There’s hardly a brand that doesn’t have a demo truck, or several demo trucks at this point. This has completely changed the opportunity for test rides. More and more, bike shops can be reticent to let people take a test ride beyond their parking lot, so hitting a demo day is often your best shot for checking out a bike on a real test ride.
I love them in part because it’s a chance to hear from company employees what riders are interested in independent of what shop staff may be steering them toward. It’s a way to find out if people are really asking for e-mountain bikes or if staff are just being told to push the Levo. Similarly, if the 29er is consistently returned late while the 27.5 model comes back after only a half hour, it tells you a bit about what people like on that terrain.
I recently went for a spin on the Devinci Django. This is the Canadian Manufacturer’s trail bike with 130mm travel front and 120mm travel rear, and it comes in two wheel sizes: 29 and 27.5. This is, for all practical purposes the bread and butter mountain bike of the day, or should be, in most places.
Breakaway Bikes here in Santa Rosa is a dealer and set up the demo, and had the Devinci demo truck show up right at one of the most popular trailheads in Annadel State Park. It reminded me of the crack dealer I encountered in New York’s Washington Square in 1985 who walked around singing, “Try—befo you buy.”
The Django comes in six builds—four that feature a carbon frame and two more with an alloy one; each of those builds comes in either wheel size. The builds range from $3099 at the low end to $6819 at the high. I rode the Django Carbon 29 GX. It features the aforementioned carbon frame, alloy chainstays and rocker, SRAM GX components, a Fox 34 Elite shock, Fox Float Series rear shock and SRAM components; it retails for $4249.
I went for the Django 29, because 29 is still king in that rocky park. You need the larger wheel amongst all the rock, whether you’re on the flat, climbing or watering your eyes on a descent.
The grail in modern mountain bike design is to create a full-suspension design that pedals well and still allows you to use all 130/120mm of travel without riding off the roof of a house. There are definitely some out there that use too much platform to make the bikes pedal well and as a result they end up riding like they only have 60mm of travel. Last year I rode a 120/120 design from a popular Southern California maker and loved how it pedaled. I told a buddy it climbed better than some 100mm cross country bikes. But the moment I went downhill on it, it bounced around like a beach ball.
With the Django, I could definitely tell I was pedaling a bike that was wide open; hit a rock as I was climbing and the saddle would sink a bit before the bike gathered itself and lurched on over. However, on most terrain, it just rolled right over, allowing me the feeling of riding on a surface much smoother than was really there.
So why did it pedal so well? That owes largely to the Split Pivot suspension design from Dave Weagle. It’s very supple over small terrain but becomes more progressive as the hits get bigger; Devinci is, after all a mountain bike company whose roots are in downhill.
I’m enamored with the Django because it performed in a way I’ve come to expect a good mountain bike to deliver on terrain I know. Heck I even set a PR on a section of one of my favorite trails. That surprises me because the trail is downhill and this bike had 10mm less travel in both the fork and the shock than I’m accustomed to riding there.