Mountain Bike The (incredibly sporatic) Long Term Pivot Firebird 29 (or: the BMX105HP of bikes) review

DoryBreaux

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Disclaimer: I work at a Pivot dealer. This is my personal opinion, and I will do my absolute best to stay as unbiased as possible, even though I fully believe that there is no such thing as unbiased.

This bike has completely changed how I feel about 29ers. I was always firmly of the beliefe that 27.5 was the holy grail of wheel sizes. When we started to see DH bikes with 29 inch wheels, I was one of the guys that shook his head and laughed and said "nope, its a fad, its not going to catch on. Too big, not nimble enough." I, with pleasure, am taking back everything I ever said about modern 29ers.

At this point I have been on it twice, once on a fairly flat service road behind the shop with about 30 seconds of single track, and one single track/fire road/paved climb short lap by my house.

The Bike: Pivot Firebird 29 XT/XTR Large
The Rider: 27 year ol, 6'2" 228ish#, ridden mtb for about 18 years but never super agressively, primarily downhill and freeride
The Trail: Truckee area
Every day bike: Commencal Meta V3
First impressions:
This is not a climbing bike. Yes it does go uphill. Yes it's about 80 billion times better than trying to climb on a freeride bike from the mid 2000s. But this is not for someone who prefers the up to the down (or even 50/50). On the climb from my house to the beginning of the dirt, I was wishing that I was back on my alluminum Commencal Meta V3. Once on the dirt, things started to change. The added size of the 29" wheels contact patch is noticable right off the bat. I still felt like my V3 goes up with noticably less effort, but the gap closed quickly.
Once at the top, this thing really blew me away. The first descent on this loop is a short doubletrack with waterbars. The first thing I noticed was how easly I could move the rear end around compared to other 29ers (and a lot of 27.5ers) I've ridden. When you tell it to move, it does. I think I slapped every mules ear in the track I could, all without moving the front end.
The next section is a short, mellow flat to uphill section of service road. Something that would be the most enjoyable on a gravel bike.
The final bit of the loop is a fast, wide open descent on what at one point was a double track, but is now more of two single tracks right next to eachotherwith their own personalities. There are a few eroded water bars, a few baby-head-sections, and (after the winter we just had) a few muddy spots. This is where this bike just lights up and blows your mind. It just wants more. More speed, more corners, more playfullnes, more everything. Its incredibly quick and snappy while remaining surprisingly stable. It corners better than most 27.5 bikes I've been on, almost point and go (but not really, because that doesn't exist).
Okay enough raving. Are there any negatives? Yes, if you are looking for something that will make climbing fun. This wont. Thats what E-MTBs do. Also, some riders may have to adjust their position as being bar-heavy made it feel a little squirly at times. Just move your hips back a bit and you're good.
In summary: Since I'll be taking this out periodicly througout the summer, I wont have a final verdict for a while. I will say this though: freeride aint dead; it's just gotten bigger shoes.

  • Who is it for? Descenders. People who give priority to having maximum fun on the descent and are willing to sacrifice climbing performance. People who like to go fast. Freeriders.
  • Who is it not for? Poor people (me). Climbers. Bikepackers. Timid riders (this isn't meant to be derogitory; it demands speed. It almost wont let you do anyting but go fast).
  • Insider tip: If I were to buy this bike, I'd buy a SRAM build and swap the brakes to XT/XTR. You will want the 12th gear that Eagle provides. Or wait until next year.
 
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DoryBreaux

DoryBreaux

Friend for Hire on Powder Days
Industry Insider
Pugski Ski Tester
Joined
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Posts
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Location
Sleeping in a mop closet
Went out for an hour this morning with a buddy who was on an E-MTB, got some good singletrack climbing, some fire road climbs, some sidehilling around snow patches (I think we crossed Spencer Abbot's tracks), a quick push up a snow patch and finally some proper flowy singletrack descents. The DW link just about destroys everything. The last time I rode a DW bike was an Iron Horse Sunday (26 inch downhill bike) 13 years ago, and I hadn't ridden something anywhere near that smooth until the Firebird 29. Now I really get why people are so crazy about Pivot.

It may be a while before I get to ride it again, but I will update when I do.
 
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