By Justin Steiner
How it works
Here at DRHQ bikes boxes are constantly coming and going with some of the latest and greatest—and sometimes not-so-greatest—bicycles currently out on the market. I was personally pretty stoked to see Pivot’s Firebird show up at our door ready for my flogging.
The Firebird was chronologically the fourth bike model to roll off the Pivot production line, and shares most of the Pivot design theory and manufacturing execution with the Mach 429 tested and reviewed in issue #139, and the Mach 5 tested in issue #146.
Hydroformed top and downtubes mate to a cold-forged BB tower, which houses the lower suspension link, upper link main pivot and rear shock. Not only is this arrangement super stiff, but it also provides a highly precise mount for all of the rear suspension’s main pivots. According to Chris Cocalis of Pivot, any misalignment on a longer travel suspension can have disappointing side effects due to component binding. For the same reason, the Firebird’s rear shock floats between the upper and lower suspension links in order to maximize the accuracy of the rear shock’s alignment as well as provide further opportunity for spring rate tuning.
Another component of the stiffness equation is the use of one-piece links for the dw-link suspension. By designing wide and robust single-piece links, Pivot is able to minimize the rear swingarm’s twisting influence on the linkages.
Said swingarm’s stiffness in maximized by employing symmetric chainstays to create a well-triangulated and very robust structure. In order to do so, Pivot designed a floating front derailleur mount that not only allows the front derailleur to move with the swingarm, but it also helps to maintain front derrailleur alignment with the chainrings throughout the swingarm’s stroke. This ingenious floating derailleur mount also acts as a chainguide as it will not allow the chain to fall off the inside of the smallest chainring.
Click on over to our interview with Chris Cocalis to read in-depth about the Pivot development process.
How it rides
Porcupine Rim Trail in Moab, UT is an iconic trail perfectly suited to showing off the capability of this ‘Bird, due to its epic downhill nature and required pedaling. Having ridden this bike on both Porcupine and National Trail in Phoenix, I can say with conviction it simply kicks ass in this realm. You can pedal as long, hard and fast as need be thanks to the bike’s incredible efficiency, then turn around and reap the huge rewards of a the plush yet responsive suspension that’s equally capable of soaking up big hits and drops while floating over chattery sections.
Flash forward to tighter East Coast riding and the Firebird still does not disappoint. After swapping to a longer stem for a bit more front wheel traction and more efficient riding position, I was ready to dice it up with my friends on hardtail 29ers and XC bikes. Granted, I was a touch slower on the climbs due to the weight of the bike (33 lbs with pedals and a dropper post), but was able to reel them back in more quickly than usual when the trail pointed downhill.
Overall, this is one sweet bike. Look for the full review in Issue #157 of Dirt Rag, and please consider subscribing to keep content like this rolling to your door.
Tester: Justin Steiner
Country of Origin: Taiwan
Price: XT complete bike w/ RP23: $5,799 (tested)
Weight: 29.7 lbs. (w/out pedals)
Sizes Available: S, M (in testing), L, XL