Showdown: Diamondback vs. Nitro


What these two have in common is that they’re hypercoasters manufactured by B&M (Bolliger & Mabillard).  Both are notable for providing fabulous floater airtime.   Nitro, a first generation B&M hyper located at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, NJ, opened in 2001 and Diamondback, located at Kings Island in Mason, OH, opened in 2009.

Layout and Elements

Both coasters feature out and back layouts (Nitro has an L-shaped layout) with 215-foot drops; both reach a maximum speed of 80 mph.  Nitro boasts 5,394 feet of track while Diamondback boasts 5,282.  Common to both is a hammerhead turn and helix.  (Diamondback actually has two helices.) Unique to Diamondback is a splashdown element.  I would be tempted to give Diamondback the edge in this category but think that Nitro has a more interesting layout so am calling it even.

Photo by Bobbie Butterfield – Nitro Lift Hill


Photo by Bobbie Butterfield – Diamondback Lift Hill

Nitro operates with three trains containing nine cars seating four across for a total capacity of 36 riders whereas Diamondback operates with three trains containing eight cars seating two across in staggered fashion in two rows for a total capacity of 32 riders.   (On Diamondback the seats are in a V formation, with seats side by side in one row and spaced apart in the next.) The restraint on Nitro is a lap bar; on Diamondback it’s a lap bar plus seat belt.  (Seat belts were added to most if not all B&M hypers at Cedar Fair parks but not at Six Flags parks – although at one point Nitro did have a secondary restraint which was subsequently removed.)  Interesting bit of coaster trivia: Nitro was the first B&M hyper to use magnetic brakes.

Ride Experience

A ride on Nitro begins with a left turn out of the loading station, during which riders are jiggled while going around the bend.  The climb up the 230-foot lift hill is a slow one, all the better for a scenic view of the trees and sprawling track.  Upon reaching the top, the train plummets 215 feet at a 68-degree angle, immediately ascending a 189-foot hill and navigating a sharp left curve before sailing over a 161-foot airtime hill.  It rises and turns right, going into the hammerhead U- turn.  This is followed by an airtime hill and left-banked S-curve leading into a tight 540-degree helix.  After the mid-course brake run the train coasts over a series of small camelbacks before hitting the final brake run and returning to the station.  From the initial drop to the final camelback it’s a thrilling ride.  This is floater airtime at its best.  The two left-banked curves add an element of volatility, almost creating a sense of potential ejection.  This is especially true in the right end seat, where the rider is at a higher elevation than the three riders to the left and is likely to experience the sensation of sliding under the restraint.

Photo by Bobbie Butterfield

A ride on Diamondback begins in a more straightforward manner.  Unlike Nitro’s trains, Diamondback’s go directly up the 230-foot lift hill from the loading station.  Like Nitro’s  they drop a staggering 215 feet but at a steeper angle (74 degrees).  After the initial drop the train veers right and ascends a 193-foot hill, dropping into a gully before coasting over a camelback hill and ascending into the hammerhead turn.  Whereas the hammerhead turn on Nitro is a right turn, on Diamondback it’s a left turn.  Descending from the hammerhead, the train goes over an airtime hill, veering left into a helix and hitting the mid course brake run.  (This hill has a trim brake, which was quite obvious to me when I last rode.) Three bunny hills lead into a second, right-angled helix which is followed by the splashdown element.  The splashdown is visually striking but designed for the benefit of spectators rather than riders, as the spouts of water rise up behind the train and riders therefore do not get splashed. Following the splashdown the train makes a left turn back to the station.  It’s an awesome, exquisitely smooth ride with abundant floater airtime and nice scenery.  As with Nitro, one sees a lot of trees during the course of the ride.

Photo by Bobbie Butterfield


Photo by Bobbie Butterfield

The Winner

Photo by Bobbie Butterfield

And the winner is…Nitro.  This was a close call due to the similarities between the two. Although both coasters are world class, I give Nitro the win for several reasons.  As previously mentioned, it features a more interesting layout. It’s somewhat more intense and aggressive than Diamondback; the helix in particular is significantly more intense than either of those on Diamondback.  The journey out of the loading station is a zippier one, the turns are banked more steeply and the bunny hills after the brake run make for a more satisfying conclusion of the ride.  As to the seating arrangements, the logic behind installing staggered seats on Diamondback was purportedly to allow an unobstructed flow of air.  While this arrangement may succeed in doing that to some extent, I feel that it does little to enhance the overall ride experience  – unless you happen to be sitting in a row in which the seats are spaced apart with someone you dislike, in which case it’s a brilliant arrangement.  (Trying to inject a note of humor.)

What’s your take?  Have you ridden Nitro and Diamondback and if so, which do you think is better?