SITTING DOWN WITH DEVIATE CYCLES
We were able to pick the mind of Ben Jones, the Managing Director at Deviate Cycles, regarding the Highlander 150’s intentions and development process.
TLW: IN MAKING A BIKE THAT’S DESIGNED TO PEDAL WELL AND PERFORM VERY GOOD ON THE DESCENTS, DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HAD TO MAKE ANY COMPROMISES?
Ben Jones (BJ): Any trail bike is a compromise between uphill and downhill performance. Our goal with the Highlander was to minimize that compromise, using the unique kinematics of the high pivot combined with playful geometry to create a bike that performs well all over the mountain.
TLW: HOW MANY PROTOTYPES DID YOU GO THROUGH BEFORE YOU SETTLED ON THE FINAL MODEL? DID YOU USE AN ALUMINUM MULE? WE’D LOVE TO SEE IT!
BJ: We prototyped extensively during the development of the Highlander – using adaptable alloy “mules” to test different set-ups such as geometry, leverage curves and rear wheel travel.
Once the numbers are decided upon – we use CAD to design a carbon frame that matches these numbers. Finally, we receive several production samples out of the mold, some of which are tested to destruction, and some are ridden by our development team to ensure the frame has the ride feel we were looking for.
TLW: BEING BASED IN SCOTLAND, HAVE YOU DONE ANYTHING DIFFERENTLY TO THE BIKE TO MAKE IT HANDLE THE USUAL WET AND MUDDY CONDITIONS?
BJ: Ultimately, we ride all year and many of our customers do too. It’s really important to us that the Highlander frame is designed from the ground up for the worst of conditions. Every bearing has additional sealing in the form of industrial spec single lip wiper seals. Each bearing point has grease injection as well to keep things running smoothly all winter.
TLW: SHOULD PEOPLE BE CONCERNED ABOUT MAINTENANCE WITH THE IDLER?
BJ: In a word, no. We learnt a lot from the Guide, and we’ve carried on those lessons to the Highlander to make the idler simple, reliable, stiff, and silent. The idler wears out at about the same rate as a front chainring, and we suggest replacing at the same time. A replacement costs £25. It really is a very minor extra wear part to replace, for a huge increase in performance.
TLW: WHAT WERE YOUR MAIN MOTIVES FOR MOVING TO A CONVENTIONAL DERAILLEUR SETUP?
BJ: Gearboxes have their place and we loved it for big climbs and big descents. The advantages to suspension performance are noticeable and something that shouldn’t be overlooked.
For more undulating terrain and certainly when the riding is fairly “power on, power off”, the gearbox feels a bit draggy, and engagement is poor. For this reason, we decided, for a trail bike, a conventional derailleur system was well suited.
TLW: WHAT SORT OF RIDER IS THE HIGHLANDER 150 AIMED AT?
BJ: Anyone that is looking for one bike to do it all. We’ve worked hard to balance the capability of the bike so that it’s equally at home on the most technical of downhill tracks as it is on a cross country loop through the countryside. Even if you are lucky enough to have a stable of bikes for all occasions – having a bike that is at home in such a broad range of terrain is a huge advantage as ultimately you can only ride one at a time.