Pivot team manager and DH Pro Bernard Kerr received the first production version of their 2014 frame – air-freighted from the factory – and it is a huge departure from the Phoenix it will soon replace. Bernard built it up immediately and was returning from his first hot lap on the bike when we caught up with him. The new chassis is designed specifically around 27.5 inch wheels, for starters, and it features X-Fusion suspension front and rear. Bernard said the graphics and component spec was not production and that Pivot was still settling on a proper name for the bike. He was impressed with the bike’s performance from the start and was keen to get back on the mountain. The following is as much of the story as we could piece together in the brief time we had to get some spy photos.
The profile of Pivot’s new DH bike is much simpler than that of the Phoenix. The dual-link rear suspension is retained, but the shock is now driven by a large yoke and mounts to the down tube instead of at the bottom bracket junction, presumably to flatten out the suspension’s leverage curve. The long-stroke X-Fusion Vector HLR shock suggests that the suspension also has a lower leverage rate than the Phoenix as well.
What We Know About the Frame Design
The new chassis is longer, lower and slacker than its predecessor. Reportedly, the top tube is a half-inch longer, the bottom bracket is slightly lower than the Phoenix, and the head angle is slacked out to 62-degrees. The seat tube is a stub, welded to a large, two-piece welded forging that carries the pivot locations for the rear suspension and also forms the bottom bracket shell. Pivot pioneered the technique of manufacturing critical parts of the frame from thin, matching halves that are then welded together to form a lightweight structure with precise locations for key components. The dropouts are bolted to the rear suspension and the left-side dropout incorporates the brake caliper mount – all suggesting that a 26-inch-wheel option may be available in the form of a different shock and dropout combination. The through-axle screws into a machined nut on the drive side that also integrates the derailleur hanger. Up front, the tapered head tube has no form of adjustable cup, which seems to be a growing trend now that slack steering geometry has moved from trend to science. Cable routing is external, but all cables and hoses run cleanly through a tunnel on the down tube formed by the shock mount. As a nod to the future, the down tube has a port to route a Reverb Stealth-type dropper seatpost.
(Clockwise) A look at new DH bike’s oversized suspension linkage. No news on the bearing strategy, although Pivot is a fan of large ball bearings and wide, rigid pivot locations. Unlike the similar yoke setup that Specialized uses, which requires a dedicated shock, Pivot’s yoke arrangement attaches to a conventional shock eye, which means that the customer has more options for future upgrades. The last run of derailleur housing is routed through the right chainstay to keep it out of trouble. The bolt-on dropout incorporates the brake caliper mount.
Mechanically, the suspension linkage creates an instant center that is high and forward at the beginning of the suspension travel, suggesting that the new configuration is intended to perform better than its predecessor on square-edged bumps. Rear travel is listed as 207 millimeters. The nature of the suspension curves was not known, but the bike feels very plush through the first half of its travel. X-fusion is the suspension sponsor of the Pivot Team, so we got an up close and personal look at the new RV1 DH fork. The lowers looked like production items, although both crowns were CNC-machined prototypes – a tipoff that the fork offset was adjusted for 27.5-inch wheels at the crown and not by altering the dropout castings. Bernard says that he and the other team members have been impressed with the performance of X-Fusion’s shock and fork, and also by the support that the X-Fusion factory has provided them.
A few details of the X-Fusion RV1 DH fork showing the prototype machined crowns. Spank Components is a co-sponsor of the team, so the direct-mount stem, handlebar and prototype DH rims were all Spank’s Spike-level items.
We were not told who was going to be racing the new Pivot – either Austin Warren or Bernard Kerr – but from all accounts, the bike is ready to do battle in its present form, and with Whistler’s trail network in rougher shape than it normally is at this time of the year, the big wheels should play a supporting role in the race this weekend. Pinkbike will keep you updated as we get more information on Pivot’s new DH weapon. – RC