Raceface have always supported the Freeride movement from its inception with the now legendary Diabolus stem, it showed that as well as being functional, products didn’t need to look like simple unrefined blocks of aluminium.
That was seven years ago and now we have the entire Diabolus line up consisting of: bars; stem; headset; seat post and cranks. Its proven so popular and hugely successful many bikes have come equipped with the entire line up as stock, so you’ve heard the hype, hell you might even have some of them, hut how do they hold up after some serious usage?
First off cranks they were the second company to adopt outboard bearing format, after Shimano brought it out on the Saint group set, to great applause The cranks themselves are big and broad cnc’d works of art, hard anodised black with laser etched graphics set into a cut out in the middle section. The aggressively angled and cut cnc work really reinforce what these cranks are meant and designed for.
The cranks themselves feature a removable granny spider, which is ideal if you manage to damage it. Or are running just the one front chain ring set up. At the bottom of each arm they feature a stainless steel pedal insert meaning that you’re not going to strip it and ruin the crank arms. A nice feature on something at this price range, weight is also quite impressive for such burly cranks coming in at 1295 grams (bb, cranks, two chain rings and bash guard) The right arm also features the self-extracting crank bolt and lock nut to keep the cranks in place.
Fitment is easy install bb cups with relevant spacers push the left arm and axle through attach right crank arm and tighten to specified torque its as easy as that. Overall there is not much on the market, which in looks alone can even match the Diabolus cranks.
For over two years these cranks have been perfect and after testing Saints as well I’ve had no problems with them, the bearings are still super silky and the cranks have pretty much taken everything I’ve thrown at them and have just screamed for more. No lateral flex in the slightest and they have provided great power transfer to the rear wheel, as far as the finish is concerned a little rub on the anodising and a few scratches from where the tips have hit a rock or a curb, but overall they are looking pretty good and a lot better than a pair of saints after similar use.
Also since the main graphics are hidden away in a central cut out, they remain pretty much untouched. The one minor gripe I have is that the pedal inserts are going rusty; this in my opinion is not good enough when you are paying this much for cranks. The least you can expect is two stainless steel pedal inserts not to go rusty. Overall, bar this they are near perfect, I can’t actually think of that many faults with them and trust me in saying that is a very rare occurrence for me.
Price is at the higher end of the spectrum at £200 with two chain rings and steel bash guard. Though this is still expensive, a lifetime warranty is included, meaning that they should last a very long time.
So onto the steering, the stem comes in 50,60 and 70mm and 1.5 variants. In both polished and anodized black incarnations. I’m using the 70mm oversize 31.8mm original model. This has since been updated with the Diabolus D2, however this review refers to the original D1, which can still be bought from nearly all retailers.
The stem is similar to the cranks in that it is cnc’d to perfection. The centre has been hollowed out to save weight. However not so much that it affects the strength and rigidity in any way. Opposing bolts on the stem even the clamping force on the steerer tube, the bolts are knee friendly as well as being recessed into the stem, a four bolt faceplate lock your bars firmly into it, with this set up there is not a hint of flex anywhere.
I can’t imagine riding this set up on a rigid, but on a downhill rig such as mine its designed for its brilliant and honestly there is little difference between this and a bolt on stem in my opinion in terms of the flex felt. The stem comes in at a respectable £60 which is in line with most competing products. And for the looks alone it’s easily worth the price.
The bars are well bars, there’s not much that you can do with them to make them look interesting but Raceface try. A hardcoat black anodization mixed with flames emanating from the stem clamp adds a touch of interest to them. Again though they are as flex free as the other components and nice and wide at 710mm or 28 inches. Which is becoming a very common trend amongst DH bikes these days. The bars come in at the very reasonable price of £40, which is actually cheaper than a lot of competing models so a worthwhile purchase if you are in the market for some.
The seatpost and the most undervalued but I think interesting component of the line-up. Before the Diabolus post came out there were absolutely no specifically designed posts for the DH and the FR market. Raceface entered first time, with the first ever post designed for DH and FR and got it right the first time round. With the trickest looking seatpost available.
The clamp assembly is the most interesting part of the post in that it allows huge adjustment while being one of the strongest around. The head is then cold bonded onto the seatpost tube meaning a very strong bond and one of which isn’t going to break even on those harder landings. The post itself it features laser cut markings for saw points along with the amount of weight that cut takes off your bike a nice feature for the weight weenies amongst you.
The head uses two semi circular teeth assemblies, which are then locked together by the clamp top assembly which is hinged, this though at first a little fiddly to do up, it is superbly solid, but also distributes impacts so lessens the chance of bending your saddle rails.
It is available in pretty much any size there is, so there are few excuses for not running this post. The cost is £75 a fair bit of money for a seatpost but one which I’m sure many of you are happy to pay, safe in the knowledge that it wont break on that “last drop of the day”. The seatpost also doesn’t creak in the slightest and really is solid, it allows a hint of layback if you like that, or can be pretty much run in line. Though the head might look quite bulbous it’s a lot smaller and more compact than it looks.
The only two minor issues I’ve had with it is the really poor anodising pretty much rubbing off after one insertion, the rest of the line ups anodization has held up exceptionally well but the seatpost appears to be the odd one out in this aspect. Also the bolts are going rusty this doesn’t pose a major problems if you are maintenance heavy however at this price range they should be stainless. Added to the fact they are in a direct path from the dirt thrown up from the rear wheel.
And that’s about wraps it up in all honesty for Freeride and Downhill I don’t think you can get better in terms of the sickest looks matched with near unsurpassed durability. The only minor issue I have is with the bolts going rusty and when you are spending this much on components I consider it a little bit of an oversight by Raceface.
Apart from that that the only thing, which may limit some, is the cost of the entire set up. Sadly looks and durability don’t come cheap and this is reflected within the price being at the higher end of the market. Though expensive there is of course the lower end RIDE and Evolve component sets which id highly rate if Diabolus is out of your price range, admittedly buying the whole set up at once will set you back just under £500, you can in fact buy a decent bike for that much. However if you want the best downhill or freeride componentry set id recommend you get Diabolus without hesitation.
© 2008 Review by Johnathan Clark