Tested: Devinci Marshall Deore
Smart spec and modern geometry with travel numbers and price tags meant to please everybody
-130mm rear travel, 140 front
-Split-pivot suspension design
-Canadian made aluminum
-Bulletproof component spec
-Doesn’t come tubeless ready
-Fork can’t keep up with the rest of the bike
Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
“Budget” is a subjective term, one that can vary between justifying a Tesla or a late 80’s Nissan Hardbody. Personally I prefer the latter. In regards to mountain bikes, sub-$3,000 full suspensions are universally accepted as “budget friendly,” and all the major players are trying to take a piece of that exploding market. Trickle down technology has made these price points the real “super bikes” of the mountain bike world. Devinci makes plenty of expensive rides for dedicated riders (like this Troy we tested in Ely, NV), but the Marshall 29 is the Canadian company’s newest in-house-manufactured platform. The Marshall 29 embodies Devinci’s ethos but at a price tag to appeal to the masses.
The Marshall has 130 millimeters of Split Pivot suspension with a 140mm fork on 29-inch wheels. Devinci uses a 210×50 trunnion spaced RockShox Monarch Select R Debonair shock with a lighter tune. This is arguably the most versatile travel combination for all around riding currently available. Enough to handle reasonably aggressive terrain, but not so much that it’s too mushy on the climbs. Anyway, Devinci didn’t include a lockout to help keep the price down.
The frame has some nice longevity and serviceability touches, like oversized pivot bearings and external cable routing on the topside of the downtube, with the exception of the dropper routing being internal. All of the cables have guides and slots for zip ties to keep everything secure and tidy. Not as tidy as internal routing, but without the carbon-fiber-exclusive feature of embedding the cables in the walls of the frame tubes, internal routing can be noisy on alloy frames. Other than that, the Marshall offers all the modern tech, from Boost 148 rear spacing, tapered headtube to a threaded bottom bracket. There were no corners cut to keep the price down. And perhaps most importantly, the Marshall has just as modern geometry as any high end full suspension.
For the size large the reach is 480mm with that number jumping by 20mm going up or down in size. Head angle is a slack 66.5-degrees across all sizes. Seat angle sits at a steeper 76.9 degrees for a nice, efficient position that’s easier on the legs and further negates any need for a lockout, even if only when seated. The Marshall uses 435mm chainstays for sizes medium-XL with the small and XS using 430mm stays. Those smaller sizes also use 27.5-inch wheels to keep things proportionate, a feature that’s in step with the Marshall’s potential to appeal to a wide audience.
There are two versions of the Marshall, each sharing the same aluminum frame and geometry. Devinci proudly makes this bike in their Canadian factory. The lower end Marshall has a SRAM SX drivetrain with a 140mm travel RockShox 35 Silver fork and RockShox Deluxe shock. My test bike is the higher end Deore build. Both bikes use the same suspension and four-piston Deore brakes. The cockpit comes stock with a 780mm wide alloy bar and short 50mm stem. Retail on the Marshall Deore is $2,600 and $2,300 for the SX, and both are sold at your local Devinci dealer.
I’ve spent a fair amount of time testing various bikes and brands but this was my first time riding a Devinci, not for lack of trying. I immediately appreciated the attention to detail on the frame with the thoughtful approach to external cable routing and threaded bottom bracket. The frame is stout with oversized tubes and noticeably stocky presentation. Devinci didn’t include ISCG05 tabs on the frame, but that’s not a make or break in any sense, as you can still get a chain guide that will work. Without pedals, the size large tested came in just over 35 pounds.
The rear suspension on the Marshall is plush and was always providing generous amounts of traction. Without a lockout switch, I was heavily reliant on the linkage when pedaling uphill. I could have used a switch on the shock for fire-road climbs, but the extra traction was appreciated on technical singletrack. The steeper seat tube gave me a forward bias for extra leverage when pushing up punchy sections of trail. Seated climbing, there wasn’t much movement from the suspension, but out of the saddle, I could get a fair amount of bob. This was forgiven, though, when descending. The geometry is very balanced and made it easy to feel comfortable out of the gate.
The Marshall has a very planted and controlled feel when descending, the extra weight plays a positive factor when the trail pointed down. At a relatively firm 25-percent sag in the shock, I had all the travel I needed for trail riding. At high speeds, the rear suspension was active and kept up with brake bumps and other chattery bits, all while keeping the rear wheel connected to the trail. I added a little bit of pressure in the shock after a few rides but came back to 25% being the sweet spot. This is notable because some Devincis tend to take a lot of effort to get to their bottom. The Marshall, on the other hand, likes to use all of its travel, which makes for a consistent and predictable ride. Pushing into corners, the rear end was stiff and didn’t break loose unexpectedly. That consistency of the chassis rear suspension was extended to just about any scenario I met on the descents from steep and slow to fast and loose.
The build kit was dialed and reliable, but I was not a fan of the fork. No matter the air pressure I constantly felt like I was exceeding what the fork was capable of. The rebound was inconsistent and overall the feel didn’t compliment how plush the rear suspension was. This is an obvious place for brands to significantly drop a bike’s pricepoint, but it highlights the divide between this bike and one for just a few hundred dollars more. To live up to its potential, it needs a more advanced fork.
The Marshall has a certain level of playfulness in it, but really excelled on straight, fast lines. The four-piston Shimano brakes and Deore drivetrain brought everything together on the Marshall. While the suspension is plush and consistent, the Marshall felt most comfortable on more groomed trails with flow. It can venture out into more technical and steeper situations, but it did require a bit more attention. My test bike came with a 150mm travel dropper which is a bit short by some standards, but it functioned well and I didn’t feel the need to upgrade to something longer.
Bang for the buck the Devinci Marshall is competitive. Everything about it feels and looks intentional, there’s no major corners cut to help keep the price down apart from the fork which, to be fair, really helped keep the price down. While other brands compromise on frame design or build spec, Devinci holds true to its DNA of building capable bikes, and they did it while sticking to a lean price. Between the modern geometry, plush suspension design and Shimano Deore spec, the Marshall has made good choices. Long term, this bike will be able to handle a few seasons of abuse, especially if you upgrade the fork, which many riders will quickly outgrow. Regardless, the Marshall 29 is an extremely capable bike wrapped in an affordable package.
Photos: Chris Wellhausen
For another approachable, well-mannered trail bike from Devinci, read on.