Devinci's story was almost stopped in its tracks before it had even got going. In 1990, Felix Gauthier took the plunge and invested into a little known bike manufacturer called Da Vinci who were fabricating aluminium bike frames in his home city of Chicoutimi. It only took a few months for Felix to realise the road ahead was going to be a rough ride. Hundreds frames hung over his head for warranty thanks to a fault in their manufacturing methods. To remedy it would require a costly investment in an oven to perfect the heat treatment on their frames, which they simply could not afford.
The only route forward was to build their own oven which was still by no means cost effective for a company still to find its feet but with the right infrastructure and processes nailed, they could at the very least finally start chipping away at the warranty pile. “In 1993 I was replacing more frames than I was selling” Felix admits.
Fast forward to the present and Devinci is still working out of Chicoutimi with Felix at the helm, still proudly stamping ‘"Made in Canada" into each aluminium frame welded in the Factory. Of course things are now plain sailing compared to the first footsteps that Devinci took in the market, but that doesn't mean Felix and his team are taking a back seat approach as he reminds me: “we can never sleep, the market is always changing.”
Walking through the factory is like walking through Devinci's history. There are memories of the late Stevie Smith dotted throughout, he is sorely missed by everyone both inside and outside of Devinci. Trophies from World Cup wins and EWS success are proudly on show with old relics like the 'BigBang' now retired to shelves above office desks. Somewhere round the back you'll even come across the old oven that has since been decommissioned after playing a pivotal roll in the early years. There's a loyalty and proudness that runs deep inside the walls here.
Left image: Long Live Chainsaw. Stevie is sorely missed by all inside and outside of Devinci. Right image: The office walls in their Chicoutimi base are filled with past memorabilia with the likes of the 'BigBang' on show.
Some of the first step in the birth of a new model. The Devinci R&D team were (quite rightly) pretty keen to keep a lot of what they work on under wraps.
Devinci's hometown of Chicoutimi also happens to be one of Canada's biggest aluminium producers meaning there's plenty of readily available raw material and aluminium expertise at their disposal.
Each frame that leaves the factory is proudly stamped 'Made in Canada'.
Too hot to touch!
Once the frames have finished their heat treatment process they are straightened and aligned on this table. Pictured is Bryan Dery AKA The Red Hammer.
The frames are painted yellow so any possible cracks are easier to identify.