Bike Check: Greg Callaghan's Devinci Spartan

Apr 10, 2020
by Ross Bell  

One of the big EWS rider moves over the winter was Greg Callaghan's switch from the Cube Action Team to Unior Devinci Factory Racing after 5 years aboard the German marque's bikes. The Irishman has a new race bike for 2020 and onwards in the form of Devinci's flagship enduro model the Spartan, a pairing that'll be looking to return to the top of the EWS podium this season once we finally get racing...

Unior Devinci had been on SRAM & RockShox in previous years but for 2020 has made the swap to Fox and Shimano, which coincidently made Greg's move that little bit easier having been on the same set up at Cube. The only changes components wise, aside from the frame, were the wheels and tires and cranks and pedals. Greg mentioned that having continuity in a lot of components made the move easy and helped him get up to speed on the new bike quicker than normal, instead of starting with a blank canvas and getting used to each component individually he could focus more on getting used to the Spartan's geometry and suspension characteristics.

Here are Greg's thoughts on how the transition went and how he's set up his 2020 race bike:

Photo credit Klemen Humar Unior Devinci
Height 181cm
Weight 82kg
Hometown Dublin, Ireland
Model Devinci Spartan
Frame Size Extra Large
Wheel Size 29"
Suspension Fox Prototype
Drivetrain & Brakes Shimano XTR
Cockpit Race Face
Wheels & Rubber Race Face & Maxxis

What frame size have you gone for?

I had both a large and an extra-large early in the offseason and spent some time on both. We did some back-to-back testing in California in December on both frame sizes and I found that the extra-large was a little bit faster but more important than that, it was more comfortable. I could pretty much do the same times on the large but it felt sketchier and twitchier just because it was a smaller bike. I settled on the extra-large because I felt like I could ride it and use a little less energy and feel a little bit more comfortable. I think it's a good size for me, it's 485mm in reach so I think for my height that's a pretty good number.

How does that compare to the bike you were on before?

I think the last Cube I had was around 470-472mm in reach. So it's a fair step but a good step, I think it's a step I needed to take. It's nice. It's the first time in quite a while I feel like I'm on a bike that is the right size for me.

How did you find jumping on the bike for the first time? What were the riding characteristics you felt?

It was pretty easy straight away. The large frame was pretty close to the large 150 Cube I was riding earlier in the season so in terms of size it felt pretty good straight away, it felt familiar. I feel like the suspension on this bike is a lot more active and it allows it to sit into the travel a little more so it a bit more confidence-inspiring, I felt like I had more grip. Then jumping onto the extra-large it felt super stable straight away, it just felt like I could relax and put the bike where I wanted to and just let it deal with whatever the trail was throwing up around it without having to really stay on my toes myself.

Photo credit Klemen Humar Unior Devinci
Greg has opted to run an extra-large frame after testing both an XL and L back to back. He found the XL to be not only a little bit faster but easier to ride fast which helps save energy through the gruelling EWS stages.

Unior Devinci had been on RockShox and SRAM over the past few years whilst you were on Fox and Shimano at Cube. For 2020 we've seen the team switch over and you've been able to carry those sponsors over. How much of a help was that?

Yeah, that was a big thing. When I jumped on the bike, all that was different was the frame, wheels, and tires. My cockpit was the same, still on Race Face and Shimano, still looking down on a Fox fork. Fox and RockShox work in quite different ways so it keeps a lot of familiarities there and I could really focus on feeling the difference in the frame and the bike itself rather than thinking, "ah, is that feeling down to the different shock or fork". That made the transition super easy. Straight away I was super impressed with the Maxxis tires and how supple they are on the ground, it feels like the carcass is really good at moulding to the ground so you have more contact with the tire. That was a big thing I noticed straight away, a lot of grip especially on slow speed, wet kind of stuff... so basically typical Irish tracks in winter!

Did you keep all the contact points the same size? Stem length, bar width etc...

Actually back in October when I was making the decision between Cube or Devinci I was sent a frame because I had a lot of Shimano and Fox stuff so it made sense that I built it up with the parts I already had. I actually did a straight frame swap from one of my race bikes so it was identical... Fork, cockpit, drivetrain, everything. I obviously put on the new wheels and tires. That just made the switch so much easier and it made it so easy to make a direct comparison between the bikes because the variables were so limited. I run the Race Face Turbine stem at 35mm, the shortest one they do, and a Next bar at 770mm in length.

I noticed your stack height is pretty slammed...

That's because the extra-large frames, in general, have a taller head tube. So, say on the large I think I had around 20-25mm of spacers below the stem. Then on the extra-large I have no spacers and it is the same axle to bar height. It's slammed but if I'd gone for the large it looks a lot higher, it's just the frame making the difference.

Photo credit Klemen Humar Unior Devinci
Unior Devinci had been on SRAM & RockShox in the past but for 2020 shifted to Shimano and Fox which coincidently worked perfectly for Greg as he'd previously ridden a Shimano drivetrain and brakes alongside Fox suspension whilst on Cube.

Photo credit Klemen Humar Unior Devinci
Photo credit Klemen Humar Unior Devinci
170mm Race Face Next carbon cranks and paired with HT pedals which have had the pins removed, both the cranks and pedals are new to Greg for this season.

Would you play with that through the season depending on track steepness and that kind of thing?

Not that often. For the likes of La Thuile, I'd tend to go up maybe 10mm when it's super steep but generally not really. I like to just find a setting that's comfortable everywhere and just run with that because races and even stage to stage vary so much, so you could set up your bike for one stage and then it's not good for the next one. You just need a good all-round setup and I'd never really deviate too much from that.

Does that hold true throughout the bike?

No, I wouldn't change too much at all. Only if some races are extreme conditions, if it's extremely slow and slippy or fast and rough or whatever then I'd change things. Generally, I'd like to go to a race with a setup I'm comfortable on and adapt myself to the terrain because we only get one practice run and the shakedown day, so we get a real limited time riding the terrain and the stages so I like to just focus on learning the stages and terrain itself rather than getting lost in setup too much.

Photo credit Klemen Humar Unior Devinci
Greg running Fox's new 38s... he wouldn't tell us much apart from that he was "seriously impressed" with the step Fox had taken with the new fork.

Photo credit Klemen Humar Unior Devinci
That is paired to the new X2 with Greg opting to run air over coil for now. The fact he carried over Fox suspension from his Cube days helped him to get up to speed on the new bike much quicker.

Obviously you've got the new Fox kit on there, you probably can't say much but can you notice a big step, is there a noticeable difference between the old products?

Yeah, big time. We went to California in December and I spent a bit of time on the bike on my old Fox stuff and straight away when I put the new stuff on I was seriously impressed. It's so plush off the start, it feels like you are running coil front and rear on the small slow stuff but then you can send it off the biggest huck to flat ever and it just supports you, it never feels like you're diving or you're blowing through the travel or you're bottoming it out. It's incredible how it can give you so much confidence in both the high speed and low speed at the same time. It really does what you want the bike to do and gives you the confidence to push on.

Have you deviated much from the settings you were running on the previous models?

Yeah, it's a new generation of suspension so the settings change. It's all working in a different way so the clicks, the pressures are all different. Generally year to year that will change, unless it's only subtle changes but if it's a big change, especially with new products the settings don't transfer over that well.

Anything you can mention to us about the settings you're running?

Honestly no because I don't really know them off the top of my head! I think I went up in fork pressure and down in shock pressure.

Do you like your setup pretty balanced front to rear or do you like the bike to sit into its travel a little bit?

To me, it feels balanced but I think some people might say I like to sit into the rear travel a little more. Recently I've been trying to set my bike up a bit softer, the more I race the more I realise you need to set the bike up for the second half of the stage, so when you're tired and fatigued you're putting less energy from your body into the bike so you need it to be softer so the bike is going to deal with stuff better. If you set it up super hard and stiff it takes a lot of energy from you to make that work and you really need to be putting power into the bike which is fine for a couple of minutes, but then when that fatigue sets in you're going to feel like you are riding a rock hard bike and that you're bouncing around the place. It's quite hard to set that up for enduro.

When you go testing you're normally doing a track you know really well, it's probably going to be 3 or 4 minutes and you're going to be riding it at full power. So you kind of need to find your optimal setting and then tone it back a little to what would be good for 10-12 minutes, again that might vary race to race. It's a tricky one! Because I'm just riding at home in winter I've got a soft setup, if I'm out training on a cold day and doing intervals and my body is a bit tired it's nice to have a comfortable bike you feel good on and not riding a race setup in winter. It's not going to give you the confidence you want, you don't want ride a bike all winter that is set up for summer and you're not that comfortable on it because that'll just create bad habits and bad ideas in your head I guess.

Photo credit Klemen Humar Unior Devinci
Photo credit Klemen Humar Unior Devinci
A Race Face cockpit is another familiar contact point. Greg runs his bars at 770mm, they are anchored to a 35mm stem.

Photo credit Klemen Humar Unior Devinci
A tidy solution to keeping the cables quiet.
Photo credit Klemen Humar Unior Devinci
A Fox Transfer dropper is paired to an SDG Bel Air saddle.

Roughly where do you think your rebound and compression are sitting?

I think they're pretty in the middle. I wouldn't say my setup is extreme. I used to have a really hard front end but that was mainly because the bike at the time was so short that all my body weight was on the front, so I had to have it hard to support me being so over the front. Now I'd say if I loan my bikes to friends or whatever, you rode it this week, like they can jump on it and feel pretty comfortable. It's not super hard or unrideable for the average person, it's a pretty rideable setup.

One of the main changes that you mentioned was the swap from Schwalbe to Maxxis. Have you had time to test a decent range? Have you found your go-to tire?

I haven't had that much time to play around, maybe over the next few weeks as I start to do more downhill riding I'll probably change around between different tires and try to feel out what each one does, where it's good, where it's bad. At the moment I've been running the Assegai on the front and the Minion DHR on the rear which is really good, I'm really impressed with that Assegai in the mud. It's pretty damn muddy here at the moment and that's been hooking up really well, I haven't had any moments where I've thought I need something a bit spikier and beefier, which is pretty impressive at this time of the year.

And then there are a few more components from Race Face, the cranks and wheels. You're running alloy wheels, would you ever run carbon wheels for enduro racing?

Nah, carbon wheels do not interest me at all. I like a soft wheel, I feel like that gives you a good feeling, good contact with the ground and extra grip with having a compliant wheel. I don't really see the benefit in a carbon wheel, again if you get a puncture with an alloy wheel you can finish the stage and fix the puncture and carry on, whereas with carbon if you get a puncture and try to finish the stage chances are you're going to have to change the wheel and take that 5-minute penalty. So yeah, not for me. With the cranks it's awesome to have a power meter in them, it's been quite a while since I've had a power meter on my race bike and that's helped me so much with my training and giving my coach better insight into where I'm at and where I need to improve. It's going to be cool to see data from racing, like what your power output is doing on the last stage on race day and that kind of stuff.

Photo credit Klemen Humar Unior Devinci
Photo credit Klemen Humar Unior Devinci
Greg was one of the first racers that got to sample the latest 4 pot Shimano XTR stoppers. He runs his front lever a little lower than the back due to an old shoulder injury.

Photo credit Klemen Humar Unior Devinci
Greg has been impressed by Maxxis rubber since switching over from Schwalbe, particularly in the carcass and the way it seems to "mould" to the ground. His go-to so far has been an Assegai on the front and a DHR on the back.
Photo credit Klemen Humar Unior Devinci
Race Face wheels are another new component for Greg, he's gone for alloy and sees no advantage in him running the carbon equivalent. He not only prefers the feel of alloy but also thinks racing EWS with carbon rims is risky.

Any comments on the drivetrain?

I was pretty lucky with the XTR, I was one of the first to get that back in 2018 I think and I absolutely love it. I've had no issues whatsoever over the last few years. Generally my go-to has been the 10-45 cassette with the 34T chainring on the front. I’ve felt like that's enough in the past but I’m trying the larger 51 cassette at the moment. It’s nice having that extra gear to be able to really cruise up a climb and recover between stages. I used to run a di2 double ring and it was nice being able to spin up climbs and save the legs from walking too much. If I run out of gears now I'm quite happy to push and get some food in, you need to eat a lot whilst racing so we take the chance when we can.

Could you run us through your brake setup?

I run my front lever a little lower than the back just because of shoulder injury I had when I was younger so my shoulders are different shapes and that's just where my hands feel comfortable. I have the front brake biting a little closer to the bar than the rear, it just prevents me from grabbing too much front brake. I'm running 200mm rotors front and rear.

Any other customisations or peculiarities?

Generally, my stem is crooked but to me it looks straight as my right eye doesn't really work, so my point of view is a little off to the left. So the stem looks straight to me but then when anyone else gets on my bike they tell me it's crooked! It doesn't bother me! I'll set it up and be like that is bang on. Perfect. Nailed it. Then someone else will just look at it and be like it's way off. So I'm a bit wonky!

Author Info:
rossbellphoto avatar

Member since Apr 25, 2010
145 articles

  • 97 1
 I could not imagine racing at the top level of any sport with an eye that doesn’t work. How the hell can he manage with the depth perception being off. Nuts. Ol’ captain one eye killin it. Bonkers
  • 76 2
 @treymotleyDH : 'Ol' captain one eye' is my nickname for my penis.
  • 10 0
 Right? Maybe the weirdest/coolest comment on a bike check to date.
  • 26 7
 @Pedal-Bin: I prefer Pound... Dick Pound
  • 8 1
 As far as he explained in one of the RB videos, they eye does see but its range of movement is limited. Still impressive, though.
  • 12 0
 I have the same issue... grew up playing tons of sports like hockey, baseball, tennis, golf etc.. was always very good and competitive, played a lot of triple A. Then I started skateboarding and snowboarding... was a competitive amateur snowboarder with a shop sponsorship and a bit of flow.. mountain bike raced when I was a kid and quit... got back into it later in life.

I'm now 42... had an appointment with an optometrist a couple years ago... was talking about my lazy eye and she asked me if I could could see 3D? And I was like, ya, why... wait, what do you mean? And she told me that if you have one eye that doesn't work well... depending on how well that eye works will depend on how well you can see 3D, if at all. and that she had some tests I could do to find out the level if 3D I could see.

She opened a book and started flipping through... I couldn't see any of them. And she was like, nope, you'd can't see 3D. I was like WTF!! How does that even work? How do I have depth perception, how do I catch a ball? How to I judge the height of drop? How do I feed myself? She said since I was like this from birth or a long long time... my brain just figured out to judge depth in a different way.

So when I go to a 3D movie... I can still see some of the 3D because it's such an intense and artificial form of 3D, but I don't see it to the same level as most people. I always wondered why people thought 3D movies were so cool... kinda ho hum for me.

Also, those stupid hidden object pictures that were popular in the late 80's/early 90's... where you stare at a bunch or weird lines and then an object appears... like a sailboat? Never worked for me... always wondered why!

There are a couple websites that will help you figure out if you can see 3D, the one I used recently is this one - I don't see the two thumbs or the eyes.
  • 31 7
 That rear rotor is baked like random person invited to quarantine with Woody Harrelson
  • 3 1
 Ice tech rotors do that.
  • 1 5
flag WAKIdesigns (Apr 10, 2020 at 5:16) (Below Threshold)
 @thenotoriousmic: I am pretty sure he did some long descend. Last time I made my Shimano look like that it was my first time in real bike park in 2009 and I bbq the crap out of my XTs. I use Ice tech rotors exclusively and they never look like that. My arms are too weak to cook my Codes.
  • 1 1
 @WAKIdesigns: I think because it’s just a thin steel veneer over an alloy rotor that scorch really easily. I got one to blister on a big descent during a heat wave and my friend told me he’d seen a melted rotor in the alps where the alloy had started to bulge out like a melted cheese sandwich.
  • 1 0
  • 2 0
 @WAKIdesigns: There are no long descents in Ireland. Smile
  • 4 0
 All of my Shimano rotors look like that because I ride the brakes like a 3 yo
  • 23 0
 That is a proper bike check. Great in-depth look into why he runs stuff a particular way.
  • 1 0
 Agreed! More of these please PB.
  • 13 0
 "I feel like I'm on a bike that is the right size for me."

We heard this statement a lot of times over the last 10 years Smile
  • 16 3
 Love the comment about carbon wheels....
  • 6 2
 As long as people keep drinking the carbon Koolaid we are going to get amazing alloy wheels for cheap. Drink up.
  • 10 1
 The Spartan 29 is one of the most under rated bikes out there. Super good.
  • 8 3
 Stack height pretty slammed ?! Are you just looking at spacers + bar only to make this statement ? do you not know about frame stack height ?...

Come on, the frame has a stack height of 658mm in high position with a 20mm rise bar ! Compared to his previous bike check
He had a 633mm stack frame with 15-20mm of spacers and a 30mm riser bar...
  • 4 2
 How many rides do you think he gets out of those carbon raceface’s until a pedal insert gets loose, or the ally interface to the bb spindle starts moving? A week of riding? I couldn’t get more than a few months out of any of Raceface carbon crank.
  • 5 0
 Setup your suspension when you are exhausted.
  • 1 0
 This is not bad advice, till you lose the front wheel first trail section cause youve softened it up too much. I do this everytime I hit the bike park, first lap. Need more air.
  • 6 0
 Excellent read
  • 4 0
 It is really not often that a pro rider compares 2 frames, same thing for tires. Interesting!
  • 1 1
 I have noticed a few times with Graves, Keene, etc when new bikes come out. They test several sizes.
  • 4 0
 No fins on the shimano brake pads..I'll be doing that soon. The fins rattle while on the trail. Sucks.
  • 3 0
 not to mention the cost! i won't be buying finned pads ever again. i don't notice the diff anyways, i'm probably not doing long enough descents with the brakes on.
  • 2 0
 Pry/bend open the little spring that holds the brake pads apart so it pushes on them a little harder. No more rattling
  • 1 0
 Wrong pad choice? Sticky piston?
  • 1 0
 Hey Greg what’s you bb height ?cause I see new bikes 341 and lower bb (without the sag mesure )and seem to me very low when you have to charge it on the pedals ,cause I’m guessing in the enduro trails that you ride and RACE ,that it is very low ?,thanks
  • 5 0
 Love my Spartan. Now if only a guy could get a @cyclesdevinci hat.......
  • 3 0
 from a looks only perspective, the big Spartan is about as good looking as they get. a unique and gorgeous design.
  • 1 0
 Are the ramp parts on the ht x2 pedals available to the public?
I can some times get my cleat stuck in the front section of the pedal.
  • 3 0
 Nice paint job, can just see those green speckles
  • 3 1
 Love the green, bu not a fan at all of the white splatter.
  • 2 0
 Space green! like it too!
  • 3 0
 Shimano and fox for life ❤️
  • 1 2
 Maybe this is a freezing cold take, but I rode a Spartan and I kinda hated it. Felt pretty nervous at speed, and like I was perched extremely high for the geo numbers that it has. Guess that could be because the stack height is almost 20mm higher than my Capra in the same size. Not a bad looking bike, this one especially, but I really didn't get along with it. Am I alone here?
  • 1 2
 Yeah, I demoed both the Troy and Spartan. I had trouble feeling comfortable on the Spartan, though maybe with a bit more time on it, I could have set up to my liking. I agree on the perched feeling. In spite of all the travel, it did not instantly inspire confidence.

In contrast, I felt instantly comfortable on the Troy and ended up buying one. I have set it up to do the job you’d expect from a Spartan - 170 fork, -1 degree angle headset. It rips.
  • 2 0
 So.......,nothing extraordinary ,just talent and hard work to be in that position,good luck Greg
  • 3 0
 Craic is 90!
  • 2 0
 Wish there where davici bikes where easier to get in the uk
  • 1 0
 Does Greg feel that the Maxxis DH casing is supple? I thought thats the toughest casing from Maxxis.
  • 7 3
 If your casing is not supple enough, you are not going fast enough Smile
  • 2 1
 Super gravity’s are weird. They’re soft over the crown but the sidewalls are super firm they make to tyre feel off. Maxxis feel so much nicer at firmer pressures.
  • 1 0
 From the photos it looks like he is using the Double Down casing but my eyes are not what they used to be so I could be wrong.
  • 3 0
 Sick steed
  • 3 0
 Oh that,s a badass bike.
  • 2 0
 what brand is the fender?
  • 2 0 Greg is using the ProGuard mini.
  • 3 0
 Sick bike. Love Devinci!
  • 3 1
 Crazy hes the same height as me, I ride a medium & he rides an XL
  • 1 1
 Right, had to convert his height to merican cause I thought he was gonna be 6'3" or something? but 181cm is ~5'9"...

Course 35mm stem so makes sense he's a size up at least.
  • 13 1
 @stiingya: No, 181cm is 5.9 feet tall not 5'9", it works out to a hair over 5'11". The rest of the world operates on base-10 but you guys operate on whatever the f*ck you feel like for a given unit of measure.

Ounces in a pound: 16
Ounces in a cup: 8
Inches in a foot: 12
Feet in a yard: 3
Yards in a mile: 1760

Compared to the metric system.

Grams in a Kilogram: 1000
Milliliters in a Liter: 1000
Millimeters in a Meter: 1000
Meters in a Kilometer: 1000

I don't know how you guys haven't made the switch yet. I would go bonkers trying to figure that all out all the time!
  • 2 0
 @cueTIP: sorry, Google failed me... And Mericaf*ckYeah!! Wooooooooo Smile

Actually I think it's stupid we didn't switch too. It was in the works when I was a kid but I'm sure some industry paid money to somebody's election campaign, or a similar event and they stopped making the change...
  • 1 0
 @cueTIP: and actually, if your 5'11" then it does seem like most mediums would be too small???

Geomatron? Pole? Mondraker?
  • 1 0
 @stiingya: yup, does
  • 1 0

And UK Vs US Imperial is different.

Try calculate fuel costs across several countries.

  • 1 0
 Is there a Devinci dealer for the UK?
  • 2 0
 I have not found one I have wanted the Spartan frame next but I think I'll get propain tyee as I can't seem to get one
  • 1 0
 Why is he using the old XT rotor instead of the newest ones ?
  • 4 0
 Because the new ones look crap and the old ones don’t?
  • 9 0
 Because he’s running 6 bolt hubs
  • 1 0
 Who makes similar cable management clips that can be ordered in Australia?
  • 1 0
 They look sick what! But just use a zip or tape or both.
  • 1 0
 I'm currently using neatly wrapped electrical tape but... Yeah, clips ftw
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