At ﬁrst sight the Firebird is an impressive machine. This £3,300 custom model from the UK distributor Upgrade Bikes comes with a head angle-slackening Cane Creek Angleset and supple suspension from Fox and X Fusion. The burly, ﬂex-free frame uses the successful DW-link suspension design, but handling is hindered by its tall front end and short cockpit.
Ride & handling: Fun but comfortable, solid and reliable
The feel of the Firebird is hugely smooth and plush, as it easily eats up small bumps and bigger hits alike. The X Fusion Vengeance R coil fork doesn’t offer the weight-saving of air forks, but it keeps the front wheel glued to the ground and helps maintain speed through the gnarliest of trails. However, the short cockpit and lack of damping adjustment make sprinting a bouncy affair, despite that licensed DW-link suspension controlling pedal bob at the rear end well.
At around 40mm shorter than average for a medium bike of this type, the cockpit length (reach) of the Firebird is pretty short, which makes it difﬁcult to maintain good weight distribution between the wheels when stood up, especially at higher speeds on rough terrain. It does allow free and ﬂuid body movement however, and leaning the bike and un-weighting either wheel feels natural and effortless – the Firebird is fun to ride.
Despite the long chainstays and high bottom bracket it also corners well, and it climbs with impressive low-speed accuracy and clearance on the slow technical sections.
The Firebird is capable of smoothing out the roughest trails and negotiating the technical climbs, but the tall and short geometry can feel cramped – and it doesn’t inspire full throttle conﬁdence.
Frame & equipment: Tough, with climbing-oriented geometry
The Firebird is built from hydroformed 6000 series aluminium to provide a solid framework for its lengthy 6.6in (167mm) of DW-link rear wheel travel. With a full width 780mm Renthal Fatbar, a 60mm stem, bolt-thru axles at both ends and a 1.5in tapered head tube, the 14.5kg (32lb) Pivot is tough enough for almost anything.
2013 Shimano SLX and XT components – including a clutch-type rear derailleur running a 20-speed setup – make for snappy shifting and a strong range of gear choices. The latest SLX drivetrain is proving tough, stiff and reliable, despite being relatively lightweight.
Strong, responsive Maxlight V1 wheels combine with DMR Redshift tyres to give a high performance feel with consistent and predictable grip and stability in a variety of conditions at all angles. These wheels have been punished, but shrugged off everything we’ve thrown at them.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.