The reach-stack balance I mentioned before is equally important here, and the cockpit changes continue to set things in the right direction. Raising your bars doesn't fix everything though, so expect a riding position that is hard over the front, except perhaps on the smallest couple of sizes. That front-heavy weight bias has upsides and downsides, the former of which manifests in solid grip on that front wheel, so long as you're committed.
The downsides are a little more plentiful, as it can be hard to find the right balance point on the Darco. I think the relatively short chainstays (per the long reach) have a lot to do with this, as it can be hard to feel like your weight is in the right place between the front and rear wheel at times, making for a slightly sketchy feeling ride. At times I found myself getting too deep over the front in corners, or too far off the back in repeated deep compressions. The disparity between front and rear travel probably plays a role too, so riding the Darco more like a hardtail can alleviate some of that confusion. That said, a hardtail is eminently predictable in the fact that the rear wheel never moves, where the Darco's back end is obviously a bit more mobile than that.
Luckily the kinematic on the Darco is fairly predictable, even though it moves through travel fairly easily. The high leverage allows the bike to break into travel very easily, providing great grip and a comfortable feel over small chattery terrain. Deeper through the cycle there's enough support for pumping and preloading jumps, without any weird movement or sudden spikes in the platform it provides. The Darco takes the edge off the biggest hits, though I found myself running into the end of travel with some frequency. The shock definitely handles things better with 2 or 3 (the maximum) volume spacers installed, so remember to experiment with that element if you're keen on the Darco life. It's okay to give that bottom-out bumper a workout, but the clunk at full bottom can be a bit disconcerting when you're pushing the bike hard.
The characteristics of the Darco may not be my daily bread and butter, but they do handle certain terrain very well. In Bellingham, I found the most fun when riding the Darco on high speed flow trails, which are plentiful in our area. In those settings, the long reach and slack head angle add a ton of stability, and the short rear end matters a bit less as you're not fighting for traction or balance in the corners, instead just leaning the bike and looking ahead. The predictable nature of the back end feels great on jumps, and the quiet nature of the frame keeps rattle to a minimum.
I spend a lot of time in Squamish aboard the Darco as well, and despite its shortcomings it's definitely a bike you can push. Steep lines and rock rolls are aided by the solid rear-wheel grip, and although the front and rear don't feel terribly balanced together, you're not thinking about that when all you're doing is aiming for a catch pocket at the bottom of a slab.
Overall the ride is certainly unique, and I can appreciate that in a world where many bikes can feel the same. If I were to buy a Darco for myself, I'd certainly go with the next size down, as the M/L is far more in keeping with my typical fit preferences. The team at Chromag, as well as their fit chart, were quite certain the Large was the size for me, but I think the über-long reach isn't the ticket for the type of riding I like to do.