Pivot Firebird 29
Words & Photos By Andrew Villablanca
Building off the pedigree of the Firebird 27.5 and Phoenix DH bike, the Pivot Firebird 29 is bred for the steepest, gnarliest and most heinous trails you’d consider pointing a single crown bike down. Unlike the Phoenix however, the Firebird 29 will also get you back up those same hills. It’s a purpose built EWS machine that’s designed for the toughest courses in the world, but will it work on your home trails?
America is the land of excess. We’ve got suburban neighborhood roads the size of European parking lots and it’s routine to have so much food at a meal that you can’t finish it. We thrive on the mega-sized, Big Gulp and triple patty cheeseburgers with EXTRA bacon on top of your bacon. It only makes sense that our bikes follow the same mantra, and the long travel 29er trend attests to that. It’s a genre of bikes that’s become a veritable battle of the geometry charts with companies going bigger, slacker and longer than the competition. Unlike that tripple cheeseburger and a lot of other LT 29er’s however, the Firebird 29 won’t leave you feeling like a greasy sloth. It’s far and away one of the best, and most lively long travel 29ers we’ve been on. It craftily balances its mind-blowing downhill prowess with the ability to still get you up the hill.
The core of the Pivot Firebird 29 is the ultra stiff and ultra light hi-mod unidirectional layup carbon frame. In my mind, Pivot’s torsional rigidity is one of the brand’s defining features and this frame is no exception. In typical Pivot fashion the rear of the bike is suspended with 162mm of DW-Link suspension and a Fox X2 air shock.
A keen eye will notice that the linkage and layout of the frame is altered slightly from the 27.5 version of the Firebird. Those big wheels need a little bit more room when you wanna get weird and send it deep. The Firebird 29 frame is adaptable, the Super Boost rear end will work with 27.5+ wheels, although we kept the OE 29ers on during our test. To keep the geometry and ride consistent between wheel sizes while also offering the end user some adjustability, the Firebird 29 has a flip chip that alters the head tube and seat tube angles by half a degree and moves the bottom bracket 6mm.
A 170mm Factory Fox 36 handles suspension duties up front, and offers top of the line performance, weight and adjustability. Our bike was spec’d with Shimano from front to rear, with XT brakes and an XTR drivetrain. As expected, Shimano’s products never missed a beat during testing, and offered the exceptional performance we’ve come to expect from big blue.
Our test rig also got the optional Reynolds wheel upgrade. Along with the color matched decal cool factor they add even more torsional stiffness to the bike in corners and g-outs. On a hard charging rig like this, we definitely think the upgrade is worth it if you like pushing hard into the corners or going big.
The real magic of this bike isn’t in the parts spec however— it’s in the geo. You can tell Pivot put in the hours, obsessing over the fractional changes that make this bike ride so well. Our XL top tube was 26.4 inches. The large frame has a 25.5-inch top tube and all frames have short 16.97-in chain stays.
The 65-degree head angle is slack, but strikes the a balance between confidence and agility. The 13.7-in BB height and 24.9-in stack height on the XL put the rider in an “in the bike” riding position, making the ride instantly comfortable and natural. It’s one of the main reasons the Pivot Firebird feels like a mind reader. You think and the bike reacts.