The Deviate Guide, brainchild of ex-Aston Martin Racing engine designer Chris Deverson, caught more than its fair share of attention at Eurobike 2018. As one of the few gearbox mountain bikes on the market it does warrant a second look, especially with its high pivot point and the striking blue anodized upside down Intend forks it was caught modelling.
Deviating: From F1 to Alpine MTB
Packing in his very good job in the motorsports industry, Chris set out to fulfill his lifelong dream of designing and building his very own mountain bike. Nothing like a good bit of market research, Chris headed straight to the Alps where, over 3 seasons of guiding, he came to the conclusion that the current market offering just didn’t quite cut the mustard. Chris tells us he was replacing bearings every month and servicing forks after every 20 hours of riding! Sounds like harsh riding, but you can imagine how that might add up.
Business partner and fellow mountain bike guide Ben explains, “time and time again we would notice the same things going wrong, and often it was to do with the vulnerabilities of the drivetrain to rock strikes, and things like the rear mech going into the spokes and ripping your wheel apart, and suddenly you’ve got a long walk home”.
Deviate Guide development story
Having identified the main problems and limitations of modern day trail bikes, Chris ploughed on with the design of his first low-maintenance, but high performance full suspension mountain bike. The sketching and modelling of designs began around 7 years ago, with the first alloy prototype fleshed out 5 years ago with the help of a small fabrication shop making MotoGP frames.
Chris made the first carbon Deviate Guide by hand in his own shed, and first constructed a custom jig for the purpose. $10,000 were spent on the production of this first model, despite the fact that Chris was using a ‘cheap’ method of layering the carbon fiber over a foam core and compressing the layers under vacuum, in much the same way a surfboard is made…
Happy with the build, Chris and Ben secured investment last year to produce the first batch. The frames are now fabricated in China using a more conventional (consistent & reliable) construction method.
The Deviate Guide explained…
Wanting to avoid pigeon-holing The Guide, Chris and Ben describe it as a bike ‘designed to go up and down mountains’. It’s the bike they love to ride day in and day out, with a nice long wheelbase at 1203mm in medium, a slack head angle of 65.8° to suit the steepness of terrain in the Alps, and a suitably long reach of 450mm providing a spacious cockpit.
Chris initially started designing his own gearbox but Pinion came along at the optimal time with a tried and tested, proven-to-be-reliable gearbox with the desired 600% gear range. That’s huge range, when you consider that the SRAM Eagle delivers just 500%. The 12-speed gearbox with even 17.7% spacing is said to ensure there is always the perfect gear for the terrain, whether you’re spinning up the steepest hills or cranking it down the fastest singletrack.
The joys of the gearbox include the freedom to change gear without needing to pedal, simultaneously meaning you can shift while stationary or, if so inclined, while in the air! The unique high pivot point design featured on the Guide completely eliminates chain growth as the bike travels through the rear travel, thereby eliminating pedal kickback. This allows for continued and unimpeded pedaling through rough terrain and also staves off fatigue on descents, as the rider isn’t constantly absorbing pedal kickback. The high pivot also means the rear wheel can move through a rearward axle path, increasing its compliance as it moves away from impacts, and square-edged hits are absorbed more directly through the suspension, maintaining forward momentum and improving traction. This is said to allow the wheelbase of the bike to be maintained as the suspension is compressed for consistent handling.
The absence of a cassette and clutch rear mech means the suspension is unhindered by chain tension (and also gets built with a super solid rear wheel). The majority of the drivetrain weight sits in the center of the bike, reducing unsprung mass, and resulting in a more responsive suspension system. With the mass positioned low and centralized, handling is improved and cornering more predictable.
Enduro double row, angular contact max fill bearings are used for all pivot points, and are well protected from the fine alpine dust, situated behind twin lip wiper seals. Chris and Ben reckon these survive 14 months of heavy (ab)use in the Alps. The gearbox itself is hermetically sealed and subsequently requires significantly less maintenance than a traditional drivetrain system. It gets a 5 year warranty, and the only maintenance required is an annual oil change!
Pricing & Availability
The Guide is now available to purchase as of Spring 2018. You can buy the frame with a rear shock and Pinion C-Line 12-speed Gearbox for around the $4,500 mark, shock dependent. The full UK build with Cane Creek DBAir Inline Rear Shock comes in at around $7,500, or upgrade to the Alpine Build featuring the Cane Creek DBAir CS Rear Shock for an additional $130. A Factory Fox spec is also available at around $8,000, featuring Fox Float DPX2 Factory shock and Fox 36 Float Factory 160 FIT forks.
Looking pinned at Eurobike 2018
The Guide was spotted at Eurobike 2018 modelling the Pinion C-Line 12-speed Gearbox and Pinion’s new rotary shifter DS2, designed in collaboration with the ergonomics specialists at Ergon. The grip/twist shifter is specifically shaped to suit smaller hand sizes and the material has been optimized to improve grip when wet.
The Guide was also rocking a nice looking blue Intend Edge upside-down fork, designed to minimize fore-aft flex. Intend say the air spring curve has excellent small bump sensitivity due to the huge negative chamber, around twice the length of competitors’ forks. Made in Germany in small numbers and assembled by hand, piece by piece, this is a very high-end fork. 1900€ retail and made-to-order, the Edge is typically sporting 166mm of travel. I feel like we need to know more about this fork.