Field Test: 2020 Pivot Mach 4 SL - Thoroughbred XC Racer

Dec 5, 2019
by Sarah Moore  


2020 PINKBIKE FIELD TEST

Pivot Mach 4 SL

There's no hiding this bike's World Cup XC pedigree.



Words by Sarah Moore, Photography by Trevor Lyden



Pivot’s Mach 4 SL replaces the long-running Mach 429 SL as the company's premier cross-country bike. Given how that market is now firmly in the 29er camp, Pivot decided to shed the "29" part of the name and revert to the simpler Mach 4 moniker since wagon wheels are basically a given in that category these days.

The updated geometry aims to help racers win World Cups while making the bike more versatile. Pivot says that "the new school geometry also lets this cross-country race bike flirt with trail bike versatility outside of the course tape." Building on that theme, riders can choose between a cross-country build with a 100mm fork or the Trail version of the bike that comes with a 120mm fork and a dropper post.
Pivot Mach 4 SL Details

Travel: 100mm (r) / 120mm (f)
Wheel size: 29''
Frame construction: carbon fiber
Head angle: 67.5° (geometry)
Chainstay length: 431 mm
Reach: 427 mm (size Medium)
Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL
Weight: 26.6 lbs / 12.07 kg (as pictured)
Price: $10,399 USD
More info: www.pivotcycles.com

The suspension on the Pivot Mach 4 SL is a variant of the dw-link layout that has marked every Pivot full-suspension bike since the inception of the company in 2007, but the shock is now oriented vertically instead of horizontally, tucking in front of the seat tube instead of residing under the top tube. This allows for a lighter and more compact front triangle. It also means that there is room for a water bottle to fit in the main triangle on every frame size, and the XL size can even handle two bottles.

The Mach 4 SL uses Boost hub spacing, a PF86 press-fit shell, and while it is built solely for 1x drivetrains, it does have ISCG tabs if you’d like the security of a light-duty chain guide. All frames are compatible with Fox Live Valve, but not Shimano Di2.

Prices for the complete bike range from $5,200 USD for the Race XT 12-Speed to $11,999 USD for the fully electronic AXS and Live Valve build. We tested the Mach 4 SL Trail XTR model which comes with Shimano's top-tier mechanical group and brakes, DT Swiss XRC 1200 Spline wheels, and Fox's Live Valve suspension. All of that will cost you $10,399 USD.





Climbing

Chloe Woodruff won a World Cup Short Track on the Mach 4 SL earlier this year and finished in the top-ten almost every race, so we had a feeling that the Pivot Mach 4 SL wouldn't be a slouch on the climbs with that kind of pedigree. It turned out to be an accurate assumption, and the Mach 4 SL did a great job of keeping the rear wheel stuck to the ground; I was able to make it up steep and technical climbs that really tested the limits of grip. While the suspension wasn't quite as plush or comfortable as the bikes with more travel, it didn't skip around or feel uncomfortable harsh.

Less commendable was the 73.5-degree seat tube angle on the Pivot Mach 4 SL, which was the slackest of all the bikes in the down-country category. It's 74.5-degrees with a 100mm fork, but as the head tube angle slackens slightly with the more travel, the seat tube angle does the same. The effect was noticeable as soon as you pointed the bike uphill. I slid the saddle all the way up on the rails and still wanted to be more forward, especially when it got steep.

Speaking of steep climbs, the 34-tooth chainring also felt pretty specific to cross-country racing, as did the 75mm stem. There were no complaints about the weight, though. Even with the slightly heavier Live Valve setup (adds 220g / 0.5lb), this was one of the lighter bikes in this category, which was nice on the longer climbs and made that 34-tooth ring more manageable.



Pemberton 2020 Field Test Photo by Trevor Lyden


Descending

One downside of riding the Pivot Mach 4 SL with the 120mm fork was that the reach was a paltry 427mm. It has a 440mm reach when ridden with a 100mm fork, but when you over-fork the bike it ends up shortening it by 13mm, which reduces some of the benefit of that extra suspension. You get more travel up front and a slacker headtube, but you’re moving the rest of the geometry in the opposite direction of what you want.

Both James and I felt that we were constantly fighting to hold lines on Pemberton's chunky, steep terrain, and it was the most nervous of the five bikes we rode. The suspension on the descents was not the most predictable or supple, and instead of being able to relax into the descents and catch your breath, you had to really hang on and focus on the task at hand.

On the trails in Pemberton, it felt like the Live Valve-equipped Mach 4 SL had a hard time keeping up with the terrain at times, especially when faced with repeated hard impacts.

Timed Testing

Our timed lap for the down-country bikes was around 8:30 long and started with a 0.5km singletrack climb up Wild Potato, before heading up the Smell the Glove Connector, a loose double track road that got steeper and steeper towards the top. Then, we dipped into Econo Dave, a spicy black diamond trail with lots of steep rock rolls, before looping back on the loose higher-speed Dark Forest. The climb accounted for half the distance but about two-thirds of the time.

Don't forget that timing is just one of many ways to judge a bike, and fast doesn't always mean it's the best for everyone.


Sarah: ''I had the slowest descent on this bike, which was 8.4% slower than the fastest bike. On the uphill, I was 6.1% back from fastest and the overall lap time was a three-way tie for second-fastest, 5.4% back."

James: "I had my slowest overall lap time on the Pivot at 4.3% back, but was third-fastest on the climb at 2.8% back from my fastest lap time and 1.9% slower on the descent."




Pros

+ Fast on less-demanding terrain
+ Good pedaling efficiency
+ It's super light

Cons

- Feels like the 120mm fork is an afterthought
- Slack seat tube angle, short reach
- Nervous on the descents





The 2020 Pinkbike Field Test was made possible by support from
Race Face apparel & pads, Giro helmets, & Sierra Nevada beer.



391 Comments

  • 593 21
 This category confuses me. I get the name but damn these bikes are different.

Can we just go with:
110mm or less = XC or XC race (F-Podium XC, Mach4 XC race)
111m-130mm = Short Travel Trail (Joplin, Optic, Trail Pistol)
131mm-160mm = Long Travel Trail (Occam, Primer, Stamina 140)
150mm-180mm = Enduro (mmhmm...overlap but it's cool...)
180+ Freeride fun or DH race (send it...)
  • 24 6
 Underrated comment of the day: lets get this to the top of the page.
  • 7 7
 spark nino 120mm this XC or ST Trail?
  • 15 4
 @ilyamaksimov: Scott themselves call the “regular” 120mm Spark a trail bike. The 100mm race version nino races is the XC bike. Of course, they’re just the same frame with a different shock and fork...
  • 3 16
flag ilyamaksimov (Dec 5, 2019 at 7:36) (Below Threshold)
 @srstudent: "111m-130mm = Short Travel Trail (Joplin, Optic, Trail Pistol)" but 120mm its XC?) or nino race WC XCO on trail bike?)
  • 42 5
 Lose Long travel trail and Enduro and replace it with 150-180mm is All Mountain and ya done.
  • 4 3
 front or rear travel?
  • 5 3
 @srstudent: I've ridden the RC and regular spark. They feel pretty different despite having the same frame.
  • 4 0
 @jclnv: I like the cut of your jib!
  • 2 0
 Shoudl have said "F-Podium DC XC, F-Podium XC Race"
  • 12 0
 I’m just here to watch people bitch about which category its in. Awesome suggestion though
  • 219 1
 Mountain bikes...

≤120mm = Up Mountain
≤140mm = Some Mountain
≤160mm = All Mountain
≤180mm = Big Mountain
≤200mm = Down Mountain
  • 27 0
 There will always be tons of overlap even at exactly the same travel. E.g.: Evil Following vs. Scott Spark 120. One is mini-enduro, the other is maxi-XC.

Bottom line is, you gotta actually try/pay attention to geometry and spec.
  • 4 1
 @srstudent: They are actually different frames....
  • 3 1
 @mtbgeartech: its not actually the same frame
  • 1 0
 @thedirtyburritto: Cool, now I know! No wonder they're so different LOL!
  • 150 2
 shesh i dont know.

I'd say more like 108.6mm or less for xc
108.7-131 low-short up down xc traveling trail
132-144.8 high short upcross downcountry travel trail
144.8-149 low-duro-coutry cross mountain trail
149-154.22 middlemedium downmountain uptrail trail criss-cross trail trailtrail
154.22-161.11- long-dong-duro...up...down
161.11-161.12 a bike, with two wheels
161.13-179 freetrail
180+ jumpcountry downtrail
  • 18 0
 NOW LOOK AT WHAT YOU'VE STARTED!!!!
  • 25 0
 @chubby5000: Yea, and all this only for 29er wheels, totally different categories for 27.5 and mullet bikes.

I mean you got yer mullet-countries, mountain-mullet-duros, and so on.
  • 5 1
 There's more to a bike than the travel numbers...
  • 10 0
 @hardcore-hardtail: My hardtail agrees with you.
  • 14 0
 @MTBrent: That breakdown gave me the warm fuzzies. I've been thinking of it in terms of "How much of your propulsion comes from you vs how much from gravity".
Almost all from you is the XC end of the spectrum
Almost all from gravity is the DH end
Pick your bike weight/geo/travel combo based on where you are in that continuum.
If it comes from an electric motor you're probably actually getting your power from PB arguments and rage, but that's a whole other category.
  • 2 3
 @Planetx888: I want to burn your comment.
  • 15 0
 It just seems like an unnecessary category to me. The reviews of all the bikes in the Downcountry category seem to be -- they're good, but they're missing something. Like 10-20mm of travel, maybe? In my head, people are looking for XC race bikes (110 or less), Trail (130-150) or enduro (150-180). I just don't think people are looking for this in-between, and the testers don't seem especially stoked about it, either.
  • 5 0
 Totally agree. I thought All Mountain = Long Travel Trail though.
  • 1 0
 @hardcore-hardtail: Agree but this makes it a bit easier to understand full suspension categories. Hardtails are not considered in this classification system as they would need their own.

There will always be class defying bikes out there but they are the exception to the norm.
  • 15 0
 Downcountry isnt a category smh, its a lifestyle
  • 46 0
 up to 100 mm = Lung-duro
101 to 130 = Up-duro
131 to 145 = Fun-duro
146 to 160 = Bikes Formerly Known as Enduro
161 to 175 = En-duro
>175 = Down-duro
  • 1 0
 @mtbgeartech: They aren’t the same. The rear triangle on the RC is actually wider (87.5mm vs. 83.5mm) at the pivots which is true of the front triangle. The rocker (or linkage bar) is different. Shock is just a different stroke and tune.
  • 8 10
 YAWN. Who cares what the labels are? Why does it actually matter?
  • 1 0
 big agree mate
  • 1 0
 @Planetx888: lol I NEED to get myself a mountain-mullet-during I start dropping that line at trail heads.
  • 10 1
 So like.......

Cushion
Cushion+
Simi-squish
Squish+
Double barrel squish+
  • 1 1
 @ilyamaksimov: I would say it's a ST Trail... Nino has leg power and handleling skills to win using an enduro rig, but certainly he has riding hardtail is some courses (more xc terrain for sure).
  • 10 0
 @Planetx888:

nailed it.

i'm headed to the shop this afternoon to ask for a "long-dong-duro" bike and see what they come up with.

probably an sb165 and referral for a divorce lawyer.
  • 1 0
 @cgreaseman: Success!
  • 8 1
 @TheR: I don't know. Had that Mondraker had a different suspension tune and some changes to the spec, I very likely would have fell in love with that thing. Super-capable short-travel bikes are sweet.
  • 3 0
 Yeah it's getting weird. So many of these can't be lumped into one category. At least not in my opinion. Either that or they are in the wrong category. The jury is still out on that one but the Joplin and the Trail pistol are prime examples in either case. That mach 4 seems like a straight up cross country bike to me.
  • 3 3
 Why don't we just use a Race v Non Race distinction.

This Pivot like the Joplin, F-Podium, Top fuel, etc. are XC bikes vs. Supercaliber or Spark RC are XC Race Bikes.

You could use the same for Trail bikes being either Trail or Enduro vs. Trail Race or Enduro Race...

There's a real difference between a race bike and high-end non race bike despite them being the same "category"
  • 4 0
 @angryasian: Could be. Here's the deal -- we are both on the front range, and I just can't see falling in love with anything less than 140mm of travel out here. If I were XC racing, maybe that's a different story -- but then I'd go for something light and 100mm of travel. As always, I am open to the possibility I'm just not rad enough, or have just gone too soft.
  • 1 0
 @angryasian: I really can't wait to see what you can do with the F-P! its so insanely sexy and it seems like it's just a tinker away from being amazing.
  • 2 0
 I feel that geometry is more important than travel to categorize a bike.
  • 2 0
 @dhx42: joplin is 120 rear with 120-140 front. quite far from this spandexrocket
  • 2 0
 I think we put too much emphasis on travel. I'd class a bike by rear travel and head angle. Although with the current crop of super slack hardtails that makes it a bit tougher.
  • 7 0
 all mountain ain't dead.
  • 4 0
 @sarahmoore: "There's no hiding this bike's World Cup XC pedigree." Soooo decidedly not downcountry then right? It's an xc bike with a longer fork, which the review basically says is rubbish.
  • 1 4
 80-130mm XC race 130-160mm Trail 160-180mm Enduro 180-250mm DH
  • 1 0
 @MTBrent: =100 no mountain
  • 1 0
 Does changing the suffix from mm to lbs have same correlation in regards to a fun ride?
  • 2 0
 @TheR: I agree. This seems like a forced category. What was wrong with the already existing ones?
  • 1 0
 Travel is one aspect, geometry is the other.
  • 19 0
 I used to work in the claims department for a motorcycle insurance company. It seemed clear after a while that there was a pretty strong corrolation between certain personality types/customers and the manufacturer/model of the bike they owned.

Maybe this would be a better way to group the bike tests - who's going to buy it? Or perhaps to put it another way; what sort of person wants to be seen on this bike?

Do you dress like this? Have you ever used any of these words or phrases without hint of irony or sarcasm? These are the bikes for you.

Much easier for picking your next bike than looking at a load of boring numbers.
  • 13 0
 THIS BIKE WOULD HAVE DOMINATED THE PRO DH RACE SCENE IN 1992. Change my mind.
  • 3 1
 @bikefuturist: The Joplin/Tallboy is definitely an XC bike. But it's not an XC Race bike. You can do an XC race on it but it's not ideal or going to be the best piece of equipment for the job. However, you'll have a blast doing a 30-50 mile ride on it with a bunch of climbing.

That's a big difference from a Hightower/Megatower (just to stay in the SC family for ease of comparison) which too have their differences. The hightower will be great for your ride with some techy/fast descending that also requires some climbing and maybe some mellow connector trails but is step below the Megatower when you go lineup between the tape in an enduro race.
  • 1 0
 @MTBrent: Or just pick your suspension travel, weapon and be d...
about It, use to be wheel size, ....for life,
29" are... well wagon wheels.
  • 2 0
 @K1maxX: take the mean
  • 1 0
 @MTBrent: perfect way!! Job well done!!
  • 1 0
 @SpokeGuy: 161 to 175 is long-duro
  • 1 0
 @srstudent: Funnily enough, the regular Spark was moved from the "XC" to the "Trail" section of Scott's website only this year, with the release of the "2020" builds.
  • 2 0
 @dreamlink87: that would make my dirtjumper a 50mm full sus. bike Smile
  • 2 0
 @hardcore-hardtail: There's the colour.
  • 1 0
 @MTBrent: Ah, the ole USABD standard measure eh? Never caught on cuz folks can’t pronounce it! ;-)
  • 2 3
 @Drew-O: someone who calls himself "mtbgeartech" can't see that and wants x travel = x category. And people prop him like crazy, oh irony.
  • 4 0
 @ismasan: I see your point. There will always be bikes that have an intended purpose with specs that don't fit the norm. It seems like the majority of PB users agree with the general idea though.
  • 1 1
 @mtbgeartech: maybe, cause people like categories and things easy to digest, but that's oversimplifying.
But what do I know... I think enduro is just a racing format.

#slopedurocross4life
  • 4 0
 @ismasan: Then XC would just be a racing format as well? I think it is.

Classifications are necessary when comparing bikes. My original post was referring to classifications for this field test to group the tested bikes. For example, If I were in the market for a short travel trail bike right now I would be comparing the Tallboy, Trail Pistol, and the Optic. The Mach4 and F-podium wouldn't be included because they lean too much to the XC spectrum.
  • 3 0
 @ismasan: It is a racing format. And there is a very specific niche of bikes that have been developed for that discipline which are funny enough called enduro bikes. Just like we have cross country bikes for cross country racing.
  • 4 0
 so ridiculous hearing them try to compare bikes and bike categories apples-to-apples. No one who's wanting to shred gnarly "here around Pemberton" black/double black descents is going to pick up a Mach 4...test and review them for what they're intended for, so those customer bases can make more informed decisions.
  • 1 1
 @friendlyfoe: that type of riding existed way before any category and bikes where built for it too, but as the rest of bikes, they weren't as refined as they're now.
All I say is that is very artificial to divide bikes by their travel in 20mm gaps, cause after all, there's not that many types of riders, wich by what you see in the trails are 1- the "lycra/long distance/take it easy" crowd , with hardtails and short to medium travel bikes, 2- the lift/push crew with DH and long travel, and 3- the rest, who pedal up and also want to go fast down, with travels all over the place depending on preference. That's why nowadays you gotta take the bike as a whole to see it's intentions rather than the travel alone.
  • 1 0
 @ismasan: Finally someone who gets it!
  • 1 0
 @ismasan: enduro certainly didn't exist as a racing category prior to its use defining bikes. There are 3 main racing categories, xc/dh/enduro and the bikes used for that are called by that very same name, regardless what you use the bike for. Everything in between is trail. That's the way it's been for a very long time.
  • 1 0
 @friendlyfoe: you're not wrong, neither I am.
Re-read my last comment please, is about how nowadays you can't use only travel to categorize bikes. xx.
  • 1 0
 @ismasan: You're probably right.
Can you post your idea of the proper nomenclature?
  • 148 4
 Thoroughbred XC race bike and still survives the huck to flat better then the Pole....
  • 8 0
 baaahahahaha
  • 33 2
 Now they are calling a 26.6 pounds XC racing bike (excluding pedals!) "superlight" ...
  • 32 0
 @duzzi: Well if you take in to account the control tires, and the fact that it comes with a Fox 34, a fairly long dropper and Fox Live Valve, it's quite a light bike.
  • 5 12
flag duzzi (Dec 5, 2019 at 8:09) (Below Threshold)
 @NickBosshard: it is close to one pound more than my 160/150 travel Ibis HD3 ... It is a 5 pounds frame and in race ready trim should be in the 22-23 pounds range.

I am not sure how Pinkbike managed to do that, maybe is the stuff that does not belong (like the tires) but still ... they probably forgot to take out the tool kit and the water bottle! It would not surprise, from a publication that thinks that one timed lap is a way to compare bikes.
  • 3 0
 @NickBosshard: is right. This would be sub 26lbs with the changes already suggested
  • 34 0
 @duzzi: I call bullshit on your 25.6 pound Mojo, you must have made some serious compromises to get to that number...
  • 5 4
 @hardcore-hardtail: I can send you the complete specs. It has Pike Dual, Revive drop post, 2.6 tires. It is 26 pounds and change with XTR trail pedals.

But besides the weight of my bike, starting with a sub 5 pounds frame (PIvot quotes 4 pounds with no shock) it is a major achievement to reach to a more than 27 pounds bike (with pedals) that is supposed to go out racing!!!!!
  • 7 1
 @duzzi: Funny, I have struggled to get my RM Element (100mm rear, 120mm front) below 26 pounds and it has all the carbon bits (wheels, cranks, bars) and 11 speed, of course that's with heavy trail tires, flat pedals, and a Ribbon SL but still. I guess you could say I have a weight problem...

I assume the 27.5 must make a big dent but you would be hard pressed to find a downcountry bike ( legit fork and dropper post, 29 inch wheels) that can break the 24 pound barrier and still handle being ridden aggressively.

Just my $0.02
  • 3 1
 @hardcore-hardtail: It’s possible. I had mine down to 26lbs with XC tires. That was with a 160mm Fox 36. With a less substantial fork and a shock sans piggyback, I can imagine hitting that weight. (Currently, it’s 28.5lbs with DHF/DHR WTs.) Certainly those are compromises, but consider that it’s being compared here to a 100mm XC bike. A 100mm bike that weighs as much or more than a similarly equipped 150mm bike is not light in any special sort of way. Whether or not that matters is a different question.
  • 3 0
 @hardcore-hardtail: I got my same Element to sub 24, but that's with a 100mm SID Ultimate, Maxxis 2.25 Ikon/Ardent EXO's, Eagle, no dropper, and essentially a full carbon spec. Not sure that I need to get it any lighter but I could shed another 200g off the wheels and another 100g with a lighter saddle and carbon stem. Sub-23 with an element is possible but barely and imo I'd be sacrificing way too much ride quality.
  • 5 0
 @duzzi: They put 1000g+ tires on it
  • 3 0
 @cgreaseman: Nice, my element pulls double duty as a race bike and trail bike, the true definition of Downcountry that apparently most of the PB commenters can't relate too. So I'm ok with the extra weight. It would be fun to try it in a racier spec like you have though.

I'll bet that thing hauls up the hills!
  • 3 2
 The Pivot frame is well over 5lbs. I wouldn't call it superlight. Blur is a fair lot lighter frame only, for example. This frame is honestly pretty average, and for the price listed, calling it superlight is honestly laughable.
  • 3 2
 @hardcore-hardtail: Just weighted out of curiosity (I changed the tires recently) and it is at 25.95 pounds (with a lot of mud on it!). The tires can move the weight more than a pound. This incarnation is with Nobby Nic 2.6 front and Rocket Ron 2.6 Rear. NN rear adds about 150 grams (but I like the RR better). Going to 2.35 saves about one pound.

I am a weightweenie (just for fun), the bike is 11 speed (Garbaruk), XTR, DT Carbon Spline, Next LP crank, Carbon everything including saddle and all bolts/valves/head cap alu/titanium etc ... it can be done, and I still think that the weight quoted by Pinkbike is wrong ...
  • 2 1
 @duzzi: Wow, not far off the weight I got my HIGHTOWER to. Frame weight is what's relevant here, less so build weight, as you can get literally any build you want at this price. Fact is, this frame just isn't that light. It's about half a pound lighter than a previous generation hightower. It's a completely average weight.
  • 4 3
 @duzzi: I don't get what you're on about, besides trying to humble brag the 10k you spend on uber parts? Minion control tyres add ~600g over the stock Ardents...so that means the stock M weighs ~25.3lbs. Chloe Woodruff's XS bike is 23.7lbs (10.77kg) with pedals, running Fox 32 100mm and Ikon 2.2s...and she seems fine with the weight, given she's winning XC world cups.
  • 1 0
 @duzzi: How much clearance do you have with a 2.6 in the rear? Are the stays ever getting hit? I was messing around with a 2.8x27.5+ rear just for fun awhile ago but it wasn't even close to being able to fit.
  • 2 2
 @sherbet: Nice! And yes, I completely agree, frame weight is the only thing worth of ... weight comparisons among bikes, the rest is choice ...

And that's why this is a bit silly: instead of checking the claimed weight (pivot says: "starting at 1840 grams", that probably is a small frame with no shock, translating into a 5 pounds or so for medium) they repeat something they read on the Pivot web site without seemingly even know what light means for a XC racing bike.

Not mention piling up fork and tires that add a ton, and obviously not being used to ride a XC rig ... so they get scared and go slow in their single test run and complain about it ... what a waste of time!
  • 3 1
 I've personally weighed a medium frame with shock at nearly 5.5lbs.

Disclaimer; I really really really like this bike. It's on my short list of rowdy bikes I can race XC on. Weight is a very small portion of what makes a bike, and I really don't believe it's even close to top dog. The frame's suspension is absolutely amazing, it's a very stout stiff frame, and the geometry is essentially as spot on as possible for riding in this area. In a lot of ways, I see this frame as a spiritual successor for the Process 111. I want.
  • 3 3
 Hey, if that Pole was made out of carbon too I'm sure it would have fared just fine.
  • 9 0
 @TucsonDon: The Pole didn't fail because it was aluminum... it failed because it was poorly designed.
  • 2 0
 @duzzi: what type of scale was used? Has this scale been calibrated? Hanging shop scales such as the feedback or park are quite often off by a pound or two.
  • 78 3
 It seems like a lot of commenters are surprised that the article isn't reviewing the bike as a full-on XC race bike and in that milieu. But Pivot over-forked it and passed it off as a short travel trail bike (in their marketing blurb). So PB, rightly so in my view, piled it in with other bikes that have similar travel. Are the spectrum of bikes very, very different? Yeah, you bet they are. That's the fun part of a test like this. Good on PB for providing a good, not-too-sugar-coated, review.
  • 4 9
flag duzzi (Dec 5, 2019 at 10:24) (Below Threshold)
 The whole thing, these "tests", is just silly. It is just the opinion of two people riding a bunch of bikes for an afternoon or two and thinking they can come up with some "objective" comparison ...
  • 3 0
 I think the issue is that PB specifically has branded downcountry as a purpose built class of bikes, not just over forked xc bikes that ride worse than the original.
  • 6 2
 Categorization is always a challenge, and our goal is to use logical groupings of bikes to show how they're different rather than necessarily better or worse. There will always be disagreements on where to draw those lines.

It's clearly on the other end of the spectrum to the GG and the Juliana, but the Mondraker (100/120mm 29er with 66.8° HTA) and the Trek (115/120mm 29er with 67.5° HTA) are much more directly comparable to the Pivot.

We did specifically tell Pivot we were going to test this bike in the 'downcountry' category ahead of time and they were enthusiastic about it. Based on based on Pivot's marketing materials, travel, geometry, and more trail-oriented spec we hoped it would be right at home in the aggressive XC terrain we were testing on.
  • 79 31
 Whoever decided that this bike and the Trail Pistol belonged in the same category is an idiot.
  • 11 30
flag TimRidesBikes (Dec 5, 2019 at 7:19) (Below Threshold)
 Categories mean nothing to a paid site that's trying to get your money.
  • 11 6
 both at opposite ends of "down country"
  • 12 0
 @TimRidesBikes: Ha! Jokes on them. All of the weekly checks I've been sending PB to read and comment are post dated!
  • 47 3
 How's that saying go? Variety is the spice of life? I'd say those two bikes could form the borders of this category (yes, it's a made up category) and by testing them on the same trails it's possible to get a really clear idea of what the pros / cons are of a slacker head tube, longer reach, etc..
  • 13 7
 @mikekazimer: PB invented this category, now deal with the fallout.
I'm old enough to remember when we had XC, Trail, Enduro, Freeride, and DH.
  • 65 0
 @MikeAzBS: I'm old enough to remember when we had mountain bikes, period.
  • 41 0
 @MikeAzBS: Not very old then.

Really old means you rode the same bike in XC race and DH.
  • 1 1
 Yes, it does seem like much of the frustration with this bike is that it doesn't really belong in this category.
  • 8 1
 Isn’t the whole point of this series to see how bikes stack up against each other? Maybe the categories don’t line up perfectly but putting this bike against bikes like the GG and the Tallboy really show the contrast in bike design.
  • 11 0
 @TheR: That's because this is not a category.

Despite years of PB reviews chastising manufacturers for creating new "standards", they are effectively trying to create a new standard of their own, the "Downcountry" category.

Let's review this week so far:
1) an xc bike (overforked and overweight)
2) a trail bike (pared down to try an xc outfit on.. but the muffin-top still shows)
3) a trail bike (plain and simple)
4) an xc bike
5) am I wrong?

Hate the term. Love the reviews.
  • 5 0
 @fabwizard: I remember admiring the locals in BC for their simple way of categorizing bikes: There was DH for racing, freeride for shuttling and everything pedal powered was XC.
  • 1 0
 @g123: I think there probably is a market out there for people who want a 100-120 mm bike that pedals well but has a bespoke frame with trail geometry. That's what DC was supposed to be. Too bad there's none of those bikes in this test
  • 5 0
 @Ttimer: I quite enjoy my 170mm XC bike!
  • 5 0
 @fabwizard: I went crazy with my XC race bike, and had the downhill fork on it. A Manitou EFC with 80 whole millimeters of travel, WAY more than the XC forks of the day that only had 60mm. I was a beast on the downhills.
  • 10 1
 Posted this on another thread but figure I should repeat myself here.

Categorization is always a challenge, and our goal is to use logical groupings of bikes to show how they're different rather than necessarily better or worse. There will always be disagreements on where to draw those lines.

It's clearly on the other end of the spectrum to the GG and the Juliana, but the Mondraker (100/120mm 29er with 66.8° HTA) and the Trek (115/120mm 29er with 67.5° HTA) are much more directly comparable to the Pivot.

We did specifically tell Pivot we were going to test this bike in the 'downcountry' category ahead of time and they were enthusiastic about it. Based on based on Pivot's marketing materials, travel, geometry, and more trail-oriented spec we hoped it would be right at home in the aggressive XC terrain we were testing on.
  • 1 0
 @friendlyfoe: agree for sure, that market is there. I feel like all this category discontent comes from something that is actually good.
My current 150 bike has better speed, geometry and handling on the climbs than any of the 120 bikes I rode on the same trail just a few years ago. At the same time, much more capable on the descents. Geometry has eclipsed travel in how pedal trail-worthy a bike can be, the divide is not so clear anymore when trying to categorize a bike by travel. Example - check out the SB100 review... travel number says firmly xc, ride report is much more rowdy. You can eat your cake, and have it too right?

Right, but honestly it’s a continuum and the latest gen of bikes blur the lines. What’s xc race, xc, or dc? What’s trail, all mtn, or enduro? Trying to create a thinner slice of the pie and call it something just makes things messier.

Imagine being someone wanting to get into mtb and trying to understand and decide what bike to buy. 5 categories in a 40mm travel range?? Talk about making an exclusive club even more exclusive. Say no to DC!
  • 2 1
 @g123: People are just mad because at least 2 of the bikes in this test aren't actually DC. No one complained about the Mondraker being listed in this category. The pivot just seems like a fail overall as they didn't change anything just made the bike worse by putting a longer fork on it. Interested to read the review on the Trek as that also shares a frame with multiple suspension lengths.
  • 1 0
 Damn,I'm old enough to remember when there were no mountain bikes...(in my country,at least)
  • 6 7
 To all the boomers who dont recognize a pop culture reference.
Saying "I'm old enough to remember when" and then mentioning something that happened/ existed a very short time ago, is a smart ass way to point out the absurdity of a situation.

I'm old enough to remember when people understood sarcasm.
  • 9 0
 @MikeAzBS: Exactly - we are too old to recognize a pop culture reference. Unless, of course, it's a quote from The Dead Sea Scrolls, The Rosetta Stone, or was written in hieroglyphics or cuneiform. Damn, I'm about to run out of space on my wax tabl
  • 3 0
 @MikeAzBS: tO aLL tHe BoOmeRs... I saw what you did there, and scrolled down to defend you, until I read that 'boomers' remark. Oof.

Using that unironically is the same as the years we've all endured of 'muh millennialz' on every channel amd newspaper. It's lazy, dismissive, and boring already. People don't always get sarcasm when it's text on a screen--assuming people are over-50 out of touch dumb dumbs for it is just silliness, and makes your previous attempt at a joke all the less funny.
  • 3 4
 @mikealive: Okay boomer...
  • 2 0
 @mikealive: Shouldn’t he be off eating a Tide Pod or something?
  • 1 0
 @brianpark: @brianpark: I don't think the issue is the Mondraker/Trek/Pivot being tested against each other using whatever "category" name you want to use. I think the issue is the bikes that are "at the other end of the spectrum" are clearly NOT in the same "category" as these three and for most of us it makes no sense to test them together.

Additionally, my .02, is that it make no sense to directly compare bikes with such hugely different price points. Why go to the trouble of making all the tires the same when the builds/weight are so different?
  • 4 1
 Two weekends ago I was at an enduro race. Two boomers (me and a father) and a bunch of millennials. The latter had several mechanicals throughout the weekend. Guess which generation fixed them all, including some very creative solutions?
  • 2 0
 @fabwizard: @fabwizard: With a rigid fork. And also ran a race schedule that started with XC course preview on Friday afternoon, dual slalom on Friday night, the XC on Saturday, one downhill practice run on Saturday afternoon and another on Sunday morning and the downhill race run on Sunday afternoon.
  • 39 1
 Damn people are so weird and critical. It’s a bike test. Their bike test. Their opinions. Start your own and go be a bitch when everyone has an opinion. It is so easy to be critical of the people making decisions and hard as hell to make them first. I’m sure everyone thinks they can do a better job than the boss at work. I’m the boss at work and its hard to make those decisions. This would be fun as hell but I would be telling everyone to f@#k rite off by now. I love seeing the new rigs in cool places to ride. I’m not in the market for a new bike and I’ll watch every single one. How about saying “thanks for your perspective on a rad new bike!” Is that too hard. Thank you for sharing your opinion editors!
  • 15 1
 @chileconqueso well said.

I'm chuckling reading comments from people expecting scientific rigor out of a MTB test. PB is giving you some general traits these bikes have to consider when you're narrowing down your own search. They don't have an unlimited staff and time. They did good work on this.

A side note about Sarah and some of the comments I've read here: I remember reading the comment section after one of her reviews. I wouldn't call the commenters negative, but there were a few. Then I watched the video and saw how she cleared a rock climb - pretty sure 75+% of the commenters don't have her climbing skills. So I'm inclined to believe her opinions.
  • 5 0
 I chose my last XC bike based on colour. They are all good these days.
  • 1 0
 You do make a very good point. It's easy to critique or even just think of a "different" way to do something whether it was any better or worse. However it can be difficult, challenging and sometimes near impossible to start with a blank slate and come up with something.

However... the flip side is often what you start out with needs critique, change, refinement; so that it grows into something really amazing and worth your effort!

So for instance I think it was a good idea to have "control tires" and take that aspect out of the equation. But I do recognize the logic in the critique that the tires used for the "down country" group might not suite what "most" people think a DC bike should use? It's a legitimate point, though it's also abstract and personal and in no way invalidates their tests/choice of tires for the job.

On the flip side, when the control tires used on the mullet bike lowered it's BB height so low that pedal strikes became a detriment to the ride I think that should have been noted, and then another solution/round of testing needed to happen. Certainly it was a valid and worthy test result, buyers need to know of that risk should they also not like Plus tires and that it was just a "garage hack" and not a bike designed as a mullet.

It was the tire change that caused the pedal strikes. If you throw a 160mm fork on one of those DC bikes, you can't complain that it stopped climbing well and the front end is flip floppin all over the place! Smile So as someone pointed out they could have gotten their control tires in the same size as the manufacturer spec'd and retained the original BB height. OR they could have thrown 165mm cranks on the bike, etc. And then they would have been testing without the change they made affecting the results!

SO, I hope they keep their idea for control tires but that next year maybe they will spot ways to improve it? I hope they look at different bike groupings. Or maybe just call the grouping by what it was, "Travel" and then just pick the best bike at that amount of travel instead of saying this 130 bike is DC, but this 140 bike is Trail, and this 150 is still trail, etc. I don't make these comments because I'm just trying to be a jerk. It's cause I think they are valid points and I hope next years tests will evolve in ways I can't even think of and get better and better!

Make no mistake I LOVE these tests!!! They are awesome. I come to PB for the content which is the best on the net IMO. BUT I come back again and again for the COMMENTS! Smile Which is a win win for everyone...
  • 2 0
 How dare you contradict me! Or even have your own opinion. I’m so triggered now. Time to passive aggressive some drivers and beat my dog.@stiingya:
  • 1 0
 @chileconqueso: minus one for beating your dog
  • 1 0
 @andrewbikeguide: minus one million, but it doesn't let us...
  • 30 0
 So it's a XC/Upcountry bike and not a Downcountry?
  • 21 0
 it's literally a World Cup XC bike, but, DOWNCOUNTRY, lol
  • 4 0
 It's an Upduro bike.
  • 2 0
 @Tiez: UpDH, cause everything should be apparently riding like those these days
  • 32 3
 Can't put my finger on why but Pivot has become kinda boring.
  • 32 2
 Overpriced and not-so-modern geometry across the entire range?
  • 9 2
 @crashtor: also quite ugly
  • 5 1
 It's like we're having to drag them kicking and screaming into modern geometry. We'll be proven right when they're next iteration is 20mm longer and a degree slacker like this should have been. And 2 degrees steeper on the seat tube, always so damn slack on the seat tube, as if dropper posts don't exist.
  • 4 0
 @TucsonDon: People have been complaining about Pivot bikes being too short since forever (and I agree with them). I've always liked the way a DW link pedals and was keen on a Mach 5.7 when they first came out, but when I actually got to sit on one it felt like it was designed for T-Rex.
7 years and multiple iterations later and they are still firmly on the shorter end of the spectrum.
  • 3 8
flag JohanG (Dec 5, 2019 at 16:22) (Below Threshold)
 Pivot bikes are tested on technical pedaly desert trails. They are very good at this terrain. I hope they dont give in to the geo fad fueled by up-down type terrain riders. My Mach 6 is sooo versatile.
  • 4 3
 @TucsonDon: Agreed. I don't know why they're so behind with those seat angles. My buddy and I rode some this summer. We did a Mach 5.5 and a 6 and they pretty much sucked. Felt like we were riding my grandma's couch and they climbed like crap.
  • 1 0
 They have always been traditionalist. Even Titus was short on the top tube back in the day. I had a Motolite that I think it was designed around a 100mm stem when shorter stems were already more common.
  • 19 0
 I would 100% agree with this review. Pivot did a demo day near me and I rode a 429 and it was a really good climber and a skittish descender. The biggest issue I had with every Pivot I rode was they felt overly short. Even the XL didn't feel like it was as long as it was. I walked away being impressed with how all their bikes climbed, even the Firebird climbed really well, so much so that I didn't see any real negative to adding more suspension.
  • 18 1
 Why was this bike tested in comparison to the Joplin, rather than testing the Trail 429 in comparison to the Joplin? The Trail 429 and the Joplin have the same travel and I think are closer in their intended design than the SL and the Joplin
  • 5 0
 because that will make sense.
  • 1 0
 Seriously, my thoughts exactly. Why waste time on an XC bike when you have a perfectly good (and quite tempting actually) Trail 429 out there!?
  • 2 0
 I asked myself the same question. The bike comes stock with 2.25 XC race tires. This is a ridiculous comparison!
  • 2 0
 This is actually a test that I'd be quite interested in as both the Santa Cruz and the Trail 429 were on my shorts list...then Norco came out with the Optic and my short list got a little longer. Guess I'll have to go ride some demo bikes...darn (said with tongue firmly in cheek)
  • 19 1
 First the trail bikers were mad, now the XC crowd is up in arms. Guys, I'm beginning to think that no one likes this category.
  • 51 0
 I blame @mikelevy.
  • 2 0
 @CarbonShmarbon: yes! Honestly I think this category (whatever it is) may be the one in which it's the hardest to shine. A short travel bike that's capable both up and down. Tough to achieve!
  • 3 0
 @leelau: I think people don't understand. A bike will either shine at climbing or descending. NOT both... Geometry, physics, and kinematics won't allow for it and that's just how science works
  • 6 0
 @monkeybizz: yes and therein the debate. The bikes (necessarily) have compromises. Riders have their subjective preferences and strengths/ weaknesses. It's up to the reviewers to highlight this and so far Imo they're doing a good job of it
  • 2 0
 @leelau: I'm a competent rider however would not feel that my skill and experience is enough to give good reviews on how each bike rides (yes I ride blacks comfortable and most double blacks pretty decently). However, when it comes to skiing I'm a phenomenal skier and can pick up nuances in the skis within the first 2 or 3 turns and know + understand how the ski will work in all different terrains and conditions due to my experience. I just ski everything when reviewing skis to confirm my initial thoughts. I understand skis are different but differences in rocker/camber/weight/material/radius/ski contact patch I can tell you exactly how it will ski without skiing it. Where the discontinuity lies is in the way the reader defines themselves as a rider. When you go to a shop, people are there who have this experience to assess how a person rides through their explanation and can, therefore, recommend the correct bike based on the category. Categories are more important than one thinks and the fact they didn't categorize them properly is a big mistake in the review process. Just my two cents Smile
  • 2 0
 @leelau: Indeed...the holy grail of bikes. I keep hoping that someone would make one so that I could buy it. The new Optic certainly seems to tick many of my particular boxes. I look forward to throwing a leg over one when we get back from France
  • 13 0
 pros....has a seat cons....pivot sent us this xc bike to ride in BC! felt efficient but was slow, great climber but not all that fast at climbing, nervous on the descents but not all that much slower. So in general dont ride an xc bike in BC when you really need a bit more travel and less xc geometry to enjoy it. Hey PB take the Polygon Siskiu out for a spin on this track and compare it to these beast that cost 3-5 times as much.
  • 15 4
 I made it all the way to $10,399.... nope

Then I came back and read the review... Oh, hard no

Then I read the comment that these guys are still using a pressfit BB... laughing rudely while repeating ‘no’ in the tear speckled face of the designers
  • 11 11
 Press fit/interference fit is the best method of installing a BB in a bike. The issue is the shit tolerance the bike industry works to.
  • 15 3
 @jclnv: Soooooo your saying the best method of installing a BB is actually shite in the real world. Got it!

no tolerance issues with threaded BB’s
  • 7 1
 I'm among the biggest haters of press-fit BBs, but even I'll admit that Pivot has historically done it well. Also helps that they chose one of the least-crappy formats to stick with.
  • 7 0
 @angryasian: IIRC, Shimano actually developed the modern press-fit BB with Chris Cocalis when he launched Pivot back in ‘07. If there’s one brand out there that will be PF4L, it’s probably Pivot - for better or worse.
  • 3 0
 @jmc361: You remember correctly. Well, I can't say with certainty that Pivot was *the* first to use that style of press-fit BB with Shimano, but I believe it was either Pivot or Scott (with the first-generation Addict).
  • 6 10
flag jclnv (Dec 5, 2019 at 9:00) (Below Threshold)
 @ridintrials: No there aren’t tolerance issues as the threaded cup that the bearing is pressed into (yes that right, even threaded BB’s are press fit) are of an adequate tolerance. Are your threaded BB faces totally parallel? Are you threads perfectly in line from drive to non-drive? If not your BB will be eating bearings prematurely.

Those issues don’t exist with press fit. Not to mention that threaded is over 100g heavier.
  • 6 1
 @jclnv: Check our Hambini on YouTube.
He talks about this topic from the point of view of someone who manafacturs BBs and deals with problematic frames
  • 3 1
 @jibb: +1 on Hambini. He’s hilarious to boot.
  • 4 3
 @jibb: Yeah I love Hambini. A great antidote to the cycling industries marketing BS.

That said, it was another engineer who convinced me that press fit makes sense for an alignment sensitive component.
  • 3 1
 PF92 is a good design and works when made correctly. Pivot makes theirs correctly. Many companies do not. Check out hambini's videos for an engineering perspective.
  • 4 1
 @jclnv: you're playing to an empty house bro.
  • 1 2
 @garrisond5: Usually the case.

Thing is I doubt there’s that many good bike mechanics on Pinkbike and even fewer engineers do I’m not to concerned.
  • 3 0
 @jmc361: so cocalis said “shimano, we can make cheaper frames and charge the same if we just use the old bmx style bb cause the chinese guys you hate want to much $$ for the aluminum inserts needed. Can I count shimano in for a creaky and sneaky way to mount cranks? Heres why, every time it creaks they can buy a new BB. Imagine selling 1 extra bb every 6 months. Thats probably a 4x bump in revenue! Are you in - or do i need to talk to sram?”

Obviously paraphrasing.
  • 3 2
 @Grosey: Obviously making shit upWink
  • 2 1
 @Grosey: I count five times I laughed out loud in that one post. You are why I spend more time reading comments than articles. Thank you. 'The old bmx style bb' - the comments that preceded yours reminded me of one piece cranks. Perfect reference.
  • 2 0
 @Grosey: Threaded bbs are just a more complicated press fit. Eventually you meat heads will get a clue on this subject; I'm just sitting back waiting for the lightbulb to go off in your brains.
  • 1 0
 @JohanG: never gonna happen. Burned all my brainmatches in college and now the best I can do is watch the bachelor or realhousewives, fox news and netflix documentaries. Keeps me woke enough. Hell- you’re probably not even vegan. Hope you’re at least on a keto program.
  • 11 0
 For anyone who's driven a car with modern electric adaptive dampers, they're largely rubbish and I can only imagine these are the same. Great for making the car feel "sporty" for the masses, but actually push them and the short falls are quickly revealed.
Damping changes made in 20 milliseconds sounds quick, but it err isn't. It feels bangy and over damped most of the time, then bottoms out when things are getting wild
  • 9 0
 Interesting comments from James about loving the bike in Colorado, but not so much in BC. That's [one of the reasons] I typically look at local brands when bike shopping. Designed for the trails I ride!
  • 8 0
 Yeah, I was genuinely surprised at how different the bike felt -- and consider, too, that this was the *actual* bike I rode in both places, not just the same model. Horses for courses, and all that.
  • 4 0
 @angryasian: I don't put any weight on Levy or Kazimer's opinion on XC or going fast, but AA is the man. Still. Remember the good ol' days discussing Judy forks? Was that circa 1997?? I had a geocities website with flashing HTML "under construction" buttons, and was always linking your site. Anyway, your opinion pretty much ruled out the Mach 4 SL as my next frame. Truly.
  • 4 0
 @bikewriter: Thanks for the compliments, but mine is still just one opinion on this bike. It wouldn't be my first pick for a "downcountry" bike, but it'd certainly be up there for a pure XC rig.
  • 9 0
 @bikewriter: Mike Levy placed ~35th overall at BCBR 2017, just sayin'.
  • 3 1
 Could say the same for testers. I rely a ton on Kaz and Levy's reviews because we live and ride in the same general places. If stuff works for them it's probably gonna work for me too.
  • 4 0
 @seattlecyclist I was thinking the same thing. I was thinking this category is probably the most "check your local riding conditions" of the test.

And I like Levy's reviews honestly. He's sort of a loveable chucklehead but he clearly has skills.
  • 1 0
 @seattlecyclist : There's a Rocky Element of truth in your reasoning.
  • 2 0
 @jubilee55: They are both amazing riders but I would like to see a review that included a couple of test riders who were in the 6'1"-6'3" and 185-210 lbs range. One can get a bit tired of reviews of mediums and larges by slender 5'10" riders that do not really correlate to how the larger frames ride with a longer and heavier rider, especially those brands that insist on short arse chain stay lengths and slack seat tube angles. FFS even Specialized, the fan boy of the short rear chain stay, has gone to 442mm on the new Enduro.
  • 8 1
 I think comments are going to fall into two camps here:

1) Those who were wanting the downcountry reviews to be an "XC" review.- "This review is terrible, how could you group it with the more burly bikes? This is a great bike, you guys just messed up the reviews and categories! AAAAARRGGG!"

2) Those who interpret "DownCountry" as Enduro/Trailish- "Wow, gonna steer clear of this bike, sounds too XC!"

Downcountry means different things to different people. XC Plus vs. Fast Trail.
  • 12 0
 Yeah...I guess we can conclude that downcountry doesn't mean anything. Who woulda thunk it?
  • 9 0
 We discuss this in our roundtable video.
  • 6 0
 The comments fall into 2 camps because the bikes fall into 2 camps...2 bikes are based on XC race platforms, and 2 bikes are based on trail platforms.
  • 3 0
 @sarahmoore: You shouldn't.
  • 2 0
 @tempest3070: I'm pretty sure it's too late! Wink
  • 1 0
 @lRaphl: This is why we make laws to prevent future tragedies.
  • 8 1
 I've demo and rode most of the new Pivots and they all pedal well but they lack descending fun. This bike is no different. Why they sent a XC race bike for a downcountry test I have no clue, unless Pinkbike didn't inform them on the test which seems like a bad move to keep testing like that a secret so I would doubt that Pinkbike did that. There geometry, chainstays and reach is always outdated. There reach is always cramped. I am not sure who designs or test there bikes but they seem to want to save money than try new things. The Fox live is a neat idea but having ridden it its not for anything else but XC riding. If you want a bike that rips in the downcountry catergory get a Norco Optic or Evil The Following MB. All incredibly fun bikes. Plus you wont have to spend 10 f*cking K for a sweet build.
  • 4 0
 We did inform Pivot ahead of time where we'd be testing the bike and that it'd be in the downcountry category. Smile
  • 7 1
 `bikes that still have threaded bbs are cheaply made`

@GalacticBikes that is categorically false. The likes of Specialized, Santa Cruz, Transition, etc. are not cheaply made in any way.

How is it at all redundant to be threaded? It makes installation, servicing, and removal much easier and with less risk to the bottom bracket.

Not all press fits are created equal, true, but I have had bad experiences with them in basically all cases.

It wasn't all problems with creaking, but ones that didn't creak also required enough force to remove that they had to be trashed when a simple servicing by way of flushing and re-greasing would have sufficed.

Sure, having a threaded bb shell means you can screw your frame up by screwing up the bb install, but my personal experience and anecdotes from others over the years leads me to believe that jacking up the threads is possible, but a non issue in the grand scheme of things.

All the while pressfit, using the same source of personal experience and 3rd party anecdotes, either creaks like mad, or basically can't be serviced and need to just be replaced anytime they start to need some love.
  • 4 0
 Add knolly to the list of top quality bikes that use threaded BB's. I is actually a feature I look for on a bike
  • 2 3
 @cgdibble Cheaply made compared to what? Do you think Honda or Suzuki who make similarly priced products work to the same tolerances as bike manufacturers?

Interference fit components are all over their products.
  • 4 2
 @jclnv: " Do you think Honda or Suzuki who make similarly priced products work to the same tolerances as bike manufacturers?"

You raise an interesting question. I myself am curious how a CRF450R, pretty much the top of the food chain dirt bike, retails for less than this bike. How is it that Honda can produce a rugged, racing motor in addition to all of the additional parts necessary on the high end dirt bike, for less than this carbon framed, motor-less bike with far fewer parts? Something doesn't add up. Frankly, I take these prices as egregiously marked up and an outright slap in the face to the middle class. I predict things will change when the next recession hits.
  • 1 1
 @MidnightFatty: I think you have summed up the situation precisely.
  • 3 0
 @MidnightFatty: economies of scale?
  • 9 0
 I expected a more positive review. Color me surprised.
  • 5 0
 Reach is way to short (standard Pivot), but steep seat tube suck when you’re truly riding xc and you want to jump in and out of the saddle a lot on short punchy climbs. Anything more than 74, feels like the seat is in the way when you’re standing with seat up.... and on a rolling xc course dropping your seat every time you want to stand up for 5 seconds isn’t ideal (when you’re actually going race speed)
  • 3 0
 I'd say that's more a matter of personal preference. I don't like seat tubes to be *too* steep, of course, but I also don't like feeling like I'm constantly wanting to get further forward on the saddle while climbing, either.
  • 5 0
 7 yrs ago if a bike had a 120mm fork and a dropper post there was essentially no question it was a trail bike; it simply was not fit for an xc race. Now the same bike with (gasp) a slack seat tube angle, might be barely able to handle itself out in the hills if it encounters rough terrain. Have we gotten this soft / spoiled?
  • 8 0
 Love watching the bars and fork flex on the huck to flat.
  • 7 0
 From what I see so far is it the GG in first, SC in second, Mondraker in third and the Pivot in a distant 4th.
  • 3 0
 They're gonna like the SC the best I think. I agree on the others though. It may be a split, James with the GG and Sarah with the SC.
  • 11 1
 "If you're not first, you're last" - Benjamin Franklin
  • 4 0
 so we're just gonna price bikes over $10,000 ($13,150 CAD) watch the reviews and then try and relate the info to the $2500-$3000 that 80% of us can justify spending on the activity we love dearly. Man, I feel bad for kids just trying to go mountain biking with half-ass modern bike. It's like shaming the poor. where are our $1500 full suspension offerings outside of department store bikes. it can be done people. we don't all need air suspension and fox shocks. wake up!
  • 4 0
 Really? I thought $10k seems like a fair price for a nice bike these days. I certainly have no problem saddling my middle class family with this amount of debt to support my hobby, do you? I'll just work a couple of extra Saturdays....how much do you love mountainbikes? Soon this will be easier though, that's my prediction.

Here step into my office over here. That's $13,222 after dealer fee, taxes, and other fees.....how much can you afford a month? Ok, let me go speak with my manager. Now, would you like the silver, gold, or platinum service package? What do you mean you don't want the warranty? I've never heard of such a thing! Wow, you are sure a tough negotiator, we are losing money on this deal! Now for just an extra $12/month you can have the protection package with crank arm covers and a piece of tape on the downtube...."
  • 4 0
 We'll be doing a value bikes version of the Field Test in the spring. Smile
  • 5 1
 If I over fork something like an SB130, it's still a trail bike. If I over fork something like a Trek Slash, it's still an enduro bike.

So why does over forking an xc race bike somehow transform it into a different category?
  • 5 1
 How I categorize bikes for folks who come in the shop... I use fork travel not rear travel. Down country isn't a thing, XC races have demanded XC bikes to become more agressive to handle the pretty dang rowdy decents, like MSA and what not. So let's just go back to them either being XC or trail....

Proper XC 80-100/
Trail 100-120/
All mountain 130-150/
Enduro/ FR 160-180/
DH 200+/
  • 2 2
 I think 120 is the new 100.....for non racing xc. Anything under 120 is pretty much a hardtail old school xc racer or ultralight racing bike you only see on race weekends/training. Joe average xc is 120 front and back, trail riders in these part are all 140 ish range...dont see much of enduro or DH bikes...obviously your results may vary...
  • 8 0
 Pro: Didn't break.
  • 24 21
 Takeaway: Nobody at PinkBike races XC. The right way to test an XC race bike is (gasp) in an XC race, not through some kind of quasi short track 8 minute lap.

My wager? If they would have made the climb even 1/2 way legit (more than 1000 vertical feet) this would have been among (or the) fastest bike. (1000 vert up, 1000 vert back down)

You have to test a XC bike doing what it was really intended to do.
  • 13 7
 But it's not an XC bike as suggested by Pivot's marketing. They make an XC race bike. That's not this bike (sort of)
  • 7 1
 @spaztwelve: It's interesting isn't it? Slap a bigger fork on an XC race bike to "make it descend better" and it actually descends worse because the already short reach is now super short.

The most "DC" bike of the group is the Mondraker with its progressive geo. Too bad they couldn't get the back end to feel the way they would have liked.
  • 1 1
 The idea of having timed laps where two pilots "compare" bikes is indeed just silly
  • 6 0
 @spaztwelve: Despite how you may interpret Pivot's marketing, this is an XC race bike that's been specced with a slightly longer fork.
  • 4 0
 I agree, but for BC XC racing, a typical XC race bike with 68 HA, a 100mm fork and a harsh feeling electronic damping system that robs the bike of grip, probably isn’t the fastest overall in such terrain. Even Nino races with 120mm.
  • 49 2
 Fun fact: @sarahmoore is a former World Cup XC racer. The lap was designed to be repeatable, in order to allow the testers to do it multiple times in a day without blowing themselves up. Timed laps aren't the be-all, end-all, and they should definitely be taken with a grain of salt.
  • 28 1
 A shorter timed lap that is well-chosen (ours had a little bit of everything - singletrack, steep loose climb, technical slower descents, high speed descents, flat corners) can provide a similar result to a longer lap and more consistency over the course of 15+ laps.

Check out the results from the BC Bike Race prologue and the final results. The top 3 finishers in the sub-7 minute prologue were the same top three after 13+ hours of racing.
  • 3 2
 Well..there really isn't any proper XC in Pemby. Unless you count no-fun logging roads.
  • 23 0
 @mikekazimer with the haymaker. Also, I didnt know that, I knew she raced XC but not at that level. Clearly she is more humble than me cause I would bring that up everytime I spoke.
  • 2 0
 @JEFFREYJim. Lots of talk about the trails which is fair as it's hard to describe without having ridden in Pemberton. The climb on the timed track as well as the downhill would on the aggressive side of a World Cup short track lap. Levy has raced cc and done well as has James (who's work I've read for a long while). Just took a look at Sarah Moore's Nimby time and it's well up there in Overall. I'd say there's quite a bit of experience
  • 4 30
flag JeffreyJim (Dec 5, 2019 at 8:36) (Below Threshold)
 @sarahmoore @mikekazimer - Translation: We didn't want to take more time to really put these through a proper test. Sarah, your suggestion that the top three riders in a 7 minute prologue is somehow representative of your own test is absolute rubbish. What you speak of is representative of fast riders being, well, fast. It shows nothing of their equipment.

Output (wattage) and power to weight isn't going to come into play in a ~10 minute lap in a material way. It just plain doesn't translate which is ultimately what XC is all about.

Sarah, I'd think you, as a former XC world cup racer would be the FIRST to point this out! The gains you make over a long climb is where a bike like this would start to shine, and it'd *very* likely be the fastest.

I'm not defending it as the ultimate bike in this test, just saying your testing is incredibly flawed. You need real climbs to test something that is designed to be raced in XC. If you can't handle doing a timed 1000 foot climb/descent type of lap for each of these bikes, kindly, don't test them. Find people who can. That isn't some absurd level of fitness.

While I think a descent can do a great deal to show the performance of a true enduro (or even long travel trail) bike, I think you guys have completely blown the test on the XC side of things.
  • 5 0
 @CarbonShmarbon: The Nimby 50 looked pretty "proper" to me.
  • 5 0
 @mtmc99: So funny! I have several LBS owners who ALWAYS bring up they were a pro back in the day. No matter the conversation.
Me: When do you plan to have more x-brand helmet in a size-whatever?
Old Pro License Holder: Well when I was a pro roadie we didn't wear helmets.
Me: Okay, are you open Sundays?
OPLH: Not in winter, still gotta have a day off even though I'm no longer racing pro.

As for Sarah, I had no clue she was a former pro. Thought they had her on staff as the "other end" of the Levy and Kazimer equation. Good for her!
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer: Link us to results? Trying to find them online but I can't seem to locate them
  • 2 0
 @sarahmoore: Just throwing this into your BCBR comparison mix, would the top 3 finishers have finished in the same order if they'd swapped bikes with each other? If yes, which can't be known, it would indicate race placing (ie: time over distance) is more reflective of a fitness/skill combo than about the bike.

That said, thanks for adding a timed component to these field tests, offering some "data" support to the subjective commentary.
  • 2 0
 @JeffreyJim: It's not an XC test though! Widely accepted category or not, it's listed as " Downcountry" for this comparison, not "XC", so your critique on the testing procedure is a moot point. I find it quite informative to see how an over forked xc bike stacks up against bikes like the Trail Pistol. If I wanted to see an XC shootout I'd read one in Mountain Bike Action. More interesting to me is to see if a jacked up XC bike would be faster than a detuned trail bike on real world trails.
  • 1 0
 @dlford: don'tbbe silly. Of course race placing has everything to do with the rider. Unless they are very different in size it won't make any difference if they swap bikes.
  • 4 14
flag JeffreyJim (Dec 5, 2019 at 10:08) (Below Threshold)
 @leelau: @leelau: I'm not arguing if the lap was representative of a small part of a WC short track lap. I'm arguing testing any XC bike over a "short" period is a shit way to do it.

Put another way, I can drive a Prius and a F-250 at the same speed for 10 miles and the difference in gas consumption is relatively minimal. Where it starts to matter is over a much longer period of time.

You *have* to test these bikes over a longer period of time. Nobody races XC for 8 minutes. Period.

Again, if that's too physically hard for these testers, find better (more well suited) testers.
  • 4 9
flag JeffreyJim (Dec 5, 2019 at 10:11) (Below Threshold)
 @Trailslayer87: wait, so "downcountry" means you go ride for 8 minutes and call it a day?

Its a stupid name for something that is really to indicate "its a cross country bike". The Mach 4 SL is a bike that is *designed* with XC racing and marathon XC in mind. I don't see the word "downcountry" once on the Pivot site.

Any way you slice it, 8 minutes of riding is a complete shit way to test a bike designed around going the distance. The same way driving a Prius hard for 8 minutes is a shit way to test its ultimate efficiency.

Again, you *have* to go put this bike through its paces over a longer climb that is more representative of the riding THE ULTIMATE BUYER would be doing on this bike.

I don't know anyone buying one of these bikes looking to go fast for 8 minutes.
  • 24 3
 @JeffreyJim, you're obsessing way too much over the timed portion of this review. All of the bikes were ridden on much longer loops in Pemberton, it's just that we chose a shorter one to do the actual timing on.
  • 4 2
 Spot on! Instead they tried to make the bike into something it is not. DH tires?
  • 5 0
 @JeffreyJim: "Put another way, I can drive a Prius and a F-250 at the same speed for 10 miles and the difference in gas consumption is relatively minimal. Where it starts to matter is over a much longer period of time."

This is not an accurate statement at all. If you are going to be all nitpicky on the chosen size of their laps then use an accurate analogy. My back of the napkin math indicates that F250 would have used between 2.5 and 3x more fuel in 10 miles. It would have used 2.5 to 3x more fuel in 100 miles too.
  • 3 6
 @ICKYBOD: your comprehension of this analogy is lacking. It not about the burn rate, its about how much is left in the proverbial tank (assuming tanks are the same size - as the rider is the "tank" on a bike).

Anyone can hammer any bike super hard for 5-10 minutes. In fact, having entered XC races on enduro bikes (just for fun) I'm often able to stick with the lead group for the first 10-15 minutes. Then the reality of what I'm trying to do sets in, weight starts to matter more and more, efficiency starts to become noteworthy - especially in the uphill direction.

I'm not alone in my findings. One could even apply some math to back this up, especially when the trail is more of the up and down variety. Its going to skew things the wrong direction for the intended application.

I'm frankly shocked this is even a debate.
  • 6 1
 @JeffreyJim: I'm also shocked that this is even a debate. Just accept it, it was an absolutely terrible analogy.
  • 6 1
 @BrianJRA: Just because they say "DHF" on the side doesn't mean they're DH tires. We just put em on because we knew we'd have some wetter conditions and wanted to level the playing field.
  • 1 1
 @LeDuke: Depends on what you define as XC. The only people who raced Nimby on XC bikes and had fun were Pros. Pro's can make XC bikes work on terrain that others can't. Sort of like how Pro-Enduro racers can make Enduro bikes look like pretty good XC bikes. Skill and Fitness are amazing at disguising an inferior bike.
  • 3 2
 @JeffreyJim: your comprehension of this analogy is lacking. It not about the burn rate, its about how much is left in the proverbial tank (assuming tanks are the same size - as the rider is the "tank" on a bike).

no, your analogy is just bad. and it's not about how much is left in the tank. so say they have the same size tank- lets say 10 gallons for easy math. In 10 miles the f250 would burn about .66 gallons. The prius would have burned approximately .2 gallons. You'd have 93% in one and 98% in the other. 5% difference for the pro xc racers is 1st vs last place.

So there's math. But really, it's more accurate to say 2.5 to 3x the burn rate.

When you're testing a bike that you're thinking about buying, how many feet of climbing does it take to know if it's a good climber. There are 2 sections of trail near me that are my go to tests for climbing. Each is maybe 100 feet? How it behaves on those 2 sections will pretty much tell me if a bike is a good climber. More time may give me 'nuance' but I've got a pretty good idea pretty quickly.
  • 1 4
 @brianpark: probably need to redo the timed laps then. DHF maxxgrip DH and cushcore on both ends. Gonna be fun laps. Ill keep an eye out for times.
  • 3 3
 @brianpark: can we call Maxxis and ask them what “dhf” and “dhr” refer to if it isn’t downhill? And let’s get crazy and assume it’s not, a 2.5 tire on a 25mm inner rim, is going to yield a tire profile that is absurd. I’m with @BrianJRA . I understand the intent of consistency in tires across the test, I mean even NASCAR does it, but then again, all their wheels sizes are identical too... if an XC bike comes stock with a 2.2 fast rolling lightweight tire and DH bikes come with a 2.6 DH casing Knobby tire and a Downcountry bike is a mix of both, seems logical to test with a 2.4 semi aggressive tread no?
  • 2 8
flag JeffreyJim (Dec 6, 2019 at 8:19) (Below Threshold)
 @ICKYBOD: exactly. You'd still have plenty of energy in either tank! LOL. Weight and efficiency is less material on a shorter time horizon. It REALLY is simple to think about.

Analogies aside I get the feeling you've never raced XC (or anything for that matter). As someone who has been in well over 400 races in my life I can firmly say you need a lot more than 100 vertical feet to really tell (on the clock) what bike is faster. Sure you can get a feeling if a bike pedals well in a short distance, but true climbing performance isn't something you'll see on the clock over 100 vertical feet. You need to put a bike that was purpose built for something into its native habitat.

I'm half way tempted to post my own race results and strava times along with what bike I rode for each effort to fully articulate my point but your heels are dug in pretty firmly. I can also tell you have very little idea what you are talking about outside the vacuum of "riding on the internet".

Pinkbike has never been known for their XC pedigree. Sarah racing world cups 7 years ago is cool, but she should have spoken up and put these bikes through a more proper objective test.

This isn't a relevant test for the space.
  • 5 2
 @JeffreyJim: I got an idea then for you chief, why don't you start a bike website and do scientifically rigorous tests for randoms on the internet to make spurious negative comments on. Maybe consider watching Ratatouille for the poignant ending.

And btw- this test never tested anything marketed as a cross country bike.
  • 1 1
 "And btw- this test never tested anything marketed as a cross country bike"-except the pivot I guess (self correction)
  • 7 0
 I come to work just to read these comments!
  • 4 0
 Again, I love it when PInkbike roasts a $10 000 bike in a review. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside about my mass-produced 130/130 travel build. Confirmation bias always feels great. :-)
  • 7 0
 Or you could buy 2 norco optics and 1000 beers
  • 3 0
 I bought their "low end" build which uses a 120 Fox 34 Stepcast with Grip damper and the Fox DPS shock with manual 3-position. I prefer this suspension setup compared to their next model up which has the remote system and I prefer the feel of the Grip damper. Still very happy with that decision, I just upgraded the rest of the parts kit. I bought it as a true XC bike that wouldn't feel harsh, and it fits the bill perfectly. Super efficient suspension platform that doesn't really need a lockout if you are riding what I like to call proper mountain bike trails. If you are on gravel, I just reach down and flip the shock into the middle setting and voila. I do agree that the seat angle isn't ideal with the 120mm fork, it's harder to climb on steep pitches than other XC and even trail bikes I've owned. Handles just fine on the descents, but again I bought it with aggressive XC intentions, not as a short travel trail bike.
  • 4 0
 $10.4K for a mountain bike and no wireless shifting! Well gee count me in - said almost no one. You can get a KTM 350 for about the same price and it has killer all terrain prowess and a motor.
  • 6 2
 Yeah this is a World Cup XC Race bike, not a downcountry bike. If you wanted to review a downcountry bike from Pivot you'd review the Trail 429.
  • 10 2
 We've reviewed that bike before: www.pinkbike.com/news/review-pivot-trail-429.html, and since the Mach 4 was new, and had Live Valve, we wanted to see how it'd stack up against the other bikes in this category.
  • 8 4
 @mikekazimer: hence why this review doesn’t belong here
  • 3 3
 @mikekazimer: Calling malarkey on the whole test. In the words of the great Liz Lemon, "Shut it down."
  • 2 0
 Did any of you make guesses as to whether you were slower or faster on the climbs/descents before you knew the time?

I'll do this occasionally, and I'm surprised by how often I'm wrong. I'm just curious as it might add another but if info into ride characteristics.
  • 4 0
 Pinkbike continues to talk up the virtues of steeper and steeper seat tube angles for climbing.. but Nino Schurter rides a bike with a slack 73 degree STA. What gives?
  • 13 1
 Nino Schurter also high-posts pretty much everything, rides a silly-narrow bar, and runs a ridiculous amount of handlebar drop. That doesn't mean it's a good idea for everyone.
  • 1 1
 With a rigid seat post you want it behind you for the standing power moves getting up onto something. XC is all about saving time and energy on the climb.
  • 1 0
 @angryasian: but he is rather short, so a slack STA is not as significant if the seat is not as high up as this: upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a3/Tallbike.jpg

i would think that by moving the seat forward on the rails, you could at least adjust your STA by 1 deg ?
  • 1 0
 @sevn: Yes, but there are limits, of course, and doing so without making concurrent adjustments to how the bike fits up front also makes the overall fit and handling kind of wonky.
  • 1 0
 @angryasian: I see. Thanks for the insight and the testing. I was a bit surprised by this result, maybe without the Live Valve it would be different?! Seems you didn't like it so much... Anyway, cool you guys take the time to review and compare all these bikes in detail.
I was also a bit surprised that this bike wasn't right up there in the uphills compared to the others.
  • 1 0
 @sevn: It’s certainly helpful to be light and efficient, but in some cases, it’s more important that the geometry puts you in a position that lets you put the power down without having to fight the bike to stay on your line.
  • 1 0
 @angryasian: Ok, I agree that the geometry is important, but i still don't think this would lead to differences of as much as 6-8%? you can still adjust the geo quite a bit by moving the seat up/forward/backward/... stem/handlebar/SAG/... that would be a few minutes for 1 hour of racing. not every wc racer has a custom frame tailored to their size, yet they somehow manage to find the right position on the bike.
  • 2 0
 @sevn: No, of course not, but it's still a matter of personal preference as well as what works for "normal" riders vs. what works for physical freaks like top WC XC racers. Speaking of which, I'd even say that almost none of them has a frame with custom geometry. That sort of thing is extremely rare even in top-tier road racing, and there's A LOT more money involved there.
  • 2 0
 I really think that when doing a comparison test like this, bikes should have similar msrp. If they don't, the cheaper ines should be upgraded with components that the testers can choose until the money spent is equal. This is how people buy bikes. This is how they should be tested. You can't go and compare a 5k bike to a 10 k one and then go about how the 10k one is much lighter. Spend 5k on upgrades and then compare, or just ask for the 5k model.
  • 2 0
 Very confused with the commentary about nervous descents. I ride partially for Pivot. Ridden all of their bikes, I am a long travel guy (FB29 and M6) however I have had extensive time on the Mach 4 SL and compared it to my 429SL. The Mach 4 descends very well. It is predictable and is slack enough to descend like the big guys. The 429SL on the other hand, was not as great of a descending XC bike. I can compare it to the V2 M6 with how sketchy it was. Also, the 120mm fork does not feel out of place at all. That comment confuses me. It doesn't ride much different than the 100mm travel variant other than to say you have an extra 20mm of travel. I prefer the 100mm, but it is not advantageous for where and how I ride so I cannot take this bike on the trails I ride.
  • 8 3
 Guess I’ll pivot away from this one
  • 9 1
 I ripped through this review at mach 4. Sounds like a race to the bottom, really.
  • 1 0
 Lap times are important. At times you can get a bike working so well that it feels slow, while your going faster by the stopwatch.
Anyways, this bike is very uninteresting to my tastes, but otherwise I think highly of the brand.
Have to wonder: Would this bike be really stupendous/ fast in more rolling smooth terrain which is so common on much of this planet?
  • 1 0
 “ Would this bike be really stupendous/ fast in more rolling smooth terrain which is so common on much of this planet?”

It certainly would have fared better, no question, and I thought we conveyed as such in the video.
  • 3 0
 Every single time they talk about seat tube angle in these videos they show a clip of someone standing and pedalling. Agghhhhg
  • 2 0
 LOL! Smile thought the exact same thing. Guess sitting and spinning just isn't as exciting to the videographer... Smile
  • 2 0
 Pivot took a risk entering this 120 forked version in this face off but probably figured may as well give it a try since few potential customers of the true XC version relate to Pinkbike anyways.
  • 5 2
 If you can't pedal a 34-51 gear ratio up a hill you don't have any business reviewing a cross country bike. Or any bike for that matter.
  • 2 0
 This.
  • 1 0
 I think it’s a bit disingenuous to use such a short timed section (8:30 min.) to evaluate these bikes. I think a 30 minute loop should be the minimum - or 3 of those short loops. The noted effects of climbing efficiency and descending recovery would be more measurable.
  • 1 0
 In the beginning we had Klunkers. Thank you to the Cupertino guys for making this sport a reality! I still dislike the "Downcountry" Label. However if PB gets the win for creating this and you are going to test these bikes............then perhaps a better bike test should be to put this up against the likes of the Specialized Evo, Trek Top Fuel, Scott Spark (trail), BMC Antagonist, etc etc, regardless of what marketing a mfg might say. I can see the Norco Optic , GG Trail Pistol, SC Juliana, and bikes of that nature compared and being that IMHO would be what the majority of people would buy and enjoy. However Hindsight is 2020. Now where is that "Up Slalom" bike of mine......
  • 1 0
 Hey Sarah and James - can you tell me how the Pivot performs on very steep and technical climbs? Sarah, I notice you are climbing out of the saddle often, so I’m wondering how it compares to the other bikes in the category when climbing out of the saddle on steep and technical terrain? Thx.
  • 1 0
 In terms of the suspension performance, I thought it did great in those situations. It's pretty standard dw-link stuff: super efficient, little-to-no wallow. Traction wasn't quite as good as something with a more sensitive design like the GG, but I wouldn't say I remember it being an issue. By far, the biggest problem for me was the position. Even though the rear end was super efficient, I didn't always feel I was able to put the power down as much as I could have because I had to spend so much mental energy keeping the front end where I wanted it to be. This rear end with the Mondraker geometry would have been magical.
  • 3 0
 how these people classify bikes... smh. At least they got this one right in saying it's XC
  • 3 1
 JK She said d*******try (not a real bike classification) in the video... even though it's explicitly an XC race bike. Am i missing something here?
  • 16 16
 So....its a purebred XC race machine built around World Cup XC. It isn't a enduro downcountry bike!! You put 1000g tires on it and try to make it do something it wasn't made for. The Trail429 is what you wanted this bike to be. Quite possibly the worst test ever!!!
  • 28 3
 From Pivot's website: "the new school geometry also lets this cross-country race bike flirt with trail bike versatility outside of the course tape. If fast is fun, this might be the most exciting bike we’ve ever made." Those sure seem like claims that are worth evaluating, don't they? The lines between categories are blurrier than ever, and no matter what there will always be the argument that X bike belongs in Y category. Pay less attention to the categories and more to the ride impressions and there should be plenty of useful information.
  • 9 3
 @mikekazimer: But YOU guys chose to categorize the bikes. I do appreciate the reviews but you guys have done yourselves a disservice trying to jam dissimilar bikes into competing categories.
  • 4 0
 @mikekazimer: With the Japan 2020 Olympics course being how it was, this is just the way XC bikes are going to progress to keep up with the terrain being thrown at them. If the lines are blurry, group-test them by the amount of travel. People can decide from there where the bike can be 'categorized' and what they want to buy.
  • 3 2
 @mikekazimer: "cross country RACE BIKE..."
  • 2 0
 @mikekazimer: good points. I’m glad y’all tested this... however there are some clear lines between the bikes in this category. SC, and GG not like the others.

I think y’all have already gotten the point that we think the Tallboy and Trail Pistol would have been better compared to the optic etc. We get it... you had to draw the line somewhere.
  • 3 0
 But, but... Minions on XC race bikes are downcountry AF...!
  • 1 2
 @mikekazimer: The lines are so blurred nowadays most bikes can fit in many categories and the amount of capable bikes out there make it hard to decide. The public does rely on marketing terms. But for 10K or even there 5K+ starting point they need to be more honest. Good way for a company to get one buyer and never to come back to buy again.
  • 10 3
 I disagree. For sure, this bike sat further toward the XC end of the spectrum of any bike we tested in this category, but it was included specifically because Pivot billed it as being far more capable than just XC racing. Unfortunately, what we felt after testing was that the bike truly is more of a pure XC race bike, and the 120mm fork option felt more like an afterthought to expand its appeal in the marketplace rather than a bike that was designed from the start with that sort of riding in mind. If I wanted something strictly for cross-country racing, this bike would be high on my list, but its fun factor fades outside of that envelope, at least in my opinion.
  • 1 0
 @P3N54: meanwhile a Ardent EXO 2.4 is too burly for most xc racers...
  • 3 0
 @yzedf: No, just unneeded and slow. Watch Nino scare the shit out of Mike Levy in the latest edition of Humbled, riding Aspens front and rear.
  • 1 0
 @LeDuke: ardent 2.4 front and ikon 2.35 rear are the non racing xc combo of choice where I used to live.
  • 6 2
 Saw the price, skipped to the end to say HELL NO.
  • 1 0
 yeah, it's almost rude.
  • 6 5
 3 words. not for me. Id rather spend half the price on a top-of-the-line Commencal Meta AM 29, and have twice as much fun on the decent. (even if I have 1/2 as much fun going up).
  • 2 2
 if you want fun you buy a Clash not a Meta.
  • 2 1
 Testing a XC Bike mounting DH Tires and compare it with Trail Bikes. This make no sense. Test it wherefore it is made, pure XC racing. When you read between the lines therefore it is a perfect Bike.
  • 1 0
 Curious why this was so slow on the uphill compared to the others with its electronic lockout, light wheels,... Uphill times should be compared with a power meter, maybe heart rate as well.
  • 2 0
 "the 34 tooth chainring made it pretty specific to cross country racing" THATS WHAT IT IS!!! jeezus pinkbike you and your made up category.
  • 7 4
 Press fit bb shell? 2020.
  • 2 4
 80g lighter.
  • 7 0
 In fairness, Pivot does PF92 quite well, and that format is also inherently less prone to creaking issues than ones that use narrower bearing spacing (namely PF30).
  • 2 0
 @angryasian: I have ridden a pivot 429t with pf92 for the last 4 years and never had a problem or creak. My trek cx with bb92, totally different story. The Trek creaked from day one.
  • 1 0
 @angryasian: Current bike has PF92 and I'm not impressed. Its supposedly a Shimano standard and yet my Shimano cranks don't fit too well, the spindle is just too short and the left hand crank doesn't has a marginal grip on the spindle. The shell measure to spec and I'm not using any spacers so I don't know what's up. And then, the shell is IMO too small to incorporate a decent bearing for a 30mm spindle. I had a lot of creaking problems even with a wheels Mfg thread together BB. Perhaps it was this problem with the spindle because it went away when I gave up and put the stock GX cranks and a stupid DUB bb in. REally wanted to run those Shimano cranks. Anyway I know that sounds wonky but I'm a very experienced mechanic and messed with it quite a bit. I just think the shell is too small and why does a BB standard that is optimiezd for 24mm Shimano cranks not fit my cranks correctly ?
  • 1 0
 @preston67: Wait, I’m confused. So you have a bike with a PF92 shell and you’re running a Wheels Mfg thread-together bottom bracket and Shimano cranks, but there’s doesn’t seem to be enough spindle for the non-driveside crankset to clamp properly? Based on your description, it sounds like that BB has thicker flanges than a stock setup.

And yeah, PF92 isn’t ideal for 30mm cranks for the reason you specify, but keep in mind it wasn’t originally designed for it, either. It does work (I’ve run it that way myself), but yeah, you usually compromise the bearing longevity.

As for PF92 being a Shimano thing, that’s also true. But Shimano only establishes the dimensions for the cups, and leaves it to the frame/bike brands to figure out what shell dimensions are best. It’s kind of silly if you ask me.
  • 1 0
 @angryasian: I had basically the same problem with a Shimano BB as well, maybe 1mm improved from the Wheels Mfg BB. I was at a loss to explain it, and brought it by my very experienced LBS as well as posting photos on MTBR for comments from the gallery. There is enough meat for it to work, I rode it for a while, but if I didn't put it together just 100% right the crank would eventually fall off as the spindle just ended up being about 3mm too short from ideal. I don't really have an explanation for it, the shell on the bike (Scott Ransom) measured the exact correct width (don't recall exactly what that is at the moment). I kind of wonder if that was where the creaking came from (not the BB) but I couldn't prove it one way or the other. I'm actually the kind of guy that woudl spring for some eeWings (broken too many carbon cranks) but I don't want to run a 30mm spindle, although I suppose a DUB is pretty damn close to that. so looks like I"m stuck with the extra 100 grams and down market gauche of the GX cranks ha ha.
  • 1 0
 @preston67: Just found that MTBR forum thread. Looks to me like the flanges on that Wheels Mfg BB are too thick relative to the stock Shimano setup, which would explain why the NDS arm isn't engaging with the spindle as much as it should. I'd ask the folks at Wheels about the dimensional discrepancy.

As for the creaking in general, is your bike still making noise currently? Creaks can be a PITA to isolate, but definitely not impossible. Unfortunately, there are a lot of places to investigate on a full-suspension bike.
  • 1 0
 @angryasian: Well thanks for you interest in my problem, that's some real sleuthing there. No the creak went away as soon as I installed a DUB BB and the stock GX cranks. Which was a huge relief as I spent both of my mtb vacation weeks putting up with it and as you know a creak reduces your power output by at least 25 watts. I agree the Wheels MFG might be a little thick but a stock Shimano BB was at most 1mm narrower overall. There has to be some minimum flange thickness there and the Wheels is barely any thicker. The only experiment I would like to try is re-installing a brand new Shimano BB and trying again, but thanks to the wonders of press fit that means destroying the DUB BB upon removal, and then probably also destroying the Shimano BB if the creak comes back and I have to remove it. My setup works well now with no creaking so I am going to leave it alone whilst I continue dumping on BB92. Which is ironic, because I just bought a Norco HSP DH bike that also uses this annoying BB because I liked the bike more than I hated the BB.
  • 6 3
 It climbs better when you're putting 150 more watts through the pedals.
  • 7 4
 Why was this tested in Pemberton, it's an XC bike
  • 19 0
 We tested these bikes on trails that were in the Nimby 50 XC race earlier this year.
  • 4 0
 @sarahmoore: so if those trails were part of an XC there's really no need for "downcountry" since it's still XC
  • 3 0
 You realize that there are XC races there, right?
  • 3 3
 @sarahmoore: Haha, as someone who's raced NIMBY 50 a few times (and loved it)... THAT would not be considered an "XC race" by 95% of "XC Racers" in the US. .... It's an awesome race, and true BC XC, but would frighten most racers from San Francisco to New York.
  • 12 0
 @btjenki: I rode the World Champs XC course at Mont-Sainte-Anne when I was there this summer... New school XC will be frightening to a lot of people! It may be a shorter lap and format than the Nimby 50, but it's no less technical!
  • 1 2
 @btjenki: The US XC race scene is a joke though. It’s borderline gravel racing.

It’s not just the NIMBY, St Anne and number of other World Cups would have them complaining. I think this is half the reason we still see bikes like the Epic etc being built. These riders tend to think that a fast bike should feel so nervous that it wants to kill you on anything technical.
  • 3 0
 @jclnv @sarahmoore Agree with both of you. Most true XC people still think they're faster riding a bike with a high post too. That said, a lot (majority) of XC racing in the US (and world) is no where near the level of NIMBY 50 or the world champs course. So that, coupled with the belief that bike should still be pinner light and twitchy with 90mm stems, still exists. Unfortunately.
  • 11 0
 @sarahmoore: My view of World Cup racing changed forever once I rode the course in Pietermaritzburg for myself. That wooden staircase thing was INSANE, and the only way you could nail the left-hand berm and double that came immediately afterward was to just throw yourself down the thing. And back then, most of the riders were highposting it on 650b hardtails.

ABSOLUTELY NUTS.
  • 1 0
 @btjenki: lol ok canadian
  • 6 3
 Dentist written ALL over it
  • 4 0
 haha. the pivot dentist edition. I like it.
  • 5 2
 Why do Dentist get paid so much anyway. I can brush my own teeth really well, floss too.
  • 1 0
 Ortho's too. This is the 50+ year old, professional, almost retiree, trail bike.
  • 4 2
 Why are we reviewing these Camrys? Can we get back to the long travel beats we're all here for?
Thanks
  • 3 0
 Since when do XC thoroughbred bikes weigh 26.6 pounds without any pedals?
  • 2 1
 Since we put burlier control tires on it to suit the local terrain, and the bike also comes with a dropper and the slightly heavier Live Valve system. With lightweight tires, a straight post, and a traditional shock this would be be an easy bike to get into the 22-23lb territory.
  • 1 0
 Obligatory "wow Yetis are dentist bikes" comment..... That's cool that at 10k plus expensive is not a "con". So is it like 11 or 12 k for a bike to be expensive now?
  • 1 0
 @matttauszik its $12k. Listed in footnotes.
  • 2 0
 Would have been interesting to hear more on the effect of the Fox Live Valve in the ascent.
  • 8 5
 So it sucks??? Haha!!
  • 2 1
 This seems like it’s still an excellent XC bike, just not for around here (Van/Squamish/Whistler/Pemby).
  • 4 1
 Take the shitty Live Valve off it and it would probably have done a lot better.
  • 2 0
 @jclnv: and @chubby5000 are both (partially) right. I use a Turner Czar (steeper hta, slacker sta, but also DWlink and about the same weight for XC in Van, the Fraser Valley and S2S). It's demanding, leaves no room for error but very precise and what I choose for long long rides where I'll climb a lot and possibly encounter lots of up and downs.

But it's also uncomplicated and most definitely not for everyone.
  • 4 2
 Throws piggyback shock on xc bike and call it down country?
  • 3 2
 Why not just call these bikes what they are? They are XC bikes not meant for racing.
  • 1 0
 Sarah I'm disappointed you didn't have as much fun with this title as the previous ones.
  • 1 0
 The Mach 4 SL (various builds) is available for comparison on the Bikedigger.com site
  • 1 1
 Since this is a XC RACE bike, why are you running 2.5 and 2.4 tires? I understand to keep things equal but a XC racer never runs these wider tires.....or do they?
  • 1 0
 @sevn: Interesting, Thanks
  • 1 0
 Imagine paying $10k for a bike and that's the commentary on it. No excitement whatsoever.
  • 3 2
 What I get from this review is that top suspension is sh*t without proper geometry.
  • 1 0
 I spent some time on one of these. … Sadly a steel Kona Honzo ST built with light shit on it ate it's lunch EVERYWHERE.
  • 1 0
 I don't care about the bike but do care about how well these videos are showing off pemby trails, don't blow it up!
  • 1 0
 Love the sticker on James's laptop. I have the same one on the fairing of my roof rack Wink
  • 3 1
 In conclusion: Not the right tool for the job
  • 1 0
 I think PB should start to do Field Test for hardtail. I'm enough with full-suspension bike.
  • 1 0
 10k? Scott Spark is PROVEN XC winner all over the planet! Just ask Nino. He might even show you the moon!
  • 2 0
 So it's essentially a $10000+ Super-light slow bike. That's so rad.
  • 1 0
 @ THREADED BB PEOPLE: www.youtube.com/watch?v=vrZ2wnS5X4s

know your engineering first before commenting...
  • 1 0
 Cross country bikes almost never get a good review on Pinkbike. The site is quite obviously biased towards "gravity" riding.
  • 1 0
 selling the race bike with a long fork with no frame redesign is ridiculous.
  • 1 0
 We really have come full circle
  • 3 2
 design looks from 00th year
  • 1 2
 Any chance that the DW link contributes to the harshness of the feel? I currently ride a DW link, and it's always seemed harsh to me compared to my former 4-bar Horst set-up.
  • 1 0
 I still fancy a Pivot Trail 429 though.
  • 6 0
 That's what I own as a personal bike. I thoroughly enjoy it.
  • 1 0
 @angryasian: I am thinking of putting a Fox 36 Grip 2 140mm 44mm offset on mine, like the just released T429 Enduro model. Any thoughts on this or leave it with the stock 34 130mm 51mm offset? I like the way it rides now, just want to add a bit more downhill ability without compromising much of the current character of the bike. Thanks!
  • 2 0
 @angryasian:

This review has me shaking my head. James, your earlier review was glowing. Is this more about environment and less about the bike itself? Even more confusing was your tepid response to attributes you lauded in your earlier review. Full disclosure I enjoy reading your reviews at cyclingtips and my last two bike purchases (including my non-live valve Mach 4SL) have been influenced by your commentary.
  • 1 0
 @chsad: “This review has me shaking my head.”

Well, that makes two of us then.

I meant everything that I wrote in that earlier review, but I also had to keep in mind that what I experienced then just wasn’t what I experienced in Pemberton. Out in Fruita (where the launch was held) and at home around Boulder, the bike was great. Good handling, great suspension manners.

But the terrain in Pemberton was more “complex”, and certainly steeper, and it just felt like the suspension couldn’t keep up, and the geometry too XC in that situation. Maybe it would have been better without the Live Valve? Unfortunately, I can’t say since that’s all we had.
  • 1 0
 @angryasian:

That is what I suspected. I remember the Epic WC review you did which was vetted in the article at Laramie Enduro. If we are looking at the Horse for the Course type of review this proves that there is not really a "quiver killer" and there are certain rigs that are more suited to one type of terrain. I suspect that an Epic Evo which is another popular XC bike would have suffered a similar fate in Pemberton.

Being able to review the same bike in two different settings and give a review that differs certainly reinforces your credibility as a product reviewer. Keep up the good work!
  • 1 0
 @angryasian: Well of COURSE it felt XC. It's an XC bike!! Just because they tried to market us an XC bike that could be "downcountry" doesn't mean it's a trail bike. Bad marketing, but the bike is great at being what it is: an XC bike. You just fell for the marketing. And looked not-so-smart in the process.
  • 2 0
 next
  • 1 0
 Glad to see Wolftooth Components getting some OE business
  • 1 0
 $10K don't buy you happiness lol.
  • 1 2
 So close to cut and paste with this “reviews” grain of Salt to go with them all. P
  • 1 1
 „Nervous on the descents“ - the rider or the bike?
  • 1 0
 0-200 = Bikes
  • 3 4
 Surprised and not surprised. Glad I bought a Tallboy
  • 1 0
 right there with you!
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