Pivot’s New Switchblade Hits Moab

Screen Shot 2016-09-03 at 2.00.07 PMPivot Cycles launched what they call the most developed bike in their lineup, the all-new Switchblade. The bike was in development long before even some of their other bikes, like the Mach 6, were even conceived. The project was shelved years ago because the components they needed to make a truly remarkable bike simply didn’t exist at the time. Today, however, with the huge leaps in tire, wheel, and component technology, this bike is finally a reality. We were invited to take the new Switchblade out for some serious testing in the desert of Moab, Utah, a place that will make mincemeat of nearly any bike. This is what we found.

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Pivot-13In 27.5+ form, the Switchblade behaves differently but without giving up the playful nature the bike was designed to have. The bigger tires claw their way up nearly anything with ease, especially with enough gumption and low-enough gearing. As designer and founder Chris Cocalis describes it, “The 27.5-inch Switchblade behaves something like a cross between a rally car’s speed and a tricked-out race UTV’s frenetic energy, taking you anywhere and up and down anything.” Pivot engineer Kevin Tisue, pictured here, did much of the design work on the new bike, and also put it through its paces in Moab with the rest of the crew.

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Plus-sized: In the 27.5+ configuration, the bike comes spec’d with either 40-millimeter (inner)-width DT aluminum or Reynolds carbon rims and aggressive new Maxxis Rekon 2.8 tires. This new wide internal rim gives what Pivot feels is the ideal balance between traction and weight.

The bike’s side-swing front derailleur (not shown here) opened up clearance to make the linkage work in typical Pivot fashion. The Switchblade was built of aluminum long before the carbon version was ever made. Four different prototypes were built before the carbon molds ever even existed.

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Pivot-9The details: The all-new platform from Pivot can switch between 29er trail wheels and 27.5+ wheels from 2.8 inches all the way to well over a 3.25-inch width. The frame features a new long-and-low geometry with super-short 16.85-inch chainstays with tire clearance that Pivot claims will dwarf that of many other bikes in the category. Switchblade features 135 millimeters of rear travel with a 150-millimeter Fox 36 up front.

Full squish: The Float DPS EVOL shock is custom-tuned to produce the perfect trailbike feel for a wide range of customer sizes and weights.

Pivot-10Big wheels: The 29-inch spec comes with either 25-millimeter (inner)-width DT rims or Reynolds Enduro carbon 28mm inner and aggressive Maxxis High Roller II 2.3-inch tires. The bike features Pivot’s custom-tuned dw-Link suspension design with upper clevis and linkage design.

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The Bullet Points:

• In the 27.5-inch configuration, the bike is designed to clear a 3.4-inch (theoretical) tire, although most riders will opt for the more conventional 27.5×2.8-inch tire.

• The chainstays are slightly shorter than a Mach 6 and are less than 17 inches.

• Pivot still sells 40 percent of their bikes with double-ring setups, and, as a result, they have made this bike very compatible with Shimano’s side-swing front derailleur. The mount is easily removed for those looking for a sano single-ring setup.

• Switchblade has a claimed 6.4-pound frame weight (medium size with shock)

• The ultra-low durometer chainstay and seatstay guards are designed to keep the bike quiet.

• The cable routing is designed on hinges with ports that are claimed to be as quick as external routing and will also limit movement and cable rub.

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• Heel-clearance studies came from the Les Fat and transferred to the Switchblade. In fact, the Blade has more clearance than the current Mach 4. Our test riders with size-12 shoes had no clearance issues during testing.

• The bike ships with both a flush headset cup as well as a 17-millimeter stack headset cup. This extra cup allows the rider to easily swap between a 29er configuration and a 27.5+ configuration without affecting bottom bracket height. The addition of the 17-millimeter cup takes the BB height back to normal by raising it slightly and slacking the bike out by about half a degree.

• The new Switchblade has clearance for a full-size water bottle on all sizes except for the extra small, which uses a different shock mount to achieve proper standover height.

• The extra-small size has shock mounts on the downtube and has scalloped tube shapes to clear reservoir shocks.

• The head tube is as small as possible without running into the steerer tube taper.

• Pivot has a full-size range—from extra small to extra large—with five sizes in total.

• The price is the same for either the 29er or 27.5+ and includes a dropper, because yeah, you need it with a bike that shreds the trails this well.

What makes it different?

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The Switchblade sports 157-millimeter Super Boost Plus axle spacing, which is 9 millimeters wider than the current Boost 148 hub spacing. Pivot used an existing chainline developed for DH bikes and adapted it to the trailbike market. It’s important to note that this is not a new standard! Pivot designers looked at current Boost and Plus designs and discovered they couldn’t build a bike with the proper tire clearance and geometry numbers they wanted. The 157-millimeter axle takes away those design constraints and is a highly optimized combination of existing standards. Additionally, Pivot has optimized the axle for this bike and spoke tension by widening the hub flanges to keep spoke tension even throughout the wheel. Since this was never an issue with the previous 26er bikes, they simply never had to explore the possibility of a wider hub to address the concerns of stiffness.

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Pivot-11In a world where 26ers are on life support, though, Pivot chose to redesign the wheel to make for the best possible bike. The only thing that Pivot claims they gave up was that the bike can only run a 180-millimeter rear brake rotor. In our humble opinion, there’s no reason for anyone to use one bigger than this anyway. As a bonus, Pivot is not holding this new design hostage. Any company is free to use this design to “make better bikes.” This is what you would call open-source technology for wheel and bottom bracket spacing.


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