Compare-O Bottom Line: Pivot shoots for Holy Grail status with new Mach 6 Carbon

27.5 Enduro Enduro Compare-O 2014

This article is part of the Mtbr’s Enduro Compare-O. See all the stories in this special section here–http://reviews.mtbr.com/category/enduro-compare-o-2014

BEST OF TEST WINNER: MOST VERSATILE

Clearly many of the bikes in our test can do a lot of things well. But the Pivot Mach 6 stood out as the one bike that covered the entire range with the fewest compromises. While you could swap out parts on several of the bikes and tune their capabilities towards one end of the spectrum or the other, the Mach 6 can dance one minute and brawl the next without changing a thing. If we had one basket to put all our eggs in, the Pivot Mach 6 would be it.

See the rest of the award winners here.

To discuss any of the bikes in our test is to talk about versatility. And in the case of the Pivot, the breadth-of-intent is abundantly clear—bring the best of their shorter-travel Mach 5.7 together with the burlier 167mm Firebird all-mountain bruiser and deliver a Holy Grail-status, no-compromise, do-everything, in-betweener carbon offspring called the Mach 6.

The other happy (professional) union here is that of industry luminaries—for-hire suspension guru Dave Weagle of dw-link fame, and bike company impresario/designer Chris Cocalis of Pivot (née Titus). Bringing the collective talents to bear on the mission at hand, it’s easy to see why the Mach 6 is so highly anticipated.

Photo by Tyler Frasca.

Pivoting up, pivoting down

If ever there were a case for more travel for the average rider, the Mach 6 might be it. The abundance of dw-link-regulated travel gives the rider a certain gecko-like traction for climbing, as well as a plushness for confidence and fun in any terrain. The Mach 6 grabs-on for technical climbs and spins up long fire roads like a champ, while remaining a calm and composed handler for big descents and tricky corners.

“I’m a dw-link fan, but I never found it to be as compliant on other bikes as it is on the Mach 6,” said one test rider. “Climbing, it could claw up anything as long as you kept the power coming, just like the other dw bikes. But descending it almost felt like I made a bike change at the top—total DH mode.”

Indeed, our 26.4-pound, 155mm rear travel Mach 6 is a good climber, but descending, it’s a screamer. Going downhill, the Pivot is quieting—not in the auditory sense, but in terms of shutting up the trail noise. The bike’s suspension has a confident, calming effect, efficiently handling small- to mid-size ruts, rocks and other trail chatter, as well as bigger drops and hard landings with exceptional poise.

Photo by Tyler Frasca.

Not only do these qualities add up to a very capable bike across a wide spectrum of terrain, it lends itself to a wide variety of riders and experience levels as well. During our test we saw our most seasoned riders pin this bike with abandon, while a few of our more intermediate testers felt comfortable enough to try obstacles they’d shied away from on other bikes. At both extremes, there was no wiping the grins off their faces—as good a measure of a bike that we know.

Photo by Tyler Frasca.

In the middle—delicious creme filling

So both the techy and sloggy climbing is good and the downhill bombing is great, but how, you might wonder, does the Mach 6 get to it on the in-between stuff and in the corners? Quite well, according to our test crew. Pivot did wonders packing the 27.5-inch wheels, the suspension and enough room for big tires into a tight and responsive handling package.

In corners, the Mach 6 is happiest railing, using its laterally taught chassis to snap through with authority. Moving your weight forward would elicit a confident drift, though the fun, lively and communicative Mach 6 was hard to unsettle.

Adding up the numbers

As we noted in our First Look, the Mach 6’s geometry charts-out a little differently than many other bikes in this category. We suspect it’s part of the reason the Pivot behaves the way it does—different and in some cases better. At 13.6-inches, the static Mach 6’s bottom bracket seems a little high off the ground. But the bike is recommended run a lot of rear suspension sag, effectively lowering the BB height. This results in snappy cornering chops while still maintaining ground clearance. Sag is normal in all suspension bikes but this bikes has the most sag in this shootout.

The Pivot’s 66-degree head tube angle is the slackest in our test, explaining the bike’s inherent high speed stability. Its somewhat compensatory 71.5-degree seat tube angle—as compared to the 73’s and 74’s we’re seeing on many of these bikes—puts the rider further back on the bike. Generally speaking this is not a huge deal, but some riders may not like their knees so far back for sated pedaling. We didn’t have any issues, particularly with the saddled dropped where we were free to move forward at will. We do recommend a zero-offset seatpost, however, and some might want to push the saddle fully forward in the clamp.

Pivot has special zip ties to elevate and control the cables between the shock and frame as the cables are compressed with the 155mm of rear travel.

Cabling a mixed bag

In general, we like the looks and quiet running of internally routed cables. The downside is more cumbersome maintenance and assembly protocols. The Pivot’s internal cable housing routes through pre-installed sleeves that make, say, routing the dropper post control wire pretty painless. Simply feed the cable housing through a pipe inside the seat tube and watch it exit the frame’s molded cable ports on the other side. Easy.

Inversely and surprisingly difficult were the external cables, however, requiring an extreme attention to detail, and even—gasp—a look at the instruction sheet. Essentially the top-tube-mounted brake and rear derailleur cables need to be crossed after passing between the shock and frame to prevent them from bowing out during compression. More than that, installing the cables requires the removal of the shock itself—a tricky little dance in tight quarters. Also required—the use of Pivot’s (nifty) cable standoffs, or a home-assembled zip-tie version described in the instruction sheet.

Continue to Page 2 for more on the Pivot Mach 6 Carbon and full photo gallery »
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About the author: Francis Cebedo

The founder of mtbr and roadbikereview, Francis Cebedo believes that every cyclist has a lot to teach and a lot to learn. "Our websites are communal hubs for sharing cycling experiences, trading adventure stories, and passing along product information and opinions." Francis' favorite bike is the last bike he rode, whether it's a dirt jumper, singlespeed, trail bike, lugged commuter or ultralight carbon road steed. Indeed, Francis loves cycling in all its forms and is happiest when infecting others with that same passion. Francis also believes that IPA will save America.


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  • Acupunk says:

    This bike is on my short list. So how does this bike fit?? These reviews need to have a bit more info regarding size and rider fit. I’m 6’1.5″ and on the border between a large and extra large frame. What were your impressions? Do they run true to size?

    • Francis Cebedo says:

      These frames run very true to size. I’m 5’8″ on a medium with some god room even with a 50 cm stem. So you should be good on a large size.

    • Jon says:

      I have found them to be small to size with very short reach measurement. I am 5’10″ and would have to go large. Large reach is same as on my medium bike now. I definitely hop on a large and XL to see for yourself. You could probably run large with longer stem only, which kind of sucks especially on a bike like this.

    • John Egbert says:

      I am 6 foot 1 and change and went with large. Definitely not too small, an XL would be too long I think.

  • Josh Johnson says:

    Francis, a 50 cm stem???

  • rob says:

    Curious how it compares the firebird as far as descending ? Sounds like its a beast

    • Joe Millionare says:

      I sold my Firebird to buy a Mach 6. So far there is no loss in DH ability. The DW link and suspension are so dialed, you feel like you have 7 inches of travel. I sure don’t miss the Firebird on the climbs. If the 429 and the Firebird had a love child, it would be the Mach 6.

    • sharon says:

      I have a firebird and demod a mach6. The firebird feels more slack despite also being 66o head angle.

      I think the firebird would be more capable in a bike park, but the mach6 would be able to handle most dh trails out of the park, its geo is also better for extended climbs. The firebird is more plush.

      Since I have the firebird and 5.7 I couldn’t justify the mach6, but if I wanted to replace both bikes, the mach6 would do it.

  • Evan says:

    The cable routing is no big deal. If you just follow the directions, it’s easy to route. This is the one bike that truly lives up to the hype. Unless you want a 9r, this is a must try bike before buying anything else.

  • Lee YM says:

    I’m 5’8″, and went for a small. Medium fits well too, and is a tad more stable.
    You’ll REALLY enjoy this bike! :)

  • Jim H says:

    I really want this bike, but am confused about the sizing. The reach at 16.3″ for a large seems small compared to the size recommendation. I’m 5’10″ with a 34″ inseam measurement and was thinking large would be best, if not a bit small. (Medium Bronson with 15.9″ reach felt much better with a 90mm stem than 70mm, but I’d rather run 60mm or less). Any insight from the knowledge of the group would be greatly appreciated.

    • mountain biker says:

      I am 5’10.5″ and got the large and like it, you could go either way I personally like the large a little better. I guess it just depends on your frame preference. My dad is the same height and he likes the medium but he’s kind of a weight weenie.

    • Joe Millionare says:

      @Jim
      You would want a medium given your digits. I’m 6-0 and ride a medium with a 50mm stem.

  • Shane AU says:

    Francis, thanks for the great review. Planing a custom build of this bike. I’ve seen your various photos of this bike build and am interested in which wheels your preferred in order of preference and why. Photos I’ve seen include: Mavic Crossmax Enduro, ENVE AM, Bontrager , others?
    Cheers!

  • Oli says:

    There is a word missing from these reviews of the new 27.5″ bikes and that word is “playful”. Is there a bike among these that could be considered playful? I tried the Bronson carbon the other day and while it definitely railed berms and rough ground like nothing else, I kind of missed a certain “pop” when it came to smaller obstacles that I am used to pumping and grabbing some air on.

    • siege says:

      yes there is a bike missing from this review and its the turner burner. I also enjoy alternate lines, pumping and popping of roots and rocks to make fun line changes. I came from a 6inch travel bike and now with the burner find myself able to find even more of those hidden gems in the trail. I also rode the mach 6 before i made my purchase and and found it to be trail soaking and I find the turner burner to be lively and a tad more exciting at speed as it doesn’t deaden the trail but give you more reward for your pump and creativity.

    • John Egbert says:

      My exact thoughts on the Bronson. I have been riding a 29er and wanted a more playful and nimble bike that had about 150 mm travel. One that would handle rowdy descents but would definitely be ridden to the top, and on the trails. I tried the Bronson totally expecting to be blown away, I was pretty sure it was going to be the bike for me going into the demo and was actually left unimpressed. Handled more like a tank, better at plowing the obstacles than playing off them. The front end was surprisingly heavy and it was difficult to pop it up or manual. The Mach 6 on the other hand was everything I wanted. It’s short wheel base and chainstays make it really nimble and easy to throw into corners. The short chainstays also help it with quick acceleration for manuals. At 27 lbs it pops off roots and rocks and gets air with ease. Yet despite its lighter weight for a AM bike it feels stable on technical descents. The DW link also allows it to climb very well, even in descend. I have never felt the need to use climb mode, trail is stiff enough for anything you would ever take a mountain bike on in my opinion.

  • Tad says:

    When I saw the geo on this bike initially, I dismissed it as being inefficient and too much bike. After reading all of these positive reviews though, this bike is on my short list as well. Was somewhat concerned about the slacker seat angle, but I did the math and with a 32″ inseam it is only about 3/4″ different from a 73 degree angle bike. As is mentioned in the review, I can get that much by sliding my seat forward a bit.

  • JD says:

    Considering Yeti SB75 (pending carbon version), 5010c, or Mach 6 carbon for endurance XC races. I like the slacker angles and suspension to give me confidence on the descents but want the best efficient climber of the bunch. Which one would you pick? (I’ve ruled out a 29′r; feels to big and clumsy). Thanks!

  • david says:

    pivots rule the roost! drool worthy with extra powershredding ability!

  • Raym says:

    The bike has minimal tire clearance.

  • Paul says:

    @ Raym Have you even seen a Mach 6 in person? Mine has monster WTB Vigilantes and there is a ton of room. I imagine you are thinking of a different bike. BTW I’m 6′ and ride a Large with a 55mm stem. Fits perfect.

  • pegleg says:

    Interesting that the reviewers gave the Mach 6 high marks for climbing but not the Bronson; other reviews I’ve read said the opposite (Bronson was a better climber/all-arounder than the Mach 6, which was more downhill-oriented but killer at that). I’m hoping that the final awards/conclusions will speak to some of these comparisons and give us an idea of how the bikes compared in various respects side-by-side.

    • sharon says:

      Its like comparing a clydesdale to an Arabian Stallion.

    • Jon says:

      I thoroughly rode both on same trails and find the Bronson to be the better climber and overall better balance in geometry, fit/feel and performance for aggro up/down techy trail riding. The Mach 6 is a great descender for sure and pretty playful for a bigger wheeled bike, but definitely had to work harder to get up the climbs due to much slacker geometry in front and especially back end of bike when ridden with same 150 Float fork on both. I am getting a Bronson for go-to trail bike duties and keeping my aggro AM bike (Rune). If was in the market for AM/Enduro shredder bike, the Mach 6 is top of the list for sure.

  • gg says:

    Nice review, Pretty well spot on Chris knows how to build great bikes. Rode the Mach 5.7 ALU a few years back and just hop on and ride like it was my own in South Mtn AZ. Mine is an 07 Titus ML. Tempting, but riding mine till it breaks can’t justify the upgrade – such a great ride! Not a fan of the overstated graphics on Pivot now. Must be the marketing dept…

  • tyrebyter says:

    The sag specs must be typoed. .8″ would be something like 15%. What is it supposed to be?

  • jpre says:

    “There is a word missing from these reviews of the new 27.5″ bikes and that word is “playful”. Is there a bike among these that could be considered playful?”

    I would have liked to have seen what the testers thought of one of the Kona Process lineup.

  • Spanky says:

    I demo’d one of these and the front end wanders alot during all moderate to steep climbs. Wasn’t fun. Downhill all the reviews hold true. Decided with the sworks enduro 26. Couldn’t! be happier

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