Behold, the Pivot Firebird. Freshly overhauled for 2022 the new Firebird sports some notable changes, but its intention remains the same - to be able to tackle the gnarliest trails around and come back swinging looking for more. Running 29" wheels front and rear with 165/170mm travel, the Firebird is not only a super capable descender, but thanks to its legendary DW link suspension, it also sports some impressive climbing prowess - because Pivot know that what goes down, must come up.
This is the first time we've carried any bike under the Pivot Firebird moniker, but since we're here we might as well point out some key differences between this bike and its predecessor.
Pivot have slowly been changing their design language throughout their bikes from curvy with a horizontally-mounted shock to a more modern looking frame with straighter tubes and a vertically-mounted shock. This means not only a change in suspension kinematics, more on that later, but also room in the front triangle for a bottle cage - something the previous generation lacked. The front triangle also features not just one but two locations for bolt-on tool storage under the down tube and the underside of the top tube.
In the last little while we've seen some cool new component releases specific to bigger travel bikes, which means that Pivot have a pretty sweet parts bin from which to select their build components including forks like the Fox 38 complete with Live Valve electronic control. Rounding off the package are some geometry updates and a boost in rear wheel travel t0 165mm to really set this bike apart as the big travel smasher that it is.
Pivot are a premium brand in every sense of the word and the Firebird fully embodies their design principles. Available only in carbon, the frame material is key to the bike's ride quality in that Pivot tune the tube shapes to give the bike a stiff and precise ride, perfect for smashing through rock gardens. The frame is also full of neat touches that show that Pivot have put some real design time into this bike, such as the chainstay protector with a cushioned design to minimise noise, the rubber flap to keep debris out of the lower link, and the tidy bolt-in cable grommets.
Running a 1.5" head tube, the Firebird uses a press-in headset which enables the use of different forks, ie dual crown, or the use of an angle-adjust headset to further slacken it out, if that's your bag. On the topic of geometry adjustment, there's a flip-chip in the rear triangle that raises and lowers the BB as well as changing head angle - this also allows the rear wheel to be run as a mullet with the chip in the high position.
With a super-boost rear end, there's a ton of tire and heel clearance. The frame sports mounts for Fox Live Valve - and subsequently Fox's electronically controlled system is a spec option. The seat tube has a ton of insertion depth to run a long-stroke seatpost as is the trend, and the back end features a Sram Universal Derailleur Hanger (UDH). This is a thoroughly modern frame then.
Pivot have used the DW link suspension platform since forever - literally, that's all they've ever used. That's because it works incredibly well, so why change it? DW link is well known for its anti-squat properties, which means it's easily tuned for pedalling efficiency and usually results in bikes that climb incredibly well, the firebird being no exception. For a bike that's as burly as it is, it's truly a remarkable climber with very little pedal bob - because Pivot know that enduro racers need to get back to the top again.
Optimised for a slightly more rearward axle path, those 165 millimetres of travel are designed to be active on big square-edged hits on the roughest terrain, but going back uphill is where the Firebird has a surprise in store. Rather than riding like a plush couch of a bike, the Firebird's rear suspension kinematics lean more towards firm and bottomless, rewarding hard-charging riders going big on their best days and the steepest most technical trails. The Firebird is a bike built for enduro racing and technical terrain - if you're the kind of person that wants to ride flat out on the North Shore's gnarliest trails and pedal back to the top to do it all again, this might be the bike for you.
The geometry on the new Firebird is even more aggressive than the previous version. Sitting at a 64º head tube angle, 473mm reach and 433mm chainstay in a size medium in the low position. These numbers speak volumes about the bikes intentions, and that is to ride fast. The Firebird also features size-specific chainstay lengths, growing from 430mm t0 444cm in the XL to keep the handling balanced and the ride stable at speed as the frame size grows - the first bike in Pivot's lineup to do so. The new Firebird is all about speed, and while the older bike might've been a fast bike, it was more plush and forgiving, whereas the new bike is more of a razor-sharp race machine.
With a seat tube angle between 76º and 77º in the low setting (size-dependent) to put the rider in a good position for climbing, far from being a bike park machine, it's pretty clear that the Firebird is a bike that wants to go back uphill. It's this seat tube angle combined with the super-efficient suspension platform that make the Firebird the secret climbing weapon that it is.
Giving riders the option to go mullet or even full 27.5 is a flip-chip at the top of the seatstay that raises the bottom bracket by 6mm and steepens the head tube angle by 0.6º and the seat tube angle by 0.5º, further enhancing the bike's climbing abilities, or offsetting that smaller rear wheel.
Spec and Options
As mentioned earlier, the Firebird has no aluminum frame option - carbon only, in either Orange or Glacial Green/Metallic. Starting with the base model is the Race XT with Fox Performance suspension and dropper post, Shimano XT derailleur and SLX brakes, shifter, cassette and a DT Swiss M1900 wheelset, it's a solid spec. Moving up is the Pro XT/XTR spec a choice of air shock or coil - both come with Fox Factory suspension and dropper post, XTR derailleur and XT brakes and rest of drivetrain with a DT Swiss XM1700 wheelset and option for a carbon wheel upgrade. The next level up is the Live Valve version with electronically controlled Fox suspension the aluminum wheels and the same carbon wheel upgrade available.
Shop Pivot Firebird now
Looking for something with a little less travel? The Pivot Switchblade is a 142mm 29er trail bike that's super versatile and more rewarding for riders that don't need as big a travel bike. If you want something that's less race-focussed and more about fun but still big on travel, check out the Santa Cruz Nomad.