FIRST RIDE REVIEW
HIGH PIVOT, HIGH PACE
Review by Robert Johnston
Photos by Rob Hinds
Deviate received high praises for their Highlander high pivot trail/all mountain machine, which has been tearing up trails around the world since its release in 2020. Realizing the potential to boost the descending capabilities of this platform, Deviate set about creating a longer travel enduro version with more aggressive geometry and kinematics – enter the Claymore. We had to get one of these to test as soon as we laid eyes on it, so we were stoked that Deviate managed to squeeze a few days out of the packed schedule for us to test one in the Tweed Valley in Scotland. We came away pretty damn impressed, read on to find out why.
• 165mm High Single Pivot Suspension
• HTA 64.3
• STA 78
• REACH 490 (Large)
Price: £2,999 (frame only) – £3,599 (frame and Ohlins/Fox shock)
The Claymore is a 165mm rear travel, linkage driven high single pivot enduro machine, that Deviate designed to offer race winning pace on the descents with calm pedaling manners and playfulness for the times outside of the tape. The frame is available in carbon fiber only, with 29” wheels on both ends and the option to run a 170mm or 180mm travel fork.
High pivot point suspension designs are typically chosen to produce a more rearward axle path, which should theoretically allow the rear wheel to move out of the way of obstacles easier, and the rear end length also extends to give a more stable bike when deep in the travel. It also produces a high level of anti-rise, or brake squat, maintaining the geometry of the bike when hard on the anchors, but producing the side effect of a firming of the rear end when braking.
Deviate equipped the Claymore with the same 18 tooth idler that features on their Highlander trail/all mountain bike, which allows them to control the influence of chain forces on the suspension. Deviate tweaked its position to deliver a healthy amount of anti-squat and limit the pedal kickback and managed to limit the overall chain length to only require a standard 126 link chain.
Deviate covered the usual frame details, with a bolt-on carbon downtube protector; bonded rubber chainstay protector; threaded bb; boost rear end, and room for a large water bottle on all sizes. To make the frame pivots truly Scotland-proof there’s grease ports to give them a freshen up without complete disassembly, and the cables are handled by a mechanic-friendly gutter system on the underside of the top tube meaning you don’t have to worry about fishing around inside the downtube for all but the dropper cable.
Geometry figures are on the progressive end of the spectrum, but not extreme, to ensure the Claymore retains some all-round capabilities. The size range goes from medium to extra-large to fit riders from 5’6” to 6’5”, with reach figures from 460mm to 520mm. At 6’2” or 189cm I opted to ride the size large, with a 490mm reach, 630mm stack height and 1268mm wheelbase. The head angle is 64.3 degrees, and the seat tube angle is an actual 78 degrees, with a short seat tube length and long insertion depth to allow for the fitting of a long travel dropper. The chainstays are 441mm static but get longer as you get deeper into the travel thanks to that high pivot suspension, and the bb sits at 30mm below the axles.
To learn more about the Deviate Claymore, head to the press release where you will find the full geometry table, suspension curves and more.
Out the gate the climbing characteristics are surprisingly pleasant for a long travel, high pivot enduro brawler, with a nicely upright seated position and enough anti squat to reduce the reliance on the lockout lever. It felt a little on the firm side for the slipperiest and chunkiest climbs, where traction began to reduce a touch, but was within a manageable level that didn’t hold my lackluster climbing technique back. The idler didn’t feel to add too much drag for smoother fire road efforts and was quiet when the chain was freshly lubricated. But as the drivetrain dried out and a bit of mud or dirt was thrown into the mix, some noise would enter the equation, especially in the larger cassette cogs. It never felt like a nightmare to climb, but there was a touch more perceived fatigue by the end of a long day – maybe it was just the extra laps I was dying to get in before I had to give it back. Regardless, I’d suggest tire setup and your mid-ride nutrition are going to be bigger factors than the drag added by the idler.
After a setup period that took a bit of going back and forth to obtain the desired balance front to rear, things began to fall into place. The one notion that I couldn’t shake though is the effect on the rear end when braking – the firming of the rear end due to the high levels of brake squat is quite extreme. The outcome of this is not all bad – it makes for a very pleasant and composed steep terrain crusher thanks to the geometry preservation, and when braking hard on smoother terrain the balance that is maintained is appreciated. But the negative side is the discomfort when braking hard through rough terrain. This forces a very deliberate riding style absent of any brake dragging to retain the smooth operation of the rear end, and when ridden correctly it absolutely rips. But if you’re a serial brake dragger and don’t plan to change that, the Claymore is not going to suit you.
When pushing hard through rough terrain (and letting the brakes off) the Claymore really comes alive, delivering a load of traction and composure through big compressions, yet just about retaining enough agility to maneuver through tight terrain. There’s an adequate amount of platform to push off given its rough terrain sensitivity, letting speed be gained effectively through pumping efforts, and there’s enough pop to prevent it being a plow-only machine too. The overall balance of riding traits is seriously impressive as an enduro race machine or day-to-day mountain crusher. The geometry balance no doubt helps here too, with the mid-length rear end that extends deeper into the travel keeping a healthy amount of weight on the front wheel when the bike is loaded hard, yet keeping things relatively nimble when lighter on the bike.
Over the short First Ride period, I certainly didn’t have the chance to test the long-term durability of the Claymore, so unsurprisingly there were limited issues that arose. A few pieces of frame hardware required a re-torque after the shakedown of day 1 (the used frame had just been reassembled), which seemed reasonable as the items bedded in during use. The only issue was to do with the idler setup, which means the chain wrap on the front ring is considerably less than a conventional setup. This led to a couple of dropped chains over the 5 days of abuse – not a major issue for the casual riding, but far from ideal in a race scenario. I’d like to see a guide of some sort thrown into the mix to reduce this likelihood, in addition to a bashguard to keep the front ring safe from the chunkiest terrain that the Claymore craves. The front ring was well used, which will have of course contributed to the issue, but a guide feels like an easy solution to keep things extra-secure.
The Wolf’s First Impression
A densely packed few days of riding on board the Deviate Claymore gave me a solid idea of the character of the bike, but I still feel like there’s some more potential to unlock. Even so, the First Ride has told me one thing for sure – the Claymore rips. The braking character could be the only chink in the armor of the Deviate high pivot enduro machine, which firms up the rear end and can unsettle the bike when slowing down through the roughest terrain. For riders who aren’t prone to brake dragging, or simply don’t foresee it being an issue, the Claymore seems to be quite the machine.
Price: £3,599 (frame and Ohlins/Fox shock)
Weight: 6.1 lb / 2.75 kg (frame only, claimed)
Charges damn hard
Retains some playfulness
Firms under braking
Idler noise (with dry chain)
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