First Look | Pivot Cycles Launches All-New Switchblade For 2020

It was nearly four years ago when the original Pivot Switchblade hit the market. Using a carbon fibre frame and dw-link suspension, the Switchblade was built from the ground-up as an All Mountain bike that could happily take 29in or 27.5+ wheels. It was one of the earliest full suspension mountain bikes on the market to do so, and it was also the very first bike to feature the controversial Super Boost 157x12mm rear hub spacing.

2016 pivot switchblade
The original Pivot Switchblade first hit the scene back in 2016.

The wider hub and chainline allowed Pivot to keep the rear chainstays ridiculously short (428mm), while offering enormous tyre clearance. The frame itself was an engineering marvel, and when we tested and reviewed the Switchblade, we were impressed with both the efficiency and effectiveness of its 135mm of rear travel.

Fast-forward a few years, and as innovative as the Switchblade was when it first debuted, its swoopy frame design has been starting to show its age. The 140mm travel All Mountain 29er market is of course an important segment for a boutique bike company like Pivot Cycles, and the Arizona-based brand needed something lust-worthy to slot in between the current Trail 429 (120mm) and Firebird 29 (162mm) – two models that have enjoyed terrific commercial success for Pivot.

The solution to Pivot’s Goldilocks problem? A completely revamped Switchblade. As you’ll see though, not much has carried over aside from the name.

2020 pivot switchblade pro xt
Four years on, and Pivot is ready to unleash the new Switchblade.

The New Pivot Switchblade

With nearly three years of development behind it, the new Switchblade emerges in 2020 with an entirely new carbon fibre chassis that is free from the swoopy-droopy lines of old, favouring straighter and sharper tube shapes instead. Of course this helps to reduce weight, though we think you’ll agree that it’s created a vastly better looking bike too.

The new Switchblade has been designed specifically for a 160mm travel fork, and rear travel has been lifted to 142mm on the rear. It still utilises a dw-link suspension design, but the shock now mounts vertically in front of the seat tube, just like the Mach 4 SL. Without the additional shock clevis, it’s simpler and lighter, and it also allows the top tube to be stripped of excess carbon, since it no longer needs to brace the end of the shock.

2020 pivot switchblade pro xt
Pivot has changed the shock orientation, though the dual-link suspension platform remains.

Furthermore, the more compact shock layout sees a reduction in standover height. So much so that a new XS frame size has been added to the range, which we’re told will fit riders down to just 152cm (5ft) tall. And good news for pack-phobic riders – all frame sizes, including the XS, will take a full-size water bottle inside the mainframe. Yiew!

Just like the original, the new Switchblade will accommodate 29in or 27.5+ wheels. However, there’s now a geometry adjustment chip in the upper rocker pivot that offers high (27.5+) and low (29in) positions. The new frame has more chainring clearance, more heel clearance, and it can run narrower cranks down to a 168mm Q-Factor. Despite this, tyre clearance is still huge – you’ve got room for big 29×2.6in or 27.5×2.8in rubber in the back.

With the updated layout, the new Switchblade has gotten a touch lighter. Pivot claims a small frame without the shock weighs 2.57kg, so expect that to be right around 3kg by the time you add the Fox Float DPX2 rear shock.

2020 pivot switchblade pro xt
The Switchblade retains the 157x12mm thru-axle dropouts along with 29/27.5+ wheelsize compatibility.
2020 pivot switchblade pro xt
The swingarm has more heel clearance, more tyre clearance, and more chainring clearance too.

Custom Suspension

During the development phase, Cocalis and his engineering team went through 20 different iterations for the Switchblade’s design, much of which was spent fine-tuning the rear suspension performance and getting the shock dialled in to suit.

Given Pivot’s close working relationship with Fox Racing Shox, the DPX2 piggyback shock was an obvious shock for an All Mountain bike like the Switchblade. Cocalis had mixed results with the DPX2 shock though, and generally preferred the more poppy and lively feel of the non-piggybacked DPS shock.

In order to achieve that same feel, while still benefitting from the traction-rich and more consistent descending performance of the DPX2 shock, Cocalis’s team went to Fox and ended up completely redesigning the compression circuit. We’re not just talking shim stacks here either, but rather an all new base valve design and selector plate that’s designed to improve oil flow. Ten samples later, and the Switchblade now has a shock that looks like a DPX2, but has a little extra special sauce on the inside.

2020 pivot switchblade pro xt fox float dpx2 shock
It looks like a DPX2 shock, but the insides are a little different.

Also worth noting is that the shock is the first trunnion mount that Pivot has ever employed. With the vertical orientation, the trunnion mount helps to pack more stroke into a shorter eye-to-eye length. The result is a compact arrangement that sees the rocker link driving the rear shock via two big cartridge bearings. The leverage rate has been made more progressive to improve support for the huckers, and it also means the Switchblade is coil shock-friendly.

Massaged Geometry

Given that Pivot already has a successful enduro race bike in the Firebird 29, Cocalis was conscious that he didn’t need another one. Instead, he wanted the Switchblade to be a true All Mountain bike. Something that was capable enough for enduro-style riding, but still handy and comfortable enough for all-day pedalling too.

As such, the Switchblade’s geometry has received a gentle massage rather than a radical reorientation. The head angle slackens by over a full degree to 66º, while reach measurements have grown by 10-20mm per size. To improve the pedalling position, the seat angle has been steepened by over a degree to 75.5º.

There’s half a degree of adjustment in those angles by flipping the geometry chip. Brought over from the Firebird 29, this two-position chip is keyed into the frame and raises or lowers the BB height by 6mm. Further adjustment can be had by running a taller lower headset cup (just like the old Switchblade), which would lift and slacken the front of the bike.

On the note of adjustability, you can choose between 29in or 27.5+ wheelsize setups, and Pivot will offer both across all six of its build kits for the Switchblade – just like the Trail 429 and Firebird 29. However, the Switchblade is the first Pivot model that has been actively promoted as being Reverse Mullet™ ready, which means you can run a regular 29in wheel on the front and a 27.5in wheel on the back. Along with the flip chip and headset cups, there’s a tonne of options to explore for those who want to.

2020 pivot switchblade geometry

Other numbers to note include the 430mm rear centre length, which is actually 2mm longer than the old bike, but still quite compact. You’ll also see that the seat tubes have gotten significantly shorter, and Pivot has straightened it out to allow for greater insertion depth when running longer dropper posts. Dropper travel is specific to each size though – the XS size gets a 100mm post while the XL goes up to 175mm (the longest currently available in the Fox Transfer).

Likewise, the cockpit setup also changes for each size. Bar width ranges from 760-800mm, and stem length is 35-45mm. Even the saddle is different – bigger sizes come with a WTB Pro Vigo saddle, while the XS and SM sizes get the WTB Pro Hightail Trail. The latter of which has a specific cutout at the rear to allow for more tyre clearance when the rear shock hits full travel – an important consideration on a long travel 29er fitted with a dropper post.

2020 pivot switchblade pro xt fox transfer kashima factory dropper post
All Switchblade models come with a Fox Transfer dropper post.

The Lineup

Pivot will offer the Switchblade in six different spec levels, all of which are centred around the same carbon fibre chassis. Regardless of price point, all models come with a 160mm travel Fox 36 fork on the front, and the custom Float DPX2 shock on the back.

You also get the same Maxxis Minion tyre combo, with a 2.5in DHF on the front and a 2.4in DHR II on the rear. They’re wrapped around 30mm wide rims and slowed down by big 4-piston brakes with a 200mm rotor on the front. Pivot takes care of the cockpit, with its own Phoenix-branded low-rise bars, forged alloy stem and new lock-on grips.

2020 pivot switchblade pro xt
Stem length is 45mm on all frame sizes, except for the XS, which comes with a 35mm stem.

As mentioned above, each Switchblade can be had in 29in or 27.5+ setups, though Pivot expects the vast majority of sales to go with the big wheel setup. There’s a $2,000 carbon wheel upgrade available on the Race and Pro models, which otherwise come with alloy DT Swiss hoops as stock. You can also choose to upgrade to Fox Live Valve, as Pivot has engineered the Switchblade frame to easily integrate the electronic suspension package. The upgrade price? A cool $3,000.

For those doing the math, that means the absolute top-of-the-range Switchblade, complete with SRAM XX1 AXS and Fox Live Valve will sell for $19,999. If that’s just a little too much pocket change for you, the good news is that entry point is considerably lower at $8,999 for the Race XT model.

2020 pivot switchblade xx1 axs fox live valve
If you want the best, this is it – a Switchblade Team with SRAM XX1 AXS wireless shifting and seatpost dropping, along with the optional Fox Live Valve upgrade.

2020 Pivot Switchblade Team XX1 AXS

2020 pivot switchblade team xtr
For a Shimano build, the Switchblade Team comes with an XTR 1×12 drivetrain, 4-piston brakes, carbon Reynolds wheels and a Race Face Next R crankset.

2020 Pivot Switchblade Team XTR

2020 pivot switchblade pro x01
The Pro X01 build kit still gets Kashima suspension, though moves to alloy wheels as stock. You can still upgrade these to carbon for $2,000 if you fancy.

2020 Pivot Switchblade Pro X01

2020 pivot switchblade pro xt/xtr
We expect the Switchblade Pro XT/XTR will likely be the most popular option of the lot.

2020 Pivot Switchblade Pro XT/XTR

2020 pivot switchblade race x01
Skipping the Kashima suspension, the Switchblade Race X01 kit brings the price down below the $10K mark. Just.

2020 Pivot Switchblade Race X01

2020 pivot switchblade race xt
Using exactly the same carbon chassis as the XTR/XX1 builds, the Switchblade Race XT is the entry-point into the range.

2020 Pivot Switchblade Race XT

2020 pivot switchblade pro xt bright hero trail wil
We’ve been riding the new Pivot Switchblade for the past week – click here to read the review.

As you’ve no doubt gathered, there are a lot of changes on this new bike. For more detail on how those changes are felt on the trail, be sure to check out our first ride review of the new 2020 Pivot Switchblade right here. For availability info and details on your nearest Pivot stockist, get in touch with Aussie Pivot distributor, Jet Black Products.

Otherwise, be sure to tell us what you think about the new Switchblade in the comments below – we’d love to hear what your thoughts on it, and feel free to leave us any questions you might have too.

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