Pivot launched the Switchblade around 2016 and captured a cult following of diehard Switchblade fans within a short time. The bike allowed riders to customize it to their needs by swapping between 29er or plus-sized wheels, as well as changing out the headset cup to further adjust the geometry. The first generation Switchblade found the sweet spot in suspension travel, balancing its climbing and descending capabilities. The bike quickly became a favorite among the Mountain Bike Action test riders and continued to impress during its four-year run.
AN ALL-NEW WEAPON
Pivot invited us to its hometown of Phoenix, Arizona, to give us a sneak peek and a chance to ride the next-generation Switchblade. While the bike was still quite modern by today’s standards, Pivot is always looking to improve its products and bring innovation to the table. Placing the old Switchblade next to the newest iteration reveals some major changes made to this machine. During our stay in Phoenix, we had the opportunity to put the Switchblade to the test on the very same trails used to design the bike. The location, of course, was South Mountain, a premier riding location a short pedal from Pivot’s headquarters.
Quite a few changes were made to the Switchblade, with the most notable being an all-new suspension layout. The Switchblade moved to a new vertical shock design similar to what’s seen on the Mach 4 SL launched last year. Suspension travel was then increased from 135mm to 142mm. In front, the Switchblade has a 160mm-travel fork with a 44mm offset.
When we asked why the Switchblade moved to a vertical shock design, we received nearly the same answer as when we first asked about the Mach 4 SL. This new DW-Link system allows for more waterbottle clearance, a more progressive shock rate and more tire clearance. It also allows for better integration of Fox Live suspension and allows Pivot’s designers to lower the standover height. Pivot used trunnion shock mounts on this frame and assured us the suspension design is now compatible with coil shocks.
South Mountain offers rugged desert terrain with technical rock-shelf climbs and flowing descents where it’s easy to pick up speed. The ideal bike is one willing to climb but not afraid of a challenging descent. The Switchblade fits the 29er trail bike category in Pivot’s lineup, being less downhill-oriented than the Firebird 29 but plusher than the 429 Trail. It’s a bike that packs a punch on the way down while retaining strong climbing characteristics.
Incorporating industry trends of a longer, slacker and lower geometry while reworking the suspension for increased performance makes the Switchblade a confident descender with a point-and-shoot style. No matter what we asked our Switchblade to do, it found a way to deliver It proved time and time again that it is Pivot’s most versatile bike in the lineup and is likely to continue to build upon its cult following. The MBA staff is eagerly anticipating the arrival of Pivot’s new steed in our test fleet, and you know we will be bringing you a full breakdown of its pros and cons in an issue to come.