Pivot Firebird XT Pro first ride review£6,100.00

This could (and perhaps should) be your next enduro rig

Pivot seems to have released a slew of bikes in the past year, and the Firebird is perhaps the biggest of the lot. The 170mm enduro bike is designed for hitting the steepest, gnarliest descents, while still, just about, being pedal-able up the other side. If Bernard Kerr isn’t showing off on his DH bike, it’s likely to be the Firebird under his wings.

The Firebird XT Pro 1x is the second cheapest model in the range, sitting below multiple SRAM Eagle and Shimano XTR/Di2 models. Arguably it’s one of the choice models too, because unless you want the full 12 gears from SRAM, there are few areas of the bike we’d choose to upgrade.

The full carbon frame has bang up-to-date geometry, with a decent reach of 465mm (large), a head angle of 65 degrees and a generous 717mm standover.

It’s based around the DW link, designed by Dave Weagle — a suspension design common across Pivot’s full suspended range. The Boost width rear triangle is held by two mini-links to the front triangle, with the top one connecting to the shock’s yoke. 

The dual links of the DW suspension give a very neutral feel
The dual links of the DW suspension give a very neutral feel

Pivot says it's worked the linkage to provide supple square-edge hit soaking performance in the early part of the travel, along with the pedalling characteristics of its shorter travel bikes.

Pivot's build process includes hollow core molding of the tubes, ensuring that the inside of the main tubes are smooth, reducing the risk of stress — theoretically this should give a stronger frame for the weight.

The kit

This XT model comes kitted out with largely Shimano stop and go gear. There’s an XT shifter and 11-46t cassette, mated to an XTR mech. The cranks are Race Face Aeffect, with a 30t ring.

A down tube protector comes as standard, as does 2x and Di2 compatibility
A down tube protector comes as standard, as does 2x and Di2 compatibility

Shimano’s XT Trail brakes make an appearance, with their finned pads for better heat dissipation, there's a 200mm rotor up front and 180mm at the back.

Fox supplies the suspension. The fork is a 36 Factory model with Kashima coating and 170mm travel. The rear end is controlled by a Float X2 shock, it’s factory level again, but lacks the Kashima coating.

The X2 shock easily controls the rear wheel
The X2 shock easily controls the rear wheel

Pivot’s own Phoenix line of componentry largely completes the finishing kit, although there’s a Fox Transfer post — it’s one of our favourites, however I’d prefer the under-bar lever.

Ride impression

I tested the Firebird first on a flat-out, twisty track with big berms and jumps, before heading back to the top of the mountain and down the other side on a more rocky, rooty track, while being chased by a lightening storm — foot-out, flat-out was the order of the day.

Plenty of support from the back end means no sinking feeling as you rail berms
Plenty of support from the back end means no sinking feeling as you rail berms

If you’re familiar with DW linkage bikes, you’ll know that the suspension tends to be super capable in a wide range of situations, but isn’t feedback rich. It’s always working away below you, never throwing up nasty surprises, allowing you to direct the bike where you want to go. 

In this case, and when matched with the long geometry of the Firebid, it’s clearly an exceptionally fast bike. Whether it was on the smooth flowy stuff or the more cut-up, rock and root infested tracks, the suspension never missed a beat. 

The smooth action of the suspension means the rear wheel's connection to the ground is rock solid, allowing the tyres to do their work well, providing decent levels of grip.

The flip side though is that it takes a bit more effort to get the bike airborne, to get it playing around. It’s not that the bike feels dead, far from it, but if you like to know exactly what the rear wheel is doing and want to pop off every root going, this isn’t the bike for you.

Is it an effective bike for going balls-out fast? Hell yes.

Thankfully, the front end can also handle the punishment the rear lets you dole out. The 36 is, rightly so, one of the most revered longer travel forks on the market. It’s well controlled on virtually any point along the trail, whether that’s keeping you propped up on steep chutes or soaking up the multiple small-amplitude hits as you skim over a root bed. Point the wheel at the end of the rock garden, let go of the brakes, and 99 percent of the time you’ll get there unscathed.

Acres of grip are available from the front end
Acres of grip are available from the front end

It’s a similar story when looking at the wheels and tyres. The Maxxis Minion DHF/DHR WT combo is a favourite of many, and it’s easy to see why.

The large volume and aggressive tread makes the most of the traction on offer, both at the front and back. With a wide-ish rim you can run the tyres pretty soft, allowing the carcass to deform easily over trail debris, giving you that confidence.

The rest of the bike performs as you’d expect. The Transfer post is a BikeRadar favourite, the Phoenix bar and stem seems like solid kit, and the WTB saddle is comfy.

We’ve found some Shimano drivetrains can feel a bit stiff through the shifter, but I had no issues on my test rides, nor did I have any issues with the Shimano XT brakes, which were consistent throughout all my panicked braking.

The bite, power and modulation reminded me of test-winning Shimano brakes of old. Despite ragging the bike down solid 8km tracks, pretty much non-stop, I never had any issues with the brakes pumping up, or otherwise losing power or feel.

With its contemporary geometry and decent kit package, it’s certainly a bike I’d like to spend more time on. The suspension might not be for everyone, but if you’re looking for an uber-fast, super capable bike, the Firebird might well be worth a try.

Tom Marvin

Technical Editor, Tech Hub, UK
Tom's been riding for 15 years, and has always chopped and changed bikes as soon as his budget allowed. He's most at home in the big mountains, having spent nigh on 30 weeks riding the Alps, as well as having lived a stone's throw from the Scottish Highlands for four years. Tom also enjoys racing events like the Strathpuffer and the Trans Nepal.
  • Age: 29
  • Height: 182cm / 5'11"
  • Weight: 82kg / 180lb
  • Waist: 81cm / 32in
  • Chest: 97cm / 38in
  • Discipline: Mountain
  • Preferred Terrain: Steep and super tech or fast and flowy
  • Current Bikes: Canyon Spectral, Pivot Mach 429SL, Mondraker Vantage R +
  • Dream Bike: Transition Scout
  • Beer of Choice: Gin & tonic
  • Location: Bristol, UK

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