Pivot has released the fifth generation of the Firebird, a bike whose origin dates back to 2008, when it debuted with 26” wheels and a fancy floating front derailleur mount. Those features are obviously long gone, and the latest iteration has design details that would have been hard to imagine 14 years ago.
Compared to the previous version, the new carbon-framed Firebird received the typical geometry changes – the head angle is a degree slacker, the seat tube angle is two degrees steeper, and the chainstay lengths now vary depending on the frame size. The reach has also grown by around 14 millimeters per size, and the rear travel has been increased a touch to 165mm.
Pivot Firebird Details
• Wheelsize: 29"
• Travel: 165mm
• Carbon frame
• 64° or 64.6° head angle
• Chainstay length: 438mm (size L)
• Sizes: S-XL
• Weight: 33.3 lb / 15.1kg (size L, as shown)
• Price range: $6,099 - $13,099 USD
The longer and slacker trend changes were all done to keep the bike positioned as a fast, enduro race-oriented bike first and foremost, although there is a level of built-in adjustability that can be used to broaden its range of usable terrain.
The complete models all come with 29” wheels, but the bike can be run with a 27.5” rear wheel, or even with two 27.5” wheels – Pivot offers a 17mm lower headset cup that helps keep the bottom bracket height from getting too low with the smaller wheels. Frame Details
The most obvious change to the Firebird's frame layout is the move to a vertically oriented, trunnion mount shock. Along with matching the look of Pivot's Switchblade and Trail 429 models, the design provides plenty of room for a full size water bottle inside the front triangle, something that was missing on the previous version. There are also two bolts in the underside of the top tube that can be used to mount a tool or tube holder – Pivot even has their own system available that was created in conjunction with Topeak.
Pivot incorporated SRAM's Universal Derailleur into the new frame, a feature that's fast becoming the norm on nearly every new mountain bike. It makes sense – there's really no need for hundreds of different hanger shapes to exist, and having one design should make it much easier to find a replacement.
Speaking of standards, Pivot were the first company to adopt Super Boost, 12 x157mm rear axle spacing, and that's still present on the Firebird. While it's easy to turn your nose up at a sort-of-new-standard, the amount of tire and heel clearance on this bike is impressive – even the biggest-footed riders in the muddiest zones shouldn't have any frame rub issues. Live Valve Compatible
Fox's Live Valve electronic suspension system is often associated with XC and trail bikes, where climbing efficiency takes a high priority. According to Pivot, Live Valve works well with the Firebird too, where it makes it possible to have a firmer pedaling platform for the climbs, and an extra-plush fully open setting for the descents. The system adapts to the terrain in 3 milliseconds, switching between the two custom modes faster than the blink of an eye.
That fancy suspension tech doesn't come cheap, though; going with the Live Valve option adds $1,700 to the Firebird's final price tag. Geometry
I touched on the geometry changes already, but it's worth digging in to those numbers a little further. Let's start with the head angle, which now sits at 64-degrees in the low setting, one degree slacker than before. A seatstay flip chip allows that number to be steepened up by .6-degrees, an adjustment that corresponds with a 6mm change in bottom bracket height.
Part of me wishes that Pivot gave the Firebird a slack and extra-slack head angle; after all, this is a bike designed for the rowdiest terrain possible, but I'll reserve my final judgments until I get some more miles in. The bike does have a 1.5” head tube, so riders looking to go super-slack do have some aftermarket angle- or reach-adjusting headset options out there.
The reach numbers have increased by approximately 14mm per size, a change that was thankfully accompanied by a steeper seat tube angle of 77-degrees in order to keep the seated climbing position comfortable.
The final geometry point to note is the change to size-specific chainstays. Each frame size has its own chainstay length, ranging from 431mm on the size small, up to 445mm on the size XL.Build Kits
Pivot offers a huge array of build kits, with drivetrain and suspension options available from both SRAM and Shimano, and suspension duties handled by Fox. The model we have in for testing is the Pro XT / XTR Coil version, which retails for $7,499. Highlights include a Fox Factory DHX2 coil shock, 170mm Fox 38 Factory fork, DT Swiss EX1700 wheels, Shimano XT 4-piston brakes, and a Shimano XT drivetrain with an XTR derailleur for some extra showroom style points.
The base model Firebird is the $6,099 Race XT. That build kit comes with Fox Performance Elite Float X shock, a 38 Performance fork, Shimano SLX / XT drivetrain, SLX 4-piston brakes, and DT Swiss M1900 wheels.
The Team XX1 AXS Live model sits at the top of the line, and retails for a whopping $13,099 USD. All of that dough gets you Fox's Live Valve electronic suspension, a SRAM XX1 AXS Eagle wireless drivetrain, Code RSC brakes, and Reynolds carbon wheels. Ride Impressions
The exact traits that make a good enduro race bike are up for debate, but I'd say the Firebird certainly qualifies. Even with 165mm of travel and a coil shock it still has a very satisfying of level of acceleration when you stomp on the pedals, the sort of get-up-and-go that provides the extra boost needed to power up a sudden punchy climb, or to gain some extra speed before a reachy jump.
Speaking of jumps, I've been really impressed with this carbon bird's ability to get airborne. There are a bunch of A-Line and Dirt Merchant laps on the menu in the near future (that's very important work), but so far I have zero complaints about its ability to soar off a steep lip. The same goes for rough terrain – the Firebird eats it up without feeling like it's wallowing or sitting too deep in its travel. Getting the suspension feeling the way I want hasn't been any trouble, and it only took a couple rides to find the sweet spot for the DHX2 and Fox 38.
I will say that at 5'11” (180cm) I'm sort of in between sizes. I'm on the size large for this test, and on higher speed trails it's been easy to get along with, although on steeper, more awkward terrain there have been moments where I thought a little shorter front center might have made things easier. I did swap out the stock 20mm rise bar and 45mm stem for a 30mm rise bar and 40mm stem, which made thing more comfortable while climbing and descending. I'll go more in-depth on the sizing question in the long term review; for now, just know that it's worth spending some time poring over the geometry chart before making a final decision.
Overall, I think it's safe to say that Pivot's quest to make the new Firebird even faster than the previous version has definitely paid off. Once I've racked up enough miles I'll report back with details on how it stacks up against other contenders in this category.