First Ride | Pivot Switchblade | Dirt Mountain Bike

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Trail and Enduro Bikes

First ride: Pivot Switchblade

Pivot completes its range with a trail offering

From the first mountain bike to be DI2 COMPATIBLE to the first to use press fit bottom brackets, it seems that PIVOT is a brand that likes to be ahead of the curve when it comes to releasing a new bike. Its latest machine, the Switchblade, brings more new tech to the table in form of Super Boost Plus, a standard that’s sure to set the comment sections alight.

Photos: Geoff Waugh

Pivot Switchblade review

 

We’re excited for this Pivot Switchblade review. So firstly, what is the Switchblade? Well, it fills the current gap in Pivot’s line up and is hoping to challenge in the highly competitive trail bracket. It’s a 150/135mm trail bike that can be used with 29 or 650b+ wheels but what stands it out from the competition are the 428mm chainstays, currently the shortest available on the market, which maintain huge clearance.

Pivot has achieved this thanks to the standard it’s jokingly (and some might say unwisely) calling Super Boost 157. The idea in itself isn’t a new standard, anyone with a grounding in downhill bikes can tell you that, but Pivot has had to commission cranks that are wide enough to accommodate the chainline of a downhill bike but keep the Q-factor lower.

How does it compare to the 29er Canyon Spectral that made it into our Dirt 100?

The wider hubs offer all the benefits of Boost, but more – shorter chainstays, stiffer frames and more clearance – with an increase in size almost double the leap from 142 -148mm. Any 12 x 157 hub can be used in the Switchblade but the Super Boost Plus has wider flange spacing that supposedly makes for a stiffer wheel. Currently SRAM and DT Swiss offer these hubs.

 

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The other change is that the chainline is pushed out by 4mm, this means that most cranks won’t fit it without a 3mm longer spindle. The Switchblade then, will only be sold as complete bikes to begin with as a custom crank has been made by RaceFace – however Pivot has told us that crank manufacturers are working on compatible designs to be released in the near future. There is also a custom front mech adapter that will allow you to run a 2x system if you like.

The bike offers more than a comment-bait standard though. The carbon frame comes in at a featherlight claimed weight of 2,900 grams and shows off its descending potential with a humongous reach (the medium Switchblade is longer than the XL Mach 6 enduro bike, although Pivot has previously been accused of building bikes too short) and a slack 67.25° head angle. The suspension has been modified from the Phoenix downhill bike that only solidifies its aggressive potential.


Ride Impressions

I spent an afternoon aboard the Switchblade recently and from the second it was unveiled to us I could tell this was a smart bike. The lines are clean, the cables are well integrated and, especially in blue and red, it’s going to be a head turner.

The DW-link suspension takes some precise setting up to get the most of, but thanks to Pivot’s sag meter, pre-ride faffing is kept to a minimum. I spent the most time on the bike in 29 guise. Unfortunately there was only a medium available but the rangy top tube meant that I wasn’t knocking my knees on the handlebars.

In truth it’s hard to draw too many conclusions from the riding I had, it was exclusively on Swinley Forest’s blue route without any real tech, or distance, to allow me to really push the bike. It’s the kind of terrain that will feel good on any bike with some air in its tyres but the promise was certainly there from a company that sees itself as the Ferrari of mountain bikes.

The first thing I noticed was the surprising climbing ability of the Switchblade, at 30 per cent sag it feels like you will eat into the travel quickly when you get pedalling but you’re pushed onwards with minimal fuss. On the downs you can tell you’re aboard a fast bike. It hangs deep into turns and the ultra-short chainstays spit you out sharper than you would expect on a 29 inch wheel.

In plus configuration you lose a bit of the speed but gain pop and playfulness that seems at odds with the 2.8 inch tyres slammed into the frame.

We’re definitely going to need some more time behind the bars of this beauty before we can truly confirm it’s a beast – and whether Super Boost Plus is anything more than a gimmick.

The XTR-XT Pro 1x build that we tested costs £6400. The same spec but with DT XM series alloy wheels will be £5500. Full UK prices to come soon. Let us know your thoughts on our Pivot Switchblade review.

Pivot

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