The impeccably engineered French Canadian builders Devinci have created a superb mix of state-of-the-art hard-riding balance and bombproof long-term strength with their Dixon aggro trail bike.
Ride & handling: Super strong on the trails, if heavy on the climbs
Haven supply a shock-volume reducing shim with the bike, which allows you to create a more progressive spring rate by unscrewing the air can and clipping the shim onto the damper shaft.
The spacer addition isn’t a cut and dried choice. Full volume means more bounce and occasional wallow when you get caught deep in the stroke, but bottom-out is never harsh. The bike swallows square-edged slaps like sweets, and more sag means a lower centre of gravity for extra stability.
Adding the shim definitely gives a firmer feel through your feet if you’re pushing hard through berms, but it’s more abrupt off big stuff. It still manages to drive forward through rock heaps and step downs as though it’s self-pumping.
Whether you stay with the stock XV air can or stick the shim in to make knocking the travel indicator less likely, the initial travel is remarkably smooth. Part of this is due to the plush initial stroke of the Split Pivot design. The smooth and easy-free movement of the perfectly aligned bearings (very noticeable if you take the shock out) makes a massive difference, letting the bike glide over small rocks, stutter bumps or roots without skipping a beat or losing traction.
Add the impressive braking and pedal stroke isolation plus decent ground clearance and the Dixon delivers unerring propulsion whatever’s underneath your wheels. That easy initial movement means you’ll be glad of the shock firming ProPedal lever when you’re grunting up a long, smooth climb though.
The extra beef also makes it less playful to hop and flick about at lower speeds. Get some momentum behind you and the surefooted ground connection and beautifully balanced handling is inspiring. The cockpit dimensions are just right, and while the mid-height BB means it’s not an absolute cornering scythe, it’s clearance means you can get on the power earlier.
Add in that fluid suspension and it also means you can drive it low through rooty, rocky or rutted ‘natural’ corners without pole vaulting off a stubbed pedal. Even on groomed trail centres you can still leave the brakes off, lean in hard and look for the exit very aggressively – as far as the Kendas let you, in fact.
Having done several runs with our test Fox 34 fork in place of the 32s, we can also confirm it’s more than stiff enough to team up with a tougher fork. You really don’t want to raise the bottom bracket much higher than it is, though.
Frame & equipment: Functional but heavy
Devinci have stayed resolutely homegrown. No containers of Far Eastern bikes unboxed, stickered up and bolted together for this company – they go for billet alloy and raw tube stock going in, and finished bikes rolling out the other end, giving them total quality control.
The Optimum G04 tubeset is triple butted and pressure-formed into curved, box and convex-sided rhomboid tubing to match the loads in each frame section. Convex rectangular section rear stays get cleanly machined, open-ended terminals and an asymmetric junction behind the relatively high main pivot.
The bearing seats in the mainframe, the rear pivot and the rocker linkage are all final-stage machined once the frame’s been heat treated and assembled. It’s more awkward than machining each piece before putting it together and hoping it stays straight during welding and age hardening, but it means the tolerances in bearing alignment are far more accurate than on most bikes. This translates into a noticeably smooth and easy suspension movement, plus better bearing and shock bushing life.
Switchable ‘Full Response Geometry’ chucks for the rocker link pivots let you slacken the head and seat angle half a degree and drop bottom bracket and standover height 7mm.
Devinci have hooked up with renowned suspension engineer Dave Weagle to use his Split Pivot design. This joins the chainstay and seatstays at a concentric pivot around the outside of the 142x12mm bolt-thru rear axle. A rocker link then drives the vertically mounted Fox RP2 shock.
There are chainguide mounts around the BB and mounts for a remote hose/cable for a dropper post under the top tube. There’s a bottle cage mount on the down tube and the rear brake is post-mount-style for easy alignment.
Tyre clearance is adequate for a 2.35in tyre in filthy weather or a 2.4in in the dry. It’s not the lightest frame in the 145mm category at 3.17kg (7lb) with shock, but the lifetime warranty shows Devinci are confident they’re more than strong enough. One niggle is the noise from the guide-free gear cable as it clatters around inside the chainstay.
While everything works fine, the frame quality and Canadian origin mean component levels on the complete Dixon RC are par with a mainstream bike several hundred pounds cheaper. The hefty frame and bombproof wheels also mean a chunky overall weight, although adding £250 worth of RockShox Reverb dropper post and a titanium seat collar for £205 is still tempting. It would add another pound or so, but allow you to easily get more from the bike.
There was a definite divide between testers on whether they preferred the shock spaced or full volume with slightly higher pressure, but everyone agreed on the Dixon’s awesome overall balance and performance. If you don’t mind a bit of effort on the climbs to give yourself a big advantage in terms of traction and control on the descents – plus superb hand-built strength – then the Dixon really has to be on your shortlist.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.