There's no escaping the fact that a downhill bike's desirability rests heavily upon the trophy cabinet behind it - a statement which is certainly backed up by the bikes we regularly see in lift queues around the world. Jostled amongst the sea of V10's, Session's, Demo's and Glory's is the Devinci Wilson, a once obscure bike from a brand that until recently, was relatively unheard of outside of its native Canada. But even amongst these icons of DH racing, the Wilson represents a special bike having played an integral role in catapulting both Stevie Smith's career from that of an up-and-coming downhill racer to a World Cup champion, while simultaneously introducing Devinci Cycles to the world. The power of the podium is undeniably hard to ignore in a sport built upon racing, but unlike the other bikes mentioned here, a 27.5" carbon DH bike from this small yet determined brand from Quebec has seemingly been late to the party, until now...
• Intended use: downhill racing / freeride
• Travel: 200mm front and 204mm rear
• 27.5" wheels
• 63.2° head angle
• 435mm chainstays
• 12 x 150mm rear spacing
• Carbon main frame and seatstay
• Split Pivot Suspension System
• 2.5" Tire clearance
• Internal cable routing
• Integrated fork bumpers
• Carbon skid plate
• Asymmetrical construction
• Sizes: S, M, L, XL
• Weight: 35.08lb/16.04kg size large
PRICES - USD / CAD / GBP:
• Carbon XP: $4659 / $5399 / £3499.99
• Carbon RC: $5959 / $6799 / £4199.99
• Carbon SL: $7759 / $8799 / £5499.99
• Carbon frame: $3359 / $3899 / £2999.99
So why does manufacturing frames with carbon fiber really matter, after all, there has been a good helping of accomplished alloy DH bikes out there skirting around the more than reasonable 36-37lb weight mark - including the alloy Wilson - for some time now and at a fraction of the price. And with the increased consistency in alloy tube manufacturing, not to mention the advantages posed by hydroforming and the extra expense associated with carbon, do we really need to embrace carbon for DH frame production? Using carbon does however allow for a heightened degree of finite innovation over alloy, at least as far as shape and ride feel go, two elements which can really make the difference for an elite rider pushing the limits, but equally easy to get wrong for the average rider who will never stare down the smoking barrel of a World Cup DH track.
After a brief hiatus from the carbon DH bike scene and with the 26" carbon Wilson still firmly in our cerebral cortex, it was only a matter of time before Devinci released an updated 27.5" offering, manufactured using this wonder material. And here it is, Devinci's latest gravity machine, taking the geometry and overall silhouette directly from the alloy Wilson, which coincidentally already has a carbon seatstay. The only really new
element here is a fully carbon main frame. Split Pivot
As with the rest of Devinci's full-suspension range, the Wilson utilises the 'Split Pivot' system. This is essentially a single pivot design with a linkage driven shock, intended to deliver the best attributes of both a single pivot and a linkage design in one. Providing both increased grip under braking forces thanks to the concentric dropout pivot, while also delivering increased acceleration due to the heightened degree of anti-squat (the suspension stiffens up as you put the power down), the Wilson bares all the hallmarks of a bike with a racing pedigree.
Yet the Wilson's Split Pivot layout looks quite unlike that of any other, utilising an additional component in the shape of the 'control link' - a CNC machined link which concentrically floats around the BB and connects the shock to the swingarm. Designed to add an additional element of adjustment for the engineers with regards to the Wilson's overall kinematics, it also delivers an additional amount of appropriate stiffness between the swingarm and the main frame.Options
With three complete builds on offer, ranging from the top-flight SL model sporting a full SRAM X01 7-Speed drivetrain, BoXXer World Cup fork and Easton's all-singing and all-dancing Havoc DH wheel set, Schwalbe's go-to DH rubber; the Magic Mary and an aptly Canadian cockpit in the shape of Chromag's carbon 35mm BZA bar and stem combo. The next one down is the RC, suitably packed with a 10-Speed SRAM X9 and Shimano mix drivetrain, BoXXer Team forks, DT Swiss wheels, Maxxis High Roller tyres and a Truvativ cockpit. Last, but not least is the XP, dishing out a SRAM X7 drivetrain and a BoXXer RC fork. A frameset is also available and the addition of an XL size is a welcome sight as well. We had the pleasure of spending a bit of time on the top end SL model and duly headed to some local DH tracks to see how it fared...Getting to Grips with the Wilson Carbon
Opting for a size large, conceding that the XL would be a step too far, I really was expecting something a little more modern in the size department, especially for what is essentially a 2017 bike. At a less than gigantic 5'9" I felt cramped with the 436mm of reach on offer and rather devoid of the space I'm used to. With an increasing number of AM bikes skirting around the 460mm number for a similarly sized bike, not to mention the rising tide of new DH bikes thankfully following suit, I can't help but think that Devinci missed a crucial opportunity here with regards to sizing and dynamic ergonomics. It is nice however to see a continuous standover height across the size range, but similarly disappointing to see the same with regards to stack height, forcing taller riders to increase the number of spacers under their top crown or stem to achieve the correct stack height for their 'rangey' dimensions, which ultimately robs them of crucial mm's in the reach department. The rest of the geometry is however pretty much on point and like all things, sizing is hugely subjective and preferential.
With the SL model sporting a wish list of parts, it made focusing on the Wilson Carbon's ride characteristics in the short space of time available that much easier. That said, the addition of the SRAM Guide Ultimate brakes was a welcome sight - easily one of the best brakes currently on the market right now. And the superbly predictable and highly versatile Schwalbe Magic Mary's - a tyre that no less helped Stevie Smith to win his first World Cup in Hafjell, Norway in 2012 - were also another note worthy addition. After setting up the suspension with the appropriate sag, retaining the 3 tokens in the RockShox BoXXer World Cup forks, a 400lb spring in the Vivid shock and cutting the 800mm wide bars down to a more favourable (for me) 780mm, we headed out to see how the Carbon Wilson would perform. It's a fast bike, there's no denying that, but what's equally as apparent, if not more so, is the stiffness. The noticeable tide of feedback resonating through the frame over small, successive hits was apparent from the offset and quite possibly amplified by the suitably stiff 35mm carbon bars. While an exceptionally stiff chassis like this will benefit a rider with surgical like precision and the ability to hit all their lines time after time and with pin-point accuracy, most of us simply don't have the necessary skills to take advantage of such attributes. The other issue is that of comfort, which over a long and rough track, could be substantially hampered by such a stiff frame.
Opening up the Wilson on faster sections of trail however was an eye opening experience and only reverberated its race caliber. Pushing through and over undulations in the trail and hitting lines with a degree of precision, the Wilson didn't struggle to gain speed and retain it, thankfully lacking the pedal kickback associated with the Split Pivot's ability to generate chain growth under load. Power transfer and acceleration were also suitably on the money - another trait of the Split Pivot system at work. Carrying speed through corners was another highlight, delivering an effective amount of grip and control, which was only boosted further by the ample standover height. Getting the Wilson airborne didn't represent any huge degree of difficulty, although it did require some additional gusto to man handle it in a chosen direction, instead preferring to keep its wheels on the ground and the speed constant. Pinkbike's Take:
|Have Devinci added that extra special something to an already proven bike by offering a carbon main frame? It's certainly lighter at over a pound less than its alloy brethren and it's definitely stiffer too, but these attributes firmly put the new Wilson Carbon within the crosshairs of those who want speed over comfort. Like its predecessors, the latest Wilson doesn't hang about when pointed down hill and now with the carbon option, Devinci have a grand total of six DH bikes to choose from. More options for more riders isn't a bad thing, but the ultimate question here will be whether or not you actually need a carbon DH frame over that of a cheaper and nearly identical alloy frame. - Olly Forster|
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