With all of the above noted, it’s clear what Devinci have designed the Wilson Carbon SL for—speed. On the first ride there were even a couple of situations where the bike's quick handling and ease of acceleration caught me off guard—all it wants to do is go fast, so buckle in and be ready.
The Wilson accelerates out of corners with ease and demands to be ridden with a dominant, aggressive stance. This can also be attributed to the stiff frame, which requires some man-handling in order to keep it under control. The bike is incredibly spry, making for a very energetic ride, however, it can be a little stiff for a lighter rider looking to do a couple of lazy laps. Wet roots and slick rocks are when this is especially noticeable, with the bike tending to deflect off obstacles a little more than with similar bikes. However, it did hook up in the dirt easily and get back on track very quickly in most situations.
|The Wilson Carbon is built for speed and all it wants to do is go fast, so buckle in and be ready.|
Similar to its quick acceleration out of corners, I found the Wilson to continually propel down-trail, gaining speed off even the smallest of features in the terrain. The suspension did a remarkable job of holding momentum over rough sections of trail, remaining high in its travel until a larger hit forced it deeper into its stroke. Thankfully, such a situation rarely slowed it down much either, as the bike pushed ahead with poise, ready for what lay ahead. It was easy to pick up, and when placed into even the smallest of backsides it continued to find free speed.
These quick yet controlled handling characteristics made it an easy bike to jump. Add the fact that it does such a fantastic job of keeping momentum down the trail and coming up a little short suddenly means less than with others. The stiff frame is noticeable here also, with the bike remaining composed, rather than flexing excessively under such pressure.
I did find that during riding scenarios where things were getting a little more ragged, and employing more body English was required, the wide rear of the bike tended to interfere with my foot. A rub and a scuff would be fine, but in these situations the stays were hooking onto my heel, which, when the suspension is going through its travel and your weight is compressing to maintain position on the bike, can be disconcerting. The rubber protection on the stays does a great job of protecting the frame, but that's no good when the rider is having their foot knocked from position during already intense periods.
Tight sections of trail or even tighter corners, like those found on trails such as Ninja Cougar in the WBP, are a treat to ride on this bike. In fact, I would go as far to say that I’ve not ridden a downhill bike that's as maneuverable on a trail like this, even when considering that it is on the smaller side of current bikes in my size. The progressive curve to the suspension was a big part of this and also made for a bottomless feel during bigger hits—there was never a situation where the bike made it abundantly clear that the bottom of the travel had been reached.
The RockShox suspension front and rear was perfectly balanced once setup for my weight. I did have to drop to a lighter spring than the supplied 450lb on the XL frame, but it was easy enough to do. The lively ride will track to the terrain perfectly, but the Wilson is certainly no plow bike, despite it successfully getting me through several situations where the last resort was to loosen up and hope the bike would pull me through. Traction under braking is great; in fact, it's so good that it's possible to unweight over rougher sections on the entrance to corners and still slow down in time for the next turn, completely composed and in total control.
On the trail the Wilson was nearly silent even when rat-bagging it down through sections of trail littered with rocks and roots. This silent nature made it especially apparent when a rock had flung up into the skid plate, with the carbon plate making a loud 'ting' sound whenever contact is made. The first time it happened it caused legitimate concern, but once I realized that it was the guard doing its job, it became less of an issue. Nevertheless, it’s loud.
The attachment for the shock extension (yoke) to the shock itself came loose only a handful of runs into the first ride. Devinci took a look at this during Crankworx and noted that some of the earlier models had a bolt with this issue. They said that after the initial tighten everything had been staying tight and secure, but they went ahead and updated the bolt in the test frame, and it never came loose again.
Stock with Chromag BZA 35mm Bar & Stem. The DH-specific 7-speed SRAM X01 drivetrain was faultless.
• SRAM Guide Ultimates: The Guide Ultimates affixed to the Wilson Carbon provided plenty of stopping power and felt fantastic at all times, with no loss of power or change in feel, even after top to bottom runs in the bike park.
• Schwalbe Magic Mary tires: The Magic Mary tread has become a legend in a matter of years, at least in this part of the world. In deep soil and other trails that consisted of good dirt, the Magic Mary’s performed exceptionally, but to be honest, on the generally hard over loose of the Whistler Bike Park, there are better options if all-out traction is your goal. Nevertheless, they are a great tread that didn’t do anything unexpected.
• Chromag BZA Bar/Stem: Devinci spec a number of their bikes with quality Chromag components and the Wilson Carbon SL was no different, with a set of Chromag’s BZA 35mm bars and direct mount stem in place up front. I found the rise of the bar too low for someone that would be riding an XL and swapped them out for the duration of the test.
• Easton Havoc Wheels: The Havoc wheels have come some way over the years and the newer models seem to ride more firm footed than my experience with them in the past. There were no issues with the hubs during testing and the wheels remained straight with little need for a spoke key during my time on Wilson.
• SRAM X01 7 Speed: The DH-specific 7-speed drivetrain performed flawlessly, and I never found myself wishing for more gears. Shifting was light and accurate, making quick changes in stressful moments a piece of cake.
|If racing the clock is the name of the game it would be hard not to consider the Devinci Wilson. The bike means serious business and should be ridden by those that feel the same way. The frame and suspension design make for a really exciting ride, although it is a lot to handle and can be quite harsh under a lighter rider, or one looking to play about. However, bigger or aggressive riders will greatly appreciate this. Riders may find that they need to size up to get a Wilson Carbon that fits, but if you can, it's an exceptional bike for the rider looking to push the limits. -AJ Barlas|
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