Construction and Features
With the original Wilson, Devinci aimed to keep the center of gravity as low as possible in the frame, in order to make space for the shock it developed its distinctive low slung belly. Another thing kept low is the standover height, which should give you more space for your knees to move around when tipping it into a corner. Although it is mostly an aluminum frame, the seatstays are carbon, which is say to provide extra stiffness. The chainstays are alloy, and connected to a link that drives the shock. There's also a carbon bash plate under the down tube, which should protect it from even the largest flying rocks. Some geometry adjustment is available via the flip chip at the forward shock mount, providing 0.5° of head angle and 7mm of BB height adjustment. Mechanics will be delighted to find full external cable routing and a threaded BB. Other details include a straight 1.5" head tube, housing a zero stack headset and a 12 x 157mm rear axle.
Geometry & Sizing
Devinci offers both the 27.5 and 29" models in a full range of sizes from S-XL, but shorter riders might find that big rear wheel getting a bit too close to their own rear on steep terrain, which makes me question the usefulness of a size small. Also, at this point only the 29" bike has updated geometry with lengthened reach, among other things, so they really are quite different bikes. The reach goes from 430mm (all measurements in the high geometry setting) for the small to 490mm for the XL in 20mm increments, which should happily provide a size to fit everybody. The head tube length also changes between sizes, with the small and medium being 100mm, while the large and XL have 110mm head tubes. The head angle is slack at 62.5° and the chainstays are long at 458mm to balance out the long front center and provide front wheel grip without having to aggressively weight the front wheel. The BB sits 360mm from the ground, which isn't massively low but should help the bike move from corner to corner easier. All these numbers add up to a 1329mm wheelbase, which should be more than stable at speed. With the flip chip in the low position, the BB drops by 7mm to 353mm, so head angle slackens further to 62° and there are also several other small changes to reach, stack and wheelbase. Personally, I'm pleased to see modern geometry numbers so that I don't have to automatically drop every bike straight to the low position; I actually used this bike most of the time in the high setting, which may be a first for me.
Suspension Design The Wilson's suspension design maintains its original layout, but it's been tweaked for those larger wheels. While it can look complicated from the non-driveside with 'three swingarms' it is fairly simple. The main pivot is above the front chainring, and the bike works essentially as a single pivot. On the non-drive side, this main swingarm splits into two, but not on the driveside to leave space for the chain to pass through. This main carbon swingarm looks huge, but is fairly slim, partially to meet the Split Pivot at the rear axle.From the Split Pivot point, the alloy chainstay really works as a linkage to drive the shock. As the suspension compresses this long chainstay link pulls another short link that rotates around the bottom bracket and drives the shock via a yoke. The yoke is used to extend the shock's eye to eye length to get the damper in the correct position, and to prevent side-loading.
Riding Out of the gate the Wilson pedals well. It's a big machine, and felt longer than the Commencal Supreme DH despite the very similar numbers on paper. The Devinci is a little slacker, so the front wheel is a few centimeters further forward and the chainstay is longer at 460mm when static, but similar when sagged, both of which could cause this. The main reason for this bigger feeling can be put down to the more vertical axle path on the Devinci. This makes you want to lean back (and your hands move further away from you) more as the bike goes into its travel, whereas on the Supreme I felt I could always stand in a central position.Taking the Wilson on back to back runs with the Intense M29 showed this bike was more of a plow bike than the sporty American. The Wilson carved corners slightly better, but was less responsive on short and sharp turns, where it wanted to sit into its travel more. On modern downhill tracks and bike parks, those short and sharp corners appear to be few and far between, and the Devinci was slightly more comfortable in terms of straight trucking.I don't want to call the Wilson sluggish, as that makes it sound bad, but out of all the 29" downhill bikes of the last twelve months, this was the longest and slowest responder. Whether or not this is a good or bad thing is down to the style of the rider and location, but if you want to go fast with the least effort on big alpine downhills this is a top choice. In search of something nimble and responsive for two-minute UK tracks? Look elsewhere.Slowing down was the biggest challenge faced with the Wilson. It was difficult to uncover what was causing this, but the neutral anti-rise and fairly high levels of anti-squat could be to blame – under hard braking the bike really started to pitch forwards and take pressure off the rear tire.Small bump sensitivity was great, and it had really good bottom-out resistance on bigger hits. It is nice for a 29" downhiller to come with the full 200mm travel up front and slightly more at the rear with 204mm. I found the Wilson to have a good balance of stiffness and compliance. The older bike was notorious for being extremely stiff, so perhaps Devinci have worked on this aspect of the frame construction, or the bigger wheels and the straight pull, non-crossing spokes of the RaceFace Vault wheelset gave that bit of give and traction when traveling across angled and rough camber.
RaceFace SixC 35mm handlebar: I have said this before, but I still don't like this oversize carbon handlebar. It's really stiff and beats up my hands and forearms.
RockShox Boxxer: This fork is fantastic and simple to set up. I'm currently justfavoring this over the Fox 49 and it seems to hold up higher in its travel and complies more in situations where it really matters, like turning through rocky sections.
RockShox Super Deluxe: I'm not sure if the bike or the shock manufacturers are to blame, but this was the second bike (Intense M29 had the same problem) where I couldn't reach the rebound adjuster; miniature fingers or some needle-nose plier would just work.