This is a break from our regular winter programming.  Under normal circumstances I would be telling you all about skiing powder and other shenanigans at Mt.Cain.  However, I am going to be aiming a little high this year, and am using last weeks adventures to create a magazine article which I plan to submit to various print publications to see how things go.  Regular programming will resume next week after my next Cain trip.  In the meantime, please enjoy this piece I wrote up in the summer for NSMB.com.  Happy New Year!

Riding the Wilson on Powerslave in Nelson.  Probably the ideal trail to try a DH bike on.  Yes, this is from the summer...

I have a long history with Devinci.  In 1992 I bought my very first top level mountain bike.  It was a Devinci – a red hard tail.  I think it may have been the only frame they made at the time.  I even took out my first ever loan to buy it.  That’s right – the first loan I ever had wasn’t for a car, or for school, it was for a mountain bike.  I was living in Quebec at the time, and had an “in” with a dealer through a friend.  I draped that red power wagon with all manner of top of the line components including a Manitou 1 fork, original XTR shifter pods, XT derailleurs and other various pieces of 90’s era bling.  I sold that bike about 5 years later when I upgrade to a Trek Y-33.  Not sure that was the best bike decision I’ve ever made…

The second Devinci I owned was an early 2000’s Ollie.  It was red – and that’s about the best thing I could say about it.  Admittedly the frame was too small for me, but what really got me was the fact that everytime I cornered hard it felt like the rear end was bending.  As an engineer, being able to grab the back tire of my bike and cause the frame to whip around with relatively minimal effort did not make me happy.  I ended up with a deal on a Scythe (and we all know how that went) and built the Ollie up with parts I could find cheap and  sold it to some kid in about three days.  I think I rode it all of five times.

Two summers ago in Nelson (where I spend at least a week each summer) I demo’d a Devinci Wilson – the 2009 version.  It still had a whippy back end, but at least it was the right size.  I came away more impressed than I had been with the Ollie, but still not too happy about the way the rear end flexed side to side.

Fast forward to this year, and lo and behold the Sacred Ride has a shiny white 2011 Wilson with a Fox 40 on it just begging to be ripped.  Well, too bad they gave it to me!  At least I can let you know how it felt!!

The Wilson at rest at my sisters house.  It looks fast standing still...

The Wilson I got to try out was a large, and definitely felt a bit too roomy for my liking.  This is a departure from my previous experience with Devinci’s.  Devinci bikes I have tried in the past always felt small compared to similarly designated models from other companies. In other words, a large Devinci felt like a medium Banshee.  This is no longer the case and if I were to demo one again or buy one, I would go with the medium.

Clean internal cable routing.  Yum!

The Wilson was decked out in reliable parts that I am very familiar with, so I was effectively able to ignore them.  Avid Elixir 3 brakes, X-7 rear mech and shifter pod, MTX rims on no name hubs and a hefty sprinkling of Truvativ cockpit components made for a solid build.  The rear shock was the Fox RC-4 which paired well with the Fox 40 fork.  The pedals were NRG branded flats with a bit of an “exo-grid” pattern to them and big meaty pins.  Husselfelt cranks, a Devinci labelled seat and Maxxis 2.5 Highrollers finished out the package.  I would guess that weight was in the high 30’s.

A close up of the shock mount.

I only had time to get out on two rides on the Wilson.  A night time jaunt to Mountain Station to hit up “Menage a Trois” and “Eli Sim” helped me get familiar with the bike.  Both trails are fast and flowy with mostly large diameter turns and nothing too crazy.  The next morning my sister dropped her husband and I off up Give-out Creek road where we pushed up to Bear’s Den (built by none other than Riley Mcintosh) and finished off with Mid Baller to High Baller to Placenta Descenta to Rise and Fry to Skier’s Right.  All told a solid 1 and a half to 2 hours of descending with everything from fast wide open berms to nasty rock gardens to tight linked corners through the trees.

Cockpit and toy trucks.

The first thing you notice about the Wilson is that it is long and low.  The bike tends to “wallow” at slow speeds and riding the brakes is a bit punishing.  Let it out a little, and the magic starts to happen.  This bike wants to go fast – very fast – scary fast.  I didn’t have the fitness or the balls to really wring the most out of the Wilson.  That long and low chassis isn’t the easiest to get to change direction at speed.  If you roll downhill at speed in a straight line you can really feel the “gyroscopic” stability of the spinning wheels.  However, with a bit of “pumping” through corners, it doesn’t take much to adjust your technique so as to not run into trees.  Unexpectedly, the Wilson is very easy to pop into the air.  I had no trouble lofting off of little lips and rollers and the bike was very stable when flying.  Over the few drops I hit, I very consciously tried to “scrub” my air, and the Wilson responded with aplomb.

Rolling!

I definitely would ride this bike again.  In fact, if I was in the market for a dedicated, world class level downhill race bike, the Wilson would be at or near the top of the list.  Fast, responsive, not incredibly heavy and a very solid feel combine for a bike that, at least on two rides, convinced me that it meant business.  Serious business…