If the Switchblade is Pivot's answer to those of us begging for more versatile trail bikes, we're pretty sure that its engineers hit the nail on the head. This slacked-out, long ride begs to tackle the entire mountain, cleaning lines we wouldn't have expected from trail bikes of yesteryear, with stiff and responsive handling, and plush suspension that keeps you floating through root-lattices and rock gardens alike. The 2018 Pivot Switchblade Carbon 27.5+ Pro XT/XTR 2x Complete Mountain Bike takes what we thought we knew about Boost spacing and flips it on its head, stretching things out for snappier chainstays, and immediate power when it's time to punch up rock-littered climbs. It handles everything, from tedious fire roads, to white-knuckle descents with rugged hits, drops to flat, and undulating rollers begging to be pumped.
If you were to start from ground up on this rock gobbling ride, you'd pay close attention to the number nine at first, as in the Switchblade's Super Boost Plus 157mm rear axle adds 9mm to standard Boost axle spacing, bringing it up from 148mm to the gravity inspired 157mm. This change adds extra stiffness to the rear end, even beyond that of Boost spacing, makes for incredibly stubby chainstays, and allows for a full 12-millimeters of tire clearance. This means the Switchblade can run a 27.5+ or 29in wheel, tucked up close to the seat tube, with mere 16.85in chainstays, all the while preserving a Q-factor typically found in 5in trail bikes.
The Super Boost axle's additional real estate also makes for a still stiffer spoke bracing angle for the DT hoops, which conspires with a double wishbone rear triangle and Phoenix-inspired clevis to stiffen both the pedaling interface and the linkage design. This makes the rear triangle more resistant to torsional flex, which increases pedaling efficiency and decreases the stress put on the pivot bearings. It's easier on your legs and on the hardware you rely on to bail you out of situations where overly ambitious line selection lands you in water that's just a little too deep.
The rest of the geometry is similarly capable. Where the concise back end makes for a sharp knife while dicing rooty sections, the relatively steep head tube and low bottom bracket height make for a slack, low chassis that further contributes to DH stability. Despite the frame's big-line parachute qualities, its seat tube sits relatively steep, keeping you forward and on top of the pedal stroke while climbing. Compared to Pivot's Mach 429 Trail frame, the Switchblade is slacker up front and steeper in the seat tube, perfecting the art of aggression whether you're climbing out or dropping in.
- A plush plus ride for all-mountain conquering
- Tread to trail traction from 135mm of DW-link suspension
- Geometry charges up long fire roads and bombs descents with force
- 2-by gearing lets you power through when the going gets tough
- Tire clearance is elevated with Super Boost rear axle
- DH-inspired linkage provides beef without weight
- Light and efficient carbon construction