Devinci Wilson Carbon XP £3499.99

Can the kit match the pedigree of the World Cup-winning frame?

BikeRadar score 3.5/5

The Devinci Wilson Carbon offers up a frame that’s proven itself at the highest level, helping Canada's Stevie Smith to the World Cup overall title in 2013. So where’s the catch? The focus here is on the chassis rather than the components hanging off it. Is it worth investing in a frame of this calibre and hoping the parts will suffice?

Frame and equipment: excellence at its core – with some questionable componentry

The mainframe and seatstays are carbon – the chainstays are alloy – and Devinci is so confident in its DMC-G (Devinci Monocoque Carbon Gravity) lay-up that the maker offers a lifetime guarantee.

The production bike has the same angles as Stevie Smith's race rig, with ‘hi’ and ‘lo’ settings that facilitate altering the head angle by 0.7 degrees and the BB height by 10mm. In the ‘lo’ mode, our bike had a 63.6-degree head angle. Devinci offers a little more cockpit room than some brands, with the effective top tube on the medium frame measuring just shy of 600mm. It’s good to see an XL option too.

The highly tunable Cane Creek Double Barrel coil shock lets you really finesse the back end of the bike

The Wilson uses Dave Weagle’s Split Pivot suspension design, based around a concentric dropout pivot, and has 216mm (8.5in) of travel, which is kept under control by a Cane Creek Double Barrel coil shock. The Double Barrel can be a tricky beast to tame if you’re not confident tweaking both high- and low-speed compression and rebound settings, but the base settings on Cane Creek’s website make it easier than you might think. The bike’s available with the less complicated RockShox Vivid R2C for the same price.

Look a little closer at the XP and you’ll soon see why you’re getting this World Cup winning frame and highly tunable shock for such a relatively low price. Inevitably there had to be some compromise, and here it’s with the components. Take the RockShox Boxxer RC, for example. It’s not a bad fork, but it’s definitely not as well damped as the pricier Boxxer R2C2 or World Cup. Truvativ’s Hussefelt cranks are bombproof but not exactly the lightest option out there. Similar can be said for the Jalco rimmed wheels. All in, the XP tips the scales at a rather portly 17.8kg (39.24lb).

Although the RockShox Boxxer RC fork isn’t bad, it lacks support and is outclassed by the Wilson’s rear end

The biggest disappointment has to be the Schwalbe Muddy Mary rubber that shod our test bike's rims though. Their plasticky Performance compound may be hardwearing but it outright doesn’t belong on a bike with this sort of potential. The wide bar and Truvativ direct mount stem, though, are good choices. SRAM’s X7 Type 2 rear derailleur and shifter get the job done and proved reliable, and the 11-28t cassette feels spot-on for downhill use too. Oddly, our test bike came with an Avid front brake and Formula rear.

Ride and handling: flashes of brilliance hint at potential waiting to be unlocked

It’s hard to ignore the confidence the Wilson seems to ooze. The proportions and weight distribution just feel right. With the majority of its mass stowed low and in the centre of the frame, it’s easy to get carried away straight from the off. Drive your weight down through the pedals as you enter a turn and you’ll be surprised by how quickly you come out the other side.

There’s an air of self-assurance about this bike that helps you partly – but not totally – overlook the compromises made to piece a package like the XP together, and it’d take just a few changes to unlock its potential. The Boxxer RC isn’t the most supportive fork out there, and when you start sliding into steep catch- berms this can become unnerving. You can add more compression damping to make it sit up in its travel, but that makes it feel harsher over successive hits. Upgrading to RockShox’s new Charger damper would be a smart move because the chassis is fine.

Luckily the XP's biggest letdown is also one of the easiest to fix. The Muddy Mary is decent enough in the right compound, and even in this hard Performance version it’s not bad in tackier muddy conditions. But get it on to roots or rocks with a hint of moisture and it becomes a struggle to slow down or stay upright. Production bikes will come with Magic Marys instead, though still in the same plasticky compound.

The firm-compound tyres make riding at speed on roots or rocks a dicey affair

The other components add to the Wilson’s weight, and some changes here and there would make the ride a little more lively. But that’s something to think about later on, as they all do a decent job.

As it is, you can still pop the Wilson from line to line, it just needs some muscling to do it. What the XP lacks in nimbleness it more than makes up for in its ability to carry speed – you can just drop your heels and hammer through sections while the back end deals with whatever gets in its way. The angles and low centre of gravity make it feel planted and comfortable as the ground roughens and speeds pick up. After some initial niggles in really rough stuff, we spent some time trying to get the Cane Creek shock feeling just right, and just about got there in the end. The balance isn’t quite there though, front to back, with the rear end of the bike outclassing the fork.

With some small tweaks, you could really tap into the potential of the Wilson. You regularly get glimmers of its brilliance that mean you put any niggles aside, initially at least. Its cornering prowess is ridiculous, and even with the weighty build, it still shines when pointed down steep, unforgiving trails. In its current form though, that’s where it belongs – provided you stick some tackier tyres on. It’s not one for flatter, tamer tracks – this is a proper DH bike for someone serious about riding downhill.

This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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