We arrived in Phoenix on a warm winter day and were shuttled to a Tempe suburb right between Pivot founder, Chris Cocalis’ house, and their headquarters. As we pulled up the designated team rental house, we saw a garage full of bikes ready for our final touches and their first taste of dirt. It was a fitting place for the new Switchblade’s maiden voyage. Media from all over would come to the local mountains and dirt that were pivotal (get it?) in the creation of this truly capable new bike.
When I first laid eyes on the new Pivot Switchblade I was impressed. It’s a truly beautiful looking bike and Chris knew that green would be much more our style compared to the traditional Pivot Blue. They lured me in, and I fell for the trap. Like any first attraction, however, looks fade and what becomes more important is performance, and we were set for two long days of aggressive trail riding on some rocky and technical trails that would make any mountain biker excited.
Within a few minutes of being on the new Pivot Switchblade, I could tell things were different. While we’ve had some critiques hidden in our mostly praiseworthy reviews of Pivot’s bikes in the past, I was struggling to replicate the “Standard” DW-Link issues I’d come to expect from these bikes. Now I was really impressed as the ride matched the looks.
On our first day of testing we pedaled out the driveway and accessed the trail through a pathway next to the house, we were on dirt within 30 seconds and began pedaling around South Mountain getting used to our new machines. As to be expected, the pedaling on our 142mm Switchblades was efficient and comfortable at the same time. Often times, bikes will sacrifice seated comfort for efficiency, conversely, some bikes just get softer the harder you pedal. The Pivot Switchblade has a nice balance of seated comfort while still delivering our much-needed energy to the rear wheel. On the steep, technical and punchy climbs of South Mountain, the only limiting factor to successfully reaching the summit was my lack of fitness.
In a time when brands are continuing to please message board engineers who think they always need the longest, and slackest bikes available, it was nice that Pivot didn’t go over the top and still offers a mountain bike that can be ridden on rugged mountains! You don’t need a wide-open bike path with berms and jumps to enjoy this bike. Put it in the rough stuff and enjoy it. Luckily, we were in the right place for the rough stuff.
The terrain at South Mountain is rocky, loose, dry and tons of fun. The trails we rode had a variety of obstacles to test the bike’s suspension and handling capabilities. Sandy corners avoiding cacti, embedded slabs of rock, and loose fields of boulders lay in wait for those brave enough to let loose. During our two days of riding, we had more than our fair chances to plow, punt, and hammer just about everything you could imagine. For a large crew of media hacks in winter shape, it’s always a testament to the equipment when we all come out in fair shape. In fact, I think we only got one flat tire in the group and that was most definitely a rider error caused by airing into a rock section, landing directly on a very sharp, pointy object.
The revised kinematics and extra travel of the new Pivot Switchblade really blew me away in a couple of critical moments. A couple of bad decisions led to blind yanks into jagged rock gardens with unexpectedly sharp corners where I completely expected to at least blow up a tire, if not kill a rear wheel, or myself. Much to my dismay, I didn’t even feel the rim hit the rocks, instead, the bike just felt planted, as it sort of squished down and pushed ahead without a hiccup. I even shouted in disbelief after rolling out of a few sections. In hindsight, I probably didn’t need to hit blind trails at quite that speed but this damn bike really just made me feel so comfortable at speed. Needless to say, the Pivot Switchblade offers confidence in spades.
As is the case with most media camps, hopping off a plane for two days of playing follow the leader, and Chris Cocalis is one helluva leader, is just not enough time for a thorough and complete review of the bike, but what I can say is, if you’ve been waiting for this bike, don’t wait any longer. It’s out, you’ll be stoked, pull the trigger.
It’s probably the most fun I’ve had on a mountain bike that doesn’t have a battery in the last several months. We hope to have a longer-term review posted up in the coming months where we can truly pick apart all the strengths, weaknesses and ideal consumers for this very capable and well-rounded bike. What a ripper!
To learn more about the new Switchblade, visit Pivotcycles.com