Words by Mike Kazimer; Photography by Dave Trumpore
Deviate entered the high-pivot world in 2016, so they’re no strangers to the potential ins and outs of the design. With the Claymore, the goal was to build a long-travel enduro bike that was still playful enough to remain fun on slightly softer terrain. The bike has true high-pivot suspension, with the main pivot located almost halfway up the seat tube. This positioning results in 21mm of rear axle travel and relatively high anti-rise values, which can help preserve geometry under hard braking.
• Travel: 165mm / 170mm fork
• Full carbon frame
• Wheel size: 29″
• Steering angle: 64.3°
• Seat tube angle: 78°
• Reach: 490mm
• Chainstay Length: 441
• Sizes: M, L (tested), X
• Weight: 15.7 kg
• Price: $3,822 (frame + Float X2 shock)
Speaking of geometry, the Deviate has a 64.3-degree head angle, the steepest (although I wouldn’t exactly call it “steep”) of the seven bikes we had on test. It also had the longest range at 490mm for a large size. That number is mitigated by a 78-degree seat tube angle, which helps keep the bike from feeling overly long when climbing. The chainstays measure 441 mm for all three available sizes.
From a distance, the Deviate sure looks like the entire housing runs through the main frame, but that’s only true of the dropper post. The rear brake and derailleur housing sit in a channel under the top tube before migrating through the swingarm en route to their final destination. Funnily enough, the only real noise complaint we had came from the dropper post housing – adding foam tubing around this line is highly recommended.
Other frame details include room for up to 2.6″ rear tires, a threaded bottom bracket, and lubrication ports on the idler pulley and pivot bearings. The 18-tooth idler uses two sealed industrial-grade bearings, and the bracket that surrounds it helps ensure the chain can’t come loose.
The Claymore is only available as a frame with a $3,696 Float X2 shock. This isn’t cheap, but it’s around $550 cheaper than a Santa Cruz Megatower frame and shock. Complete bikes aren’t available, but Deviate has an online configurator that allows customers to select the parts they want and then send that information to a dealer for a quote.
Our test bike was built 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 suitable for drivers interested in this route.
“Not bad” is the kind of faint praise usually given to bikes in this category. Because when you’re pedaling around on a 165mm travel bike, the focus is clearly (or should be) on the descent, and the climbing is typically a means to an end. The Deviate isn’t your typical enduro bike, however, and in the end it was a hugely competent climber with balanced handling that elevates it well above the not-bad label.
That steep seat angle makes for a nice and upright climbing position, and the chainstay length combined with the rear axle travel makes it easy to stay centered on the bike – there was never a feeling of being too far over the rear wheel on really steep climbs.
The front-end steering is a bit quicker than some of the flatter bikes we’ve tested, making the Claymore easier to maneuver in tighter sections of trail, especially when compared to the Commencal Meta SX or Contra MC. The Claymore is also one of those bikes that rides lighter than it actually is—I’d happily go for long, multi-hour pedals on this bike, something I’d be less inclined to do with some of the larger hooligans in our testbike group.
The idler pulley was trouble free, and only on the wettest and muddy days was there a little extra rumble from the dirty chain running over the idler pulley. Otherwise it was smooth and quiet, devoid of any noticeable drag.
The Contra MC is still the winner when it comes to straight-line speed and stability, and the Intense Tracer has a poppier feel, but the Claymore is very well-rounded, with neutral, predictable manners. Shock absorption was excellent regardless of the size of the hit and I can only imagine how much grip a coil shock would provide. The Float X2 seemed like a reasonable choice, though, and there was plenty of end-stroke ramp to keep it from bottoming out on bigger hits.
The high-pivot design and the fact that the bike gets longer as the travel increases puts it more in the middle of the pack in corners; It doesn’t have the same propensity for berm blasting as, say, the Transition Patrol. 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 a great long-travel road bike or do-it-all machine, with enough travel to handle unexpected surprises and geometry that would allow it to shine on a variety of trails. Yes, the idler pulley adds a little more complication, but it requires a standard 126 link chain and caused no problems during our testing period.