One Frame, Two Wheel size Options
New Name, New Material
Devinci announced the release of a new bike today. That's the obvious lead, but it's not the whole story. So, let’s rephrase it. Here goes: Today, Devinci unveiled the carbon Marshall. And if the frame looks familiar, that’s because they released the aluminum version last year, as the "Hendrix". After a legal kerfluffle over the name on its top tube, the latest edition became known as the Marshall (Jimi Hendrix’s middle name). Okay, got all that?
Here’s what you need to know: There are both carbon and aluminum Marshall models, and each one will happily accept both 27.5+ wheels or 29er hoops. Devinci is selling the Marshall with both wheel sizes in 2017.
Oh, and we rode the carbon Marshall both ways—semi-fat and wagon wheeled.
Marshall Carbon Details
• Intended use: trail riding
• Rear wheel travel: 110mm
• Fork travel: 120mm
• Wheelsize(s): 27.5+ or 29-inch
• Carbon front and rear triangles
• Clearance for up to 27.5 x 3.25'' tires
• Internal dropper post routing
• Boost (12x148mm) hub spacing
• Sizes: S / M / L / XL
• Aluminum 27.5+ MSRP:
$3,359- $4,419 USD/ $3,799- $4,999 CAD/ €3,569- €4,699 EUR
• Aluminum 29er MSRP:
$3,099- $3,539 USD/ $3,499- $3,999 CAD/ €3,289- €3,759 EUR
• Carbon 27.5+ MSRP:
$4,069- $5,129 USD/ $4,599- $5,799 CAD/ €4,319- €5,449 EUR
• Carbon 29er MSRP:
$3,809- $6,819 USD/ $4,299- $7,699 CAD/ €4,039- €7,239 EUR
As you might have noticed, there’s a wide price range on the Marshall models. That’s because there‘s also a wide range of ways to build this thing up. In 27.5+ trim, you are looking at four models: two in aluminum and two in carbon. Devinci, however, also offers the Marshall frame with the same six
build kits as their new 29er Django model and the parts kit on the 29ers goes from blue collar to Wall Street wanton.
Or to put it in plainer terms, the top-of-the-line 29er Marshall gets SRAM Eagle, whereas top-of-the-line 27.5+ Marshall gets an SLX/XT component mix.
Only interested in the frame?
The aluminum Marshall frame sells for $1,769 (USD)/$1,999 (CAD)/€1,879.
The carbon frame sells for $2,479 (USD)/$2,799 (CAD)/€2,629.
Devinci got heaps of crap in previous years for their relatively short top tubes and have been growing the front centers on their bikes, as is evident on the Marshall. The top tube on a Large is 625 millimeters (24.6 inches) and the reach is 464 millimeters (18.2 inches). There are longer bikes out there, sure, but the Marshall is far from stubby.
The Marshall is also fairly aggressive for a bike sporting just 120 millimeters of front suspension and 110 millimeters of rear squish. In Plus trim, you are looking at a head angle of either 67.7 or 67.3 (depending on which way you flip the frame's geometry-adjusting "flip chip").
As a 29er, the front end lifts and the bike gets slacker still--66.7 to 67.2 degrees. That puts the 29er version of the Marshall in a similar league (geometry wise) as the Evil Following, Ibis Ripley LS and Yeti SB4.5c.
While Plus Size bikes are often painted with the old "It must be a clumsy nag of a bike" brush, the wheelbase on the Marshall is reasonable; the 435-millimeter (17.1-inch) chainstays keep the bike from becoming a handful on tight trails.
All of Devinci's aluminum Marshall frames are handbuilt in Canada, at the company's factory in Chicoutimi, which makes the bike a bit of a rarity in a sea of overseas imports. Whether that matters to you or not is a purely a personal call, but it's worth pointing out. Devinci doesn't fabricate its own carbon frames--they're imported like 99 percent of the competition. Devinci, however, flouts convention again by offering an actual lifetime warranty on their carbon frames. And by lifetime warranty, I don't mean the "Five-year lifetime warranty" that's become common in the bike industry. Five years could only be called a lifetime if you were a pet hamster. Given the price of carbon frames, it'd be nice to see the rest of the bike industry follow Devinci's lead on that one.
What's the actual weight difference between the aluminum and carbon Marshall frames? Just a hair more than a pound. The aluminum frame tips the scales as 3.66 kilograms (8.07 pounds). The carbon frame weighs in at 3.16 kilos (6.97 pounds).First Impressions
Devinci showed up on my doorstep in early August with a Django and a Marshall. The objective was simple: Spend a few solid days riding the new bikes on our own turf, (Galbraith Mountain, in Bellingham, Washington). If you missed the First Ride report on the Django, check it out here
. In the case of the Marshall, I was curious: How would the bike fare as both a 27.5+ machine and as a 29er? The only way to answer that was to ride the same trails on the same day, back to back. One lap on the plus-size setup. Another lap on 29er hoops. Our route included a mix of singletrack and fire road climbs to the top of the mountain, followed by a singletrack descents that included both tight, natural terrain and flowier jump trails. If you're familiar with Galbraith, the route down included Scorpion, Unemployment Line, Atomic Dog and a detour back up to finish with Irish Death.
I opted to start with the 29er set up (Maxxis High Roller II 2.3s). In that guise, the Marshall climbed readily enough--it wasn't the rocket that the Eagle-equipped Django proved to be, but it's also not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison there given the Django's top-tier build. If you are a fan of the razor-sharp steering of a steep cross-country racing rig, then the Marshall might stymie you initially. This ain't that bike, even if the 110 millimeters of rear suspension suggests long days in Lycra to you. Personally, I'm used to climbing on bikes with relatively slack angles, so I'm probably not the best judge of whether a bike's head tube is "too slack" to navigate switchback climbs. I had no problems cleaning tight uphill sections. Moreover, I could let the bike go on the descents, which is really what the Marshall is about. It's a bike that leans towards the rowdy end of the spectrum, feeling confident at speed, with just the right amount of maneuverability. You won't mistake the 110 millimeters of suspension as anything more than it is. Even with close to 30 percent sag, it's a firm and progressive 110 millimeters aimed at riders who are going to ride hard and fast. It's not a tooth-rattling affair, but it's no Barca lounger either.
After a couple hours of wagon wheeling, it was time for the plus-size switch. Climbing traction was awesome on the plus-size Maxxis Chronicles, but I also noticed the extra weight. The Maxxis Chronicle 3.0 is no boat anchor of a tire. In fact, it should only weigh 70 grams per tire more the High Roller 29x2.3s, but I found myself feeling the extra rotational weight all the same. Could some of that sensation be chalked up to "second lap-itis"? Maybe. You're never quite as full of the piss and vinegar on your second climb up the mountain, so perhaps that played a bit into the sensation. I'd need more time on the two wheel set ups to say definitively.
On descents, the Chronicle allowed for generous leeway when lofting the bike off small drops or plowing into rocky and rooty sections of trail. I know, not a stunning revelation, but there it is. That's what plus-size tires are supposed to do for you, after all. In Plus-size mode, the Marshall proved just as easy to wend through the corners. It's no ropey nag of a handler. There is a distinct difference in cornering traits, though. While you can lean the High Roller 29ers into the corner and feel the authoritative bite of the shoulder knobs, the 3.0 Chronicles have a vaguer feel in the corners. They don't give up traction--initially, I thought they would--but they just don't feel as solidly committed to the turn.
Frankly, I prefer the 29er Marshall set up, but if I'm going to be honest with myself, I might only dig that taller, skinnier configuration since I already spend a ton of time running 29x2.4 tires and am well accustomed to how they feel. In other words, my personal bias might be shining through and, to be fair, I might wind up appreciating plus-size tires more after spending more time on them. The jury inside my skull is still out on that one.
The cool thing about the Marshall (and this is true of several newer "convertible bikes", such as the Santa Cruz High Tower or Pivot Switchblade), is that you're not locked into a single wheel size. You can choose what works for your style and trail conditions. The plus-size tires, for instance, would probably be awesome in my neck of the woods in winter when the root-sections get dicier and lower tire pressures become essential, whereas the 29er wheels might be better in summer conditions up here. Either way, you can run what best suits you. Having that option is a good thing.
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MENTIONS: @vernonfelton / @devinci