2013 All Mountain Bike Tests at Interbike – Part 2

26er 27.5 29er All Mountain Trail Enduro
Rocky Mountain Altitude

Specialized wanted all their bikes turned in by 3:30 on Tuesday which I thought was kind of weird until I got back and they practically had their huge tent/canopy taken down and all their bikes packed. Apparently Interbike was hosting an outdoor demo area called The Paddock at the new host hotel in Las Vegas The Mandalay Bay and everyone had to get tents torn down and moved that night. I got walking around the expo area looking for my final ride and after checking with SRAM for the Norco Sight, GT for the Sensor, and Devinci for the Troy I started to resign myself to the fact that I’d ridden my last bike of the day.

But when I passed the Rocky Mountain tent I noticed their guys were still standing around and it looked like most of their bikes were still out so I asked if they were still checking out bikes. The guy acted a little puzzled but after asking his buddy they determined that they were still in business. Cool, I wasn’t going to tell them anything about the whole Paddock at Mandalay Bay thing and spoil my shot at snagging a 150mm travel, 27.5” carbon Altitude. Nosiree.

They got me set up in short order and I was off to find some energy to make it up the hill (and down) one more time. Just as they got pedals on I noticed the new Thunderbolt (their new 125mm 27.5 Solo competition) sitting there too and about changed my mind but didn’t. Maybe at Outerbike I’ll get the chance to put the Thunderbolt through its paces. I liked the understated all flat black minimal decals look of the Altitude and it immediately felt comfortable to me. Sizing was good with a somewhat upright position and pedaling was efficient and smooth. Do you see a theme emerging here? Bike companies have got this pedaling thing figured out. Everything else is in the details of geometry and suspension action in the rough. RM seems to have this figured out pretty well too.

As luck would have it the shuttle truck was sitting waiting patiently for me to load for the last run up the hill. I took the RM down the same Boy Scout to West Leg route (minus the Caldera Loop) that I’d taken the Pivot on because I wanted to compare them back to back. Given the route I didn’t get to do any extended climbs but there are several short punchy climbs on West leg and over the saddle to Mother to get a feel for climbing and I have no complaints here. The Altitude crawled up and over steps and boulders nicely and didn’t lose traction on looser climbs.

Descending was equally competent. The frame handled the rough stuff without deflecting or feeling flexy and the suspension action was stable and controlled. I would rate it equal to the Bronson and a tick behind the Mach 6. Nothing wrong with this bike at all and I suspect the price point is several hundred less than either of those two.

There are so many good options out there this year. Can’t wait for Outerbike!

These beefy Continental Trail King tires on stiff Stans ARCH EX rims really added to the overall good handling and bombablity of this bike.

I thought tire clearance was a little tight with this set up, but unless it was muddy I’d opt for these meats every time and sacrifice the clearance.

One thing the Altitude offers that the other contenders I rode don’t is adjustable geometry. By switching this box around you can adjust head angle and bb height. I didn’t mess with it but it’s nice to have the option. It makes a very versatile bike even more so.

It also had a handle bar remote for Climb, Trail, and Descend mode for the shock. I never touched this leaving it in “Descend” mode the whole ride, but that might come in handy for some I suppose.

2013 All Mountain Bike Tests at Interbike – Part 2 Gallery
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Krob's Outdoor Demo bike tests - Day 2

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Pivot Cycles Mach 6 Carbon - gorgeous carbon

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Pivot Cycles Mach 6 Carbon - Fox Float CTD shock

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Pivot Cycles Mach 6 Carbon - rear suspension design

This is just elegant, tight, stiff, carbon eye candy to me. Nice work Chris Cocalis. I’m sure this contributes to the Mach 6’s stellar lateral stiffness.
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Pivot Cycles Mach 6 Carbon

Seems like all the bikes this year were either black or neon of some hue. This one was carbon black/graphite and I thought it looked great.
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Pivot Cycles Mach 6 Carbon - tires

Some bikes left me wishing for bigger, more favorable tread, but this one excelled despite whimpy Honey Badger rear and run-of-the-mill sized Nevagal rubber up front. Another impressive Fox 34 fork.
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Pivot Cycles Mach 6 Carbon

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Pivot Cycles Mach 6 Carbon - handlebars

Sturdy, wide, comfy cockpit
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Pivot Cycles Mach 6 Carbon

These DT Swiss rims were stiff and light.
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Pivot Cycles Mach 6 Carbon - Fox Float X CTD

Maybe this new Fox Float X piggy back air shock was the secret? Hmm…
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Rocky Mountain Altitude

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Rocky Mountain Altitude

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Rocky Mountain Altitude

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Rocky Mountain Altitude

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Rocky Mountain Altitude - tires

These beefy Continental Trail King tires on stiff Stans ARCH EX rims really added to the overall good handling and bombablity of this bike.
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Rocky Mountain Altitude - tire clearance

I thought tire clearance was a little tight with this set up, but unless it was muddy I’d opt for these meats every time and sacrifice the clearance.
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Rocky Mountain Altitude - adjustable geometry

One thing the Altitude offers that the other contenders I rode don’t is adjustable geometry. By switching this box around you can adjust head angle and bb height. I didn’t mess with it but it’s nice to have the option. It makes a very versatile bike even more so.
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Rocky Mountain Altitude - bar mounted remote

It also had a handle bar remote for Climb, Trail, and Descend mode for the shock. I never touched this leaving it in “Descend” mode the whole ride, but that might come in handy for some I suppose.
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Santa Cruz Bronson C

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Santa Cruz Bronson C - top tube

no copyright issues with this name...
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Santa Cruz Bronson C - rear triangle

One piece molded carbon rear triangle showed no wag. Very stiff.
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Santa Cruz Bronson C - tire clearance

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.
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Santa Cruz Bronson C - Fox 34

Fox 34 150mm forked worked well. We were much more impressed with the Fox offerings this year.
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Santa Cruz Bronson C - brakes

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

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Santa Cruz Bronson C - WTB Volt saddle

I liked this WTB Volt seat. Looks light, was easy to get behind and was comfortable. Reverb Dropper post worked flawlessly
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Specialized S-Works Enduro 29er

This photo was borrowed for twentynineinches.com The one I rode was set up just like this.
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Specialized S-Works Enduro 29er

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

Jarrett working on Krob's test bike
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Turner Czar

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Turner Czar - SID fork

Yeah I used all 100mm no problem. This SID fork was surprisingly supple and not as flexy as I would’ve guessed.
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Turner Czar - Fox Float CTD shock

Yep, smashed this O-ring clear to the stops several times as well. The compact, clean look of these dw-links is a testament to good design and clean aesthetics. No front derailleur FTW! Very nice.
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Turner Czar - Crossmark tires

These Crossmark tires had decent grip and rolled fast, but I did find their limit once in a bermy S-turn.
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Turner Czar - chainstay

This metal plate on the chainstay near the yoke is a nice touch.
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Turner Czar - tire clearance

Good tire clearance.
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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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