Hurricanes don’t happen in the desert but an early settler in Utah was convinced there was one, thus naming the town of Hurricane after the fateful event. Hurricane is located in Washington County just outside of St George. It’s the last town one hits before driving up to the beautiful Gooseberry Mesa, which features some of the most scenic single track in the country with breathtaking views of Zion in the distance and other stunning Mesas. It’s here that we recently tested Diamondback’s new 2017
Women’s Clutch 2, with guidance from Western Spirit mountain bike tours.
With ominous skies in the horizon, we drove from Hurricane up the access road to the Gooseberry Mesa campsite. Fresh from showers the night before, the air permeated the intoxicating desert sage scent. Not knowing whether more rain would pass us or douse the group, we set up our tents in the dryness and suited up for a ride hoping for more of the same.
The Clutch 2 is a meaty all-mountain bike that has no traces of female intent. With a black and yellow frame, the bike gives off a more BMX vibe than a “women specific” one. Maybe this is an homage to Diamondback’s BMX roots, or maybe Diamondback just understands the female rider. The Clutch 2 features the same Level Link suspension that debuted last year in their men’s bikes. This suspension set-up is a short length four bar system. When suspension is compressed, the lower link stays parallel with the chain line, isolating pedaling forces from the suspension. This means more stability pedaling up and on descents. Because of this feature, it’s easy to forget that the bike is aluminum and not carbon.
With the sun making a brief appearance—giving us false hope that our ride would be dry—we we took off on the Big Loop. The trail lead us to overlooks with views of the vast and mystic desert. It also took us to Bowls and Ledges, which is essentially a natural BMX park. It was here that the Clutch 2 shined, handling like a dream. All a rider needed was commitment and a bit of effort. The playful Clutch 2 is forgiving and just downright fun, thanks to its friendly geometry.
Once we reached the furthest point, it was clear that we were going to get wet, blown off the Mesa, or both. We booked it back to the campsite, taking the South Rim trail. It was here that we rode the most difficult features while in a hail storm that came out of nowhere (perhaps justifying the early settler’s confusion between a hurricane and erratic weather). Safely making it back to camp we were treated to warm curry by our Western Spirit guides. Once the wind died down, we all enjoyed a campfire and chocolate fondue.
Our next day of riding took us down the Mesa to another trail system just outside of Virgin. With the rain all soaked up by the desert, and the sun pounding down, we rode the very popular and winding Dead Ringer path, eventually entering the classic JEM trail. On these dusty XC trails, the Clutch handled like a champ. For the air-optional drops (and even just some side features not meant to be jumped), the Clutch felt sturdy and strong. At the end of the JEM, we de-chamois-ed and soaked up the rest of the sun’s rays before the desert moon would. We all lamented the end of a jam-packed adventure on a trusted steed.
Images by Jen See