Words and Photos by: Brice Minnigh

Diamondback for Life—much cleaner than the Corleone family, but once you're in, you're in for good.

Diamondback has officially thrown its hat into the full-suspension 29er ring, unveiling the production version of its new 29-inch Sortie to a conference room full of inquisitive Raleigh/Diamondback dealers.

Though Diamondback was among the first companies to produce a 29-inch mountain bike—the Overdrive, a hardtail 29er that is one of their best-selling bikes—the Sortie 29 represents its first foray into the full-suspension 29er arena.

"Twenty-niners are going to be a big game for us this year," said Jon Kennedy, Diamondback's marketing manager. "There's tremendous demand for full-suspension 29ers, and it's a big gap in the market for us to fill."

The new model is based closely on the company's popular 26-inch Sortie trail bike, with only a few modifications to the geometry. To keep the chainstays at a manageable length of 17.75 inches, the seat tube has been moved forward a tad. Meanwhile, a high, direct-mount front derailleur allows for extra tire clearance.

The new bike uses the same Knucklebox suspension design with 100 millimeters of rear-wheel travel, while the recommended trail setup is with a 120-millimeter fork. In addition to complete bikes, this autumn Diamondback will also offer frameset packages including an FSA headset, carbon Easton seatpost, Fox RP23 with Kashima coat and 142×12 through-axle complete with rear hub.

Initial feedback on the new bike is largely positive.

"It just rolls over everything, so on technical climbs you don't even have to pick your line carefully like you do on a 26-inch bike," said Diamondback rider Eric Porter, who has been riding the prototype version as his primary trail bike since April—and even won an impromptu manual contest on the 29er at Bike Week in June. "With the bigger wheels, it has more contact patches, so when I'm climbing I really feel like I'm cheating.

"It's the most fun trail bike I've ever ridden, both for climbing and descending," Porter added. "Every time I ride it I feel like I'm going faster than usual, and when I've had someone follow me it was obvious that I really was going faster."

Sortie 29 Black: Diamondback's top-of-the-line full-suspension 29er comes with a complete Shimano XTR kit, Fox Kashima-coated suspension (front and rear), carbon Easton bars and seatpost, and a price tag of $6,500.

Sortie 29 3: Adorned with Shimano XT components, Fox suspension and carbon Easton bars and seatpost, the Sortie 29 3 will retail for $3,800.

Sortie 29 2: And for $2,950, you can enter the 29er arena on the Sortie 29 2, with an assortment of Shimano parts (including an XT rear derailleur) and Fox suspension.