Home / Bikepacking / Diamondback Haanjo Trail Gravel Bike Review

Diamondback Haanjo Trail Gravel Bike Review

The Haanjo Trail has a higher top tube that provides a more upright and relaxed angle for gravel bike riding where aerodynamic speed is less of a requirement.
The Haanjo Trail has a higher top tube that provides a more upright and relaxed postural angle for gravel bike riding where aerodynamic speed is less of a requirement.

Diamondback Haanjo Trail Gravel Bike

Wheels and Tires
Drivetrain
Controls
Frame
Brakes
Ride

Excellent

The Diamondback Haanjo Trail is an excellent gravel bike tricked out for performance including a carbon fork, Ultegra derailleurs, dual control shifters and hydraulic disc brakes with a comfortable frame geometry that won't exhaust you on long gravel rides.

Shop Now

The Diamondback Haanjo Trail  is a 22-speed aluminum bike designed for riding on unpaved gravel and packed dirt roads. It’s a cross between a road bike and a mountain bike with low pressure knobby tires for traction, hydraulic brakes, and drop handlebars. I got the Haanjo Trail for bikepacking in the backcountry areas of Northern New Hampshire which are crisscrossed by unpaved logging company roads, ATV, and snowmobile trails. There aren’t many hiking trails in the “North Country” but there is a lot of “wild”. What better way to explore it than by bike?

There are a wide range of bikes that can be used for gravel riding and bikepacking, from mountain bikes to modified road bike frames, which is how I’d classify the Haanjo Trail. Each type of bike, make, model, and component configuration is going to have its pluses and minuses, with implications that you won’t be able to anticipate before you spend some time riding them on gravel and packing all of your camping gear/food and water for bikepacking off the grid. In the review that follows, I’ll explain the pluses and minus of the Haanjo Trail from a gravel biking and bikepacking perspective and the implications for use that the bike’s build entails.

Specs at a glance

  • Frame: Relaxed Head Tube Angle, Fully Butted 6061-T6 Alloy, Formed Top Tube, Tapered Headtube, Flat Mount Disc , 142x12mm Thru-axle w/ Replaceable Hanger
  • Weight 21.8 pounds
  • Fork: Full Monocoque Carbon Fork
  • Front Derailleur: Shimano Ultegra FD-6800, 31.8 Band Clamp
  • Rear Derailleur: Shimano Ultegra RD-6800, 11 Speed
  • Shifter: Shimano ST-RS685 Dual Control, 2×11 Speed
  • Cogset: Shimano 105 CS-5800, 11 Speed, 11-32T
  • Brakes: Shimano BR-RS805 Hydraulic Flat Mount Disc, w/ 160mm Front / 140mm Rear Rotors
  • Brake Levers: Shimano ST-RS685
  • Tires: Kenda Flintridge Pro, 120TPI, 700x40c
  • Rims: HED Tomcat Disc, 24h, 21mm Internal Width, Tubeless Ready
  • Pedals: DB Laser Alloy Platform
  • Click for complete specs

Frame and Carbon Fork

The Haanjo Trail is a lightweight aluminum bike (21.8 pounds) with a stiff frame, allowing a good transfer of power to forward momentum. But the properties that make aluminum frames stiff also propagate road vibrations to the rider, especially on pitted gravel roads covered with stones ranging from fist-sized chunks of rock to small pebbles and stone dust. While carbon frames are known to dampen road vibration, they’re also quite expensive. As a compromise, the Haanjo Trail has a carbon fork which helps reduce the transfer of vibration up into the arms and torso.

The Diamondback Haanjo Trail comes with a carbon fork to reduce road vibration
The Diamondback Haanjo Trail comes with a carbon fork to reduce road vibration.

The Haanjo Trail also has a taller head tube than a traditional road bike so you can comfortably sit upright when riding on unpaved gravel roads. I mostly ride with my hands on the brake hoods or handlebar tops when riding on gravel and the combination of the carbon fork and the relaxed angle results in very little arm or shoulder fatigue.

The Haanjo Trail has a thru-axle that pins the sides of the fork together, providing better stiffness, steering control, and braking efficiency.
The Haanjo Trail has a thru-axle that pins the sides of the fork together, providing better stiffness, steering control, and braking efficiency.

In addition to the carbon fork, the Haanjo Trail sports front and rear 12 mm quick-release thru-axles. Thru-axles are better than traditional quick release axles because wheels can’t pop out of them and they don’t break in rough conditions, something that can occur on mountain bikes. They also improve steering, handling, and disc brake efficiency by pinning the sides of the front carbon fork together. However, thru-axles don’t work with bicycle roof racks that require a quick release mechanism to lock the front fork of a bike to the rack. Hopefully the rack manufacturers will address this problem as front thru-axles become more popular.

The Haanjo Trail drop handlebars are well padded with neutral drops - shown with Salsa EXP handlebar rack
The Haanjo Trail drop handlebars are well padded with nearly neutral drops – shown with Salsa EXP Anything Rack and front light.

Drop Bars

Drop bars can be a blessing or a curse depending on your personal preferences. I happen to like them because I find it easier to move my hands into different positions while riding to eliminate hand numbness and prevent chronic rotator cuff overuse issues. They’re also nice to have if you decide you want to swap in a different set of wheels to use the Haanjo Trail as a road bike on pavement, one of the benefits of getting this bike.

The drop bars on the Haanjo Trail are best described as neutral and not too deep, keeping with the bike’s upright posture bias. They also have very little added flair in the handles and are well padded, which helps further reduce road vibration into the arms and shoulders.

However, drops bars can limit the volume of a handlebar bag when bikepacking since the bag has to fit between the drops vs a flat bar, where the handlebar bag can run its entire length. For example, if you want to hang a bikepacking handlebar bag on the Haanjo Trail, your best bet is to try a Salsa EXP Anything Cradle with a short third-party stuff sack and not the Salsa EXP Anything Cradle with Dry Bag because the latter won’t fit between the drops.

STI Dual Control Shifters: Pulling straight back on the right outer control arm engages the brakes, while pushing the inner level sideways increases the gear, and pushing the outer level sideways decreases it. Performing the same actions on the left hand changes the chain rings.
Shimano Dual Control Shifters: Pulling straight back on the right outer control arm engages the brakes, while pushing in the inner level sideways increases the gear, and pushing the outer level sideways decreases it. Performing the same actions on the left hand changes the chain rings.

Shimano Components

The Haanjo Trail comes with a very nice set of race-ready components including hydraulic disc brakes, Ultegra derailleurs, an 11-speed cassette, and dual control shifters.

  • Disc brakes are the norm on gravel bikes for their stopping power. While hydraulic disc brakes are newer, they’re considered better than mechanical ones because they require less maintenance and less force to engage. This means you can control them easily with just a finger or two, even when your hands are on the brake hoods.
  • Shimano’s Ultegra 6800 front and rear derailleurs provide silky smooth shifting performance and are longer lasting and slightly lighter weight than the derailleurs in Shimano’s Deore product line. They’re all excellent products, but the Ultegra components are more expensive and incorporate Shimano’s more recent technical advances while the Deore line is usually one generation behind Ultegra’s product improvements.
  • The Haanjo Trail has dual control shifters that combine the gear shifting and braking functions into a single control unit so you can shift gears up or down without having to remove your hand from the hoods or brake levers. Pulling straight back on the right outer control arm engages the brakes, pushing the inner lever sideways increases the gear, and pushing the outer lever sideways decreases it. Performing the same actions on the left hand changes the chain rings. The dual shift controls are great, but they further limit the width of a bikepacking handlebar bag because you need to accommodate their sideways range of motion, making panniers a potentially better storage option if you have to carry a lot of gear, extra water, and food.
The Haanjo Trail has high quality front and rear Shimano Ultegra derailleurs and a FSA crank set
The Haanjo Trail has high quality front and rear Shimano Ultegra derailleurs and a FSA crank set

Tires

The Haanjo Trail comes with a pair of lower pressure (30-50 psi) Kenda Flintridge Pro (700x40c) tires. These tires have a hard and fast rolling center tread good for pavement, transitioning to a softer, tackier rubber for grip, and then shoulder knobs for traction on loose rock and mud. When buying a gravel bike, it’s important to realize that you’ll be riding on pavement at least 50% of the time and these tires do a good job on both gravel and asphalt.

Kenda Flintridge Pro tires have multiple control surfaces for use on pavement and gravel
Kenda Flintridge Pro tires have multiple control surfaces for use on pavement and gravel

The lower pressure tires noticeable help absorb shock and vibration like a mountain or fat tire bike, but you’ll want to fully inflate them to 50 psi when carrying heavier bikepacking gear.

Recommendation

The Diamondback Haanjo Trail is an excellent gravel bike, one that may well be more sophisticated and advanced than you feel you have a right to own, but that’s easy to grow into if you’re just getting back into biking after a hiatus or want to rapidly leapfrog into the sport. It’s also a dual purpose bike, that you can turn into a road bike by putting a different tire on your rims or buying a second rims/wheel set to swap in when you want to ride on pavement. Featuring excellent Shimano components, the Haanjo Trail is tricked out for performance including Ultegra derailleurs, dual control shifters and hydraulic disc brakes with a comfortable frame geometry that won’t exhaust you on long gravel rides. I love flying down gravels roads with this bike, which is lightweight and easy to load with different types of bikepacking bags and accessories. Highly recommended!

Likes:

  • Lightweight aluminum 6061-T6 alloy is strong and stiff
  • Ultralight carbon fork and thru-axle dampen road vibration
  • Shimano hydraulic brakes provide excellent braking power
  • Shimano Ultegra front and rear derailleurs are smooth shifting, long-lasting, and lightweight
  • Shimano dual control shifters let you shift and brake without removing hands from the handlebar or hoods
  • Fully front and rear pannier ready

Dislikes:

  • Drop bars limit with of handlebar bags and gear storage
  • Top tube length feels a bit short; size up if between sizes
  • Front thru-axle is not compatible with roof racks that require quick release wheels

Disclosure: Diamondback provided the author with this product for review.

Written 2017.

Editor's note: Help support this site by making your next gear purchase through one of the links above. Click a link, buy what you need, and the seller will contribute a portion of the purchase price to support SectionHiker's unsponsored gear reviews, articles, and hiking guides.

Most Popular Searches

  • diamondack hanjo with racks
  • diamondback bikes
  • diamondback haanjo 2017

20 comments

  1. Are you going to be able keep this bike and will you be using it for another year or two? I would be very interested in a follow-up, long-term review. Your use seems to be very similar to mine, but your bike seems to be approaching it from the opposite end of the spectrum. Since many of the spec choices on your bike are the ones I ended up without, I would be very interested to know how they have worked for you after a year or so. I ended up with a Fuji “Tour” with several changes to make it work better for gravel and (smooth) two-track woods roads. In particular I’d like to know:

    * Does the carbon fork hold up without failing? I avoided any carbon because I was worried about the fact that it fails catastrophically if it fails. If you have no problem, I might reconsider.

    * How well do those tires protect you from the roughness of gravel? Do you end up wishing they were wider? Or narrower? I ended up with 700cx35 — the widest my bike shop was comfortable installing — and suspect that 700cx38 would be better, if they would clear the frame.

    * Any trouble with the disk brakes? I got caliper brakes (v-brakes?) for reliability reasons. If disks work for the riding you’ve been doing they would probably work for me.

    * How do you like the combined brake levers / shifters? I got separate bar-end shifters, again for reliability. There’s no question that they are not as convenient.

    * How do those rather small drop bars work for you? Mine are both deeper and longer (fore and aft). I like having two different hand positions on the drops and like how low they go. Even on a two-track road it is sometimes smooth enough for me to get down on the drops and go relatively fast.

    * How is that saddle working for you? I had one like it (narrowish, slightly-cushioned plastic) which I replaced this spring with a Brooks Flyer (sprung leather). I was amazed how much it reduced the “numb-butt” problem and how much of the roughness the rather stiff springs absorbed. A few weeks ago I was worried that it was getting TOO comfortable. I could feel that the leather was no longer completely straight and hard. I asked my bike shop if it needed tightening. (They had warned me not to over tighten it.) The answer was “Nope, that’s exactly what leather is supposed to do.”)

    * Are those pedals “studded”? How are they working for you? At the advice of my bike shop I replaced my Fuji’s stock pedals and their toe clips. They recommended what look like a platform pedal with added studs — like tire studs. As they predicted, I have had zero problem with my feet slipping off the pedals while having no trouble with my feet being “trapped” on the pedals when I have to stop unexpectedly (as happened to me with my first 10-speed, forty years ago.)

    • I can keep it and plan to use it for the foreseeable future.

    • Back at a keyboard. the 700×40 tires are great. I read somewhere that that’s the preferred size for the great divide trail so I sought out a bike that had them/was compatible with them. The low pressure is very good at shock absorption.

      No problems with the disk brakes, other than some adjustment. They are so much better than caliper and also better in rain.

      I have another bike with bar-end shifters and really dislike them because you need to move your hands far from the brakes. Bad idea on gravel.

      Drop bars. You rarely go really fast on gravel. I rarely use the drops to be honest. Lots of hand positions up above. I have to move my hands a lot to prevent numbness.

      saddle – fine. I like narrow seats.

      Peddles. They are slightly studded.

  2. You don’t mention the chainring sizes or the gear ratios. Does the bike have sufficiently low gearing to ride up steep hills fully loaded? How much weight does your bikepacking gear add overall to the bike? (mine will probably be more)

    • FSA Gossamer Pro, BB386 EVO, 46/36T
      Click above to see all the specs on the Diamondback site.
      The gearing is sufficiently low to climb pretty steep hills, but the limiting factor is my conditioning, not the bike.
      My gear/food/and fuel ranges from 20-30 pounds depending on trip length and if we’re fly fishing too.
      But

    • I know I’m a little late to the conversation, but my LBS found a 32T inner chain ring that will fit the FSA crank that is on the Haanjo Trail. Personally, I found that there were times I wanted a lower gear ratio on steep hills. The 32T didn’t get me quite as low as I was hoping, but for $20 it was a super cheap option and gives me a low gear of 1:1 without really taking away from anything else.

  3. $1,800….. Yikes!!

    • Well, I know a serious golfer who dropped $500 on a single club. My son has a piece of wood with a double reed on one end, holes and valves along the side, that cost $3000. My last road bike build was about $5-6k (never added it up completely). If you are serious about something, you use serious equipment and it ain’t cheap.

    • Dennis I got the Haanjo Comp (next level down) for under half that price. Still has awesome components and is a little more accessible.

  4. As a cyclist, it’s really great to get your perspective on this! The recent evolution of these bikes has been fascinating as manufacturers seek to balance performance for road/trail/gravel, versus durability and cost. Thanks so much!

  5. Phillip, nice to see you cross over to bike packing. I ride a Salsa Blackborrow fat bike year-round. Second set of wheels with 3″ Bontrager Chupacabras for non-winter use.

    Bike is tricked out with Jones H-bar handlebar, Hope flat pedals, Brooks B-17 saddle, and Salsa alternator rack with Ortlieb panniers. Dinotte LED lights front and rear.

    Doing Baxter State Park and Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument next month. Really appreciate the wealth of info on your site!

  6. I rode mine for the first time today on a 44 mile local loop of roads/gravel/singletrack… Super fun but this thing is heavy! I set the tires up tubeless which took some finagling, but it’s nice to have that option. I think I’ll change the 36 chainring to a 34 soon.

  7. I own and recommend the REI ARD 1.4. I love it.

  8. Has anyone any experience of bikepacking off-road with a folding bike? In the UK folders with 20″ wheels don’t need reservations on trains, but most folders are for road use.

  9. Thanks for the review! Very thorough, as always. Really helped when I was shopping for a gravel bike. I ended up buying the Haanjenn Comp (little sister to this bike). Only a few days in but very happy so far.

  10. I have the 2016 version of the bike (uses quick release main difference) and I think highly of it. It has mounts for fenders (I use the Portland Design Works model that installs with help of a eyelet through the quick release) and it has turned out to be a great all weather bike in the Puget Sound area for me.

    I haven’t done gravel on it yet but have been on dozens of road rides from 15-75 miles and it’s been very nice for being able to test new routes without having to worry overmuch about the condition of the roads (I installed Continental Gator Skins 32m). It obviously doesn’t ride up the steep hills that permeate my area like a dedicated carbon racing style bike, but it’s certainly much closer in my view to a true road bike than a mountain bike for street riding.

    I’m a fairly big rider-6″, 205, and I use the 59cm frame. I second the advice about “sizing up” if you feel you’re in a “tweener” frame situation. The bike feels “stolid” and not “squirrelly” in my view–not super nimble but something easy and stable to control.

    When I consider the struggles I had 30 years ago trying (usually in vain) to tweak more performance and reducing squeal from my truly awful cantilever brakes on my touring Miyata bike, I feel the hydraulics on the Hanjoo are a revelation–they have needed minimal maintaince over my first 2,000 miles of use. The Ultegra FD and RD are also rarely found on bikes at this price point and perform excellently.

    All in all, a lot of bike for the money. If you can have only one bike, this wouldn’t be a bad choice for its versatility.

  11. Does this bike have mounts on the fork for something like anything cages or the like? Tends to be a good place to carry water or bivy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Get a digest of the latest gear reviews and articles once a week. No spam. 

You have Successfully Subscribed!