With a pedigree steeped on the rowdiest tracks in the world, it's no surprise the Wilson excels on proper DH terrain, and that's just where we tested it. Before taking the Wilson up to Whistler Bike Park for a week of thrashing I spent some time in SoCal and Central Oregon getting the bike dialed and then passed the bike off to Dennis Yuroshek to race in northern Washington. With some solid miles on it already, I was ready for Whistler.
We had a great experience aboard the aluminum Wilson last year and were excited to see what the carbon evolution would feel like in the dirt. The plastic fantastic Wilson subtly dazzled us with its fine details. An integrated frame protector looks more like a stealthy skidplate under the downtube and clever stay protectors on the rear end help minimize damage and rub. A very real issue since the rear end is rather wide.
The external cable routing is cleverly laid out and makes for a quiet ride with increased serviceability. The integrated fork bumpers are nice but could be a little slimmer in our opinion as they make the tightest of flat turns a bit tricky. Carryovers from the aluminum frame are plenty, and that's not a bad thing. Aside from sizing concerns for taller riders the numbers on the Wilson are spot on. Our size large felt small for riders 5'9 to 6ft. Once aboard and up to speed however the lowslung top tube and center of gravity had us focused on the goods. A 63. 2 degree head angle inspired confidence on the steepest of trails in the Garbonzo Zone of WBP. With an overall wheelbase of 48.11 inches and reach of 17.13 inches we enjoyed the balance of traction and a planted ride with nimble maneuverability. The Wilson is a bit shorter than other World Cup level DH sleds and we can't say that it greatly took away from our highspeed confidence on the open stuff but it certainly did make it snappy on tighter trails like Blueseum or Ninja Cougar.
Like previous Wilsons and other Devinci dual suspension bikes, Dave Weagle's Split Pivot system helps give the bike its lively feel and keeps it composed on a variety of conditions. The Split Pivot design claims to separate braking forces from accelerating forces in effort to keep the rear wheel moving freely no matter what the rider is doing. Rear shock placement was slightly tweaked, which gives the bike a lower center of gravity and shortens the damper to a more common 9.5 by 3 inch Measurement opposed to the 10.5inch shock found on earlier models. The slight change in location and addition of a yoke improved the bike's kinematics by offering a slightly more progressive end stroke. While we did enjoy the extra ramp at the end of the travel we did need to go down a spring rate as the specified spring had us and the bike bucking a bit more than we wanted.
Without a doubt, the Wilson's racebred DNA help make it one of the most capable descenders in the stable, but you have to earn it. While the 204mm of travel will handle terrain if you just sit back and plow, the bike shines with an assertive rider making it work.
If you like to punish your bike and the earth beneath it then the Wilson will be your slave. Get up over the low top tube and push; the Wilson rewards its pilot the harder it is ridden. We enjoyed the Split Pivot design and felt Devinci has executed it exceptionally well in the Wilson as the bike can really accelerate and pick up momentum when we were mindful or pumping terrain and doing race runs. It was interesting to note that while comparing four DH bikes on the same two test tracks in Whistler Bike Park the carbon Wilson felt the most skittish but put down the fastest times. All I could attribute this too was the slightly stiff rear spring and the fact I was just going that much faster than any other bike I'd been on. Obstacles, trees and reaction times all needed to be recalibrated to compensate for the faster speeds through the tight terrain and while it made me a bit nervous, the clock didn't lie.
While the carbon Wilson does a great many things wonderfully there are a few minor complaints to point out. Some testers felt the Chromag BZA bars were a bit flexy and swapped them out for personal preferences. Next up we had some issues with the SRAM brakes and beyond having trouble getting the lever adjusted to work they did not have a very impressive feel or consistency. Lastly we had some issues with the Magic Mary tires, while they can be some of the best rubber when the soil is right, they are downright scary on marbled hard pack as the big knobs squirm and fold. Ultimately that's more of an issue with terrain and where you ride but we did have some lowside get offs because of this in the same corners that other tires felt planted.
To truly get the most out of the carbon Wilson be prepared to ride on the edge of your comfort zone and beyond and preferably on the steepest trails you can find. While the carbon Wilson is visually more appealing than its aluminum predecessor, the increased stiffness wasn't always a welcome addition. On long days in the park or when we were trying to eek every last bit of traction out of the tires on offcamber roots and rocks, having a little bit of compliance would have been welcome. Especially since that compliance is quite a bit cheaper. If you are an allout pinner obsessed with race runs and pinning it down the steepest gnarliest shit you can find on a daily basis, you'll be hardpressed to find many other bikes of this caliber.
On Board Confidence
Ability to Elevate Riding Level
Some May Find it too Aggressive