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.
|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