Field Test: Deviate Claymore – High Pivot Heaven

PINKBIKE FIELD TEST

Deviate Claymore


Words by Mike Kazimer; photography by Dave Trumpore
On paper the Claymore looks like a brute, with a high pivot suspension design, 29” wheels, and 165mm of rear travel. It was a slightly different story out on the trail, where Deviate’s latest carbon creation ended up surprising testers with its versatility.

Deviate stepped into the high pivot world back in 2016, so they’re no strangers to the potential pros and cons of the design. With the Claymore, the goal was to make a long travel enduro bike that was still playful enough to remain entertaining on slightly mellower terrain. The bike has a true high pivot suspension layout, with the main pivot located nearly halfway up the seat tube. That positioning gives it a rearward axle path of 21mm, and relatively high anti-rise values, which can help preserve the geometry during heavy braking.

Deviate Claymore Details

• Travel: 165mm / 170mm fork
• Full carbon frame
• Wheel size: 29″
• Head angle: 64.3°
• Seat tube angle: 78°
• Reach: 490mm
• Chain stay length: 441
• Sizes: M, L (tested), X
• Weight: 34.7 lbs / 15.7 kg
• Price: $3,822 (frame + Float X2 shock)
• www.deviatecycles.com

On the topic of geometry, the Deviate has a 64.3-degree head angle, the steepest (although I wouldn’t exactly call it ‘steep’) out of the seven bikes we had on test. It also had the longest reach, at 490mm for a size large. That number is tempered by a 78-degree seat angle, which helps ensure the bike doesn’t feel overly long while climbing. The chainstays measure 441mm on all three available sizes.

From a distance, the Deviate sure looks like all of the housing runs through the main frame, but that’s only true for the dropper post. The rear brake and derailleur housing sit in a channel underneath the top tube before traveling through the swingarm on the way to their final destinations. Funny enough, the only real noise complaint we had came from the dropper post housing – adding foam tubing around that line is highly recommended.

Other frame details include room for up to a 2.6” rear tire, a threaded bottom bracket, and grease ports on the idler and pivot bearings. The 18-tooth idler uses two industrial grade sealed bearings, and the bracket that surrounds it helps ensure that the chain can’t come off.

The Claymore is available as a frame only with a Float X2 shock for $3,696 USD. That’s not cheap, but it is around $550 less expensive than a Santa Cruz Megatower frame and shock. Complete bikes aren’t available, but Deviate does have an online configurator that allows customers to select the parts they want and then send that information to a dealer to receive a quote.

Our test bike was built up with a kit that included a Shimano XT drivetrain and 4-piston brakes, DT Swiss EX 511 wheels, a OneUp dropper post, and a Fox Float X2 / Fox 38 suspension combo. The Claymore is also coil shock compatible for riders interested in going that route.

Climbing

“Not bad” is the sort of faint praise that typically gets handed out to bikes in this category. After all, if you’re pedaling around a bike with 165mm of travel the focus is clearly on descending (or at least it should be), and climbing is typically a means to an end. The Deviate isn’t your typical enduro bike, though, and it ended up being an extremely competent climber, with balanced handling that elevates it well above the ‘not bad’ designation.

That steep seat angle provides a nice and upright climbing position, and the chainstay length combined with the rearward axle path creates makes it easy to stay centered on the bike – there wasn’t ever any sense of being too far over the rear wheel, even on really steep climbs.

The front end steering is a touch quicker than some of the slacker bikes that we had on test, which makes the Claymore easier to maneuver in tighter sections of trail, especially compared to the Commencal Meta SX or Contra MC. The Claymore also happens to be one of those bikes that rides lighter than it actually is – I’d happily head out for a long, multi-hour pedal on this bike, something that I’d be less inclined to do on some of the bigger bruisers in our group of test bikes.

The idler was trouble free, and it was only on the wettest and muddiest days that a little extra rumbling arose from the dirty chain traveling over the idler pulley. Otherwise it was smooth and silent, free of any noticeable drag.

descending

The Claymore defies expectations about how a high-pivot, idler-equipped bike should behave. Yes, it has excellent traction, and smooths out rough sections of trail incredibly well, but there was a liveliness to its handling that was a welcome surprise.

The Contra MC still takes the cake when it comes to outright straightline speed and stability, and the Intense Tracer has a more poppy feel to it, but the Claymore is very well-rounded, with neutral, predictable manners. Bump absorption was excellent, no matter the size of the hit, and I can only imagine how much grip a coil shock would deliver. The Float X2 felt like an appropriate choice, though, and there was plenty of end-stroke ramp up to keep it from bottoming out on bigger hits.

The high pivot design and the fact that the bike gets longer as it goes through its travel does place it closer to the middle of the pack when it comes to cornering; it doesn’t have the same propensity for berm blasting as the Transition Patrol, for example. Still, it never felt unwieldy, and its smooth, comfortable ride put this bike on all of our short lists of favorites.

Overall, the Claymore would make for a great race bike, or a long-travel do-it-all machine, with enough travel to handle unexpected surprises, and geometry that allows it to shine on a variety of tracks. Yes, the idler adds a little more complication, but it does take a standard 126 link chain, and didn’t cause any trouble during our test period.

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