2013 All Mountain Bike Tests at Interbike – Part 2

26er 27.5 29er All Mountain Trail Enduro
Specialized S-Works Enduro 29er

Coming off my good fortune at the Pivot tent I thought I’d try my luck at Specialized as the line looked short when I passed by. Unfortunately the paddock looked pretty bare as well so I didn’t expect to find what I wanted. Luck continued to shine on me as the nice lady told me someone had just turned in an Enduro 29er in size large. What made it even better was that it was a top-of-the-line full carbon S-Works version in stark black and white tuxedo attire. Not only that but it had the 160 Pike fork I’d wanted to try all show and the new Cane Creek DBAir CS shock to boot. Nice.

Of all the “Wow” moments I had pedaling these multi-thousand dollar bikes up out of the Expo area the one I had on the Enduro was the most impressive. I just never imagined a 6” 29er AM rig could feel this light (crazy light), efficient and easy to pedal (possibly at the expense of descending plushness?? More on that later). Wheelies were effortless, owing, I suppose, to the short chainstays and tall stack. From everything I’d read and from what I was feeling as I climbed up to the shuttle my expectations for this bike were off the chart.

I again caught the shuttle just as it was loading so took it up to the top of the hill. I decided to have another go at the very rough, technical, scary in spots, Skyline to East Leg trail that so flummoxed the SB75. Now we’ll see what the right tool for the job can do, I thought.

Within 30 feet of the start I could tell the technician had put too much air in the fork and shock as I was almost bucked off the trail on every rock. So I stopped and let out 5lbs from the front and rear shocks hoping this would give me the transcendent plushness I was expecting. This was a bit better and I was able to maintain control of the beast, but it still felt harsh. I stopped two more times and lowered the pressure front and rear. It eventually got a little better and I was getting closer to the full travel on bigger hits but it just didn’t feel that great. I wanted to adjust the compression and rebound settings some but with time and tool constraints I didn’t delve into the CCDB complexity. I did fiddle some with the settings on the fork and by time I got to the bottom it was starting to feel decent but neither end was the Praise the Lord and hallelujah marvels I was expecting. With these top end shocks, huge wheels, and refined FSR linkage, the big Enduro should have flattened that descent. It didn’t. In fact it worked me pretty good. I’m wondering if Specialized has refined their FSR linkage so much over the years to increase the climbing efficiency that they’ve lost some of what makes the FSR so good to begin with: staying plush and active over rough stretches while bombing or braking. Or maybe it was just a shock/fork adjustment/set up issue.

The good side is the super light weight, easy manualing up onto ledges, and stellar climbing. It was fairly nimble too….. shockingly nimble, in fact, for a long travel 29er but not in the same territory as the Mach 6 and 5010 obviously. I was aware of the big wheels trying to thread it through some of the tight turns and boulders but it wasn’t a huge hinderance.

All told, there were some pretty impressive things about this bike but I came away disappointed in the one aspect that should be its ruling strength.

Every year I forget to get pictures of at least one bike. This year it was the Enduro. Here’s a few google images I lifted to fill in. Sorry.

This one was borrowed for twentynineinches.com The one I rode was set up just like this.

Aaron Gwin’s race bike. I’m sure he’s got his suspension sorted. :0)

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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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