Bike Test: Devinci Spartan
The Spartan became Devinci’s answer to the growing segment of enduro racing back in 2015. Skip forward a few years and professional enduro racing is more popular than ever. The Spartan received major updates last year with a new metric shock, a set of Boost hubs and a completely redesigned frame, but, even with all that combined, Devinci found a way to continue to push the limits of the Spartan. That’s right. The Spartan 29 is here, featuring the latest modern trends such as a Super Boost 157 rear end. Looks like the newest hub standard is here to stay, at least for the category of long-travel 29ers. The Spartan 29 is a weapon built for war, battling its way to gold at an enduro course near you.
WHO IS IT MADE FOR?
Devinci built the Spartan 29 as a serious race machine, and while that is its main purpose, the Spartan values slower training days as much as it loves to battle the clock. Whether cruising down the mountain or hunting for a PR, the Spartan is made to mellow out the harshest trails. It isn’t a bike scared to climb back up either. With an almost identical frame weight, big wheels and the same amount of travel, the all-new 29er is just like the original Spartan, yet mightier.
WHAT IS IT MADE FROM?
The Spartan 29 shares many of the features seen on the 27.5- inch model we tested last year with the exception of its new Super Boost hub spacing, along with improved suspension dynamics and, of course, its larger 29-inch wheels. Carried over from the previous model are a protective carbon bash plate, internal cable routing and flip-chip geometry adjustments. Additional chainring clearance was added, allowing strong racers to run a large 38-tooth chainring. The Spartan 29 also features an industry-demanded threaded bottom bracket and has room for tires as big as 29×2.5 inches.
WHICH COMPONENTS STAND OUT?
The new Spartan begins its journey to battle with an aluminum frame, a SRAM NX 12-speed drivetrain and a cost of just over $3300. Our Spartan received an elite set of warrior gear built to go toe to toe with the most ferocious competitors. The bike has a lightweight yet stiff carbon frame, RockShox suspension, and a SRAM XO1 Eagle drivetrain. A carbon bash plate adds protection from rocks and other hazardous flying objects. What really stood out on our Spartan 29, however, were the Race Face Next2 carbon wheels complete with a Boost front hub and a Super Boost Plus rear hub.
HOW DOES IT PERFORM?
Setting sag: The Spartan 29 might be an all-new model in Devinci’s lineup, but its Split Pivot suspension offers a somewhat familiar feel. The front end, on the other hand, took a little more time to set up just right. Out back, our testers found 30-percent sag complemented the bike well, providing a nice balance of uphill efficiency and small bump compliance. We made just a few tweaks to the rebound out on the trails and then left the shock alone for the duration of our testing.
Up front, the all-new RockShox Lyrik, with its Charger2 damper, makes a noticeable difference out on the trails, soaking up big and small hits with ease. We gave our fork 25-percent sag and found a base tune; however, that tune was quickly thrown out the window as we found ourselves backing off the compression almost com- pletely and increasing rebound speed by a few clicks. With one air volume token installed and our fork adjusted just right, our Spartan was prepared to seize the trails.
Moving out: Devinci’s new beast offers an aggressive enduro fit, just as you would expect from a modern long-travel 29er. Featuring a 65-degree head tube angle in the low position, along with short chainstays, a long reach and a low bottom bracket, the Spartan is a new-age 29er. The fit is quite similar to that of Devinci’s Troy 29 but with subtle reminders that you’re on a larger and more downhill-capable machine.
Climbing: Last year when we tested the small-wheeled Spartan, its climbing performance came as quite a surprise. The 29-inch version continues to impress, and while the taller wheels might take a little more effort to spin around, their ability to fill holes through technical rock gardens is second to none. If your trails are littered with chunky, technical climbs, the larger 29-inch wheels make getting to the top just a little easier.
Cornering: This category caused the most debate among our test riders. In many situations, our testers were quite fond of the wide, 29-inch tires, while other testers missed the quick and agile feel delivered by the 27.5-inch model. Regardless, the Spartan 29 is a fast and stable machine in long sweeping corners and holds its own when the trails get quick and snappy.
Descending: The combination of 165mm of Split Pivot suspen- sion, along with a stellar fork and balanced geometry, lend confidence to any rider who throws a leg over this machine. Picking a line is a thing of the past, as the Spartan 29 has the ability to steamroll down the trails. The bike manages to stay fun and lively, hopping off every trail feature in sight, thanks to its short chain- stays and stiff rear end. Once the trails begin to straighten out, the Spartan’s long reach and slack head angle boost high-speed stability and rider confidence. You know, the kind that makes you ask, “Did I just ride that, or was it all in the bike.”
TRICKS, UPGRADES OR TIPS?
When it comes to components, the Spartan comes well equipped and ready for war. Featuring a long list of carbon goodies and superb suspension components, this Devinci needs no additional upgrades. That said, our test bike sits at the top of its food chain. The “everyman” models will likely need a few upgrades down the road, but that rider can rest assured that he or she is building off an excellent platform.
The Spartan 29 is not a bike for everyone. It’s a big squishy machine built to take on the world’s toughest enduro courses. It’s built to transfer from one stage to the next without exhausting its rider. Devinci packed climbing performance into a bike with downhill capability, and while the Spartan might not be the bike for everyone, it offers a certain group of riders everything they could want or need. www.devinci.com
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