First Ride: Pivot’s New Mach 5.5

It’s a beauty!

Holy red beast bike! What is that? 

The latest bike from Pivot is called the Mach 5.5 Carbon. A robust looking 140/160mm trail bike, that rolls all the Pivot traits and design features we like into grippy and lightweight all-rounder.

Cast an eye over that rear end – pretty solid looking, huh? The linkage and one-piece rear end are so stout – don’t expect any waggle in this puppy’s tail. That said, the claimed frame weights are from 2.35kg, which is bloody light for a 140mm bike.

160mm up front, 140mm out back, and the most aggressively elegant Pivot we’ve seen yet.

We have fond memories of the Pivot Mach 5.7, we still remember it as one of the best trail bikes we’ve  ridden, and it looks like the 5.5 Carbon builds on the legacy of the Mach 5.7 nicely, bringing that classic trail bike formula into a modern format.

Pivot’s long-standing use of the dw-link has lead to some exceptional suspension refinement.
The new FOX 36 and 2.6″ Maxxis Minion.

Big rubber! 27.5+?

The waters are getting muddier. When does a tyre move from being just a ‘big’ 27.5” tyre and become a 27.5+ sized tyre? Does it even really matter? We know for sure that there are more 27.5 x 2.6” tyres options coming soon, so get used to seeing bigger treads on trail bikes.

Either way, the end result is traction with a capital ACTION – the 2.6” tyres and excellent suspension make for much malarky but without the vagueness of a 2.8” or 3.0” tyre.


Looks similar to the Switchblade.

It sure does, albeit a little less swoopy in its lines. But where the Switchblade is built to run either 27.5+ or 29er wheels, the 5.5 is 27.5 only. Complete bikes are all specced with the big 2.6” Maxxis we’ve got here, and 35mm rims. You could run smaller, lighter tyres of course, though the bottom bracket height will drop. The 5.5 also uses standard 148×12 rear axle spacing, rather than the 157mm Superboost spacing used on the Switchblade.

We reviewed the Switchblade recently. It shares very similar DNA with the 5.5.

In other regards, the 5.5 with a 160mm fork shares almost identical geometry to the Switchblade with a 150mm fork in a 27.5+ format. The only differences of real note being the slightly increased travel,10mm more reach and a slightly lower stack height on 5.5. Both share a 66.5 degree head angle.


What’s the ride like? 

Well, we’ve had a grand total of maybe two hours riding this bike at Stromlo, but so far it re-confirms for us the levels of grip, efficiency and superb build quality we’ve come to expect from Pivots. The ride does, admittedly, feel a lot like a Switchblade in 27.5+ format, but there’s an extra degree of precision that we assume stems from the slightly smaller tyre size. Pivots have been getting longer in recent times, and there’s definitely more room up front to work with in this new bike than previous Pivots. Still, we’d be tempted to try upsizing and running a shorter stem if you’re an aggressive rider.

The suspension is magnificent. The stability and efficiency of the dw-link is tops, and the new air spring in the 2017 FOX 36 is a noticeable improvement too, more supple than ever before.

It’s going to tick a lot of boxes for the 27.5″ wheel fans, with the market expanding on 29ers, the 5.5 will have a place. On the trail the bike feels nimble, precise and confident, especially on jumps with tight landings and super-techy corners that would have a 29er struggling.

The 160mm travel fork is very tall when combined with the high stem mounted above a conical headset spacer, so when the climbs got steep the front wheel would lift and wander about. We’d love to experiment lowering the stem for a better climbing position, and given how confident we felt punching the descents we expect a lower bar height wouldn’t detract from the bike’s descending ability too much at all.

Note all the neat frame protection on the down tube and swingarm. It’s all soft durometer rubber too, so it dampens a lot of noise as well.

What about other details? And is that a front derailleur mount? 

Every one of the five frame sizes will fit a full-sized water bottle, even the XS. Like other recent Pivots, the bike gets neat cable ports and is fully ready for Di2 shifting with a battery port and wire guides.

Shimano Di2 battery port, but perhaps the space for a battery will serve for more than just Shimano?

There’s some neat attention to detail, especially in terms of frame protection, and also we notice a few entry and exit ports for more electronics, we can only speculate about why there is a place for something by the rear disc rotor and in front of the rear shock. Perhaps sensors, accelerometers, and suspension adjusters…?

And yes, Pivot are still wedded to front derailleurs. Ok, we get it, some people still want them, but surely it’s a small contingent asking for a front mech on a bike at this level?


Pricing? 

This is a top end piece of kit, so take a deep breath. A frameset will leave your wallet $4799 lighter, and complete builds start from $7599 for an XT build kit up to a whopping $14,999 for the team build kit with XTR Di2 2×11. The XT/XTR 1×11 build kit option we’ve ridden here is $8999.

What next? 

We had to leave this bike in Canberra for dealers to have a look at, but we’ll be reviewing it properly in the coming weeks. In the meantime, read our full review of the Pivot Switchblade here, and the Firebird here.

Tested: Pivot Firebird Carbon Pro XT/XTR

The Firebird soaking up another magnificent Thredbo sunset.
The Firebird soaking up another magnificent Thredbo sunset.

But one style of riding which isn’t going anywhere is the good ol’ ‘plod to the top, shred till you drop’ – it’s what we’ve all been doing for years, the difference now is we’ve got bikes and race formats specifically targeting this style of rider and riding.

The Pivot Firebird represents the evolution of the ultra capable, long travel trail bike.
The Pivot Firebird represents the evolution of the ultra capable, long travel trail bike.

You’re probably wondering where the hell we’re going with this? Well, the big, brash and bold reincarnation of the Pivot Firebird optimises the current ambitions of many trail riders out there- plodding along to the top having a yarn, and riding the descents hard and fast. Unlike Pokémon Go however, we don’t think bikes like the Firebird will fade into obscurity.


Heading to Thredbo? We’d suggest you give the Makin Trax Basecamp a try. They hosted us for our week in Thredbo, and it was the perfect setup for our crew of six riders. With five bedrooms, to sleep up to 12 riders, a huge kitchen, an open fire and plenty of space to store your bikes, it’s just bloody ideal. They’re doing some great accommodation and lift pass packages too. Take a look!  

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Do endless lift assisted runs down all sorts of trails float your boat? You'll get along just fine with the Firebird.
Do endless lift assisted runs down all sorts of trails float your boat? You’ll get along just fine with the Firebird.

What’s the Pivot Firebird all about?

We covered off a few of the basics about the reinvigorated Firebird’s geometry and construction in our First Bite, but put simply the Firebird adheres to the long, low and slack formula that tends to be the standard for bikes with more than 150mm of travel in 2016. Pivot have combined a modern geometry with 170mm of travel front and rear, and even on our first ride, the plushness of 170mm of DW link suspension blew our minds. It’s got that same bottomless feel you’d normally associate with a full blown downhill bike.

170mm of DW link suspension delivers an insanely confident ride.
170mm of DW link suspension delivers an insanely confident ride.

Where does the Firebird shine?

It’s not going to surprise anyone that this bike is an absolute beast downhill. Most of this bike’s testing took place in Thredbo, and the Firebird was not afraid of the rocky, technical Cannonball DH track. We mused in the First Bite that the capabilities of the bike’s tester would be reached before the bike itself, and that was very much the case.

Tipping the Firebird into another perfect Thredbo berm.
Tipping the Firebird into another perfect Thredbo berm.

In terms of ploughing through rock gardens, committing to loose, high speed sections and taking the gnarly lines, the Pivot never felt out of its depth- it was always the rider pulling the pin before the bike lost control.

Dropping in!
Dropping in!

On high speed sections, as well as wide open turns, of which Thredbo has about a million, the Pivot felt exceptionally stable thanks to its long wheelbase and low bottom bracket. Combined with a rear end that grips the trail like Velcro, we never felt like we were skipping around through braking bumps, or being taken off line in rough sections. If you point the Firebird in the general direction you want to go, it’ll get you there.

We always felt safe piloting the Firebird into rough lines.
We always felt safe piloting the Firebird into rough lines.

This is a bike that much prefers to plough through disrespectfully than tiptoe its way along the trail.

What about jumping, and flicking the bike around on the trail?

In the air the Firebird is very stable. Come up short or land awkwardly, it will save your bacon – we definitely rolled out of some situations where other bikes might’ve bucked us off. In terms of using little hops or transfer lines in the singletrack however, the Firebird felt sluggish- this is a bike that much prefers to plough through disrespectfully than tiptoe its way along the trail.

The Firebird is alot of bike to nose into a transition, but it's very forgiving should you get it wrong.
The Firebird is alot of bike to nose into a transition, but it’s very forgiving should you get it wrong.

The Firebird has a similar sluggishness when pulling the bike up into a manual. We don’t see these observations as criticisms however, a bike this long and with this much travel is never going to be a bike you can throw around like a shorter travel trail weapon.

A fair bit of body language is required to pull the Firebird into a manual.
A fair bit of body language is required to pull the Firebird into a manual.

If it’s fast and open the Firebird excels, but what about when the trail gets tight?

Another area where we noticed the Pivot’s slackness and length was in tight turns. Getting the Pivot to corner tightly required either some serious body language to muscle the bike, or forethought about using an endo or cutty to whip the bike around.

Whilst the Firebird carves up the open turns, it requires more rider input to whip around tighter corners.
Whilst the Firebird carves up the open turns, it requires more rider input to whip around tighter corners.
Thredbo was the perfect testing ground for the Firebird.
Thredbo was the perfect testing ground for the Firebird.

Whilst the Pivot didn’t love slow speed, tight turns, the bike had a remarkable ability to pull us through some terrible line choices in the corners. The long front centre, ample amounts of suspension and excellent rubber allowed us to move around the bike with the knowledge that there would be traction available almost all the time, and we could exaggerate our weight distribution to wrestle the bike through corners where we’d entered on some pretty poor lines.

You can really tip the Firebird into corners, knowing the traction will be there.
You can really tip the Firebird into corners, knowing the traction will be there.

What about climbing, or less technical singletrack?

The Pivot climbs remarkably well considering it’s a 170mm bike. The low speed compression lever on the shock was excellent for firming the bike up not only on longer, smoother climbs, but almost all the time when the trail points up. As the Firebird is such a long travel machine, the shock does bob a fair bit when it’s left open on the climbs, so utilising the compression lever (which doesn’t lock the shock out completely, and still allows the suspension to maintain traction up technical climbs) gives a much more efficient pedalling platform for climbing.

The Firebird really impressed us on choppy, technical climbs.
The Firebird really impressed us on choppy, technical climbs.

Climbing tight switchbacks and technical terrain will see you shuffling right forward in the saddle –  you need to focus on putting weight over the front to stop the front wheel from wandering like a lost child. This is always going to be the price for a long, front centre and a stubby cockpit- you can’t have it all!

The Firebird definitely prefers this to plodding up climbs.
The Firebird definitely prefers this to plodding up climbs.

On less technical singletrack and undulating terrain the Pivot did an admirable job of hiding its 170mm of travel, but it would not be our preferred bike of choice for long days of meandering singletrack. The bike’s descending focused geometry and spec make razzing through flatter singletrack, pumping undulations for speed and putting sharp bursts of effort in on the trail noticeably more difficult than on a 140mm trail bike.

Flatter singletrack required the sort of effort you would expect aboard a 170mm bike.
Flatter singletrack required the sort of effort you would expect aboard a 170mm bike.

How did the spec perform?

We discussed in the First Bite our approval for Pivot deciding to provide continuity within the Firebird models by speccing Fox suspension and Maxxis Minion tyres front and rear throughout the range, and this approval was warranted, as these critical components provide so much of the confidence the Firebird oozes out on the trails.

The tuneability and dominant performance of the Factory level Fox suspension allowed us to dial in the ride qualities of the Firebird, and the beefy tyres mounted to wide rims gave us confidence in laying the bike over in all sorts of conditions. An aggressive intent is pivotal to getting the most out of the Pivot, as with so much bike underneath you you can really throw it around quite recklessly.

The 1×11 Shimano drivetrain, a mixture of XT with an XTR rear derailleur worked excellently, however we were confused at the lack of chainguide as standard considering the intentions of this bike, and the meticulous attention to detail in other areas of the spec.

The new DT Swiss M1700 wheels, with a 30mm internal rim width were strong and reliable, and other excellent touches included the Fox Transfer dropper post, and the stylish and ergonomic Pivot cockpit.

The carbon Pivot handlebar has a lovely shape.
The carbon Pivot handlebar has a lovely shape.

What other builds does the Firebird come in?

The Firebird comes in four build kit options, starting at $8189.9 for an XT level build, and heading all the way up to $12789.9 for the Gucci XTR build kit.

Our Firebird comes in at a shade over nine and a half thousand.
The Firebird we tested comes in at a shade over nine and a half thousand.

Any gripes?

As mentioned above, the lack of chainguide confused us. If you’re riding this bike to its capabilities, the last thing you want to be worrying about is your chain.

When you're riding fast and aggressively aboard a bike like the Firebird, a chain guide is something you'll want to invest in.
When you’re riding fast and aggressively aboard a bike like the Firebird, a chain guide is something you’ll want to invest in.

The only other complaints we had was the lack of bottle cage mount inside the front triangle, despite there appearing to be space. There are bottle mounts under the down tube, which is great if you like dirt with your water. The low hanging loop of gear cable exiting to downtube and running under the bottom bracket is a little dicey too. On a bike like the Firebird, which is probably going to be exposed to some ragged, potentially off the trail moments, we feel the cable could’ve been routed above the bottom bracket to avoid snagging on trail debris.

We appreciate the burly downtime protection, but the derailleur cable is a bit too exposed for our liking.
We appreciate the burly down tube protection, but the derailleur cable is a bit too exposed for our liking.

So, who exactly is this bike for?

If you place a high priority on descending fast, you’re an aspiring Enduro racer, or you want to boost your confidence on technical descents, the Pivot Firebird is a very worthy consideration. This bike has a clear mandate – to descend as fast as possible whilst still being able to ride to the top. It knows what it wants to do, and does it incredibly well.

There aren't many bikes we'd pick over the Firebird if descending was our number one priority.
There aren’t many bikes we’d pick over the Firebird if descending was our number one priority.

Flow’s First Bite: Pivot Firebird Carbon Pro XT/XTR

Road trip to Thredbo with the new Pivot Firebird? Yes please!
Road trip to Thredbo with the new Pivot Firebird? Yes please!

Firebird is another term for a Phoenix (or so Wikipedia tells us), which is why it’s not surprising that this rig has a lot in common with Pivot’s downhill bike, the Phoenix. Those similarities are going to be put to the test in Thredbo, where we’ll be spending a week smashing out laps of the awesome trails Thredders has to offer.


Heading to Thredbo? We’d suggest you give the Makin Trax Basecamp a try. They hosted us for our week in Thredbo, and it was the perfect setup for our crew of six riders. With five bedrooms, to sleep up to 12 riders, a huge kitchen, an open fire and plenty of space to store your bikes, it’s just bloody ideal. They’re doing some great accommodation and lift pass packages too. Take a look!  


That’s a big looking bike- what are the numbers?

For a few years now, 160mm has been the accepted travel amount for bikes in the ‘enduro’ category. For 2017, many brands have bumped the fork travel up to 170mm matched with 160mm rear ends. Pivot decided that they could go one better, and the beefy Firebird sports 170mm of travel both front and rear.

The Firebird packs 170mm of travel front and rear.
170mm travel front and rear, all damped by FOX.

On paper, it looks like the capabilities of our tester will be reached before the capabilities of the bike, with a very slack 65-degree head angle. While some folk have criticised Pivot’s earlier long-travel bikes for having reach measurements that were on the short side, the new Firebird is very roomy up front, the wheelbase being a massive 1228mm in a size large.

The Firebird will be spending plenty of time hanging on the chairlift during the test.
The Firebird will be spending plenty of time hanging on the chairlift during the test.

Pivot bikes are usually pretty, what’s the Firebird like in the flesh?

Gorgeous. We’re currently also testing a Mach 429 Trail (we know, we’re spoiled) and we described is as the sort of bicycle that begs for an owner who wants a classic trail bike that leaves the ‘aggressive, hard-charging, progressive,’ tags at home.

The Firebird is like the brash cousin of the Mach 429 Trail, it wants to push the envelope from the get go.
The Firebird is like the brash cousin of the Mach 429 Trail, it wants to push the envelope from the get go.

Despite both being Pivots, the Firebird’s construction couldn’t be further from the 429. The chunky tubing screams stiffness and strength, and the frame protection throughout further stresses the Pivot’s trail ploughing intentions.

Heavy-duty downtime protection will come in handy!
Heavy-duty down tube protection will come in handy!

That’s not to say the Firebird doesn’t have a subtle side as well – the bike still possesses the smooth, flowing frame design that Pivot is renowned for, and well thought out cable routing ensures a clean look.

The rear derailleur cable exits the chainstay neatly, which also features a sturdy protection layer.
The rear derailleur cable exits the chainstay neatly, which also features a sturdy chain slap protection to keep it all quiet.

How have Pivot specced the Firebird?

Our Firebird is the Pro XT/XTR 1x build. Highlights include Fox Factory suspension front and rear, with compression adjustment switches on both the fork and the shock to lock out that 170mm of squish when you need to, a Shimano XTR rear derailleur, and a Pivot cockpit with their nicely shaped carbon handlebar.

The Fox Float X2 in the rear is the perfect match for this bike.
The Fox Float X2 in the rear is the perfect match for this bike.

We really appreciate that, regardless of which of the four build kit options you choose, the bike retains a Fox Float 36 fork and the X2 rear shock, as well as a Maxxis Minion DHF 2.5” front tyre and a Minion DHR 2.4” on the rear mounted to wide rims. Not only does this ensure that throughout the range the bikes will ride relatively similarly, but it’s clear that whoever specced this bike rode one first, as these capable components are essential to bringing the best out of the Firebird.

Maxxis Minion tyres are an excellent spec choice for the Firebird.
Maxxis Minion tyres are an excellent spec choice for the Firebird.

170mm is a lot of travel, where would you ride this thing?

170mm is a lot of travel, but Pivots are renowned for pedalling efficiency through the DW linkage design, lightweight frames and spec decisions. Obviously, the Firebird is aimed at the rider who prioritises the descents, but that rider is still likely to have the occasional singletrack blast, so we’ll be seeing how the Firebird fares at all types of riding for our full review.

Many chairlift assisted descents await the Firebird here in Thredbo.
Time for some runs!

With the downhill track, flow trail, all-mountain trail and valley loop handy, we’ll certainly have a variety of riding to assess just what the Firebird is capable of. Keep your eyes peeled for a full review shortly!

Flow’s First Bite: Pivot Mach 429 Trail

But 2017 is a new season, and look what has turned up – a new one, even better than the old one! Well, not entirely new, it’s the same frame as before, but there are a couple of upgrades to the spec that we thought were lacking in the outgoing version. So now it’s time for us to move on and forget the love that is now lost and look forward to spending proper time on this absolute beauty.

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We’re stoked to have the 429 Trail for review, and looking forward to some nice and long all-day singletrack sessions.
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116mm of DW-Link driven suspension, sublime stuff.

For a more in-depth first impressions piece on the 429 Trail where we go into more detail of the frame construction click through to our article from earlier this year.

Mach 429 Trail feature highlights.


What’s the Mach 429 Trail?

Pivot have a few 29ers in their stable, their all-mountain ready Switchblade and the carbon hardtail LES which both accept 27.5” wheels too. Then there are the two 429 series options, with the SL and Trail.  The SL is their super-light 100mm travel lean machine, for marathon racers and those looking for absolute efficiency, that frame alone is over $4600. And then the Trail model which we have here which takes a step to the back of the race grid with a more relaxed outlook on the trail. Click here for their full range.

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Our first ride was so sweet; the bike feels so light and smooth.

See our review of the Switchblade, Mach 4 Carbon and LES here:

Pivot Switchblade; choose it as a 27.5+ bike or a 29er using the one frame. 

Pivot LES; the highly versatile hardtail, choose between a single speed, 27.5″ wheel or 29er wheels.

Pivot Mach 4 Carbon; similar to the 429SL but smaller wheels for a zippy and lively ride.


429 SL vs. 429 Trail.

When compared to the SL model, the 429 Trail longer in travel, shorter in reach, shorter in the chainstay length, slacker in the head angle and higher in the bottom bracket. Why? Pivot have designed the 429 Trail to cruise the trails in a comfortable and confident manner and have a bit of fun doing it. pivot-mach-429-trail-5634


Changes from the last model you say?

Dropper post and wider gear range, excellent! No bike with ‘trail’ in its model description should be without these two things, so were happy to see them on this 2017 spec model. With a KS dropper and Shimano 11-46T mega wide range cassette, this thing is set!


What’s next?

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Light, relaxed, efficient and keen.

Riding, lots of it. The 429 Trail is motivating us to seek out some super-long trail rides, all-day missions and backcountry days out.

Pivot Reintroduces the Firebird

The new Firebird features some of the longest reach measurements in the sport, combined with super-short 16.95” chainstays and Boost spacing, and fits 27.5” wheels with tires up to 2.5” wide.

The Firebird is the no-compromise, Holy Grail of long travel mountain bikes ­– both an enduro bike that devours park runs and a technical climber that relishes huge lines and blazing descents. Building on its reputation as the bike for all-day missions on black diamond terrain, the Firebird now features Phoenix DH-inspired long reach measurements combined with a 65-degree head angle to deliver unmatched stability and handling.Bernard_red1

2017 Firebird - XTR 1X - Blue
2017 Firebird – XTR 1X – Blue

Pivot Firebird from Pivot Cycles on Vimeo.

“The Firebird is already known as long travel bike that can take huge hits and is also an incredibly capable technical climber,” said Pivot Cycles President and CEO, Chris Cocalis. “This new bike takes that reputation for enduro-versatility and ups the ante by incorporating our long and low geometry, and super short chainstays. This geometry really puts the rider “in” the bike, and adds up to an incredibly stable ride at high speeds and in super steep technical challenges.”

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The Firebird, with 170mm of dw-link™ suspension, is the best choice for riders seeking a no-compromises bike for all-day missions on black-diamond terrain. The new carbon frame design enabled Pivot’s engineering team to drop weight (it is easy to build a complete Firebird under 28 pounds), increase strength and stiffness, and incorporate Pivot’s signature design features – the same double wishbone rear triangle and linkage design found on the Phoenix DH, Boost spacing, the Pivot Cable Port System for super clean internal cable routing and fully Di2 integration and ultra-quiet, low durometer rubberised frame protection.


  • Full carbon frame featuring leading edge carbon fiber materials and Pivot’s proprietary hollow core internal molding technology
  • Phoenix DH-influenced long and low geometry
  • Short 430mm (16.95”) chainstays
  • 170mm dw-link™ rear suspension with upper clevis and linkage and double wishbone rear triangle
  • Fox Float Factory X2 rear shock*
  • Features a 170mm Fox 36 Factory fork
  • 5 wheel compatible, fits tires up to 2.5” wide
  • Boost™ spacing front and rear
  • Front derailleur compatible with Pivot’s stealth E-Type mounting system.
  • 180mm rear post mounts (no adaptor required)
  • Pivot Cable Port system for easy internal routing of shifters, brakes and droppers and full Di2 Integration
  • Internal dropper post compatible
  • Cold forged alloy linkages with Enduro Max Cartridge Bearings
  • New ultra quiet low durometer rubberized frame protection
  • Available in sizes S, M, L, XL for riders between 5’4″ and 6’7
  • Available in Pivot dealers, for more visit www.jetblackproducts.com

Flow’s First Bite: Pivot Switchblade

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A tale of two Switchblades.
In the black corner we have the Switchblade configured with 29″ wheels.
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Chubby vs tall.

Having two wheel size options for the one model of bike is nothing new (just take a look that Scott Spark, Specialized Camber, Trek Fuel or many others), but an interesting recent development is the appearance of frames which can accept multiple wheel formats without compromise. For an in-depth discussion of where we see this trend going, read our opinion piece ‘The Middle Power’ here.

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Pivot has developed an even wider hub than regular Boost. Introducing the Super Boost spacing.
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The superbly manufactured and incredibly smooth suspension we love from Pivot.
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DW Link suspension delivering buttery smooth 135mm of travel.

The Pivot Switchblade is one such bike. Thanks to a unique rear hub and drivetrain configuration, the Switchblade can happily take either 29er or 27.5+ wheels and massive tyres (up to 3.25″) all while maintaining some of the shortest chain stays on the market, at just 428mm. We’ll look at the rear hub more in our full review, but in a nutshell it uses very wide 157mm hub spacing, Pivot call it Super Boost Plus 157, to enable the rear wheel to be tucked in very close to the frame. Yes, it’s another new hub ‘standard’, but let’s not dwell on that now – there’s been plenty of internet hand wringing about it before, and this is how bike development progresses, get used to it!

So what type of bike is it? Regardless of which wheel format you opt for, the Switchblade falls into the trail/all-mountain category. Rear travel is 135mm, designed to be paired with a longer 150mm fork up front (this longer travel up front trend is something Pivot do a lot). The geometry falls mid-way between the Enduro-ready Mach 6 and the Mach 4 Carbon. Pivot have equipped the Switchblade with a FOX 36, so you know this bike means business!

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150mm FOX 36 forks up front, 135mm travel out the back.
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Frame finish and attention to detail is premium quality.

Pivot’s bikes are always superbly built, and their DW Link suspension is legendary for its amazing pedalling performance and grip. We’re looking forward to seeing what the combination of DW suspension and Plus sized rubber can deliver in loose corners and scrappy climbs!

The Switchblade frame blends elements from the full spectrum of Pivot’s range; the robust linkage is clearly inspired by the Phoenix downhill bike, while the lines of the front end reflect the Mach 4 Carbon. We like where Pivot is going with their bikes – they’re seriously sophisticated frames, nothing is ‘just good enough’.

If you’re looking at this bike and toying with the notion of having two wheel sets to change between (one in 29er for lighter XC duties, one in 27.5+ for burly trail work) then you might be disappointed. Because 27.5+ wheels are a little smaller in diameter than 29″ wheels, Pivot install a taller lower headset cup on the 27.5+ version of this bike to give the correct geometry, so you can’t just chuck in different wheels for different trails.

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The 27.5+ configuration requires a taller lower headset cup to retain the desired head angle with a 150mm travel fork.

We’ve been lucky enough to get both a 29er and Plus version of the Switchblade to review. They are identical, with the exception of the wheelset, so making a comparison is going to be easy as wheel size is the sole differentiation. We can tell you right now that neither bike is ‘better’ – our first short ride confirmed that – but they are certainly different in the way they address the trail.

The Switchblade can be purchased from Pivot Cycles retailers as a frame plus a build kit, the frame kit alone will set you back $4609.95 and build kits range from $4824.95 to $10689.95 for the ultimate Shimano XTR Di2 build.

On review we have the Switchblade 27.5+ XTR/XT PRO 1X build kit, which totals to a complete bike of $9433. Certainly not a cheap bike by any stretch of the imagination, but we’ll have more to comment on the value and pricing in our final review.

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A pivot is about as good as it gets, their suspension frames are absolutely top notch.

Stay tuned for our full review soon, it’s time to put them both to the test.

Fresh Product: The New Pivot Phoenix DH Carbon

All new for 2016, the Phoenix DH Carbon is the direct result of Pivot’s collaboration with world-class riders on the Pivot Factory Racing Team.

Our newest video pairs the incredible riding skills of Bernard Kerr with the story of how Bernard, Eliot Jackson and Emilie Siegenthaler drove our engineering team to create the strongest, lightest Pivot DH bike yet for their 2016 season on the World Cup and at Crankworx. phoenix-gallery-detail-shot-8 phoenix-gallery-detail-shot-9 phoenix-gallery-detail-shot-2 phoenix-gallery-detail-shot-15

Get all the details, build kits, technical information and geometry here. –

See more at: http://www.pivotcycles.com/newphoenixvideo/#sthash.osEkHiHs.dpuf

Tested: Pivot Mach 4 Carbon

If you’re going to hang a Picasso, you don’t do it in a chicken shed. You pick somewhere grand, with security guards and marble floors. And when you’ve got a new Shimano XTR Di2 groupset to play with you, you don’t fit it to any old shitter. You pick something sensational, something that will perform at the same level as the grouppo.

Pivot Mach 4 17

When Shimano gave us a new XTR Di2 groupset to review, our very first inclination was to secure the new Pivot Mach 4 Carbon as the test sled. This bike has the kind of performance pedigree that Bart Cummings (rest in peace) would appreciate, and also had the benefit of being one of the very first Di2 optimised bikes on the market.

Pivot-Di2-build-1-1
We built our Mach 4 Carbon from scratch. The frame weight is a little over 2.5kg.




 

You can read more about why we picked the Mach 4 here, and the build process of installing Di2 onto this remarkably sexy frame. We’ve now had a number of months on this bike; we’ve raced it, razzed it and experimented with a number of different setups, so we feel like we’ve got a great handle on what it’s all about.


Pivot Mach 4 6
The standover height of this frame is remarkable.

[divider]A classy evolution[/divider]

We’ve ridden (and owned) earlier versions of the Mach 4, back when it was an alloy, 26-inch wheeled bike, and we’ve also spent a lot of time on board the 29er version, the Mach 429. While our time on both those bikes is remembered with fondness, a brief look is all it takes to realise the Mach 4 Carbon sits at a completely different level of refinement. This is one sophisticated lady.

But let’s not confuse sophistication with beauty. We’re clearing the air here: we dig this bike, but it has looks that only mother could love. Of course, every swoopy, bulgey bit has a purpose – Pivot’s head honch Chris Cocalis is not the kind of man who will ever sacrifice performance for appearance sakes. Pivot build their bikes to uncompromising standards.

Pivot Mach 4 3
Cleaner than bleach.

The Mach 4 Carbon is really a cross-country machine, but not in your traditional lycra and calf definition kinda way. The geometry is definitely cross-country oriented, but it has a little more travel, and while the XC sector is still largely dominated by 29ers, it runs 27.5″ wheels.

Because of these traits, it has a pretty broad scope of use.

A light build with a 100mm fork could make it a razor sharp race bike for technical conditions, but you could also build it with the ability to act tough (we’ve seen some riders put a 140mm fork up front, with a 60mm stem).

Pivot Mach 4 14

In our mind, the bike’s sweet spot is somewhere in in the middle, equally happy on a buff racetrack or scampering through rocky descents. Our build played to the bike’s strengths, running the recommended 120mm fork, an 80mm stem and, of course, the delectable XTR Di2 grouppo. Basically, we built it up as the nicest bike on the planet.

[divider]The frame[/divider]

We received our Mach 4 as a bare frame set, which gave us a chance to really appreciate its construction. It’s a super compact frameset, with one of the lowest standover heights we’ve ever seen. The shock is slotted up close to the top tube, leaving just enough room for a bottle.

Pivot-Di2-build-2
The DW Link. Stiff as! Note the little port for the Di2 wiring.
Pivot Mach 4 Convict 42
A bottle will fit, but not without the bottle lid rubbing a mark on the frame. You can experiment with different shaped bottles, or reverse the orientation of the shock too, to make more room.

Reducing unwanted frame flex is a guiding principle for Chris Cocalis, and the Mach 4 is stiffer out back than your legs that time you woke up sleeping in a hotel shower. But let’s not go there.

The links are chunky little hunks machined alloy, and the stays are stoutly bound together with a DT 142mm axle. The wide, press-fit bottom bracket laughs in the face of your attempts to induce flex.

Pivot Mach 4 9

For us, part of the Pivot’s appeal was its Di2-ready construction. The frame comes supplied with rubber grommets to house and guide the wiring, and there’s a battery compartment in the down tube too, stashing it away from harm. It’s neater than a military haircut. Building the bike took us a while because it was our first experience with building a Di2 bike from scratch, but at least that gave us plenty of time to enjoy the process!

Pivot Mach 4 8
The Di2 wiring runs inside the Pro Tharsis bars.

If you’re building up a Mach 4 with cables and not electric wires, you’ll be happy to hear that the cable routing is 1000% better than on the older generations of Pivots. The bike is supplied with a variety of plugs and port covers, so you can run all kinds of permutations of cabling and keep it tidy and rub free.

Protecting your investment from chain slap and rocks are pleather down tube and chain stay protectors, but keep the high pressure hoses away from their adhesive undersides if you want to keep them.

Pivot Mach 4 Convict 26
Chain slap protection aplenty makes it a quiet ride, even with a front derailleur.

[divider]Suspension[/divider]

Suspension performance is at the heart of every Pivot’s design, and Dave Weagle (holy grand Sharman of mountain bike suspension, hallowed be his name) works closely with Pivot’s engineers on the development of each new frame.

The Mach 4 gets 115mm of travel, which seems like an unusual number, like inviting people for dinner a 7:19pm…. Whatever, the DW-Link system is at the top of the pyramid of suspension systems. You need to be quite precise with the sag setup to extract the most out of this bike – if you’re of the XC mindset of just pumping the hell out of your shock to firm it up, then you’re absolutely wasting your time and this bike’s abilities here.

When set up with the correct sag, it’s one of the most stable pedalling bikes out there, with nary a murmur of unwanted suspension bobbing.

Pivot Mach 4 7
115mm of travel, optimised for your pleasure. The bike comes with a neat sag guide to get the suspension setup nailed.

Controlling the motion of the ocean is the superlative FOX CTD Factory shock, tuned specifically for the Pivot with very low compression damping settings. 

[divider]Build highlights[/divider]

As we’ve said above, our Pivot was dressed to impress with a full Shimano XTR Di2 groupset. Pivot offer the Mach 4 in more build kit options than Mormons have kids, including two XTR variants, but ours was a custom build using Shimano all over. Over the course of our testing, we ran the Pivot in both a 2×11 and 1×11 drivetrain configuration. We also ran it with/without a dropper post, and mucked about with tyre size too.

Pivot Mach 4 1
For a 120mm bike, the FOX 32 is up to the task. It did a worthy job of matching the rear end’s performance.

Our favourite setup was a 2×11 drivetrain, but using Shimano’s amazing single-shifter Synchro Shift mode. Synchro Shift operates both front and rear derailleurs with just a single right-hand shifter, freeing up your left hand for a dropper post remote. You can read more about Syncro Shift in our full XTR Di2 review here.

[divider]Setup[/divider]

As we’ve stressed above, you need to get the rear suspension sag right. At 30%, some people may well feel it’s a little soggy when they first swing a leg over, but from the first pedal stroke you’ll know it’s perfect, the suggested setup guide speaks truth.

Pivot Mach 4 4
Good rubber on stiff wheels. The Specialized Purgatory is a really good all-rounder and we use it a lot on test bikes.

While it might be tempting to run skinny little cross country tyres on the Mach 4, we’d suggest going something with a bit more volume to it, in order to totally maximise the climbing traction available from the super active rear suspension. We ran a Specialized Ground Control / Purgatory combo in a 2.3″ in the end, after initially using a set of Schwalbe Rocket Rons which didn’t have enough bite on the front end for our liking.

The Pivot is pretty low up front (good if you do want to get in a racy position), but on steep descents it’s quite front heavy. With the flat bar and negative rise stem we were using, we ended up running about 15mm of spacers underneath the stem so we weren’t too low when things got rough. A shorter head tube is a good thing overall, we feel, as you can run a taller fork without jacking up the bars too high, or get lower than shortie if you’re a hammerhead racer.

Pivot Mach 4 Convict 36
A short head tube and flat bar meant we opted to use a 10mm spacer under the stem. Time to charge the battery too!

Because we were using PRO’s Di2 compatible Tharsis cockpit (with internal wiring for the shifters) we were a bit limited in terms of the stem/bar options. Our 80mm stem / 720mm bar cockpit was pretty much spot on. We wouldn’t want to go any longer on the stem, as it’s a fairly rangy top tube already, but going a smidge wider on the bar would be a good idea, just to help muscle the bike out of situations when you push its limited travel to the limit.

Pivot Mach 4 Convict 35
A dropper post is a must on this bike, we feel. Embrace the freedom!

We took advantage of the Pivot’s internal dropper post routing and ran Specialized dropper. We’d encourage you to do the same, even if you’re only interested in strictly cross country riding – it just frees this bike up so much! You’re in a pretty front heavy position on the Pivot, so being able to lower your centre of gravity is a blessing.

To all the cross-country crew: don’t be a luddite, don’t let #xcpride get in the way of fun, use a dropper post!

[divider] Singletrack manners[/divider]

Like a Depression-era grandma, nothing goes to waste with this bike – you pedal, it responds. The chassis is twist-free and the suspension stability doesn’t get upset by the kind of floppy, random pedalling that generally accompanies cresting a massive climb. Being such a roomy bike, thanks to the super low top tube, you can really sprint it about, chucking the bike from side-to-side freely and even then it stays calm and won’t wallow.

Pivot Mach 4 16

The Mach 4 gets up to speed fast, whether you’re seated or out of the saddle. Sure, it doesn’t match obscenely snappy acceleration of a hardtail or something like the Specialized Epic, but unlike either a hardtail or an Epic, the suspension works all the time. You’re not constantly flipping shock levers, or worrying about what mode you’re in, and there aren’t the usual compromises between pedalling and bump-eating performance.

On paper, the Mach 4’s bottom bracket height is pretty low, but we didn’t find ourselves smashing up the lovely finish of the XTR cranks as often as we feared. We did however appreciate the low bottom bracket height in the corners; combined with the low front end, your centre of gravity is low, right in the bike so you can tip in nicely.

[divider]Going up![/divider]

Long, steady, steep, loose – these are the climbs the Pivot loves. Anywhere you can get into a rhythm and tap out a tempo is where you’ll fly past your mates (or competitors). For a smaller wheeled bike it motors up the ascents beautifully, where a 29er would ordinarily have the advantage. The very low weight of our test bike helped too, of course, but the fact the Mach 4 finds traction where others skip out and yet doesn’t get stuck in a quagmire of syrupy travel is where the real gains are.

Pivot Mach 4 20

As we’ve noted before, using a dropper post has its advantages on a climb too. With a regular post, it’s common to run the saddle a tiny bit lower than is ideal, so you can get a bit more clearance on the descents, but with a dropper you can get the correct extension on the climbs while slaughtering the descents too.

[divider]Get excited, but not too excited[/divider]

When things get rapid and downhill, the Mach 4 has the edge over other bikes of its ilk. When compared to something like the Scott Spark – a highly comparable 120mm 27.5″ bike – the remarkably stiff frame and buttery suspension of the Pivot are leagues ahead when you’re looking to hold a rough line.

Pivot Mach 4 17

But push too far, and you do get reminded that the Mach 4 is still a cross country bike, and therefore requires a steadier hand and a bit more attentiveness than a slacker, longer bike would allow. The wheelbase is pretty compact and the suspension is tuned for traction rather than swallowing up your mistakes, so you find the bottom of 115mm relatively fast when you start trying.

Pivot Mach 4 Convict 10
Veteran racer Mick Ross piloted the Mach 4 Carbon at the Convict 100.

[divider]Other options[/divider]

If you’re considering a Mach 4 Carbon, you’re obviously a bit of an afficiando as it sits pretty high in the pricing stakes. The Scott Spark in a 27.5″ is a very racy alternative; light as hell, savagely efficient, but not nearly so smooth as the Pivot. You could also look at Treks Fuel EX series, which are more of a trail bike than a race bike, but in the higher end models are pretty damn light. The GT Helion we tested a while bike is a funky alternative too, with its unique spec.

[divider]Final thoughts[/divider]

This is a really, really nice bike. While the price is fairly stratospheric, you can actually see the value here in the superb finish and zero-compromise performance. It’s lightweight yet anything but flimsy, efficient but magnificently smooth, precise without being unmanagably sharp, and it defies being pigeon holed on the trail.Pivot Mach 4 Convict 17

While you don’t have to build a Mach 4 Carbon with an XTR Di2 groupset to enjoy it, it has been an amazing experience having this bike in the fleet for the past few months. This bike doesn’t just continue Pivot’s legacy, it pushes the brand even further ahead of most of the pack.

There are few bikes that can match this one in our opinion.

Flow’s First Bite: Pivot Mach 429 Trail

Like a Russian gymnast from the 1980s, Pivot Cycles seems to be growing bigger and stronger and at rate that beggars belief. In the last few months this Arizonan company has released an all-new Mach 4 (which we’ve had on long-term test), the lightweight Mach 429SL and now a gorgeous do-it-all 29er with the 429 Trail. That’s a lot of new platforms for a small operator.


From the moment we caught wind of this bike, we made it our mission to secure some saddle time with extreme urgency, and we grabbed this early release air-freighted demo bike practically straight out of the Fedex cargo hold so we could get it onto the trails ASAP.

Pivot Mach 429 Trail 31

The 429 Trail is not just 429SL with a longer fork bolted on (it’s designed around 130mm up front), but is a very different machine entirely. Geometry-wise, Pivot have added a bit of tiger to the tank, by slackening the head angle to 67.5 degrees and shortening the stays to 437mm. Rear wheel travel goes up a bit too, to a very precise 116mm.

Pivot Mach 429 Trail 19

It’s the first 29er we’ve ridden that employs the full suite of new Boost hub spacings, with a 148x12mm rear axle and an 110x15mm front. It’s all in the name of increasing stiffness and clearance, two issues that still plague 29ers in the trail/all-mountain category where hard riding and big tyres often don’t play nicely.

Pivot Mach 429 Trail 5
Wider hub spacing allows for a wider hub flanges, for stiffer wheels, and a wider chainline, which increases clearance and allows shorter stays. The rear axle is a bolt-up affair – we like its clean simplicity.

While the 429 Trail isn’t a grand departure in design style for Pivot, it takes things in a slightly new direction. We have to admit, as much as we admire these bikes, Pivots have traditionally ranked pretty highly on the ugly’o’meter. Function over form, perhaps? Whatever the case, the 429 Trail is the best-looking dual suspension bike in Pivot’s range. The lines are clean, and the simple under the down tube cable routing is much neater than in years past, and keeping it external also saves construction costs, which makes this bike more attainable than Pivots have traditionally been.

Pivot Mach 429 Trail 6
A mid-travel specific DW link arrangement.

The linkage arrangement is new too. It takes inspiration from the Phoenix Carbon downhill bike, and in conjunction with the wide hub spacing we can tell you the rear end of this bike is stiffer than an old dog in winter.

Pivot Mach 429 Trail 15
The cable routing is mainly external, with plenty of cable guides to allow you to run the cables pretty much however you like.

There are a swathe of build kit options for the 429 Trail, and ours uses a mix of XT/XTR in a 1×11 setup. Most Pivot builds will be coming with an XT 2×11 drivetrain, which we think is sensible – converting to a 1×11 setup is simply a matter of installing a chain ring with the new Shimano 11-speed stuff, so it’s an easy modification should you not want to run a front mech.

On obvious blight on the otherwise excellent build kit is the absence of a dropper post! Our carbon post is already a scuffed up mess from raising/lowering it during a couple of wet rides – hopefully future bikes will be shipped with a dropper.

Pivot Mach 429 Trail 13
The Answer carbon bar is 750mm wide, the stem is 60mm. Perfect!

Tragically (and that’s not overstating it – it’s a goddamn tragedy), we need to return this bike shortly so it can do the rounds of local dealers, but we’ll be bringing you a full review of this machine as soon as a new shipment lands. We won’t divulge too much about the ride just yet, we’ll save that for the main review, but our time on this bike so far has left us feeling like this.

Pivot Mach 429 Trail 32

Tested: Pivot Mach 6 Carbon

The best laid plans of mice and men. Our original plan for this gorgeous Pivot Mach 6 was to race it at the first round of this year’s EWS  series in Rotorua; we had the frame kitted out with Shimano’s finest, we’d done the training, we’d colour matched our gloves and helmet… but it wasn’t to be.

Some rather ordinary riding during the very first day of practice led to a free trip in an ambulance to Rotorua ER, a busted wrist, wounded pride and the world’s cheapest paracetamol.


Pivot Mach 6 48
Hubba hubba, a carbon Pivot!
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With our original plan out the window, the test had to wait. Long weeks passed as the curvaceous beauty sat immaculately at Flow HQ, begging to be ridden, but when the time came, the Pivot didn’t disappoint.

We make no apologies for our ongoing love affair with Pivot bikes. Ever since the original release of the Mach 4, we’ve been impressed by the brand’s singleminded commitment to excellent engineering. Chris Cocalis, the brand’s founder, is an uncompromising kind of guy, and it shows in the bikes.

Pivot Mach 6 33
Fast and rocky terrain, for days.

[divider]Who is it for?[/divider]

The Mach 6 is a true all-mountain bike, big on travel, but equally big on efficiency. There are some stellar XC/trail bikes in the Pivot range, so if you’re looking for a cross-country bike then the extraordinary Mach 4 Carbon or Mach 429SL are going to be a better all-round option. That said, the Mach 6 must be one of the most easy-to-live-with long-travel bikes out there. Yes all that travel is a bit isolating on smoother trails, but the bike’s ability to turn your efforts into forward motion are near unparalleled in this category, which gives it excellent versatility.

Given the bike’s price, it’s fair to say that it’s aimed at a rider who knows what they’re after and appreciates the finer points of its construction and performance. And it takes a rider who knows a thing or two about setup to get the most out of the bike.

Pivot Mach 6 45
155mm of DW-Link travel, about as smooth and efficient as they come.

[divider]The Frame[/divider]

When you look at the Pivot lineup, there’s a real mix of bikes that have recently been overhauled and are totally up to speed with modern trends (such as the 429SL, 429 Trail and Phoenix Carbon) and others that are definitely due for a refresh (like the 26″ Mach 5.7 and the Firebird).

The Mach 6 kind of sits in the middle – it’s been in its current format for a couple of years, and is up-t0-date in terms of it 27.5″ wheel size and other frame features, but we’re sure a refresh is in the pipeline to give it the same flawless cable routing and other improvements we’ve recently seen on other Pivot bikes.

Pivot make a lot of noise about their high compression carbon construction techniques, which they say delivers class leading strength to weight ratios and a flawless internal finish to their frames. We can’t really comment on this as we didn’t think hacksawing the bike into pieces would do down well, but we can tell you that it’s a beautifully presented bike. The logos are a little overdone, but the paintwork is splendid.

The semi-internal cables are the only blight on the bike’s otherwise luscious appearance; given the level of thought that has gone into the rest of the bike, they seem poorly executed. Where the cables exit above the shock, they bow considerably when the suspension compresses. The Mach 6 did comes with a fastener to secure the cables to the linkage and away from the frame, but it proved fragile and when this broke off mid-ride there was no way to stop the cable rubbing the seat tube leaving a nasty gouge in just one ride.

Riders will need to be careful to ensure cables and carbon do not meet.

Riders will be divided about water bottle mount placement under the downtube. You can run a bottle, but expect a mouth full of grit, otherwise use a pack, which is what most riders will do.

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Geometry:

Pivot have taken an approach to the Mach 6’s geometry that is not common in mountain biking – the head angle of their frame actually varies across the frame sizes, getting steeper in the bigger sizes. Our large test bike has a 66.25 degree head angle, while the seat tube is a very relaxed 72.3 degrees, a couple of degrees slacker than many bikes in this category. We needed to shunt the seat rails right forward in the post clamp to get a comfy climbing position.

At 607mm, the top tube length is shorter than the most recent crop of bikes in this category. By way of comparison the Giant Reign measures up a full 33mm longer, the Norco Range 13mm longer.

All these figures paint the picture of a bike that is much more of an all-round trail machine than an hell for leather Enduro descending machine.

Suspension:

This is an area where Pivots have always shone, and the Mach 6 doesn’t so much react to the terrain as float above it.

The DW Link system found on the Mach 6 is used on all Pivot dual suspension bikes, and its hallmark pedalling efficiency really shines in a longer travel application like this.

Suspension setup is aided by a sag indicator that comes zip-tied to the shock air can, and as with all Pivots the bike is highly sensitive to getting the sag just right – they stipulate a strict 30% sag for the Mach 6. Get it right and you’re rewarded with a remarkably stable, buttery, predictable suspension feel.

If you’re coming from a cross-country background this might seem a little soft, but with the excellent pedalling traits the Pivot possesses, it’s perfect. We did play with firming the suspension up, but we think that Pivot have it spot on with their recommendation.

Pivot Mach 6 8
Two short linkages join the front and rear ends of the frame. The DW-Link is superb in all areas.
Pivot Mach 6 19
The short and stout aluminium lower link.

The shock is a custom tuned FOX Float X and it delivers 155mm of travel. As we’ve noted in the past, getting at the rebound dial on this shock requires fingers like a 3 year old or the use of an Allen key / stick, but it’s an insane performer.

Using the shock’s CTD lever was more a matter of habit that necessity, as the bike pedals beautifully. Few bikes with this supple, forgiving, magic-cloud kind of a ride can give you efficiency like this. Pivot have nailed the ‘bottomless’ suspension feel that so many brands preach about too, and you get all of it 155mm without feeling like it’s falling towards a nasty bottom out.

Pivot Mach 6 23
Flow favourite, the FOX Float X rear shock.

[divider]Build Kit[/divider]

Our bike was assembled with a custom build kit provided by Shimano Australia, so it’s a little different to what you’d get off the shelf.

Slick, crisp drivetrain:

The all-new, mechanical, 11 speed XTR, with an 11-40 cassette proved to be an excellent setup for aggressive trail riding. Paired with the RaceFace cranks and 30 tooth narrow/wide chainring we were geared up for just about anything.

With the bike’s very low travel to weight ratio and efficient suspension, the low gear range made even the biggest of fire road drags manageable, whilst the slightly smaller gaps between 11-40 as opposed to SRAM’s 10-42 cassette meant shifting up or down a gear didn’t affect cadence quite as much. We found this particularly useful when out of the saddle, reacting to slight ups and downs out on the trail, as we were able to maintain the required power at the right cadence, with less of that clunky feeling you can get when you shift into a gear that’s either marginally too low or too high.

Balanced suspension:

The 150mm RockShox Pike up front worked an absolute treat. It’s become the norm here at Flow (for the chubbier riders among us anyway) to slip in an extra volume spacer and then drop the air pressure a smidge. This benefits the fork’s (and in turn, the bike’s) performance enormously, as the fork is incredibly supple off the top and into mid-stroke, before ramping up dramatically. After we’d set up the rear end, and applied our usual settings to the Pike, the bike felt well balanced despite the rear end having slightly more travel.

Skinny wheels:

As circumstances had it, the only wheels on hand for the Pivot build were Shimano XT in their slimmer cross country guise. Given the walloping this bike can take, that wasn’t the best choice. The narrow and light rims aren’t the best choice for a bike like this and the rear wheel did come away looking a little worse for wear with a wobble like sailor a port.

You can read more about the bike’s build in our preview article, which you can find here: http://flowmountainbike.com/post-all/flows-rotorua-ews-dreambike-pivot-mach-6/

[divider]Ride[/divider]

Corners, skids and singletrack:

The way the Pivot plays with the trail makes it a real standout in this category. Short chain stays and suspension that doesn’t suck your pedalling efforts away make it a responsive ride, easy to flick the front end about, something that was aided on our bike by the light wheels.

Pivot Mach 6 30
Giving the rocky trails of Sydney a good nudge.

Because of the DW Link’s supple, active ride under power, the Pivot encourages you to get on the gas more, pedalling through terrain that would have other bikes skipping about. In these instances we really appreciated the 1×11 drivetrain, as we were less worried about the chain jumping off than we’d have been with twin rings.

Descending:

The Pivot is smooth, pacy, but not rowdy descender, more float like a butterfly than sting like a bee.

The way the suspension is configured, it stays lively and light, not simply steamrolling the trail.

Super aggressive riders will notice the shorter reach and wheelbase of the Mach 6, and it has less high-speed ploughing confidence than a pure Enduro bike, but you can put it where you want to – you’re the pilot, not a passenger on this bike.

You could opt to run a 160mm fork instead of the stock 150mm, for a slacker head angle, but we think that wouldn’t be playing to this bike’s strengths.

Pivot Mach 6 35
Getting on the gas during descents is a real highlight.

The rear suspension is really a standout, carrying momentum like crazy. If anything, its performance encourages you to ride the rear wheel harder than normal, which could have been a factor in our wobbly rim! Speaking of the rear end, the Mach 6 definitely exhibits a bit more flex out back than we’re accustomed to seeing from Pivot. It’s not enough to make the bike nervous, but giving it a shunt into a corner produces a bit of twang.

Climbing: 

The Pivot loves the descents, but pedalling is where the bike really shines. Even with 30% sag, unless we were climbing on the tarmac or a prolonged fire road, we didn’t change the shock settings at all. Mashing away out of the saddle the Pivot would bob to a small degree, but for regular seated climbing the suspension was incredibly efficient.

Pivot Mach 6 28
No sacrifices, the Mach 6’s climbing ability is too good.

The climbing traction is pretty sensational too. On loose, technical climbs, it’ll just keep gripping and powering up – the High Roller II tyres didn’t hurt in this regard either, they’ll find grip just about anywhere.

[divider]Alternatives[/divider]

While the Pivot is a bit of a unique proposition in many regards, the Norco Range offers a pretty similar kind of ride quality. Both bikes are big on travel and suspension performance, but don’t go to the same extremes of geometry and descending focus as some others in this category. Compared to the Norco, the Pivot does have the edge in terms of efficiency and suspension performance. On the other hand, the Norco is considerably cheaper and it’s a seriously polished machine for the money.

[divider]Overall[/divider]

The Pivot is an absolute animal of an all-mountain bike. For a bike that is so light, and can be ridden all day no problems, it does a good job if you’re going out to do some shuttles or hammer through a technical Enduro. Despite this, as the test went on we felt more and more like the Pivot was a long travel trail bike, rather than an out and out Enduro race bike.

Bikes like the YT Capra or the Giant Reign are going to be better if serious Enduro is your bag, whereas The Pivot feels more like it embraces all situations on the trail, with no favouring of any particular riding style.

Pivot Mach 6 37
All-mountain, anywhere you want. The Mach 6 will efficiently take you there.

For the type of terrain we see a lot of in Australia, and particularly our local Sydney trails, the Pivot is absolutely perfect. It’s a bike that you can take out on almost any type of trail and have a good time. It’s a bike that you could race cross country on one day, and enter an Enduro on the next.

For these reasons, we see the Pivot as one of the premier all-mountain bikes available on the market today. Yes, we have some quibbles (like the cable routing) but it’s a bike that could potentially replace multiple other bikes in the garage, and still give you just as much enjoyment out on the trail.

Pivot Mach 6 49
Hot.

Fresh Product: Pivot Mach 429 Trail

Pivot have taken their 29er dually and given it a touch of new-school trail radness, and it looks pretty damn fine. It boasts a whole new frame, and could unite big wheel fans and fun-loving trail shredders.

The greatest trail bikes do everything well, no matter what or where you ride, and Pivot’s new Mach 429 Trail raises the bar for amazing bikes even higher. Our goal when designing the Mach 429 Trail was to create a new category of trail bike – one that takes advantage of the best features of 29 and yet maintains the performance characteristics that make you forget about wheel size and, instead, translate to the “best-ride-ever,” every time you ride. – Pivot.

Pivot 429 Trail a 2Pivot 429 Trail a

The 429 Trail uses a 116mm travel DW-Link suspension design, and is aimed to accompany a 130mm fork. A whole new mid-travel linkage design has been developed for this bike. 

The 429 Trail marks the introduction of Pivot’s new mid-travel trail linkage design, specifically for trail bikes. With major influences from the clevis design of the Phoenix DH Carbon and Mach 6 Carbon, the 429 Trail utilises an entirely new upper linkage to provide the same ultra-precise control and bottomless feel of our longer travel dw-link™ designs in a more compact, lighter package for trail applications. – Pivot

We’re over the moon to see an updated cable routing system. The external rear brake and gear cables now travel down the underside of the downtube for cost saving and ease of access, not past the rear shock as seen on current Pivots (tricky to prevent nasty cable rub). A new front derailleur mounting system that if removed is hardly visible at all, very tidy!

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The new wider Boost hubs front and back gave the designers to bring the rear end length to a tight 440mm, retain good tyre clearance, and add stiffness to the 29″ wheels.

Additionally, we’ve designed this full carbon frame with value in mind – building on our years of composite layup and construction experience – we’ve maintained the highest levels of stiffness and strength to weight, while making focused changes to keep the costs down and the technical advantages high, such as strategic, easy-to-service external routing combined with key features of the Pivot Cable Port System – including ports for use with an internal dropper post and clean cable/housing routing through the chainstays. – Pivot

Pivot 429 Trail a 3

The xc race focussed Pivot 429 SL remains (100mm travel rear, 100/120 fork) as their leanest and sharpest dually, but the 429 Trail takes a small but considered step in the direction of the trail rider that appreciates the speed and confidence of a 29″ wheel, but still likes to chuck it about all in the name of a good time.

Frame prices will start at around $3599, and complete bikes from $5500.

We’ll be on the case to score a test ride as soon as possible, sit tight.

Visit www.jetblackproducts.com for how you can get your hands on one.


Flow’s Rotorua EWS Dreambike: Pivot Mach 6

When Shimano Australia asked us if we’d like an entry to the opening Enduro World Series round in Rotorua, we snapped it up faster than Jared Graves out of the gate. But we needed a bike.

Sure, we could’ve used a review bike or one of our own personal fleet, but we wanted something special.

Yes please.
Yes please.

The Pivot Mach 6 is a bike that we’ve always liked (you can find our review of last year’s model here: http://flowmountainbike.com/tests/tested-pivot-mach-6-carbon/). One hundred and fifty five millimetres of DW link rear suspension pedals better than just about anything, whilst still gobbling up the hits when the trail points downhill.

Thank you Mr Weagle.
Thank you Mr Weagle.

With the frame sorted, the next step was suspension. Up front we opted for the Rockshox Pike RCT3 (which we’ve also tested: http://flowmountainbike.com/tests/tested-rockshox-pike/). This Pike needs no introduction, having been widely accredited as the new standard for fork performance. The ability to dial in a supple ride whilst still retaining control over the big hits makes the Pike a winner.

The RCT3 features low speed compression damping as well as lockout capability.
The RCT3 features low speed compression damping as well as lockout capability.

The rear suspension is handled by Fox. the Float X CTD with Trail Adjust is a shock we’ve been lucky to spend alot of time on (you can find our long term review here: http://flowmountainbike.com/tests/tested-fox-float-x-ctd-wtrail-adjust/). Despite the infuriating rebound dial, the Float X is an absolute ripper for Enduro racing. The smoothness of the entire stroke is remarkable, and the trail adjust allows you to fine tune your suspension past the regular CTD settings.

Where do I adjust my rebound?
Where do I adjust my rebound?

We didn’t have to worry about the drivetrain or wheels. Shimano Australia were nice enough to strap on a succulent mix of XT and XTR components. The eleven speed XTR drivetrain is a standout, providing lightening quick shifting and a wide range 11-40 tooth cassette.

Shimano's XTR cassette makes use of aluminium, steel and titanium cogs.
Shimano’s XTR cassette makes use of aluminium, steel and titanium cogs.

The wheelset, also supplied by Shimano, is the ever reliable XT hoops. Light, strong and dependable, we feel these are perfect for some Enduro abuse!

IMG_2748
We don’t think there’ll be any shifting issues with the Pivot.

Being able to stop on a dime definitely gives you the confidence to push harder. Shimano XT brakes were an easy choice.

Our XT brakes are strapped onto a seven hundred and sixty millimetre wide carbon bar from Pivot.
Our XT brakes are strapped onto a seven hundred and sixty millimetre carbon bar from Pivot.

Our choice of dropper post was the KS Integra -a reliable choice that should require little maintenance. The post is also cable actuated, making repairs far easier than if a hydraulic system was used.

Black, black and more black.
Black, black and more black.

To round out the build we’ve decided to run Maxxis High Roller II tyres. The High Roller rolls quickly, but still provides enough cornering bite when required. For the fast, ‘hero dirt’ conditions of Rotorua we feel this is a good choice.

Rotorua, here we come!
Rotorua, here we come!

With Crankworx Rotorua fast approaching, it’s time to get out and get acquainted with our new Enduro weapon! We’ll be keeping you posted with our progress on the bike, so keep an eye out.

Shimano XTR Di2 Long Term Test – Installation

After an agonisingly long wait, we’re finally embarking on our long-term test of Shimano’s new XTR Di2 11-speed groupset! Over the coming months, we’ll be putting the most high-tech mountain bike groupset on the market to the test. Hold onto your butts.

We’ve previewed (and ridden) the XTR Di2 groupset extensively last year at the product launch in October. Make sure you read all about it in our XTR First Ride Impressions piece: http://flowmountainbike.com/tests/seismic-shift-xtr-di2-first-ride-impressions/

But what we’re interested to learn now in our long-term review, is what it’s like to actually live with this groupset: what the installation process is like; what it all weighs; how hard is it to setup and maintain; how does it perform in different conditions; how useful are all the programmable shifting modes; is a double or single-ring our preference; is the twin-ring / single-shifter option any good; how useful is the Syncro Shift mode….?

These questions, and many more, are what we hope to answer. But for now, let’s look at our bike of choice for the build, and what the installation process was like for a Di2 newbie.

Pivot Di2 build 1
The Mach 4 Carbon weighs in at 2.68kg, with 115mm rear travel.

For this long-term test, we chose the 2015 Pivot Mach 4 Carbon as the frame for our XTR build. Why? Well, it’s freaking gorgeous. We have a real fondness for Pivot bikes, and we’d have to rank them as one of the best engineered bikes on the market. They’re amazing performers.

The new Mach 4 Carbon hits the sweet spot in terms of usage too; with 115mm of DW Link rear travel and geometry designed around a 120mm fork, it’s just a banging trail bike, and ideal for the bulk of trails we ride around home and on our travels.

Pivot Di2 build 9
The Di2 battery is housed inside the frame, accessible through this port, which also gives you the access needed to make wiring it all up a little easier.
Pivot Di2 build 2
See the little plugs near above the the linkage? Those are ports for Di2 wiring.

But there’s another reason we picked this bike too, and that’s because it’s the first Di2 optimised frame on the market. The frame features a battery port, and the cable port covers are interchangeable to accept either regular gear cables/housings or Di2 electric wires. Pivot are leading the way for Di2 compatibility.


Getting started with a Di2 installation requires more forethought than your standard build. You can’t just install all the components and then bung the housing/cables in at the end – you need to be a little more strategic than that. Our XTR Di2 system included two shifters (you can run just one, even if you’re using multiple chain rings), front and rear derailleurs, a display, two junction boxes, battery and a bunch of wires in varied lengths (1 x 250mm, 2 x 300mm, 2 x 500mm, 1 x 750mm and 1 x 1000mm) – now we just had to connect the whole web.

Before we delve into the detail, it’s worth mentioning a few things. Firstly, we’re only going to be focusing on the Di2-specific elements of this bike build now – the other elements (brakes, cranks etc) we’ll touch on in later pieces.

Secondly, there are no concrete rules around how you have to wire up a Di2 bike – we could have done things in a variety of ways – the parts don’t have to be wired up in some precise sequence. All that matters is that all the elements of the system are connected in some fashion. As long as they’re joined up, it’ll all talk to each other and work fine.

The third point worth mentioning is that it’d be bloody handy to have a proper internal cabling kit/tool before tackling a Di2 installation. Compared to regular internal cables, the flexible wires of a Di2 system can be a menace to manipulate through the labyrinth of a carbon dual suspension frame – we used every trick in the book, especially when installing the wiring for the rear derailleur. Get the right tools and you’ll swear a lot less than us.

Pivot Di2 build 23
In addition to a Di2 compatible frame, we also opted to use latest Di2 compatible cockpit from PRO. These components really make a huge difference in terms of giving you the cleanest possible integration.

The shifters and handlebar were the first port of call. For the same reasons that we chose the Pivot frame, we opted to run the new Tharsis XC bar and stem from PRO. This equipment is Di2 optimised, with provisions for running all the wiring largely internally, making for an exceptionally neat build.

The PRO Tharsis XC bar has three small holes in it – one in the rear-centre and towards each end of the bar – so you can run the Di2 wires from the shifters through the bar and back into the stem. Threading them through was initially a nightmare, until we realised we’d accidentally chucked out the special tool to aid this process. After digging it out of the bin and watching this incredibly helpful video, things became much easier.

Pivot Di2 build 16

The shifters themselves are one of the neatest elements in the whole groupset. They have sturdy highly-textured paddles, which have a really positive mechanical click to them (unlike road bike Di2 shifting, that kind of feels like pushing a Nintendo controller). For now, we’re running both left and right shifters, though later we’ll experiment with running just the one using the Syncro Shift mode.

Pivot Di2 build 17

The final element of the cockpit area is the display unit which mounts alongside the stem. We’ve heard plenty of mutterings from people saying it’s one element of the system they could do without, but it’s very unobtrusive in fact, and carries all kinds of good info about battery life, shift mode as well as facilitating adjustment of the derailleurs.

Pivot Di2 build 25

We used the two 500m wires to run from each of the shifters and back out the port in the centre of the bars, and into a junction box. The junction box would then be housed inside the body of the stem. Our experience is that the 500mm wires are only just long enough for the job – in this configuration they’re pulled quite tight. Ideally, we’d have gone with slightly longer wires to make threading them easier. As it stands, if we ever wanted to swap the current 720mm bar for the 740mm version, then we’ll need to install some longer wires to make it work.

Pivot Di2 build 13
The PRO Tharsis XC stem uses a rotating sleeve to pre-load the headset. You fasten up the top stem bolt, then tighten the headset by turning the threaded sleeve with the supplied 32mm spanner, before tighten the lower stem bolt to hold it all in place.

Next up we installed the fork and stem. The stem is a little different – it uses a threaded collar/insert to preload the headset, which removes the need to run a star nut. Without a star nut, you’re able to  install the Di2 battery into the fork steerer, a feature that we didn’t take advantage of as the Pivot already has its neat battery port. If you did want to go down the route of a steerer-mounted battery, it’s worth noting that the PRO Tharsis stem is not available in lengths shorter than 80mm.

Pivot Di2 build 41
No star nut means you can run the Di2 battery inside the fork steerer if you wish.

From the junction box we ran two wires – a 250mm wire to the display unit, and the 1000mm wire to the battery – with both wires exiting from inside the stem on the lower edge of the face plate. Although super neat, mounting the junction box inside the stem was a super tight fit – the cables had to be bent pretty severely to get it all in. If you were hoping to run a shorter stem, you’ll need to find a different location for the junction box – either inside the handlebar (yes, that’s an option), or externally somewhere.

Pivot Di2 build 34
The junction box is housed inside the stem for super clean lines. It’s a very tight fit though, with an 80mm stem.
Pivot Di2 build 39
Here you can see the wires exiting the junction box via the underside of the stem faceplate, with one wire leading to the display unit, and the other heading back inside the frame towards the battery.

The longer 1000mm wire was then routed inside the down tube to another junction box, which we were able to easily install via the battery port. Into this second junction box, we also plugged the wires for the front derailleur (300mm wire), rear derailleur (750mm wire) and battery pack (300mm wire).

Pivot Di2 build 37
The second junction box is housed inside the frame, down near the bottom bracket, and accessed by the battery port. From this junction box run wires to the battery, front derailleur and rear derailleur.
Pivot Di2 build 38
The long, slim Di2 battery fits neatly into the Pivot’s frame. We took the precaution of securing it with a zip tie around its base to help prevent rattling.

It was here that the Pivot’s Di2 port system came into its own. While threading the cables through the swingarm for the rear derailleur was enough to make us weep (read our point above about using a proper internal cabling tool/kit), the end result is exceptionally clean. The battery port tucks the whole hoohah up inside the seat tube perfectly too, and because all the battery charging is done via the display unit, there’s no need to ever actually take it out of the frame again.

Pivot Di2 build 36
The tiny section of wire spanning from the seat tube to the rear triangle is almost all you see of the wiring for the rear mech.
Pivot Di2 build 28
The Pivot’s Di2 ports secure the wiring neatly, but we’ll probably tape or zip tie this small section of exposed wiring to the frame so it won’t snag.
The Pivot Mach 4 Carbon comes with a bunch of these flush cable port covers so you can seal up any unused ports.
The Pivot Mach 4 Carbon comes with a bunch of these flush cable port covers so you can seal up any unused ports.

Installing the derailleurs is a damn sight easier with Di2 than with non-electric shifting. There’s no trimming cable housings, fitting cable crimps or fiddling with barrel adjusters. You just bolt the derailleurs on in the regular fashion and plug in the wires and they come alive like magic.

Pivot Di2 build 10
Don’t bash this on a rock. Please. The rear derailleur is a work of art. It actually features a ‘safety’ mode that disables it temporarily if it detects an impact, preventing you from then overshifting into your spokes with a bent hanger.

Setting the derailleurs up is a largely a plug and play affair too. You simply set the limits up limit for the for rear derailleur, shift to the gear number five, then change the computer to ‘adjustment mode’ which allows you to make tiny tweaks to the derailleur position using the shift paddles to get it perfectly aligned. You then set the lower limit and b-tension and you’re done. The front mech is even easier, as the lower limit is all you need to worry about.

Pivot Di2 build-3
The front derailleur features neat rubber pads to reduce chain rattle.

Pivot Di2 build-2

The final step is to charge the battery, which is done via a port on the side of the display unit. A full charge takes about an hour and a half. Shimano are reluctant to put a figure on how many shifts a fully charged battery will give you, but if it’s anything like their road Di2 shifting, a few weeks of regular riding wouldn’t be out of the question.


Overall, the installation process did take us longer than what we’d usually expect with mechanical drivetrain, but we put that down to inexperience – this was our very first Di2 build, while we’ve been building bikes with cables for decades. And having said that, some recent bike builds we’ve had to contend with, in this era of internally cabled everything, have been equally as tricky.

Pivot Di2 build complete 2
11.06kg of super bike!

Knowing what we do know about how it all goes together and what length cables should be used where, we’d love to have another go at building a Di2 bike from scratch, as we think the whole process would be quite fast and smooth. The actual adjustment element once all the components and wiring were in place was far easier than with mechanical shifting, and hopefully it’ll require a lot less maintenance in the long term too.

Feel free to post any questions you have in the comments section below too, and we’ll do our best to answer them.

 

 

 

Pivot Announce New LES Fatbike

Aaron Chase Gets LES Fat at Highland from Pivot Cycles on Vimeo.

Pivot have become the latest brand to get fat, with a fat-tyred version of their awesome LES hardtail (which we tested last year). Read below for the official word from Pivot.


 

With the new LES Fat, we’ve gone beyond the boundaries of the typical fat bike and created the world’s most versatile big-tire machine.

The key to making the LES Fat a go-to option in any season is the newly patented Swinger dropout system. This simple-to-use design enables riders to quickly and easily change both chainstay length and bottom bracket height to accommodate 4” or 5” fat-bike tires as well as the newer 27.5”+ and 29”+ wheel sizes – all while optimizing geometry for the correct bottom bracket height and the shortest chainstay length possible for each wheelsize.

The LES Fat maintains ideal geometry via the indexed adjustment arc of the dropouts – the bigger the wheel and the more clearance, the lower the bottom bracket. Choosing the shortest possible chainstay length gives riders a flickable, playful ride. Selecting a longer wheelbase and more tire clearance provides stability for heavy loads and messy conditions. Included with the frameset and complete bike are two headset cup options (Zero Stack and 18mm), for perfectly balanced front-end geometry at any wheelsize.

The full carbon frame of the Pivot LES Fat features leading-edge materials and our proprietary hollow-core, internal-molding process. This coveted technology enables us to create an ultra-lightweight frame featuring slim top tube and seatstay profiles, as well as the largest downtube in the category. When combined with a 132mm Press Fit BB, the result is best-in-class power transfer and vertical compliance that makes epic rides comfortable and fun.

The LES Fat includes a Pivot-designed taper-steerer carbon fork with 150mm dropout spacing and is also RockShox Bluto compatible – one wheelset will work with both fork options. This identical spacing makes it easy for riders to transition between uses, whether they are gearing up for winter training, long distance touring or seeking more aggressive terrain.

We want riders to be able to use the LES Fat as their daily driver. With that in mind, 2x, 1x and singlespeed gearing compatibility makes the LES Fat an ideal choice in any terrain, and the LES Fat rear spacing is a generous 197mm with an innovative low Q-factor design  (the lowest in the category) when built with the Pivot/E-Thirteen co-designed fat bike crankset. The combined gearing options and knee-saving Q-factor provide the best possible pedaling performance in high-cadence racing, training and trail-riding applications.

The Pivot Internal Cable Port System makes cable routing simple to install and maintain via large, easy to access ports and interchangeable covers. Easily switch between a variety of cable routing options for the cleanest installation.

Additional details include integrated rear rack mounts, internal dropper post routing and 3 water bottle mounts – making the LES Fat the perfect choice for any big tire adventure.

  • Clears 5” tires for unpacked snow, mud and sand
  • Fits all fat and plus wheelsizes (26 X 3.8, 26 X 4.8, 27.5+ and 29+) via the patented Swinger II dropout system
  • Full carbon frame featuring proprietary hollow core internal molding technology and largest downtube in the category
  • Pivot carbon fork with 150mm spacing
  • Full length internal cable routing via Pivot’s exclusive, Cable Port System including internal dropper compatibility
  • 197mm rear spacing accommodates tires up to 5 inches
  • Optimized low Q-factor design when built with co-designed Pivot/E-Thirteen fat bike specific crankset included in our complete builds.
  • 2x, 1x and singlespeed compatible
  • Shimano side-swing front derailleur compatible via a low profile e-type mount
  • Rear rack mounts
  • 3 bottle cage mounts
  • Sizes S, M, L for riders between 5’6” and 6’4”

Battery Powered Dream Machine: XTR Di2 Pivot

Let us introduce the most advanced mountain bike we have ever tested – the Pivot Mach 4 Carbon with 2015 Shimano XTR Di2. Fitted with all kinds of new XTR goodies from Shimano, this 115mm travel 27.5” Mach 4 is designed specifically to accommodate the new Di2 electric shifting. The battery is hidden inside the frame, plus the wires are housed internally resulting in a remarkably smooth cockpit that serves a visual reminder of what the future may hold for the sport.

2015_XTR_C2C-13

The shifters and padels of the XTR Di2. Small, neat and not a little button as you might expect. Shifting still has a very manual feel, and it's a good thing as a little electric button may be too easy to accidently press MTB trails.
The shifter and paddles are small, neat and ergonomic, not just a little press button as you might expect so shifting still has a very manual feel.  This is a good thing as a little electric button may be too easy to accidently press on bumpy trails.

Neat, clean, precise, and efficient is what we see in this new world and Shimano have gone to great lengths ensuring that their first dip into electron and proton controlled shifting for mountain bikes is even better than our roadie friends have been enjoying for a couple of years. We literally just picked up the bike and rode it straight onto the amazing trails of Margaret River on stage 3 of the epic Cape to Cape MTB race. The bike and gear worked flawlessly and we also proved that you can still shift Di2 when the whole drivetrain is submerged in foul, brow, smelly, infested water.

The 11 speed (11-40)  is 10 speed feehub compatible and backward compatibilty is a nice touch. The  Di2 derailluer is bigger than it's mechanical cousin, and yes it will cost a bunch, but considering the technology and other part upgrades avaliable on the market it's all relevant to your needs.
The 11 speed (11-40) is 10 speed freehub compatible and backward compatibilty is a nice touch. The Di2 derailluer is bigger than its mechanical cousin, and yes it will cost a bunch, but considering the technology and other part upgrades avaliable on the market it’s all relevant to your needs.
The display unit of the Di2 is very useful and is used to both display information and control functions of the shifting; including switching betweeen manual and more intellgent "Syncro Shift". Also, note the Di2 compatible top cap? Well, that's because you can hide the batterty in the stearer tube, and as thus the star fangled nut has been removed. Headset tightning is then controlled by an old school locking thread and nut undernearth the stem. It's not the old threadless stearer, just a modern simplier twist.
Di2 displays information and control functions of the shifting; including switching betweeen manual and the intellgent “Syncro Shift” mode. Also, note the Di2 compatible top cap? Well, that’s because you can hide the battery in the fork stearer tube. Headset tightning is then controlled by an old school locking thread and nut undernearth the stem.
The new XC/Race brake has a carbon lever, new insulated piston construction, magnesiam caliper and master cylinder and Shimano report a 10% increase in heat resistance.
The new XC/Race brake has a carbon lever, new insulated piston construction, a magnesium caliper and master cylinder and Shimano report a 10% increase in heat resistance.

We expect Di2 to be polarising, but hey what new, potentially revolutionary technology to the mountain bike world, hasn’t been? We’ll have way more details on Pivot and the new XTR Di2 in the coming weeks as we give the bike a good going over, but until then we’ll leave you with a few images to drool over.

The setting of this photo is more than fitting as less than 24 hours after this snap was taken we finished a super fun 57km stage of the Cape to Cape MTB race at the Colonial Brewery in almost this very spot. More on those first ride impressions soon.
Less than 24 hours after this snap was taken we finished a super fun 57km stage of the Cape to Cape MTB race at the Colonial Brewery. More on those first ride impressions soon.

Fresh Product: Pivot Cycles Release New Carbon Cross Country and Downhill Bike

The Pivot Mach 4 is the bike that started it all. From the racetrack to the trail, there has never been anything that has performed like the new Mach 4 Carbon. Now in its 4th generation, the Mach 4 Carbon rolls on 27.5” wheels, features 115mm of travel, and introduces the next generation of race/trail geometry—all paired with the lightest full-suspension frame we have ever made.

Pivot Mach 4C

Pivot 2015 15

Whether you are a pure XC racer looking for something nimble, with the acceleration of 26” wheels and the rolling speed of a 29er, or a trail rider that wants something fast and responsive yet stable, the Mach 4 has you covered. The dw-link suspension has been tuned to provide instant acceleration with hardtail efficiency, while delivering the incredible climbing traction that all our dw-link equipped bikes are famous for. The short chainstays, spacious top tubes, and the incredibly stiff carbon chassis all enable you to achieve your fastest time on the climbs. On the descents, the Mach 4 comes alive.

Pivot 2015

 

With ultra-stable front end geometry, a low BB height, and 115mm of travel, you can tackle some of the roughest trails with ease; cornering like the bike is on rails and slicing through turns like a Ginsu knife! But we didn’t stop there. The Mach 4 Carbon is the first Shimano Di2 compatible frame ever developed, featuring an internal battery mount in the down tube and all the required ports for clean internal routing.

Pivot 2015 2 1

Pivot 2015 2 2

 

If you are not running Di2 and prefer a more conventional set up, the Mach 4 has the cleanest cable routing in the sport, with ports for full internal routing (including dropper post), full length housing and options for 1X, 2X and Shimano’s new M9000 Side Swing front derailleur.

Pivot 2015 14

• 115mm dw-link suspension with race and trail tuning

• Full carbon frame featuring Pivot exclusive hollow box internal molding technology

• 27.5” wheels

• XS, S, M, & L sizing, with our X-small featuring the lowest stand-over clearance of any 27.5” suspension bike made

• Full length internal cable routing, and Shimano Di2 compatible with Pivot’s exclusive cable port system

• Dropper post compatible with internal routing

• Enduro Max cartridge bearings

• Custom tuned Fox Float CTD Kashima rear shock

• Frame weight from 5.1lbs /2.3kg

• Complete bike weights from 22lbs/10kg

• 2 sets of bottle cage mounts

• Rubberized leather downtube and swing arm protection

2014 Pivot Mach 4C from eXposureTheory on Vimeo.

We set out to build the lightest, fastest, most capable World Cup DH bike the world has ever seen. The end result: The new Phoenix DH carbon. The Phoenix features 27.5” wheels, an ultra-lightweight chassis, dw-link suspension, and the most forward-thinking features to ever grace a mountain bike.

2015 Pivot Phoenix Carbon

Pivot 2015 12

We have employed Pivot’s exclusive Hollow Core Internal Molding process, along with technology developed from our award-winning Mach 6, to develop a 7.1lb/3.2kg frame. This makes a true, 31lb/14kg, raceable DH bike possible. The combination of 27.5” wheels and dw-link design has allowed us to go longer, lower and slacker than ever before, resulting in a chassis that instills high speed confidence and control on the steepest descents, all while out-pedaling any other DH bike on the course. It is a truly lethal combination for the competition with proven success on the World Cup circuit.

Pivot 2015 10

 

Pivot DH factory team riders Bernard Kerr, Eliot Jackson and Micayla Gatto have achieved their best World Cup career finishes aboard the new Phoenix.

Pivot 2015 18

Pivot 2015 19

• 204mm dw-link suspension

• Full carbon frame featuring Pivot exclusive hollow box internal molding technology

• 27.5” wheels

• S, M, L, & XL sizing

• Adjustable +/- .75 degree headset option

• Full length internal cable routing with Pivot’s exclusive cable port system

• Dropper post compatible with internal routing

• Enduro Max cartridge bearings used throughout

• Fox DHX RC4 Coil-Over rear shock

• Frame weight from 7.1/3.2kg lbs (small w/air shock) or 8.1lbs/3.6kg (small w/coil shock)

• Complete Shimano Saint equipped w/Fox 40 fork, Maxxis DH tires, and pedals from 33.5 lbs

• Rubberized integrated downtube and swingarm protection.

• Carbon ISCG-05 tabs

• 157mm X 12mm rear end

• 107mm full carbon BB shell

• 180mm rear carbon post mounts

Pivot Phoenix Carbon from eXposureTheory on Vimeo.

Tested: Pivot LES 29

You can almost envision the meeting at Pivot HQ, amongst the rocky mesas of Arizona:

“Guys, I really think we should make a hardtail.”

“Whaddaya mean a hardtail? We’re called Pivot – can you tell me where the pivot is on a hardtail? And what the hell would we call it anyhow, this pivot-less Pivot of yours? Hey…. wait a minute.” And so the Pivot Les was born. Well, at least that’s how we like to imagine it.

Tested Pivot LES 3

The crew at Flow have long been fans of Pivot Cycles, and over the years we’ve had plenty of their superbly engineered bikes either in our own personal quiver or on test. Mr Pivot, Chris Cocalis, possesses one of the finest design brains in mountain bikes, and his expertise resonates through the brand and all the way to the trail.

But one of the aspects that generally makes Pivot bikes so appealing is their rear suspension performance. And in case you hadn’t noticed, the Les ain’t got no rear suspension. We’ve seen many a brand come up short when they try to step outside their area of expertise; would the Les live up to our usual lofty Pivot expectations?

[tabgroup][tab title=”Rider details” ]Chris Southwood, 62kg, 172cm[/tab][tab title=”Changes made for testing” ]Fitted Maxxis Ardent Race tyres (tubeless), fitted 730mm Thomson bar, 80mm stem[/tab][/tabgroup]

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Note the slight bend in the seat tube.

[divider]Build[/divider]

Hardtails aren’t our bread and butter at Flow. The trails around our HQ are rocky and rough, and riding them on a hardtail is kind of like watching subtitled television – less fun and requiring too much concentration. But the perfect opportunity to give the Pivot a real test was on the horizon, with the four-day Port to Port MTB stage race coming up. Having already checked out much of the course, we knew that it was well suited to a hardtail, and within moments of clapping eyes on the Pivot it got the nod for the job.

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The Swinger system allows single speed dropouts to be bolted on in seconds.

The Pivot has a look about it that we loved from the very outset; it’s a carbon hardtail without fear, with pin-striping that wouldn’t be out of place on a souped-up Valiant. The front/centre measurement is long, the rear end is very short, the head angle a little slacker than most cross country hardtails, and it’s equipped with wheels that can take a beating. It’s a bike that eases the hardtail learning curve and doesn’t punish you too much when you forget you don’t have five-inches of travel. In sum, the Les is exactly the kind of hardtail you want if you usually ride a dual-suspension!

Power transfer and direct, confident handling are two hallmarks of Pivot bikes, and the Les frame reflects this: the head tube area is whopping, and it’s mirrored by a tremendously stiff 92mm press-fit bottom bracket junction. In comparison, the more flattened profiles of the top tube and seat stays look rather svelte, but it’s all about factoring a little bit of compliance into the ride.

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The LES 29 in stock format.

While we weren’t masochistic enough to do so, the Les can be easily converted into a single speed too. The Swinger dropouts have  a unique, indexed chain-tension adjustment system, allowing for single speed use without the need for a chain tensioner. Out of the box though, the frame is set up for geared use, and the single speed dropouts are available separately. One the topic of dropouts, the Les comes with a lovely DT-made 142x12mm rear axle, which is a nice touch.

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Neat front derailleur mount cap.

Keeping the rear end short is absolutely key to good 29er handling, and at 434mm the Les is fairly compact in the chain stay department. Widely bowed seat stays and a slight curve to the seat tube (and the added fact that our bike had no front derailleur) ensure that there’s still plenty of tyre clearance, which would certainly become a boon during the incredible mud we encountered on Day 2 of the Port to Port MTB stage race.

Internal gear cable routing is kept hassle free with a large access port under the bottom bracket shell, while the rear brake is kept external for simplicity and ease-of-maintenance.

[divider]Spec[/divider]

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The LES, as we raced it at Port to Port.

With a $7000+ price tag, it’s no surprise that the Les has components that leave very little room for upgrading. SRAM’s formidable XX1 groupset is a highlight, as are the Stan’s Arch EX wheels and FOX Float Factory fork. Still, we did make a few changes to the bike before race day – in a stage race environment, the reliability of your bike is so important and the last thing you want is to be carrying out undue maintenance each night when you’re shagged. Some of the tweaks we made were about confidence, some were about comfort.

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The Magura MT-8 brakes were removed in favour of a well-loved set of Avid XO Trail brakes. While this change added weight to the bike, we didn’t have any spare parts for the Maguras available, and previous experience with some temperamental Magura stoppers left us wary. The tyres also had to go. While the Stan’s wheels are tubeless-ready, the Kenda tyres seal up about as well as flyscreen! We opted for the new Maxxis Ardent Race in a 2.2″, and they ended up being the perfect tyre for the job, with a robust casing and fantastic grip.

We also swapped out the cockpit. The Les has a long top tube and with the stock 100mm stem and 740mm bar, it was too much of a stretch for our test rider. It’s unlike us to go narrower on a handlebar, but in the end we settled on a 730mm Thomson bar combined with an 80mm stem. With the stem flipped and lowered as far as it would go, the riding position was perfect! With all these changes made, the Les weighed in at just over 10.3kg,

A 30-tooth chain ring sounds small, but we were the envy of other riders on the climbs!
A 30-tooth chain ring sounds small, but we were the envy of other riders on the climbs!

Back on the subject of the drivetrain, the Les came equipped with a 30-tooth chain ring. Our initial thought was to change it for something a little bigger, but we ultimately left it in place and we’re incredibly happy we did! We lost count of how many times riders asked if they could borrow the Pivot’s tiny chain ring as we spun by on the climbs – gear your bike for the climbs, not the descents, especially when there’s four days of racing to be done.

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[divider]Ride[/divider]

Looking back, we really cannot fault the Pivot’s performance during Port to Port. Aside from about 15 minutes during the lumpy third stage when our back lamented not having a full suspension bike, the Les truly was the ultimate tool for the job. Nothing reinforces this fact more than the complete lack of thought we gave to the bike during the actual racing – not a niggle, not a squeak, not one moment of uncertainty.

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Grubby.

This is what a great bike achieves, it allows you to worry about your own performance, not the bike’s. But a truly excellent bike goes one step further, compensating for you when your brain and body is too rooted to ride properly. There were plenty of instances when the Pivot carried us through situations that could have ended up very badly on a more nervous bike; the insanely fast and muddy descent from the Pokolbin State Forest on stage 2, or blindly bombing into rocky Glenrock singletrack on stage 4 for instance. But in each case, the stability of the Pivot carried us through.

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Three days in to the race and the pilot’s still smiling. Must be a nice bike then.

For a bike that still weighs so little and climbs so well, the Pivot’s frame stiffness and refusal to get thrown off line is pretty impressive. The wide Stans rims give plenty of stability to the tyres, but it’s the feeling of connectedness between the front wheel, your hands, your feet and the rear wheel that really makes this bike shine.

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The XX1 drivetrain never missed a shift, even when the derailleur was literally a solid block of mud. At one stage during the race, the sheer amount of mud on the chain ring meant the chain just wouldn’t stay on, forcing an impromptu bike wash in the nearest puddle. The super-fine chain ring/chain tolerances just couldn’t cope with that much mud, but we’re talking about so much crud that the wheels wouldn’t even turn, so we’re not going to hold this against the Pivot!

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When conditions are filthy like this, a bike that you don’t have to even think about makes all the difference.

The FOX Float 32 Factory fork was stellar. It exemplifies set-and-forget performance – we left the fork in the intermediate Trail mode for the entire four days of racing, from the roughest descents to the smoothest tarmac sections. Despite absolutely zero maintenance being administered, the fork’s performance didn’t deteriorate at all, and we couldn’t have asked for a better balance of sensitivity and support.

[divider]Overall[/divider]

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Pivot have nailed it. With their first carbon hardtail, they’ve managed to capture all the important aspects that have traditionally made Pivot bikes so great, just minus the rear suspension. The added versatility of simple single speed conversion will appeal to some, but for us it’s the way this bike blends the best of a high-performance race hardtail with the confidence of a much burlier bike that has won us over.

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Flow’s First Bite: Pivot Les 29er

What do you get when a high end suspension frame manufacturer releases a hardtail? The Pivot Les. Pun intended, this aptly named carbon hardtail is a unique take on a 29er cross country hardtail with its convertible dropouts to allow for a single speed setup if you wish.

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1.13kg for the frame puts it squarely in that category of the elite racer, and a complete build of around 10-11kg is most certainly achievable with appropriate high end components. Our test bike with XX1 drivetrain, Stans ARCH EX wheels and Magura brakes tipped the scales at 10.3kg. Ditching the inner tubes and converting to tubeless would not only improve the ride in many ways, but would drop weight even further.

We can only begin to imagine how light one of these bikes would be set as a single speed, if pushing one gear around the trails if your thing, there would be few lighter than this guy.

The Swinger dropout system sets it apart from most carbon hardtails. We received a geared LES, but for around $300 a special dropout can be fitted with an integrated chain tension system, both neat and effective.

It’s a long bike, especially with such a long stem, top tube and wide bars. We’ll experiment a little with finding a shorter stem length to find a sweet balance between comfort and agility.

Pivot also do the LES in a 27.5″ wheeled version, but the smaller wheeled option loses the Swinger convertible dropouts.

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The way the tup tube sits flush with the headset top cap is super slick.

Pivot Les -13 Pivot Les -29

Spec wise, this orange beauty came to us with the top-tier spec. SRAM XX1, a Kashima FOX fork, and the super light Magura brakes. If there was one element of the kit that concerns us, it would be the brakes, sure they are light but we’d happily trade a few grams for a Shimano or SRAM brake that exhibits a more solid feel and positive bite. But we’ll give a proper assessment after a proper testing term.

The LES is ready to rock, and our choice of race bike for the Port to Port MTB in a couple weeks. With a tubeless conversion, some tougher rubber and a shorter stem this bike will surely be fair game for the big climbs and speedy trails to come.

Stay tuned for more!

Tested: Six 2014 model 27.5″ bikes

Still wondering if this whole 650B/27.5/fence-sitter hoohah is worth a look? We’ve tested a whole bunch of 27.5-wheeled bikes of late. Maybe these reviews will help you make up your mind!

Giant Trance 1 27.5 

Click here for the full review.

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Giant’s overhaul of the Trance range this year went the whole nine yards. This was no quick botox and collagen, oh no, Giant booked the Trance in for the works: nip and tuck, implants, hair extensions and more. Diana Ross would be in awe.

Yeti SB75

Click here for the full review.

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Many people have been hanging out expectantly, waiting to see what Yeti would do with 27.5″ wheels after this core Colorado-based brand arguably came to the mid-wheel market a year late. Some were betting on 27.5″ version of the SB66, but instead Yeti unveiled two new 27.5″ machines. One was a remake of the classic 575 (which we hope to test soon), the other is the gorgeous yellow machine you see here; the SB75.

Pivot Mach 6 Carbon

Click here for the full review.

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All carbon and all glorious, the Mach 6 is only a small step up in the travel stakes from the legendary Mach 5.7, but it’s quite a different beast. First of all, the wheels are a little bigger – it’s one of three new 27.5″ bikes in the Pivot lineup. Secondly, it shuffles towards the descending end of the spectrum a bit, with slacker angles, a lower bottom bracket and FOX’s premium Float X shock. Pivot built this bike with Gravity Enduro racing in mind, you know.

Trek Remedy 9 27.5

Click here for the full review.

Trek Remedy 9 27.5-2

The Remedy has been Trek’s all-mountain / trail bike for a number of years now, and it’s always been an impressive machine, well noted for its excellent suspension and spritely feel. For 2014, Trek have made two big changes to the Remedy. There’s the wheel size, obviously, with the Remedy now packing 27.5″ hoops, but they’ve also reduced the travel, back to 140mm from 150mm in previous generations.

Merida One Forty B

Click here for the full review. 

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When we ripped open the box containing the new Merida One Forty B, we immediately knew that this was a big step in our preferred direction. Fortunately for us, we had a five-hour ride planned the next day on the exact style of trails this bike’s designed for. Let’s get acquainted!

GT Sensor Carbon Team

Click here for the full review.

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What GT has aimed to do is build upon their Independent Drive system which we’ve known for many years, and improve on it. And with the new bigger (but not that much bigger) 650B wheels and a wild looking carbon frame thrown in the mix, the 2014 Sensor gives you a real sense that GT have stepped it up, reaffirming their heritage rich reputation, big time.

Video: Ride Rotorua Top Ten Trails #1 – Te Tihi O Tawa

Could you name your favourite trail in Rotorua’s Whakarewarewa Forest? With hundreds of kilometres of the world’s best singletrack to chose from, picking one trail as top dog is a big ask.

Gaz Sullivan – the force behind Nzo clothing – has spent more time in the forest than most of the trees have. He nominated Te Tihi O Tawa as his pick of the bunch.

A lesser ridden trail, Te Tihi O Tawa was carved from the native bush by Richard Caudwell and a small band of trail pixies in 2011. It’s up high in the forest, way up top of Tawa, and in the wet it transforms into a supremely slippery, fun, flowing challenge. It’s one of the greenest, most outrageously alive trails we’ve ever ridden. The ferns, moss, creepers and vines seem to fill the air.

In the dry it’s a grade 3, like you see it in the video, wet, it’s a grade 4. Te Tihi O Tawa feeds directly into Billy T, undoubtedly another mainstay of the forest.

A big thanks must be extended to the Tuhourangi Tribal Authority and the Department of Conservation – particularly Simon Alefosio-Tuck – for the creation of Te Tihi O Tawa.

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Tested: Pivot Mach 6 Carbon

With a week on the trails of Rotorua on the horizon, Flow handpicked four of the new breed of 27.5″ trail/all-mountain bikes to put to the test. One of these was Pivot’s mouth watering Mach 6 Carbon, a bike we previewed a couple of weeks ago on our home trails.

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Design:

All carbon and all glorious, the Mach 6 is only a small step up in the travel stakes from the legendary Mach 5.7, but it’s quite a different beast. First of all, the wheels are a little bigger – it’s one of three new 27.5″ bikes in the Pivot lineup. Secondly, it shuffles towards the descending end of the spectrum a bit, with slacker angles, a lower bottom bracket and FOX’s premium Float X shock. Pivot built this bike with Gravity Enduro racing in mind, you know.

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Internal cable routing through the sturdy and shapely top tube.
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In case can’t make up your mind, the Mach 6 can run 650B or 27.5″ wheels…. (that’s a joke, people). The chain stay and seat stay have rubberised chain slap protection, but we found it began to come unstuck in the wet conditions.

Even with 155mm rear travel and 160mm front, the Mach 6 avoids being all Missy Piggy on the climbs, thanks to a low overall weight of just under 13kg, and perhaps the best suspension system on the planet – the DW link. Combine the DW link’s spritely responsiveness under pedalling with the on-the-fly compression adjustment of the CTD shock and you’ll spin your way up just about anything. The riding position is very upright for long climbs, but who’s racing the ups?

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Behold, the DW link. This system is the key to the Pivot’s remarkably active rear suspension and excellent responsiveness under power.

Small bump response and durability are both given a boost with the new linkage configuration employed on the Mach 6; the shock itself is driven by a separate strut that rotates on cartridge bearings and this eliminates the need for a DU bush. Winning.

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The new Float X CTD shock is driven by a refined upper link/strut for outstanding small bump response. We had problems with the cables rubbing against the top of the seat stays, right where the upper link joins.

Keeping the rear end tight with a bigger wheel and this much travel needed some smart thinking; to fit it all in (and still facilitate a front derailleur) Pivot gave the rear triangle a single spar on the non-driveside. Big bearings in the lower linkage and a 142x12mm DT-made axle ensure the rear end is kept sufficiently stiff.

An uninterrupted seat tube lets you lower the seat post all the way, but this bike really needs a dropper post (there are cable routing provisions for an internally routed ‘stealth’ post). One casualty of the compact frame and whopper shock is water bottle mounts, but in this arena of riding, most riders will be using hydration packs anyhow.

We mentioned it before in our First Bite, but the cables created all kinds of headaches for us. With the muddy conditions we rode in, cable rub was a big problem and we had some serious paint and carbon damage around the upper linkage. Use cable rub stickers aplenty.

The Build:

Add a dropper post and change the rubber and you’ve got a pretty much flawless build kit. We like the soft compound of the Kenda tyres, but some sturdier rubber wouldn’t go astray here, especially on the rear, given how hard you can hammer the rear wheel into holes and bumps.

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An XTR Shadow+ derailleur is paired with crisp XT shifters.

The Shimano XT brakes and XT/XTR drivetrain will keep at it forever, and if you’d prefer to run a single ring instead of the supplied 24/38 double chain ring arrangement, then there as ISCG tabs to do so.

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A dual-ring crankset broadens the capabilities of the Mach 6 – it has the gears and the abilities to climb just about anything.

Stan’s No Tubes Flow EX rims are a great choice for this bike, with a 23mm-wide rim bed to support big tyres, plus they’re tubeless ready.

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Good rim choice! The Flow EX rims are broad and light, plus they use standard spokes that you can grab from any shop.

Ride:

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Yay for roots! We found the Mach 6 to be incredibly confident and comfortable, even when sliding sideways round the slipperiest of corners.

For a bike with burly intentions, the Mach 6 felt a little bit ‘small’ at first – the medium frame doesn’t have the stretched out top tube of some all-mountain bikes, and the stem is a bit longer than you’d normally see on a bike with a 160mm fork. But any worries we had in the carpark about this making the Pivot nervous on the descents disappeared once we aimed it downhill.

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It’s very easy to get the front wheel of the Pivot off the ground and to plough through the rough. The rear end carries great momentum through big hits.

This bike eats it up, the rougher and rootier the better. With the short rear end (430mm stays) and slack head angle, the Mach 6 lives on its rear wheel; open your stance up, move your body weight rearward a touch and this bike smashes it! You can pop the front wheel up, letting it skim across the rough, while the rear suspension gobbles everything up. There’s never a worry that rear end is overworked, it’s superb, like a downhill bike in the way it handles repeated hits. It’s absurd how much momentum you can carry.

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A wide bar and compact frame makes it easy to let the bike move around underneath you – you don’t feel locked in.

The combination of a wide handlebar and compact overall bike size makes it easy let the bike move underneath you, something we really appreciated on the slippery, rooty trails. Even when the bike breaks traction or you find yourself off line, it’s very easy to keep that body and bike separation – on some bikes you feel like you’re going down with the ship as soon as wheels begin sliding, but on the Mach 6 it’s easy to let the bike sort itself out and you just worry about what’s coming up next.

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Is a very good fork, yes? The FOX Float 34 CTD has very supportive damping and a spring curve that holds some travel in reserve for the big hits.

The FOX 34 CTD fork is classy too. FOX have addressed the concerns that their 2013 forks were too linear in their action and have given the new range a far more progressive spring curve. We ended up running the pressure quite low to get the correct sag and found ourselves relishing the confidence and traction provided by the supportive damping and stiff construction.

Overall:

Of the four bikes we took to Rotorua, this is the one that put the biggest grins on our faces when it counted. It’s fast, it’s eager to get wild, it’s light and beautifully made (except for those cables!) and it has that classic Pivot ability to get you into, and back out of, situations that would see you crashing on a lesser bike. Keep the sizing in mind, as some riders will want to go up a frame size and run a shorter stem, and negotiate to have a dropper post fitted too before you leave the shop. As an all-mountain / gravity-enduro steed, this is a hard effort to top.

Tested: Pivot Mach 429 Carbon

Wrongness is easy to define – it’s just not right. But rightness is something a little harder to pin down. What we can attest to is that the Pivot Mach 429 Carbon has maximum rightness, precious little wrongness, and deserves its status as one of the dreamiest bikes on the market. Let’s take a look at the ledger.

 

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The rightness:

 

It’s one bad-arse machine

From the moment we slung a leg over the deep curve of the broad carbon top tube, the 429 Carbon spoke to us. It said ‘I’m not afraid.’

‘But you’re just a cross country bike,’ we told it.

‘That’s just a front,’ the Pivot conspired. ‘I’m actually a bad-arse trail shredding machine. Here, let me show you.’ And it did.

The 429 is a deceptive beast. With 100mm of travel front and back, 29″ wheels and typically cross country-oriented angles, you’d be correct in assuming the Pivot’s aim in life is to whip across smooth trails at speed. It does this ridiculously well, just devouring the miles. It would be the perfect machine for a marathon.

But to limit the 429 to mellow, undulating marathon terrain would be a travesty. When the going gets rough, the Pivot is all too happy to roll up its sleeves and go nose to nose with the bigger bikes. A combination of superb suspension and unflappable frame stiffness lets you plough through lines that would cast other bikes aside. Wide bars and a low bottom-bracket height keep you feeling grounded, like you’re in the bike rather than perched on top of it. It encourages you to get off the brakes and off the ground.

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Behold, the DW link rear suspension system.

DW-link suspension

Few suspension systems can hold a candle to the DW-link. Under pedalling forces, the performance of the Dave Weagle designed suspension is second to none, making it a real drawcard for this bike.

Other dual-link suspension designs may look similar, but Dave Weagle vehemently guards the patents surrounding the exact suspension configuration of the DW-link. We can see why; it’s a magic combination. The 429 Carbon pedals without any perceptible suspension-bobbing, yet the rear wheel stayed firmly glued to terra firma, even when we pedalled it through the rough. It simply motors up loose climbs. From the smallest trail ripples to walloping big hits, the Pivot’s rear end is ready.

Stiffer than a frozen carrot

In the bike industry’s war on weight, frame stiffness is often the first soldier to take a hit. But a floppy frame is the enemy of confidence – when you command a bike to go somewhere, you want it to respond like a well-trained German pointer. We were delighted to discover that, in this arena (frame stiffness, not dog training), the 429 Carbon is a category leader.

Just have a look at this thing. The head tube, the down tube and the chain stays are simply enormous. The rear end is tied to the mainframe with stout links and capped off with a 142x12mm axle. Does it flex? No sir, it does not.

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Look at those chain stays. They’re almost as thick as Chris Froome’s arms! This is a very stiff rear end.

Until you ride a bike with this amount of frame stiffness it’s hard to appreciate just how much it adds to the bike’s performance. The Mach 429 Carbon settles into a corner and rails hard, and when it does drift, it’s even and balanced from front to rear. Stomp the pedals and yank on the bars and the whole bike reacts as one, launching forward – there’s no disconnect between your hands, the pedals and the rear wheel. When you land a nasty drop or come down from the stratosphere a bit crooked, the bike doesn’t squirm or twist, so its suspension is free to work to full effect. Time and again, the feeling of indestructibility really brought a smile to our faces.

Sensibly pimped

It’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed, and the Pivot is unlikely to be caught looking shabby with this build kit. Top-of-the-line Fox suspension graces the 429, and we highly recommend you take the option of a 120mm-travel fork, rather than a 100mm-travel version we had on our test bike. With a longer travel fork, the bike would blitz the descents even faster.

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The Pivot is well dressed: XT, Stans wheels and cockpit that’s gives the bike more stability than Mugabe’s government.

Pivot has used components that enhance this bike’s abilities in the rough. A 740mm-wide bar and an 80mm stem mightn’t be the usual fare on a 100mm-travel carbon 29er, but they just bring the Pivot’s descending abilities to the fore. Big-bagged Kenda rubber helps too, though we can’t say we agree whole-heartedly with this tyre choice. Not being tubeless ready, the Slant Sixes caused more than a few headaches and sessions with the track pump.

Wrongness:

 

Spaghetti

The clump of messy cables clustered above the shock is a persistent frustration for us with Pivot bikes. A blight on the Pivot Mach’s otherwise clean lines, these cables bend and flex and rub against the shock body, and generally make a nuisance of themselves. We’d love to see Pivot run its cables internally through the down tube and along the chain stays, cloistered away from muck.

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Clean lines, only tainted by the cabling above the shock. We’d prefer the gear and brakes lines were routed through the down tube.

Tight squeeze

If you’re a thirsty fella, you’ll be frustrated by the tight fit for a water bottle. Trying to extricate a full-sized 750ml bottle from the compact mainframe while riding is akin to wrestling a Frisbee back from a determined Staffy. On a medium-sized frame, even a 500ml biddon tends to catch on the shock’s ProPedal lever. Install a side-loading bottle cage to make the process a bit easier.

In the balance

 

A tornado of awesomeness, the 429 Carbon blew us away. The more time we spent on this bike, and the more we ogled it, the greater our appreciation for its abilities and its attention to detail. The 429 Carbon fills you with confidence, it transcends the boundaries of what a cross-country bike should be capable of and is guaranteed to make you faster. It’s all kinds of rightness.

Fresh: Meet The New Boss – Pivot Cycles Introduces The Firebird 27.5

Whether you’re sending it in Whistler, gunning for the overall in Downieville or pinning 30-minute descents on a 6-hour epic through the Rockies, the Firebird 27.5 has your back.

By many accounts, the 26-inch version was the ultimate long-travel trail bike, revered for its unique combination of climbing traction, acceleration, and descending capabilities. That excellent pedigree made it the ideal starting point for a 27.5 chassis.

“The new Firebird 27.5-inch model takes everything that’s great about the Firebird and makes it better. It’s definitely a favorite around our office,” offers Pivot president and CEO Chris Cocalis, “Within a line of very versatile bikes it stands out because it really is a quiver-of-one. It rewards and inspires confidence for an aggressive rider.”

The original 26-inch Firebird was unique. The level of engineering sophistication, obsessive production tolerances and attention to detail rare qualities in the category. The 27.5 shares all of those attributes. For a brawler of a bike, there was (and still is) a ton going on both on the surface and under it, a quality defining all of Pivot’s offerings.

The evolution to the 27.5-inch standard is a testament to Pivot’s belief that boundaries exist to be pushed against, in this case re-engineering a very successful and award-winning platform to accommodate a wheel size that made more sense for its intended use.

To make the best even better, the headtube angle has been slackened, the low BB height maintained, and the amazing Fox Racing Shox 34 added, a 160mm travel 27.5-specific fork that complements already best-in-class handling.

The Firebird 27.5 continues the tradition of its predecessor. It’s a showcase of cross-functional capability, providing riders with the confidence, capability and performance to excel across a wide range of demands. With the update to 27.5 wheels, the boundaries between disciplines become less defined; the frontiers pushed back to reveal new terrain, new speeds and record-breaking performance in enduro racing, park and gravity riding or the occasional DH race.

The new Firebird 27.5 along with the rest of the Pivot Cycles line will be available for media and consumer demo at this weekend’s Sea Otter Classic with bikes shipping in May. To view a schedule of upcoming demo stops or to locate a Pivot dealer, please visit http://www.pivotcycles.com/

  • 6.6″ (167mm) rear travel.
  • dw-link suspension design with rearward wheel travel path. Incredible square edge bump performance and unparalleled pedaling efficiency.
  • Pivot specific, custom valved Fox CTD or DHX Kashima coated shock technology featuring increased rider tunability and incredible small bump sensitivity.
  • Full 1.5 head tube with custom Pivot angled headset design optimizing the Firebird 27.5 as an ultimate Enduro machine.
  • ISCG O5 mounts included for single ring and chain guide compatibility.
  • Patented Pivot floating front derailleur mount. Keeps the chain in the sweet spot of the derailleur for better chain retention. Combined with our custom MRP LRP 2X chain guide, our floating front derailleur mount creates  perfect shifting performance and worry-free chain retention even the roughest conditions.
  • 142mm rear spacing with 12mm through axle and 160mm post mount dropouts. Why? Maximum. Frame. Stiffness.