Pivot Switchblade 29
Words By Chili Dog & Michael Darter
Photos by Chili Dog
In the endless pursuit of having the latest and first content available, bike reviewers don’t always get the opportunity to truly test bikes long enough to have real-world issues closer to what the end consumer experiences. Luckily, Pivot entrusted us with their 29-inch Switchblade for the better part of a year. Having a bike for that long let us truly get familiar with the bike’s character, durability and quirks.
This bike has seen the dust and rock of the desert, the holes and jumps of bike parks and even mucky NorCal winter riding. Typically our test bikes get ridden hard, but few get the length of torture testing this poor Switchblade was subjected to. Yet despite all it went through, this bike was boxed up and shipped back to Phoenix with plenty of life left to live.
Geometry – Pivot designed the Switchblade to be an adaptable, all-around trail bike. A jack-of-all-trades. The bike is compatible with either 29-inch or 27.5 wheels with Plus tires. Since we aren’t huge fans of Plus tires, we primarily ran ours in the 29er specification.
Long, low and playful is the pervasive theme of this bike. The ingredients blend together to make give the bike a solid, stable feeling. Thanks to a delicate balance of numbers, the Switchblade’s long 46.8-inch wheelbase in a size large, doesn’t feel as long as it looks on paper. It does give a nice blend of stability without sacrificing the maneuverability we loved.
For riders wanting a more aggressive stance, the bike can be raked out with the 17mm head tube spacer, meant to increase the BB height on the 27.5+ set up. Head angle is normally set at a playful yet attack-ready 67.3 degrees. All sizes share the same manual friendly 16.85-inch chainstays.
It’s also worth mentioning that this bike makes use of Pivot’s “Super Boost” 157mm rear end with wide hub flanges. The name seems like even Pivot is making fun of having yet another hub standard, but the design is undeniably stiff and compliments the already rigid carbon frame. While we hate to say it, we like the ride enhancement as much as we hate another hub “standard” exists. However, we’ve never thought that a traditional boost hub was noodly.
Suspension – Pivot’s familiar DW-Link continues to suspend the Switchblade and features an upper clevis and linkage and double-wishbone rear triangle. Damping is handled by a Fox Float Factory DPS Evol shock with a nifty integrated sag indicator to help you set up the 135mm of travel. In front is a 150mm Factory Fox 36 fork. According to Pivot riders can also run a 160mm fork.
Unsurprisingly, both the fork and shock proved to be durable and offer fantastic performance in a wide range of conditions. Without consulting the 135mm logo on the side of the frame, a rider could easily mistake this bike for having 20mm more rear travel. Only the roughest bike park conditions reminded us of the bike’s less aggressive intentions.
Component Spec – With the exception of the Race Face cranks, Shimano, Fox and Pivot’s in house parts make up the build for this rig. We’ve been long time fans of the rock solid reliability of Shimano and Fox components, and this bike shows why.
After a full calendar year of hard riding with zero maintenance, aside from some drivetrain lubrication, the bike is still going. It isn’t without its battle scars however, as the derailleur clutch, cassette teeth and chaining teeth have seen better days. The wheels proved to be standouts of the build, taking significant abuse with little to show for it aside from some superficial scratches. Even with a few pinch flats and plenty of bike park time, there wasn’t a single crack or flaw in the structure of the carbon. The Fox Transfer post also functioned well, but we found ourselves frustrated by the short 125mm of travel.