Balanced. It’s the word every tester penciled on his test form. If every bike maker had to do away with all its categories, sub-categories and niches, and had to make one singular 'mountain bike,' there'd be a lot of bikes like this one. We said a similar thing when the original 27.5-inch-wheeled Django came out, and now that the 29er version is here, we really mean it.
One tester said, "The Django 29 is just a very nicely balanced trail bike for any rider at any level." He goes on, talking about the bike's "great uphill traction, supple yet supportive descending and decent pedaling efficiency." Another tester wrote that, "because the suspension is supple off the top and ramps up early on, you don't need to be a hard-charger to make it come alive–but the harder you do charge, the more it will." The 27.5-inch Django is playful, but its little wheels get hung up in chunky stuff. It's fun to pop and slide around on, but can be overwhelmed easily. If you're looking for something that's better everywhere else, except perhaps in the pop department, the Django 29 is your bike. A rider's notes mention that the wheels "just seemed to blast over everything, and I found myself being way less meticulous with my line choices."
Since both the small- and big-wheeled versions of the Django have identical travel numbers–120 millimeters out back and 130 up front–much of the extra capability really does come down to the wheel size. We mostly ran the Django in the high setting, with a head angle at 68.5 degrees. Putting it in low slackens the bike a half-degree and drops the bottom bracket 5 millimeters, to 336. Most of us at The Bible like to know very little about a bike's geometry before testing, so after we've all ridden it, we have competitions to see who can come closest to guessing certain numbers. For this bike, we all guessed it was slacker than it actually is, proving that numbers don't always matter. What does is that the Django, at whatever price level you can afford, is going to be superb for 99 percent of 99 percent of your rides. The SRAM X01 Eagle-equipped flagship model we tested was expectedly dialed, however the one we actually requested and think, on paper, has the best value is the $5,130 XT/SLX build.
Q&A with Julien Boulais, Marketing Manager – Devinci
When the Django came out in March of 2016, it was 27.5er with 120 millimeters of travel–a travel category normally reserved for 29ers. It proved to be an incredibly fun and playful bike, but we couldn't help but to think that it would be a whole lot more capable if it had big hoops. Well now it does, and it is. What type of rider or terrain might prefer the bigger hoops, or vice versa?
While developing the Django 27.5 we saw the need to bring a bigger wheeled version of this lively and playful trail bike so riders can benefit from the 29er advantage. Both of these bikes share similar personalities and we made sure that they have a comparable feel even with a different wheel size. I think it would be safe to say that the 27.5 version is a bit more nimble and likes to spend lots of time in the air. It is a great choice for people that like to use the trail as a skate park and make different line choice while the 29er is a very capable trail bike that feels more composed on technical/rough sections and pushes you to go faster.
Most of your models utilize pretty progressive spring rates that can feel less supple throughout the travel than bikes with a more linear curve. Why does Devinci take this approach, and what advantages does this give the rider? We tend to think it's a design that behaves better the more aggressively it's ridden. Would you agree?
Coming from a DH background, we always try to make bikes that have great descending attributes to help the riders push their own limits to go faster. We also believe that the Django and other Devinci might 'come alive' the faster and the more aggressively they are ridden, but we feel this gives the confidence to be faster and ultimately becoming a better rider. Of course there is always a tradeoff and as a result the Django may not feel as supple as other bikes towards the end of the stroke. However we feel giving away some suppleness in exchange for increased bottom out resistance and mid-stroke support that gives the rider more control in the rough sections of the trail is well worth it.
The other 29er trail bike in your lineup is the Marshall 29, which has less rear wheel travel (110 millimeters) but the head angle is over a degree slacker than that of the Django 29. What's going on here? How would you recommend someone choose between a Django 29 and Marshall 29?
The Marshall 29 is a niche option for people that are riding more aggressively and want an efficient machine that can handle steep terrain. It is sharing the same frame as the Marshall+ but with a 130mm front fork, which enables you to ride this bike even harder. We feel the Marshall 29 could benefit aggressive hardtail riders or riders that are looking for a short travel trail bike as a complement to their Enduro or DH rig. With its aggressive geometry, the bike remains stable at speed and can handle some really steep section of trail. These types of riders may value more the aggressive geometry than the added 10mm of travel that the Django offers, however, it is definitely not as smooth as the Django. The Django is a more versatile option that covers a larger spectrum of use and is a lot more playful. At the end of the day it comes down to where and how you ride to choose between these two exceptional trail bikes.