Deviate Cycles has released the Highlander II, the second iteration of their high-pivot trail bike now boasting 145mm of rear wheel travel. Still a dedicated 29er, the Highlander II gets a modernized geometry and an expanded size range, while holding onto all the maintenance-friendly features that make this Deviate… well, a Deviate.
Seemingly quite happy with their initial offering, Scottish brand, Deviate Cycles, hasn’t made any major changes with the Highlander II; it still runs their high linkage-driven single pivot suspension platform, delivering a rear axle path that arcs exclusively rearward through the compression stroke.
Bike: Deviate Highlander II
Fork Travel: 160mm
Rear Wheel Travel: 145mm
Frame Material: Carbon
Wheel Size: 29″
Sizing: S, M, L & XL
Starting Price: £3,120 GBP / $3,600 USD (frame without shock)
With that unique suspension platform, the original Deviate Highlander of 2020 was, in many ways, ahead of its time. A link pivoting concentric to the bottom bracket is connected to the swingarm via another link that also drives the rear shock, while the main pivot sits high on the seat tube. An idler pulley routes the chain line close to the main pivot to minimize chain growth and its associated undesirable effects on suspension performance.
Launched with 140mm of rear wheel travel, the later availability of an aftermarket link allowed riders to boost that to 150mm. The Highlander II announced today settles at 145mm, with a geometry more closely matched to the original frame’s 150mm configuration.
The Highlander II is sold as a frameset only, in Islay Sand…… and Atlantic Blue
Geometry changes are subtle, but important in terms of modernizing the fit; while the head tube angle remains at 65°, the seat tube steepens by two degrees to 77°, and the reach elongates by 10mm to 490mm in a size large. Combining that with an unchanged chainstay length of 441mm gives you a wheelbase that is around 20mm longer than that of the predecessor.
Good news for shorter riders; Deviate now offer the Highlander II in a Small, bringing a full size range to consumers for the first time in the brand’s history. Reach stretches from 430mm to 510mm over the S-XL range. All sizes run the very same swingarm to give a consistent 441mm rear-center length.
Seat tubes remain impressively short at 430mm on the size large, and are straight and uninterrupted to allow for the fitment of long travel dropper seat posts. Also notable is the much lower standover delivered by the front triangle’s new shape, now at 685mm on the size large, down from 731mm.
Highlander II Kinematic
The suspension kinematic of the Highlander II offers up no real surprises. The relatively progressive leverage curve is said to work well with both air and coil shocks, though at least initially, the frame will be offered with an Ohlins TTX2 Air shock only.
The Highlander II chainstay length is quoted as 431mm, but it’s worth pointing out that this number pertains to the bike in its unloaded state, of course. The Highlander II grows its effective rear-center length as it is pushed through the compression stroke, increasing by a whopping 23mm at 145mm. Such an axle path is excellent at delivering rear wheel forces into a suspension linkage where they can be most effectively damped by the rear shock.
An anti-rise of around 130-135% indicates the suspension will compress under heavy rear braking, which will concomitantly lengthen the wheelbase to provide stability in such scenarios. Anti-squat remains relatively consistent throughout the travel; most relevant at the sag point, it sits at just over 120%, indicating the shock will extend under pedaling-induced accelerations, a characteristic that could help provide traction on steep, technical climbs.
Highlander II Frame Details
Like the 165mm Claymore enduro bike, the Highlander II benefits from double-row, angular contact max fill bearings. These are protected with twin-lip wiper seals at every single frame pivot, and on the bearing that the idler pulley sits on. All of these also feature grease ports, allowing the owner to refresh grease in the bearings without any disassembly required. Deviate sell a Dualco Grease Gun that has a modified nozzle shape to make grease port access easier.
Deviate claim their 18T idler pulley is completely silent; a bold claim, as we are yet to come across one yet. The bike requires a 126 link chain, so the joining of chains isn’t necessary in this case.
The Scottish brand take an unusual approach to cable management. Internal routing is provided for a dropper post, but the rear brake hose and gear cable are routed externally, guided by tabs running down the underside of the top tube. Both then enter the swingarm, and are guided internally thereafter.
2.6″ Tire Clearance
Max Rear Rotor: 203mm
Max Chainring Size: 34T
ISCG Tabs for Bash Guard Fitment
2 x Accessory Mounting Points
Space for Water Bottle inside Front Triangle
Proprietary derailleur hanger
SRAM UDH compatibility is under development, with a new 55mm chainline swingarm due for release by the end of the year.
Mathew Fairbrother of EWS-Bikepacking fame sends the Deviate Highlander II – word is, Mathew is preparing for an FKT attempt on the Highland Trail 550 on his new ride.
Pricing & Availability
Pricing of the Deviate Highlander II starts at £3,120 GBP (incl. VAT) / $3,600.00 USD / €3.600 EUR (incl. VAT) / $4250 CAD without a shock. That includes free shipping worldwide. The frame is sold with a lifetime warranty and a crash/damage replacement policy.
A frame with an Ohlins TTX2 Air Shock retails at the following prices:
USA: $4,000 USD
Canada: $5,000 CAD
EU: €4,320 EUR including VAT
UK: £3,720 GBP including VAT
Complete build options are planned for August, with the Ohlins, OneUp, Shimano XT components shown here. Pricing will be as follows:
USA: $8,500 USD
Canada: $10,250 CAD
EU: €7,920 EUR including VAT
UK: £7,050 GBP including VAT
Only M, L & XL frames are available at launch, with S frames to follow in July.