To sum this bike up, on tester said, "If there are plus-size skeptics out there, this would be the one to turn them." Not everyone is going to love the ride characteristics that inherently come with putting 2.8-inch tires on a bike, but what separates the Marshall from many plus bikes is that it was designed to be one; it's not a rejiggered 29er.
"Big tires do the same thing as big wheels: add capability and (essentially) travel," noted a tester. But big tires also reduce a bike's liveliness. These are the two reasons why Devinci designed the Marshall with just 110 millimeters of travel. The bike's short, progressive suspension returns much of the poppy, lively handling taken away by the meatier tires. This is the benefit of starting from scratch. Take a look at most bikes that convert from 29ers to 27+, and you need to run a longer-travel fork to correct the geometry–only making the bike feel more vague.
Devinci's thinking was not lost on this group of testers, with one stating that the Marshall is exactly the kind of plus bike he's been waiting for. When compared to other 27+ bikes, it feels decidedly less boggy and doesn't numb the trail as much. This is how the Marshall gives you the benefits of plus, like traction and comfort, without some of the negative traits.
But smart design can't take away all of the inherent qualities of big rubber, one of which is less-responsive climbing. Testers agreed that the Marshall wasn't as quick as non-plus bikes, one noting difficulty maintaining momentum on the quick ups and downs of our test course. But what's lost in speed is made up for in pure capability. On smooth, undulating terrain, it'll take more energy to keep this bike up to speed, but the more technical the trail gets, the more energy it'll save. Upgrading to a set of lightweight carbon hoops would increase acceleration in spades.
For most riders, the Marshall sits squarely in the trail category. Flip chips allow the rider to adjust the head angle between 67.3 and 67.7 degrees. This also moves the bottom-bracket height from 336 to 343 millimeters, while the seat-tube angle goes from 74.8 to 75.2 degrees. If you like progressive geometry, you'll appreciate the Marshall's long reach at 462-466 millimeters (size large) and short, 435-mil stays.
Q&A with Julien Boulais, Marketing Manager – Devinci Cycles
When this bike was introduced it was called the Hendrix. It's been renamed to Jimi's middle name, Marshall. You guys have quite a unique way of naming your models. What was the inspiration behind the naming of this one, and why the change?
We usually consider famous or fictitious characters to name our bikes. Since we were introducing a new category and we wanted this segment to have its own vibe, we started looking on the music side. Many of us were pushing for Hendrix and when we saw he died at age 27.5+ (27 years and 295 days old to be more precise) it was a perfect fit. Unfortunately, some other company was unhappy with our name selection, forcing us to change the name due potential trademark issues. We didn't want to completely abandon Jimi's name so we went for the middle name: Marshall. We also think that big volume amps and big volume tires is a nice pairing.
We came away from this bike feeling like it was one of the most "normal" feeling 27+ bikes we've ridden. How did you accomplish this?
This was the goal since we started working on the Marshall project. The key was to design the bike as a 27.5+ platform, not a 29er that fits plus size tires. By doing so, we were able to optimize the bike's performance while considering the different characteristics of the bigger wheels, for example taking into account the tire damping in our shock tune. So far it proved to be very effective; the Marshall has converted a lot of non-believer to the plus size advantage.
People keep saying that plus tires are for beginners and less aggressive riders. Do you agree with that sentiment? What kind of rider and terrain was this bike designed for?
The Marshall was designed for riders looking for added traction. Perhaps someone that lives where winter ridding means mud fest, or loose sand, or someone that rides roots infested trails and simply wants to plow over them. The aggressive angle that the bike features can help the beginners with more stability while providing the right position for aggressive riders to handle more technical and steep trails. We think that more advanced riders can have a blast with plus sized bikes as well; it's just a matter of choosing the right tires for the right rider. Let's not forget about intermediate riders, who benefit from the added traction and forgiveness of the bigger tires, making them better and faster riders.