Pivot Firebird 29 Pro XT/XTR first ride review£6,400.00

Long travel 29er with a come-at-me attitude

Pivot has taken its rowdy enduro 27.5-inch wheel Firebird and bumped up to the 29er wheel size.  The new Firebird 29 is claimed to "crush climbs, slay descents, and rewrite the long-travel 29er playbook." If big wheels aren't for you then don't panic, the smaller wheel Firebird will remain in Pivot's line up.

Sending drops is easy on a stiff frame with plush suspension
Sending drops is easy on a stiff frame with plush suspension

Pivot Firebird 29 highlights

  • Carbon frame, DW-link rear suspension, 162mm rear travel
  • Dual-crown fork compatible, up to 180mm travel
  • Fits 29 x 2.6in or 27.5+ x 2.5 - 2.8in tires
  • 157mm rear axle
  • 1.5in head tube, angleset compatible
  • 431mm chainstays
  • Claimed frame weight: 3.2kg, Medium with Fox X2 shock
  • Sizes: Small, Medium, Large, X-Large

162mm of rear travel is delivered through a DW-link suspension with wide, downhill-inspired linkages
162mm of rear travel is delivered through a DW-link suspension with wide, downhill-inspired linkages

Pivot Firebird 29 frame details

Pivot says this new Firebird 29 was in development for three years. The result is the longest bike it's ever built.

The rear end has linkages inspired from Pivot's downhill race bike, the Phoenix. Also out back, Pivot went with Super Boost Plus, which in layman's terms is a 157mm rear axle, 9mm wider than the standard 148mm rear axle.

29in and 27.5+ wheels fit the frame
29in and 27.5+ wheels fit the frame

27.5+ and 29erwheels fit. With the plus tires, Pivot recommends using a 17mm lower headset spacer cup and using the bike in the high geometry setting. Speaking of, there are two geometry settings accessible via a flip chip in the upper link.

Angle set adjustable headsets are also compatible thanks to the 1.5in head tube. 

As of now, Pivot noted the Firebird 29 is not compatible with coil rear shocks, but that could be changed in the future. 

Pivot did choose to leave out a few things. Unlike some of its other frames, the Firebird 29 is not compatible with Shimano Di2 or Fox Live. It also does not have a water bottle mount inside the main frame as it believes suspension kinematics, low standover, and dropper post insertion is more important.

Pivot Firebird 29 Pro XT/XTR first ride impressions

With big 29 x 2.5in tires, a long 170mm travel fork, and wide bars, the new Firebird 29 has a large presence. On the trail though, it's decidedly different. Pivot bossman Chris Cocalis made a point to say "It has this poppy, lively feel that this category of bike hasn’t offered up until this point."

Testing in Moab, Utah is always a good time
Testing in Moab, Utah is always a good time

Moab, Utah's infamous Hazzard County to Upper Porcupine to Lower Porcupine trails was the testing ground. What the area lacked in steeps it more than makes up for in unrelenting jagged, square-edged hits and short, punchy climbs. 

Rolling up the first technical climb revealed how big travel 29er bikes like this can climb up anything as long as you keep pedaling. The amount of traction on hand is almost unbelievable. 

Getting on the pedals, the bike had an immediacy that can be lacking in other squishy, slacked out bikes. The Firebird 29 responded well to sudden acceleration. Tossing the bike around, too, was met with a playful style more often associated with shorter travel, or smaller wheeled, rigs. 

Nosing into a step down is a lot less hairy with a 170mm travel Fox Factory 36 fork guiding the way
Nosing into a step down is a lot less hairy with a 170mm travel Fox Factory 36 fork guiding the way

Pointed downhill, the Firebird 29 had an uncanny way of sucking up hits, it felt like a sorted enduro bike with every bit of 162mm rear travel delivered smoothly. Yet, with the 44mm offset Fox 36 fork, it lacked the unwieldy giant bike feel I expected it to have. 

Riding it was a tale of contrasts, but in a good way. It's relatively light and rides with an eager, playful style. On the other hand, it felt supremely confident like a heavier, more smash and straight line type of bike. 

Does it rewrite the long-travel 29er playbook? Well, I think that book is still being written. But if bikes like the Firebird 29 are writing any chapters, it's going to be one hell of a ride. 

Pivot Firebird 29 build kits and pricing

  • Team XX1 Eagle: £8,900 / $9,199 / AU$13,999
  • Team XTR 1X: £8,000 / $8,299 / AU$12,499
  • Pro X01 Eagle: £7,300 / $7,499 / AU$10,999
  • Pro XT/XTR 1X: £6,400 / $6,399 / AU$11,998
  • Race X01: £5,750 / $5,499 / AU$8,999
  • Race XT 1X: £5,350 / $5,099 / AU$7,999
  • Upgrade Pro models to Fox Float X2 Factory shock: add £TBD / $125 / AU$199
  • Upgrade Pro models to Reynolds carbon wheels: add £1,000 / $1,300 / AU$1,999
Russell Eich

Tech Writer, US
Russell fell head over heels in love with bikes in the '90s, and has been involved in the bike industry ever since. Between wrenching in bike shops, guiding professionally, and writing about bikes, Russell has honed an appreciation for what works, gained knowledge of what doesn't, and can barely contain his enthusiasm for what comes next. His two-wheeled passion continues in the Rocky Mountains high above Boulder, Colorado.
  • Age: 39
  • Height: 6'3"/190cm
  • Weight: 175lb/79kg
  • Waist: 34in/86cm
  • Chest: 42in / 107cm
  • Discipline: Mountain, road, cyclocross
  • Preferred Terrain: High altitudes, forgotten singletracks, bike parks, roads without cars
  • Current Bikes: Custom Meriwether steel hardtail, Specialized S-Works Enduro 29, Kona Jake the Snake, Trek 69er, and a bunch more
  • Dream Bike: Yeti SB5c, Intense Tracer 275C, Black Cat custom road
  • Beer of Choice: Gin + Tonic
  • Location: Rollinsville, CO, USA

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