The all-new 2022 Spartan HP enduro bike from Devinci has built on the brand’s use of Dave Weagle’s Split Pivot suspension design by incorporating a high main pivot design.
Benefits of this include improved bump absorption thanks to the rear suspension’s rearward axle path, which allows the rear wheel to move up and out of the way of bumps. Devinci hopes this design will make it a true rocket ship out on the trails.
The Spartan HP is 29in wheel-specific, has 160mm of rear-wheel travel and its frame is made entirely from carbon fibre.
It’s available in three builds, but I tested the most affordable GX Eagle-equipped version that retails for $6,149 / €6,249 / CAD$6,999. For an in-depth overview of the 2022 Spartan HP range, frame, suspension, and geometry please read our news story.
2022 Devinci Spartan HP frame and suspension details
Built entirely from carbon fibre, the Spartan’s front and rear triangles, and rocker link have a sleek, smooth look. Its cables are routed internally through the frame where there are partial internal cable guides to help thread them from front to rear. They’re only partially guided so the cables can cross over internally, to allow for different cockpit setups, such as moto-style brakes (front brake on the right).
There’s an in-built, ribbed chainstay protector and a down tube protector. It’s compatible with 28t to 36t chainrings and has a threaded BSA73 bottom bracket, around which are ISCG05 chain guide mounts.
The 160mm travel Split Pivot rear suspension uses a pivot located concentrically around the rear axle that is combined with a high main pivot.
Devinci claims the Split Pivot system offers great small bump compliance, while acceleration and braking forces are separated from the suspension, improving control. The rearward axle path is said to improve traction and stability, helping a rider access higher speeds.
The Spartan HP is compatible with both coil and air springs and uses a metric, trunnion-mounted 205×65mm shock.
The high-pivot design is coupled with an idler jockey wheel that routes the chain directly above the high main pivot. This is required to help isolate suspension and pedalling forces in a bid to reduce pedal kickback and improve suspension action.
However, when a rider is pedalling, the idler wheel is under great tension because the chain is angled over it down towards the chainring. This tension can cause issues such as premature drivetrain wear, excessive noise and increased drag through the pedals.
Devinci spent a lot of time researching and developing the Spartan’s idler wheel to reduce the chances of any potential problems. The idler wheel rotates on a bottom bracket-inspired bearing, made to have as little drag as possible. The wheel itself is made from steel and treated with a corrosion-resistant and hard-wearing coating to improve its lifespan. It is also protected by a cover that doubles up as a chain guide and helps reduce noise.
Devinci claims the idler wheel will last three times as long as the front chainring, only needing replacing the third time the ring does.
Devinci calculated the drivetrain losses caused by the idler pulley to be within its test’s margin of error. This means it couldn’t definitively say whether the system caused any additional drag or if it was due to errors in the testing. In reality, this should mean a rider won’t need to exert any extra effort to pedal the Spartan HP.
The design is incorporated with a lower chain guide that wraps the chain around the bottom of the ring before it exits towards the rear derailleur. Correct installation of the lower guide is crucial for several reasons.
The extra chain wrap around the chainring helps reduce wear on the drivetrain components. It also reduces the amount the rear derailleur’s cage needs to pivot forward as the suspension compresses because the chain is positioned closer to the main pivot and therefore undergoes less extension.
Devinci doesn’t state the bike’s anti-rise, anti-squat or leverage rates for the bike. However, because it is coil compatible, it would be safe to assume its suspension kinematic will be progressive and high-pivot bikes generally have high amounts of anti-rise (where the suspension wants to compress under braking).
Anti-squat (how much the suspension resists compression when pedalling – also known as pedal bob) is tuned with idler wheel positioning.
2022 Devinci Spartan HP geometry details
Its geometry is an interesting blend of figures that, on paper, don’t necessarily create the Goldilocks formula we’re used to seeing. However, out on the trails – especially when descending – it appears there’s a real cohesion of numbers, but more on that shortly.
The Spartan HP has high and low geometry settings, achieved by a lower shock mount flip-chip.
For the size large I tested, in the low setting, it has a fairly steep 64.5-degree head-tube angle (for reference, the Specialized Stumpjumper Evo trail bike has a 63.5-degree angle in its slackest setting), a fairly steep on paper 76.5-degree seat-tube angle, but rather short 430mm chainstays.
|Seat tube length (mm)||390||420||460||495|
|Seat tube angle (degrees) low/high||77.1/77.7||77/77.6||76.5/77||76/76.5|
|Head tube angle (degrees) low/high||64.5/65||64.5/65||64.5/65||64.5/65|
|Top tube length (mm) low/high||587/585||610/608||639/637||668/665|
|Reach (mm) low/high||445/450||465/470||485/490||505/510|
|Chainstay length (mm) low/high||425/421||425/421||430/426||435/431|
|Wheelbase (mm) low/high||1207/1204||1232/1228||1261/1258||1290/1287|
|Bottom bracket height (mm) low/high||344/351||344/351||344/351||344/351|
|Stack (mm) low/high||621/617||630/626||639/635||648/644|
The large size’s wheelbase is also quite short at 1,261mm. However, the chainstay length will grow as the suspension compresses, thanks to the high-pivot point and associated rearward axle path. Devinci says that at sag, these figures will be approximately 10mm longer than the uncompressed, claimed figures.
Elsewhere, there’s a generous 485mm reach and an impressively low 341mm measured (344mm claimed) bottom bracket height.
2022 Devinci Spartan HP GX 12s specifications
As the most affordable Spartan in the line-up (the most expensive costs $8,999 / €8,819 / CAD$10,499), it’s good to see Devinci hasn’t skimped on the spec given the asking price.
Up front there’s a 170mm travel Fox 38 Performance fork with the more simplistic GRIP damper, but this is paired with Fox’s Float X2 Performance Elite rear shock that has the same adjustments and tune as the Factory version, just without the Kashima-coated stanchion.
It has a full-house SRAM drivetrain and brake outfit, getting the brand’s latest GX Eagle 10-52t setup and Code R brakes with 200mm rotors.
There are a host of parts from Race Face, including the AR30 rims and Aeffect R35 alloy bar. SDG’s Tellis dropper post is fitted with 165mm of travel, along with the Belair 3.0 saddle.
Importantly, the Spartan HP is specced with Maxxis’s Double Down casing, 3C MaxxGrip compound tyres both front and rear. There’s an Assegai 29×2.5in up front and Minion DHR II 29×2.4in out the back.
My size large test sample without pedals weighed 16.32kg.
2022 Devinci Spartan HP GX 12s ride impressions
I tested the Devinci Spartan HP on my local trails in Scotland’s Tweed Valley, host to the UK’s round of the Enduro World Series.
The trails I rode the bike on embody everything the bike should be able to handle including flat-out, rough, fast and sustained descents, steeper, gnarlier and tighter on-the-brakes tracks and more mellow, flowy man-made descents with jumps and drops. I pushed the bike’s limits on uplift-assisted downhill trails, too.
The climbs to the trailheads were mostly on fire roads – emulating the winch and plummet style of riding the Spartan is designed for – but also included some more technical, steeper sections to stretch its ascending performance.
I tested it in a variety of weather conditions too, including hard-baked dust, right the way through to muddy, boggy ground and in wet-as-a-river days over a period of just under two months.
2022 Devinci Spartan HP GX 12s setup
Setting up the Spartan HP was easy thanks to my familiarity with the bike’s stock dampers.
For my 77kg fully kitted up weight and fairly aggressive riding style, Devinci recommend I set the bike up with 25 per cent sag and -9 clicks of low-speed rebound and -4 clicks of high-speed rebound from closed. It recommends -13 clicks of low-speed compression and -6 clicks of high-speed compression, also from closed.
After riding the bike with the recommended settings, I felt like it wasn’t as active or smooth as I was hoping given its high-pivot credentials, so I began to wind off the compression and rebound damping until it felt more akin to what I was expecting.
I’ve found to get the best performance out of almost every Fox Float X2 I’ve tested in the last year or so, I’ve had to open up all of the rebound and compression adjustments.
The same was almost true for the Spartan HP, and for my final settings, I had the high- and low-speed rebound and compression adjusters set to fully open.
Still not quite satisfied, I reduced air pressure until I had slightly more sag – roughly 28.3 per cent. Once set like this, the bike felt much smoother over bumps and closer to how I was expecting it to feel. I did close the low-speed compression adjustment slightly, ending up with -11 clicks from closed. This felt like it gave me the best feeling bike.
Even with an increase in sag, I didn’t feel like the bike was bottoming out harshly or too often, so kept the stock 0.3in-cubed volume reducer spacer installed in the shock.
For the fork, I increased the number of volume reducer tokens from two (stock) to three and inflated them to 85psi. I fully opened the rebound and compression adjusters and left them set like this for the duration of the test period.
I inflated the front tyre to 24psi and the rear to 27psi – both lower than I would usually – thanks to the extra strength and stability afforded by the tyre carcasses and compounds.
2022 Devinci Spartan HP GX 12s climbing performance
Although the Spartan’s claimed seat-tube angle is 76.5 degrees, I measured the static angle with the suspension fully uncompressed to be 76 degrees with the seat set to 703mm above the bottom bracket.
At sag, however, this would slacken out further and it felt particularly slack when tackling steeper climbs. My feet felt like they were positioned more in front of my hips than beneath them, had the seat-tube angle been steeper. This makes pedalling feel less efficient and reduces comfort.
To offset this, I had to angle the saddle’s nose down and push it forwards on its rails. Once set like this, it was considerably more comfortable to pedal uphill but was far from perfect.
I found the slack seat-tube angle most noticeable when riding the Spartan back-to-back with the Pole Stamina 160 Remastered, which has a 78.3-degree seat-tube angle.
The angle felt worse when tackling much steeper, singletrack climbs, where I felt like I was clinging onto the handlebar with my fingers as my weight got dragged rearwards off the back of the bike.
Ideally, an enduro bike’s climbing position will position a rider’s body upright, where most of your weight is placed directly through your sit bones, with limited pressure on the hands. A steeper seat tube angle and shorter top tube length help create this position.
Because of the Spartan’s off-the-back feeling, it was best suited to mellower fire road drags than tackling punchy singletrack climbs. With the seat angled nose down, I didn’t feel hugely disadvantaged on this style of ascent, and it is arguably the type of riding it is designed for.
Arguably, you could blame the slack feeling seat tube angle on my 28.3 per cent sag setup, where the compressed suspension would make the angle feel slacker than if I was running less sag. This was a compromise I was willing to make, however.
Impressively, the Spartan’s suspension barely bobbed under power, whether I was standing up and sprinting on flatter sections while descending, grinding up fireroads at low cadences or spinning my legs in low gears.
This meant I very rarely used the easy-to-reach shock climb lever to calm the rear end down because it simply didn’t need it.
Doubling down on the impressive suspension was how active it remained over bumps while on the pedals, visibly moving up and out of the way of chunkier rocks and roots and extending from its sag point into holes. This made the climbs feel grip-rich with high levels of seated comfort.
It was easy to become complacent and lazy when riding the spartan over rougher terrain, and only when getting on a less plush bike did I really appreciate just how much work its rear end was doing.
Does the high-pivot idler wheel feel like it increases drivetrain drag?
The short answer to that question is that yes, it does feel like it increases drag. This is mostly caused by the extra noise and vibration created by the chain running over the top of the idler wheel giving the impression the bike is harder to pedal.
I was initially confounding this feeling with an actual need for an increase of effort to pedal the bike. Although I was unable to investigate the drivetrain losses in scientific terms, anecdotally, my test lap uphill times were no slower on the Spartan HP than riding any other bike.
There are clearly some exceptions to this. When the drivetrain was particularly dirty – whether that was because it was covered in wet mud during a ride or hadn’t been cleaned and re-lubricated after many dusty outings – it was less free-spinning compared to when it was clean.
Clearly, keeping on top of drivetrain maintenance is crucial on any bike, but with an idler wheel system it’s even more important, to make sure the gears are all running smoothly and you’re not unnecessarily increasing the amount of effort required to pedal it.
In my experience, therefore, the design doesn’t actually increase drag or the amount of effort required to pedal the bike over any given distance.
I found the Spartan’s super-tacky 3C MaxxGrip Maxxis tyres played a larger part in how hard it was to climb to the trailhead compared to the drivetrain. Once I swapped the tyres out for the tougher compound MaxxTerra versions, I noticed the Spartan was much easier to pedal to the top.
However, the extra effort required to shift the MaxxGrip compound tyres was well worth it on the descents, and a compromise I was willing to make, especially for the gnarly, technical terrain the Spartan is designed for.
Finally, I would personally have preferred a 30t chainring to help shifting it to the top that little bit easier. There were times on very steep ascents where I was grinding in the 32/52 gear ratio, thanks also in part to the bike’s 16.32kg weight. Although reducing the chainring size could have decreased anti-squat, to counteract additional pedal bob, I could have used the bike’s climb lever.
2022 Devinci Spartan HP GX 12s descending performance
The Spartan HP feels extremely smooth, composed and controlled when pointing downhill, especially when trails get rougher, gnarlier and faster.
This feeling was dependent on the slightly softer rear end, though, and with it set to around 25 per cent sag it felt much closer to a standard, low-pivot bike.
Set with reduced sag, the ride was certainly poppy, but the advantages of the super-smooth rear end associated with high-pivot bikes weren’t as pronounced as I was expecting them to be.
Once set to my preferences, however, the Spartan was a monster to ride on the downhills. Letting off the brakes resulted in a controlled but dramatic increase in pace, even over the roughest, most bump-laden trails I could find.
It held speed in flatter rough sections, requiring much less rider input and finesse. On a trail like this, I would usually hop, jump and pump to maintain speed, but the Spartan let me take moments of rest to recoup energy while it did the hard work.
This meant I could ride the more technical or rougher sections with more energy, knowing I didn’t need to keep something in the tank to maintain speed on flatter parts of track.
When pushed very hard and ridden incredibly aggressively, the Spartan can punish its rear wheel. This was most notable on successive, deep-travel, high-speed hits, such as largely spaced roots littered with big holes, where on occasion the rear suspension would reach its limit and forces would begin to be transmitted through the back wheel – causing it to make low-pitch thudding and dong noises as it bottomed-out onto bumps.
Impressively, it was very rare these forces transmitted into my hands and feet – surely due to the tyre carcasses being well-damped, the wheels offering some flex and the frame playing its part by not being overly stiff.
But isn’t a high-pivot bike slow and lethargic on tighter trails?
I was asked this question multiple times while out testing the Spartan on my home trails. My answer was always the same. Although certain bikes with high pivots might be harder to ride on tight trails, the Spartan HP certainly isn’t one of them.
I found it impressively easy to chop and change direction quickly, with its chassis not requiring huge weight shifts to get it moving quickly.
Yes, it preferred to be ridden aggressively and with intent, and certainly shone on tighter trails when I did so, but it was far from the articulated truck many people were hypothesising it should be.
None of the bike’s characteristics work in isolation, however. And one of the Spartan HP’s most impressive traits is its suspension, and not only because of the high pivot.
Even with it set fairly soft and with a single 0.3in-cubed token in the rear air can, it was impressively progressive towards the end of its travel, not bottoming out harshly and coming to a dead stop on big hits. It also wasn’t so progressive that I struggled to use full travel.
To top it off, there was plenty of mid-stroke support to push through berms without the rear-end feeling like it was wallowing around or diving into its travel when I didn’t want it to.
However, I did increase low-speed compression damping to provide a little extra support in certain scenarios – such as entering high-speed berms – where I felt like I was leaning over the back of the bike more than I wanted to. I put this down to the softer than usual setup and dialled in more support with the low-speed compression adjuster.
I do wonder whether parts of the geometry could be causing this feeling rather than the suspension. Maybe the head-tube angle could do with being marginally slacker to encourage a more over the front riding position, or if the chainstays were longer, the same, more forward position could be achieved.
It’s hard to pinpoint whether it was the suspension or geometry – or both – causing the infrequent over-the-back feelings, and without access to test mules with different geometry or multiple shock tunes, it’s hard to say for sure what it was.
Overall, though, there’s plenty of control and smoothness – there’s nothing unusual, quirky, frantic or frenetic about how the Spartan rides.
A melting pot of geometry
The Spartan’s short chainstays were slightly at odds with how well behaved it was when speeds increased. Usually, bikes with short back ends feel snappier and livelier, but the Spartan was stable through and through.
Maybe the extension of the chainstay figure (by roughly 17mm) as the bike cycles through its suspension helps create its calm ride. However, I can’t help but speculate what it would be like with even longer stays.
The same could be said for the head-tube angle. While I was never left feeling like I wanted a slacker head-tube angle – and before I knew the figure, I suspected it was 64 degrees or slacker – I can’t help but wonder whether it might be improved with a slacker angle yet.
Furthermore, I speculate the wheelbase could be longer still, too.
Although, with all that said, the Spartan’s figures are impressively coherent when combined with the bike’s suspension and spec, and I didn’t feel disadvantaged on even the steepest, gnarliest trails I rode. I certainly didn’t get to the bottom pining for geometry changes.
Sensible spec choices and surprise performers
Although the 3C MaxxGrip Double Down tyres were a hindrance on the climbs, they were truly brilliant on the descents. The grip, control and damping they provided truly improved the Spartan’s position as a downhill bruiser.
The GRIP damper Fox 38 was also a surprise performer. Having previously poor experiences with the GRIP cartridge in the 34 and 36 forks, I was surprised to learn just how capable it was in the 38.
Although it is missing the adjustments of GRIP2-equipped forks, it offered more than enough damping control, chassis support and off-the-top suppleness in all but the most extreme scenarios.
On some deep and fast successive hits, it felt like the rebound was starting to get slightly choked, but this wasn’t a frequent occurrence or a major problem when it did happen.
I would say the Fox dampers – in both the Float X2 shock and all versions of the GRIP and GRIP2 dampers – are overdamped and require the external adjustments to be set fully open to perform as expected. Lighter riders might struggle to get the damping open enough for their tastes.
2022 Devinci Spartan HP GX 12s bottom line
The Spartan HP is clearly a big step forward for Devinci, both in terms of design and, as I’ve found out, performance on the descents.
It’s not without a few faults, however. The biggest of which is the seat-tube angle; I’d like to see this number steepen to help improve climbing comfort by positioning riders’ feet directly over the bottom bracket rather than behind it.
I’d also like to see smaller chainrings specced to further extend its climbing ability and would always appreciate a fork damper upgrade to the GRIP2 version, but I’m unsure how Devinci would be able to do this without increasing the price.
Although the inquisitive bike tester in me wonders what it would be like with a few geometry tweaks here and there, there’s no denying that in its current form it’s a true performer and has become my go-to pedal bike to use in my free time over the last month or so.
That’s mostly thanks to its super calm, massively smooth and highly capable suspension combined with enduro-ready geometry that makes it a pleasure to tackle my favourite enduro trials time and time again.
Not only does the Spartan HP feel fast, but it’s also magnificently controlled at the same time, and I think budding EWS racers and riders looking for their first big enduro bike could benefit greatly from the amount of control it provides.
|Price||EUR €6249.00USD $6149.00|
|Weight||16.32kg (Large) – Size large, without pedals|
|What we tested||Devinci Spartan HP GX 12s, size large, Gloss Secret Blue|
|Available sizes||Small, medium, large, extra-large|
|Tyres||Maxxis Assegai 3C MaxxGrip Double Down TR 29x2.5in WT (f), Maxxis Minion DHR II 3C MaxxGrip Double Down TR 29x2.4in WT|
|Stem||Devinci V2 Pro, 40mm|
|Shifter||SRAM GX Eagle|
|Seatpost||SDG Tellis 165mm travel|
|Saddle||SDG Belair 3.0|
|Rear Shocks||Fox Float X2 Performance Elite, Trunnion, Metric 205x65|
|Rear derailleur||SRAM GX Eagle|
|Handlebar||Race Face Aeffect R35|
|Bottom bracket||SRAM DUB|
|Front derailleur||e.Thirteen LG1|
|Frame||Devinci Spartan HP Carbon DMC-G|
|Fork||Fox Float 38 Performance GRIP|
|Cranks||SRAM GX Eagle, 32t|
|Chain||SRAM GX Eagle|
|Cassette||SRAM GX Eagle 10-52t|
|Brakes||SRAM Code R, 200mm rotors|
|Wheels||Race Face AR30 rims on Factor hubs|