Van Dessel Jersey Devil FS

Pro Reviews

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Price: $1799 with White Brothers Magic 29
Frame Weight: 6.3 lbs
Bike weight (as tested): 28.50 lbs
BB height (measured): 13.19 inches
Wheelbase (measured): 43.75 inches
Rear shock: Fox Float RP23
Rear travel: 4″

Size
Seat Tube
Effective Top Tube
Head Tube Angle
Seat Tube Angle
Head Tube Chainstay
Wheelbase
M 16.54 22.83 71.5 74.00 4.00 18.31 43.7
L 16.93 23.62 72 74.00 4.00 18.31 44.29
XL 18.90 24.41 72.5 74.00 4.5 18.31 44.88

 

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Reviews of the Van Dessel Jersey Devil FS:

Rider/Reviewer: Francis Cebedo

Strengths:

  • the bike is well-balanced and a good climber
  • large swingarm results in a smooth rear wheel travel

Weaknesses:

  • not much standover clearance
  • Seat tube is indented for tire clearance, thus the seat post cannot be pushed down too far.
  • The suspension is not very active and not very supple on bumps .

Overall Impressions:

We had to overcome a couple issues with this bike. It got lost in shipping and missed the big test ride. It runs large for a medium frame. The used White Brothers fork on it had a lot of stiction. So we are logging in more hours with this bike as we speak.

On the trail, it’s a confident descender on the twisty singletrack and steep trails. The rear suspension seemed quite active as it absorbed rocks and log piles in its path.

On very twisty stuff, the long wheelbase and slack head angle got in the way a little bit. The lack of top tube clearance and high center of gravity was notable on the tightest trails.

The bike seems to pedal well and is an able climber. On the descents, the suspension is not very supple. Big hits were handled nicely but the smaller ones were not absorbed as well.

Rider/Reviewer: Rafael Rius

Strengths

  • Complete bike is very light
  • The head tube angle felt comfortable and balanced like a trail bike
  • Steering was very impressive in tight turns
  • Excellent acceleration!
  • Climbs like a goat! Tracks over rocky singletrack very well. Feels like a hardtail when climbing smooth trails and fire roads.
  • Great acceleration for a full suspension (again felt like a hardtail in a good way)

Weaknesses:

  • Not very plush. Wasn’t very comfortable on rocky descents.
  • Rear shock was not very active, even though I tried several air pressures and various rebound settings
  • Seat tube is indented for tire clearance, thus the seat post cannot be pushed down too far. 300mm seatpost was too short for climbs; 410mm post couldn’t be lowered enough for descents.

Overall Impression:

Components: The following are some details that may have affected the test rides. The used White Brothers fork on it had a lot of stiction and topped out constantly. Rocket shifters with XTR Rapid Rise took getting used to. Maxxis Ignitors felt appropriate on smooth XC trails, but not the rocky stuff (plus I rode with a high PSI). On the second day, I put a Panaracer Rampage up front and although the bike didn’t roll as fast, it immediately increased it’s traction on the slick roots/rocks. The extra traction made me feel more confident riding through the rougher and more technical sections of the trail.

What I liked: The first day I rode on unfamiliar trails at Annadel. On the trail it was a fun descender soaking up the twisty and smooth singletrack. I even had a lot of fun on the steep trails that had a flowing feeling to them. Steering was really good and felt like an XC bike. Accelerating on the Jersey Devil was smooth and efficient. Entering a few corners too hot I scrubbed off a little too much speed, but was still able to accelerate very fast out of the saddle with minimal pedal-bob (biggest plus). Many of the trails at Annadel include a lot of rocky climbs. While climbing, this bike performed superbly! The front end was easy to lift over logs and obstacles, yet stayed down when pedaling up steeper sections. During the climbs the rear suspension absorbed rocks and log piles in its path and was first-rate at keeping the rear wheel planted for good traction.

What I didn’t like: The rocky and technical descents on the Van Dessel felt harsh. The (not properly tuned) fork contributed to feeling uncomfortable on the rocky descents and probably prevented me from getting into a good flow. The rear shock did not feel active enough – even with the rebound adjusted to the fastest setting. When I reduced the air pressure to where the shock felt active enough, I was sagging to about 20-30% of the shock travel.

On the second day, I went to more familiar trails where I could compare and check my initial impressions of the Jersey Devil FS. In general, I felt the same way about the positives of its climbing ability, acceleration, and steering. The negative aspects of the Van Dessel were also confirmed with the rear being not so plush and the bike bouncing around on the rough stuff. More time on the bike had not changed my opinions either way.

Comparison to my Karate Monkey:

The Jersey Devil FS has a comfortable geometry and accelerates much faster than the Monkey. Going downhill the Van Dessel is much easier to steer. However, I feel more comfortable on technical descents with my hardtail Monkey.

Conclusion:

Largely, the Jersey Devil FS is a great XC bike and I wouldn’t hesitate to use it as a race bike. It could be a good trail bike with a beefier wheelset and tires, combined with a Reba fork. Generally, I wouldn’t rank it among the top trail bikes in this shootout. Nor would I buy it for that purpose.

Rider/Reviewer: Ryan Guasco

Strengths

  • Head angle of the bike allowed for quick steering in switchbacks
  • Bike tracked straight during long fireroad and singletrack climbs
  • Climbed exceptionally well
  • Price point
  • Rider position on bike is centered, never felt to far forward or back
  • Bike paint job is clean and simple (reminds me of a classic motif)
  • Ovalized downtube adds to the bike’s allure

Weaknesses

  • Harsh feeling of the rear suspension on rocky descents or technical sections at lower speeds
  • Limited rear tire clearance
  • Frame paint easily nicked and scuffed from trail debris

Overall Impression:

The Van Dessel Jersey Devil FS is a great bike for someone getting into full-suspension 29ers. It has an affordable price point compared to other bikes in the shootout. My impressions come about after riding the bike for three days on the trails.

The Van Dessel excelled when it came to tackling switchbacks – descending and climbing. Climbing is the strong suit of the Jersey Devil. Right away you notice the beefy swing arm and stiff bike stays. The pro-pedal shock controlled pedal bob really well. When climbing out of the saddle or seated, pedal-bob was barely noticeable. The Jersey Devil just flew up long, never-ending fire roads and meandering singletrack. And the front wheel stayed where you pointed it. Truly the Van Dessel is a joy on all-day epics. The rider position feels very central on the bike and it has a more XC oriented feel than that of a trail bike, such as the Niner R.I.P. 9.

For me the bike seemed a bit rough when hitting technical sections or slight drops in the trails. Running a Reba or a White Brothers fork properly set up would make the descents better. Descending was okay when out of the saddle at a faster speed.

In conclusion, the Van Dessel would make a great choice for someone who wants to enter the 29er full-suspension world. The Jersey Devil FS is offered at a great price point as a frame only or a frame and fork. It would be a great fit for someone who enjoys all day epics, never ending climbs and fast singletrack with lots of switchbacks on an XC bike. Steer away if your trails are very technical with lots of low speed sections.

 

Click here for the Van Dessel Jersey Devil FS reviews on MTBR

 

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  • Dirty Jersey says:

    I rode the bike at a friends request. What I noticed was the compact feel and lack of response time. If you want a inexpensive entry level bike(rail trail) that you may only ride a couple of times a year this is the bike for you. If you want a bike that handles and enjoys the trails of West Jersey(Ringwood/Allamuchy) look into a Niner or the Hard Tail Surly K Monk. If your going to get a new ride why not enjoy it!

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