Pivot recently introduced the Brunch Ride builds as a way to help their dealers stay competitive, without devaluing their brand or the bikes currently in the field – a thoughtful gesture in many ways. Those who own and bought Pivot bikes for 8-10k aren’t now sitting on instantly devalued bikes like so many other brand owners, and similarly, bike shops can now offer their services, maintenance plans and dealer support at a price point many are spending with direct-to-consumer or value-minded brands.
Now, before we get too many ruffled feathers telling us $5,000 is far from a “value” and reminding us that other brands offer $5,000 bikes with better wheel, brake or shifting specifications, we’d like to point out something we feel many customers overlook: frame and ride quality. There is an undeniable difference when examining a Pivot Cycles’ frame compared to any other consumer-direct value brand. Let’s detour for a moment.
Mercedes-Benz offers their entry-level CLA sedan around $38,500-40,000. Meanwhile, the venerable Toyota Camry starts in the high 20s. If you upgrade the Toyota Camry to the XSE V6 package, retail price quickly hits the $37,500-$39,000 range, and yes, it’s a very nice and upgraded sedan, however it’s still a Toyota Camry. If you stepped into that same priced Mercedes-Benz CLA, you’d notice a difference right away. Not just the drive performance, the interior, the stitching of the seats, the steering wheel, the fit and finish of the interior panels would quickly remind you, you’re in a premium-level automobile, not a hopped-up Toyota Corolla. How does this relate to bikes?
Well, apparently if a brand takes whatever mass produced, off-the-shelf bike they want, gives it some fancy marketing, slaps on SRAM T-Type AXS derailleur and price it at $5k, it’s the “best value in the out on the market.” Step out of that hopped-up Camry however, and you’ll see the Pivot Switchblade Brunch Ride is a trail-shredding luxury machine that will give you pride of ownership not found in many other bikes at this price range.
So, what exactly makes this frame stand out? Let’s start with the paint and appearance. We’ve been fortunate enough to receive over 50 bikes a year for review, meaning we’ve put our hands on hundreds of bikes, from unboxing and building to riding and washing, and eventually reboxing them for return. Certain brands stand out from the others when it comes to frame alignment, paint quality, imperfections (or lack of), ride quality, tuning, engineering, and the fit and finish of the little bits. Things like frame protectors and cable insertion points are minor, but make a big difference to longevity and maintenance down the line. Pivot Cycles has long been known for their high prices, boutique brand experience and refined machines. You don’t get to become the “Dentist’s #1 pick” without having a product that passes the white glove and fluorescent light examination! [Sorry Pivot, we had to. =)]
FRAME CONSTRUCTION | Pivot’s Hollow Core is a process that sets their bikes apart from many, especially in the more affordable realm. Rather than using an inflatable bladder to mold their carbon, Pivot Cycles’ Hollow Core process is unique as the fibers are laid against a solid core for each size and tube, and it gives their higher-grade carbon reduced wrinkles and variation, and also reduces the chances of resin pooling. This all adds up to a reduced need to reinforce the frame to account for imperfections created by an inferior production process, leading to a more finely tuned stiffness and lighter weight.
Furthermore, Pivot tunes each frame’s stiffness and strength ratios for average rider weights found on different sized frames. Sure, you may not get a seat tube angle that changes for every size, but we’d argue that having a properly tuned frame stiffness profile will make for a more enjoyable and faster ride, at least for those who value their time out of the saddle more than on the saddle.
Moving away from frame construction and overall top-shelf appearance, Pivot engineering has chosen to focus efforts on areas that translate to gains on the trail instead of the chatrooms, for better or worse…We know some of their decisions have been inflammatory and make wheel selection or other component swapping concerns a reality, but it is what it is. Two examples are the Super Boost Plus rear axle and a Pressfit BB92 bottom bracket, which works with standard Q-Factor measurements down to 168mm and featuring a 56-57mm chainline. Pivot has a detailed FAQ section listing compatible options from Race Face, Wolf Tooth, OneUp and more on their website, if an upgrade is in your future.
Pivot gave the Switchblade sportier geometry compared to some of the moder-day sleds on the market. While it may not be for everybody, and it can get overwhelmed on the gnarliest of high-speed descents, the Switchblade is fast, precise, lively, and designed to carve trails with ease.
BUILDS AND OPTIONS – Up until the release of the Brunch builds, found on the Mach 6 and Switchblade, Pivot’s bikes typically started at another tier of the price-spectrum and soared beyond the $10,000 mark with ease. On the Switchblade Brunch Ride, Pivot dug through the warehouse and order lists and put together a build they were still satisfied would provide a high-quality ride, but blended performance with a competitive value.
Fox Factory suspension is found front and rear with a 160mm 36 GRIP2 fork and Float X rear shock. Pivot ships the Switchblade as a 29er however it can be run as a mixed-wheel (Mullet) or even a Plus-sized bike. The Brunch Ride comes with DT Swiss M1900 wheels and 370 hubs that are wrapped in Maxxis Minion DHF/DHR 2 MaxxTerra tires. Drivetrain duties are handled by Shimano’s SLX M7100 12-speed shifter and an XT 8100 derailleur. SRAM Code R 4-piston brakes control the speed via 200mm and 180mm Centerline rotors.
The cockpit is made up of Pivot’s in-house Phoenix Team Enduro stem and Race alloy handlebar with their Factor lock on grips, which we love. A WTB High Tail Trail Race saddle sits atop a Fox Transfer Factory post with 200mm of travel (size large). All in all, there’s not much on this build that shouts out for attention, while some could argue Performance level suspension and a nicer brake or wheel spec would be a worthwhile trade, and we don’t necessarily disagree, this bike has held up well and rides incredibly, which we’ll get into below.