I was walking my dog at the Dog Park at McAllister Park here in San Antonio, TX yesterday morning and saw Pivot running a demo. I had to run home and change and check out some of their bikes!
It was a rare treat for me as I am 6'4" and almost never run across any bikes my size in shops, let alone demos in my own backyard! McAllister Park is my 'go-to' ride and I'm really familiar with it and the trails. It was an awesome experience to be able to demo some high-end bikes on the same trails that I regularly ride my 26 and 29 inch hard-tails on. I took along my iPhone so I could track my times and try to get some 'hard numbers' to back up my impressions.
I'm coming from a long history of riding a 26" hard tail (purchased new and ridden hard - a now ancient '94 Specialized Stumpjumper) but have been on a 29" hard tail for the past year or so (An Airborne Goblin). When I bought the Goblin last year I'd looked long and hard at 26" and 29" full suspension XC bikes but there were none available for me to even sit on, locally, so since I basically had to buy something 'sight unseen' I didn't spend as much as I budgeted and have been very happy with the Goblin.
I got to ride three of Pivot's bikes and put between 4-8 miles on all of them on some pretty standard (for South Texas) XC trails and had a blast. I wanted to take this opportunity to say "Thanks" for the demo and share my experience with the three bikes I rode.
When I got back to the demo - all dressed and ready to go - both the 5.7 and the 429 were out so, for me, the first was the 2014 Pivot Mach 6 Carbon with 27.5" wheels. This was very plush, controlled and confidence inspiring on the (short and infrequent) downhills in my area. It pedaled well and I didn't feel like I was losing much energy to the suspension wether seated or standing. I could feel the extra weight on the uphill sections and while it was a blast (literally) on the downhills it wandered some and didn't feel very responsive on the flats or uphills. I don't think this is unusual given the type of terrain this bike was designed for - not what I was riding it on. I flew down some of the downhill stretches much faster than I ever had before and could tell this is where the Mach 6 shines.
Next was a Mach 5.7 Carbon with 26" wheels. I think this was my favorite. It felt very nimble and agile and it's suspension really soaked up the bumps. Coming from hard tails and never really riding a full suspension bike on the trails it was a real eye-opener. I assumed it'd be more comfortable and less jarring but what I wasn't expecting was how much more "in control" i would feel. I'm used to standing, or at least getting most of my weight off of the saddle, in any kind of technical section - heck anything that isn't smooth dirt - when riding my hard tail. On the 5.7 I was able to just flow over a lot of obstacles at a speed that would have been a lot more challenging on my hard tail. It didn't feel as quick and responsive when charging up hills compared to my 29" hard tail but it does weigh more and the wheels are smaller. It more than made up for that everywhere else on the trail. I took this for two laps around my favorite loop and the second time around was my personal best - despite falling once and leaving a little bit of my DNA in the dirt.
I also rode the 2014 Mach 429 Carbon. There was a bit of a wait for this one and it was very popular. I can see why. I felt like it accelerated and handled the uphills as well as my hard tail and soaked up the bumps like nobody's business. This was a very confidence inspiring bike. By this time in the day I had been out longer than I was expecting and I needed something to eat so, honestly, this bike did not get a fair shake from me - I was tired, hungry, and a bit worn out. I really liked it but I think I like the Mach 5.7 a bit more. While the 429 carried momentum better and felt a bit more responsive when accelerating I really liked how nimble the 5.7 felt and both were so much more comfortable, stable and, yes, 'plush' that I'm really second guessing my decision to stick with a hard tail.
There is a rock wall at McAllister called, I think, Carl's Couch, that I had never ridden down before. It's nothing major in the big scheme of things but I didn't feel confident enough to give it a shot on my old 26" hard tail or my new 29" hard tail. I did give it a shot on the Mach 6, first. The Mach 6 had a dropper post so I got the seat out of the way, put my butt back and just pointed the bike down the hill. I missed the line I'd wanted but the Mach 6 didn't care. It took me down with grace, stability and speed. It was a ton of fun!
I also gave it a shot, a couple times, on the 5.7 and it handled it very well, too. Not as plush but I never felt the least bit out of control. The 5.7 also had a nice dropper post on it and it sure came in handily. The 429 I rode did not have a dropper post but I gave it a shot, anyway. I just had to get my butt back behind the saddle and it took it like a champ. Next time I'm out there, later this week, I'll give it a shot on my Goblin and see what happens... If this is my last post you know why! Just kidding, I hope.
All in all I am VERY happy that Pivot was out at McAllister yesterday and very pleased that I got the chance to ride such high-end bikes on my favorite stretches of dirt.
THANK YOU PIVOT!
Mtbr's 2016 Winter Biking GearReviews and Roundups
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