Cocalis and company hit it out of the park with Pivot’s very first hardtail offering
Pivot has been on a tear of late, with their Mach 6 gobbling up a slew of industry awards, including “Most Versatile Bike” in the Mtbr Enduro Compare-O. The young Tempe, Arizona-based company founded in 2007 by Chris Cocalis, is one of the hottest bike manufacturers in the industry right now, and the Pivot LES is yet another example of why the company is killing it.
You might recognize Cocalis’ name, he was also the founder of the ever-popular Titus Cycles. Pivot is Cocalis’ latest creation; the living, rolling passion of a guy who loves nothing more than creating and riding the finest bikes on the planet. After nearly seven years of building aluminum and carbon fiber full-suspension rigs, the Pivot LES is the company’s first foray into the hardtail world.
The instant I laid eyes on a pre-production Pivot LES in Park City, Utah in the summer of 2012, I was in love. I’ve never been much of a fan of 29ers, but this bike has some of the most gorgeous lines of any hardtail I’ve ever seen. It takes all the burly tube shapes and junctions of Pivot’s full-suspension rigs and wraps it into a lightweight, race-ready hardtail. However, what really caught my eyes was the ingenious Swinger singlespeed conversion system on the LES that’s not only the cleanest, most stealth execution I’ve ever seen, but also incredibly functional.
It’s clear that Colcalis and his crew of engineers did their homework before penning this hardtail beauty. Out of the box, the LES features carbon fiber dropouts with a 142×12 thru-axle, replaceable derailleur hanger, a direct mount front derailleur, super-wide chainstays to clear a 2.5-inch rear tire, internally routed cabling with a fully accessible port underneath the bottom bracket for convenient servicing (disc brake cable is external thank God), tapered 1.5-inch head tube and a press-fit 92 bottom bracket to help make the LES front triangle extremely beefy and stiff, and of course, the absolutely trick Swinger singlespeed kit.
The $150 Swinger kit is truly genius and—in this singlespeeder’s not-so-humble opinion—the best singlespeed convertible design on the market. Visually, the Swinger system is nearly undetectable, featuring cold forged aluminum dropouts with an indexed chain tension adjuster to ensure proper wheel alignment and prevent the wheel from ever slipping forward. Two M8 bolts on each side secure the Swinger system, and never once did I have a problem with slippage. The Swinger system absolutely rules all. Perhaps the only downside of the swinger system is that it’s not available in a 142×12 setup, only in traditional 135mm configuration.
Most singlespeeders are picky about aesthetics. They eschew gears for a reason, and want a clean bike that doesn’t have dangly bits or exposed areas where gears and cables once existed. So in order to appease this aesthetic, Pivot includes in the Swinger kit a front derailleur block-off plate with a sharp-looking phoenix machined on it—the brand’s hallmark—as well as bolt on covers for every internally routed cable hole.
It’s all in the Numbers
Looking at the numbers, geometry specs on the Pivot LES lead one to believe this bike absolutely rails downhill. A slack 69.5-degree head tube angle, super-short 17.1-inch chainstays and a 12.1-inch high bottom bracket give the Pivot handling characteristics like a nimble 26-inch wheel bike, but with the added rolling benefit of 29-inch wheels. And with geometry that can accommodate either a 100mm or 120mm suspension fork, the LES can truly be an all-mountain hardtail—if there is such a thing.
Yes, the Pivot LES has a drop-dead gorgeous exterior profile, but beauty is far more than skin deep on the LES. Thanks to a proprietary hollow core internal molding process that every Pivot composite frame is built with, the inside of the LES look just as smooth and finely molded as the outside, which equates to less weight and stronger construction.
Unlike most competitors who get compaction from the inside of the tube through the use of polybag bladders, Pivot gets far better internal tube compaction through their hollow core internal molding process by using hard internal forms for lay-up and molding.
Polybag bladders aren’t nearly as consistent in compaction, leaving voids and potential weak points in a frame. The process used to make every Pivot eliminates the possibility for inconsistent pressure, delivering the highest level of compaction for greater frame strength and lower weight due to less required material.