Now that most brands are all caught up on updating their long-travel 29ers, it seems the mid-travel models are having a bit of a renaissance. To list a few big-name releases, this year saw a new Ibis Ripley, a new Trek Fuel EX, and a new Santa Cruz Tallboy. The latest addition to that list comes from Devinci, with an all-new Django. A brand known for its clean lines, and progressive leverage curves, Devinci rarely releases a bike that doesn’t surprise us. And for a category that often steers for the middle of the road, surprises in mid-travel 29ers are hard to come by. The new Django did not disappoint.
The Django still runs on 120 millimeters out back and 140 up front. Though nothing new, that alone is enough to set it apart. We associate an extra 20 millimeters of front travel with aggressive bikes like the Yeti SB130. Same goes for the Django’s spec across the board of Minion DHF front tires and 35-millimeter inner-width rims. The rest of the bike, though, takes about a half step back from the edge. The 66.5-degree head angle (in the low position) and the 1217-millimeter wheelbase on the large are just aggressive enough to compliment the travel, but aren’t the kinds of numbers that are trying to surpass it. Same goes for the complete lineup’s spec of Fox 34 forks and its complete lack of DPX2 shocks. It has the makings, in a good way, of a normal bike.
But get it out on the trail, and “normal” doesn’t do it justice. It’s a Devinci, after all. What I thought “it’s a Devinci” meant was that it had an unrelentingly progressive leverage curve. The previous generation Devinci Troy proved that to me first. My personal (and now discontinued) Devinci Marshiall proved it further. But this bike isn’t that simple. As I do whenever testing a new and unfamiliar bike, I went on my first ride without looking up the travel or geometry numbers. It’s like going into the movie without watching any trailers. You have no preconceived notions clouding your judgement. Problem is, my judgement was already clouded. I had the preconception that most bikes in this category tends to notch up their attitude a little every year. I had in my mind the possibility that the new Django may have gone to 130 millimeters of travel. And also, there’s my experience that Devincis have sometimes been progressive enough to feel like they’ve got less travel than they advertise until you really need to use it. So, given how well the Django floated that day, I wondered if there was more squish than there used to be.
But of course, there wasn’t. That would have put it too close to the Troy 29. And regardless, it’s not that kind of bike. That’s why I pull back from calling it “normal.” That feeling that this was a 130 bike was inspired by its small-bump sensitivity. It swallows chatter better than the previous-generation Django. But it’s got its same support when pumping and pedaling. Just like the feeling that I fell in love with on my 110-millimeter Marshall, the Django is aimed at people who want that sensation. That’s why it’s got a 140-millimeter fork. As on any bike with significantly more front travel than rear, I found I was able to lean forward a bit if I needed a little more floatation. But when I wanted to pull up or break the rear end loose, I had close control over what was happening behind the bottom bracket.
That’s not to say I’d call it a thrasher bike like the Evil Following, or the bike that so surprised us in this past Tucson Bible, the Fuji Rakan. At least, not in the extra large size I rode. The Django makes the all-too-rare choice of matching chainstay length with frame size. My test bike has a 445-millimeter rear center. The large has a 440. Paired with the extra front travel. It made the Django more capable than a 120-millimeter bike ought to ride when I was taking it places it ought not to.
Sizes medium and below get 435-millimeter chainstays. That’s relatively short when you consider that the Django has enough room for a 2.6-inch tire. More to the point, it’s got enough room to advertise that it’s got room for it. It specs a 2.4 WT Aggressor, but given the 35-millimeter rims, I feel like the bike deserves something more voluminous. And Devinci went to some great lengths to achieve that clearance. Or, more accurately, they went to great widths. The new Django uses super-boost spacing. We took some jabs at the Troy 29 for running super boost while boasting only average tire clearance. But that bike was theoretically compatible with a non-super-boost crank. The Django is super boost only. It’s a love-it-or-hate it thing, but there are fewer and fewer reasons to hate it. Most major hub manufacturers offer a 157-spaced option, and now Shimano is on board with making a super-boost crank. But if that doesn’t convince you, or if you’re opposed to it on a philosophical level, remember this isn’t the first time something like this has happened, and it definitely won’t be the last.
Another way to look the Django’s use of super boost is as evidence of how cutting-edge the bike is. There are a number of other design updates that prove the thought that Devinci put into it. The rocker plate pivot bolts enter from behind the plates themselves. But you can access the bolts from right where you normally would, unthreading them from outside in. Similarly, the chainstay / rocker plate pivot bolts are tucked behind as well. That junction on the Django is smooth and flush. It looks almost organic. And on top of that, Devinci relocated the flip-chips to the shock’s lower eyelet. Beyond making it possible for Devinci to get that clean-looking pivot, it makes for a more robust flip chip with fewer parts.
The flip chips offer a half a degree in adjustment, allowing you to steepen the head angle up to 67 degrees. But more exciting is that, even in the low position, the seat angle is 77.4 degrees or a whopping 77.9 (measured on a medium). It should be mentioned that Devinci measures seat angles in a way that most riders will end up slightly slacker than the claimed numbers, but I really do mean slightly. Regardless, seeing a number even close to that on a bike with such moderate travel is impressive. Given that the Django doesn’t sink you deep behind the back wheel, those numbers make it one of the most comfortable and efficient bikes I’ve ridden for laying down a lot of power for a long time.
All this gets even more impressive when you consider the price points that are available. You can get a Django all the way down to $2,700, and that still gets you a Fox 34 fork with the good-for-the-price Rhythm damper, a DPS rear shock and NX and SX Eagle drivetrain. The only shortcomings in the spec is that most builds come with SRAM’s Level brakes, which fall a bit short of this bike’s potential. Though it’s not a cheap thing to fix, it’s a compliment to the bike in a way. The fact that you’ll be able to out-ride the brakes on a bike with moderate travel and, by today’s standards, moderate geometry speaks to its unique balance of capability and practicality. It gives the Django a versatility that few bikes have, regardless of travel range. But it definitely doesn’t make it anywhere near “normal.”
Review by BikeMag