Ben Jones and Chris Deverson of Deviate Cycles make no bones about it. Their aim with the all-new Deviate Highlander was this: to create the World’s most capable trail bike. Ben and Chris are no stranger to the high-pivot platform, employing it very successfully on their gearbox mountain bike, the Deviate Guide. Looking at the geo numbers, with the 29″ wheels and 140mm of suspension travel, the Highlander doesn’t seem too other-worldly in the context of modern trail bikes. That said, just one look at this bike with its high-pivot suspension and chain idler demands you give it attention.
The Deviate Highlander trail bike is a full carbon construction, rolling on a 29″ wheelset. A 140-160mm travel fork is recommended, paired with 140mm of high-pivot serviced rear suspension. The key feature of the Highlander’s suspension platform is that, upon compression, the axle path is rearward. This means that when the back wheel smashes into roots and rocks, it actually moves backwards, out of the way of the obstacles and allowing the bike to maintain momentum.
The high-pivot is said to bestow descending capabilities far greater than what you might expect from a 140mm travel bike. The guys at Deviate say a chain idler has allowed for precise optimisation of the suspension characteristics for potent climbing, calibrated for pedalling efficiency without compromising downhill performance. The idler placement also controls anti-squat, with negligible pedal kickback.
The Deviate Highlander is currently only available in medium and large frame sizes, though expect a small and XL to available in the not-far-off future. The M and L should service rider heights of 5ft 5″ to 6ft 3″. That said, at 5ft 4″, I felt the medium was a good fit when I swung a leg over it a few weeks back. Keep an eye out for my first ride review coming soon.
Reach on the Deviate Highlander sits at 450mm in medium and 480mm in large. Chainstays are 441mm, consistent across the frame sizes. The seat angle sits at a healthy 76°, with a BB drop of 28mm. The head angle is 65.5°, with stack heights of 615mm and 623mm, in medium and large, respectively. The seat post is plenty short enough, at 410mm in medium and 430mm in large. That said, it’s also long enough and straight enough to get a super long travel dropper post on there.
The Highlander has been designed and tested in Scotland, where the saying goes “If it works in Scotland, it will work anywhere”. Deviate have designed a bike built to withstand some seriously harsh riding conditions. They’ve used fully sealed bearings with twin lip wiper seals on each bearing, coupled with grease ports in the name of riding all winter. A cable channel keeps the brake/gear cables external for ease of fitment and maintenance while concealing the cables to keep it looking clean. The 18T aluminium idler also gets twin outboard fully sealed bearings with grease injection ports.
The Deviate Highlander takes a 126 link chain, commonly available so there’s no need to join chains. The frame features bonded rubber panels to protect the carbon frame from rock strikes and chain slap. The Boost 148 frame boasts tyre clearance for up to 2.8″ wide tyres. The front triangle is water bottle compatible, and features an additional six bosses on the underside of the top tube to serve as accessory mounting points.
Pricing and Availability
The Deviate Highlander will be sold as a frame only, with a range of shocks and build components available. Prices start at £2750 GBP (~$3550 USD). The Highlander comes with a lifetime warranty and crash/damage replacement policy. Shipping is available worldwide.