2015 Devinci Spartan RR

The Build

I opted for the Carbon RR build, which is the top of the line option and is available on either the aluminum or carbon frame.

Suspension duties throughout the Spartan lineup are handled by Rockshox, with all models coming with a Monarch RC3 Debonair rear shock, and a 160mm travel Pike fork.

The RR build gets the RCT3 Pike with a dual air travel adjustment, while the other builds get the RC model (but do retain the travel adjustment). We reviewed the Pike previously, and it remains one of the best options in this segment of the fork market.

The Monarch RC3 Debonair is well regarded, and I’ve gotten along with it quite well. It has a basic rebound plus three position compression adjustment, similar to other shocks on the market. Those adjustments all work well and perform as advertised.

The drivetrain is a SRAM XO1 setup, and I’ve previously gone on record saying that I’m a big fan of the 1×11 drivetrains. That conclusion carries through here; it’s clean, light, and it shifts really well. I’m debating bumping down to a 30t ring just to help my weak legs out on steep climbs, but other than that, the drivetrain is fantastic.

The brakes are the SRAM Guide RSC that I reviewed previously, and none of my conclusions have changed. The brakes work well, but I still wish I could position the levers a little farther from the bar. The Spartan comes spec’d with 180mm rotors, which are fine for me. Big guys (or those putting in more lift served time on the Spartan) might want to bump up to a 200mm rotor, at least in the front.

The contact points on the Spartan are an SDG Fly RL Saddle, and an Easton Havoc Carbon 35 bar and matching stem. My go-to saddle is usually a WTB Silverado, but I’ve gotten along reasonably well with the SDG Fly. It’s a little narrower, a little short lengthwise, and a little more rounded than the Silverado, and while I prefer something slightly wider and flatter, I still found it reasonably comfortable.

The Havoc Carbon bar is great in that it’s quite stiff, and it comes at 800mm wide. I cut mine down to 780mm, and might still go a bit narrower on it. But unless you prefer very narrow bars, the Havoc will accommodate you. As mentioned in Tom Collier’s review of the Easton Haven 35, that stiffness does, however, take a toll on my hands. After doing a couple long descents on the Spartan, I’ve noticed my hands are more beat up than usual, and I’m primarily attributing that to the stiff bars.

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

The wheels on the Spartan are the DT Swiss E1700 Spline 2, which sport a reasonably wide rim (25mm internal), and a straight pull DT swiss Spline 2 hub. Weighing in at around 1840g, they’re not featherweights, but they’re not overly porky, either.

A couple notes on these wheels:

(1) I have no idea why DT Swiss (and other companies as well) are reducing the flange height on their hubs, even as wheel diameters are getting larger. It seems to make for a less stiff wheel, and it saves a marginal amount of weight.

(2) The Splines have 18 points of engagement, which, to the best of my knowledge, is industry leading in its terribleness. I don’t consider engagement to be the top priority in my hub purchases, but I find the low engagement on the DT hubs to be noticeably annoying.

Notwithstanding those issues, the Spline wheels are acceptable—which means they don’t really do anything spectacularly, but they didn’t instantly fold and kill me. They’re definitely not the stiffest wheel out there, but they’re comparable to most other aluminum rimmed wheels in this wheel size / weight class. Thus far, I’ve had to do some minor truing but nothing out of the ordinary.

In stock form, those wheels came shod with Schwalbe Hans Dampfs with the Trailstar compound and the Supergravity casing. While it’s nice that Devinci specs a tire that isn’t going to disintegrate under hard riding, I’m not a fan of the Hans Dampf tread pattern. They lasted one ride before getting swapped out for some Continental Trail Kings that I was reviewing. There’s a pretty good chance that some sort of Maxxis will end up on this bike soon enough.

A Brief Tangent Regarding 27.5” Wheels

The Spartan, along with pretty much every other bike that’s marketed towards endurbros, is built around 27.5” wheels. Sure, there are some 29ers in the mix, and there are a few 26” holdouts, but the vast majority of new bikes in the ~160mm ballpark are using tweener wheels.

In my ever-so-humble opinion, this change is roughly 30% beneficial, and 70% marketing.

To be clear, I’m not holding this against Devinci. They certainly weren’t the driving force behind the 27.5” trends, and I can’t fault them for embracing the wheel size, since it’s practically impossible to sell a 26er these days.

The bigger hoops do roll over things noticeably better than a 26” wheel, but they’re also noticeably flexier, while also being heavier.

Depending on the trails you’re riding and your riding style, the bump from 26” to 27.5” may or may not be beneficial. Like everything, there are pros and cons, but I wouldn’t call the 27.5” wheels a game changer. They’re an incremental change that for some will be an improvement, but for many, it’s just a frustration born from the forced obsolescence of their 26” gear.

That said, I see 26” wheels dying off over the next few years (with dirt jumpers and slopestyle bikes being some of the few holdouts), so I’ve decided to just accept the change.

So, to sum it up: are 27.5” wheels awesome? Meh. Are they horrible? No. Are they going to completely change how you ride your bike? No. Should you avoid them like the plague? No.

Clear?

Suspension Setup
I’m running 85psi in the Pike, which yields just under a 20% sag when standing neutrally on the bike. In the rear, I’ve experimented with air pressures a bit. I started with it relatively firm (around 22% sag), but have softened it up a bit. I’ve settled on about 160psi, which for my weight, works out to right about 30% sag when seated.

I’m running my rebound slightly on the quick side front and rear. Neither the fork nor the rear shock has a compression adjustment in the traditional sense, but I spend most of my time with the fork in the “open” position. I switch between open and “pedal” fairly often on the rear shock, but I use the locked position pretty rarely.

NEXT: The Ride, Pedaling Efficiency, and Comparisons

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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