Not all mountain biking manufacturing companies can be considered top-tier manufacturers. In fact, there are several mountain bikes released each year that would likely last for one or two races before needing major work done. With a company like Pivot, you can expect nothing but the best in terms of engineering, racing dynamics across practically every type of MTB, and a fantastic array of innovation. But what exactly makes Pivot Bikes a good option?
The one thing that defines Pivot bikes is their innovative design. It reflects the company’s determination to take familiar, tried, and true frame and suspension technologies and improve them even further. Pivot bikes are also highly durable and built-to-last.
Are you currently interested in possibly trying out a Pivot Bike? Perhaps you are curious about the company but are also wondering if a Pivot model is really the right fit for you? Whatever your interests or concerns may be, this article is for you. In this comprehensive guide, we are going to take a deep dive into Pivot by taking a look at the company, it’s bike manufacturing process, and reviewing a range of their most popular bike models.
Pivot Mountain Bikes
On the Pivot Bicycles website, you can find that imagination at Pivot exceeds “a spark,” most often it is a roaring blaze. In order to improve the performance of bicycle technology, Pivot founders and engineers continually seek the realization of new concepts.
Exclusive research and development conducted on a daily basis produces the data, drawings, specifications, testing experiences, and know-how feeds Pivot’s deep well of intellectual property.
Iso Flex, exclusive to their Vault and E-Vault bikes, is a ride smoothing sleeve that provides a tuned flex by creating space between the seat post and the frame.
The sleeve, which slides into the seat tube, is made up of rubber and a fiber-reinforced nylon inner sleeve to protect the frame while giving flexibility for a more comfortable ride in the alternative terrain favored by their drop-bar bikes. Not all flip chips are made equally. But Pivot Cycles flip chip was engineered for ease of use. Designed to allow on-trail adjustability, Pivot Cycles flip chips always feature two options: a “High” setting, and a “Low” setting.
Changing the flip chip position affects bottom bracket height, reach, headtube angle, seat-tube angle, chain stay length and wheelbase.
Furthermore, Pivot Cycles introduced Super Boost+ in 2016 on the first version of their beloved Switchblade and has since become a standard on the company’s mid and long travel bikes.
Boasting the benefits of stronger wheels, a stiffer frame and more tire clearance, the mountain biking industry is adopting Super Boost+ technology at an increasing rate. Also, their patented swinger dropout is exclusive to their LES series of hardtail bicycles.
The swinger dropout enables riders to quickly and easily change the chain-stay length and the bottom bracket height, thereby accommodating a wide range of tire sizes, while simultaneously optimizing geometry for any size as well because each new bike project is personal. Whether it is a brand new model, a significant redesign, or a revision of key characteristics, each innovation comes from the minds of riders.
More specifically, Pivot has a relentless passion for improving mountain bikes through engineering. The people who design their bikes, ride their bikes, keeping innovation always at the forefront of their design and prototyping process are the key to Pivot’s success.
Pivot’s engineering team sets goals for what a new bike will achieve, including geometry, travel, and the general ride characteristics of the bike. To reach these goals, they begin with the location of the pivot points. Close collaboration with Dave Weagle, the designer of DW-link, informs the early stages of the prototyping process.
Using mutually agreed upon pivot points from the concept phase, Pivot engineers produce a complex set of performance curves, each representing a uniquely desired ride characteristic.
These specific performance numbers are the key to developing the company’s renowned suspension performance – the magic feel of a Pivot, which is their x-factor.
With approved numbers, engineers begin laying out real aluminum tube shapes and industrial designers begin their own work drawing the actual design for the carbon frame. Finite element analysis creates a first aluminum prototype which mimics the feel of carbon and is built entirely in-house by Pivot’s expert machinists and welders.
During the Industrial Design phase, engineers are also working on the lay-up; the process of designing how specific types and intentionally sized pieces of carbon fiber material are to be placed in a predetermined pattern, thickness, and orientation on the frames’ internal mandrels (hollow core) in frame molds.
During this stage in-depth, size-by-size analysis of stiffness measurements creates uniquely “Ride-Tuned” carbon prototypes. Extensive test riding in some of the world’s most diverse and challenging terrain allows us to thoroughly evaluate whether a prototype has achieved the desired ride characteristics.
Riders of all sizes and abilities offer feedback during the testing phase, and final prototypes are tested by Pivot professional athletes around the globe in variable conditions and on all types of trails. Pivot engineers develop not only the company’s bikes, but also the tools, gauges, and fixtures necessary to control the quality of their frames. Once a final design has been determined, they teach their manufacturing partners their proprietary methodologies for ensuring that an imperfect frame never leaves the building. Carbon is both lightweight and able to be highly engineered, making it an excellent choice for bikes.
By controlling the layering and orientation of the fibers, Pivot’s engineers can achieve predetermined levels of strength, torsional stiffness, and weight.
Pivot’s proprietary process for turning carbon fiber into the world’s finest bicycles is called Hollow Core Carbon Molding, and it begins with the inside of each bike. Utilizing Pivot’s internal molding technology and the best carbon fiber available, engineers create best-in-class frames that are stiff yet compliant.
Though you will find nothing in the core of their bikes, care and precision are at the core of their process. Pivot frames are built by hand, one at a time.
Hollow Core Method
The hollow space of the bicycle frame is called “the core.” While all carbon bikes are hollow, the molding process used to achieve the core is different. Pivot carbon is laid up against a core, allowing each intricately cut piece of carbon fiber to be held in place with precision.
This process prevents wrinkles, voids and resin pooling resulting in lighter, stronger frames. Even minor imperfections on the inside of the bike can affect the frame’s integrity.
The process is mastered and refined to produce the strongest, lightest frames possible, from the inside out.
Ride Tuning customizes Pivot’s bicycles according to frame size. This process lies behind their claim that Pivot builds human-specific bikes one at a time. In addition to determining best-fit geometry for each size of a particular model, they tailor the carbon lay-up for each size, ensuring optimal ride characteristics for all rider profiles.
Torsional stiffness and vertical compliance should “feel,” the same whether you are a 5’2” rider on an X-Small, or a 6′ 5-inch rider on an X-Large.
By determining the orientation and location of carbon fibers independently for each size, they “tune” for ride quality, scaling the stiffness as well as geometry across the size range, and achieving consistent performance metrics. In other words, every size bicycle is the “Goldilocks”: not too stiff, not too noodly.
Quality control measures are integral to the Hollow Core Carbon Molding process. Pivot’s engineers design and build the tools and tests used to ensure the company’s unique, stringent manufacturing tolerances are met.
Quality control tests are conducted twice for every frame: once prior to leaving the factory, and again upon arrival at the warehouses. Pivot engineers design not only their bicycle products, but also the systems and tools used to make sure only perfect frames are shipped to their dealers and customers.
Pivot Manufacturing Phoenix Arizona
Pivot’s manufacturing facility in Phoenix, Arizona is a contract machining and assembly facility specializing in the defense, aerospace, and semiconductor industries.
They have been in business since 2000 and are located in Phoenix, AZ. As a part of HUBZone, The Arizona Chamber of Commerce, The Arizona Manufacturers Council, and many more local organizations, they work to contribute to their community in as many ways as possible.
Pivot Manufacturing does CNC machining and assembly for defense and industrial OEMS and is AS 9100D and ISO 9001:2008 certified. Their wheelhouse is a medium volume of low to medium complexity machined parts and assemblies and consistently scores extremely high in terms of quality and delivery to their customers.
Pivot has added 12 high speed CNC machines in the last three years, making them extremely price competitive and bringing the average age of their equipment to 2.5 years. The manufacturing site is small business certified as both a Hubzone company as well as an SDB/MBE.
Are Pivot Bikes Worth The Money?
All of Pivot’s bikes are manufactured out of carbon fiber, except for their Dirt Jump bike which is constructed out of steel.
This pushes the price of the frames up a notch, but they’re not so expensive you’ll have to remortgage your house. They have bikes in XC, Trail, Enduro, DH, E-Bike, Fat Bike, and Jump categories, so there is something to suit everyone.
That’s why you’ll see Pivot bikes for sale across the world, and with an excellent reputation in the mountain biking world. Pivot cycles also sell their own apparel for both on and off the bike. The range includes technical wear for riding, as well as casual wear for all ages.
As far as mountain bikes go, Pivot is hard to beat. Even though the brand hasn’t been around for a long time yet — Pivot was founded in 2007 by Chris Cocalis — it has taken no time proving itself as a brand worthy of being considered as one of the best in the industry.
This is especially when we’re talking about their trail and all-mountain bike offerings, which have garnered multiple awards and recognition from famed bodies.
Priding itself on manufacturing high performing, innovative bikes, Pivot has constantly set the bar for performance when it comes to mountain bikes. But even amongst Pivot’s excellent line of products, there is still a handful that stands out. As a former BMX racer himself, and a certified mechanic by the United States Cycling Federation, as well as a bike-shop manager, Cocalis lives and breathes bikes.
One of his earlier works, a new crank and a bottom bracket design — which would later become known as the Cyborg crank — that was leagues ahead of its competitors at the time was eventually licensed by Diamondback.
Cocalis, later on, started Titus Bikes, a widely successful brand that he eventually sold in 2006 before starting Pivot, which made name for itself on the strength of their very first model, the Mach 4. The full-suspension bike was made in partnership with Dave Weagle, the man behind the highly-touted DW-Link suspension. Using dual links as a way to counteract the impact of pedaling on the suspension, riders feel little resistance and movement if any at all.
This results in an efficient and comfortable platform that only gets smoother throughout the ride.
This means that Pivot has had more than a decade to improve upon their initial success and that indeed they have. Offering some of the best and most innovative products on the market, the only problem with Pivot bikes is its price. But as long as you’re willing to pay a premium, their products are hard to match let alone beat.
Pivot Size Chart
His first Pivot, the Mach 4, was made of aluminum because Cocalis believed, at the time, he could build a bike with the material that was stronger, just as light, and cheaper than carbon. But as carbon tech improved, Pivot embraced the material, initially with its 145mm-travel Mach 5.7.
Now all Pivot models come in carbon with a few also offered in aluminum with numerous size variations. Beyond bikes, Cocalis and Pivot continue to develop new component interfaces to help make frames stiffer and ride better. He worked with Shimano to design the PF92 BB standard, and later with FSA on the oversize BB386 EVO.
More recently, Pivot innovated an advanced version of the 157mm rear-hub spacing, which it calls Super Boost Plus, for some of its 29ers and other long-travel bikes.
Influential Pivot Bikes
While Pivot is best known for its trail bikes, one of its most influential models is the Phoenix DH, which it launched in 2014. To fit the larger wheels without sacrificing handling, Pivot developed a new shock clevis and linkage design. That allowed the bigger wheels without lengthening chainstays or radically changing the geometry.
The design was a success and Pivot now uses it on its Mach 6, Firebird, and Switchblade—models with lots of travel and bigger wheels that remain agile. Pivot also hit home runs with its 429 Trail bike and Mach 6, which are among its most popular. The 429 Trail combines a short-travel design with aggressive all-mountain geometry. It’s a fast, playful bike that can take on some really aggressive trails.
And the Mach 6 has one of the best combinations of descending stability and climbing efficiency on the market.
Because their prices are high, Pivot bikes aren’t for everyone. But few brands offer such a collection of reliable, innovative, incredibly capable bikes.
Pivot Weight: The Good and the Bad
Pivot bikes range in weight from High-pivot bikes that have a reputation for a high resistance and draggy pedaling, so you might not think of applying this design to a trail bike. The high pivot takes up space on the frame that used to be occupied by the front derailleur and multiple chain rings.
With the advances in cassettes and rear derailleurs allowing bikes to have a large range of gears, whilst only having a single chain ring, means there is space on the frame for the high pivot and idler pulley. Additionally the wider boost hub standards allow for a stiffer rear triangle, meaning there is more support for longer chainstays and the high pivot. These changes now mean that more companies are looking at using high pivots on their enduro/trail bikes.
Norco have released the Range HSP, and Devinci have a new high pivot Spartan in the works. A high pivot suspension design creates an axle path that closely mimics the travel of the fork. So instead of the rear wheel moving forward, it now moves in an arc up and backwards from the rest of the bike. This results in the bike being able to carry speed, as there is more time for the wheel to move over bumps in the terrain.
Essentially the bigger the bumps in the trail the further the wheel will move rearward, resulting in increased stability. The suspension also acts differently on bikes with a high pivot point. The rearward path of the axle has more leverage on the bike’s shock than the normal forces that hold the rider up. This makes the suspension feel a lot softer over bumps.
So, what are the advantages?
As the bike’s suspension does it’s work over the rough trails, or you compress into a corner, a bike with a regular low pivot gets shorter, which throws your body weight over the back wheel. This un-weights the front wheel, and causes a loss of traction. With the high pivot bike, it gets longer under compression, which keeps your weight in the middle of the bike, and maintains your grip.
One of the original disadvantages of the high pivot was the amount of pedal kickback. As the bike compresses, and the wheelbase gets long, the chain would be pulled anticlockwise, causing the cranks to rotate backwards. By rerouting the chain to go up and over an idler pulley, above the crank, it reduces the feel of pedal kickback.
The down side of this is, the total length of the chain required for a medium Dreadnought is 128 links long, which is 2 links longer than a normal chain. So when you are first building the bike, you need two chains. Some people have voiced concerns over the additional drag having an extra jockey wheel, in reality this gives no more resistance than having some mildly muddy tires.
All the advantages and disadvantages of this design is somewhat irrelevant, what it really comes down to is the feel of the ride. Some people get really nervous about switching to a high pivot bike because many are expecting it to feel like piloting a boat, with a big turning circle, but most are still pleasantly surprised. During slow speeds it can feel a bit of a drag, but once you get it up to speed it really comes to life.
It can take a few weeks of riding to really get used to the extending wheel base under compression, but that increased stability makes a noticeable difference. With a bit of confidence and slightly earlier braking points you can really push into corners, and carry a lot more speed out of them, without losing traction.
One thing to note about this, as your body weight tends to stay more central in the bike, you find that you don’t swing off the back in the steep sections, so with that, many people will try running bars a lot higher than they previously have done. The biggest advantage to the ride feel is its ability to carry good speed through the roughest sections of track.
As you might expect with the high pivot design it is a little bit less playful and poppy, but you don’t buy an all out enduro weapon for jibbing around on. That being said, there have been a lot of people complaining that the longer chainstays make it impossible to manual or wheelie the bike.
I admit that I am terrible at doing wheelies, but even me (at 5’8) can find the balance point on the dreadnought, and anyone who has the skills will have no problem adapting to the different balance point, and making it playful.
It might have taken a couple of weeks to adjust to the way the high pivot bike rides, but once I accepted to let off the brakes, and let the bike do its thing, then it made a world of difference to my rides. I have never done as many laps of the downhill tracks on a single crown bike before. I can definitely see why so many enduro bikes are moving towards a high pivot layout.
Pivot dove head-first into a complete redesign of one of their flagship bike offerings. The all-new Firebird has always changed with the needs of the market and their pro riders, and the latest iteration sees a firm and pointed shift towards Enduro racing. In short, Pivot set out to make a purpose-built bike to win EWS races.
I’ve had the honor of testing out the last three generations of Pivot Firebird thanks to friends, which has given me the opportunity to watch the evolution of the bike over the years first-hand. The previous generation was one of my favorite long travel rigs, so to say I had high hopes for this next iteration would be an understatement. Thankfully it’s rare for Pivot to let us down.
The Firebird has always been Pivot’s no holds barred enduro race slayer, and this current generation takes that to the “nth” degree. It doesn’t take a keen eye to notice that there have been some major changes to the bike, with a completely redesigned rear suspension setup, linkage and overall frame. The new design offers the same DW-link suspension we’ve come to love, but with a vertical shock layout.
This gives more room for a water bottle cage up front (a major complaint about the outgoing model) and offered Pivot the opportunity to fine tune the kinematics even further. The new Firebird sports 165mm of rear suspension travel, with a longer lower link and even larger emphasis on rearward axle path during the suspension stroke.
Pivot backs that suspension design with aggressive geo numbers to go downhill as fast as possible, and more importantly geo numbers that are catered to the frame size. The bike comes standard with 29-inch wheels and 8-inch brake rotors on both ends with a 170mm suspension fork, signaling its aggressive intentions. Offered exclusively in Pivot’s Hollow Core carbon construction, this is a mountain bike serious about going fast.
Pivot also wanted to firmly position the Firebird as an enduro race weapon, meaning they moved a little further away from the freeride/bike park feel of the previous model. The new Pivot Firebird received longer chainstays, longer reach numbers and a more central riding position to aid in stability and confidence when riding at the upper limit on technical, steep trails. This mountain bike is firmly planted in the enduro-gravity category.
In the low BB setting, the large frame has a 641mm top tube, 438mm chain stays and a 350mm bottom bracket height. The head tube angle comes in at 64 degrees, with a 77-degree effective seat tube angle. The reach number is a lengthy 488mm, giving an overall wheelbase that stretches out to 1267mm. Like the previous generation Pivot Firebird, the 2021 model retains an easy-to-use flip chip to alter the geo on the fly.
It’s easy enough that it can be done trail side with the help of a hex key. The high setting steepens things slightly with a 64.6-degree head tube angle, 77.5-degree seat tube, 355.8mm BB height and 1,266mm wheelbase. The change is noticeable and helps the bike navigate flatter terrain without feeling sluggish.
If you’re keeping track, that’s still longer, lower and slacker (LLS) than the previous generation bike, which had a 65-degree head tube angle, and 74.5-degree seat tube angle.
One thing worth noting further is the importance of size-specific geometry numbers. The tooling and development costs are higher, but the end result is a bike that rides just as well for someone on a size small as it does for someone that reaches high up into the sky.
Pivot also claims that thanks to the geometry adjustment, this bike can be configured mullet style or full 27.5-inch with a replacement lower headset cup, adding further to the versatility of the design.The sizing changes for each frame are subtle but important. This is especially noticeable between the L and XL frame.
Pivot Firebird 29
Enduro bikes are not only becoming better tuned for conquering downhill-bike-worthy race tracks. Some of these burly machines are actually versatile and efficient enough to be ‘daily drivers’ for riders who never intend to test their skills between the tapes. Pivot’s new Firebird 29 was built to check both of those boxes.
Redesigned from the ground up, Pivot’s goal with the new Firebird was to create a faster bike for the Pivot Factory Racing Team as they tackle the Enduro World Series events, but also for anyone who enjoys pushing the limits of their technical riding. The most immediately noticeable change to the new Firebird is the vertical shock orientation, which Pivot says delivers a more compact, stiffer, and lighter-weight frame with a lower center of gravity.
It also allows for Fox’s Live Valve integration, better water bottle clearance, a lower standover, and a progressive leverage-rate curve optimized for high-volume air shocks and the new Firebird’s optional coil builds.
Aside from the shock placement, there are numerous not-so-obvious frame refinements. The new Firebird comes with various chainstay lengths to match its multiple frame sizes. The suspension kinematics are adjusted accordingly, and are also designed to accommodate the changing center of gravity that comes with changing rider sizes.
Pivot says the 29-inch-wheeled Firebird will fit riders between the heights of 5-foot-2 and 6-foot-9. Interestingly, it employs a carbon layup technology more commonly found on performance road bikes: variable tube sizing and custom-tuned carbon lay-up. This approach scales stiffness across all frame sizes to deliver optimal, consistent ride characteristics for all riders of all sizes.
Pivot Mach 6
The Mach 6 has long been a favorite of Pivot riders for its aggressive nature, plush suspension and enduro ready personality. When riders have the opportunity to test the first-generation bike, they are typically impressed with the low and slack geometry. When riders test the second one, they typically love the improvements to the cable routing and aesthetics.
Now, with the release of the third iteration, we had to wonder if Pivot could improve on a bike that we already thought was nearly perfect. The Mach 6 fits in comfortably between the Firebird and the Mach 5.5. Whereas the longer-travel Firebird is best suited for bike-park laps and the 5.5 is a lightweight trail bike, the Mach 6 could be used for either and perform well. It’s an enduro bike first, but it doesn’t have to be confined to the enduro race course to be happy.
This bike sports enough travel to hit gnarly trails, yet is light enough with a tight-enough geometry that it is not afraid to climb to the top of the hill. While the intended purpose is identical to the previous-generation Mach 6, the execution allows it to work better for a wider range of applications. Pivot builds its bikes with a variety of build kits.
The Pivot XT/XTR Pro kit came decked out with XTR shifting and braking, Reynolds carbon wheels, Fox suspension and a Fox dropper post, and Maxxis Minion tires. All of these are tried-and-true performers we wouldn’t complain about on any test bike. Pivot’s house-brand Phoenix handlebar also comes pre-cut to work with the WTB PadLoc grip system, which is a nice addition if you like those comfy grips.
Pivot also offers multiple shock options to handle the rear suspension details. Both shocks worked flawlessly, and unless you are extremely finicky about suspension setup, we’d be hard-pressed to recommend upgrading from the stock, and less expensive, DPX.
Pivot Mach 5.5
The Mach 5.5 is active and linear-feeling, and when combined with 2.6-inch Maxxis Rekon and Minion tires, is deceptively deep-feeling. This makes the bike excel at pedaling through undulating techy bits, where it seems to make chunky rocks and root balls disappear underneath it without any noticeable pedal feedback.
On climbs, however, that extra-active, linear suspension could be an energy drain—an unexpected attribute coming from Pivot, whose bikes are normally rocket ships uphill. It sits up and becomes continually more efficient as you start laying the power on, though.
It’s laggy and slow if you’re laggy and slow, but picks up when you do, which is great, except that it sort of feels as though it’s forcing you to go hard instead of inspiring you to. Of course, the shock has a ‘Medium’ setting, which makes the bike more efficient. Compared to the Ibis Mojo HD4, which also uses dw-link suspension, comes with a 160-millimeter-travel fork and 2.6-inch rubber, the Mach 5.5 feels less planted.
That makes sense considering the HD4 has a longer wheelbase and much slacker head angle. The Pivot’s 66.5-degree stance puts it more in the aggressive trail game, whereas the Ibis is targeted at the enduro scene. Despite this, the Ibis is a more efficient pedaler. The Mach 5.5, on the other hand, dances on the trail with an exceedingly poppy, playful attitude that begs to be manualed, slid around corners and pointed toward trailside extra-credit treats.
Pivot Fat Bike (Les Fat)
Versatility is the Pivot Fat Bike’s first priority. Pivot’s highly transformable bike, the Les Fat, was built to tackle any terrain at any time of year (it could easily have been named Optimus Prime). This shapeshifter has the ability to swap wheel sizes with ease while still providing riders the same overall fit. Pivot sent us two wheelsets (although the Les Fat only comes stock with fat tires) for this test.
One set had 26×4-inch fat tires and the other set had 27.5×3-inch, plus- size tires. Pivot’s Les Fat is a unique bike with a clever design, and many simply cannot wait to get their hands on it. Many riders will put this bike through the full MBA-style test in order to see if this thing can transform itself from a snow-trekking fat bike into a traction-grabbing trail bike.
Pivot’s Les Fat is made to satisfy the needs of just about every rider. Although this sounds too good to be true, many have found ways the Les Fat could benefit an entirely different group of riders every time they ride it. To a die-hard fat biker, the Les Fat offers clearance to run up to 5-inch-wide tires, allowing riders to rip through the snow or bulldoze down the trails.
Adventure riders will find the Les Fat to be an exceptional choice for their riding style due to its integrated rear rack mounts and ability to carry three water bottles. Trail riders will find themselves having a blast, shredding the trails with endless amounts of traction from the 27.5-inch-plus tires. Transformability is Les Fat’s signature feature.
The frame is carbon, with a suspension fork and the wheel size of your choosing. Pivot’s XX1 build kit uses its house- brand Phoenix carbon handlebars and seatpost, along with an XX1 drivetrain and a Rockshox Bluto fork. The Les Fat’s frame is also constructed from carbon and uses proprietary hollow-core internal molding technology and an oversized downtube claimed to make the Les Fat lighter, stiffer and stronger than any other bike in its class.
Wheel size is the next thing that sets the Les Fat apart, as it can fit 26-inch fat tires, 27.5-inch-plus tires or 29-inch-plus tires. Pivot had its hands full when it set out to build this bike, and the hard work definitely paid off. Pivot also offers their own carbon fork for those who would like to ride this bike rigid.
The most important feature of the Pivot Les Fat is the patented Swinger II dropout system. These impressive-looking and easy- to-use dropouts are the key to the Les Fat’s versatility. Not only do these dropouts allow the use of just about any fat or plus-size wheels, they also allow riders the ability to adjust chainstay lengths.
Swapping wheel sizes doesn’t affect the Les Fat’s geometry, because riders can simply slide the rear wheel closer to the frame for the shortest chainstays possible. These short stays provide the Les Fat with its uniquely playful and agile feel, normally unheard of in the fat bike category.
Pivot’s new race geometry in the Pivot Hardtail focusses on longer reaches, slacker head angles, and shorter stems designed to suit more demanding courses. Upfront there’s a 69.5 degree head angle paired with a 410.3mm reach (on a medium frame), with a 72.5 degree effective seat tube angle, so it’s reasonably progressive by the standards of most cross-country race machines.
Thanks to a new carbon layup using Hollow Core Molding Technology and new carbon dropouts, Pivot has created their lightest frame yet. The brand claims that the Les SL has class-leading stiffness to weight ratio and power transfer, with a claimed 1,045g weight on a medium frame. With easy serviceability in mind, the Les SL features Pivot’s own cable port system that promises a rattle-free ride that is compatible with all drivetrains and dropper posts.
The 100mm of squish is supplied by a 100mm Fox 32 Stepcast but the frame can run up to 130mm if that’s what you fancy. The fork is fitted into an integrated headset, which Pivot says helps keep the weight low. As for the tire clearance, the frame can fit up to a 2.3″ tire on 29″ wheels.
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/center 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.
Keeping the rear end short is absolutely key to good 29er handling, and at 434mm the Les is fairly compact in the chainstay department. Widely bowed seat stays and a slight curve to the seat tube (and the added fact that most bikes have no front derailleur) ensure that there’s still plenty of tire clearance, which would certainly become a boon during the incredible riding that can take place with the Pivot Hardtail when fully decked out. Additionally, 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.
Final ThoughtsA Pivot Bike is a mark of quality and that has to do with the company’s commitment to constantly evolving innovation and the ability to change and grow with the dynamics of the MTB world. There are many models to choose from that can provide you with the exact contours you are seeking when it comes to mountain bike riding dynamics.
The company is also committed to maintaining some of the best engineering across the mountain biking manufacturing business model. Whether or not you like a Pivot will depend largely on your preferred riding style.