2015 Devinci Spartan RR

Bike: 2015 Devinci Spartan Carbon RR
MSRP: $6,999.00
Wheels: 27.5”
Size Tested: Medium
Blister’s Measured Weight:
– 13.44kg (29.6 lbs) Complete Bike w/ Time MX6 pedals
– 3.4 kg (7.49lbs) Frame w/ Monarch RC3 Debonair Rear Shock.
Travel: 165mm
Geometry & Complete Build: Here 

Build Overview:
Drivetrain: SRAM X01
Brakes: SRAM Guide RSC
Fork: RockShox Pike RCT3
Shock: Monarch Plus RC3 Debonair
Wheels: 27.5′ DT Swiss E1700 Spline 2′

Reviewer Info: 5’9”, 155 lbs.
Duration of Test: one month
Test Locations: Whitefish & Helena, Montana; Fernie, BC

Noah Bodman reviews the Devinci Spartan for Blister Gear Review
2015 Devinci Spartan RR

Devinci first dropped word of the Spartan last summer, and we took a quick look at it in our Interbike coverage  last year.

Out of all the ~160mm travel bikes that I rode at Interbike, the Spartan was the one I liked best, and I said as much in my writeup.

While it’s tough to really make a definitive call on a bike after only riding it for an hour or so, I decided to put my money where my mouth is, and I picked up a Spartan to replace my 2013 Specialized Enduro Expert.

So now that I have more time on the Spartan, is it still impressing me? And were my initial impressions from Interbike correct?

Before I wade into all of that, a bit of background on the Spartan:

It’s a bike that’s pretty clearly situated to mix it up with “enduro” bikes, which some people might call “all mountain” bikes and others might call light “freeride” bikes. Regardless, the Spartan is more or less similar to my Specialized Enduro that it’s replacing, but it follows the trend of many newer bikes out there, and is lower and slacker than the Enduro.

It also gets a wheel size boost, and is shod with 27.5 hoops because, as we all know, it is physically impossible to race enduro on 26” wheels. (I’ll talk a bit more about the wheel size below.)

The Spartan by the Numbers

The Spartan features a “flip chip” that, with the removal of the rear shock bolt, can be set in “low” or “high” mode. As the name implies, the low mode brings the bottom bracket height down to about 337mm (13.3”), which is about 7mm lower than high mode. In low mode, the bottom bracket drop works out to about 21mm, which is at the low end of the spectrum.

I spent almost all of my time on the Spartan in low mode, so all of the numbers I’m discussing are with the bike in that setting. Putting the bike in high mode lengthens the top tube and reach numbers by a little bit.

Noah Bodman reviews the Devinci Spartan for Blister Gear Review
Noah Bodman on the Devinci Spartan, Whitefish, MT.

The Spartan doesn’t follow the “longer is better” trend to the extent of some other bikes like the Kona Process 153 and Giant Reign  that are quite a bit longer both in the top tube and in the reach. The reach on my medium Spartan is 413mm / 16.25”, and the horizontal top tube length is 580mm / 22.8”. (The Kona and Giant have reaches of 435mm and 444mm, and top tube measurements of 601mm and 620mm, respectively.)

On the back end of the bike, where many companies are slamming the rear wheel into the shortest chainstays they can muster, the Spartan’s stays come in at a relatively average 432mm (17”). Not long by any means, but also not the shortest out there—they’re about 10mm longer than the Specialized Enduro 650b.

The Spartan’s head angle in the low mode is 65.8°. Switching to high mode steepens that up to 66.4°.

The seat tube angle on the Spartan is a pretty middle of the road 72.4°, again,measured in low mode.

At first, the fit on the Spartan felt a bit cramped, and I had an internal debate as to whether I should have bumped up to a Large. I’ve always ridden Mediums, but Devinci specs the Spartan with a relatively short 50mm stem.

Short stems are certainly the part du jour at the moment, but that trend is largely a result of the lengthening that lots of bikes are seeing; the frame gets longer and the stem gets shorter. The Spartan gets a fairly short stem, but the frame isn’t nearly as long as some of the other bikes out there. While I’ve gotten used to the shorter cockpit, I could also see myself bumping up to a 60mm stem.

All of these numbers have a pretty distinct effect on how the Spartan rides, which I’ll discuss below.

NEXT: The Frame

14 comments on “2015 Devinci Spartan RR”

  1. I closely inspected the DaVinci lineup at my LBS
    The shop rat gushed on about it as I frowned and remarked that quadruple digits for a single pivot was not on the list of bikes I’m seriously looking at throwing my platinum card down for.

    Too bad he couldn’t explain the split pivot.

    • Hi Bob,

      Could you please tell me which Devinci dealer you went to to get that information ? We may have to provide them with better info regarding our product line if that is the answer he gave you. Split Pivot is definitely not a single pivot !

      Julien from Devinci.

  2. Digging the new review format – all the talk and comparisons with regard to playfulness and stability (as well as other contexts like pedal efficiency). This is exactly how reviews should be done.

    For an experienced rider who knows what they like, it answers the question:
    “I want a playful (or stable) bike. What bikes should I be looking at?”

    Four thumbs up dude!

    Right now I run an older Nomad with PUSH link and an Yeti ASR5. The new Reign sounds like a good replacement for the Nomad – a heavy, stable plow bike with solid DH chops for when I feel like getting in over my head. If the Spartan is out of the price range, what would be similar, as a good replacement for the ASR5 as a poppy/playful bike for trails that I know well and have dialed? It sounds like the Mach 6 didn’t have the poppiness.

    • Thanks Lindahl!

      Yup, in terms of a heavy, stable plow bike, the new Reign would probably be my first pick. As for an ASR5 replacement, there’s a few really good options. In that travel segment these days, you’re looking at a lot more 29ers, so some of the answer will really depend on whether you want smaller wheels (which these days on new bikes mostly means 27.5), or bigger ones.

      On the smaller wheeled side of things, a Devinci Troy would be worth a look – it has the same split pivot design as the Spartan, although it’s a bit longer travel than your ASR5. You could also check out a Transition Scout or a Trek Fuel EX. Obviously there’s the new Yetis, but I haven’t swung a leg over one so I’m not sure how they ride.

      On the 29er side, a Salsa Horsethief or a Transition Smuggler might be worth a look. Like the Devincis, the Salsa is running on a split pivot suspension design. I’ve also been hearing a lot of good things about the Evil Following (not a split pivot, but still Dave Weagle designed suspension), but I’ve yet to get my hands on one.

  3. I’m with Lindahl. Great write up in focusing on the bike’s character. Bikes are so good now, we can choose what kind of ride we want.

    I also appreciated that you talked about weight as just one element of the overall character of the bike, not as a primary factor.

    On a linear rate frame, do you think a rider can dial in more playfulness or more plow by adjusting air pressures up or down, or rebound settings?

    On the 650b wheel benefits, I am right there with you. A lot of Meh. A bit better roll over, at some playfulness expense. Not much benefit for changing frames and wheels. I feel a bit taken on a bike industry ride on this one. Some sort of force in the industry HAD to change wheel size (to counter the 29er?). Or maybe mountain bikes are just now in the micro-incremental performance boost phase of development? = Gotta change a lot to get a little.

    Re: hub flange size. Hub flange height does not really matter on a 2x or 3x wheel. It won’t increase stiffness like it would on a radial spoked wheel. Tall flanges on a radial spoked wheel will increase the bracing angle, which will up the lateral stiffness. On a 3x spoked wheel, the bracing angle doesn’t really change with taller flanges as the spokes come off the hub at an angle, an angle that will be similar with both smaller and taller flanges. Boost will help with 650b wheel softness, due to the higher bracing angle, but is super lame for needing a new frame and hubs to get there.

    • Thanks Mr. P!

      And yeah, I definitely think the shock plays a significant part in the pop and playfulness of a bike. Some of that is settings, and some of it is the shock itself; different dampers from different companies have distinctly different “feels” to them and can certainly make a given bike more or less playful. Like most characteristics of a bike, it’s the sum of the parts – the damping type and how that damper is set up certainly contributes a lot to how the bike rides, but that just gets mixed in with all the other ingredients like geometry, wheel size, linkage kinematics, weight, etc.

      On the issue of the hubs, I’m not sure I agree with you. All other things being equal, the bracing angle is always reduced when the hub flange diameter is increased, and that makes the wheel laterally stiffer. It’s true that going from a 3x to a radial lacing pattern would also change the bracing angle, but that brings on other issues.

      And aside from the bracing angle, it’s pretty well accepted that larger flanges make for a torsionally stiffer wheel. It’s also worth noting that (again, all other things being equal) larger flanges would mean that the wheel would use shorter spokes. I haven’t found anything that quantifies the effects of spoke length on wheel stiffness, but my gut tells me that it’d make for a stiffer, stronger wheel.

      Now, whether any of that would actually make a noticeable difference, I couldn’t say.

  4. Is it new that Devinci build carbon frames in Canada? I had heard that they built all aluminum frames here, but for carbon frames they are built offshore and the bikes are assembled in Canada…

  5. Hey Noah, just wanted to say that your review helped me push over the edge and pull the trigger on a 2015 Spartan Carbon XP that was being cleared out – I felt like I got a heck of a deal on it especially since the MSRP is rising due to the weak Canadian dollar.

    So far I’m loving the bike – its got a lot of extra travel compared to my previous bike and feels so much more stable and plush due to the geometry/suspension. I mainly do shuttling with not too much climbing so the lack of pedaling efficiency compared to a lower-travel bike hasn’t been much of an issue, but going downhill has changed for the better tremendously. I’m in Burns Lake, BC so we have lots of amazing trails with features that I’m becoming more confident on when I’m riding the Spartan – it’s that good!

  6. Nice Noah, such a good review. I did exactly what you did, 2013 Enduro Expert to RR. I debated the 2015 Enduro but this one won out in the end. You nailed the switch exactly. I loved the Enduro and was skeptical my first three rides on the Spartan. After the 4th ride I literally laughed out loud ripping down and haven’t looked back. Headed back up to Whistler this weekend for a few days and have toyed with the idea of leaving the DH at home with the versatility of the Spartan.

    Any suggestions on how to lighten the load a touch? All your efforts here very much appreciated.

    For others reading, my only gripe about this bike is the lack of water bottle option. Very minor. I ride packless whenever I can and have been hiding water in friends bags.

    • Hey Mike – thanks!

      And I’m with you on the water bottle thing – I’ve started wearing some Specialized bibs a bit more often that can hold a water bottle in the back. I’ve concluded that I dislike wearing a pack more than I dislike wearing bibs.

      As for the weight, I’ve mostly just ignored it. I think my bike has actually gotten heavier since the review since I’m now running some pretty heavy tires (WTB Riddler, which is over 1000g).

      If I really wanted to throw money at the weight issue, some carbon rims are the first thing I’d look at. But on more reasonably priced front, there’s weight to be saved in the saddle. Other than that, you could save a few grams here and there, but nothing that seems like it’s worth the money. I suppose you can always just start drilling speed holes!

  7. any more tips for the monarch debonair setup? having trouble finding the right balance of support and small bump sensitivity. generally finding myself riding too deep in the travel and packing up with sag between 30-40%. gonna try a little more air and rebound next but wondering if you fiddled with volume spacers at all?

    in the same boat as you in sizing and got the medium as well. a few rides in the high setting and 800mm bars had me wishing for a large, but a switch to low and trimming the bars to 780 really helped.

    cheers for the great review! agree with everything you’ve said.

    niccolo

    • Hey niccolo,

      I’ve settled on running mine at about 32% sag and I’ve been pretty happy there. I haven’t messed around with the volume reducers on the Debonair on my Spartan, but I’ve done it one some other bikes (like the Devinci Troy I reviewed a month ago). Some assorted thoughts, in no particular order:

      -If you’re packing up a bit, maybe try running your rebound a bit faster.
      -Reducing volume won’t, in and of itself, help with small bump sensitivity. But it might allow you to run lower pressure / more sag without running into bottom out problems.
      -Running lower pressure with a reduced volume will still probably reduce that supportive feeling through the mid-stroke, but it’ll make the shock ramp up a lot late in the stroke.
      -Throwing some “bottomless rings” into the Debonair can is quick and easy, and they’re pretty cheap. I’d say give it a try; it can’t hurt.

      Hope that helps!

      • Hey Noah sorry to be so late on the reply but I figured I’d update you on my experience. I ended up giving up on finding the perfect balance of air to rebound after fiddling with all kinds of variations. Your 32% sag suggestion was where it felt best to me as well. Decided to send the monarch off to be tuned by Avalanche and it came back absolutely perfect. Can run it at 30% and get insane small bump sensitivity with the mid stroke support I was missing too. Translated to much less chatter and packing up through the rough and improved tech climbing / traction as well. Would highly recommend the upgrade to anyone on a spartan.

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