on the descents to manoeuvre the bike around underneath you. Once into the decent this bike comes into its own and you can really push your limits. On any gravity assisted trail or drop, the XSL Comp has a very solid and predictable feel which kept me constantly looking for more. If you're looking for an aggressive trail bike to cover medium distances and enjoy the down hills then you should certainly consider the Diamondback XSL Comp.
The XSL frame stays the same for 2010 again using the simple, single pivot suspension design. The main advantage of this is fewer moving parts than other designs, which means there is less to go wrong. The pivot on the XSL Comp uses two sealed bearing units which have been placed in line with the chainline to reduce undesirable pedal bob. The swingarm's solid CNC'd construction should also help ensure a long and trouble free life. The seat tube slot has been cut into the front of the tube to prevent dirt getting into the quick release area and there are also two bolts underneath the down tube for attaching a front mudguard.
Both suspension units are produced by Rock Shox and perform well under a variety of riding styles and conditions. The Monarch 2.1 rear shock manages a good balance between not sapping too much energy when pedalling and activating at the right time on rocky, bumpy trails. The Tora 302 Solo up front is also a great unit and only really felt a little shaky when the going got really rough or technical. The Quad QHD-1 brakes with 180mm rotors offer excellent braking power and are adjustable on the fly which is really useful. The groupset consists mostly of Shimano SLX components with a Truvativ Firex 3.2 crank which all add to the reliability of this bike. The neat finishing touches consist of FSA handlebar and stem, a WTB saddle and lock on grips. Finally the wheels are a solid combo of Shimano hubs and SunRingle rims with good all rounder Michelin A/T tyres. This bike uses some good quality components which helps justify the £1500 price point and all components chosen are well suited to the bike.
At a glance
|Verdict||A solid, durable and aggressive trail bike ideal for the descents on UK trails|