Handsome Cycle Co. Devil

The Handsome Cycle Co. Devil (aka the “Handsome Devil”) is a steel frameset that draws inspiration from the legendary Bridgestone XO-1 of the 1990′s. Like the XO, the Handsome Devil is unusually versatile. Its many braze-ons, multiple brake mounts, generous tire clearance, and semi-horizontal dropouts enable it to be built up as a tourer, commuter, single speed, club racer, or virtually any other type of road bike. Here’s an explanation of the concept from Handsome Cycle:

The model that has really stood out for us is the XO-1. We started our design of The Devil with the XO as a template. We admire Bridgestone for making a very versatile bicycle in the XO line. The ability to morph into a city bicycle, a touring bicycle and a mountain bicycle in the same frame is what we wanted and felt that our customers would as well. We then took that template and adjusted it. We changed it to 700c wheels instead of the 26 inch that the XO-1 came with. We felt that 700c wheels are a more efficient way to go, and now a days you can get a 700c wheel that is just as strong as a 26 inch. We also changed the geometry to make it a great city commuter, touring bicycle, cyclocross bicycle, or single speed winter bicycle.

The Devil was designed in Minneapolis and is manufactured in Taiwan using 4130 chromoly steel. The overall workmanship is on par with other framesets in this price range from Soma, Surly, and others. The TIG welds are clean and the powder coat is attractive. A full set of decals is included, but the Devil is shipped sans decals, giving you the option of going decal-free if you prefer.

EcoVelo is all about replacing car trips with bike trips, so naturally we want to know how a bike behaves when loaded with weight, whether it be groceries, gardening supplies, or library books. To test out the Devil’s load carrying capabilities, I first loaded it with 30 lbs. in the rear panniers only, then 16 lbs. in the front basket only, then both. As a comparison, I did the same thing with my everyday ride, a Surly Long Haul Trucker. The LHT is a good bike to compare and contrast with the Devil because it’s also a versatile, reasonably priced, TIG-welded steel bike. Here’s what I found.

The LHT, with its relatively high trail steering, is stable but a bit sluggish for my tastes. Not surprisingly, adding 30 lbs. to the rear wakes up the steering and makes it feel lighter and quicker up front, in this case actually improving the feel of the front end. The Devil, on the other hand, has relatively low trail and an already responsive, quick feel up front when unloaded. With 30 lbs. in the rear panniers, the already light front end becomes twitchy and the weight feels as if it’s steering the bike. This result is not surprising considering the LHT is specifically designed as a touring bike, whereas the Devil is more of an all-rounder that isn’t specifically designed to carry such heavy loads in the rear.

Model
Size HT ST TT BB CS WB Trail
Handsome Devil 58cm 73° 73° 590mm 70mm 436mm 1046mm 45mm
Bridgestone
XO-1
59cm 73° 73° 580mm 45mm 425mm 1031mm 55mm
Surly LHT 58cm 72° 72.5° 587mm 79mm 460mm 1067mm 65mm
Soma
Double Cross
58cm 72° 72.5° 592mm 66mm 425mm 1042mm NA
Legend: HT = Head Tube Angle, ST = Seat Tube Angle, TT = Effective Top Tube Length, BB = Bottom Bracket Drop, CS = Chainstay Length, WB = Wheelbase

As might be expected, placing the weight up front had almost exactly the opposite effect. The Devil, with its relatively low trail front end, handled 16 lbs. in the front basket quite well. The front end remained manageable, and though the steering was noticeably slower, I still felt totally under control and didn’t at all feel as if I was wrestling with the handlebars. The front end of the LHT, on the other hand, felt extremely heavy and sluggish with that much weight up front. There was a noticeable tendency for the weight to swing to the side, and after just a short while my forearms tired from death-gripping the bars.

Both bikes handled reasonably well with the weight distributed between the front and rear. The Devil works best with the load split closer to 50/50, whereas the LHT performs better with most of the weight in the rear.

Though it can handle rear loads up to around 15-20 lbs. without issue, the Devil really shines when it’s set-up porteur-style with a front cargo rack and/or basket. Add a mid-sized saddle bag and you have plenty of capacity for commuting and light cargo runs, while eliminating the need for a rear rack and panniers. The Devil I tested was set-up with a small Nitto rack and Wald basket up front. This is a great set-up for commuting that provides capacity for a laptop bag, lunch, and other work necessities.

The Devil is quicker and more compact than most of the bikes I’ve been riding this year. To once again compare it to the LHT, the Devil is lighter in the hand and more responsive. It feels decidedly more like a road bike than a touring bike. The fact that the Devil can also handle commuting loads without issue makes it a capable, all-around ride for anything other than cargo-level loads.

The Handsome Devil is an appealing frameset at a competitive price. Details include all the necessary cable stops, eyelets for fenders and racks, bottle mounts, a pump peg, semi-horizontal dropouts, 132.5mm dropout spacing to accept road or mountain hubs, and sufficient clearance for heavy duty tires. This kind of versatility and attention to detail is hard to find in a frame at this price point. In all, the Handsome Devil is an extremely well thought out package.

Price (frameset): $409.95

Handsome Cycle Co.

22 Responses to “Handsome Cycle Co. Devil”

  • ethan says:

    Want.

  • RocBike.com | The RocBike Review » Handsome Devil says:

    [...] Today, with gray skies and whatever it is they are passing off as snow, I am thinking about this. [...]

  • Allison says:

    I’ve had my eye on this for a while but the frames are too big for me. I about fainted when they announced the She Devil!

  • Ryan says:

    Alan thank you for your, as always, thorough report on the Handsome Devil. I have one of the 2009 models and enjoy it.
    I am curious as to how you mounted the Wald basket to the Nitto front rack? Brackets ? zip ties? other….

    Thanks again.

    Ryan (Seattle)

  • Dweendaddy says:

    Thanks for the very utilitarian review. I would love to see some side by side pictures of the Devil and the LHT to highlight those subtle geometry differences that are so noticeable when you ride with a bit of a load.

  • Logan says:

    That bike would look great with one of Laura’s bike mustaches! The name and decals are in fantastic complement with her head badge art! http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=34214779

    Fantastic review! You did such a great job in the discussion I had to check the URL to make sure I wasn’t reading a Jan Hiene review from Bicycle Quarterly (BQ)! :) After the discussion on trail in the last BQ issue, it has really been on my mind about my surly LHT. I also carry most of my cargo in on the front and I see now after your review that its probably a mistake.

    I wonder how a Surly Cross Check (CC) compares to the handsome devil given the geometry and intended design. I’ll have to see if I can find any trail values for the CC. I suspect the CC is very similar to the Soma Double Cross that you included in the table so you have it covered either way. :) Again great review Alan, a definite home run! :)

    Cheers,
    Logan.

  • Rex in Phoenix says:

    I love the head tube logo.

    @Ryan, you can see zip ties in photos 5 and 6.

  • Ryan says:

    On Closer inspection (thank you zoom) I see the wald wire basket was attached with zipties, nicely done. From a few feet away and with a bag in the basket you can’t tell.

    R

  • Alan says:

    Thanks folks – I’m glad you enjoyed the review.

    @Logan – The Cross Check, like the LHT, is a high trail design. Using the yojimg.net calculator I get somewhere around 67mm.

    Alan

  • Logan says:

    Hey Alan,

    Thanks! I just found a trail calculator on the Kogswell site also and it came out with similar numbers to yours. http://www.kogswell.com/geo.php

    It is very interesting to note however that the 2010 Surly LHTs are offering 26 inch wheels on their larger frames. The smaller wheels on the larger frame geometry change the trail quite a bit (I used 584 mm for the tire, http://www.sheldonbrown.com/tire-sizing.html ). The trail on the 58 cm LHT’s with the smaller 26 inch wheels had a trail of only 48 mm! :) I could be doing the math wrong though since I think it depends on the size of the tire on the wheel.

    Cheers,
    Logan.

  • Alan says:

    Hey Logan,

    You’re right, the smaller wheels will reduce the amount of trail, assuming everything else stays the same. Using the yojimg calculator and assuming 559mm wheels with 35mm tires, I get a reading of 55mm, 10mm less than with 700c wheels. Pretty cool!

    Thanks..
    Alan

  • Doug R. says:

    Great review Alan, I knew I liked the Devil when you first introduced it and I am willing to loan you my white (tusk ) 1991 XO-1 to shoot side by side so folks can see the inspiration for the devil!
    On a side note, the XO-1′s ishiwata 022E tubing is to die for! Dougman. Aluminum gets the job done, but steel is Real! Dougman.

  • Tom Barone says:

    Very nice clean looking bike. I especially like the color. Price range after frameset is built up?

  • Ben says:

    Tom, we have built a bunch of geared versions for customers in the $950 range. Ben (from Handsome)

  • Alan says:

    Thanks, Ben. You beat me to it… :-)

    Alan

  • MohjhoRyder says:

    That’s one fine looking bicycle. What are the characteristics of ishiwata 022E steel tubing that makes it more desirable than other quality steel used for bicycle frames?

  • Stevep says:

    How does the Devil compare to your Sam Hillborne in terms of handling and ride qualities?

  • Will015 says:

    Would you care to measure the actual trail on this bike? That fork looks to have far too little offset to provide 45mm trail. I’d definitely be interested in one if that measurement is correct.

  • Michael McMahon says:

    Hi Alan,

    First off, thanks for all the great info you post here! I have learned a lot in my quest to make commuting more fun and practical.

    So, my question is this: I have a Surly similar to yours and I am thinking of getting a porteur style racj but after reading this comparison I am wondering if having the extra weight up there might be less then ideal. From your posts I see you use a front rack and carry a bag there. How much weight do you put there?

    Thanks,
    Michael

  • Alan says:

    Hi Michael,

    The question about how much weight is acceptable on the front fork above the wheel (porteur- style) is tough to answer. After a short adjustment period, some people don’t mind the slow down in steering at all, while others dislike the feeling and never adapt to it. Having a bike with low trail geometry certainly helps, but regardless, you’re going to feel the weight at the handlebar. The Surlys have what I’d consider neutral-to-high trail geometries, so they’re actually optimized for rear loads. That said, I routinely carry 5-10 lbs. up front, and on rare occasions, up to 30-40 lbs., with no issue.

    Regards,
    Alan

  • Lila says:

    Hi
    I was wondering what type of bag is on the seat of the bike, it’s very cool

  • Alan says:

    Hi Lila,

    That’s a Nigel Smythe bag from Rivendell:

    http://www.rivbike.com/products/list/bags_and_racks?a=1&page=all

    Alan

 
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