Watch our full video review of the Pivot Firebird 29 below!
This is a bike that gets lots of attention.
Chris Cocalis, the bossman at Pivot, has a reputation for strong opinions, a zero-compromise attitude and obsessive attention to detail. It’d make him a hard first date, but it means he designs a very good bike. This performance-first attitude has led to some ‘unconventional’ looking bikes in the past (like the Mach 429 SL) but the Firebird gets the same eye-catching straight lines you’ll find on the Trail 429 and Mach 5.5 and it turns heads.
There are a variety of build kit options, but here in Australia this is the most popular – a blend of Shimano XT/XTR and FOX suspension – which is pretty staggering considering the $9999 price tag. People are willing to pay the big bucks for Pivot apparently.
Confidence is everything.
If you’re looking for a bike to make you feel a bit invincible, this is it. We took this bike to Maydena, where we quickly got in over our heads, following a far better rider into Pro Line trails in the wet. The fact we even attempted those trails in such conditions is testament to the confidence this bike gave us.
The combo of big hoops and big travel (170mm up front and 160mm out back) is a good foundation to build on, but there’s more to it than that. We’ve always praised the solidity and stiffness of Pivot bikes, and once again with the Firebird that feeling of cohesion, of both wheels tracking together, is a highlight. Save the squirming for when you’re watching a medical drama, on the trail it’s nice to have your bike feel like it’s with you from front to back.
It’s not hard to see how Pivot have achieved this, the chunky linkage is near identical to that found on the Phoenix, and they’ve employed a whopping 157mm rear hub spacing. This Super Boost hub spacing might mean your hub options are more limited, but it allows for a very stiff rear wheel build, and a short rear-centre too.
That DW suspension is just so good.
Banging through the rough the suspension feels magnificent; high-speed chattery, braking bumps, slippery little roots, flat landings when you miss then down ramp. It was all handled with equal aplomb. There’s plenty of snap out of the corners, that DW-link sure does get the power to the rear wheel nicely, and the frame stiffness just helps too.
You can lose yourself in the settings of the X2 shock and 36 Grip 2 fork, so go slow there, and don’t make too many tweaks at once, or you’ll get yourself all out of whack. Don’t just rely on a bounce around the carpark either, this suspension needs trail time to get it all sussed. But once you’ve invested the time, it’s another level of control.
Big, but not a boat.
Pivot have kept the back end of the Firebird pretty short, at just 431mm, which will divide some riders. For this tester at 172cm, on a size medium, it worked perfectly. The long front end, short rear end thing suits riders who like a playful, peppy ride. Despite the long overall wheelbase, we never felt like it was the bike dictating our course. Taller riders though, might take issue with the short rear end, especially when climbing with the seat up, which will put their weight more over the rear wheel.
An efficient climber, limited only by the slack angles.
On the climbing front, like most DW bikes you can expect efficient suspension performance, it’s not too bad on the uphills. If we were climbing out of the saddle, we did use the shock’s compression lever a lot, but it was more to reduce the rear suspension sag and to help counter the slackness of the 65-degree head angle which takes some attention to hold on course when ascending at slow speeds.
On that note, the bike does have geometry adjustment to steepen it all up a little. While it’s not a feature we utilised, if you were treating this bike as a long-travel trail bike it might be useful. You can also fit 27.5+ wheels to this bike too, though all the build kits in Australia come with 29” wheels.
User-friendly, but some will want a water bottle.
From a practicality standpoint, the bike has some big pluses, such as the simple, robust shock mounting hardware and roomy cable ports to ease threading internal cables, plus huge tyre clearance for muddy rides. But it loses marks from us for the lack of a usable water bottle mount.
Hard to look past.
If you don’t have a 29er Enduro bike in your range, well you’d better be working on one fast, because big wheels are the new small wheels in the Enduro world. While the Firebird 29 is more bike than we can justify day-to-day for our riding, anyone seeking an Enduro rocket race that’ll happily punch laps of Thredbo and amble around your local loop reasonably well too, well this one is pretty close to perfect.