Stick it to big singletrack
Stick it to big singletrack
Named after everyone’s favourite back alley mugging weapon and just as useful in hairy situations on the trail, the Pivot Switchblade is carving a reputation as a go-to lightweight enduro bike with multiple wheel options. I tested the 2017 edition while at the Mulberry Gap in Ellijay, Ga., this past spring on the Pinhoti Trail which is part of the Appalachian Trail Network.
The Switchblade I tested was the Pro Xt/xtr 1x 29 version. Spec’d with a 135-mm Fox Float Factory dps Evol Kashima shock and a 150-mm Fox 36 Factory Kashima fork, the bike lands on the longer-travel side of the 29er spectrum. Even with the big wheels, Pivot has managed to achieve a 428-mm chainstay length, which is staggeringly short for a 29er frame with 135 mm of travel. This short rear end makes the Switchblade a very nimble and fun bike that rails corners. The frame will accept tires as wide as 3.25” on 27.5”-plus hoops. If you want the added traction of a 27.5”-plus tire, the Switchblade can handle it. The two wheel options and their tire-width ranges are great, but they do come at a cost. The Switchblade uses a 157-mm rear-hub spacing more commonly found on downhill bikes. This configuration will narrow the range of the wheels available for this bike. My model had super stiff Reynolds carbon wheels laced into Industry Nine hubs that Pivot offers as an optional upgrade.
The Switchblade uses a Dw-link style rear suspension that really soaks up the bumps when speeding through rough sections of trail. The 67.25-degree head-tube angle paired with the shorter rear end inspires confidence on steeper sections of trail, where a lot of 29ers would have your rear end flirting with spinning rubber. The Switchblade truly feels like a
trail bike with cross country manners. It’s able to tackle all the rough and steep sections, but is happy to pedal back to the top again. You probably won’t be getting any uphill koms on the Switchblade considering it has 150 mm travel up front, but with careful frontwheel placement most switchbacks are manageable.
My Pro model Switchblade came with an xtr/xt 1 x 11 (11-48 tooth) drivetrain paired with a Race Face Aeffect SL crank sporting a 30-tooth ring. I found the gear range to be more than adequate even on some of my longer rides with extended climbs. Braking duties were handled by the Shimano XT brakes, which have ample power, but could benefit from some added modulation. Pivot also includes a wtb Vigo Race saddle atop a Fox Transfer dropper post with stealth cable routing that performed flawlessly during the test.
Pivot has done a good job of making a 29er that is more nimble and capable on technical trail, but still efficient and manageable when it comes to pedalling. This is a great bike for all-day backcountry excursions or lapping some technical, rocky East Coast trails.
“It truly feels like a trail bike with cross country manners.”