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2021 Devinci Kobain SLX 12-Speed Bike

Vital Rating: (Excellent)
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Kobain SLX
2021 Devinci Kobain SLX 12-Speed Bike 2021 Devinci Kobain SLX 12-Speed Bike 2021 Devinci Kobain SLX 12-Speed Bike 2021 Devinci Kobain SLX 12-Speed Bike 2021 Devinci Kobain SLX 12-Speed Bike 2021 Devinci Kobain SLX 12-Speed Bike 2021 Devinci Kobain SLX 12-Speed Bike 2021 Devinci Kobain SLX 12-Speed Bike
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Need more info? View our Cross Country Mountain Bikes or Trail Mountain Bikes buyer's guides.

Made in Canada, Ready for the Trail - Devinci's $1,699 Kobain Hardtail

Seasoned riders, hardtail junkies, and newcomers will all find something to love in the Devinci Kobain

Rating: Vital Review
Made in Canada, Ready for the Trail - Devinci's $1,699 Kobain Hardtail

Today's full-suspension trail bikes are versatile, refined pieces of equipment. With blithe disregard, riders can approach ribbons of dirt all over the world on a single bike. What if we took a magic eraser and rubbed out that rear shock and pivots? If we left only the geometry and components attached to a rigid alloy frame, what would we have? Meet the new Devinci Kobain — simple, cost-effective, and heralding tidings of endless woodland fun. Vital has been rediscovering the roots of mountain biking in this wave of hardtail trail bikes and sought to find out if the Kobain makes good on its pledge or if the hype is just hype.

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Highlights

  • 6061-T6 Aluminum frame
  • 29-inch wheels
  • 2.6-inch Maxxis Minion DHF/DHR tires
  • Marzocchi Z2 - 130mm (5.1-inches) fork travel (as tested)
  • Tapered headtube
  • External cable routing
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Canadian-made frame
  • Threaded bottom bracket with ISCG05 mounts
  • Boost 148 rear spacing with 12mm through axle
  • Measured weight (size Med, no pedals): 30.5 pounds (13.8kg)
  • MSRP $1,699 USD (as tested)

Strengths

  • Trail-ready geometry
  • Loves to corner
  • Stable at speed
  • Durable build specs
  • Competitively priced

Weaknesses

  • Brakes lack power
  • Not light

Devinci did a full redesign of the Kobain for 2021. Only the fact that it is an alloy hardtail carries over from the prior model. 29-inch wheels, a completely new frame, and two build options sustain the Kobain name. Devinci also dropped the internal cable routing of the former model, the 2021 models use external routing. The Kobain frame also happens to be made in Canada, something in which we took great delight.

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Our test bike was the SLX 12S build but truly, in name only. Yes, there is an SLX rear derailleur but there ends the Shimano SLX parts. The remainder of the drivetrain is Shimano Deore and brakes are Shimano's MT4100 single-pistons. The MT4100s did their job well enough, but are well below Deore, much less SLX. We won't beat up Devinci any more on the specifics of the build because despite the model name, the value proposition of the parts is arguably better than the Specialized Fuse and can contend with the Canyon Stoic (despite its consumer-direct advantage.)

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Riders wanting to save some money can grab the Kobain Deore 11S for $1,299 US. As the name implies, riders will get the 11-speed Shimano drivetrain with the suspension fork swapping to a RockShox 35 Silver.

Devinci Kobain Deore 11S - $1,299

Geometry

As we noted, the 2021 Kobain is a departure from the prior model. Wave goodby to the 27.5+ tires and swamp-buggy appeal. This is 2021 and getting buck-nasty on hardtails is the style de jour. In Vital's ROOST questionnaire, respondents grasped for modern geometry over modern suspension when given the choice. Devinci's Kobain throws (rear) suspension to the wind but delivers a 65.5-degree head angle and 75-degree seat angle. Our medium test bike had a low 420mm seat tube and appropriate 445mm reach. 435mm chainstays keep the rear wheel in one position.

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Setup

Marzoochi's 130mm Bomber Z2 is tasked with suspension duties and setup was a matter of setting the recommended air pressure and preferred rebound speed.

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Devinci specced the Kobain with the classic Maxxis DHF/DHR tire combination. Flirting with the edge of plus-sized, the 29x2.6 WT tires on 29mm internal width rims did their best to deliver on-trail traction. Because the tires were stuffed with tubes (not tubeless) we kept air pressure a tad higher, in the 27-PSI range. The only thing worse than losing grip is flatting.

The 780mm Race Face AEffect bars were a natural fit for our medium tester but those with wider wing spans may be looking for wider bars to match. In general, the full setup and arrangement of the Kobain was immediately comfortable. Devinci's revised hardtail felt like a welcoming place to perch for a nice, long ride.

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On The Trail

Once set up, we grabbed our full kit and made haste for the nearest double black at the local bike park. No, that did not happen. Our Kobain did see its share of rocks but those were at a slight distance, beneath the bike, as we floated overhead. Hardtail hooligan riding isn't about teeing up that line or going KOM hunting (the latter is best avoided altogether). To us, the Kobain was like summer camp — a chance to ditch the crutches of our super bikes and bare to all our shortcomings as riders, reveling in every minute of it.

We very much appreciated the Kobain's geometry once on the trail. Despite the bike's lack of suspension, it did have a familiar feel and allowed for questionable decision making followed by cackles of relief when we survived them. Running the bike through rocky sections validated Devinci's choice in geometry. The Kobain stayed composed during many of our forays into chatter-town. Without a doubt, the Kobain has a very stable feel at speed, handling much longer than its 1191mm wheelbase would indicate.

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Cornering the Kobain has an intuitive feel, tracking exceptionally well. Our body position stayed neutral, allowing proper weight to the front wheel, much as we would on bikes that would eagerly ruin our Mastercard bill. Though not as buttery as the Z1, our 130mm Z2 worked exceptionally well as our sole source of suspension. Pushing the Kobain into steeper, diving berms is an absolute treat. Riders will feel right at home pushing on the front and propelling out of the exit.

Climbing the Kobain is best done in one of two executions. Riders can shift low and spin it out, maybe take in some scenery or compose a grocery shopping list. Alternatively, the Kobain is also happy when you stand up and drop the hammer, making short work of those punches on trail. Both of them are "productive" ways to accomplish a climb, it's a no-lose situation.

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The last ride aboard the Kobain before pushing this review was early on a Sunday morning. The dirt was frozen to a perfect consistency and the morning fog was heavy beneath a waking sun. Suited up, we blitzed from the garage to the trails and had what may be a perfect ride. We reveled in the simplicity of the Kobain and its ability to deliver all that is good about mountain biking.

Build Kit

As mentioned, the Kobain's build kit is on par with what riders should expect from an alloy framed hardtail in this price range. Already familiar with the robust quality of Shimano's Deore drivetrain, we have no trepidations here. More aggressive or experienced riders would likely perform a brake upgrade down the line for increased power.

Fork Performance

The Marzocchi Z2 was without flaw during our test, offering a quality 130mm of travel, we see this as a long-term component of the Kobain with no need to upgrade.

Tire Performance

Even though our tires were the standard EXO casing, they were still 29x2.6-inches. That's a lot of paw on the ground, delivering a lot of traction. Riders that see more wet conditions like the Devinci crew enjoy out east will greatly appreciate these tires. Desert rats, especially in the winter, may revel in narrower rubber for faster rolling speeds.

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Brake Performance

Much like our Deore brakes did early on in testing, the Shimano MT4100 brakes on our bike had a nasty pad rattle when bouncing around in the garage. Maybe we were laughing too loudly during our rides, but this noise was not present on the trail.

Long-Term Durability

Devinci offers a lifetime warranty on this frame. With aggressive frame lines and matching geometry, this bike is made to rally hard for many years to come. In testing, there were no red flags in the parts or finish quality.

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What's The Bottom Line?

A bike like the Kobain is pretty intriguing to us as it can play to a variety of audiences. The seasoned bikaholic can easily justify adding the Kobain to the quiver as an alternate trail bike, ready for any kind of mission. Diehard hardtail enthusiasts should rejoice in the updated model and all of its trimmings. Finally, newcomers to our sport can have a true, trail-ready steed that can take a beating while lasting more than one season (or multiple for that matter.) Regardless of where riders may be on the MTB spectrum, if you've made it this far in the review, there's probably a place for the Kobain in the garage.

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Visit www.devinci.com for more details.

Vital MTB Rating

  • Climbing: 4 stars - Excellent
  • Descending: 4.5 stars - Outstanding
  • Fun Factor: 4 stars - Excellent
  • Value: 4 stars - Excellent
  • Overall Impression: 4 stars - Excellent



About the Tester

Brad Howell- Age: 41 // Years Riding: 26 // Height: 5'9" (1.75m) // Weight: 165-pounds (74.8kg)

Brad started mountain biking when a 2.25-inch tire was large, and despite having threads, bottom brackets sucked. Riding in the woods with friends eventually lead way to racing, trying to send it at the local gravel pits, and working in bike shops as a wrench to fix those bikes. Fortunate enough to have dug at six Rampages and become friends with some of the sport’s biggest talents, Brad has a broad perspective of what bikes can do and what it means to be a good rider. The past few years Brad worked in the bike industry and got to see the man behind the curtain. These days, though, he just likes riding his bike in the woods with friends.

Specifications

Product Devinci Kobain SLX 12-Speed Bike
Model Year 2021
Riding Type Cross Country, Trail
Rider Unisex
Sizes and Geometry
S, M, L, XL View Geometry
Size S M L XL
Top Tube Length 586mm 614mm 641mm 674mm
Head Tube Angle 65.5° 65.5° 65.5° 65.5°
Head Tube Length 95mm 105mm 115mm 125mm
Seat Tube Angle 75.0° 75.0° 75.0° 75.0°
Seat Tube Length 390mm 420mm 445mm 490mm
Bottom Bracket Height 319mm 319mm 319mm 319mm
Chainstay Length 435mm 435mm 435mm 435mm
Wheelbase 1162mm 1191mm 1220mm 1255mm
Standover 723mm 723mm 738mm 768mm
Reach 420mm 445mm 470mm 500mm
Stack 620mm 629mm 638mm 648mm
Wheel Size 29"
Frame Material Aluminum
Frame Material Details 6061-T6 aluminum optimum G04 tubesets
Rear Travel Hardtail
Rear Shock N/A
Fork Marzocchi Z2 Rail Sweep Adjust, 44 offset
Fork Travel 130mm
Head Tube Diameter Tapered
Headset FSA Orbit, 1.5E, Zero Stack
Handlebar Race Face Aeffect R35, 35mm diameter x 20mm rise x 780mm width
Stem V2 Pro, 35mm clamp diameter x 50mm length x 0° rise
Grips Devinci Performance, lock-on
Brakes Shimano Deore M4100/MT410, 2-piston, with Shimano RT26 180mm rotors
Brake Levers Shimano Deore M4100/MT410
Drivetrain 1x
Shifters Shimano Deore M6100, 12-speed, I-SPEC EV
Front Derailleur N/A
Rear Derailleur Shimano SLX M7100, 12-speed
ISCG Tabs ISCG 05
Chainguide N/A
Cranks Shimano MT510
Chainrings 30 tooth
Bottom Bracket Shimano BB52, BSA threaded, 68/73mm
Pedals N/A
Chain Shimano Deore M6100, 12-speed
Cassette Shimano M6100, 12-speed, 10-51 tooth
Rims V2 Comp, 29mm inner, TR
Hubs Front: Formula DC-711, sealed, 6-bolt, 15mm x 110mm TA
Rear: Formula MST-148, sealed, 6-bolt, 12mm x 148mm TA, MICRO SPLINE
Spokes Sapim Stainless 14G with Nylok
Tires Front: Maxxis Minion DHF, 29"x2.6", WT/EXO/Dual Compound/TR
Rear: Maxxis Minion DHR II, 29"x2.6", WT/EXO/Dual Compound/TR
Saddle Devinci
Seatpost TranzX dropper with 1x lever
Travel: 150mm (S), 175mm (M), 200mm (L-XL)
Seatpost Diameter 31.6mm
Seatpost Clamp CNC alloy standard single bolt, 34.9mm
Rear Dropout / Hub Dimensions 148mm x 12mm Boost
Max. Tire Size 29" x 2.6"
Bottle Cage Mounts Yes
Colors Gloss Full Sand
Warranty Lifetime
Weight 30 lb 8.2 oz (13,840 g)
Miscellaneous Made in Canada
Front chainring clearance: 28-32 tooth
External cable routing
Updated geometry: longer reach, slacker head angle, and steeper seat-tube angle
Price $1,699
More Info

Devinci website

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