While some bikes struggle to live up to the promise of their name, Devinci’s Spartan is a true warrior that’ll charge into the chaos of combat full bore without a second thought.
Frame and equipment: competition pedigree with adjustable geo
If you’re after real DH DNA in your enduro bike then you’ll be stoked to hear the alloy prototype of Devinci’s Spartan qualified in second place at the 2014 DH World Championships. Devinci’s Monocoque Carbon – Gravity carbon construction saves 750g but it’s still massively stiff and strong with a heavy duty skid plate to back up the lifetime frame warranty.
The asymmetric chainstays are alloy to fend off chain slap damage, while carbon seatstays drop weight and add stiffness. ON our test machine, importer Haven added its own Loaded AMX 31mm carbon rims on ultra high quality Chris King hubs, plus 35mm clamp diameter, 780mm wide Loaded AMX bars in a wide mouthed, 45mm Loaded AMX stem.
Very neat blanking plates cover the redundant internal cable runs on this SRAM 1x11 build and while we’d rather have a fixed travel Rock Shox Pike fork than the Dual Position model fitted the Monarch Plus piggyback rear shock and Reverb stealth seatpost are welcome sights.
The 165mm travel Split Pivot suspension system has been developed by pivot prophet Dave Weagle and literally revolves around rear suspension bearings that sit around the same axis as the 142x12mm rear axle. The Monarch shock is mounted straight onto to the seatstay tips but a horseshoe linkage kicks the alters the alignment as it goes through its stroke.
The head angle is a relaxed 65 degrees with our test setup
Two small flip chips on the shock mount enable you to drop the BB by 7mm and slacken the head and seat angles by 0.6 degrees. The chunky Specialized Purgatory front and semi slick Slaughter rubber combo fitted (instead of stock Schwalbe Hans Dampf SuperGravity tyres) also slackened angles by 0.8 degrees over Devinci’s published numbers.
Ride and handling: trail marauder with a few eccentricities
It’s no surprise that the Spartan is a true loam throwing, drop sending, berm blowing gravity warrior. While some bikes gradually grow your confidence in a friendly, hold your hand way, the Devinci is a full on black run blackmailer that straight up tells you to stay off the brakes, stay loose, put your weight through your feet and focus as far down the trail as possible because you’re going to be there a lot quicker than you expect.
A lot of big bikes can carry straight line speed on more groomed, flowing trails. But the Devinci excels in the most brutal, run ruining, confidence crushing segments.
The Spartan is the kind of bike that has you drunk on its capabilities, fast
Baked-in braking bumps, rodeo rock sections that just get bigger and uglier the further you get into them, rutted off camber sections or rinsed out root spreads radiating from apexes are all seen away with ease.
Wherever you’re expecting to get the speed choked out of the wheels or watch your planned line arcing out of your grasp as you get bucked into the bushes the Spartan just sucks onto the ground, squares its shoulders and hammers through hungry for the next section.
The Loaded rims undoubtedly help underline the composed and feedback rich ride feel. But we know from riding the basic Carbon XP bike that the frame itself also plays a big part in delivering a ride that’s superbly damped to kill chatter distraction but still feels agile and accurate not just numb and inert.
The way the Split Pivot back end stays fully active under braking means you can leave stopping to the very last split second without feeling like the back wheel hit a land mine as soon as you pull the SRAM Guide R brake lever.
Suspension tune is exceptional downhill but there are pedal kickback woes
Pushing the downhill performance to extremes has created some kickback in other areas though and we mean that literally. Ground sucking traction from the full volume DebonAir can is outstanding and if you sit and spin it’s remarkable what this category competitive 13.5kg beast will claw it’s way up.
We didn’t notice any abnormalities in the composed compression stroke either, but the rebound definitely throws up some curve balls. Even with dual speed, position sensitive ‘Rapid Recovery’ damping there are times when pedal stroke and shock extension combine to create a sudden and severe hop.
If your weight is forward it’s enough to hop the back wheel off the ground and it certainly puts a hole in your pedalling rhythm if you’re on the gas out of the saddle. The power bounce isn’t helped by the noticeably linear stroke of the Dual Position air spring version of the Pike fork.
The Spartan is significantly more controlled with four volume spacers in the shock and a lower pressure that doesn’t overload the start stroke rebound so much though. Devinci has also been outstandingly responsive to our feedback on the issue, so expect some tuning changes and a standard fork when the 2016 Spartan lines up ready for battle.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.