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Value Field Test: Devinci Kobain - Hardtail Nirvana

May 23, 2024
by Sarah Moore  

PINKBIKE FIELD TEST

Devinci Kobain Hardtail



Words by Sarah Moore; photography by Tom Richards


The Devinci Kobain has a classic hardtail profile and the word mark on the downtube sparkles in the sunlight, although we didn't see much of that during our test period in Squamish. Most notably, the Kobain has an aluminum frame that is made in North America, unlike the other value bikes that are a part of this test. The rigid aluminum frame is made in the Canadian company's factory in Quebec.

It's also the only bike with externally routed cables, which means it might not have as sleek of a look as some of the other bikes, although they are neatly organized with cable ties, but it's easier to access the cables when they're externally routed to work on the bike. If you're on a budget, you're likely interested in doing some of your own repairs and that external routing will make the job easier.
Devinci Kobain Details

• Travel: 130mm fork
• 29" wheels
• 65.5° head angle
• 75° seat angle
• 435mm chainstays
• Reach: 445mm (Medium) / 470mm (Large)
• Sizes: S, M, L, XL
• Weight: 31.2 lb / 14.03 kg
• Price: $1,929 USD (on sale for less)
• More info: devinci.com

There are four sizes and three different models of the Kobain to choose from and our bike is the Deore 12-speed model, although it's not actually a full Deore drivetrain. It's the lightest on test this time around at 31.2 lb (14.03 kg).

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The hardtail frame with its 29" wheels relies on a 130mm Marzochhi Z2 Rail fork for all of its suspension duties and a TranzX dropper post to get into descending position. To keep it rubber side down, there is a Maxxis Minion DHF front tire and a Maxxis Minion DHRII rear tire, both with EXO casing. As for stoppers, there are Shimano Deore MT4100/MT410 2-piston brakes with 180mm resin-only rotors and a (mostly) Deore drivetrain, minus the Sunrace 12s cassette.

Our test bike was on the pointy end for the hardtails on test with its 65.5° head tube angle, which is paired with a 75° seat angle and 435mm chainstays across all sizes. Reach on the Kobain is 445mm on the size Medium and 470mm on the size Large.



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Climbing
The Devinci Kobain feels exactly how you want a hardtail to on the climbs. It's more upright and comfortable than an all-out cross-country rig, but it still feels spritely and responsive when you push into the pedals. The handling is quick and it winds nicely up switchback climbs, without feeling twitchy.

While a hardtail will never have the all-out traction of a full-suspension bike, the Kobain isn't just suited to smooth climbs. You have to be careful with your line choices since you're more likely to be bumped off line when climbing technical sections on it than if you were on a full suspension bike, but its 75-degree seat tube angle and good component choices make more technical climbs manageable. There are meaty 2.6" Maxxis tires that provide good grip and a 12-speed, wide-range drivetrain provides a good easy gear for grinding up the steeps.

It's also worth noting that the Kobain is the lightest bike we had at this Value Bikes Field Test at 31.2 pounds (14.03 kg), and that's definitely noticeable on the climbs. Hardcore hardtails have slacker head tube angles and burly components and they tend to feel a bit muted on the climbs, but the Kobain isn't one of those and it hits a great middle ground where it rides well on a variety of terrain. The frame also hits that middle ground where it's more compliant than the Haro, but not as compliant as the Marin, and it just feels like it's the right hardtail for the majority of people.


photo

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Descending

With its 65.5 degree head tube angle and two-piston brakes, the Devinci isn't designed to be an all-out brute on the descents, but where does that put it really? Well, it's not the easiest bike to descend on more technical terrain, but it hits that middle ground that opens up a lot of trails. You're not going to be sending every descent and I definitely picked my lines more carefully than if I'd been on a different bike, but it impressed me overall with its composure.

It's not the longest, slackest hardtail around, but it's not too steep either. You can still make it down techy bits, and then have a blast railing corners and accelerating through flatter sections of trail.

That's partly due to the spec that is is well chosen for descending. The tires provide good traction and the Marzocchi Z2 works well. One upgrade you could make eventually for descending is to the dropper post. The medium frame is compatible with a solid dropper post length at 175mm, but only comes with a 130mm on medium, so that's something you could change depending on your riding.

The bike is relatively quiet on the descents and while the protection on the chainstay might be minimal, it does seem to work and I liked the little details like the clips on the cables to keep them tidy and from rattling too much on the descents.



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Components

The Kobain provides a comfortable frame with a solid trail-focused geometry. What about the spec?

The brakes are Shimano's MT4100/MT410 2-piston brakes with 180mm rotors, but unlike the last Value Bikes Field Test I did in 2021 where I had a couple of near misses, they actually work really well. I think that's my biggest takeaway from this Value Bikes Field Test is how much better the brakes are now and how much of an improvement it is to the overall ride.

Another standout component was the 2.6" Maxxis Minion DHF and DHRII tires that gave me confidence on the wet rocks and slippery roots we encountered testing. It's nice to know you don't have to upgrade those right away.

While it's funny that the bike is named "Kobain Deore 12S" and doesn't have a Deore cassette, opting for a Sunrace cassette instead, at least there's a Shimano chain, and overall the shifting performance was solid.

One minor gripe is the saddle. Saddles are a matter of personal preference, but the sharp-edged one on the Kobain certainly doesn't make the riding a hardtail any more comfortable.


Who's It For?

The Devinci Kobain is the perfect bike for someone who wants a good all-around hardtail. This could be someone just getting into riding who doesn't want to break the bank or for someone who wants a fast and versatile pedalling second bike when they want to get out for a quick rip. Overall, it's a solid trail hardtail with a good spec that you won't have to change anything on before you hit the trails. The Kobain is exactly what you expect from a hardtail and is responsive when you put down power on the pedals. While it's capable enough to hit some more technical features, it's not a hardcore hardtail and it's most well-suited to someone with flowier trails in their backyard.



Pros

+ Made in Canada aluminum frame
+ Well-rounded with a solid spec
+ Great value, even before the sale price


Cons

- Could have a longer dropper
- Jack of all trades, master of none


Pinkbike's Value Bikes Field Test is presented by Ride Concepts
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Author Info:
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123 Comments
  • 166 3
 Riding this bike will make you feel stupid and kontagious.
  • 42 2
 But they will be entertainers.
  • 32 0
 Curious of the age distribution of your downvoters, and whether the understood what you were doing here. Either way, thanks, someone had to go there.
  • 163 2
 @jaytdubs, the downvotes smell like teen spirit.
  • 10 0
 @mikekazimer: nicely done, and a double entendre to boot!
  • 26 0
 With bikes out, they’re less expensive
Pinkbike entertain us
  • 6 2
 This is the Pinkbike comment section we deserve
  • 7 0
 I always have 'Something In The Way' going through my head in steep rock gardens, but the cover version by THOU. If you haven't heard that version, you need to....
  • 3 0
 @suspended-flesh: that whole album is killer
  • 1 0
 @k2fx: It's on the Owle and the (?) right? I never got ahold of it but I DLd this song from YT. I've seen them a couple times - very interesting band.
  • 4 0
 Well, I'm worst at what I do best but for this gift I feel blessed. This line perfectly sums up my MTB experience.
  • 4 0
 Missed opportunity for heart-shaped in-frame storage.
  • 4 0
 Well it sure beats raising cattle.
  • 2 0
 @suspended-flesh: That album is sooo good. I like their covers better than the originals; makes those songs heavy AF
  • 6 0
 @JSTootell: ...you sure you got those lyrics right there--kiddo?
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer: That's just middle age flatulence.
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer: they need Lithium
  • 8 0
 @counterpoint: Was going make another pun, but nevermind...
  • 1 0
 @iian: that’s the teen spirit
  • 18 2
 Made in Canada, alloy, external cable routing? Nice. Only thing I'm concerned with is that seemingly avoidable extra kink & weld on the seat stays. I'm sure it's there to allow for tire clearance while maintaining a short rear end but would prefer it be a straight run. Nonetheless, good on Devinci, this seems pretty rad.
  • 3 0
 But then the kink isn't really avoidable is it? This is geometry and rear wheel size they settled on and for the structure it was apparently important to connect to the bottom bracket. There have been bikes with straight seattubes which join at the downtube, but then again these typically are quite beefy downtubes. Aside from the aesthetics (which is inherently subjective) there isn't really a downside to that kink. At least not for people running dropper seatposts with internal (stealth) cable or hose routing. It may be limiting for those running droppers with external or wireless actuation or when running a rigid seatpost that needs more room to raise and slam. But when spec'd as pictured here, it doesn't affect the function of the bike.
  • 2 0
 I think it's also there to enable a little flex.
  • 18 1
 Is Henry using the usual audio setup for the voice over? If so, any chance he could be given a pop filter or deadcat for the mic?
  • 5 1
 yeah, this is a $20 problem and it drives me nuts. Same with the weekly(?) show thing. Turn up the gain slightly and get away from the mic at least.
  • 11 0
 Bike ticks so many boxes for so many people just getting into riding or an extra bike for the flow trails
Solid fork
Decent brakes
Deore groupset (upgrade the cassette after it wears out)
Decent tires
Modern but not crazy geometry
Canadian made
  • 5 0
 I bought this bike for exactly these reasons. Plus the external cable routing makes for easy brake maintenance/upgrades.
  • 2 0
 The reviewers are also hitting some pretty technical features on this thing...yes they are all good riders, but everything is looking pretty composed speaking to capability that will exceed what most of it's buyers will need.
  • 2 0
 @freeinpg: big wheels and 2.6 tires will get down anything. Just set yourself up comfy and a hardtail can do a lot.
  • 11 0
 in 2016 a Kona Honzo Al value build was $1599 USD with no dropper but similar spec based on tier. Inflated to 2024 $ would be $2000.

Hats of to Devinci for a made in Canada bike that is better and cheaper than a similar bike in 2016.

(bring on the, but I got a carbon Santa Cruz chameleon for $0.12...everything sucks responses)
  • 16 1
 needs a Kitsuma double barrel shock
  • 3 2
 Too soon. Forever too soon.
  • 9 2
 @masters5: if Kurt didn’t want us making this joke immediately and forevermore, he should’ve waited to sober up before making big decisions
  • 2 8
flag masters5 (May 23, 2024 at 15:50) (Below Threshold)
 @fewnofrwgijn: The entire premise of the generation, grunge and his personal lifestyle was that you live fast, die young and dont regret anything. That a bike company profits of his name for no other reason than that just shows the ethics of the industry, and that you my lad should never wear flannel.
  • 4 1
 I don't think Kurt lived fast, otherwise he would have chosen a different king of drug.
  • 1 0
 @strickland-propane: 27 and hand in the keys. Its not how fast you appear from the outside, but how you drive your brain.
  • 1 0
 @masters5: you know flannels existed before nirvana right. edgy schooler mode
  • 12 0
 excellent article name. Top notch Pinkbike
  • 8 1
 Only thing that I don’t like is the Sunrace cassette, which is presumably HG, making it more expensive to upgrade to Microspline. At this price point though, that’s hard to avoid I guess.
  • 3 0
 Can confirm that the Sunrace cassette is HG. A friend of mine picked up one of these as his second bike (and is loving it) and had a nice set of wheels to swap on it but had to get an MS cassette to complete the upgrade.
  • 3 0
 Before it went on sale it was full shimano build and MS freehub. This cheaper spec makes me feel like the 25% off on their website isn't really a sale.
  • 6 0
 If I had this bike, I'd replace the worn out sunrace cassette with an 11 speed slx cassette and shifter for not much more than the microspline freehub driver alone (if the pricing is similar to the one for my Bontrager rapid drive hub - $89!)
  • 4 0
 Dude, give linkglide a shot. (still uses HG). It's quite impressive and the groupset is cheaper than XX1 cassette.
  • 3 1
 What's wrong with the Sun Race cassettes? I use them on my hardtail and feel very little difference with Shimano 12 speed cassettes. Just a little less smooth but they are way cheaper.
  • 3 0
 Diff strokes. I prefer the SR cassettes due to their more even steps between cogs. But then..., I'm an 11spd proponent - so the HG thing does't bother me. This frame looks to be a great ticket for a 2nd bike, eh? Everybody needs a hardtail. Just retired my ratty old breathed-on v1 Timberjack frame for winter riding. 8-yr metal integrity fears. Went with a more modern geo option, better suited to hard hits & stupid lines. It's huge fun. But I miss the ol' TJ. Wondering if maybe I'd missed the mark on a replacement. This thing def ticks a butt-load of my mud slidin' boxes. Get a frame. Build it robust. Go slidin'. Mmmm hmmmm.
  • 7 0
 I've been using SunRace cassettes for years. They work great and are a fraction of the price of other offerings. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
  • 3 0
 @dennis72: Nothing wrong with them, but if you have to shift under load Shimano is noticeably better.
  • 2 0
 Perfect. Throw a Linkglide XT on there at next change and forget about drivetrains for a very long while..
  • 2 0
 To be fair they're pretty decent cassettes and the spacing between gears is better than Shimano's. Shifting is not as smooth as Shimano/Sram, but not unacceptable either. The models with the alu big cog can be found for as low as 50€ and they're not too heavy.
  • 1 0
 I love Sunrace cassettes. I have them on multiple bikes.
  • 5 0
 This article captures the spirit and purpose of this bike nicely. It's great at a bunch of things up until you would need a way pricier hardcore or xc hardtail or a full squish. All of which would be far exceed the Kobain's price point. That said, I have put a 210mm One-up V2 dropper on my medium Kobain, and I would wager that a 240mm would fit as well. That 175mm recommendation Devinci goes by is asked on older generation dropper post.
  • 3 0
 I bought one of these at the sale price a couple of weeks ago. I swapped out the brakes immediately as, at 90kg and intending on using this for backcountry/bike packing and carrying loads, I wanted brakes/rotors capable of using metallic pads.
The spec of my bike actually included a 130mm TransX dropper so I swapped out that for a 200mm OneUp v2.
I got good deals on the new brakes and dropper, and sold off the take-off stuff to cover most of the cost of the upgrades.
As someone mentioned, the freehub is HG which is unfortunate and the rear wheel needed a complete re-tension so the wheels are probably a weak spot but otherwise I'm pleased with it and the external cables/hoses are a bonus as far as I'm concerned
  • 3 0
 I know there's a price point, but surely having sintered compatible discs would have only added a few bucks and saved throwing them in the recycling for people who live in wet parts of the world (like, where this bike's from). At the price, I can forgive the cassette and HG
  • 1 0
 @mountainsofsussex: lol. Where this bike is from they get on average 312 days per year with no rain. So there's that. I ride in squamish regularly. If the local experts say the brakes work, believe them. And rotors are cheap.
  • 6 3
 Ride the Kobain On a Plain, to A Lake of Fire, with flowers In Bloom...Nevermind the Territorial Pissings of the locals and Come As You Are. Don't be a Negative Creep , feel the Love Buzz. All Apologies for the perhaps Dumb post, now go for a ride and Milk It, and fill your Heart Shaped Box
  • 5 0
 Geometry seems well suited for those of us living in flatter areas
  • 5 0
 " Jack of all trades, master of none" that is a pro too.
  • 4 0
 Agreed, most people don't know the full quote: "A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one"
  • 1 0
 Nice bike, I'd suggest they add a sliding drop out for folks who want an adjustable rear end, but overall it's a good bike made domestically, for a fair price. I like Devinci, I've had a few of their aluminum bikes.
  • 3 1
 I wouldn't buy a hard tail after riding FS for ~4yrs, but this is a beauty: clean lines, esthetically pleasing, good price and frame made in Canada. Well done @cyclesdevinci
  • 5 0
 I just bought one after ~20 yrs on FS. I don't miss the weight penalty one bit. Best thing I learned: HT29 != HT26, in a good way.
  • 6 0
 @thomasjkenney1024: similar, after 10 years on FS, recently got a hardtail 29 and haven’t been on the FS since, too much fun on a hardtail again
  • 3 0
 @bazmundo: @thomasjkenney1024 Thanks for feedback - now my interest is piqued. Smile
  • 2 0
 This bike ticks all the boxes for the price. Impressive! Some parts very likely need an upgrade, but the start price is great once again. Bravo DeVinci Smile
  • 5 1
 This is cultural appropriation.
  • 1 0
 Devinci should add a sticker #longlivekurt next to #longlivechainsaw Nirvana rare songs are here, 30y anniversary wow I am getting old yewtu.be/playlist?list=PL271P2uipylqF7f5EAfx4PK3ertYbobKo
  • 2 0
 It's seriously hard to watch these vids with all the ads now. Nice bike though, even though I turned it off after the 2nd ad lol
  • 2 0
 Who doesnt want to ride a stiff rear end without protection?!! Levy is who haSmile
  • 1 0
 Dumb idea : adding a line with the price of the whole parts together based on their retailing price compared to the bike price, then we could see the “value”
  • 3 2
 Aluminum hardtail - no thanks. I want a little bit of compliance - the feel of steel!
  • 4 0
 As a steel hardtail rider, I would suggest that there's enough compliance alone in the 2.6" tyres. If this was a steel frame running 2.6" tyres then it could have the feel of cooked spaghetti and still be a couple of kilos heavier...
  • 4 0
 That's an argument for people who want a hardtail than can try to keep up with a FS.

I think it makes sense for a lot of people who already have a 16-17kg enduro/park bike, to get a really light and nimble hardtail.
For this, a 1,8kg Al frame makes more sense than a 3,3kg Chromag frame, compliance be damned
  • 1 0
 What pants is @sarahmoore wearing? I can see the logo but can’t place it.
  • 2 0
 Disclaimer: you can't ride this bike longer than 27 years.
  • 1 0
 How does it compare to an XC FS like the Epic Evo, for example?
  • 1 0
 Great first bike for my buddy Kurt.
  • 1 0
 A Shotgun goes great with this frame.
  • 1 0
 I love the Spesh Command Post reference in the background.
  • 2 1
 $2k is a value hardtail. Why is the bike industry failing agin?
  • 1 0
 Very interesting, especially for $1450 US
  • 1 0
 Is it Superboost?
  • 3 0
 No, standard 12 x 148 boost.
  • 3 4
 @Saseba: in that case I’m out. Wheel can’t possibly be strong enough for my use.
  • 3 0
 @speed10: I hear you, also the rims are not even 36 spoke so why bother
  • 3 0
 @Uuno: plus a hardtail without cushcore and double downs is gonna pinch flat hitting a curb even at 40psi - total horse scat
  • 1 0
 @speed10: truth. A smart “upgrade” spec for some brand to include on their HCHT. It took me two busted wheels to realize this is the way.
  • 6 9
 The looks might be a shotgun blast to the face, but there's something in the way of it angles that I still like.
  • 2 5
 Smells like Tame Spirit
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