Luxury Bikes

(Tested) Deviate Claymore | MTB-MAG.COM

Long before bike park season began, Deviate Cycles sent its high-pivot Claymore for review as a frameset. Personally, I like testing bikes this way as it allows me to hone in on the bike’s DNA and built-in features, while at the same time allowing readers to independently assess the value of different models and map them against their budget. Ultimately, the value aspect can vary greatly depending on the level of equipment and frame material. In any case, this isn’t my first time riding a high-pivot idler bike, but I think the Claymore stands out due to its very manageable geometry, which, when the bike has been in use for so long, allows it to be quite maneuverable and quite be efficient when it comes to getting you back up the mountain. Read on for the full breakdown…


  • 29″ front and back
  • Carbon fiber
  • 126 link chain
  • 2.6″ tire clearance
  • Accessory holder
  • Compatible with water bottles
  • Cable routing: external front triangle / internal rear
  • Medium, Large (tested), Extra Large
  • 170mm or 180mm (tested) front travel / 165mm rear travel
  • Lifetime guarantee
  • $3,600 (no shock) / on sale for $2,880 at the time of writing

Starting with the idler pulley itself – the 18T pulley bolts attach neatly to the frame with three 4mm Allen screws and feature an easy-access lubrication port via a standard zinc connection.

The Claymore features a bolt-on carbon fiber downtube protector that is very wide and sturdy.

The angle crank style shock absorber linkage rotates, interrupting and concentric with the bottom bracket shell. This linkage is designed to sit no lower than the bike’s bashguard/chain guide. This means that direct impacts with immovable objects in the path are also unlikely, although it does catch some less serious objects thrown from the front wheel. One point worth mentioning in this area was that at the time of testing it was difficult to find a chain guide that fit this bike well, so I just used a bashguard. However, Deviate now offers its own specially designed guide for just $74, so problem solved!

The tapered head tube has pressed-in headset cups.

The solid (read: no interruptions from pivot points) rear end offers plenty of rear tire clearance. Shown here with a 2.4″ Wide Trail tire, there is still plenty of room for dirt and mud. This is likely a by-product of development in the Scottish Highlands, where conditions are often far from mild.

While I’ll discuss the Claymore’s on-trail capabilities below, I wanted to address a small technical issue I had with it early on. At the beginning of my testing, two derailleur hangers broke off with such small impacts that I didn’t even notice them while driving. I reached out to Deviate and they told me they updated the hanger and sent me some new ones. As you can imagine, the new reinforced version is the one pictured above left – without relief. After the new one was installed I had no more problems.

I liked Deviate’s super-clean cable/hose routing, which runs through the outside of the front triangle in a groove under the downtube. It’s quiet and doesn’t rattle, plus it’s a mechanic’s dream come true and looks unobtrusive. Bonus points for the attachment that doubles as an accessory mount on the seat tube. I’m not a big proponent of internal routing… If a brand can pull off a clean-looking, quiet external routing, I’m all for it!

However, I had some complaints overall with the route. If you want to run things externally in the front triangle, internal routing in the rear frame is pointless as it makes bleeding/replacing the brakes difficult. Another minor gripe was that while I primarily used a Reverb AXS wireless seatpost, the cable wasn’t completely immune to slight noise when I used a mechanical dropper mount, despite the included foam sleeve. Personally, I think a small change to the main cable connector or rubber grommet could solve this problem.


A look at the geometry numbers shows a bike that is completely out of control, not just with its long draft and slack. Rather, a gentle head angle of 64.3° and a seat angle of 78° suggest that this bike will be quite nimble and efficient up the mountain, respectively.

On the path

When I first started climbing, I would consider the Claymore to be the absolute leader in the enduro category – certainly among the bikes I’ve tested so far. I realize there are some factors to consider in the equation such as low drag from the idler and kinematics, but its efficiency relies primarily on body positioning and is largely due to the bike’s 78° seat angle, which is the steepest, that I have ever driven before. In terms of that number, this was the first bike where I didn’t move my seat rails further forward. I think anything steeper would be counterproductive, as you can hit your knees on the handlebars on steep uphill switchbacks. As for drag, I haven’t done any empirical testing, but the Claymore ran very smoothly and quietly and didn’t seem to have much of an impact on things. To put it this way: It didn’t feel like a big setback at all. Finally, when it comes to kinematics, I found the rear suspension to be quite quiet and so, apart from the longer climbs, I didn’t bother with the switch often.

As for the fun, when I pointed the bike in its preferred direction – downhill – I found a bike that is balanced with a single word. While some enduro bikes exploit their fast-and-loose advantages through more radical geometry numbers, the Claymore’s ability to transmit speed relies more on the rear axle path and its low center of mass. That’s certainly not to say I lacked confidence on this bike. Rather, it means that the Claymore’s maneuverability and agility saves energy and time in slower and flatter sections, which in my opinion makes it a very ideal road bike. Finally, there are many enduro stages with tight, slow and difficult sections sandwiched between fast and rough sections. Overall, I think this bike’s biggest strength is its ability to excel so well in both areas – the overall handling is just incredible.

To go into more detail, I tested the Claymore with a RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate RC2 with coil spring and HBO. The folks at Deviate suggested the default optimization and mentioned that some people in the office were implementing it with great success. Although I found the bike relatively spring-friendly, I pushed the hydraulic bottom all the way in to avoid end-of-stroke harshness on some larger impacts. I also ended up using a 525# spring, although at 82.5kg I should be right between 450# and 475# according to the Deviate website. I prefer fixed values, but this table should be treated with caution. Anyway, both of these made me curious to try this bike with an air shock and made me think it might be better suited to one due to the greater progression, but overall I didn’t have any major complaints about the suspension And if you’re racing, A bike that leans a little more linearly is often a good thing, as you’ll have a little more traction on deck and be more forgiving of minor mistakes.

As for some other handling characteristics, the Claymore exhibits a fairly strong braking squat, as is common with many high pivots, and although this helped it feel smooth and stable on the climbs, it did become a bit firmer and more under hard braking it tended to feel slightly rough in some situations. When it comes to cornering, as you can imagine based on what I’ve previously noted about the Claymore’s agility, it’s an absolute treat. The frame is very stiff from side to side and doesn’t move when pushed in. Rather, it returns the energy proportionally and shoots out of corners. That’s not to say that it has a hard structure at all…in fact, I think it’s exactly right. One area where this bike really shined for me was the off-camber sections. To some extent I think this is due to the high pivot suspension, but I’m sure the geometry and construction are also worth mentioning. In any case, it held the line very well in point-and-shoot sections.

As for some of the technical features, much of this is covered in the Details section, but it’s worth taking a moment to discuss the quality of construction. I found the machining of the aluminum parts to be excellent and the hardware to be very well thought out and easy to use. The frame itself is sturdy and very quiet, aside from a slight muffled rattle from the dropper cable. I applaud Deviate for designing this bike so that it only requires a chain and for thinking through all the little things like the accessory mount, water bottle and lube ports.

In total

All in all, I really enjoyed my time on the Claymore and found it to be a very interesting bike. I did have a few minor issues with it (one of which – the derailleur hanger – was sorted out), but all in all it’s a very strong performer. Unfortunately, when it comes to value for money, $3,600 without shock isn’t entirely out of line for a full-suspension boutique carbon fiber mountain bike frame. Nowadays and at the moment, the Claymore can be purchased for $2,880, which is actually a solid offer. The fact that it’s backed by a lifetime warranty and crash replacement policy will make it easier for some drivers to venture into boutique territory. Overall, I think the bike’s main standout feature is its ability to strike a perfect balance between performance/stability and agility. It can tackle really difficult terrain with aplomb, but paradoxically when the ride is smoother or more difficult and requires extra effort and commitment from the rider, the bike really shines. This can be a huge advantage in racing and is a difficult balancing act. I would like to add that the Claymore may perform better than most other bikes in the enduro category, although of course I haven’t tested all of them. In that respect, it’s a bit of an anomaly that’s in a league of its own. So if this sounds like your thing, it’s definitely worth considering…

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