Featured Image

Review: 2018 Devinci Spartan

Devinci's second generation enduro warrior hits the trails

 

If you happen to follow the Enduro World Series, you may have spotted Devinci rider Théo Galy riding what looked like a new version of Devinci’s enduro race bike, the Spartan. It turns out, that’s precisely what it was. I’ve been sneakily riding one around on my local trails for a while too, and it’s finally time to share all the juicy details. I’m nowhere near as fast as Galy, but that hasn’t kept me from doing my darnedest to find the limits of the new Spartan. Needless to say, I haven’t been able to. But this bike is pretty okay with that.

 

Devinci Spartan Carbon | X01 Eagle | $8,200

In search of an original metaphor to sum up Devinci's second generation Spartan, I found myself on Merriam-Webster typing in the name of the bike to see what else came up besides the original meaning of someone from the city of Sparta (this bike isn't from there). I did this knowing full-well that beginning an article with, "Merriam-Webster defines blank as …" is just as, if not more cliché than opening with a quote or busting out such overused terms as, "shred sled" or “trail weapon." I figured it would be a good way to get the creative juices flowing, and worst case scenario, something I could fall back on if I couldn't think of a better opener.

But then I hit enter on the search bar and saw precisely the words I was looking for: "A person of great courage and self-discipline". Replace "person" with "bike" and it describes the Spartan to perfection.

The Spartan’s head angle has been slackened to 65 degrees in the low setting, with the stock 170 millimeter-travel RockShox Lyrik.

 

The Spartan's aggressive geometry and 170 and 165 millimeters of front and rear wheel travel, respectively, makes it fearless enough to fit squarely in the close-your-eyes-and-plow-through-stuff category, yet the bike is remarkably deliberate, precise, and effortless to pilot. Often times this much travel can get a bit unwieldy, and unless you're really on your game, can tend to ride you instead of the other way around. The Spartan, on the other hand, has no problem being told where to go or when, and it's just as happy carving turns as it is sliding through them.

At speed and on steeps, the Spartan remains calm and stable without compromising its maneuverability. The bike has a way of putting hectic situations into slow-motion, allowing the rider to independently place, first the front, and then the rear wheel right in the pocket of a corner with ultimate accuracy.

I can feel what the bike is doing at all times, as if it's become an extension of me. It's a feeling that is unachievable on most bikes, and it happened on my very first ride on the Spartan. In a neutral riding position, the bike distributes my weight evenly between the wheels, allowing me to easily add front or rear bias to suit my riding style and terrain. A hair of rear weight bias and a flick of the hips has the bike steering with the rear wheel and drifting like Supermoto, while even or forward distribution makes it carve like Moto GP. The Spartan is down for whatever, though I mostly opt for the former style, especially when winter grip evaporates into mid-summer slip.

This is not one of those bikes that only comes to life on steep or fast terrain or when ridden hard–it's just as maneuverable on low-speed tech and rewards the casual rider and the pinner alike. It's a pleasantly surprising attribute of a bike with buckets of suspension travel, a 65-degree head angle, and not terribly steep 74.5-degree seat tube angle (in the low setting). The Spartan is no one-trick-pony.

 

The trunnion trend continues to gain popularity among manufacturers, and for good reason: It allows longer shocks to fit in a smaller area, increasing suspension performance while maintaining low standover heights.

 

Devinci's use of RockShox's longest trunnion-mounted Super Deluxe is a yuge indicator that this bike is designed to be ridden hard. The longer the shock is and the more stroke it has, the more oil is moving through the valving, which in turn, creates more consistent, more controllable suspension. The Spartan enjoys levels of beginning-stroke-butteriness that are tough to beat, but it's supportive throughout its mid-stroke and beyond, thanks to the Super Deluxe's design, Devinci's progressive leverage rate, and pedal-efficient Split Pivot suspension platform. The bike is supple as all get-out, but rides nice and high in its travel. It'll smooth a tremendous amount of trail chatter, but doesn't feel boggy when traversing through slow, chunky sections.

Achieving such incredible bump-eating performance requires the rear end to move up and down, so you'll find that it does that a bit while pedaling, too. There's some bob, but the Spartan is no squatter. Even under hard pedaling, it seems to stay right in it's neutral position, providing enough anti-squat to power through stuff, but enough squish to unwrinkle root balls.

 

The Spartan has been updated with Boost 148 spacing.

 

I know, this all sounds like a skipping record. Supple yet supportive, anti-squat, you've heard it before, right? Yes, but the Super Deluxe shock and its trunnion upper mount, pivoting on bearings instead of bushings, amplifies it all. It's much more supple and much more supportive at the same time. And as an extra bonus, the new vertical shock orientation provides room for a bottle inside the triangle–something any true enduroer or after-work shredder can appreciate.

The suspension performance is excellent, but what really made me connect with the Spartan, despite its foolishly tiny wheels, is how centered and balanced I feel on it. This, more than anything else, is why I felt comfortable and confident from the first pedal stroke.

 

Tidy cable ports accept any configuration of cables, including Di2 wires

 

On technology, this Devinci is not spartan at all. It features Boost front and rear spacing, metric shock sizing, Di2 compatibility and stowage under the downtube bash guard, flip chips to adjust the head angle by a half-degree, 170-millimeter dropper post compatibility on medium-XL, tidy internal cable routing, and more.

Had I not tested the Spartan blind (not knowing its exact travel or geometry numbers) I probably wouldn't have even brought it on some of the rides I did, and I probably wouldn't have discovered how versatile a bike it is. The Spartan is a lot of bike, for sure, but it's one multitalented warrior.

 

With a bike this capable, you’re bound to smash into stuff from time to time. For that, Devinci equipped the Spartan with some armor.

 

Devinci Spartan Build Kits and Pricing

The Spartan Carbon is offered in four different builds. At the upper end, for $8,200 Devinci offers a Shimano XT Di2 build as well as a SRAM X01 option. An even 5 grand will get you into a SRAM GX Eagle group, and there’s a SRAM NX build option for $4,370. A Spartan Carbon frame with RockShox Super Deluxe RC3 shock can be had for $3,000.

 

Click Image to view larger

 

Devinci has also committed to making the Spartan in aluminum, and offers 2 build kits and a frame-only option. for $4,000 the Spartan GX Eagle is a solid bet. There’s also the NX build for $3,370, or just the frame and RockShox Super Deluxe R shock for $2,000.

 

Click Image to view larger