I hate reading instruction manuals. You know those people that will spend an extra hour tinkering with the Ikea furniture because they refuse to consult the instructions and want to figure it out for themselves? Yeah, that’s me. When I first get a test bike, I don’t read the geometry charts, the spec sheet, or the little description on the website about the bike’s intended purpose. Instead it’s straight from the box to the trail. I have a little test loop where I’ll feel out a bike and start to make some initial impressions without any preconceived notions from what I’ve read. It was during that test loop that the mistake must have happened. See I was pretty convinced the Pivot Firebird was a downhill bike, and I abused it as such. All it took was a quick pedal, and I was off to the gnarliest, steepest trails I could find. After a week or two of gravity-induced flogging, I decided to visit the Pivot website and it said something about this being an “Enduro” bike. Call it whatever you want, but as far as I’m concerned this thing is a mini downhill rig that can climb. Besides, is it even enduro if it doesn’t have a water bottle cage mount?
Let’s actually take a look at the numbers on the Firebird. 170-millimeters of travel, a 65-degree head tube angle, 16.93-inch chainstays and a 13.7-inch bottom bracket. Those specs are remarkably similar to other aggressive enduro rigs, like the Santa Cruz Nomad. Our size large frame had a 48.37-inch wheel-base and 18.31-inch reach, which is a tad longer than the Nomad and gives a really roomy cockpit. Bikes like this are the reason why a lot of riders, including myself, no longer have a dual crown downhill rig. For 90% of the trails I ride, the Firebird is more than enough to tackle the downhills, but pedals up a whole lot better than any dual crown downhill rig with a 62-degree head tube angle.
The Firebird’s frame features a fully carbon internal hollow core front and rear triangle, with aluminum links and shock yoke on the DW suspension platform. By optimizing the curve of the DW suspension design for a more rearward path in the first part of the stroke, Pivot claims the Firebird has improved square bump absorption. An air sprung Fox X2 rear shock sports high/low speed compression, a dialed firmness adjustment, and high/low speed rebound adjustments. Up front is an air sprung Fox Factory 36 with a FIT 4 damper. Adjustments on the fork are limited to a single rebound dial, an “open mode adjust” dial that controls firmness, and a firm/medium/open dial. Though some riders are a fan of the simplified controls, I for one like to be able to precisely and independently adjust the damping characteristics of my suspension. Shimano XT brakes with 180-millimeter Ice Tech two piece rotors do the stopping, while an internally routed Shimano XTR derailleur with a 46-11 rear spread and 30 tooth front chainring ensures a massive gearing range is on tap. Honestly, the 46/30 gearing is a bit too far for me, but does lead to some serious torque for steep, technical ascents—that is if you can even balance when you’re crawling that slow. In-house carbon Pivot bars, stem, and seat on a Fox Transfer dropper post round out the cockpit. The carbon Reynolds wheels are a stand out feature, with low weight, blue color matched Pivot decals, and very solid performance.