A mountain bike used to be a mountain bike. Back in the day, you could show up to a race and compete in three events on the same machine. The only difference between a cross-country, downhill and slalom bike back then was seat height. Your race bike was also your ‘trail’ bike, though the term didn’t exist at that time. When professional athletes began to specialize in a single discipline, bike development followed. Soon, we had DH bikes that couldn’t go uphill and XC bikes that couldn’t go down. Professional enduro racing has spawned a new kind of bike, too, but despite their do-anything-ness, enduro bikes can be too slack, too squishy and too vague for lots riders and terrain.
Welcome then, the Django–a mountain bike. If all the niches disappeared–not that they should, variety is the spice of life after all–this is what a ‘mountain bike’ would look like. Because it has reasonable angles, travel and even wheel size, this bike is suited for a wide variety of trail. If this sounds boring and pedestrian to you, well, it did to me too. Until I rode it.
Like most of its models, Devinci named the Django after a movie character. I would’ve chosen something a little less mainstream though: There are a couple of videos of this little Jack Russell terrier named Lily that absolutely shreds trail. The videos start with Lily nipping at her owner’s heels as he walks his DH bike to the top of the descent, begging him to go faster. She’s a tiny ball of pure energy that simply cannot contain her excitement–there’s nothing in the world that has ever been more amped to ride than Lily. The Django is the bike version of this little Jack Russell. If you want to know how it rides, all you have to do is watch Lily.
It’s a wagging-tail, stoked little puppy of a bike that just wants to rip trail all day long. It may be small, but it’ll chase the bigger bikes with everything it has. The Django is quick-footed and playful, springing out of corners and popping off jumps like it doesn’t know it’s small. Because its 120 millimeters of rear-wheel travel is super progressive, the Django prefers a heavy-handed, aggressive riding style. The stout, mostly carbon frame, with Boost 148 rear spacing, doesn’t flinch when pushed hard into corners, and the 130-mil-travel RockShox Pike gives the rider confidence to charge hard through surprisingly rough trail. If you can keep up with it, the Django will go blisteringly fast on descents. On many trails, I’d even argue that it’s faster than a bigger bike. Everywhere a cloud-like enduro rig feels slow and lumbering, the Django is fast and nimble. Conversely though, when things get super chunky and/or very steep, it can get overwhelmed.
It’s not hard to get yourself into trouble while piloting this little rocket. With its low, 13.1-inch bottom bracket, super-short 16.8-inch chainstays and relatively slack 67.5-degree head angle, the bike feels at home going fast. The longish 24.5-inch toptube allows for a short stem, and begs to be pushed hard. It’s easy to forget you’re on a short-travel bike until you get in over your head. There’s no buffer that a longer-travel bike provides, so when things get hairy, they get hairy fast. At warp speed, it’s a bike that requires a skilled pilot–but if you happen to be that pilot, you’ll be rewarded by this playful little bike.
Even though it loves being ridden hard and fast, the Django is brilliant at lower speeds, too. In other words, it doesn’t need speed to come to life like bigger, slacker bikes do. And because of its 27.5-inch wheels, it handles slow, tight switchbacks with ease. I tend to prefer bikes in this travel range to have 29-inch wheels, but that would take the Jack Russell out of this bike. A 29er would roll over rocks better, would have better traction, feel more stable and generally be more capable, but it’d have an altogether different personality. And that would be a shame because the Django is loveable just the way it is.
Devinci offers the carbon Django in three build kits, ranging in price from $3,800 to $5,700. Each of these kits, as well as an additional entry-level build, can be hung on the aluminum version, which is handmade in Canada and can accommodate a front derailleur. We were given the carbon frame and top-level Shimano XT 1×11 build for testing, which comes with XT brakes and shifting, Race Face Next SL crank, DT Swiss Spline X1700 wheels with Schwalbe Hans Dampf rubber, RockShox Pike RCT3 Dual Air fork, Monarch RT3 Debonair shock and a RockShox Reverb dropper. It’s nearly perfect, but I’d change a couple things. First, I’d ditch the Next SL crank, mostly because the bottom bracket needed to fit the 30-mil spindle in the Django’s BB92 shell is unreliable. I’d also swap the 725-mil-wide handlebar out for something wider.
DEVINCI’S TWO CENTS | With some wiggle-room in the line up, the Django came to life as a brotherly answer to the recently beefed-up Troy. Basically, the result of our East Coast roots pining for high-wattage performance across a tangle of trail types. The engineering challenge was to pack all the fun of the Troy into a shorter-travel, punchier package. Now that we’ve accomplished that, we’re confident that this bike so selfishly (and unapologetically) developed for our own stoke will be contagious with other riders who appreciate lively feel and adept handling. And we’re excited to let this little hellion loose because it’s a blast on the trail. – Simon Pelchat, MTB product manager, Devinci Cycles