Descending Enduro Mode:
The Chainsaw doesn’t have one foot in because 62.9 degree is aggressive for a enduro bike and I dig it. Really, it’s built for the kind of rider that wants to retire their old school downhill bike and take advantage of all the trails on the mountain. They’ll still prioritize shuttling but with a dropper post and low gearing, getting off to push up the slightest incline won’t be necessary.
If you’re focusing on enduro racing specifically, I’d look towards the Spartan HP. The steeper head angle will respond quicker at lower speeds. With that said, the Chainsaw’s long front center doesn’t feel twitchy at speed and you can correct understeering through slippery corners as if time is slowed down. That will bring confidence for all types of riders in dusty berms and slimy roots.
Countering the negative climbing attributes about the Chainsaw, the descending qualities are top notch. The ride is buttery, quiet, and intuitive. Too much progression or wallowing wasn’t a worry, even with the air shock.
A cloud-like ride is controlled by the lengthy Super Deluxe shock. Often air shocks can have a tough time breaking into the travel smoothly and even taper off the support in the middle of the travel. That’s not the case on the Chainsaw. DH Mode:
I see a lot of riders on full-fledged DH bikes these days that wouldn’t dare sign up for a race and wonder if they’d be better off wielding a hopped-up freeride bike - one with a serious amount of travel that still comes unglued from the trail when directed - like a Chainsaw.
Hanging onto a bike in a downhill race can require serious weight shifts off the back of the bike. Switching out for the smaller rear wheel adds to the backside clearance for those huck-a-buck moments and helps the Chainsaw whip around corners even quicker.
Devinci advises that the fork bumpers contact the downtube. In the case of the RockShox Boxxer, this does limit the turning radius significantly. My concerns here were noticed when I tried to turn the bars and squash jumps or get sideways in the air - never in any corners you’d find on a downhill track, though.
A 50mm stem and 56mm offset was chosen for the Chainsaw DH. On bikes with head angles as slack as this one at 62.1 degrees (DH-mode), I’d prefer the shorter 46mm option that seems less detached from the steering input. A shorter stem would produce more intuitive steering. You’ll also lose 8mm of reach in DH-mode.
Switching out for the Super Deluxe Coil and an extra 10mm of travel is a subtle change. The air is impressively smooth, but the coil does give you a more linear feel through the mid-stroke. Basically, the bike rides a bit deeper and means you’ll have to yank harder to get the bike off the ground if no jumps are present.
I toyed with a 400 and 450 lb/in spring, seeing the benefits of both. Keeping one of each around different tracks or freeride days would be a sensible plan. On the softer side, I took advantage of the hydraulic bottom out dial on the Super Deluxe Coil and ran four fifths of the way closed. It’s enough to take the sting out of flattening the shock slower, whereas the air controls the end of the travel by ramping sooner and has a less mechanical feel.
After logging serious miles on the Chainsaw, there were a few talking points on the durability of the frame and servicing of the drivetrain.
The cable routing is ultra quiet and doesn’t wander as the suspension articulates. Similarly, the chain chatter is non-existent. I’d prefer to have a guide similar to what Norco placed on the Range - a slider that doesn’t put tension on the chain but still protects it.
I did have to keep an eye on the main rocker and seatstay pivot bolts. If this happens on a bike for review, I’ll let it go the first time around. On the second time around, I’ll fully clean the threaded bits and rebuild them accordingly. Luckily, a third occurrence didn’t happen but it’s worth keeping an eye on for the first few outings.