Massively Long (Mostly) Carbon Frame Shootout (including Ibis)
Nomad Carbon vs. Mojo HD160 vs. Yeti SB66c vs. Pivot Mach 5.7c vs. Pivot Firebird
It has been a few years since I last bought a bike. At that time, I did a ton of demos and posted a big comparo that included a bunch of trailbikes. I ended up buying a Mojo SL. I figured that I have put a ton more time test riding bikes and thought that others may benefit from my experiences so Iím posting again. Iíve loved my Mojo SL and have upgraded it to a much more burly bike (now with a dropper post and a Fox 36) so Iím looking to upgrade to a longer travel bike. Like last time, a friend of mine helped me test ride the bikes for a second opinion. He currently rides a nearly new Turner 5-spot (with a Lyrik). These are our opinions on the bikes and you may not like them. We based our thoughts on how we ride and what we like to ride. We tried to have no preconceptions about these bikes, but we both currently own DW-link bikes. I also had a serious CS issue with Santa Cruz in the past and am only now considering one of their bikes.
Background: Two of us have spent the last few months test riding the above bikes at length. We both typically ride medium frames and weigh about 180 lbs fully geared. We took these bikes on technical trails that involve a decent amount of climbing in AZ/UT/CO/WY. We max out at 6-foot drops and have started doing some jumping and Park riding. We also will ride 30+ miles at altitude. When possible, we would swap bikes on the same ride for comparison. All bikes had full Fox suspension and at least XT level of components. We swapped out stems/bars/dropper posts to arrive at a comfortable fit. We spent a significant amount of time adjusting shock pressures to get the most out of each bike. We weighed the bikes, but only after finishing riding them, as I think the weight may have played a role in our rankings the last time around. When applicable, we used the aforementioned Mojo SL and 5-spot as references.
Not surprisingly, the Firebird is the best descender here. No question, if you want to go downhill very quickly, then you need this bike. It felt a little hamstrung on undulating terrain as it was mildly sluggish sprinting up the small hills. While it felt a little heavier and less ďflickableĒ than the other bikes, I believe that if you actually timed the runs it would have smoked any bike in this comparison.
The Nomad/Mojo HD were very similar overall descenders. The Nomad was slightly plusher when dropping and jumping while the Mojo HD smoothed small/medium hits better. We thoroughly enjoyed both. I slightly preferred the Mojo HD while my buddy slightly preferred the Nomad. Note that the Nomad had a 2012 Fox RP23 Kashima and the Mojo HD had the 2013 Fox CTD rear shock. The Mojo also had the new Fox 34 CTD fork and the Nomad had last yearís Fox 36. I could not perceive any real stiffness difference between the two forks (although I only roll at 180lbs) even at speed. However, the Fox 34 used ALL OF ITS TRAVEL! . I could even put the correct air pressure (for my weight) in the Fox 34 and I still would get full travel! The Fox 36 RLC on the Nomad (just like my older RC2) never got more than ~140mm of travel even when bailing in emergency mode. We swapped out the Fox 36 on the Nomad and put on a Lyrik (that used all 160mm of travel) and it did improve the descending ability but only at extreme speeds. In any event, both bikes absolutely railed downhill, sucked up bumps/jumps/and super technical lines. I felt that these two bikes were a serious upgrade to a Mojo SL/5-spot. My buddy agreed, but we both wished for a 160mm Turner bike for comparison.
While the Mach 5.7c did not perform in the same league as the above bikes, we were both surprised about how much we liked it. Iíve never been a fan of Cocalisí bikes in the past, but this 5.7c is different. While it couldnít hang with the Nomad/MojoHD/Firebird on the downhills, it was super fun, flickable, and a great time. If this bike was around when I bought my Mojo SL several years ago I may have bought the 5.7c instead. We thought about replacing the stock Fox 32 150mm fork with a bigger fork but Pivot doesnít recommend a 160mm fork and we did not have the time to space down our Lyrik/Fox 36. We both felt that the Mach 5.7c had an ďitĒ that we couldnít put our finger on. The Mach 5.7c is perhaps the best trailbike Iíve ever ridden, but out of its element here.
The Yeti experience was essentially the opposite of the 5.7c. First of all, this bike came with a Fox 32 150mm fork. Iím confused--is this bike supposed to compete with bigger bikes like the Nomad/MojoHD/Firebird (it has 152mm of travel and weighs ~6lbs) or is it supposed to compete with lighter trailbikes with less travel (MojoSL/Pivot Mach 5.7/5-Spot)? We assumed the former and swapped out the Fox 32 150mm for a RS Lyrik and added a dropper post/shorter stem/burlier tires. While this increased the playfulness of the bike, it did not feel that much better than the Mojo SL/5-Spot at speed. The o-ring showed that it would get full travel on big hits, but it sure never felt like it. The Yeti 575 is a better descender and more fun, IMO. My buddy couldnít stand this bike on the descents and much preferred any other bike mentioned here. I did not have such an extreme opinion, but felt that the rear suspension was very stiff and even lagged behind the Pivot 5.7c.
1) Firebird (fast but not as fun as the others)
3) Mojo HD
4) 5.7c (fun but not as fast as the others)
For the record, climbing is very important to us. We ride trails at high altitude from AZ to Montana and climb a ton.
In my book, the 5.7c and the Mojo HD were the best climbers in the group. My buddy felt that the 5.7c edged out the Mojo HD in this category and I would have to agree. We are both fans of the DW link and it showed here. The 5.7c just felt lighter and more maneuverable while going up. I was surprised to find that the Mojo HD felt essentially no different than my Mojo SL when climbing. Both the Pivot and Ibis climbed well, never paused, and felt like the only natural climbers in this comparison. I felt that they both climbed better than the 5-spot, but my friend felt that only the 5.7c climbed better than his 5-spot.
The Nomad was a better climber than I would have guessed, but still occasionally had the annoying pedal feedback that I hated on my old-skool VPP Blur. The Nomad was a good climber given its downhill ability, but would sit deep in the travel and seemed to wallow just a bit. The SB66c had trouble with technical climbs where the rear suspension wouldnít smooth out the terrain; it felt like it would kind of just bounce over it. This would make it harder to climb on technical terrain as the rear tire would wash out. On smooth fireroads, however, it seemed to spin better than the any other bike here. We ride technical climbs most often, so no big points here.
Lastly, the Firebird felt relatively heavy and harder to drag up the hills. Itís really not that much heavier than the other bikes here and I know it can be built down to 27lbs, but Iím not sure the extra lbs were the problemóit just never felt like is was comfortable on really steep terrain.
1) Mach 5.7
2) Mojo HD
3) Nomad C
The Pivot Firebird is the cheapest here, which makes sense as it is an aluminum frame and the others are carbon. I donít understand why SB66c is so expensive as itís a overseas made carbon bike just like the others. Honestly, I would be willing to pay a premium for a true game-changer, but we didnít feel that the Yeti was better than a Mojo SL/5-spot (a Mojo SL can be had for ~$2750 for a complete bike and last yearís 5-spot frame for ~$1500) Heck, we both would prefer a bomber build, sweet riding 575 to the SB66c (and save a bunch of cash). As far as Yeti prices go, note that the SB66 alloy frame is almost as expensive as a Mojo HD.
We felt that Nomad C was a true upgrade over our current rigs and worth the money for our riding. While the 5.7c was a sweet ride and (dare I say it) better than the Mojo SL/5-spot, it is more of a lateral move than a true upgrade for me at this time.
1) Pivot Firebird $2180
2) Mojo HD $2500
3) Nomad C $2800
3) Pivot 5.7c $2800
5) SB66c $3000(!)
Stiffness was excellent across the board. Full disclosure here: I canít feel much flex in my Mojo SL with a 10mm rear through bolt, revised lower link, and the Lopes Link. Customer service here is a wash as all the aforementioned manufacturers have excellent reputations.
Iíve read posts here that the 5-spot is comparable to the Nomad/MojoHD. The 5-spot is well built but the shorter travel really does limit its abilities (even with a big fork). It is much more comparable to the Mach 5.7c/Mojo SL(R) across the board. My buddy loves his Turner, but is realistic about its limitations. Please, please Dave Turner, build a carbon (i.e. light) 160mm bike!
I believe that the MojoHD is the only frame here that can accept the 650B wheel in either 140mm travel mode or shim limited 155mm travel mode. Depending on your situation, this may be a very big or very small advantage.
Weights are listed below on my Alpine Digital scale.
Pivot 5.7c: 25.4 lbs (no dropper post/Fox 32)
Yeti SB66c: 26.2 lbs (no dropper post/Fox 32)
Ibis Mojo HD: 27.3 lbs (with dropper post/Fox 34)
Nomad Carbon: 28.8 lbs (with dropper post/Fox 36)
Pivot Firebird: 30.8 lbs (with dropper post/Fox 36)
We both felt that the Mojo HD and Nomad C were, overall, the best bikes here. We also agreed that the Mojo HD edged out the Nomad C as it was a better climber and only marginally worse on the downhills. Furthermore, it is cheaper than nearly all of the other bikes here and is 650B compatible.
The Pivot 5.7c is arguably the best trailbike I have ever ridden, but, again, more of a lateral move from my current ride. The Pivot Firebird may be a great ride for those with different priorities (i.e. descending), but was not the bike for us. Unfortunately, the relative lack of climbing prowess is a deal-breaker.
We both wished that Pivot could merge the 5.7c and the Firebird and make a carbon 160mm all-mountain bike. We also wished for a Turner 160mm bike. The closest thing going is a Mojo HD.
Lastly, I really wanted to like the SB66c (perhaps the best looking bike ever made) and I frankly did not know it was so expensive until after I rode it. I ride all over the Rockies and Yeti is the only manufacturer represented here based in the Rockies. Plus, all the mags seem to love it. Unfortunately, we felt that it is either a limited all mountain bike or a long-legged trailbike and not truly game-changing relative to our current rides (especially for the price). We gave it every chance we could: adjusting the shock, adding a long travel fork/dropper post/short stem, changing tires, but could not ever get it to feel right. We even tried to get a second bike as we thought that we might have gotten a lemon (the bike had the new Fox CTD rear shock which seemed to work well on the Mojo HD). Getting a second SB66c was essentially impossible so we rode a SB66 alloy (with last yearís Fox RP23) and came to the same conclusions. We both think that the Yeti 575 is a better descender and possibly even a better climber.
Lastly, I would have liked to include an Ellsworth Moment/Intense Tracer 2/Carbine, but we had trouble getting them for an extended period of time. I also would have loved to try a Titus El Guapo--possibly the best deal on the planet. A sub-7lb, all-mountain frame for under $1000! These are mail order only and hard to demo.
Here is our final overall list:
1) Mojo HD
2) Nomad C
3) Pivot 5.7c
4) Mojo SL
5) Turner 5-spot
7) Pivot Firebird
(For the record, my buddy preferred his 5-spot to the Mojo SL but otherwise had the same rankings).
Let the flaming begin!
Cross posting in other forums
I'm curious to see how the SB66 rides, all reports say its harsh and too stiff, however my HD feels relatively harsh, nothing disappears under it, but it still tracks true and manages some nasty hits.
The thing is tho, typically the plusher a bike is, all things being equal, the slower it is (my opinion). When the bike doesn't have enough compression dampening from the shock or leverage of the frame, I've found they don't pick up enough speed and spend too much time wallowing around in the midstroke, going up and and down instead of forward.
If the Yeti is harsh but very fast I would consider it a viable bike for very fast riders/racers. Not for a typical trail rider who wants bump absorption over speed. Saying that I'm curious if its just possible that the Yeti is just too harsh and is not worth the trade off in speed v plushness. I feel the Mojo HD is the best compromise for both. Plush enough, but very fast at same time. Good for both the average rider and the ripper.
I completely agree with your breakdown of the firebird. I test rode one a few times on longer rides, through pretty much everything. Even though it weighed in at 28lbs, it sure felt like 35. It was really slow, and didn't sprint well at all. Night and day from the mojo sl/hd.
I rode an SB66 and would agree with your assessment. It is definitely not an All Mountain bike like my HD and I never got really comfortable with it. Great write up.
i luv my ibis mojo sl...is balance uphill n downhill
Love this pic.
Originally Posted by Celmeleon
AM, monstercross, klunker
Love my SL, but am wanting more travel without the weight penalty of the HD... Waiting for the Mojo HD-R.
I rented an SB66 whilst I was back in Scotland on business, was curious about the hype but was pretty much underwhelmed. Not bad o med speed descents but got all out of shape as you rode faster. Climbed ok all things considered but there was no danger in me swapping my HD.
Rode a Nomad C agree with the review, maybe a tiny bit faster on the way down, still feel the wierd pedaling although I guess you get used to that.
I think bikes from Transition (Covert C) and Intense ought to be thrown in the pot. I really like the way that Transition do the internal cable/hose routing but TBH unless it has changed, I have always found the "Faux Bar" a bit agricultural
Well done review.
You mention you would have liked to include an El Guapo. FWIW I moved from an El Guapo last year to my current Mojo HD. Both bikes descend well, with the HD being a bit stiffer, but I think the HD has the edge on climbing, due to the DW link suspension I suspect. Less shock movement (bob) and sticks to the ground over technical stuff better.
I just saw this referenced on the Ibis Facebook page! A little shocked actually.
Nice review, thanks for taking the time. It's good to read objective reviews where you've clearly actually ridden the bikes through their designed terrain, and tried to get the best out of them.
I'd agree with NZ162 on this as well, the Covert, let alone the CovertC are competitors in this realm, having ridden a buddy's Covert (I own and ride an HD...) a bit in the French Alps the last fortnight, and it felt pretty great; heavi of course but very capable and fun, and with the CovertC, it could be a strong contender.... Personally I'd say the Carbine would be out of it's depth here, much more a contender for the Mojo SLR territory.....
Out of interest, how would you rate the Fox 34 160 fork? Seems a great weight, but I HATED the Fox 160RLC Kashima I had. I currently ride the Marzocchi 55 RC3 Ti and after 15 years of riding cannot remember a better fork, but it is a bit heavy, so interested on your thoughts of the f34 160 vs more burly options like the Lyrik etc....
Thanks again though, good review!
Great review. The only other bike I would have liked to have seen in the review would have been the Trek Slash or Remedy. I have ridden the HD and the remedy back to back before and the remedy is a pretty close match in stiffness and climbing chops but is a little more plush due to the fox DRCV shock. I have never felt anything like the DRCV before, it feels so much like a coil shock that it's unreal. Have you had a chance to ride either of the Treks? If a gun was to my head I think I would choose the HD over just about anything but those Treks would be a close second for me.
Last edited by ttengineer; 09-02-2012 at 07:28 AM.
Can you post you and your buddy's "specs"; height, weight, if you are short or long legged or torso'd, along with frame sizes tested? Those things can have a major factor in how a person likes a bike. For example, in general, lighter riders do better on bikes with higher leverage ratios, while heavier riders benefit from the opposite... just because the damping on shocks has a limited range of adjustment. As a guy who's often in between sizes I feel like my appreciation for a bike can be quite different on the medium versus the large frame.
Ya not sure why the overpriced Yeti is tossed in here. Just not a good value. Would have been nice to see an Enduro or Slayer in this group
Thanks to the OP for writing this up. I'm on the fence between the Nomad C and the Mojo HD, coming off a Titus El Guapo [v2, with a 1.5 deg Angleset]. The TEG does everything from XC to [light] DH, but it's been three years and I feel like a change.
Great comparative review! + reps added. I did a much less thorough comparison of my own recently when deciding on a bike for myself. I looked @ Nomad C vs. Mojo HD160 vs. SL-R140 vs. Yeti SB66 vs. Specialized AM rig (I think it was an Enduro?) vs. Stumpy. I was also considering some lighter trail-type builds. Even though we compared some different bikes, I basically I came to the same conclusions on the bikes that were the same. HD & Nomad were the best in the group; similar feel going down, but the HD just rules going up. I ended up w/ an HD.
Interesting that you didn't notice much of a difference in the climbing on the HD vs.the SL - that is exactly how I feel even though it doesn't make sense when you consider the extra weight + geometry difference. My regular riding buddies (very similar riding skills) ride a Mojo SL & a Nomad (recently switched from a Blur). I came from a Yeti ASR-5 and would regularly ride my buddies SL as well, and I didn't give up anything on the climbs when I started riding the HD (Strava times confirm this) - the SL rider can't really hang w/ the HD & the Nomad on any rough DH stuff. The Nomad rider struggles a bit to keep up on the climbs, but he has no problems keeping up on his old Blur - we climb a lot! - now he's strongly considering selling the Nomad & getting an HD or a newer Blur. Can't really explain why the HD seems to climb so well compared to the others in it's class - at first I thought I was just drinkin' the Kool-Aid and it was biasing my judgement, but it seems like it might just be the case
Awesome Review!!! Thanks Meph2!
I'm actually putting a review together comparing the Fox 34 with a Lyrik, Fox 36 RC2, and Fox 36 RLC.
Originally Posted by humdinger
Very cool. post a link in this thread when you get it up please.
Originally Posted by meph2
Was there any reason you did not ride/include a specialized FSR EVO/Enduro, Trek Remedy/Slash or Giant?
Most of my friends are bigger than I am, but the buddy that "volunteered" for this was nearly my same size. It was already hard enough to get these bikes for the amount of time we rode them. Getting them in difference sizes would be nearly impossible. We are both between 5'9"-5'10". I'm a little taller and a little lighter and I weigh about 180lbs with pack/helmet/shoes/etc.
Originally Posted by phatfreeheeler
Essentially I ran out of time and have to pull the trigger on something!
Originally Posted by ttengineer
I've ridden a friend's Giant Reign and liked it, but I don't have enough experience on it to include it here. I only have experience on Trek DH bikes so I have no opinion on the Remedy/Slash.
I will say that I'm not a Specialized fan as their bikes are crazy expensive and seem to be "improved" every single model year (I actually like FSR bikes as I previously owned an Ellsworth Epiphany, FWIW) so I didn't consider them.
Also thanks for an informative review. Cannot wait for the suspension review.
Not sure I agree with Yody about the plush = slow observation. There's a lot of factors involved in getting power to the ground in a positive rather than negative way. Unless there are timed runs by The Stig, I'm on the fence. Flowing through braking ruts into corners makes plush fast, being able to rely on grip when leaned over and unloaded (eg falling terrain) makes plush fast. Not being able to pop over trail obstacles makes plush slow and in the extreme, dangerous re absorbed lips etc. However, I don't race and while I like to ride everywhere, the only place I tend to push the envelope a bit is on the home trails and I suspect that almost any good bike can become a favourite by modifying lines and getting bolder over time. But I like plush and seated climbing, so the review makes sense to me.
I have an Ibis Mojo SL which I bought about 3 years ago which I still very much love but I decided that I would give the SLR a go but got so bored of waiting for one I bought a 5.7c to play with however I now have all 3 (12 months wait for the SLR later). Given all the points so well given in this thread I always pick the Pivot from the garage first, the SLR is a very good bike but the slacker head angle and the additional downhill speed and handling the pivot is way better than the SLR (remember this is relative the SLR is a great bike when pointed downhill it is just the Pivot is better) While the Pivot climbs very well the SLR is scary fast uphill, the steeper head angle and the lighter weight make the same climbs feel easier. I thought about trying to make the SLR more like the Pivot with a angleset or longer forks but I have decided they are different bikes with different characters so the SLR is my cross country blast bike where speed is the aim and the Pivot my do anything else bike.
On another note I have the Easton Carbon Haven wheels on my Pivot and I have to say the are amazing, I have used them for a year now and had no issues but the pickup and speed of them matches the bike very well, I noted they are half price so if you are looking for bling at a good price you get an amazing product and a 2 year no questions asked warranty. Yep Ok it is still £1000 for a set of wheels but remember I paid £2k for them.
Great thoughts. My comment was a bit of a generalization. In some instances like you mentioned plush can be better, but fir me, for overall trail riding a bike with a but more compression and less leverage keeps me going faster, doesnt sink into travel, and gives me something to pump off of. Id you tend to just hover off the seat and let the bike do the job plushbis going to feel better. If youre using your legs to push the bikeinto the terrain and off of obstacles then having a bike with a bit of platform helps.
Originally Posted by Ridnparadise
For example i recently got my monarch plus back from push and was running it on the low compression setting. While the bike felt smoother than usual i just didnt feel like i was picking up speed and the suspension felt a bit clunky from using the travel too easily. Switxhed it to the mid comp setting and the bike instantly felt right at home, a bit harsher but faster and more controlled.
Do you think world cup guys bikes are super plush? I dont know the answer but i doubt they are.
Please tell me that this will be on the 2013 forks and not the 2012's. Fox completely redesigned the air spring in the new 36 Float and it is supposed to be worlds better. The 2012 Float was designed around not using full travel 98% of the time because of both the air spring charecteristics and three stage damping.
Originally Posted by meph2