While some companies have taken the lightweight trail approach to their 150mm, 650B (27.5in) wheeled bikes, Pivot have gone for the no-compromise, flat-out fast approach with their new Mach 6.
- HIGHS: Extremely stiff and surefootedly slack steering, it's a long-travel but light all-rounder
- LOWS: Tall ride can mask gravity potential; soft pedalling in smaller gears and slightly heavy
- BUY IF... You want trail bike feel with big bike capability when it counts
Ride and handling: a grower not a growler
The Mach 6's tracking stiffness is obvious when you send it obliquely across ruts – even over the ledges of volcanic rock and baked washboard ruts of this hard American desert.
The combination of 650B wheels and the well-controlled Fox Float X damper, which presides over 155mm of rear travel, shrinks impacts impressively. We found ourselves pulling the brakes later and later each time we sessioned the drops and rock gardens of our test trails – then heading right back up for more.
Our trust and belief in the bike was progressive, and that is significant. Like other DW Link bikes we've ridden, the Mach 6 naturally sits high in its travel, and Pivot have given it a relatively high bottom bracket for pedalling clearance. That means despite the ample travel and slack 66-degree head angle it feels more trail bike than a gravity enduro machine at first.
You also have to push it that bit harder and lower into turns than a bike that's nearer the ground already, but that's something that becomes second nature when you're riding this bike all the time.
Its smooth suspension movement also means consistent traction and roll over even when you're pushing the pedals hard, making it a great bike for blasting along contouring trails at serious speed. You do need to make use of the Trail setting of the CTD lever to stop obvious pedal bob in the smaller ring, however, but it is at least easy to reach.
Frame and equipment: practical not pretty
The slightly crowded spliced top tube and dislocated linkage junction of the Mach 6 might not make for the neatest looks, but it creates a seriously stiff chassis. The longer we had it the harder we rode it, and by the end of our test we were smashing through savage braking bumps on near-freefall descents and into blown-out berms, but we never felt it flexing or twisting out of line.
Changing the overlong and lurch-prone 80mm stem for a 60mm and fitting larger tyres would also make the aggressive potential of the bike much more obvious, but not everyone wants their trail bike to feel like a mini downhiller though, even if it is long travel, and at 6.2lb with the Float X this frame will appeal.
It could be built to climb and accelerate as well as much shorter-legged bikes – the DW Link pedals very well in the middle and larger chainrings, giving just enough chain tension under power to feel positive when you're giving it full gas.
If you're looking for a low-slung, highly aggressive gravity-focused machine the Mach 6 isn't right for you. But if you want a pedal-friendly frame for impressively easy trail speed, allied to seriously capable suspension and speed-secure handling, the Mach 6 should definitely be on your shortlist.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.