Fond of the Firebird Test Ride Review (normal guy)- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Fond of the Firebird Test Ride Review (normal guy)

    So this weekend my local Pivot dealer, Bicycle Johns in Santa Clarita CA set me up with a Firebird 29er demo. I wanted to take out the Trail 429 but that one was already spoken for so they gave me the opportunity to take the Firebird for 2 full days. I must say I was completely surprised. I have been riding off road for 30+ years and I would have never ridden a bike that had any hint of "downhill" in its blood. Being a former XC racer and pretty much a trail rider now, avoiding serious chunk and steep drops I expected a clunky bike with full suspension. Much to my surprise it was exactly the opposite. It climbed very well, with no pedal bob. Negatives were if I was slow climbing the front end tended to wain back and forth, I could feel the extra weight vs my current 27.5+ hardtail and if I was to buy this bike I would definitely go with the 12 speed for extra lower gears. It definitely is a bike that needs to be ridden aggressively and keep your speed up with. It takes more attention and rider input when riding single track that has switchbacks but for me it was a good thing not to be lazy anymore! The down hills were a dream, even the smooth flowy stuff was great and at 60 years old the level of safety I felt with the design, the 36 fork and suspension was very assuring. I think if I got in a trouble situation this would bail me out, in fact I over shot the trail a couple of times and it total brought me out and back on the trail.So with that said would I be crazy to consider a bike like this? I don't think I would ever push it to its limits and I was totally focused in on the 429 and its not even the price and its crazy to think I would use a bike like this for my flowy single track and my local trails. Am I crazy for even considering this?
    Last edited by vcyclist; 09-30-2019 at 02:07 PM.

  2. #2
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    I'm in the same boat. Seriously considering a FB29 after demoing one a couple of weeks ago in Norcal. I have a Yeti SB5.5 which is a bit lighter and climbs a bit better, but doesn't come close in the chunk and downhills, so I'm wrestling with one vs. the other or both. Decisions, decisions!

  3. #3
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    FWIW, I went from a SB95 (127mm travel 29er that I had a 150mm fork on) to a different brand bike that has 150mm travel 29er with 170mm fork. 3 years later, super happy with the choice. Would I consider the FB29 now? Absolutely! Do I regret buying-up on the travel/weight? Not a chance. At even a modest 54 years I find the bike does me great everywhere I apply it, from buff XC to lift-served (my days of .dropping 10' jumps are long over, and the bike is fine for 5' or less).

    Like you said, the additional fun, margin of error, and reduced beat-down of the rider is a huge win. If I cared I'd replace the alloy rims with carbon to take some rolling weight off, but I've no concern with the weight of the frame fork.

    For the FB29, were I to get it, I'd consider an Anod gleset to take a half degree or so off the slack head and make it a bit more trail oriented. Maybe not, but I'd consider it.

    Good luck!

  4. #4
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    Interesting, my last FS bike was a Yeti SB95 as well! I sold it to partially fund a Moots Gravel bike that I love, so I bought a inexpensive carbon 27.5+ HT and I hate it. I thought the 27.5+ would be ok for what I needed and my trails are much more than I expected in my area. So now I am reviewing several bikes to try and decide and now the FB29 entered the mix. I found also that the FB29 has an adjustment that adjust the HTA, by 0.5 deg so making it effectively 65.5 degree, this all done with a turn of an allen head. I rode the bike in the 65 degree mode as I did not know about this adjustment until post ride. Its a stellar bike and I can't believe I have even considered it.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by vcyclist View Post
    So this weekend my local Pivot dealer, Bicycle Johns in Santa Clarita CA set me up with a Firebird 29er demo. I wanted to take out the Trail 429 but that one was already spoken for so they gave me the opportunity to take the Firebird for 2 full days. I must say I was completely surprised. I have been riding off road for 30+ years and I would have never ridden a bike that had any hint of "downhill" in its blood. Being a former XC racer and pretty much a trail rider now, avoiding serious chunk and steep drops I expected a clunky bike with full suspension. Much to my surprise it was exactly the opposite. It climbed very well, with no pedal bob. Negatives were if I was slow climbing the front end tended to wain back and forth, I could feel the extra weight vs my current 27.5+ hardtail and if I was to buy this bike I would definitely go with the 12 speed for extra lower gears. It definitely is a bike that needs to be ridden aggressively and keep your speed up with. It takes more attention and rider input when riding single track that has switchbacks but for me it was a good thing not to be lazy anymore! The down hills were a dream, even the smooth flowy stuff was great and at 60 years old the level of safety I felt with the design, the 36 fork and suspension was very assuring. I think if I got in a trouble situation this would bail me out, in fact I over shot the trail a couple of times and it total brought me out and back on the trail.So with that said would I be crazy to consider a bike like this? I don't think I would ever push it to its limits and I was totally focused in on the 429 and its not even the price and its crazy to think I would use a bike like this for my flowy single track and my local trails. Am I crazy for even considering this?
    I've had bikes from hardtails to a Firebird (27.5) and all are fun. Big bikes are especially fun on any kind of rocky or steep trails, and some can also be fun on more XC single track. But if you ride with other people a lot, you will be a little to a lot slower on a bike like that compared to the Trail 429 or the similar bikes. Not that matters to everyone, but since you're an ex-xc racer that is something to really consider. I wouldn't have considered riding my FB on any group ride or even with just one buddy on anything less than black diamond steeps or at a park. Strava don't lie.
    Ibis Ripmo
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    Ha, the voice of reality realing us all back from the brink of enduro plushness! Totally valid comment. The real question is whether the extra pain climbing is worth the grins mobbing the downhill. I usually say no when I'm suffering and yes when I'm ripping.

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    Thanks for the input. I raced in the past but not now and do not intent to put that kind of stress in my life. I don't have or will sign up for Strava, just not interested in that sort of thing. A typical ride for me is out with my wife (former XC racer) on our favorite trails, maybe riding with another friend or 2 but never with a group. I don't have to prove anything to anyone anymore to be honest. I just want to go out and ride, get a work out in the process and enjoy the outdoors but want to do it safely and comfortably. I ride my gravel bike on the road and fire roads and most any 2 track and I want 1 mountain bike that meets my needs.

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    I moved to an SB150 recently, coming off of a series of shorter travel bikes, and I don't regret it at all. Original plan was SB130, but LBS had '19 SB150s 20% off, so I bought it on a bit of an impulse.

    80% of my riding is relatively tame 'general trail' riding close to home, with 20% spent on bigger terrain out of town. I don't feel that the larger bike holds me back at all. I'm in Southern CA, so even my local stuff has sections that are pretty steep and chunky, and I LOVE the SB150 for that.

    The new geo bikes really are a massive leap forward- I'm setting climbing PRs on Strava, beating my times on previous 120/100 and 150/130 travel bikes!
    '20 Kona Honzo ST (FOR SALE!)
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    I live in SOCAL too up near Mt Pinos. I just can't really accept the fact that I am considering this bike, but it rode so well and I felt really stable on it. The cost factor of entry is high but if I go with less of a build then its not so bad. Thanks for the input.

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    I will state this though, my next bike will be a 29er again. I have been riding a 27.5+ hardtail and I just can't connect with the smaller wheel. Riding the 29er just brought back a lot of assurance, traction and ability that I have been on reserve.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by vcyclist View Post
    I will state this though, my next bike will be a 29er again. I have been riding a 27.5+ hardtail and I just can't connect with the smaller wheel. Riding the 29er just brought back a lot of assurance, traction and ability that I have been on reserve.
    Same here. I put together a dream build Mach 5.5 last fall, rode it for 6 months and sold it. Every time I rode it after I rode my 29er, the Mach 5.5 felt like it was dragging an anchor and it got hung up on technical features the 29er blew over.

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    I demoed a FB29 for ~1 month and have 2 rides on my new FB29. It is the best bike purchase I have ever made. So happy with my decision. For reference, I ride 15-45 miles with 2k-6k of elevation (2 times/week) with single track to fireroad to very steep/tech, and this bike is great for all of it.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by BmanInTheD View Post
    I've had bikes from hardtails to a Firebird (27.5) and all are fun. Big bikes are especially fun on any kind of rocky or steep trails, and some can also be fun on more XC single track. But if you ride with other people a lot, you will be a little to a lot slower on a bike like that compared to the Trail 429 or the similar bikes. Not that matters to everyone, but since you're an ex-xc racer that is something to really consider. I wouldn't have considered riding my FB on any group ride or even with just one buddy on anything less than black diamond steeps or at a park. Strava don't lie.
    Did you put a trail or xc oriented wheelset on that bike when you rode with your friends? Heavy downhill oriented tires are the biggest drag. Pedaling efficiency is very high. So what would slow you down, the 2lbs extra weight? So that's 1% slower.

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    Just sold the Yeti SB5.5 and ordered a FB29 Pro X01 build this morning. Should be here in two weeks- psyched!

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    I was pretty sure about the T429 being my next bike, and my LBS gave me one to demo, as well as a Mach 5.5 for a long weekend. Yes, the T429 was a better climber and was faster in most cases, but the 5.5 was more plush, forgiving, and just more fun to me. It felt like it had my back in every situation. Everyone's local trails are different, and the 5.5 felt great on mine. So yes, I can totally understand how the OP could be considering a bigger bike.

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    My new FB29 is being built this week. We are waiting on the Invisishield (back ordered) to come in so it can be installed before the complete build is done. Maybe have it this weekend!

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    How are you liking the new firebird?

    I just ordered one myself (with the option to return) as it was on sale and deeply discounted.

    I am having the same concerns, as I would prefer to only own one bike.

    However, I have been riding a 2018 Specialized Stump Jumper Alloy. (150mm travel front and rear). So the jump isn't quite as notable in my case. In fact, the FB 29 would most likely be lighter.

    I considered the Ripmo AF, as everyone raves about it, and the carbon version. But when I test rode those quickly (in a parking lot) I felt that I was "on top" of the bike and somewhat unstable/uncomfortable. I'm sure this could be adjusted, But my quick spin on the FB was much more comfortable.

    Also, thanks for starting this thread. It has been very helpful from everyone's input.

  19. #19
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    I've had mine for a couple of weeks, about 6 rides, and I absolutely love it. Coming off of a Yeti SB5.5, and the FB29 makes the Yeti feel like a toy. At 31.2lb, the FB29 is 3.2lbs heavier than the Yeti but I actually climb faster on the FB29 on anything more technical than a fire road. And descending is a completely different league on the Pivot. The geometry is so dialed it completely trumps weight in my opinion.

    I also considered the Ripmo and demo'd a large and a medium. I'm 5'10", neither size felt good, and after both demos my overriding feeling was that the bike felt boring. In contrast, when I demo'd the FB29 I was shocked how well it climbed and on the descents I couldn't stop laughing because it was so friggin' fun to boost off of every feature I could find. I've had three Pivots and two Yetis in the past couple of years, and the FB29 hands down takes the cake. You will not be disappointed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mlloyd007 View Post
    I've had mine for a couple of weeks, about 6 rides, and I absolutely love it. Coming off of a Yeti SB5.5, and the FB29 makes the Yeti feel like a toy. At 31.2lb, the FB29 is 3.2lbs heavier than the Yeti but I actually climb faster on the FB29 on anything more technical than a fire road. And descending is a completely different league on the Pivot. The geometry is so dialed it completely trumps weight in my opinion.

    I also considered the Ripmo and demo'd a large and a medium. I'm 5'10", neither size felt good, and after both demos my overriding feeling was that the bike felt boring. In contrast, when I demo'd the FB29 I was shocked how well it climbed and on the descents I couldn't stop laughing because it was so friggin' fun to boost off of every feature I could find. I've had three Pivots and two Yetis in the past couple of years, and the FB29 hands down takes the cake. You will not be disappointed.
    Thanks for the quick reply. Your comments are very reassuring and exactly how I felt when demoing the Ripmo/Ripmo AF vs the FB.

    I should be picking it up this week and hope to be on it this weekend.

    Which build you are riding and what is it weighing in at?

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    Quote Originally Posted by bjallen13 View Post
    Thanks for the quick reply. Your comments are very reassuring and exactly how I felt when demoing the Ripmo/Ripmo AF vs the FB.

    I should be picking it up this week and hope to be on it this weekend.

    Which build you are riding and what is it weighing in at?
    The stock X01 Pro build in Medium with the DT Swiss 1700 wheels and Mallet pedals is 31.4lb. I've got a Onyx Vesper/Ibis S35 wheelset on order that should drop half a pound off of that.

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    Because of the snow where I live I have not been able to ride it yet, as soon as the weather breaks I will. I did spend 3 days on a demo FB29 in my local trails this fall and that sold me on the bike. I have spent about 3 months in research and demo and I really thought I was going to go with a Trail 429 which is really my level of riding and I demoed a LG and an XL in the 429 and it did not fit like the FB29. The 429 is an awesome bike and would meet a lot of needs but I felt I was "on top" of the bike and not in it like the FB29. The FB29 is a lot of bike and I will never ride it to its full capacity but it fits very well, has a huge safety factor built into it and the weight is not over the top. It rides well on everything local, so that is important to me. I also considered the Switchblade 29 and it fit well and rode exceptional and it was fast but what sold me was the the FB29 had more and it was not that much more money. Good luck and let us know how things go.

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    Quote Originally Posted by vcyclist View Post
    Because of the snow where I live I have not been able to ride it yet, as soon as the weather breaks I will. I did spend 3 days on a demo FB29 in my local trails this fall and that sold me on the bike. I have spent about 3 months in research and demo and I really thought I was going to go with a Trail 429 which is really my level of riding and I demoed a LG and an XL in the 429 and it did not fit like the FB29. The 429 is an awesome bike and would meet a lot of needs but I felt I was "on top" of the bike and not in it like the FB29. The FB29 is a lot of bike and I will never ride it to its full capacity but it fits very well, has a huge safety factor built into it and the weight is not over the top. It rides well on everything local, so that is important to me. I also considered the Switchblade 29 and it fit well and rode exceptional and it was fast but what sold me was the the FB29 had more and it was not that much more money. Good luck and let us know how things go.
    Thank you for the reply and again for starting this thread. It's been very helpful for me. I felt the same about being "in the bike" and not "on top the bike" with the FB29.

    I also considered the SB but was more interested in trying out the geometry of the FB. And there wasn't much of a weight penalty.

    I'll keep you posted once I pick it up and am able to ride.

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