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  1. #1
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    Finally wrote a review, Banzai bike porn! very long...

    A lot of people have asked me for my comments on this bike. Here it is, a little long but I hope it helps some with their shopping...

    My Devinci Banzai build, a review from an ordinary rider!

    My background:

    Iím a very ordinary rider. I started 5-6 years ago, I had 2 hardtails and in 2001 got my first FS, a Giant NRS. Last year, I finally got tired of being bounced around so I ordered myself the new Devinci Banzai after months of reading magazines and forums. The major contenders were the Turner 5-spot, Specialized Enduro and Giant VT. Aside from the Giant NRS, my riding experience with dual suspension bikes is only a few test rides on a Spec Enduro, a Giant VT and a Giant AC. Bottom line, the review you are about to read does not come from someone who has extensive experience on multiple full suspension bikes, just from an ordinary rider who reads a lot of magazines and forums.

    My riding style:

    I ride mostly technical singletrack with lots of roots and rocks in the North East. I love steep technical climbing! Some street riding, some doubletrack, some light downhill. Not much more than 2-3 feet drops and jumps.

    The bike (total weight 30lbs). I bought the Banzai as a frame only and built it up with my own choices of parts. It can also be bought complete, see the Devinci site for their build.

    - Devinci Banzai 2004 frame
    - Fox Talas shock (stock) plus Manitou 3-way shock (replacement)
    - Fox Talas R fork
    - Avid Juicy brakes
    - Mavic Crossmax XL wheelset
    - Hutchinson UST 2.1 rear 2.3 front tires
    - Shimano XT 2004 crank
    - SRAM x.0 derailleur, x.9 shifters, 11-34 cassette, xg9 chain
    - RaceFace XY seatpost (400mm), Deus stem (100mm X 15deg)
    - Answer Protaper 2Ē riser bar
    - WTB Speed V saddle

    Review methodology:

    Since I have not been riding many bikes, I will sometimes make comparison with the few bikes Iíve tried before. I have been riding the Banzai for only a few weeks but I tried just about every type of riding that I normally do.

    The frame:

    Good quality construction, 6.5lbs without shock. The needle bearing on the main pivot is very neat. There is some reinforcement plates on the head tube, this should be able to take a lot of abuse. The rear end feels VERY stiff. The paint job is, letís say special. The paint is an army green mat finish. One negative, the shock lower mounting bracket is not very well positioned. I tried to put in a Manitou 4-Way air and it would not fit so I had to get the 3-Way instead. Overall, I would say this is a very nice frame to build on for years to come.

    Climbing:

    Climbing on asphalt or non technical trails is fine no bob at all, either with the stock Fox Talas shock or the replacement Manitou Swinger 3way I just bought. The top tube is a little short (22.2Ē for a small) so I was expecting to feel a little cramped. Not at all, it feels much better than my NRS at 23.2Ē. On technical stuff, with the Talas shock, the bike bounces on small stuff, not too good. However, with the Manitou 3-way, WOW. The bike is just incredible. No bob AND no bouncing on obstacles either. It climbs much better than my good old NRS. It eats up all the rocks and roots, the back wheel stays glued to the ground providing incredible traction. My friends Giant VT is very nice also but it's easier to activate the shock by pedalling than my Banzai. Overall, climbing is simply amazing.

    Descending:

    A little of the same as climbing. With the Talas shock it is quite ordinary, barely better than my XC oriented NRS! With the Swinger 3-way, much better. The head angle is on the slack side on this bike (69 degrees) and this is great. I am always surprised when I see people writing that less then 70 degrees and you canít bomb through tight singletrack. Well, for me, this 69 degree frame is fine both for descending or manoeuvring through tight singletrack. Overall, this bike is very good descending but I think I was expecting too much, it is still a trail bike with an air shock and 5.5 inches of travel, not a downhill bike with 7 inches!

    The parts:

    I bought this frame and all the parts separately so I thought it would be nice to write a bit of comments on the parts as well. Letís start with the Juicy brakes, WOW. Those are so nice to setup, more power than my old XTís, better modulation, I really like them. The XT crank is very nice to install, canít say much more. The SRAM trigger shifters are great to use, I love this thumb only shifting. The X.0 rear derailleur does itís job perfectly, not much more to say, itís a derailleur! The Crossmax wheels are nice looking wheels but the feature I like is that they are UST. This is great, I donít think I ever want to mess around with tubes, ever! The Raceface cockpit and Answer Protaper riser are good looking and cool. The Fox Talas shock, well letís just say Iím a bit disappointed. No doubt, it is very stiff. However, it is not a coil fork. The small bump absorption is good but not the greatest. Adjusted to get full travel, then I get too much sag and it blows through it easily, with the right sag, I donít get full travel! Yes, Iím only 150lbs so maybe this is the problem but bottom line, my comment is that itís good but definitely not great.

    Conclusion:

    I spent a lot of money this winter building this bike. I got a lot of top end parts with a good quality frame. I am satisfied with my purchase but I was expecting more. I tought I would be overwhelmed! The Talas Propedal shock played a major part in my disappointment. The Swinger 3-way brought back some smiling on my face. Probably when I change the Talas fork, this smiling will become ďpermanentĒ, haha! Donít get me wrong, I have nothing against Fox products, they are very high quality products but I am probably a very difficult customer to satisfy, specially when I spend a lot of my hard earned money. However, I think Propedal shock and Talas forks may not be that great, at least for light riders. It would have been nicer if Devinci would have designed the bike with a Manitou shock instead of playing the adjustability game with the Fox Talas. Time will tell, the new Manitou Nixon and RockShox Pike forks are also coming soonÖ

    So, if you want one of the best full suspension design (horst link) and a very good quality frame for trail riding but canít afford the price of a Turner 5-spot or Ellsworth Moment, I think the Devinci Banzai has to be at the top of your list.

    PS. Thanks to Larry at MtnHighCyclery for providing a lot of the parts at a very competitive price.
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  2. #2
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    fugly colour, Banzairider...

    the review is excellent thanks. As you know I almost bought this bike. In retrospect, I might have made a mistake but if so, there's always next year. The combo of the Enduro for trail, and the Knolly Vtach for big rides should cover me off, but I'm getting nervous about a big crash on a bike that is way more than I need or can handle.

    But thanks for the review, it seems like you got a great ride and hope it continues to serve well.

    Jim

  3. #3
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    Haha, yes quite a color...

    Fugly is probably not a word I would have used with my limited English but hey, I'm sure it probably means what I feel about it. In fact it is quite ok, for my taste if the decals would not have this orange line then I would really like it. Too bad that they are under the clear coat because I would take them off...

    Yes the Enduro is quite a good quality/price option. The Banzai is great for someone who can own only one bike but in my mind you need to be willing to change the rear shock. Unless Push eventually has a solution for the Talas shock.

    Cheers Jim. Hope you have fun with that future Vtach, that will be quite a ride!

    Quote Originally Posted by JimC.
    the review is excellent thanks. As you know I almost bought this bike. In retrospect, I might have made a mistake but if so, there's always next year. The combo of the Enduro for trail, and the Knolly Vtach for big rides should cover me off, but I'm getting nervous about a big crash on a bike that is way more than I need or can handle.

    But thanks for the review, it seems like you got a great ride and hope it continues to serve well.

    Jim

  4. #4
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    Best review I've read on this site. When most people drop a lot of coin, the reviews are crazy biased, despite some flaws that nearly EVERY bike will have.

    Hopefully some tuning will get it performing closer to what your expectations were.

    Good looking bike none the less.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by BanzaiRider
    A lot of people have asked me for my comments on this bike. Here it is, a little long but I hope it helps some with their shopping...
    Great writeup BZR! thanks for the insight and taking your time to familiarize yourself with the bike and tweak it first.

    That bike seems to have quite a lot going for it in the design. Don't stop experimenting until you get the ride config you like. Maybe you can find a cheap used Romic and see if a coil will improve the ride, and as you said there's a world of great forks out there, it's just a matter of finding the right one for you. There are several on my short list for "upgrades" but I'm having a hard time justifying taking off my Z1.

    G' Luck and thanks for the heads up in the other forum!
    Faster is better, even when it's not.

  6. #6
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    I was just doing a search for reviews on Devinci! Good timing!

    If I come into some extra cash I'm gonna try and get me a Magma (The one down from the Banzai). I'll buy it complete though and not do a buildup.

  7. #7
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    Ions, as a complete bike the Magma is the way to go...

    It is the exact same frame but the price difference with the Banzai is significant. The Magma parts are VERY sweet so I am sure you will be very happy with that. As a personal taste, I also like the colour more than the Banzai!

    Have fun, let us know your impressions.

    Quote Originally Posted by ions
    I was just doing a search for reviews on Devinci! Good timing!

    If I come into some extra cash I'm gonna try and get me a Magma (The one down from the Banzai). I'll buy it complete though and not do a buildup.

  8. #8
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    Zilla, I'm thinking more about the Manitou coil...

    Good suggestion about the Romic but the reliability problems is not very inviting! I am thinking about getting myself a Manitou SPV coil 3-way to compliment the 3-way air. I am very satisfied with the air but I think having both in my toolbox would be the ultimate. I could bolt on the coil for my "downhill" expeditions and the air for KingdomTrails!

    As for the fork, well I'm probably the kind of idiot that will be changin his fork every year as new technology comes in! haha, isn't if fun to buy new stuff all the time!

    Cheers.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bikezilla
    Great writeup BZR! thanks for the insight and taking your time to familiarize yourself with the bike and tweak it first.

    That bike seems to have quite a lot going for it in the design. Don't stop experimenting until you get the ride config you like. Maybe you can find a cheap used Romic and see if a coil will improve the ride, and as you said there's a world of great forks out there, it's just a matter of finding the right one for you. There are several on my short list for "upgrades" but I'm having a hard time justifying taking off my Z1.

    G' Luck and thanks for the heads up in the other forum!

  9. #9
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    Incubus, I agree with you, most reviews are biased...

    I think a lot of times people review right after purchasing. They don't take the time to try it out. I agree with you that all bikes have at least a small flaw. Unfortunately many times people bash on the "bike" itself when it is a specific part on the bike that is not performing properly. I tried my best to give my honest opinion on each of the parts. This was probably easier for me since I bought everything seperate. As for magazine reviews, well that is pretty much useless. On the other hand, they need the publicity of the manufacturers to survive so... What I would like to see more in magazines instead of individual reviews would be shootouts. Those can also be biased towards a specific company that pays them big bucks but at least it usually provides some small comments on why this one is second or this one third...

    Thanks for your compliment on the review, maybe I should buy myself another bike right away so I could write another review, hahaha!

    Cheers

    Quote Originally Posted by incubus
    Best review I've read on this site. When most people drop a lot of coin, the reviews are crazy biased, despite some flaws that nearly EVERY bike will have.

    Hopefully some tuning will get it performing closer to what your expectations were.

    Good looking bike none the less.

  10. #10
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    Good review

    good review BZR, as your know, i've buid a banzai frame too and at this time i'm very happy with the Talas Shock. Maybe my weight (around 200 lbs with gears) play a major role in the sensibility to small events at high speed and bouncing in technical stuff.

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