What People Are Saying - Interbike 2016

Sep 20, 2016
by Richard Cunningham  
Interbike 2016

Rachel Byus at Pvot

Rachel Byus: Pivot Cycles

No question: Pivot Cycles was winning Dirt Demo. Long lines formed in front of their demo tent and the moment a bike was returned, it was whisked away by the next rider in line. Pivot's Rachel Byus was coordinating the hand-offs, so I figured she would be the one who could best tell me what models were trending at Bootleg Canyon.

"The Switchblades with the Plus wheels are non-stop. The second one rolls in, it rolls back out. The same with the new Firebirds."

Pivot's Switchblade is built around a 135-millimeter-travel carbon chassis and a 150-millimeter fork, and it is convertible between 27.5-Plus and 29-inch wheels. The Firebird is Pivot's latest offering, with a 170-millimeter-travel rear suspension and aggressive, rider-forward geometry. I asked Rachel about rider profiles: who was showing up for the plus bikes and who was asking for big-travel enduro machines?

"Switchblades were going out mostly with 30 to 40-year-olds. About half of them were regular guys, and the others were the good riders who already knew their suspension, setup, and air-pressure settings. We had a lot of women interested in the Switchblades too - the extra small has been out all day."
Pivot Switchblade
Pivot Switchblade set up with 29-inch wheels.

What is the general consensus on wheel size?

"Everyone seems to be far more open to 27-Plus than they were three months ago."

Who are the Firebird riders?

"Younger, good looking guys. (laughs) Most are asking about reach and top tube measurements. We tell them up front that the Firebird is a big bike, so most of them aren't sizing up to large and extra-large frame sizes. The only Firebird that is hanging on the rack right now is the extra large one."

Max Commencal

Max Commencal: Commencal Bikes

Founder and namesake, Max Commencal has etched out a reputation among some of the sport's best bike-handlers for his sharp-performing downhill and all-mountain ranges. Commencal was not hosting a demo fleet at Dirt Demo, which gave the chief some time to ride his competitor's machines. Max caught up with me riding an e-bike, of all things, so I asked him if Commencal has plans to enter that market.

"We will have a Meta AM 4 e-bike soon. In Europe, they are fifty percent of sales."

I told Max that I thought e-bikes were a separate category from mountain bikes and that I predicted that motor and battery technology, not frame and suspension design, would be its driving force. I asked him if bike makers were developing a market that they would eventually lose to motor makers or manufacturers outside the bike industry?

"Yes, there is always that possibility, but we have to look ahead, to visualize what future bikes will be to avoid that. We have to make money to survive, and to do the things that we like - to keep ahead and not just stay at one place, or to just disappear."

Steve Domahedy
Steve Domahidy with his Skeptic Ti hardtail.

Steve Domahidy: Viral Bikes

Co-founder of Niner Bikes, Steve Domahidy is no stranger to bucking trends. His latest venture, Viral Bikes, blends the traditional titanium hardtail, with modernized geometry, plus-sized tires, a Gates Carbon cog-belt drive, and the German-made Pinion P1.12 geared transmission. Our conversation centered on the difficulty of marketing new, or different looking technology.

"You can develop a new concept that in all or most respects, is much better than anything that is out there, but if customers don't accept it, nothing you say or do will matter."

I thought he was referring to the Pinion gearbox and cog-belt drive, but Steve reminded me that both of those technologies have been time proven and, to a large degree, have been accepted by bike makers, at least at the upper end of the price range.

"I would love to make a linkage fork. I think that the Girvin fork was in many ways, a superior design than the telescopic fork is. It can be made stiffer, lighter, simpler to build, and there is less friction than a telescoping fork. I believe that it has more potential. I would love to develop one, but the problem is that when people think of a suspension fork, they see a telescopic fork - even an inverted one makes people go, 'Woah! What is going on here?' It's that perception that makes a linkage fork an impossibility."

Christy Cook and Kevin Costz at Cannondale
Christy Cook waits for Cannondale's Kevin Costz to prepare her Bad Habit Plus bike.

Christy Cook and Kevin Costz: Cannondale's Bad Habit

Cannondale's demo fleet was also in demand at Bootleg Canyon. I poked my head into their tent to ask which bikes in their range were the most requested. "Habits," said Cannondale's Kevin Costz, who was preparing their newest edition to that range: the Bad Habit 27.5-inch Plus model. Christy Cook was being fitted for one, so while she was a prisoner of Cannondale, I asked her about the decision to go with over-sized tires.

"I was told by my husband that they would roll easier over stuff."

Have you ridden a Plus bike before?

"This is my first time, but my husband has been riding a Plus bike for about a year."

What are you riding now?"

"A Trigger 275."

What level would you consider your ability? Where do you do most of your riding?

"Intermediate. I live in Utah, so there are good trails everywhere. We ride a lot in Hurricane."

bigquotesThe bicycle industry, as a whole, is not that intelligent. - Troy Rarick
Troy Rarick
Troy Rarick, founder of the Over the Edge retail chain and the Fruita Fat Tire Festival.

Paul Cusick at 100

Paul Cusick: 100%

Paul Cusick is the sales manager at 100% - a leading motorcycle accessory maker that has been carefully entering the mountain bike realm. They began with goggles, followed by gloves, and more recently, their Aircraft helmet range and a selection of performance eye-wear. Interbike 2016 marks the debut of a small, but well-designed clothing range that 100% plans to gradually expand upon. We spoke about the perceived health of the mountain bike market, and Cusick had a surprisingly optimistic take on it.

"I think that mountain bikes are doing pretty well right now. People are becoming wary of riding the road. With all the cars and people texting, it is getting more and more dangerous. I think more people are discovering that they like riding where it is not life-threatening, where you can enjoy the experience of being outdoors and away from all that craziness. Plus, mountain bikes are so easy to ride now. With longer travel suspension, anyone can ride trails like a pro."


  • 85 3
 Interesting comment: "The bicycle industry as a whole is not that intelligent"

Reference to the ridiculous number of "standards" around that have created the perception and expectation that any bike product you buy will be obsolete and without backwards compatibility before you've even fitted it to your bike, let alone ridden it!
  • 41 10
 He was probably talking about the consumers, as he watched them roll past on their super stif but flexy super long but short plus sized metric bikes.
  • 22 1
So probably not
  • 16 1
 @bluumax: super slack but steep, super progressive yet linear multiple BB height freeride climbing whippets.
  • 15 2
 Time for the bike industry to stop ripping off the enthusiastic mountain bike consumer by constantly introducing new "standards" that in many cases of the big picture aren't that innovative and mean that kit can't be repaired and force the consumer to buy more unnecessarily. Let's have some REAL innovation please Bike Industry!!!
  • 2 1
 You are damn right!
  • 2 0
 Is this the same guy who took out the ridiculous two-page ad urging mountain bikers to abstain from voting in the Presidential election, because, uh... because? Dude definitely knows what's what.
  • 2 0
 I think Tony's spent some time on Pinkbike.
  • 7 0
 What a Narrow-Wide point of view.
  • 5 0
 @MonEddy: its also the local retailer that suffers here. can't maintain decent stock levels - how much wall space for tires is needed now? special bins full of prior seasons not so future proof standards. customers told to wait several days to order in staple parts like 9sp drive train kit.
and you gotta feel for the young sale rep bumbling his way through the latest marketing BS selling something to Ol' Man Jericho who's been riding longer than he's been alive
  • 1 0
 @WasabiJim: Not just the local retailer, even CRC has very hit n miss stock levels of items as there's just too many widths, diameters, lengths and variants to even count
  • 1 0
 I thought that Pink gear box Bike looked intelligent. I'd ride it.
  • 77 18
 Fuck plus tires and mopeds!!!
  • 57 28
 The plus tires are actually pretty cool. I'm assuming you haven't ridden them and are an angsty teenager.
  • 38 7
 @poozank: What about the people who have ridden them and have found them to laughably floppy under hard cornering and (very) suseptible to sidewall damage? Maybe certain models are less prone to these issues, but I'm guessing that will mean a heavy ass tire. I couldn't imagine how much a 2.6 Wild Rock'r 2 (i.e. great tread design and proper sidewall protection) would weigh, as the current version is ~1,000 grams. Same goes for something like a 2.6 Maxxis DD model. But hey, its just rotational mass, so no big deal...
  • 26 12
 It bothers me that eliminate the option of 26" and incorporate heavy and slower size tires.
  • 28 2
 @poozank: just one mans opinion here: but I rode a Cannondale Bad Habit with 3" tires for a 3 hour spin. Slow rotation/acceleration, sloppy cornering, and sure there's extra bounce to boost off features - but that bounce is noticeably undamped when you land! I was hoping for improved cornering and braking traction, but the rubber flex made that unnoticeable. The saddest part was, that the very thing I loved about the Habit (regular width tire version) was how it could make a tame trail fun with its playfulness.... but this wallowy mess muted an otherwise fun trail to make it dull! The ONLY benefit to the plus tires I rode was in steep technical climbing, where the rear wheel would find traction for days.
I might be willing to try a 2.8" tire, just to say I've done my due diligence, but so far I'm unimpressed.
  • 15 3
 @poozank: Why assume angsty teenager? I am so old that I remember all the other 3" casings of yore. I think many people are frustrated by the industry always saying something is better so theyou abandon tech, then revisit something similar and claim it's groundbreaking. Sure plus tires now are better than old gazzalodis, but if the industry had continued to improve those tires then we would be farther ahead. This industry isn't run by stupid people, but it is often run in stupid ways.
  • 7 6
 plus bikes are aimed at people entering the sport, not fullon experienced aggressive riders. They seem to give support for people that need it
  • 16 31
flag WAKIdesigns (Sep 20, 2016 at 8:19) (Below Threshold)
 @torero - not much to shag there on Antarctica is it? It shows! Struggle is real, never stop progressing! Freeride for life! Twat...
  • 8 1
 @downhiller900sl: Perhaps, but there's a lot of "full on aggressive" big tired bike models (i.e. stuff with modern low/slack geo) that don't seem like the proper bike for people entering the sport. I could see it for maybe a lower end hardtail or something, but a carbon Pivot Switchblade seems odd for a beginner IMO.
  • 5 6
 @downhiller900sl: " plus bikes are aimed at people entering the sport, not fullon experienced aggressive riders. They seem to give support for people that need it"

That's what people said about full suspension bikes when they first came out. They're less efficient and make riding too easy. In fact, that pretty much describes all modern mountain bikes. They make trails too easy compared to older bikes.
  • 1 0
 @vonSpurling: What size rims are you using?
  • 1 0
 @SteveDekker: it was a demo bike from a local shop - so I imagine it was whatever rims come stock on that bike.
  • 5 0
 @jackalope: I rode a Hightower+ with 3.0s in Moab over the weekend and it was hilarious. Fun, gobs of traction, plowable, more agile than I thought. However, I wasn't leaning the bastard over and cornering hard, just plowing and dropping. Just a tad heavier and slower rolling but actually rolled better than I thought it would.

I'd consider having a 29/27.5+ as my next frame but honestly would probably rock the 29 most of the time with the 27.5 wheelset/tires for when I feel like an attention whore who wants others to ask about my bike. Don't think I'd commit to plus full time tho.
  • 5 0
 @jackalope: my experience with plus tires is that they provide you with a whole shitton of grip and don't accelerate that well. That being said, I love them. If the your tire pressure is 1 psi too low then yes, they are floppy under hard cornering. The solution to that is to figure out your perfect tire pressure and keep it there. As for sidewall strength, the WTB Scraper rims, which most people seem to love are weaker than the tires, I have 3 huge dents in the side of the back rim from smashing on the sides of rocks, but the tires are fine.
  • 7 0
 @mnorris122: Different strokes for different folks I guess. I've tried big 2.7 DH tires and found them to be awkward and offering no real benefit - mainly just downsides due to excessive weight and tendency to wander in mildly greasy conditions. In short, I don't really need much help "dropping and plowing", but I need all the help I can get in high speed corners. Personally, I wouldn't want to have to make sure my tire pressure is at the exact correct psi before (and during?) every ride. Just me tho. As for sidewall construction, there's places close to me where guys are having to resort to DD type models (i.e. heavy, but solid tear resistance) due to frequent sidewall tears on EVO type models, so to me, if a Plus tire is to offer good sidewall protection, it will have to be heavy as phuck. Not Gazzi 3.0 heavy perhaps, but still burly.
  • 3 1
 @jackalope: for some people they are great for others not. I personally don't ride them but I can see how they are fun under the right circumstances.
  • 8 0
 @poozank: Absolutely wrong!! Everything is black or white, and if you don't like/ride the same things I do, then you're a gaper and should feel bad about yourself. Wink

But for reals, you're right, and I can definitely see how some people might prefer them. And who knows, if I actually had to make a living selling bikes, I might be all about balloon tires 24/7 too!
  • 2 0
 @torero Exactly! Just get a Tomos instead
  • 4 0
 @dfiler: @dfiler: I use to think there would never be any thing better than my 90's XTR equipped bike. I rode it last time I visited my parents. What a clunky junker it is compared to my 2016 AM bike.
  • 6 4
 Exactly. Plus tires suck:... except when the trails have lots of baby heads, when I want to do well in enduro races, ride steeps, climb rocky trails, descend smashed out rooty trails, have one bike that can do enduro or marathon races... but that is just from personal experience, I haven't had the opportunity to just bitch without trying because I decided to try plus tires, figure out tire pressures, try a bunch of tires and get a setup that blows my mind.
  • 30 3
 The bicycle industry are sheep and so are many many mountain bikers. Instead of enjoying the bike you have, people are looking for the next best thing. And for what? A small improvement here or there that can really only be taken full advantage of by pro riders.
  • 25 3
 Yea people will spend thousands of dollars to drop a couple pounds from their bike but at the same time are carrying 15 extra pounds around their waist.
  • 37 0
 I still secretly hope that women will be impressed by my Renthal bar, Fox 36 and Fox 40.
  • 3 3
 @zer0c00l44 including you and me, it seems, or why are we on this thread? Oh I forgot you're just here to chase the sheep eh butt ;-)
  • 5 2
 @sino428: while i agree buying new bikes every moment is stupid your argument about weight is super flawed. Your body weight is not the same as bike weight given you have muscle around your own mass but you don't have around the bike so it's harder to lift your leg than a bike weighting the same.
  • 3 4
 @sideshowb: Mate, please dont talk shit. Just because I read this piece that means I am an MTB fashion victim like your self. Come on, I read most things on here, oh and I think your insults would benefit from some originality......but hey, you are English after allWink
  • 1 0
 @MTB-Colada: I have no doubt in my mind they will be. Who wouldnt be impressed by a Renthal bar. They impress me every time I see one, with out fail.
  • 3 3
 The bike industry is not just mountain bikes.
  • 7 0
 @spaced: Its not a direct comparison between body weight and bike weight but its still a valid point. When you pedal the bike you are still hauling a certain amount of mass up a hill, your body+ gear and the the bike. Shaving a few pounds off the body would likely be even more beneficial that shaving off the bike since your legs are supporting your body weight, but are not supporting the weight of the bike.
  • 5 4
 I enjoy riding the bikes that I already have and also enjoy lusting after new bikes. My bike today is way better than what I rode 30 years ago. Every year, riding seems new again as I fall in love with a new bike.

The great thing about having a good job and comfortable life? I can afford to buy many expensive bikes and take them on epic vacations with friends. Sorry if it pisses you off. :-p
  • 3 0
 You just described every single hobby and it's related industry
  • 2 2
 @MTB-Colada: you can tell the women are impressed by the amount of moist panties that get thrown your way as you ride by.....
  • 1 1
 Yeah, but what about those of us that are riding something a bit older, not looking for a small advantage, but have trouble because of it? Any idea how hard it's become to find a 26" wheel with QR hubs actually in stock lately?
  • 1 1
 I tend to agree with you, but this is how capitalism works. We want freedom of choice, and we have it, at least in the way we consume some items. Cars, food, and other consumer goods are no different. At least it's up to you to decide whether you want to partake or not.
  • 1 1
 @zer0c00l44: touché good sir. seriously though I think you're right and on some level I wonder what either of us are doing on these threads.
  • 2 1
 @sino428: hahahha american mentality 101
  • 14 3
 How many people made it through a full run on the plus size tires without getting a flat?
  • 5 7
 Ummmm I've done a bunch, I own a plus sized aggressive hardtail and love it
  • 5 3
 I use 1800g old-school 26+ tires.... they are IMPOSSIBLE to puncture. Perfect for the super rocky Big Mountain riding here.
  • 10 2
 I'm not going to that snobby Pivot booth and get heckled for being a "regular guy" who doesn't know his air pressure settings. SMH.
  • 4 0
 You only need to know how much you weigh to easily get baseline values. I weigh 72 kg which is 160 lbs:

Fork pressure = 72 psi (the same number as my weight in kilos).
Shock pressure = 160 psi
Rear tire pressure = weight in lbs divided by 7 = 23 psi.
Front tire pressure = rear tire pressure minus 3 psi (as per Graves, Peaty, Hill, and common sense).

At such values you should come close to bottoming out on big hits, close to dinging rims.

Aggressive/experienced riders add 10% to all values. Super aggro or hitting berms real hard add 20%. DH/enduro bikes add 10% to fork pressure. For rocky terrain use a bit more pressure in tires.

Fat or plus tire presure... I don't know yet.
  • 3 0
 Sign me up for a girvin fork . Think my k2 girvin fork does a good job considering the time it was from. Better than an air fork and more reliable than other forks from the same era IMHO. Be interested what a modern version can do
  • 6 0
 Is paul cusick a vampire? that's the question
  • 2 0
 I thought that was Aaron Gwin with a goatee at first glance.
  • 2 0
 Bring on that linkage fork! I totally agree, this could be far superior.

But looking at the posts above with 98% of the people writing about plus size stuff, Mr. Domahidy's probably right. No one cares, no one would like it...
  • 5 2
 I know a fat dude with a plus bike. He punctures the tread every few weeks. I keep telling him lose 50lbs or get a different bike. He does neither.
  • 3 2
 If you believe a modern bike with longer travel will allow anyone to ride trails like a pro, I submit that you haven't actually ridden with a pro, or someone close to that level. To put that into mx terms, that's as silly as saying: Buy a KTM 450SXF and ride like Ryan Dungey. I feel like Mr. Cynical-Poopy-Pants for saying it, but I couldn't let it slide since that was the article's parting shot.
  • 1 0
 I ride a Transition Covert CF, with a Nobby Nic 3.0 up front, and a Muddy Mary 2.5 rear. With 160mm of travel, and 27.5 wheels, it eats berms and lands soft and feels like 'cheating' when riding... It's a 26" frame that fits 27.5 Plus wheels! I'll never have to buy another bike again,,, well, that's unrealistic, because I have impulse bike-buying problems.
  • 5 1
 Rachel is cuuuuuutttteeeee Big Grin
  • 2 0
 Guess you better go test ride a Firebird!
  • 2 0
 The Firebird is Pivot's latest offering, with a 160-millimeter-travel rear suspension and aggressive, rider-forward geometry.
  • 4 0
 What people are saying; "Wow, this stupid shit is still going on!"
  • 3 1
 These comments are depressing. Who cares. Ride your bike and buy a new one when it's worn out.
  • 1 0
 Id love to give that Viral Skeptic a brutal demo shake down. Iv always thought the chain n derailleur were the weak link on all bikes.
  • 3 0
 Biking is expensive, Buy/ Sell secondhand market is my friend!
  • 2 1
 I love my plus size 24 and 26 in models. Anyone got any spare tires laying around they don't want?
  • 2 0
 Well Said Paul Cusick!
  • 1 0
 Uhh, I'm definitely not riding like a pro.
  • 1 0
 i really wish my pinion did not skip so much
  • 5 6
 Thats a bike i would be interested in, Modern geometry + Plus tyres + pinion + ti = Maximium fun! Not to mention sexy af!
  • 10 0
 Yeah, but more expensive than a months worth of hookers and blow. USD4999 for frame and gearbox! Excuse me while I go rob a bank or two...
  • 4 0
 Oh OK, didn't see that, forget that then lol
  • 6 0
 @handynzl: are doing a gram a day and 10 prostitutes a month? You live Fast Bro!
  • 2 0
 Tell me about it! Only person building an affordable decent pinion gearbox bike I can find is zerode and shipping + import tax makes it non affordable unfortunately
  • 1 1
 Hey Pivot, make a 140 rear 140/150 front 27.5 bike!!
  • 1 0
 26+!!! The best yet!
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