French-Canadian Devinci Bikes has been around for just over 25 years. It's a name that's synonymous with high-quality bike production in Canada but it's a relatively new brand in the UK, although their mountain bikes already attract a strong following. If the Leo SL is anything to go by, their road bikes deserve a lot more attention too. I rode a Leo on a pass conquering trip in the Pyrenees last year and was extremely impressed. This is the new version of the same bike. The frame is raced by many Canadian pro riders.
Devinci describes the Leo SL as “where professional racing machine meets a guaranteed for life Gran Fondo winner”. For the technically minded, its carbon monocoque lay-up uses a mix of Grafil HR40, Torayca T700 SC and M30 SC fibres bonded with high-strength epoxy resin and finished with a carbon nano powder additive.
Each frame size has its own mould and Devinci describes the manufacturing technique as 'Dual Core Fusion' technology. It's a method that uses collected data from the road and the rider to create a chassis that has a perfect blend of compliance for comfort and stiffness for power transfer... not exactly a unique approach but, if our initial impressions on last year's bike are anything to go by, Devinci have certainly gone slightly further than many of their rivals to combine an enticing mix of minimum weight, maximum comfort, great stability and impressive drive power. However, we've just started riding this new Leo so we'll reserve further judgement until after the full test period.
In purely practical and talking-point aesthetics terms, the Leo mainframe has a tapered head tube with a quality integrated Cane Creek headset that helps to keep the front low despite a fairly long head tube: there's nearly 50mm of bar height adjustment potential via the either-way-up 5 degree stem and steerer washer stack.
The massively profiled asymmetrical down tube, seat tube and chain stays all flare into the bulbous BB86 bottom bracket section, and there's loads of room between the stays for much bigger tyres than the 23mm Mavic Aksions fitted.
The seat stays are very slim near the dropouts but generously supported where they flow into the seat tube juncture, and we like the way the double slotted seat clamp closes without obvious crimp points. The standover clearance is very generous too. All the 'tube' profiles are, as per usual, said to combine low weight with vertical compliance and lateral stiffness in the upper frame core and massive torsional stiffness and sharp handling in the lower core. That's where Devinci's 'Dual Core Fusion' tag comes from.
The less structural frame detailing is well worth a mention too. Internal routing for the gear and rear brake cables is easy to access at both the enter and exit points, with almost invisible routing recessed under the bottom bracket shell, plus access points for electronic gear wiring where necessary. The front gear mech is of the adjustable bracket type and there are two lots of bottle bosses. There's also a polished bash-plate attached to the underside of the right hand chainstay to stop a jammed-up chain from damaging the carbon.
The Leo also gets Devinci's top of the range Super Leggera fork, constructed from the same carbon composite mix as the frame, including a carbon steerer and dropouts. The straight blades are aero profiled and our experience of last year's bike was that it has surprisingly good vibration damping characteristics.
The frame geometry on our large test bike is 73.5 degrees at the seat and 73 at the head. Smaller bikes get a steeper seat angle and a slacker head angle. Horizontal top tube length on a large frame is 560mm. There are other bikes available with the same frame but the SL K gets a full Shimano Ultegra 6700 groupset with 52/39 chainrings and an 11 to 28 tooth cassette, Mavic Aksium wheels, Easton's EC70 shallow carbon bar, an EA70 alu' stem, a Selle Italia SLS saddle on a Monolink seat post and Velo Supersoft bar tape.
Full road test to follow soon.