20 years ago this heavyweight helped spark a revolution in DH design


Science’s “Big Bang” theory traces an expanding universe back to a single starting point when the primordial dust combusted, kicking out stars and galaxies some 13 billion years ago. Devinci’s DH origins, similarly, started with a spark when technology and design collided to form a new beginning—aka the BigBang bike. The BigBang project took shape almost 20 years ago as an emerging collab between the R&D teams at Devinci and Balfa. We had been busy engineering a new suspension system, but this emerging brand was lacking a suitable factory for production. So a deal was struck whereby Devinci provided a roof in exchange for the rights to riff on the embryonic single-pivot rear suspension design.

« During the pivotal years of the late ’90s the game was changing fast, and the level of competition in frame development was getting serious,” says Devinci owner Félix Gauthier. “This was our chance to get in at the ground floor of dual-suspension development and help steer its future. »

Adjustable travel from 160mm to 200mm

Single-pivot rear suspension design

Eccentric BBs

Light protective interchangeable down tube

Interchangeable seat mast

Splitted top tube

Inverted dual chain drivetrain

Internal linkages

Like a scene from Talladega Nights, the era was characterized by big personalities dedicated to the art of going really, really fast. Who can forget those six-figure Mountain Dew sponsorships and the ballad of Shaun Palmer shit-talking France’s World Cup Champion Nicolas Vouilloz? With prototypes ready to roll, the first BigBang test pilots, however, weren’t Ricky and Cal but rather Canadian downhill legends Andrew Shandro and Chad Onyschuk, as well as other members of the now fossilized Ford/Devinci Racing team.

On the national level and at select NORBA events, riders put the dedicated DH platform through its paces. Their feedback spawned BigBang advancements such as the development of a floating disk brake to control “brake jack.” Tapping the motocross world for inspiration, conventional frame tubes with external linkages were turned inside out for a similar look to the Honda CR250. Additionally, BigBang builds had movable seat masts, double top tubes, two chains, and eccentric BBs to tension the chain. Riders could swap the seat mast to accommodate their height. A single high pivot helped curb chain grow. The derailleur and an integrated chain-guide lived on the right side of the bike, while the crankset remained on the left.

The bike’s cutting-edge build (for its time) enhanced customizability, allowing racers to fine-tune performance in the field. The BigBang boasted eccentric pivots galore. Riders could also finesse the progressivity of the suspension, alter head angles, and adjust the frame geometry to suit a specific racecourse.

Like a fully loaded potato with wheels, the BigBang was also a calorie-rich whip. Weighing in at a lumbering 48 to 50 pounds “the bike had good ideas that later were refined in the current Wilson, such as a high-pivot design,” says Devinci B.C. sales rep, Steve Mitchell, “but it was complicated and definitely heavy on the first go-round.”

Ultimately, the BigBang was a vessel for experimentation. And digging into the Devinci time capsule for our 30th anniversary, this unearthed dinosaur, like the recently reincarnated YYZ hardtail, remains an important precursor to the World Cup-dominating bikes you see today.