Deviate Guide Review – Far from mainstream
True to the brands’ name, Deviate’s first bike, the Guide, is anything but mainstream. With a Pinion gearbox, a high pivot point and sophisticated Cane Creek suspension, it isn’t your run of the mill enduro rig. Is this what the holy grail of individualists looks like?
The most unique feature of the Deviate Guide immediately catches your eye: the elevated chainstay and high pivot point. The concept isn’t new but it’s going through a renaissance, generating a lot of hype particularly in the world of DH. The pivot point is placed very high above the top of the chainring, creating a rearward axle path. This means that on impact the rear wheel moves backwards, away from an obstacle allowing it to perform more sensitively. This rearward travel would result in chain-growth and pedal kickback, to combat this the chain is routed over an idler pulley over the top of the chainstay. As if that isn’t enough – the Deviate achieves maximum uniqueness with the integration of a Pinion gearbox. The gearbox is placed low in the Frame, negating the need for a derailleur and reducing unsprung mass on the rear wheel. Torn off derailleurs or bent derailleur hangers are a thing of the past on this bike.
The Deviate Guide in detail
The Deviate Guide is currently available in three build specs, which differ only in wheelset and suspension. The bike we reviewed came to us directly from EUROBIKE and is a mix of two builds, incl. components not available on the production models. All three models share one thing in common: the Pinion C1.12 gearbox. It is part of Pinion’s new C-line featuring a lighter weight magnesium cast body and 12 evenly spaced gears with a massive 600 % gear range, The shifter on the handlebar is the new, grippier DS2 grip shift. It was developed in collaboration with Ergon, and it can be integrated cleanly thanks to the modified, sideways cable routing.
Fork Cane Creek Helm Air160 mm
Shock Cane Creek DB Air CS 160 mm
Brakes Shimano XT 180/180
Drivetrain Pinion C1.12
Seatpost 9point8 Fall Line 150 mm
Handlebar Renthal Fatbar Carbon 35 800 mm
Stem Renthal Apex 35 33 mm
Wheels Stans ZTR Arch MK3
Tyres MAXXIS Highroller II 2,4″
Weight 15.6 kg
Price £ 5,699
The suspension on our test bike was provided by Cane Creek, offering 160 mm of front and rear travel. The remaining componentry consisted of a Stan’s ZTR Arch MK3 wheelset, shod with MAXXIS High Roller II tyres, Shimano XT brakes, a Renthal cockpit, a Fabric Scoop Radius Pro saddle, and a 9point8 dropper seat post. The weight of the bike comes to a total of 15.16 kg and is available from £ 5,699, which, considering the Pinion gearbox and the spec, is reasonable on both counts. But how does it ride?
The geometry of the Deviate Guide
|Seat tube||467 mm||495 mm|
|Top tube||611 mm||639 mm|
|Head tube||115 mm||127 mm|
|Chainstays||440 mm||440 mm|
|BB Drop||9 mm||9 mm|
|Wheelbase||1203 mm||1233 mm|
|Reach||450 mm||475 mm|
|Stack||602 mm||613 mm|
Riding the Deviate Guide
The first thing we noticed during setup was that the Deviate Guide isn’t an ideal bike for beginners. From installing the wheels to setting up the shock and the fork, pretty much everything on this bike is complex, requiring more patience, experience and practice than usual. Once we had everything set up, we could finally hit the trails. The seat tube angle is nice and steep, the reach of 450 mm on the Medium is spot on and despite the low front we never felt like we were too far forward (we installed a handlebar with more rise soon after none-the-less). The seat tube could be a bit shorter, particularly since the Guide is only available in sizes Medium and Large.
The climb switch on the Cane Creek DB Air CS shock works flawlessly, making the already efficient rear linkage even more so, yet still providing sufficient comfort and traction. The evenly spaced gears on the Pinion are brilliant, you can shift through the gears very quickly, even while you’re standing still. However, shifting is also the gearbox’s biggest draw-back: getting used to the grip shift is easy enough, but you can’t shift under load. The massive 600 % gear range is necessary too since the drag – not least in part due to the idler/tension pulleys of the high pivot linkage – can be clearly felt. The noise generated by the two pulleys shouldn’t be underestimated either, sounding like a loud freehub going at 20 km/h. A belt drive system might be a little quieter. The rearward axle path takes some getting used to on the climbs, robbing you of power when you get your timing wrong with unweighting the wheel to get over an obstacle. Also, the lack of engagement points on the internal freewheel of the Pinion gearbox can get annoying when trying to time your pedal strokes up technical sections. Although some of these factors come down to learning an efficient technique, the drag of the system, slow engagement, and the noise made us glad when we finally reached the trail-head. But we were looking forward to the downhill too.
On the descents is where the Deviate Guide plays out its strengths.
On the descents is where the Deviate Guide plays out its strengths. The performance of the high pivot linkage is brilliant: it absorbs the smallest bumps, and it isn’t fazed by gnarly rock gardens and botched landings either. Thanks to the clever design, the rear linkage remains completely active while braking, keeping the rear wheel glued to the ground at all times. It doesn’t lack support either, inviting you to ping off of everything on the trail. No wonder there is so much hype on downhill race circuits! The Cane Creek Helm on the front, unfortunately, couldn’t match the performance, the middle of its travel offering too little support on steep, rough sections. Although it’s a solid fork, all in all, we would have prefered a RockShox Lyrik or a FOX 36 GRIP2 with 170 mm of travel. Besides lifting the front and slackening the somewhat steep head angle, their superior performance would be on par with the excellent rear suspension. As it is, the bike feels like a downhill bike with the front end of a trail bike.
The rest of the componentry performed without fault, giving us nothing to complain about, apart from the brakes which would benefit from 200 mm rotors front and rear for those long Alpine descents. Thanks to the Pinion, the centre of gravity is kept low and central, providing composure and stability – the Guide’s greatest strengths, since it couldn’t be called super agile or spritely. The Guide, therefore, offers balanced handling, suitable for a broad range of riders and trails, most comfortable on rough, fast trails.
The Deviate Guide is a bike for those who like things a bit different and isn’t a bad one either – though it’s not the holy grail. The quality of the finish is superb, the spec doesn’t have any major deficits and the rear linkage performs brilliantly. You won’t be able to ignore the noise of the pulley wheels though. The Pinion gearbox is an excellent choice for trekking in remote parts of the world or on a daily driver, but it’s not ideal for enduro or trail bikes. The engagement points, efficiency and shifting behavior can’t reach the level of a modern derailleur based drivetrain.
+ outstanding rear linkage
+ unique concept
+ neat integration
– drivetrain efficiency
– engagement points of the internal Pinion freewheel
For more information head to deviatecycles.com