Review by Sharon Bader (some additional comments by Lee Lau)
Introduced in 2008 and following Specialized’s catch phrase of “Innovate or Die”, the Pitch Series of All Mountain Bikes complements its big brother the M5 Enduro. While both have 150mm rear travel the Pitch comes equipped with the proprietary 140mm Rock Shox Pike Coil U-turn fork and Juicy 4 brakes. Specialized’s buying power has allowed this company to create this bike as an affordable, uncompromised option to its higher end Enduro line.
This bike was obtained by Obsession: Bikes in North Vancouver, Canada and loaned to us for this review.
Using similar characteristics as the Enduro SL M5 frame, this M4 frame offers a more cost effective bike. While lacking the finer frame construction of the Enduro it shares some of the same forging and offers a better value frame. Specialized’s ability to order large quantities of components allows it to equip their bikes with parts unique and specific to each frame. The Pitch shares the same patented FSR suspension which separates braking and chain forces from the suspension to prevent brake jack and ensure control on steep descents.
The slack 67 degree head angle and low standover provides confidence on steep rough descents. Paired with the 140mm to 95mm adjustable travel Rock Shox Pike, fork height was easily selected for efficient climbing or confident descending. Even in the high travel mode, the Pitch was an apt climber. Riding over large roots and rocks would result in impacts with the big chainring and cranks despite the 14inch bottom bracket height and 175mm cranks. The tires were great in dry and wet conditions. They climbed with confidence over dry roots and would only slip on the steepest of wet rooty terrain. Maintaining good climbing posture and consistent pedaling allowed the bike to climb through a slipping rear tire. The tires did loose grip on wet steep rock face descents.
Note on Cable Routing:
The shifter and brake cables travel to the rear of the bike under the down tube. Brackets are bolted over the cables along the down tube to keep them in place. Each groove specifically fits either a gear or brake housing. This keeps the cable out of the way and they should remain clean since they are totally enclosed. The rear brake cable is also routed inside the seat stay and the shifter cable is routed under the chain stay and in the chain stay protector. One disadvantage of this routing is that the cables are susceptible to impacts from below resulting in damage to the cable housing. Also found while shuttling with the bike hanging over a pickup tailgate is further damage to the cables and frame, additional padding should be applied to the downtube if the bike is to be transported this way. The shifter cable along the bottom of the chain stay has evidence of chain slap on it.