Arizona-based Pivot Cycles is a company that's been gaining more and more attention thanks to the stylish riding and top results of team riders Bernard Kerr and Elliot Jackson aboard the super lightweight Phoenix downhill bike.
Pivot's range of trail and enduro bikes is less well known about, but this is likely to change with the release of its first models that can be both 29er and 27.5+. The new Switchblade gives the versatility to run either wheel size in the same frame and promises to be a one-bike-does-it-all machine for enduro or serious trail riding.
Pivot Switchblade highlights:
- Designed to fit either 29in or 27.5+ tyres
- Longer and lower geometry than Pivot’s previous bikes.
- Short chainstays for snappy handling
- 'Super Boost' Plus 157 hub spacing for improved tire clearance and stiffness
- 135mm rear travel and 150mm forks
- XTR/XT build – £5000 with alloy wheels or £5900 with carbon wheels (see below for further details and international pricing)
So what is there to get excited about the new Switchblade then? Lets start with the frame. The carbon front end is paired to a one-piece carbon rear triangle with a double wishbone, which Pivot claims provides excellent stiffness.
In geometry terms, it’s bang up to date and combines super short 428mm chainstays with reach measurements of 390-485mm across five sizes, so riders of almost all heights are catered for. The idea of the short back end is to keep the handling sharp while providing the stability at speed of a more spacious cockpit.
At 340mm, the bottom bracket, and therefore the centre of gravity, is super low, so the bike should feel like it’s cornering on rails. There is no adjustable geometry, but a 17mm lower headset extension is included to raise the BB height while using 27.5+ tyres or slacken the angles of the 29er.
The new Switchblade is a capable beast
Suspension wise, the frame uses the DW-link design, as seen throughout Pivot’s range, to give 135mm of rear wheel travel. This is paired with a Fox 36 Factory Kashima Boost fork, providing 150mm of travel as standard, but the frame has been designed to work with a 160mm fork too.
Probably the biggest variant on this bike from its competitors is the Pivot-exclusive ‘Super Boost Plus 157’ rear hub. By upsizing from the current Boost 148 spacing, the Switchblade provides increased mud clearance aimed at 27.5+ riders and increased rear wheel stiffness, thanks to the wider hub flange spacing.
The Q-factor (crank width) remains unchanged from that of a standard trail bike and the Switchblade comes supplied with a standard Race Face crankset. To achieve the required chainline the direct mount cinch chainring is simply flipped over.
A Fox Float Factory DPS Evol Kashima shock soaks up the trail trauma out back
Pivot has been quick to point out that this is not actually a new standard, and that the bike can run any 157mm hub (a standard commonly found on downhill bikes). This being said, the brand is predictably keen that people buying the bike experience the benefits of the ‘Super Boost’ hub and therefore are only offering the Switchblade as a complete bike build.
Besides the rear hub, it’s clear the Switchblade has been designed with a keen eye for detail. The internal cable routing and guides are well thought-out and there is a removable chip on the underside of the down tube near the bottom bracket for a Shimano Di2 battery. Di2 builds are available in the US and on special order from the UK.
There's a removable chip on the underside of the down tube for a Shimano Di2 battery
To protect the shiny carbon there are integrated rubber chainstay and down tube protectors and a metal plate to fend off chain slap. For those of you out there who don’t like carrying a bag, you’ll be pleased to hear that the frame can accommodate a large water bottle simply by flipping over the shock.
First ride impressions: likeable and capable in either 29er or 27.5+ mode
The venue for the test was Swinley Forest, west of London, which though short packs in a mixture of singletrack, berms, jumps and punchy climbs. Jumping on the bike, the stiffness of the carbon frame and wheelset was instantly noticeable and the bike felt keen to accelerate as I put the power down.
The big wheels shod with Maxxis rubber provided good traction and the bike held its line even in the loose gravel. The low bottom bracket meant the Switchblade railed through the turns as advertised. At the same time though, the short back end made it easy to break traction when required, allowing me to whip the bike around the tighter berms.
UK builds get an XT/XTR mix
There were two downsides to the Switchblade we rode, and both related to the size of the components. The KS Lev dropper post does not have as long a fixed post as the RockShox Reverb, and combined with the Switchblade's relatively short seat tube (457mm on the large) this meant I found it hard to get the seat high enough for climbing.
My other small complaint was with the 740mm handlebar. I'd have preferred to see a wider bar fitted, which can of course be cut down to preference.
Overall though the impression I got was of a very capable bike that was certainly not being challenged to its potential on the relatively mellow Swinley trails.
You might be left thinking, 'Which wheel size should I choose?' and this really depends on what you want out of your bike. On the test ride, I found the exceptional carrying speed and climbing ability of the 29er made it stand out and for all-out speed it’s certainly the one.
We're looking forward to putting the Pivot through its paces on some harsher terrain
Having said this though, the 27.5+ was a lot of fun to throw around and found traction everywhere. Therefore if you aren’t so worried by the clock but still want to go fast and have a laugh, then maybe the bigger tyres are for you.
Either way, we look forward to getting our hands on one for a more thorough thrashing on some gnarlier trails, where we feel the bike will come into its own.
Models, pricing & availability
As mentioned above, the Switchblade is currently only available as a complete, supplied with either 29in or 27.5+ wheels. Upgrade Bikes is the UK distributor, and as standard is bringing in the Shimano XTR/ XT equipped builds.
The bike is sprung with Fox 36 Factory Kashima forks and a Fox Float Factory DPS Evol Kashima shock. The drivetrain and brakes are full Shimano XT, but with an XTR derailleur and Race Face Aeffect cranks. Finishing the build is a KS Lev dropper post, Phoenix Carbon bars and Maxxis tyres (Either High Rollers 29x2.3in or Rekon 27.5x 2.8in).
The prices for the 29in and 27.5in models are the same:
- £5000 for the build with DT Swiss XM Series alloy wheels
- £5900 for the addition of Reynolds carbon rims laced to Industry-Nine hubs, with graphics to match the frame
Other custom builds, with 1x or 2x drivetrains and Di2 specced models are available on special order. Colours are gloss blue/ red or matt black/red.
- Switchblade XTR Team 1x $8,399
- Switchblade XTR Team 2x $8,699
- Switchblade XTR Team Di2 1x $9,299
- Switchblade XTR Team Di2 2x $10,099
AUS Pricing: TBA