Wagon wheels of thunder.
Long travel 29ers seem to be taking over the trails with steam, and while we were skeptical at first, after seeing industry leaders like Pivot hit the ground running — er, rolling, we're pretty convinced that it's here to stay. Hitting the dirt with force is a weapon of massive fun times, the 2018 Pivot Switchblade Carbon 29 Pro XT/XTR Complete Mountain Bike, offering just the right amount of slack, suspension, and ultra-stubby chainstays that propel you forward with snappy speed. This particular build comes with a blend of some of our favorite components — plush FOX Suspension, sporting DW-link support, cherry-picked Shimano XT and XTR drivetrain, and DT Swiss's shining star-ratchet freehub that propels you forward like a rocket and sets new standards for 29er capabilities.
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.
- Hit the trail with a super-boosted 29er for all-mountain power
- DW-link supplies 135mm of supple squish that soaks up hits
- Super-boost rear axle maxes out tire clearance for plus setups
- Q-factor keeps your heels tucked in despite its plush suspension
- DH-inspired linkage beefs things up without adding weight
- Lightweight and nimble, thanks to high modulus carbon construction
- Slacked geometry powers down the mountain, while short chainstays pedal with force