Field Test: Deviate Claymore – High Pivot Heaven

Date:

PINKBIKE FIELD TEST

Deviate Claymore


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

Deviate entered the high-spindle world in 2016, so they’re no strangers to the potential pros and cons of the design. With the Claymore, the goal was to create a long-travel enduro bike that was still playful enough to stay in slightly calmer terrain. The bike has true high-spindle suspension, with the main pivot located almost halfway up the seat tube. That positioning gives it 21mm of rear axle travel and relatively high anti-rise ratings, which can help maintain 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°
• Range: 490mm
• Chainstay length: 441
• Sizes: M, L (tested), X
• Weight: 34.7lb / 15.7kg
• Price: $3,822 (frame + Float X2 shock)
• www.deviatecycles.com

As for geometry, the Deviate has a 64.3-degree head angle, the steepest (though I wouldn’t really call it “steep”) of the seven bikes we tested. It also had the longest reach, at 490mm for a plus size. That number is tempered by a seat angle of 78 degrees, which ensures that the bike doesn’t feel too long while climbing. The chainstays measure 441mm on all three sizes available.

From a distance, the Deviate certainly looks like all 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 under the top tube before passing through the swingarm on their way to their final destination. Funnily enough, the only real noise complaint we had came from the dripper housing – adding foam tubing around that line is highly recommended.

Other frame details include clearance for a rear tire of up to 2.6 inches, a threaded bottom bracket with grease ports on the tensioner and pivot bearings. The 18-tooth tensioner uses two industrial-grade sealed bearings and the brace around it prevents the chain from coming loose.

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

Our test bike was built with a kit that includes 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 that route.

to climb

“Not bad” is the kind of vague praise typically doled out to bikes in this category. After all, when you’re cycling around a bike with 165mm of travel, the focus is clearly on descending (or at least it should be), and climbing is usually a means to an end. The Deviate isn’t your typical enduro bike, though, and it ended up being an extremely competent climber, with a well-balanced handling that elevates it far beyond the “not bad” designation.

That steep seat angle makes for a nice and upright climbing position, and the chainstay length combined with the rear axle path makes it easy to stay centered on the bike – there was never a feeling of being too far over the rear wheel, even on really steep slopes.

The front steering is a little faster than some of the slacker bikes we had on test, making the Claymore easier to maneuver in tighter sections of the trail, especially when 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 like to do a long, multi-hour pedal on this bike, something I’d be less inclined to do on some of the bigger powerhouses in our group of test bikes.

The tensioner was trouble-free and only on the wettest and muddiest days there was some extra rumble from the dirty chain running over the tensioner. Other than that, it was smooth and quiet, without any noticeable drag.

Descending

The Claymore defies all expectations of how a high pivot bike should behave. Yes, it has excellent traction and smooths rough sections of the trail incredibly well, but there was a vibrancy to the handling that was a welcome surprise.

The Contra MC still takes the cake when it comes to outright straight-line speed and stability, and the Intense Tracer has a more poppy feel, but the Claymore is very well-rounded, with neutral, predictable manners. Shock absorption was excellent no matter the size of the stroke, and I can only imagine how much grip a coil shock would provide. However, the Float X2 felt like a suitable choice, and there was enough ramped end stroke to keep it from bottoming out on bigger hits.

The high pivot design and the fact that the bike lengthens as it progresses through its travel puts it closer to the center of the pack when it comes to cornering; it doesn’t have the same tendency to berm blast as, say, the Transition Patrol. Still, it never felt impractical, and its smooth, comfortable ride put this bike on all of our short favorites lists.

Overall, the Claymore would be a great race bike, or a long-travel all-in-one machine, with enough suspension travel to handle unexpected surprises, and a geometry that allows it to shine on a variety of tracks. Yes, the tensioner adds a bit more complication, but it does require a standard 126 link chain and caused no problems during our testing period.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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