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First Ride: Deviate Claymore MX – Pinkbike

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We were impressed with the Deviate Claymore 29er when we covered it in the 2022 Field test, so when Deviate brought out a mixed-wheel version we were keen to see how it stacks up in 2024.

Deviate haven’t simply fitted a smaller wheel and a flip chip to preserve the bottom bracket height; they’ve made a whole new rear triangle to accommodate the 27.5″ rear wheel. Deviate say that with their high pivot design, using a flip chip or a different link would cause the bike to sit in the wrong part of the axle path curve, which would throw the anti-squat and the chainstay length out of balance. By changing the swingarm, Deviate can keep the handling and suspension performance more similar to the 29er version.

The obvious downside is that it’s not possible to swap between wheel sizes, although Deviate are offering a kit to swap the swingarm on 29er Claymores to a mullet setup.

Deviate Claymore MX Details
• Mixed wheels (duh) 27.5″/29″
• 165 mm rear travel, 170-180 mm fork
• Different rear triangle compared to 29er version – no flip chip
• Sizes: M, L, XL – 460, 490, 520 mm reach
• Claimed frame weight: 3.2 kg (7.1 lb)
• Measured weight as tested: 16.2 kg (35.7 lb) in XL without pedals
• Price (frame only, no shock): £2999 GBP / $3,200 USD / €3,499 / $4500 CAD / 3,200 CHF
deviatecycles.com

However you cut it, it’s an expensive frame. But it stands out from the crowd and it rides really well.
Frame & suspension

The mainframe is shared with the 29er variant, which means there is room for a full-sized water bottle plus a tool mount under the top tube. Cables run externally through a groove underneath the top tube but run inside the swingarm. If I were building up a bike from scratch, I’d be tempted to secure the brake line to the outside of the swingarm for a fully external affair, even though there are no bosses for doing this. The 27.5″ swingarm is UDH compatible (as is the 29er version for 2024 frames).

It’s great to see grease ports for all frame bearings including the idler pulley, plus twin-lip wiper seals. On their Instagram account, Deviate advise re-greasing the pivots about once a season, which should help the bearings to last longer by flushing out old grease and dirt. The BB is threaded and there is generous frame protection too.
The suspension is a true high-pivot affair, with the rear axle moving backwards by over 20 mm over its 165 mm of vertical motion. At 30% sag, the wheel moves rearwards by around 13 mm relative to the mainframe. That means the chainstay length will feel longer (resulting in a more forward weight bias) than the geometry chart would suggest.
The shock is driven by a link that pivots around the bottom bracket, which is in turn pulled by another link which connects it to the bottom of the swingarm just under the bottom bracket. This link is pretty exposed to front wheel spray, but it is tucked up higher than the chainring so rock strikes shouldn’t be a concern. A skid plate is probably extra advisable though just for extra protection.

Unlike many recent high-pivot bikes, the swingarm moves on a single pivot. That means the braking behaviour isn’t as adjustable from a designer’s perspective, and it will tend to sit deeper into its travel under braking from a rider’s perspective.

The leverage curve is quite progressive towards the end of the travel, helping to resist bottom-out, but it’s close to linear in the middle of the travel, which makes the suspension relatively active/unsupportive in the mid-stroke.

The 18-tooth idler pulley is fixed to the swingarm just below the main pivot, which results in plenty of anti-squat so there’s good support while pedalling.


Geometry

The geometry is identical to the 29er Claymore except the chainstay is 6 mm shorter, at 435 mm. That’s on the short side these days, but remember the rearward axle path means the rear-center length will grow by up to 20 mm throughout the travel.

The 520 mm reach on the XL size is longer than most, but the short head tube means you need extra spacers under the stem to raise the bar height, which makes the frame feel shorter than that number would suggest. It’s still a big bike, but nothing out of the ordinary these days. At 191 cm (6’3″), the XL was a good fit.


Models
For now, the Claymore MX is only available as a frame. For testing, Deviate allowed me to pick some familiar parts like Fox Factory suspension, DT Swiss wheels, Maxxis DoubleDown tires, Shimano XT drivetrain, and a OneUp 240 mm seatpost and 35 mm rise handlebars. The Magura MT7 brakes were the only item that took time to get used to. It’s worth noting Deviate sent me a bike with a 180 mm fork.

This build weighed 16.2 kg (35.7 lb) in XL without pedals.


Ride Impressions

It may seem churlish to question the climbing efficiency of Deviate’s suspension design given Mathew Fairbrother’s awesome adventures on his, such as riding between rounds of the Enduro World Cup and winning a race designed to be accessed with boats, helicopters and vans without using any of them. But as we all know such feats are more about the man than the machine.

In a previous test, we found that an idler only robs around 2% of a rider’s power, and that feels about right with the Deviate. It’s not the quickest climbing enduro bike (not compared to the super-efficient Scott Ransom and Orbea Rallon that I’ve been testing recently), but I’d say it’s about average. There is a little movement from the suspension while pedalling, but it firms up and feels supportive when you’re winching up something steep, and the seated position is nice and upright. The idler is impressively quiet too, although it starts to rumble if the chain gets dirty or under-lubed. The Claymore is best when pedalling over bumpy terrain, where the suspension moves more readily and upsets the pedalling rhythm less than idler-free bikes. It’s a good technical climber.

On the descents, the Claymore goes from average to top class. I wouldn’t say that the high pivot suspension performs like it has more travel than the headline number suggests, but it certainly does things differently. Fortunately, the Claymore has plenty of vertical travel as well as the rearward component, helping it soften impacts of all sizes very nicely. It’s particularly impressive when the rear wheel falls into a hole and then compresses rapidly on the other side. It does a good job of ironing out the most jarring hits despite the smaller back wheel.

Set up with 30% sag, the suspension never bottoms out unduly, but isn’t the most supportive in the middle of the travel (it ramps up quite near the end). This plays into its ability to swallow up bumps and smooth trail chatter, but in berms and compressions, it’s not the most supportive or responsive. A coil shock would compensate for this trait, but I didn’t mind it. In some ways the rearward axle path seems to offset the sensation of squatting back as the suspension compresses, helping you to feel centered on the bike. I also ran the 180 mm fork softer than usual (93 psi at 85 kg) to create a more balanced feel. The sprawling rear-centre may feel odd at first when bunny-hopping large obstacles, pulling a manual or scooping through a tight berm, but it’s something you can get used to – especially with a higher bar height.

When braking hard over bumps, it occasionally feels a little less refined than some four-bar bikes, but I wouldn’t describe it as harsh. The upside is that the bike hunkers down at the rear when braking, so the chassis stays more level and feels more stable.

The 27.5″ rear wheel has obvious clearance advantages especially for small to medium-sized riders when things get spicy, while the high-pivot suspension helps offset the drawbacks over bumps. Bottom line: the Claymore excels when things get steep and gnarly.


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