Ben and Chris at Deviate started building their own bikes after working together as mountain biking guides, and their appropriately named but seriously radical, Guide high pivot bike was a proper statement piece. Their cult following grew as they introduced the original Highlander 140, the longer travel Claymore and more recent Highlander 150. Being sponsors and crowd fund co-coordinators for the insanely inspiring ‘ride between and then race every EWS series’ adventures of Matthew Fairbrother and supporter of YouTube adventurer, McTrail Rider, put them on more riders radars, backing up rave reviews from around the globe.
Progressing from a very successful design isn’t an easy task and the overall layout and look of the Highlander is largely unchanged. There are some significant details bred from their experience of the original bikes.
Rear travel is now 145mm, splitting the difference between the current 140 and 150mm options The high pivot suspension now runs more anti-squat (123-117 percent) than the original Highlanders and the recently released Forbidden Druid V2. The savage pedal feedback you’d expect from that kind of rear growth is almost completely offset by the 18-tooth twingrease injected bearing high pivot idler, so you can plough and pedal through thunder with minimal back chat from your feet. Lever ratio progression is reduced compared to the Highlander 150, while anti squat (the reaction of the rear wheel to braking) sits between the ratios of the Highlander 140 and 150. The bike can still run an air shock or coil shock too, but frames are supplied with an Ohlins TTX2 air shock as standard.
Geometry is changed more dramatically with the 490mm reach of the new large Highlander being equivalent to the old XL 150, while the seat tube is 20mm shorter to better fit longer dropper posts. The seat post angle steepens to 77 degrees, while the 65-degree head angle is the same as the previous Highlander and designed to keep things dynamic rather than dull. Deviate have now added a size small option to the range too.
In frame terms, the highly practical external under top tube ‘gutter’ routing for cables/hoses is carried over and there’s a bottle cage and replaceable belly armor. There’s no internal storage but you do get a bolted accessory mount. As you’d hope for bike designed to survive Scottish weather, the sealed bearings are double row, angular contact, max fill units with grease ports on idler and pivot bearings for squeezing in fresh lube. Even the XL still uses a standard 126 link chain (so you don’t have to buy an extra one) and there’s clearance for a 29 x 2.6in tire in the Boost rear end.
The new Highlander gets two suitably Scottish sounding colors – Atlantic Blue and Islay Sand. Frame kits start at $3,600 / £3,120 (incl. VAT) / €3,600 (incl. VAT) / CAD $4,250 with free shipping worldwide, lifetime warranty and a crash/damage replacement policy. Deviate will also be offering complete bikes too and we’ve got one coming our way for testing as soon as possible, so watch this space to see how the new changes play out on the most punishing trails we can find.