The US / Canada border finally opened up while I was testing the Spartan, which meant I could finally add the Whistler Bike Park and Vancouver's North Shore back into my array of testing zones. Not surprisingly, it was on the Shore, close to the location that it first broke cover, that the Devinci felt most at home. The chunkier the trail the better – the Spartan absolutely eats up the rough stuff. It's not quite as long and slack as the Norco Range (more on that in a bit), but that actually worked in its favor on the tighter, jankier trails where slow speed, braking-heavy maneuvers followed by rocky runouts are common.
The 64.5-degree head angle didn't give me any real reason to complain, but I also never once considered putting the flip chip into the high position. Because of that, I wish that 64.5 degrees was the high setting, and that 64-degrees or less was the low position. Remember, we're talking about a 160mm, high pivot enduro machine – why not fully optimize it for its intended purpose?
Maintaining speed on the Spartan isn't a problem as long as gravity has firmly taken over, but on flatter or rolling terrain it can feel sluggish. Pumping the trail to takes more effort, and doesn't result in the same burst of forward speed that comes from a bike with a less rearward axle path. Jumping takes more work too, a trait that was especially noticeable on Whistler's A-Line and Dirt Merchant trails. It'll get it done, but the Spartan does best on rougher, more technical trails rather than hopping and popping around, despite what some of the photos in this review may lead you to believe. It's not that it can't
jump, it's more that there are bikes in the same category that are easier and more eager to get airborne than this one (the new Pivot Firebird comes to mind).
Remember the feeling of making solid contact with a jelly ball during a game of kickball? Landing a drop on the Spartan HP delivers the same sense of satisfaction. It's one of the traits that I enjoy most about high pivot bikes – that glued to the ground stability they have when touching back down makes it easy to trust that things will work out, even when dropping into a pile of rubble that's been formed into a not-very-steep landing. The Spartan may not be the liveliest jumper, but that trait's overshadowed by how well it can stomp landings.