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.