Swift Carbon’s Mark Blewitt, an ex-professional roadie from South Africa, is known for making luxury-level carbon road and time trial bikes, but he’s got more than a clue when it comes to mountain bikes. His first ever mountain bike is the D-Vore, or Detritovore (it’s an organism that eats dirt, etymology fans, and possibly the most esoteric pun we’ve ever heard).
Swift make no apologies for their Chinese manufacturing; it trumpets it proud and loud. With more than 90 percent of the world’s carbon frames being made in Chinese facilities, they’re going where the technology, skills and production volume are located.
You should also know that Swift’s design is done in Holland and the engineering in Germany, with massive experience in both departments. So, with experts and expertise in all areas, there should be gold stars all around. We got hold of the first in the country to see if it could eat up our trails and survive on UK singletrack.
Ride & handling: Smooth, balanced and ready for anything
The D-Vore has an instant friendliness and easy to access ‘can do’ personality. It encourages you to point it at fast, technical lines or, more broadly, into a multi-hour chunk of riding time. Once on you can stay seated, applying the power and grinning while others flounder.
The ride is smoother than the norm, getting close to the silky feel of the super-supple titanium Seven Sola SLX29. The rear end works with the slim (by modern standards) 27.2mm carbon seatpost to provide a flexible mount for the motor (that’s you). You sit in the middle of the bike for good weight over both tyres.
The feeling from the frame, climbing and descending, is one of fine balance; balance between stiffness, steering precision, fine feeling of the trail surface and, ultimately, comfort. While comfort isn’t a sexy sales pitch, if you’re a rider who likes to put the hours in rather than a quick dash around the woods, then it’s pretty important.
Climbing is fun and relaxing; just let the frame do its bump-cosseting thing while you supply the watts to the cranks. Caning singletrack at night’s a blast, the quick but not hair-trigger steering lets you sail close to the wind (and trees) in safety. The D-Vore slices and dices with trail bike-like ability thanks to a torsionally stiff chassis, aided by those bolt-thru axles at both ends. Steering and tracking precision is as good as on a pure cross-country bike (of any wheel size) we’ve tested.
We think goal-orientated cross-country riders, privateer racers and long haul endurance enthusiasts will lap up the D-Vore. Swift sensibly erred away from making the absolute stiffest frame because they understand that nth degree stiffness doesn’t help a mountain bike go fast. They also backed away from making the absolute lightest frame, and have bolstered key zones with 150g more carbon to zero the chance of failure.
The reality is the company’s made a frame that readily rewards effort and input with an equal and opposite delivery of smiles and adrenaline. When fitted with a spec to reflect its raw natural ability, the D-Vore is up there with the fantastic S-Works Specialized Stumpjumper and Scott Scale Ltd for comparative company.
Frame & equipment: Mitsubishi Rayon filaments and over-to-you spec
The D-Vore follows modern, Apple-inspired design cues, with smooth organic curves making transitions between angles striking, possibly even beautiful. Swift use a construction process that leaves the insides butter-smooth – unlike traditional air bagging – which prevents the rough, ragged spots that could lead to poor performance or failure.
The D-Vore uses a short, tapered head tube, a broad flat-topped top tube, a chunky down tube and a demure seat tube that gently curves backwards to allow perfect front derailleur positioning without compromising saddle location. The rear end’s spaghetti-thin seatstays and manly chainstays give a back-saving, bump-eating softness, with no loss of torsional precision at the pedals.
As a frame-only option, the choice of parts is up to you, though a frame of this calibre and ability deserves to be dressed in a level of componentry that offers low weight and high stiffness – and consquently high price. Maybe it’s called the Detritovore because that’s all you’ll be able to afford to eat… Nevertheless, the price is right for what you’re getting.
Details we love include internal cable inlets, a QR12 axle option, a press-fit 30 bottom bracket, the inside-the-chainstay brake mount and lots of mud room.
To conjure up a bike that feels this complete at the first time of asking is a feat that deserves respect and applause. Many longer-lived manufacturers still haven’t figured it out. We can but wait patiently for the scheduled full suspension version to arrive.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.