Pivot's popular Switchblade model has undergone a significant revision for 2020. Most noticeably, the travel has increased to 142mm, up from 135mm, and the shock is now vertically oriented in the frame. There have been geometry updates as well, in order to help the Switchblade remain firmly in that aggressive trail category.
Just like the previous version, riders can choose between running 29" wheels or 27.5"+. If riders do choose to roll with the smaller wheel size, they'll want to install a taller lower headset cup in order to keep the geometry of the bike in check and the front end where it should be.
The new Switchblade has more standover than before, while still providing plenty of room to fit a water bottle inside the front triangle. There are five sizes, XS to XL, with the XS fitting riders down to 5' tall.
Pivot Switchblade Details
• Wheel size: 29" / 27.5+
• Rear travel: 142mm
• 160mm fork
• Full carbon frame
• 66° head angle (low setting)
• 75.5° seat angle
• 625mm stack / 455mm reach (medium)
• 431mm chainstays
• Weight: 29 lb Pro XTR build, size Medium
• Price: $5,499 - to $12,399 USD ($8,999 as tested)www.pivotcycles.com
All of the models are carbon and there are several different build kits available at the Race, Team, or Pro levels. Each level has the option of a Shimano or SRAM kit. Prices range from $5,499 USD for the Race XT build all the way up to $12,399 for the Team XX1 AXS build with carbon Reynolds/Industry Nine wheels.Frame Details
All frames are Fox Live Valve ready, there is internal cable routing throughout, and everyone gets a water bottle. The smaller size frames can fit a standard bottle, while the medium and up frames will comfortably fit the larger 24oz bottles. There are also two bolts on the bottom of the top tube that can hold a tool or other accessories. There is integrated frame protection on the chainstays and downtube.
The bike is now 1x only, a move that, when coupled with 157+ spacing, allowed the team at Pivot to make the rear chainstay slightly wider, which adds some stiffness and tire clearance. Riders can mount up a 29x2.6" or 27.5x2.8" tire with room to spare.
The seat tube is now moved further forward of the bottom bracket and is long enough that the size XS can run a 100mm dropper lowered all the way to the collar. The amount of dropper post travel varies depending on frame size, with 150mm on the medium frames, and 175mm on the large and extra-large. Many riders will be able to run an even longer post than that number.
Size-specific tubing is used in all of the frames. There are different lay-ups and tubing diameters used on each size bike in order to keep the ride characteristics the same, whether someone is 6'3" and on an XL or 5'0" and on the XS. Head tubes are also short as they can be without interfering with the tapering of fork steerer tubes on the XS size bike to help get stack heights low as possible.
Last but not least, it bears mention and some applause that Pivot have done away with the Pivloc handlebar and grip system and have designed a new grip that doesn't require cutting your fancy carbon handlebar. The new "Phoenix Factory Lock-On Grip" is designed in-house at Pivot. It's left and right specific and has a tapered core to fit snugly on the bar. The ergonomic grip tapers from 30mm to 32mm and has a soft rubber compound that is designed to damp vibration.Geometry
The Switchblade geometry has been updated, but nothing is taken to an extreme. With a 66-degree head tube angle, 75.5-degree seat tube angle, and 431mm chainstays, everything is in moderation. The size medium, tested, has an 1193mm wheelbase, 455mm of reach, and 625mm of stack. These numbers are in the "low" geometry setting.
There is a flip-chip in the upper shock mount bolt that changes the head tube and seat tube angles by a half degree and steepens everything up a bit. The chip can be rotated by simply loosening the bolts and rotating it, which means there aren't any parts to lose trailside. Suspension
Switching the shock orientation wasn't just done for looks - it also changes the kinematics of the suspension. In order to maximize the bike's small bump compliance, Pivot worked with Fox to build a unique piston and valving tune for the DPX2 shock. There is a more aggressive rising rate on the shock tune which helps provide suppleness in the first part of the stroke, more support mid-stroke, and then a ramp-up to resist bottoming out. There's enough progression that the Switchblade can be run with a coil shock if desired.Ride Impressions
So far I've spent two days in the desert and then a little over a week back home in North Carolina riding the new Switchblade. In Phoneix, we rode a mix of rocky and chunky technical trails with steep climbs and descents, along with plenty of rocks. Back home, it's the standard mix of high-speed chunder, square edge rocks, and wet roots.
Out of the gate, the pedaling efficiency and climbing ability of the Switchblade is quite noticeable. The DW-Link suspension keeps the bike riding high in its travel, and I never once even considered reaching down for the cheater switch on the shock. The back end of the bike stays firmly planted without squatting too much even riding up steep bits of trail. There are no sensations of getting caught up or hung in roots or rocks, even when my legs didn't want to produce the extra punch to get through them fast and stay on top of things.
Descending, the bike also feels planted and solid, and when pushing into rough turns the bike didn't exhibit any signs of uncertainty. There's plenty of support, and I didn't experience any issues of harshly bottoming out the bike, even though I was consistently using the suspension to its full amount of travel. It's very quiet right out of the box, too, with no extra sound-muffling measures required.
The new Switchblade is a proper all-around, aggressive trail bike that doesn't take things to the extremes in the geometry department. It strikes a good balance of modern and capable without being over the top, traits that should allow it to work well in a wide range of terrain.