Bike: 2015 Devinci Spartan Carbon SX
Size Tested: Medium
Geometry: (see page 2)
Complete Build: (Here)
- Drivetrain: SRAM X1
- Brakes: SRAM Guide R
- Fork: RockShox Pike
- Shock: Monarch Plus RC3 Debonair
Reviewer Info: 5’9”, 155 lbs.
Test Location: Boulder City, Nevada
Intro / Caveat
Interbike’s outdoor demo is located at Bootleg Canyon in Boulder City, Nevada. It’s a fantastic network of trails, and it’s a great escape from that wretched hive of filth and villainy that is Las Vegas.
The trails we spent most of our time on were relatively fast, with a fair amount of sand and some pretty rocky sections.
Having said that…
Riding bikes at a demo is always kind of tricky. For starters, we’re unable to get as much time on each bike as we like–our test durations are measured in minutes and hours, not our preferred time frame of weeks and months. One good ride can tell you a lot about how a bike handles, but it certainly doesn’t allow for the customary, in-depth, Blister analysis.
Demo days also don’t generally permit the time needed to get each bike dialed to our liking. A quick suspension setup and fiddling with the bike’s ergonomics gets it most of the way there, but it takes days to really get everything running just right. Furthermore, differences like tire selection and tire pressure can have a huge effect on how a bike rides, and we generally don’t have the chance to get to tinker with those variables too much.
So while we believe it’s important to be upfront about the limitations of reviewing bikes in such settings, there is also merit in riding a slew of bikes, back to back, on the same trail. Subtle differences that might not become apparent if our test rides happen weeks or months apart are able to come to light, and each bike’s attributes may be more easily identified.
With all that in mind, let’s take a look at the Devinci Spartan Carbon SX.
Rumors surrounding the Devinci Spartan have been floating around for a while, and the bike stands as a rather logical progression from the Troy, released last year.
The Spartan is marketed as an Enduro bike, and it definitely sits at the brawny end of the All-Mountain spectrum, along with bikes like the Santa Cruz Nomad and the GT Sanction.
The Spartan comes in a number of different build kits, and is available in both an aluminum and carbon frame.
I rode the carbon-framed version with the SX build kit, that includes a RockShox Pike paired with a Monarch Plus RC3 Debonair rear shock. Shifting came courtesy of a SRAM X1 drivetrain, and stopping was handled by SRAM’s Guide R brakes.
The fit of the Spartan is pretty middle-of-the-road. The frame includes a two-position flip chip at the shock mount. Flipping the chip doesn’t affect the travel, but it changes a few measurements on the bike, most notably the head angle and bottom bracket height.
I rode the bike in the “high” setting, which has a head angle of 66.4 degrees, and a bottom bracket height of 344mm (13.54”).
The “low” setting slacks out the head angle to 65.8 degrees and drops the bottom bracket to 337mm (13.26”)
The reach is, by modern standards, not particularly long at 413mm (16.5”) on the medium frame I tested, and the top tube is also short-ish at 578mm (22.76”). Both of those measurements get slightly shorter if you drop the bike to the low mode.
But despite the fact that the Spartan is not as stretched out as some of the other bikes on the market, it didn’t feel cramped at all.
The Chainstays measure in at 430mm (16.93”), which is on the short side of things for a 27.5” wheeled bike. They get a little longer in the low mode.
Of all of the bikes I rode at Interbike, the Spartan was the one I came away from liking the most–at least of the bikes that have similar amounts of travel. It wasn’t that the Spartan stood out by virtue of doing one or two things unexpectedly well, it distinguished itself by doing everything pretty well.
Some bikes charge hard and plow through everything. Some bikes are super playful and flickable. The Spartan treads that fine line of charging just hard enough that you can throw it into a rock garden with speed and not worry that it will get overwhelmed, without feeling boat-ish or unwieldy at slower speeds. On the Spartan, I’d be just as happy blasting through rocky tech as I would be rallying through a jump line.
Furthermore, the Spartan wasn’t a bike that I felt like I had to get used to, it just felt comfortable from the get-go—even though both its geometry and its suspension action is different from my regular bike, a Specialized Enduro Expert.
The suspension on the Spartan had very good small bump compliance, and I never felt like I overwhelmed it, even though I used all of its travel on a couple of hits. The midstroke of the travel felt very supportive, and allowed me to get a lot out of pumping the bike through dips in the trail.
Generally speaking, it seemed like the Spartan rewarded an active riding style more than some of the other bikes, like the GT Sanction, which seemed biased more toward plowing.
While the Spartan didn’t feel horrible while pedaling, the split-pivot design didn’t feel as efficient as some of the VPP or DW Link frames.
One of the highlights of the split pivot design is that it stays quite active under hard braking. The trails that I rode the Spartan on weren’t a particularly good test for this particular attribute (there weren’t any extended sections that required getting hard on the brakes through rough terrain) but I’ve found other split-pivot bikes to do well in this area, so I would expect the Spartan to be solid through brake bumps and the like.
The Devinci Spartan Carbon SX is definitely a bike that’s been built around downhill performance. I didn’t have a chance to weigh it, but even with a carbon frame, it’s not the lightest bike in the ~6” travel segment, nor is it the most efficient pedaler. But the Spartan is still reasonably light and pedals well enough that I wouldn’t mind climbing uphill on it for extended periods. And once you get to the top, you’re in for a treat.
Of all the comparable bikes I rode at Interbike (including the Giant Reign 27.5, the GT Sanction, the Breezer Repack, the Transition Patrol, and the Intense Tracer 27.5), the Spartan seemed to be the best at doing everything pretty well.
It rewards an active riding style, but it won’t punish you if you get lazy. It was stable at speed through chunder, yet it could still be flicked into corners and finagled through tighter spots without feeling imprecise.
NEXT PAGE: Geometry