How we Roll: Diamondback in Afghanistan

diamondback-in-afghanistan

Editor’s note: This story first appeared in Bicycle Times issue #19, published in October 2012. Words and photos by Josh Parker.


I wouldn’t consider myself a competitive cyclist by any means, rather a bike enthusiast. The day before I left for Afghanistan, my wife and I found an old, beaten Diamondback priced at $50 at the local used sports shop. A brief haggle and $35 later, we left. The next day, I proudly wheeled our find onto the transport jet and headed overseas with the rest of my unit.

I’m pretty sure everything on the bike was original, down to the tires and tubes. All telling the story of a past life spent under the Arizona sun. Classic lines, a lugged frame and forgiving steel. An actual leather seat long past its prime. This Ridge Runner was one of the first of its kind in 1983.

Scrounged from bits of scrap lying around the compound, I built a rear rack to carry my laundry. Two hose clamps and some bottle cage parts compose the cup holder mounted to the top tube, borne from necessity after a one-handed close call balancing an early morning coffee. New tires after the originals gave way in dramatic fashion one hot afternoon. A “borrowed” saddle from the deserted skeleton of a discount store special when the old seat clamp disintegrated on a rocky road. And plenty of TLC.

More than just a convenience or some easy exercise, this old machine transformed steel and rubber into freedom. A taste of autonomy in a place with precious little. Thanks for the inspiration.

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Diamondback expands Haanjo series to carbon

Diamondback has offered up some pretty impressive aluminum bikes over the last few years, but now it’s added lightness to the Haanjo line of adventure road bikes with three carbon fiber models.

©Earl Harper

In the beginning, road bikes had 700c wheels and other bikes had 26-inch wheels. But as the lines between bike categories have blurred, so too have the wheel size options. As such, the Haanjo can fit either a 700×45 wheel and tire or a 27.5×2.1 mountain bike setup for even more aggressive adventures.

©Earl Harper

One detail worth pointing out: the carbon fork uses a 12 mm thru-axle, the new road standard, so you can’t slap in any old mountain bike wheelset—unless you find one with replaceable and compatible end caps.

The Haanjo line also consists of five aluminum models that start at just $700, including two flat-bar versions.

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Haanjo Trail Carbon

  • Shimano Ultegra 2×11 drivetrain with SRAM Rival crankset(?!)
  • Shimano RS685 shift levers
  • Shimano hydraulic brakes
  • Schwalbe G-One 700x40mm tires on HED Tomcat wheels
  • $3,100

©Earl Harper

Haanjo Comp Carbon

  • Shimano 2×11 105 drivetrain with FSA crankset
  • TRP mechanical disc brakes
  • Schwalbe G-One 700x40mm tires on HED Tomcat wheels
  • $2,500

©Earl Harper

Haanjo EXP Carbon

  • Shimano 3×9 drivetrain
  • Bar-end shifters
  • TRP mechanical disc brakes
  • Schwalbe Smart Sprint tires on 27.5 HED wheels
  • $2,300

Video

Eric Porter and friends ride from Reno to Nevada City on the new Haanjo. Watch for more from this adventure in the next issue of Bicycle Times.

What’s your take?

What do you think? Do drop bars and “mountain bike” wheels + tires belong together? Let us know in the comments below.

 

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