The ultimate bike for older girls who need a comfortable and capable ride to help them build their trail riding confidence.
BEST FOR: The Lux 3 is best for more aggressive trail riders. Lux 1 is great for everyday riders who may ride occasional trails, with the Lux 2 a good in between.
DRIVETRAIN: 1 X 11 (Lux 3), 2 X 9 (Lux 2), 3 X 8 (Lux 1)
WEIGHT: 28.5 lb.
BRAKES: Hydro disc (Lux 2 and 3), Mech Disc (Lux 1)
1 x 11/SRAM GX
Pros & Cons
- Simplified 1x drivetrain
- More upright geometry ideal for timid or beginning riders
- Shimano hydraulic disc brakes
- Wide 760mm handlebars
- Rockshox Judy air fork with lockout and rebound adjust
- SRAM GX shifters and derailleur
- Rims not tubeless ready
“Mom, when can we go biking again??” Like the wave of a magic wand, the Diamondback Lux 3 transformed my 12-year-old daughter from a heel-dragging, “Why do I have to gooooo??” biker, to an excited and eager rider. Honestly, as a mom who might be a little biased towards the awesomeness that is mountain biking, it’s been sad to see her overall love of biking diminish over the years. But with the Lux 3, she has regained her confidence on two wheels as well as her riding smile!
From its lightweight build to large 27.5″ wheels and it’s 1x drivetrain, the Lux 3 is just what my daughter needed to get her rolling again. Being 5’4″, she’s tall for her age, but with most of her height in her legs, finding a bike that was comfortable, yet aggressive, was a challenge. Either the bikes were too stretched out or too upright. As a women’s specific trail bike, the 15″ small-framed Lux 3 was the perfect fit!
When it comes to buying a bike for your tween, there are several companies, like woom and Cleary, that make amazing 26″ mountain bikes for kids. Built specifically for kids from the ground up, these bikes offer an amazing bang for your buck. However, 26″ bikes tend to max out for kids around 5’4″. Having just reached 5’4″ with plenty of height growth still on the way, it was time to look at small adult bikes for my daughter.
While the large variety of bikes in the adult market is certainly a bonus, these bikes are not built with a child in mind. Standard features on kid-specific bikes like narrow q-factors, 1x drivetrains, and small-reach brake levers are much harder to find on adult bikes. With limitless features, components, frame designs, and brands, one could spend weeks sifting through the never-ending options!
After a lot of searching and several visits to bike shops, we landed on the Diamondback Lux 3 with a small frame and couldn’t be happier. We certainly could have stretched her out onto a medium-framed Lux, as it would have provided more room for growth. But considering her desire to be positioned more upright, we thought it best to stick with the small frame. From the minute she jumped on the bike, she felt much more comfortable on it as compared to other bikes she had tried out at the shop.
The smaller cockpit allows her to sit more upright, making her feel much more at ease on the bike. Although overall fit and rider positioning on the bike is very subjective, if you or your child are more of a beginner, or simply prefer a more upright geometry, the Lux 3 should certainly be on your list to check out.
Being an adult bike, the Lux is also available in M and L frame sizes, as well as with different levels of components and corresponding price points. The frame sizes are designed to fit women 5’3″ to 5’11” in height, while models range from $600 to $1,100 in price.
All three models of the Diamondback Lux share the same frame and geometry but vary in components. In search of a mountain bike ready to tackle Utah’s Wasatch mountains, we selected the Lux 3 as it was the only model that offered an air suspension fork and a 1x drivetrain (it has one derailleur and one shifter versus two derailleurs and shifters found on most adult bikes). If you don’t plan on riding more aggressive trails, the lower Lux models still offer a great value and the same fit as the Lux 3.
In our opinion, we’ve found more simplified drivetrains to be the easiest for kids, so the more complex the riding they do, the more simplified you will want their shifting to be. If a child has trouble shifting or selecting the correct gears on a paved or basic dirt trail, it isn’t going to affect their riding as much as a child riding on a more complex trail.
Diamondback Lux Models Comparison
|Features||Lux 1||Lux 2||Lux 3|
|Model||Lux 1||Lux 2||Lux 3|
|Gearing||3 x 8||2 x 9||1 x 11|
|Drivetrain||Shimano Acera & Tourney||Shimano Acera||SRAM GX|
|Brakes||Tektro Mech Disc||Shimano Hydro Disc||Shimano Hydro Disc|
|Fork/Travel||Suntour Coil, 80mm||Suntour Coil, 100mm||Rockshox Judy Air, 120mm|
|Tires||Vee Rubber Crown Gem, 2.35"||Kena Nevetal Lite, 2.35"||Vee Rubber Crown Gem, 2.35"|
The geometry of the Lux line is amazing for beginning riders just getting started as well as those who want to progress to more aggressive terrain. The Lux models are also a great option for riders who just prefer to be in a slightly more upright position, rather than leaned forward in an aggressive stance.
The effective top tube length (the horizontal distance between the head tube and the seat post on the bike) on all sizes is noticeably shorter than other bikes we looked at, which helps to shorten the cockpit and plays a role in helping our daughter sit more upright. The effective top tube length on the Lux small frame is 555mm, while the effective top tube on the comparable Specialized Pitch (shown on the right) is 599mm.
If she was a more aggressive rider to start with, the longer Specialized Pitch would have been a better option for her, but with our goal of wanting her to be comfortable from day 1, the smaller Lux was the better choice.
The entire drivetrain of the Lux 3 is spec’ed with SRAM GX, which is part of SRAM’s line built specifically for mountain biking. In addition to being more precise in build, they are made with machined aluminum versus the stamped steel on the Shimano components of the Lux 1 and 2.
The Shimano Acera and Tourney components on the Lux 1 and 2 are not part of Shimano’s line made specifically for mountain biking, but are great components for the everyday rider. Acera (on Lux 2) is a step up from the Tourney (on Lux 1), which leads to the additional cost of the Lux 2 versus the 1.
The SRAM GX shifters on the Lux 3 are double thumb trigger shifters and were incredibly responsive on the trail. It took our tester a ride or two to get really comfortable using only her thumbs to shift (versus her index finder with her Shimano shifters on her old bike), but she did great once she mastered it. Having only one shifter also helped to ease her nerves on the trail as there was never any questions as to which shifter she should be using!
The shifters on the Lux 1 and 2 are Shimano trigger shifters which work slightly differently than SRAM trigger shifters. Instead of shifting with just your thumb, shifting is done with the index finger as well as the thumb. The Shimano shifters on the Lux 2 are an upgrade from the Shimano shifters on the Lux 1 and are slightly easier to operate.
Hydraulic disc brakes offer significantly more stopping power than traditional bike brakes but with much less effort from the rider. Having not ridden a bike with hydro disc brakes in a while, our tester had gotten back into the habit of pulling the brake lever with three fingers while riding.
As a result, during one of our rides, she complained that her hand was getting tired from stretching out to reach the lever. Once we pointed out that she now only needed to brake with one finger, she and her hands were much happier during our rides. Adjusting the reach on her brake levers closer to her hands was also a huge help. (The picture below shows the level prior to adjustment.)
As a comparison, the Lux 2 also features hydro disc brakes, while the Lux 1 has mechanical disc brakes.
Featuring a Rockshox Judy air fork with 120mm of travel, the Lux 3 provided some smooth sailing. On her maiden voyage on the bike at a local bike park, our tester intentionally set out to catch air over and over again (who is this girl??!!). On single track trails, she rolled up and over the rocky portions without skipping a beat.
The Rockshox fork on the Lux 3 is also a major upgrade as compared to the other models, which certainly is reflected in the price difference between the Lux 1 and 2. The Rockshox Judy has a larger travel at 120mm as well as external rebound adjust (alters how fast the shocks rebound with each hit), and a lockout feature for climbs.
The Lux 1 and 2 both have coil shocks versus air. While they still provide dampening on rough terrain, they don’t offer as much customization. Coil sprung (versus air-sprung) forks can’t absorb multiple hits as quickly as air as the coil itself takes longer to regain its shape than air. For those sticking to less aggressive trails, however, coil sprung forks tend to work just fine.
Lastly, the pedals all the Lux models are of quality build and feature numerous pins to prevent shoes from slipping off.
With a geometry perfectly dialed in for timid or non-aggressive riders, topped with responsive components, a 1x drivetrain and a highly adjustable air shock, the Diamondback Lux 3 is simply amazing. Whether you or your young rider plans on hitting the bike park or flowy trails, the Lux 3 stands ready. For those sticking to less aggressive riding, the Lux 2 and 1 are great, more affordable options that feature the same confidence-inspiring geometry.