High-pivot bikes designs are making a comeback at the moment, and Canadian manufacturer Devinci have joined the idler pulley party with their new budget-oriented enduro bike. Released in memory of DH legend and Devinci team rider Stevie Smith, we revved up the Chainsaw to find out if it does justice to its namesake.
For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: North America’s Finest – 7 models in review
Most of you should be familiar with Canadian brand Devinci Bikes. The Quebec-based manufacturer is mainly known for their Downhill World Cup team, which once included Canadian DH legend Stevie “Chainsaw” Smith, who secured several World Cup victories and won the overall title in 2013, before his untimely death. Alongside their popular downhill, enduro and trail bikes, Devinci also have several gravel and road models in their portfolio. Devinci Bikes was founded in 1987 in Quebec, and they still manufacture most of their models there, including the new Chainsaw. Needless to say, the Chainsaw relies on an alloy frame and is available in both a DH and an enduro version. We tested the latter, which rolls on 29″ wheels and generates 170 mm of travel front and rear. For this tribute bike, Devinci employ a high-pivot suspension design, which positions the main pivot far above the top of the chainring, allowing the rear wheel to swing up, backwards and away from obstacles as the suspension compresses. Our Chainsaw GX Enduro test bike in size M weighs 16.3 kg and retails at CAD 4,799, which is the equivalent of about € 3,265. If you want to buy one, you’ll have to be very patient or fly to Canada and get it there, as the Chainsaw isn’t available in Europe for the time being.
The Devinci Chainsaw GX Enduro in detail
It’s pretty clear that the Devinci Chainsaw GX Enduro focuses on trail performance rather than looks. The alloy tubes are connected by chunky weld seams, which the paint shop didn’t even try to hide. The cables are routed internally, disappearing into the frame through the head tube, only to reappear briefly at the transition from the main frame to the swingarm. The idler pulley that supports the high pivot suspension is completely enclosed by a plastic cover, which doubles as a chain guide and keeps the worst of the dirt off the idler pulley – and your right trouser leg will be thankful too! An additional guide under the chainring keeps the chain in check, wrapping it tightly around the chainring. An extensive protector on the chainstay and seat stay prevents chain slap and paint chips, while a short TPU plate on the down tube fends off stray rocks. Unfortunately, the Chainsaw doesn’t come with a tool mount, meaning that you can’t attach your Trail essentials directly to the bike.
The Devinci Chainsaw makes it clear that it focuses on trail performance rather than looks.
The spec of the Devinci Chainsaw GX Enduro
The Devinci Chainsaw Enduro is available in two spec variants – SX and GX. The GX version we tested relies on RockShox suspension consisting of a ZEB Rush RC fork and Super Deluxe Select R shock. The fork relies on a basic Rush RC damper, which is less responsive than its high-end Charger 3 counterpart, while the shock has only one external adjustment, for the rebound damping. The TranzX dropper post only has a meagre 150 mm of travel, significantly restricting freedom of movement on the bike. As thesuffix suggests, shifting is taken care of by a 12-speed SRAM GX drivetrain, while SRAM G2 RE four-piston brakes with 200 mm rotors do stopping duties. That said, the G2 brakes lack power, so we recommend upgrading to more powerful brakes, like SRAM’s CODE RSC stoppers. For the cockpit, Devinci combine a V2 Pro stem and 800 mm Race Face Aeffect 35 alloy handlebars. Race Face also supply the AR30 alloy wheelset, which is paired with a 29 x 2.5” MAXXIS Minion DHF front tire in the hard MaxxTerra rubber compound and puncture-prone EXO+ casing. and a Minion DHR II tire in the robust DoubleDown casing and soft MaxxGrip compound at the rear. We recommend upgrading to a more robust front tire with tougher Doubledown casing and softer MaxxGrip compound for more traction. While you’re at it, you could replace the rear tire with one with a slightly more hard-wearing compound such as the MaxxTerra, which ensures less rolling resistance and a longer service life. The DHR II actually works pretty well as a front tire too, so you could try sticking it on the front and just buying a new rear tire to save some cash.
Devinci Chainsaw GX Enduro
Fork RockShox ZEB Rush RC 170 mm
Rear Shock RockShox Super Deluxe Select R 170 mm
Seatpost TranzX Dropper 150 mm
Brakes SRAM G2 RE 200/200 mm
Drivetrain SRAM GX Eagle 1x12
Stem V2 Pro 40 mm
Handlebar Race Face Aeffect 35 780 mm
Wheelset Race Face AR30 29"
Tires MAXXIS Minion DHF MaxxTerra EXO+/Minion DHR ll MaxxGrip DD 2.5"/2.4"
Size S M L
Weight 16.3 kg
The geometry of the Devinci Chainsaw Enduro
The Devinci Chainsaw Enduro is available in four sizes, S to XL, offering a suitable size for riders between 160 cm and 198 cm tall. Although our test bike in size M combines a pretty average 435 mm seat tube and 469 mm reach, together with the short-travel dropper post they restrict freedom of movement on the bike, with the saddle getting in your way on steep descents. The chainstays length grows with the frame size in 5 mm increments and measures 430 mm in size M, which is on the short side. A flip-chip in the shock mount allows you to convert the Chainsaw into a mullet bike without altering the geometry.
The Devinci Chainsaw GX Enduro on the trail
As soon as you swing your leg over the saddle, the Devinci Chainsaw Enduro places you in a comfortable pedalling position that is perfectly suitable for long tours – albeit slightly rear-heavy on uphills. Although the front wheel always stays planted on the ground, we recommend pushing the saddle all the way forward to keep the front wheel tracking more efficiently, especially on very steep climbs. The idler pulley grinds noticeably while pedalling, and this together with the high system weight and rear-heavy position, makes for rather lacklustre climbing performance.
Tuning tip: Tires with softer MaxxGrip rubber compound at the front | lower cockpit for more traction in open corners | more powerful brakes
When you turn its nose into the valley, the Chainsaw again puts you in a slightly rear-heavy riding position, giving you a sense of being on top of the bike, rather than integrated between the wheels. The Devinci Chainsaw tends to get a little bored on level ground and forces you to actively weight the front wheel to keep it tracking, especially in open corners and on loose terrain – the light front end coupled with the hard front tire and stiff, unresponsive fork cause the front wheel to slip away quite easily. To make up for this, you can remove a few spacers from under the stem to lower the front end, and upgrade to a tire with a softer rubber compound for more traction. The Chainsaw comes to life on steep descents, where it fully lives up to its name and legacy. The high front end conveys a pleasant feeling of security, encouraging you to hit steep rock slabs in relaxed fashion and to leave your fingers off the brakes that little bit longer, ploughing through nasty rock gardens and bombed-out trails without a second thought. As a result, the Devinci inspires huge amounts of confidence in fast trail sections, with the high-pivot suspension ironing out the trail under your feet. Despite the short chainstays, the Chainsaw requires a fair amount of physical effort to thread through narrow trails and swing the bike around tight corners.
On steep descents, the Chainsaw lives up to its name and inspires tons of confidence.
Our conclusions about the Devinci Chainsaw GX Enduro
The Devinci Chainsaw Enduro follows in the footsteps of one of the greatest riders of all time. The alloy frame with the massive weld seams ensures a solid yet rather rough look. On level ground, the suspension feels vague and struggles to generate traction at the front wheel, and as a result, the Chainsaw only comes to life on steep descents. On slow, narrow Trail sections, the Chainsaw requires great physical effort, while uphill, it’s one of the lazier climbers in our North America’s Finest showdown, held back by the choice of components.
- Confidence inspiring
- Quiet on descents
- Inconsistent spec
- Undefined fork struggles to generate traction at the front
- Requires great physical effort on narrow, technical trails
You can find out more about at devinci.com
The test field
For an overview of the test fleet head to North America’s Finest – 7 models in review
All bikes in test: Alchemy Arktos 150 (Click for review) | Chromag Lowdown 158 G2-Build (Click for review) | Devinci Chainsaw GX Enduro | Kona Process X CR (Click for review) | Norco Sight C2 (Click for review) | Transition Carbon Patrol X0 AXS (Click for review) | We are One Arrival 170 GX AXS (Click for review)
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Words: Mike Hunger Photos: Julian Lemme