2013 All Mountain Bike Tests at Interbike – Part 2

26er 27.5 29er All Mountain Trail Enduro
Santa Cruz Bronson C

This is one of the other bikes that was at the top of my “must ride” list for today so after getting shut out at the Pivot tent (again) I headed to the Santa Cruz tent, filled out my card, and sat and waited until a size large Bronson came back in. It took about an hour but with the heat and my body still recovering from eight hours in the 100 degree sun the day before, I was OK with that. Ultimately, the wait was worth it. Finally someone brought back in this Tennis ball yellow carbon stunner and I was off to ride. With fresh legs I decided to eschew the shuttle and do a different climbing trail with more tech and some steeper climbs. The Bronson eagerly complied.

The same levitation I felt with the shorter travel, lighter, short-link bikes I’d ridden earlier was evident as well with this 150mm travel Bronson C as I pedaled up the smooth road to the beginning of the trail with zero pedal bob felt. The weight was still feathery light, although I could tell it was a few pounds heavier than some of the lighter short travel bikes I’d ridden at the demo. I ‘m guessing in the 27 lb range. Sizing felt really good. Size large SC bikes in the past have felt a tad short in the top tube for me but this one felt just right. (I sat on a size XL Bronson when I was waiting for this large and it did feel too big).

This semi-techy climb really highlighted some of the Bronson’s strengths. The seated position was comfortable, natural, and fairly upright for me. I could tell as I wheelied and torqued up and over steps and boulders that lateral stiffness is exceptional and, like the 5010, no pedal feedback was felt. If you’re hesitating getting a VPP bike because of this reputation for pedal kick back that keeps getting passed down, get over it. It’s not there. This is one of the other bikes on which I was able to clean the four foot step up move on the entrance to the Caldera loop. It’s a really strong technical climber.

On the descents, the rowdy, square hits weren’t totally erased but the suspension dealt with them in a controlled, firm/ plush manner (Yes, that’s a thing). The smaller bumps would’ve felt more smoothed out if I didn’t have to run so much air in the tires to avoid pinch flats but I’ve learned to take that into account here at Bootleg Canyon. I really liked the grip and cornering edge of the beefy Maxxis High Roller II tires front and rear. Up to this point the Bronson was my favorite bike of the show and I really didn’t expect anything to best it, but there were still a few must-ride bikes on my list to check out.

One piece molded carbon rear triangle showed no wag. Very stiff.

2.3” HR II tires were beefy and stuck well everywhere in the loose dry Bootleg conditions. It looks tight in this pic but I think it’s just the angle because it seemed like there was plenty of clearance back there.

Fox 34 150mm forked worked well. We were much more impressed with the Fox offerings this year.

A word about brakes (Ok maybe two): Shimano XT = YES. Avid/SRAM stuff = not so much.

I liked this WTB Volt seat. Looks light, was easy to get behind and was comfortable. Reverb Dropper post worked flawlessly…. as did the Thomson Elite Dropper, The KS Lev 150, and the Specialized Command post I tried. They are indispensable tools for me and they all work well now…. when they’re working. Pick the one that has the best customer service and shortest return time when it needs warranty service because they all will.

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  • beerhunter says:

    Krob,

    Thanks for the write up, it is very informative.

    I am also 52, ride too much and am in the market for a new bike. I ride rocky dry trails in the Blue Mountains (Aust) but also go away on big mountain MTB trips. By and lkarge I earn my turns. The pivot is high on the list, and I am sure will bomb descents, but I have a concern that it might be “too much bike” for everyday “trail” riding. Does to front end wander on tight switchbacks, and is it a slow climber?

    cheers,

    Beerhunter

    • KRob says:

      Well, compared to my 34 lb Chilcotin it was certainly not too much bike for climbing and tight switch backs. I thought it could bomb the rougher stuff nearly as well as the Chili as well….. to a point. I would just need to ride it more to find its limits are. I think with a 160 fork with 35-36mm stanchions it would come very close.

      Built like it was it was still very capable on the descents, but was super light and super easy to climb on. I wouldn’t worry about its climbing ability unless you’re comparing it to a 22lb hardtail….. and even then it’d beat it on more techy, steppy climbs.

  • Kevin Woodward says:

    Hey Krob … Mega thank you for your outstanding Interbike test ride stories 1 & 2. Very helpful, overflowing with insight not just on the bikes themselves but also components … great reading and much appreciated!

  • Guyute says:

    Great article! But I have to ask, if this was supposed to be an all mountain bike test why did you ride the Turner Czar and not the Burner or 5.Spot? The Czar is more of a xc bike, while the Burner and 5.Spot are meant for the type of riding you claim to be testing. I just don’t think you gave Turner a fair shot, but that just my thoughts on it. Anyways, thanks for the article. I’m jealous you got to ride so many mouth watering bikes.

    • KRob says:

      Talk to Francis. Not sure why they titled it AM bike tests. Probably because most years that’s what I ride at I-bike, but this year I did mostly xc/trail bikes with a few stretching into the AM realm like the Mach 6, Bronson, and Enduro 29.

    • Bill says:

      Guyute,
      I own a Burner and have ridden the 5 Spot extensively. I also now have ridden the Pivot Mach 6 many times. I think KRob is spot-on with the Mach 6. Super fun descender (mind blowing even), pedals incredibly well up hill (may not be the best, but its up there), is very light for its travel (heck, its even light for a bike with less travel). People talk about its $3k price tag, and I feel thats a bit of a bummer too, but there is more value in their complete build prices. I do wish Pivot would drop the frame-only price a bit. But, its carbon competitors are barely off that price for frameset as well.
      The only gripe I have of my Burner is its weight. At 30.5lbs with XTR and King wheels its at least 3lbs heavier than the Mach 6. The Burner can climb. The Burner is a great descender. Ive taken my Burner to Moab twice and I couldnt have gone faster bombing down Porcupine if I tried harder. It was incredible. If Dave would build a carbon Burner weighing a bit less he’d have a best of category contender.

      • KRob says:

        Thanks for the added perspective Bill. Yes, very light and very capable. Wow.
        At Guyute,
        I have ridden the Burner a couple times and owned a 5 Spot so am pretty familiar with those. I would agree with Bill’s assessment. The Burner is very good and would be a close competitor with the Mach 6 and Bronson even as it is…. probably would rate it even better with a 5.5lb carbon frame. I’m hoping that’s what Dave is working on for next year. 150mm travel Carbon Burner FTW!

  • stephen haslam says:

    Hey Krob,

    Great write up’s!

    Im 5′ 9″ and Pivot say that that size on there web site is the change over between the small and medium, would you say I should run a medium if I used a 50mm length stem

    Thanks Steve

    • Eamonn says:

      I am 5’9″ on dot and just bought a small 429c after riding small and medium. 80mm stem and the seat is pretty far back but feels completely dialed. Some good threads on this in the Pivot forum on MTBR

    • KRob says:

      I would say small based on how well the medium fit me at 5′ 11.5″ but you might be able to stretch onto a medium with a shorter stem. Get a ride on both if you can. That’s a very expensive frame to make a mistake on sizing.

  • Mehukatti says:

    Strange setup… Long XC stem, tons of spacers under it, and saddle all the way to the front.

  • Drean says:

    The Mach 6 looks great but did it really ride like a $3000 frame? For that price, it should be lighter or at least the same as the Bronson’s 5.5ish (Med size) weight. It would be great to see the frame on a scale.

    • KRob says:

      Are they that much? Wow, that’ a bunch. I’m quickly becoming a carbon snob after riding mostly carbon bikes this I-bike so would probably opt for the carbon despite the cost. It felt plenty light to me. YMMV.

  • Tim says:

    First, thank you for your awesome article. I am very excited about the Pivot Mach 6 and am planning on making a purchase this week. Like you, I am 5’11″ (okay you got me by .5″) and ride a large on most bikes (including 19.5″ Remedy and the large Bronson that I demo fit me like a glove). I am heeding your advice about this bike being very expensive to get the size wrong (referring to your response to Eamonn on Sept. 30th). My question is, based on the fact that you could have fit a L or M and after riding the medium Mach 6, if you could do it again, would you have chosen the medium still or would you have switch to a Large? Unfortunately there are no dealers in my area that has any Mach 6 in the show room for me to demo or test so I am hoping you can steer me in the right direction. Thank you!

    • KRob says:

      I also ride a large on most frames. My last three bikes have all been large and all the bikes I rode at Interbike except the Mach 6 were large as well. Tough call. If I were purchasing a Mach 6 I would have to ride the large before deciding but every Pivot I have ridden in the past felt (or would’ve felt) better in the medium for me.

  • klurejr says:

    I am not sure if you check these comments, but have you had the chance to ride the 26er Enduro? I am curious how it compares to the 29er. My local bike shop is only carrying the 29er with no plans to carry any 26ers. I currently ride a 2002 Enduro that I purchased brand new, so you could say I have gotton my monies worth out of that bike. I recently picked up a Specialized Big Hit for when I take it to the Mountain and ride the chair up. I want my new bike for both trail climbing and descending. Good pedaling, but it does not have the be the best, I don’t mind if I am slow on the climb.
    I replaced my Pyslo Forks with Revelations, so the 140mm’s up front helped slack the head angle a bit on my current Enduro, and I like the way it feels.

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