PINKBIKE FIELD TEST
PIVOT FIREBIRD 29
Words by Paul Aston, photography by Trevor Lyden
The Firebird 29" was designed with enduro racing and bike park laps in mind, with 170 mm of travel up front and 162 mm at the rear. Similar geometry is available in a 27.5" Firebird if big wheels aren't for you.
The Firebird benefits from a flip-chip to adjust the geometry or run 27.5+ wheels, but all numbers are referenced in the low 29" setting. It features a 65° angle, 495mm of reach on our size XL, 429mm chainstays and a 74.5° seat angle, which is in the ballpark for this style of bike, but the chainstays have been kept noticeably short using the Super Boost 157mm rear spacing.
Firebird 29 Details
Wheel size: 29"
Frame construction: carbon
Head angle: 65º
Chainstay length: 431mm
Sizes: S, M, L, XL
Weight: 30.2 lb (13.7 kg), w/o pedals
Price: $9199 USD
More info: www.pivotcycles.com
Our bike is the Pro X01 build with the optional Reynolds carbon wheel upgrade, which would set you back a whopping $9,199 USD. On the bike are a Fox Factory 36 GRIP2 fork with 44mm of offset, Float X2 shock with climb switch and Transfer dropper post, Shimano's new four-piston XT brakes, SRAM X01 Eagle drivetrain and Pivot's own carbon bars. Climbing
This was the only XL sized bike on test, and the 495mm seat tube length means that riders wanting to upsize in order to get more reach might struggle. The Firebird was a really good climber, with some tweaks to the suspension from the recommended settings from Fox. The suspension stayed firm with a smooth pedal stroke, thanks to the DW-link suspension design, but did bob a bit when not pedaling smoothly through technical sections. With a couple more volume spacers and clicks of LSC added to the shock the suspension was calmer, as there was more support from the sag-point onwards. However, the rear wheel still tracked the ground well, resulting in lots of grip. Flicking the climb switch on the X2 shock does help with climbing, but more because of the way it helps the bike ride higher in the rear travel to improve the climbing geometry.
The effective seat tube angle is 74.5 degrees, which is slacker than the Firebird's competitors, which resulted in a rear weight bias and the front wheel wandering when combined with the short 431mm chainstay and a lanky rider like me. This might not be as much of a problem for shorter riders, as their seat position will be further forward relative to the rear axle. Descending
Having a roomy front triangle always gets me off to a good start when descending, and having 495mm of reach on this XL meant the Firebird was no exception. The 65º head angle is about what we’ve come to expect on long-travel 29ers, and the shorter 44mm fork offset made the bike more stable at high speed, but this could be pushed further for an even more potent descender.
Short chainstays are still in fashion, and for riders on smaller sized frames they will probably work great. However, the real downside for me with the short chainstay on this XL bike, with its long reach and front center, is that I found balancing traction between the wheels difficult. Most of the time it felt like standing on the back wheel, with a light front end. Then, when weighting the front end in corners, the back end felt light and occasionally slid out easily. It’s something that is hard to feel, and the only way to figure it out is to ride a long chainstay bike, of which there aren’t that many around.
The suspension stayed active on small bumps, and I was really impressed with the Firebird on big hits. Whether it’s the DW-Link suspension ramping up through the stroke, or the latest version of the X2 shock and its bigger bottom out bumper, I never felt a harsh bottom out.