Trans-Cascadia Bike Check: Matthew Slaven’s Devinci Django 27.5
Words: Chris Shalbot // Photos: Paris Gore The trails around Oakridge, Oregon feature an eclectic mix of surface conditions and trail types. There is something for almost everyone and it’s why Oakridge is such a great venue for the Trans-Cascadia race. High speed sections range from loose and sandy, to pine needles and loam, to tacky hardpack. It seems like just when racers settle into their rhythm, a tech section loose rocks or a switchback comes out of nowhere and keeps them on their toes. Consequently, the tracks favor the rider who can play it smart and not push too hard. Since it’s a blind format where no one gets any practice, racers can’t give it 110%. If they do, they’ll miss a turn they never saw coming or run out of gas long before a fifteen minute stage is over.
Although it’s easier than the racing itself, setting up a bike to cover such a variety of conditions is no easy task. Trans-Cascadia racers are in the dark to which trails they will be racing each day but they can count on the fact that there will be a lot of pedaling involved with some rough and steep spots (and maybe exposure mixed in for good measure) and must factor this into their decision. Bikes need to be quick and snappy but stable at speed. Days consist of constant high speeds, the occasional rowdy section and four thousand feet of climbing each day. As a result, racers need to find a balance between, speed, stability and efficiency with their bikes.
After four days of pinning it on some of Oregon’s most remote trails, evo’s Matthew Slaven finished up just off the podium with a 4th place. While there, I caught up with Matthew to talk about how he set up his Devinci Django to ensure it was ready for whatever the 2016 Trans-Cascadia had in store for him and the other racers.
MATTHEW SLAVEN’S DEVINCI DJANGO 27.5 TRANS-CASCADIA SETUP
Devinci Django Carbon size XL. 480mm reach is perfect for Matthew’s 6’1” frame and the 2017 gloss black and blue look sleek. For a dropper Matthew runs the Fox Transfer dropper with “150mm of travel of Kashima goodness.” A handful of racers are running 29ers. Matthew opted for the 27.5” Django despite the recent release of a 29” wheeled model. Matthew claims he wanted to race something he’s got a lot of time on and that the 27.5” wheels are quicker through the tight switchbacks, which Oakridge seems to have an abundance of.
SUSPENSION & GEOMETRY:
Up front Matthew runs a Fox 36 Float with 150mm of travel. Out back Matthew is running a Fox Float shock. Both fork and shock got some tuning done to them to make them even more plush off the top then ramping up quickly to keep it from blowing through their travel.
Matthew asked Devinci to build a custom spacer to go between the headtube and fork crown to raise his front end another 10mm. It’s got a built in ½ degree angle-set as well. As a result, the increased travel and spacer bring the headtube angle to around 65.5 degrees. The changes up front means a taller bottom bracket but that doesn’t seem to bother Matthew. “The bike was really low to begin with. This helps to keep me from striking my pedals through rock gardens.”
Matthew put the power down via some Race Face Next SL cranks. For Trans-Cascadia he chose to run a 34t Race Face NW chain ring. “I normally run a just a 32. I geared up for the race so I’d have better chain line. It’s all blind racing so you’re having to jam through your cassette and sprint. If your chain line is bad, it’s a lot easier to break a chain. It’s little tougher on the climbs but better for racing I think”. Bryn Atkinson learned this lesson the hard way. Sprinting on the final stage of Day Two, Bryn snapped his chain while on what he claimed to be a flyer. Consequently Bryn had to coast down and finish some 24 seconds off of first place.
Keeping his chain in place, Matthew runs a little One Up chain guide “It’s real basic. It seems like if I don’t run a chain guide and somebody says ‘Go!’ then my chain falls off, ha. But I don’t typically run a chain guide unless I’m racing.”
Matthew opted for Crank Brothers Mallet E pedals for the race. “For Trans-Cascadia, I chose the bigger platform of the Mallet rather than the smaller Candy pedal I normally run on this bike. You don’t know where you’re going so you’re on and off your pedals a lot. These ones are a little bit better for riding out a section if you end up unclipped.”
WHEELS & TIRES
The Django features carbon Ibis rims laced to Industry Nine Torch boost spaced hubs. As Matthew states he’s “All boosted up”. Some riders don’t care for it but Matthew likes the sound of the I-Nine hubs. “They’re kinda loud. It reminds me of my BMX days.”
Matthew is running 2.5” WT Maxxis Minion DHF 3C and EXO casing up front for traction into the corners and mounted up a narrower 2.3” Aggressor in the back. The Aggressor is Maxxis’ new enduro tire and chose it due to its Double Down casing. “Kinda heavy, but if you flat during this race it’s over, you know. The tire rolls pretty fast and isn’t too big. You can still get on the pedals and sprint pretty well with it but it is almost like a dual ply casing.”
Those familiar with Matt Cummings and One Ball Jay may not know that they make one-of-a-kind fenders from unused old Lib Tech and GNU snowboard bases . “Kinda cool because they’re all custom and different.”
Matthew keeps the sound down with velcro on the chainstay he says it helps when he’s racing. “When your bike is really loud and jiggly and whatever, it makes you feel like you’re out of control.”
Matthew runs 180 rotors front and rear and opted to run metallic pads over organic for the race. “I feel like the braking is a little bit better if it’s going to be wet. Organic pads don’t work too good in the wet. You also smoke through them quicker. Some of the descents around Oakridge are so long that you might start out with new pads and then by the bottom you literally have no pads left.”