One of the benefits of hanging out at Crankworx is sometimes you get to be Johnny on the spot, and after crashing a Pivot Cycles demo party I got to sneak a Pivot Firebird 29 back home for a couple of weeks.
Turns out I was only home for a night and got the call to head for Queenstown and some burly trails—the perfect place to test one of the burliest bikes on the enduro scene today.
Off the plane and straight into the Skyline bike park, the Firebird let rip and I was instantly aware I was riding a beast reminiscent of its namesake—the Pontiac Firebird with its 6.6 litres of V8 fury. The only limit was my nerve (and skill) as the bike ate everything in its path with ease. I fell in love very quickly but that affair was sure to end with a surly break-up as I was heading for some down-country and XC loops the next day and couldn’t find anywhere to put my bottle cage.
Turns out there are cage bosses under the downtube (yuck). This was going to be a game canceler. I’ve been running a bottle since I invented bumbags (yes, the 80s). Could I deal with this dilemma? While I’m being negative, the seat tube is a slackish 75.75 degrees in the low setting. Come on, it’s 2019!
Have I put you off? Lucky for me I have the legs of a dwarf, so the saddle wasn’t too far back to bother me on the climbs but taller riders will probably notice this until they get used to it. And it turns out you can buy/adapt strap-on bottle cages that will fit on the top tube just in front of the seat tube. Boom!
That’s it—the rest is positive. Numbers? It’s super modern, with a geo chip running the head angle at 65 degrees in low.The reach for my large is a roomy 475mm and yes it feels like a big bike. To confuse that issue, it has very short stays at 431mm, achieved by running a Super Boost (157mm) rear end. This is going to be a hassle if you have a bunch of wheels in the shed to swap out, but has the benefits of a robust rear wheel, heaps of room for 275 Plus tyres, and a seriously strong frame. Not to mention this could possibly be the standard next season. There’s 162mm of plushness out back and 170mm up front.
The ride? As mentioned: this bike is a weapon but not necessarily only in the hands of a skilled rider. It’s a very easy bike to ride, fast or slow. The chunky tubes attest to its stiffness but surprisingly the bike can dance down the trail at a moderate pace under an aging mid-pack rider. The short stays give it snappy handling and keep the front end lively and ready for abrupt trail changes. It’s running a short offset fork which is now a must for a long slack 29er and any mushiness one could expect from a bike of this breed is thwarted by the excellent pedal and big hit performance of the much revered DW Link suspension. I’m sure the Fox X2 shock did its usual top notch job here too.
Climbing. The DW Link is efficient and has little pedal bob. I only flicked the pedal switch to keep the back end higher in its travel on extended climbs.
XC. This is where the Firebird blew my mind. Look at the numbers and the sheer brute of the bike and you’re convinced it’s going to trail-ride like a tractor at Manfield. I swear, had someone blindfolded me I would’ve sworn I was on a 140mm midweight trail bike—yes, this frame is a svelte 3.2kg with Fox X2 shock (claimed, size medium).
Downhill. Not far off a downhill bike. Outstanding.
Who is it for? Anyone, really. You can build it light as a trail bike or burly as a shuttle/DH bike. Tall riders may have issue with the short stays, lazyish seat tube combined with the long reach, but local Pivot rider @demo4life is one lanky mofo and got noticeably quicker as soon as he hopped on this rig, not to mention Ed Masters and his recent rise to even greater stardom.
The Good: Looks great, rides even better. Do-it-all bike. Strong yet responsive. Super Boost and all its benefits.
The Bad: Lack of reachable drink bottle mount. Price. Limited Super Boost
The Ugly. Nothing, it’s beautiful.