Inside Devinci: A Canadian Success Story

Mar 25, 2019
by Ross Bell  




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.

bigquotesIt started with a bike crash, a big accident in 1988. I had to get stitches in the face, and I broke my leg. I was recovering and I was telling my friend I wanted to buy a new aluminium frame. He told me that there was someone making aluminium bikes in town and that I should look him up. So I met the local guy and bought one from him. Two years later I lost my parents and got a small inheritance. The frame builder came to me, he was looking for a partner. I got involved not really knowing what I was getting into. He had zero employees and zero customers, and I realised that he had several frames waiting on warranty repairs. I asked myself, ‘What should I do?’Felix Gauthier

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.


Holes being drilled in an individual frame section before moving onto the welders.

Each frame that leaves the factory is proudly stamped 'Made in Canada'.

Welding jigs of various models waiting for their turn on the welding table, these are also made in the factory.



The majority of Devinci's alloy frames are still lovingly made in house in Chicoutimi.

bigquotesSeveral of our employees have been here since almost day one. People at Devinci are extremely passionate. They ride during their lunch breaks, they travel for bike trips, and they build bike trails out here in our backyard. The company has a family vibe. We’re all working under the same roof and most of the staff live here in town. We often ride together, which helps solidify the bonds.Felix Gauthier



Once welded each section is placed onto a rack before heading to be heat treated.

Too hot to touch!

It was the need for a new oven that nearly stopped Devinci in its early days, they have since upgraded their original 'homemade' oven.


Front triangles of the legendary Devinci Wilson.

bigquotesTrial and error and the search for answers to problems is really how it all started. And as we evolved we learned how to limit the error part. How? With great minds and great employees, and by partnering with universities and a local aluminium smelter to improve the process. All these elements enable us to thoroughly prototype and test products, but with very limited error because we know what we’re doing. It was fine to be ‘trial and error’ in the 90s, but now it’s so competitive you really need to have your shit figured out.Felix Gauthier

The heat treatment process is a controlled series of warming and cooling of the aluminium frames, something which Devinci's early founder struggled to master before Felix took the reigns.

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 frame torture room.


This test bed applies similar forces to what the frame will find on the trail, simulating years of use in a matter of minutes or hours.

The frames are painted yellow so any possible cracks are easier to identify.

As mountain bikers it would be easy to overlook Devinci's involvement in a City Bike program, but they have produced over 60,000 bikes in 26 cities across the world. Not one has come back for warranty in their 11 years of involvement in the program.

bigquotesWell, we can never sleep because it's always changing. But we’re well positioned because we have a great, forward-thinking team. This includes our passionate in- house staff, but it also extends to our athletes and ambassadors around the world. These guys are out there racing and riding everyday. They’re really tuned to the latest trends, and the feedback they provide keeps us in-step, or even a step ahead of what’s happening.Felix Gauthier


The carbon frames are manufactured in Asia under Devinci's own supervision and quality control before being shipped to Canada to be assembled.



The result of all the hard work put in by everyone at the Chicoutimi factory.


MENTIONS: @rossbellphoto @devinci




81 Comments

  • + 77
 This right here is why I ride an Aluminum Troy, built in Canada by Canadians!
  • - 31
flag leboize (Mar 25, 2019 at 0:30) (Below Threshold)
 Don't you mean "Built in Canadia?"
  • - 171
flag Nella-Bella (Mar 25, 2019 at 2:14) (Below Threshold)
 well... it not like a made in USA tag but a close second
  • + 45
 @Nella-Bella: considering how many frames that used to be Made in America are now made in Taiwan, I would rock a made in Canada frame...
  • + 1
 Unfortunately if you look at all the new Troy's they will state that they are "designed and assembled' in Canada, they are no longer made here...

I've heard that the bike-share bikes are taking up their factory time and they have moved the alloy troy production overseas. I hope it is just this year's Troy and doesn't spread over to the other models Frown
  • + 4
 @jameswb: now that is a crying shame. Devinci, listen up and don't let the made in Canada magic get away from you on the account of saving 10$ a frame... You will be losing part of what makes you unique nowadays! Personally I always thought that the designed and engineered in country X/ made in China was so disingenuous.
  • + 24
 @jameswb: The all-new Troy is indeed made overseas, but the reason you are giving is not 100% accurate though, hence why we feel the need to clarify.

As we are growing our Devinci lineup, the factory and the employees' capacity are completely maximized at the moment. Since we still want to offer the same quality bikes and be able to deliver these bikes on time, we have strategically outsourced the production of our Alloy Troy to Asia. These bikes are still designed here, tested here and assembled here, alongside their Made in Canada siblings.

However, this doesn't mean we are switching everything overseas! The number of employees is still growing rapidly, we recently invested in a second factory to produce the bike-share bikes separately and we keep investing in our main factory in Chicoutimi, QC to be able to keep up with the increasing demand.

We are still doing bikes in-house whenever we can, The Sabbath that launched last Fall (and landed on the top step of the podium of the Dual Slalom under Keegan Wright in Rotorua) is a prime example of that. So don't worry, we are keeping our strong Canadian roots and aluminum knowhow. This enables us to prototype, test and produces bikes in our own factory, using our own industry-leading standards. Our confidence in our product remains the same, we offer a lifetime warranty on all our bikes, knowing they will stand the test of time. We are not about to move anywhere else, we like it too much here!

#MadeinCanada
  • + 9
 @pierre22: Don't worry Pierre, the magic is staying right here with us in Canada. We're actually investing quite a lot in our Canadian facility so we can keep up with the demand.
  • + 4
 @devinci: thanks for the reply @devinci. My son just started working at a bike shop that sells your brand. I was telling him that devinci bikes always offered a quality ride and that the made-in-Canada stamp was a huge selling point ... keep up the local torches hot... and the quality bikes coming!
I always thought that you're metal frames were super well built. I'm secretly hoping that the other big North American companies send some design build your ways so that they can have and made in Canada / North America stamp as well. I would love to see more bikes built in North America! We buy and ride so many of them yet build so few...
  • + 4
 @devinci: Thanks for the response and I am glad to hear that business is going well and you're expanding to keep things in Canada! I've had a Hatchet, Django, Troy, and wilson over the past few years and I am looking forward to picking up a 27 Spartan this year. I was a little heartbroken to hear the Troy was made overseas so I am glad to hear it was a temporary fix and not the way of the future.
  • + 1
 @devinci: so, it sounds like as your Canadian production capacity increases, that Asian built Troy could possibly end getting made in Canada?
  • + 4
 @lumpy873: Our capacity increases are still a little behind the demand increases so it is very hard to tell at the moment. That being said, as we explained above, we do whatever we can to make new bikes here whenever possible, we will be launching new bikes that are made in Canada in the near future.
  • + 1
 @devinci: Not the worse problem to have... Hopefully things keep going in that upward direction for you guys!
  • + 1
 @devinci: way to stick with it. Too many quitters out there.
See you at Thinkbike Whistler, June 7-9.
  • + 33
 God I miss my Wilson!

Willllsooonnnnnnnn Frown
  • + 7
 Hello Jackie, something smells nice!
  • + 18
 Love seeing this! Proud Canadian here. My job involves working with Canadian companies helping them grown, drive value and increase their competitiveness, while I have some amazing clients out west here, this would be a dream client to work with!
  • + 9
 I don't know why, but I love Devinci. I got a Devinci Troy carbon 2014. Never got problems. Now saving some money for the Devinci Troy Carbon 29. This is for now my dream bike. And when I ride I think about Stevie sometimes. Many peoples miss him. The Chainsaw is still going hard!! ;-). And his mother is doing so much for the bikers in Nanaimo and BC. Thx
  • + 3
 I'll try to demo one this summer... also my dream bike!! Smile
  • + 13
 Just watch the start of Life Cycles over and over again Smile
  • + 7
 That big bang is sick! Never seen one, in 17years of looking at bikes online..
  • + 3
 Same. An old frame that looks like it should be made in the future.
  • + 4
 After visiting your beautiful province last summer and experiencing the incredible trails and people I felt so proud to be Canadian...I can't stress how important it is to have a company like yours..Canadian raw material..Canadian talent ...Keep up the Great Work..I'll be back this summer and have been practising my French Smile
  • + 5
 I had a Devinci Johnson. It was indescribable, and it rode DH so well. Same design as the original Wilson. I just sold it last year and it’s still going strong. Good bike company.
Long live Chainsaw.
  • + 2
 that should have said "indestructible"
  • + 4
 I have a 2018 Aluminum Spartan... a real canadian beauty! I would love to see an economical build on the 29 version where they use the new MicroShift 11- 42 then use the cost savings on the groupset and put a Lyrik instead of the Yari...
  • + 3
 I compared it against a lot of bikes in the same price bracket and the Spartan has the RC charger Yari, and better tires. The only thing missing is a 150mm dropper on the M. Love mine.
  • + 6
 Locally manufactured material, local design, local labour. Support Devinci ! Recyclable too ! (local can mean north america ! )
  • + 5
 Pretty please Devinci, start a custom Aluminum fabrication shop, would love a made in Canada frame with my own geometry.... please!!!
  • + 5
 I very much enjoy these 'behind the scenes' articles. It gives me a new found respect for companies that I may have written off in the past. Its good to see!
  • + 2
 This company is awesome. WAY back I was convinced to buy a Chillipepper DB with RS Judy XC fork and RST Formula mechanical disc brakes (hey this all looked very high tech coming off a 1993 GT Zaskar with cantilever brakes- not even V brakes!). Rode that bike for 7 years and my neighbour still rides it around with their kids. Glad I trusted the bike shop owner on that day as I did not even know the company at the time....
  • + 3
 Tried to order the 2019 Django AL GX a month ago but found out they were sold out for the year. Made me a bit sad but managed to get the last 2018 Carbon GX for a great deal. Just waiting for the trails to dry up.
  • + 2
 Same thing happened when I started looking for a Wilson 29 in January. Had to call every bike shop from Calgary to Vancouver until I found one on the floor of a bike shop. Drove 8 hours that night and picked it up the next morning. The things we do for bikes...
  • + 3
 @shadow20: Damn. I am just glad the Devinci warehouse had one that was gonna work for me as I didn't want to buy something else for this year. Glad you found one you could pick up!
  • + 4
 @shadow20: That is what we call dedication! Wishing you plenty of great rides on your new Wilson 29.
  • + 2
 It was really that rough in the beginning? I remember in the 90's they were the only company doing FEA. With a back pack full of gear and sensors all over the bike.

Still made THE hardcore freeride hardtail of all time too.
  • + 6
 Awesome!
  • + 1
 rein
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1.
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verb
3rd person present: reigns
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hold royal office; rule as king or queen.
  • + 2
 Always have had love for this company. Had 2 Wilson's (one being their first carbon model) and still that bike holds its own to the ever-changing geo's and bikes of today. Keep up the solid work
  • + 1
 I just had my Spartan Alu 2019,
I chose it in Alu for a lot of reason:
more comfort, more style, made in Canada, cheaper, I did not want more plastic bike
it is heavier, less efficient than a carbon but more pleasant to ride
And I am very satisfied with my choice
  • + 0
 Love my Devinci Spartan Alloy 2015! A bit heavier then the carbon version, but at least it is made in Canada, not like the other Banshee Rune frame that I got, a nice "designed in Canada" on the seat tube, but "made in Taiwan" at the bottom...

Devinci still does their carbon frames in Taiwan though...
  • - 6
flag dutflip (Mar 25, 2019 at 7:21) (Below Threshold)
 You have seen what happen when a White man trying to do Carbon! Enve!
  • + 7
 @dutflip: that's an American doing carbon; Canadians did we are one!
  • + 4
 @dutflip: You need to try Canadian made carbon. We Are One rims are the best I've built/ridden.
  • + 1
 @spaceofades: Agree with that will most likely try them on my next build ! just know by industrial standard ! taiwan make the best carbon work since they been doing it the longest
  • + 3
 @dutflip: Taiwan and the surrounding area, especially Xaimem, is a hot bed for carbon, totally. But in the area, there is some great product and some absolute garbage.

The guys are We Are One are doing it in Canada be side they weren't happy with quality control over there. Downtime Podcast did a great one on one with Dustin Adams. You should have a listen to it of you haven't already.

Also - I have a set of my own We Are One rims. The guy who hand laid them literally grew up down the street from me. I haven't met him personally but we share a lot of mutual friends. You can't say that about Asian made rims. Most of the time the people making them don't even ride a mountain bike, let alone the rims they are making, and you certainly will never know who they are.
  • + 2
 My 2016 Spartan Carbon is an absolute beast. On the heavy side and a bit rough on the ascents, but down hill paired with my Elevensix shock.....monster!!
  • + 1
 When I visit London, I can beat the Sh1t out of a Santander bike now with much more confidence since i found out they were Devincis.
  • + 3
 Love my alloy framed 2017 Troy!
  • + 3
 Good job Devinci ! Making all of us canadians proud !
  • + 3
 Nice photos, I can tell you had some fun!
  • + 1
 Did you purposely make the colours on the 2019 Spartan 27 uglier than the 29? Because last year the Spartan had an amazing paint jonlb.
  • - 1
 you have one cleaver eye!
  • + 1
 Where i send my CV? Looks a small, passionate and high quality brand/company..
  • + 2
 just bought my first wilson , long live chainsaw!
  • + 2
 great write up, great company.
  • + 1
 to see fabricated in this way, and proudly put the "Made in .......", makes me enjoy
  • + 2
 Still rocking my 2006 8 Flat 8 frame completely rebuilt. DH tank!
  • + 2
 i guess you can say that those frames can take a beating
  • + 1
 My appreciation to Devinci for their Premium Aluminium quality, the same way as Knolly and Pivot do.
  • + 2
 j'aime bien cette article ...rock on Quebec
  • + 1
 They made great bikes. Unfortunatelly their customer service had been horrible for years in Spain
  • + 3
 This. Is. Spartan!!!
  • + 1
 Is the new Troy Aluminum made in Canada?
  • + 1
 Unfortunately not.
  • + 0
 Have never seen or heard of the 'Big Bang" frame there...very cool! ...any connection to the Balfa BB7?
  • + 2
 It was the Devinci version of the Balfa NR.
  • + 1
 @AProulx: Thx....just didn't know if maybe they shared a designer or something backintheday. Not often you see that top/down tube style...
  • - 1
 Having just seen a Devinci on a substantial podium...question. Is Kate Weatherly sponsored by Devinci?...or by a Distributor/Importer who happens to be supplying Devinci's?
  • + 1
 Hey neg button pushers.... Stand for Nothing...Fall for Anything.
  • + 1
 d'oh...wrong quote there. (missed the edit)
  • + 1
 Carbon frames made in "Asia"? Did someone just not want to say China?
  • + 0
 I know Devinci uses factories in Taiwan. Taiwan doesn't consider itself part of China but China does.
Also most companies have bikes made in multiple factories in different countries ands it often varies form year to year.
Instead a company of saying something like "some of our frames are made in Vietnam and some in Taiwan and any model X after serial #_________ was moved to a factory in ______" a company will usaullly just say made in Asia.
  • + 1
 Do new bikes coming out this week?
  • + 1
 Loving my Spartan 29. It's freakin beautiful. And fast. Very fast.
  • + 0
 I want a Devince !!
  • + 9
 what's that?
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