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Devinci Dixon XP: a year in review

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After 10 months of abuse hammering the Devinci Dixon all over Europe it’s time to get the low-down on Jamie Darlow’s 2012 long-term test bike.

What attracted you to the Devinci Dixon XP in the first place?
“Fast, fun and forgiving”. That’s how bike tester Muldoon first described the Devinci back in the autumn of 2011. He’d ridden the Dixon at Whistler’s bike park and described a good bike that had the potential to become an amazing bike, with just a few geometry tweaks: it was oh-so-nearly there, and crying out for some experimental nip and tuck. So with a year of riding ahead of me, I knew it was my duty to try to get the most from this little Canadian prodigy.

Did you change anything straightaway?
Saddle: too narrow for my sit bones. Stem: too long. Tyres: too heavy and draggy.

Was the bike easy to set up?
Fox’s RP2 shock proved a doddle to get right — air in, sag set, twiddle the rebound. The front of the bike was tougher, though; so much so that I was still tinkering and fidgeting with the dials on my ride last week. The problem with the RockShox Revelation Dual Air is there are no instructions on how to get the most from the fork. Should I fill the negative chamber more than the positive? I still don’t know.

How did it ride?
Like an excitable spaniel. The Dixon is an absolute ripper on the descents, the 145mm of travel being as effective as most 160mm bikes I’ve tried. It feels very plush as the shock rips through its travel on every bit of every trail — that sounds like a criticism but this is where the Dixon’s charm lies. Importer Freeborn Bikes offered me a volume reducer to make the suspension ramp up more but I couldn’t bring myself to dampen the Dixon’s high spirits — it would be like giving the spaniel the snip-snip.

Did anything break or wear out?
Most notably, the paintwork — it’s coming off in flakes from around the bottom bracket and headset. I’ve also had some problems with the headset itself — I’m on my second and it’s wrecked again. I’m certain I haven’t over-tightened them, so perhaps the head tube hasn’t been faced properly and is throwing the whole thing out of line. I’ve also worn out one bottom bracket, two sets of brake pads, and both brakes need bleeding… in truth, the Avids have been squidgy since day one.

If you could change one thing about your longtermer, what would it be?
There’s nothing like a week’s riding in the Alps to expose weaknesses. The Devinci and I have just returned from Molini in Italy, an accelerated wear programme for bikes, where I put in as much time descending in one week as I’d usually manage in a year. Turning over the bike’s shortcomings in my head, only one element kept coming up: the Revelation fork. It took an absolute beating, providing traction and control most of the time, but it was out of its depth when things got really fast and rocky.

Would you buy this bike?
What, on a journalist’s pay?! Joking aside, by the time I’d got the Devinci how I wanted it — with a dropper seatpost, new tyres, handlebar and so on — the price wasn’t far off the £3,400 tag of the upspecced Devinci RC, which also gets a great FIT damped Fox fork and lightweight wheelset. It might sound as though I’m being snobby, but my honest opinion is that the Devinci RC is a better-value bike, and it’s the one I’d buy.
The Dixon XP — the bike I have here — also falls short in terms of value when compared with other bikes of its ilk: the brilliant Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Comp Evo, which we scored a perfect 10 in the Summer 2012 issue, comes with all the extra gubbins I installed on my bike and still comes in at a keen £2.5k.

Mbr rating: 8