Superbike or Bust?
Is the new Dimond Bike just a buffed-up version of an old cult classic, a truly groundbreaking superbike, or both?
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I’ll date myself here and say that when I first got a glimpse of the 2014 Dimond Bike, launched last week, my immediate thought was, “Softride.” In case you don’t remember, those bikes, which had a similar unorthodox Y-frame configuration and glaring lack of seat tube, hit the market in the mid-1990s. Other iterations followed, including versions from big names such as the Trek Y-foil and the Zipp 2001.
These designs were frequently derided in the mainstream for their funny looks and flexy ride characteristics. But they also inspired something of a cult following among a certain niche of triathletes. I still see one every once in a while—and perhaps I’d see more if I were in the tri scene—but mostly the design seemed to have faded into the same ignominious obscurity reserved for gems like the original Zipp disc brakes, the gel-insert chamois, and the spring-loaded seatpost.
Except there are, apparently, a select few who still swear by the Y-frame design. Among them is Ironman Lake Placid winner TJ Tollakson.
As much an entrepreneur and forward-thinker as he is a racer, Tollakson cites wind tunnel tests that show the Zipp 2001 to be the fastest bike on the market by some metrics, even though it went out of production over 15 years ago. When the American found himself between bike contracts in 2010, he realized that his preference was still for the Zipp 2001. And, after some encouragement from friends at Zipp, he decided to create his own brand that revitalized the design.
He teamed up with David Morse, an engineer from Zipp, to create the 2014 Dimond Bike. The company launched last week with the one design. And they are touting independent wind tunnel testing that shows the 2014 Dimond to have between 4 and 28 percent less wind drag than a couple of major brands’ tri bikes.
So can this blast-from-the-past design really be the fastest machine out there? Sure it looks super sexy with the matte carbon finish and the deep-section wheels. But I have to admit that for the moment, I’m almost as skeptical of the Dimond 2014 as I was of Michael J. Fox’s time-traveling DeLorean.