PezCycling News - What's Cool In Road Cycling : Devinci Hatchet All Road Bike Tested!

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Devinci Hatchet All Road Bike Tested!
Do you remember the joy of that first bike as a kid? That wonderful feeling of freedom as the world opened up before you? That's pretty much how I've felt each time I've pointed the Hatchet, Devinci’s new entry into the All Road/Gravel category, down a new road or trail I’ve yet to explore.

Modern road bikes have changed to being unrecognizable to those of the mid-1980s when I got my first top end steel racing bike with six cog freewheels and friction shifters.



Beyond just changes to the actual road bike technology, over the past decade, the road market has fragmented into a dizzying array of new sub-categories. One of the latest trends in the bike market are gravel bikes and gravel rides/races, with Devinci forgoing a CX bike design and going all-in with the “All Road” Hatchet platform.

Besides being optimized for actual gravel riding, the ideal All Road bike should hit about 80% of the utility or performance of specialized bikes. This is a pretty difficult sweet spot to hit, especially as there is no real single definition of what "all-road" riding actually means.

Hatchet Specs


Outsized fun is the name of the game with the Hatchet.

Devinci makes the Hatchet in both an aluminum and carbon version, with essentially identical geometry. The aluminum Hatchet maxes out at a SRAM Rival build, while the carbon range goes from a Rival, 105, Ultegra, and Ultegra Di2 build. My 105 version ($3499 CAD MSRP) came, as expected, with a full 105 build, flat mount hydraulic disc brakes, FSA cockpit, carbon seatpost, Fizik Aliante saddle, and Mavic Aksium wheels for a total weight of 9.22 kg without pedals. In contrast, the upper-end Di2 build ($6499 CAD MSRP) is 8.70 kg without pedals.



My favourite part of the Hatchet design is the cable entry system heading out back. The front & rear derailleur cables, along with the rear brake, all tuck neatly around the head tube and then internally into the down tube. Separate adapters are available to accommodate electronic and 1x systems, so there’s no unsightly plugs needed.



Internal routing also takes place down the fork and out to the rear chainstays for the rear brake and derailleur.



The fork looks especially clean on the right side, with the thru-axle threading covered up.



As with most bikes, the aim of the Hatchet was a blend of lateral stiffness with vertical compliance. Devinci calls this their “Dual Core Fusion” approach,



As expected, the downtube and BB area is big and beefy, with a pressfit BB86 standard. Compliance is built into the top tube and seatstays.



This is complemented by the seatstays blending into the seat tube about 6.5 cm below the top tube, aiding in the dual role of stiffening the rear triangle laterally while allowing some flex in the upper part of the seat tube.

Handling on Road
On the road, the Hatchet is definitely not as nimble as a road bike or even as a CX bike. This is due to the long wheelbase (1040 mm in my size M), longer compared to the 1021.7 mm on my CX bike, along with the 71° head tube. The bigger volume and height of the 40 mm tires also add to the slower responsiveness. I found it tough to get out front of the bike when standing up to sprint.



The above isn’t meant to unfairly turn the Hatchet into something it's not, but rather to put the bike’s use into context. This bike is not intended for consistent use on club rides. But if, besides gravel, your main road use is for long steady rides, the Hatchet is good enough to use as your main road rig. Indeed, the stable handling can let you enjoy the ride more than have to be constantly controlling a much twitchier bike. It’s perfect for that use here on the farm roads of Niagara, and I’m finding it becoming my preferred ride on those endurance days, especially as I could veer off into exploring if I so wished.

Is it a CX Bike?
The Hatchet 105, at 9.22 kg without pedals and with a more compact frame than traditional CX bikes, is not optimized for long portages. Nevertheless, the top tube is nicely flat and wide near the seatpost, and it remained OK for getting me out of trouble when I had to resort to walking when the trails got too technical or the mud too thick.



Will it serve as a CX bike? That would be the same answer as whether it’d serve as a road endurance bike. It can definitely do it, no questions there, and the Hatchet is being raced by 2015 Ontario CX champ Erik Box. It just wouldn’t be optimized for it.

Handling on Dirt/Gravel



I’ve done two gravel races so far with the Hatchet this spring. First up was our club’s Tour of Pelham in my hometown at the start of April. The rain pounded all week beforehand, leaving the dirt and gravel sections wet and sloppy, and the mud sections deep and largely un-rideable bogs.

The second is Canada’s famous Paris-Ancaster spring classic, 65-70 km of mixed riding on road, rail trail, farmer’s fields, and nasty mud. With >2000 riders total and 400 riders per wave, the race definitely required some nimble handling to maintain position and to stay out of trouble on the narrow trails.



The FSA Adventure aluminum handlebars flaring profile is hard to capture on film but it’s substantial, going from 41 cm c-c at the hoods to 44 cm at the drops and 47 cm at the handlebar ends. Just like on MTBs, the wider bars add to the low speed leverage and handling when on trails and gravel, with the wider triangles made by your arms providing a more stable weight distribution.

Handling the bike in a race situation threw up no surprises, exactly what you want. On gravel and dirt roads and in a pack, the Hatchet was nimble enough that I could dodge potholes on short notice. But at the same time, I didn’t have to pay constant attention to hold a line, and the bike was tough enough that I could bash through obstacles and potholes if necessary.

Off-Road Handling



The third type of terrain I’ve been playing with the Hatchet are “light” off road trails in the Ancaster and Dundas Conservation Authority areas. The trail system honestly is a bit boring and overkill with a MTB, but it is an absolute blast with the Hatchet.

The lack of front or rear suspension, along with the lower drop bar position, ups the challenge level significantly compared to even a hardtail MTB. As a result, the relatively non-technical trails become that much more challenging, especially at speed, placing a much higher emphasis on bike handling and technical ability.

And seriously, that makes the Hatchet just a blast to explore trails with, though I’d steer clear of the more technical singletrack with it.



Hydraulic discs and thru-axles front and back. The Hatchet is my first experience with discs on a road bike, and there’s just no going back to cantilevers on my CX bike.

Gearing



The Hatchet comes standard with 105 cranks (172.5 mm in my M size), but Pioneer nicely sent along their brand new Dura-Ace 9100 dual-sided power meter cranks to test out in the mud.

The choice of gearing is a compact 50/34 chainring up front paired with 11-spd 11-32 cassette out back. As with tires, gearing is a personal choice depending on terrain and riding preference.



On my dirt and trail rides, with the Hatchet being less forgiving of gearing or technical mistakes, I think that the 2x system’s tighter gear ratios can help in getting the optimal gear for finessing off-road. The trails I ride with the Hatchet can be steep but are short, so I can generally power through them.

Would I go with a 1x chainring system? I absolutely love the 1x10 setup on my hardtail MTB, and am planning on building up my new CX bike as a 1x. But for the Hatchet, meant for long rides, I like the versatility of the 2x11 system, giving me more variety of gearing and closer gearing changes. It helps when I’m using the bike on road and also gravel, where I want to maintain a good cadence despite slight changes in gradient on gentle false flats or descents.

Gravel Tire Choice



The Hatchet has clearance for 40 mm tires, and comes stock with Maxxis Re-Fuse 40 mm file tread tubeless-ready tires. My rig had them set up as tubeless, and that has allowed me to run them at about 35/40 psi front/back on the road and gravel, dropping it lower to 30/35 when I know I’ll mostly be on trails. 530 km of road, gravel, and trail to date, there remains minimal wear to the rear tire.

Tire choice is of course very specific to the type of riding that you do and your local terrain. But I ended up being very pleasantly surprised by the versatility of the Re-Fuse for my purposes.



The tread pattern is quiet, with none of the tractor tire sound of knobby CX or MTB tires slowing the bike down either physically or psychologically. On trails that I have played on so far, the hard-packed surface meant that knobbies weren’t realistically going to be able to dig in for traction anyway, and the fast-rolling Re-Fuse got to shine.



At the two mixed-terrain races I’ve done to date, nothing was going to help with the really deep mud trenches. However, I was able to ride everything else, including a 2.5 km stretch of farm fields featuring soggy ground, tall grass, and rolling hills. This did require CX experience though, as I passed lots of riders walking their CX bikes and knobby tires.

One Bike to Rule Them All?

So is the Hatchet the true One Bike implied by the All Road categorization? There’s a reason there’s specialization in the bike market, so the Hatchet will not replace your road bike, MTB, or CX bike.



But when I walk into my garage, I’ll be damned if I don’t gravitate my way towards the Hatchet whenever I want to go play and have a blast…

Check out the full range of Devinci Hatchet bikes. And you can read how the bike and rider performed at the Paris-Ancaster 2017 HERE.




Note: if you have other experiences with gear, or something to add, drop us a line. We don’t claim to know everything (we just imply it at times). Give us a pat on the back if you like the information, or a slap in the head if you feel the need!

PezCycling News and the author ask that you contact the manufacturers before using any products you see here. Only the manufacturer can provide accurate and complete information on proper / safe use, handling, maintenance and or installation of products as well as any conditional information or product limitations.

 

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