Diamondback did their homework when choosing parts, and the build kit is specific to the downhill purposes of this bike: lift-served A-line style trails with booters and berms galore. SAINT, XTR, Havoc—all names you would find on a custom DH build, or even a pro’s slopestyle bike while waiting in line at Whistler. The Scapegoat is high-end through and through, no expenses spared to put the best group kit on this thing. The downside? MSRP on the Scapegoat is a whopping $6,000.
The new XTR group is incredible. If you haven’t had a chance to ride a clutch rear derailleur yet, go do it. The shifting performance is stupid-accurate, crisp, nearly maintenance free, and silent. After a six-day trip on the White Rim riding doubletrack road the entire time (with some occasional hike-to hucks), the XTR system got a workout on the rolling terrain. Not once did its performance fade, and never did I reach for the barrel adjuster to make a refinement. The shifter action is sharp and snappy, a much needed improvement over the notorious spongy feel Shimano has produced for the last decade.
The 2-way release feature is sweet, allowing you to drop two gears at once instead of individual clicks. I constantly find myself using it to drop gears quickly. There’s also this: the shifter + rear mech + cable weigh less than 300 grams total. The bling build kit translates into a highly responsive, durable, and fun bike to ride.
Easton Havoc Wheels
I also liked that DB spec’d the Scapegoat with the full Easton Havoc line. The Havoc wheelset is a great complement to this bike’s abilities, and being a welterweight DH set means they can withstand some carnage. I did double flat twice on my way down Porcupine Rim, something I attribute to the trail itself and my “creative” line choices, but it is worth noting that the Havoc rims show no sign of flat spots at all. Tension is still spot on, and the hubs are butter. While not having the best reputation of hub performance and adjustment, the new Easton offerings seem to be getting better than previous models.
Easton Havoc Bars and Stem
Cockpit-wise, the bend and sweep of the Havoc bars feel nice, and the stem does a great job of making sure nothing moves when it’s not supposed to. Fit-wise, the size Medium (17”) Scapegoat’s 23” TT mated with the 50mm Havoc stem feels perfect for me at 5’11”. The bike’s near 30” of standover is taller than some, but not to the point of being an issue for my 32” inseam. On the six-day White Rim trip, I logged several 30-plus-mile days on the ‘Goat, mostly on flat / rolling terrain with some long extended grinds, and I never felt uncomfortable or cramped on the bikes more gravity-oriented geometry.
I did swap the Havoc post for a KS Suspension LEV (which added about one pound). I’m still a little disappointed that DB didn’t include a dropper post, especially since they are becoming standard lately on these types of bikes.
In my First Look review, I mentioned my frustration in setting up the Scapegoat’s suspension. While the Float 180 RC2 is a good fit for the front, the DHX 5.0 is better suited for Craigslist—the air can is no match for the Knuckle Box’s linkage. I weigh 165-170 pounds, and even with 220 psi in the main chamber and 180 psi in the boost, I blow through all 160mm of rear travel to the point of being concerned for the longevity of the shock.
As far as the “small bump compliance” issue I noted, there is no real way to finding a balance between shock compliance and pedal bob other than replacing the DHX with a more tunable damper—one that you can set high- / low-speed compression on, such as the Cane Creek Double Barrel.
Given my initial mindset that the Scapegoat was a replacement for the Reign, and given DB’s claims of all-mountain abilities, I was unimpressed with the Scapegoat’s climbing ability, especially since Giant’s Maestro two-link platform is exceptionally good at rear wheel traction on climbs. The Maestro’s virtual pivot-esque design allows the rear wheel to remain active under pedaling forces and the rider experiences no pedal feedback when seated. I loved how well the 6.7” Reign climbed, even with a coil shock and no lockout.
The Diamondback is a different story. Its linkage is single-pivot driven and relies largely on shock technology to negate pedaling forces. The Pro-Pedal does help with pedal bob, but once engaged, the rider looses all small bump sensitivity essential for traction on more technical climbs. I’m one of those “set it and forget it” types, and have settled on not caring anymore. I’ve pretty much abandoned hope that the Scapegoat will magically morph into any sort climbing ace, and have embraced its downhill aptitude.
Speaking of downhill aptitude, while keeping things in control, the Shimano SAINT stoppers offer gobs of power, so much so that they are almost too powerful for low speeds, causing the rider to pay more attention and finesse the levers in tight techy spots. One option here would be to swap the 208mm front rotor to a smaller size, or get good at going faster. I was, however, disappointed to see the older model adorn a 2013 bike, since Shimano just came out with a redesigned version.
Weight wise, my Scapegoat now tips the scales at 34 pounds with the addition of the LEV dropper post and some meatier tires. In this day and age, with carbon becoming more available and soon to be more affordable, the all-mountain 6” travel bike should be weighing in sub-30. Since the Scapegoat is a Gravity / Park bike, that’s not unreasonable considering its DH wheels and long travel fork. I had the bike down close to 30 pounds once, but sacrificed qualities that bring the Scapegoat to life.
After getting over the fact the Diamondback Scapegoat is not quite the one-quiver machine it’s billed as and that I’d hoped it would be, I’ve really taken a liking to this bike. It’s a well-balanced jumper that doesn’t mind hammering through some rocks now and again. This is a freeride bike, closer in line to a Transition TR250 or a Norco Truax, and although I was after a more all-mountain bike with better climbing capabilities, the Scapegoat is worth a push to the top.
I spend half of my year in McCall, Idaho, where the local ski hill has a few downhill trails that aren’t burly enough to warrant a full-on DH bike, and are just a little too much trail for a 4-5” XC bike. And that middle ground is exactly where the Scapegoat shines, on lift-served or shuttle access trails.