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Transition TR500 – Review on Pinkbike!

Transition TR500 Review by Mike Kazimer on Pinkbike!

Since their inception, Transition has gained a reputation for creating durable, no-frills machines, designed with the knowledge that can only come from years of real world riding experience. The TR500 is the successor to both the TR250 and the TR450, and features adjustable geometry that lets riders build it up in multiple configurations. Everything from a mini-DH / bike park ripper with 180mm of travel all the way to a downhill race bike with 203mm of travel is possible, and adjustable chainstays allow the bike to accommodate 26” or 27.5” wheels. Given Transition’s location squarely in the heart of Sasquatch country, it’s fitting that they also expanded their size range, adding an XL option for riders whose proportions mirror those of the elusive beast. There are four different complete build kits offered, in addition to a frame only option. Our test bike, outfitted with a Fox 40 FLOAT, DHX RC4 and Shimano Saint brakes and drivetrain retails for $6199 USD.

TR500 Details

• Intended use: DH / Freeride
• Wheel size: 26″ or 27.5”
• Rear wheel travel: 203 or 180mm
• Aluminum frame
• Fox 40 FLOAT 203mm fork
• Fox DHX RC4 shock
• Sizes: S, M, L, XL
• Colors: orange, pearl green, raw
• Weight: 37.5 lb (size M)
• MSRP: $6199 USD

Frame Design

Constructed from hydroformed 6061 aluminum, the TR500’s frame has a modern, low slung look, aided by the fact that the linkage that drives the rear shock is hidden inside the split seat tube. Internal cable routing adds to the look as well, with the rear derailleur housing and brake line entering at the integrated fork bumpers and traveling through the downtube to their respective destinations. Both travel and geometry adjustments are available on the TR500, although Transition has done an excellent job of making them as inconspicuous as possible, thus avoiding the whole Erector set / science experiment look that can arise when companies decide to go down this route. In addition to the two shock travel positions, there are chips in the rear dropouts that can be flipped to set the bike up with either 434 or 442mm chainstays, although 27.5” wheels can only be run in the 442mm position. The bike’s head angle and bottom bracket height can also be altered by flipping the chip that’s located where the seatstays mount to the rear shock linkage, giving riders the option of choosing between a 63 or 63.5° head angle and the corresponding -10 or -4mm of bottom bracket drop. Other highlights include a threaded 83mm bottom bracket, a tapered headtube (useful for riders who decide to run a single crown fork), and ISCG 05 tabs for running a chainguide.


Hidden behind the TR500’s split seat tube is a short link that joins the rear swingarm to a vertical link that drives the rear shock.

Suspension Layout

Like its predecessors in the TR range, the TR500 uses a link driven single pivot suspension layout. A short link connects the one piece rear swing arm to a forged link that is situated in between the split in the seat tube. The link that drives the rear shock has two mounting positions – the upper position is the 203mm setting, and the lower sets it at 180mm. Transition has slightly changed the dimension of the rear shock linkage in order improve the feel of the rear suspension, with the end goal being for the bike to feel consistent through its travel, giving it a smooth ramp up as the shock nears the end of its stroke.

Specifications

Price $6199
Travel 203 or 180mm
Rear Shock Fox DHX RC4 Kashima
Fork Fox 40 Float RC2 FIT Kashima
Headset FSA
Cassette Shimano 11-25t
Crankarms Shimano Saint
Chainguide e*13 LG1+
Rear Derailleur Shimano Saint
Shifter Pods Shimano Saint iSpec
Handlebar ANVL Mandrel 800mm
Stem ANVL ARC direct mount
Grips ANVL Punch
Brakes Shimano Saint
Wheelset TBC Revolution 150
Tires Schwalbe EVO Magic Mary
Seat ANVL Forge chromo
Seatpost Thomson

Ridding the TR500


The TR500 has the ability to make short work of the most chopped up and blown out trails while also possessing a flickable and playful side that came out on smoother, jump riddled trails.

The Whistler Bike Park is the ideal place to rack up the vertical while testing a downhill bike, containing a wide variety of runs featuring everything from seemingly endless jump lines to trails brimming with roots and rocks that are challenging aboard any bike. Our test TR500 arrived with 26” wheels and set in the short and slack position with 203mm of travel, giving it a 63° head angle and a 434mm chainstay length. This ended up being the configuration the bike remained in for the duration of my time on it, simply because it felt so well balanced and matched to the terrain in the bike park there wasn’t any need to alter it.

There are some DH bikes on the market that are incredibly demanding to ride, requiring such a high level of rider input that it can feel like work simply trying to get around a corner at anything less than the speed of sound. Those bikes are best reserved for riders whose primary focus is getting down the hill as fast as possible, not seeking out the little side hits and bonus features on the way down. Luckily, the TR500 falls on the more mild-mannered side of the scale, with an easygoing nature that doesn’t require World Cup racer level skills to make it come alive. While it usually takes a few laps to figure out a bike’s little quirks and handling characteristics, with the TR500 this ‘getting to know you’ period lasted maybe half of a run. Maybe. After that, it felt as if I’d been riding the bike for months, not minutes. It’s an incredibly intuitive bike to ride, and it didn’t take long before I found myself plowing into the rough stuff at full speed without a second thought about the bike’s handling.

Don’t take the term ‘mild-mannered’ the wrong way either – this bike has plenty of gumption, and easily handled the trickiest lines that Whistler had to offer, whether it was steep, fall line rock rolls into loose, sandy corners or gunning it through off camber root sections. The TR500 has the ability to make short work of the most chopped up and blown out trails while also possessing a flickable and playful side that came out on the smoother, jump riddled trails like A-Line and Dirt Merchant, a combination that makes it well matched to the demands of a bike park. Taking a look at the numbers to figure out how Transition managed to make a bike this fun reveals measurements that aren’t radically different from what we’ve come to expect from a modern downhill bike, but it’s the way all of these numbers work together that make it such a treat to ride. The slack head angle keeps it composed and stable at high speeds when everything turns into one big blur, but at the same time switching lines or making quick maneuvers to evade basketball sized rocks doesn’t pose any trouble thanks to the relatively short chainstays and low center of gravity. Even at slower speeds on tighter, twistier trails the bike was quick and lively, diving in and out of corners without any sluggishness or lagging.


Whether it was blasting through berms or charging down rock faces, the TR500 kept its calm.

Suspension Performance

Geometry and frame design play a large role in how a bike feels on the trails, but on a downhill bike suspension is also of the utmost importance, especially given the high speeds at which obstacles need to be dealt with. The combination of the TR500’s Fox 40 FLOAT in the front and a DHX RC4 in the rear felt extremely well matched, working together as a cohesive unit to filter out those brake bumps that can wreak havoc on unprepared hands and forearms. Fox’s claim that they’ve increased the compliance of the 40 FLOAT’s chassis is a welcome one, and on the trail it rang true – the level of stiffness has been reduced from ‘bone-jarring’ to ‘just right’. Previous versions of the 40 could be a bit brutish, and it often seemed like the fork had its own idea of which direction to go in. This feeling is a thing of the past, and the 40 FLOAT strikes an excellent balance between stiffness and suppleness, with a stroke that feels like it combines the small bump sensitivity of a coil sprung fork and the progressiveness of an air spring. The air bleed ports are also a nice touch, a quick way to let out any air that builds up due to heat or pressure changes.

Although air sprung forks like the 40 have become more prevalent, especially among downhill racers, the same can’t be said about rear shocks. The current offerings are getting close, but the feeling of a coil sprung rear shock is still tough to match. The DHX RC4 felt like a high end coil shock should, and silently worked to smooth out the most jarring of impacts, the kind that come from landing way too deep off of a drop, or trying to double up a section of roots only to land a half a wheel length short. The setup for both the fork and shock was straightforward, and minimal tweaking was necessary once the base settings were dialed in.


Built up with a Saint gruppo and a mix of ANVL and Transition branded components, there’s not much that we’d change on the TR500.

Component Check

• Shimano Saint brakes / drivetrain: It’s hard to go wrong with Shimano’s Saint parts group – everything from the brakes to the rear derailleur are well designed to hold up to the rigors of DH riding. The brakes are particularly impressive, with an excellent lever shape complete with dimples for extra traction in the wet. Even though they share many of the same design attributes of the less expensive Zee brakes, the Saints require less force to reach full power, providing an extra level of control that makes it possible to enter corners faster and to wait longer before giving them a pull.

• ANVL Components: Our test sled came with a slightly different build kit that what Transition normally offers, with a smattering of ANVL Components offerings (pedals, stem, handlebar, grips) installed on the bike. I’m a fan of thin, low profile grips, so the thicker Punch grips wouldn’t be my first choice to wrap my hands around, especially since they also have an extra portion of rubber at the front for additional cushioning that ended up being more of an annoyance than anything. Luckily, ANVL offers a more traditional, thin lock-on called the Rasp that is thinner and without the ergonomic shaping. The pedals were grippy, thin, and concave, meeting all of my typical criteria, but since I haven’t put enough miles on them to comment on long term durability, look for a review sometime in the future once they’ve been dragged through the mud and bashed on a few more rocks.

• Transition HD wheelset: The TR500 rolls on Transition’s house brand wheelset, which uses 32 hole, aluminum rims laced up with a 3 cross pattern to a set of sealed cartridge bearing hubs. It’s pretty basic stuff, but it also held up without any spokes coming loose or major dents in the rims, a feat that can be difficult to achieve given Whistler’s wheel eating trails. If anything does happen to the wheels, replacement parts should be easy to find and rather inexpensive, a reassuring thought considering the toll that bike park riding and DH racing can take on components.

Pinkbike’s take:

The TR500 is something special, a downhill bike that feels familiar right out of the box, with impeccable handling that reduces the time needed to unlock its secrets and increases the amount of time available for pushing it as hard as possible. When you’re spending hard earned dollars on lift tickets or race entry fees, the last thing you want is to waste time trying to relearn all the little handling quirks of a bike every time you roll it out of the garage. That’s where the TR500 shines – just hop on and start charging, and the TR500 will get the job done in style, whether it’s roaring across the finish line, or whipping sideways over a floaty booter. While it may not garner the same amount of press as the carbon race steeds of the World Cup circuit, that doesn’t mean it’s any less capable, and the adjustable geometry allows it to be configured to meet just about any rider’s needs. – Mike Kazimer

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Pivot Mach 6 Carbon – Pinkbike Reviewed!

Pivot’s Mach 6 Carbon joined the increasingly popular long-travel all-mountain / trail bike niche towards the end of 2013, and it is unique to their range in that it was designed from the beginning to be a carbon fiber chassis, built around 27.5-inch wheels. Every aspect of the 155 millimeter travel (six inches) frame is optimized for strength and stiffness by using large diameter tubes all ‘round, and voluminous profiling at the bottom bracket and head tube areas. Medium-sized frames, with the shock, reportedly weigh only six pounds (6.27 with the Float-X shock). Like all Pivot dual-suspension bikes, the Mach 6 Carbon employs a dual-rocker four-bar linkage, but this time suspension designer Dave Weagle moderated the pronounced anti-squat function to be more suitable for the smaller chainrings that most riders prefer.The result is more of the bottomless feel that in the rear suspension that most all-mountain and technical trail riders prefer. Backing up its suspension, the Mach 6’s numbers are where they should be; slack enough up front to shred the downs and with ample breathing room in the cockpit for hammering the climbs. Optimizing the design of the Mach 6 for carbon also resulted in the sharpest looking dual-suspension bike that Pivot has made to date. Five sizes are available from X-small through X-large, and Pivot offers seven builds ranging from $4699, to $7599, including Shimano SLX, XT, XT/XTR and XTR, as well as SRAM X9, XO-1 and XX1 components. Our medium-sized test bike, outfitted with the Shimano XTR/XT build and a dropper seatpost, weighed 28.47 pounds (12.94kg), and comes with an MSRP of $6099 USD.

Mach 6 XTR/XT Build
Specifications
Release Date 2013
Price $6099
Travel 155mm
Rear Shock Fox Factory Float X, Kashima, custom tune
Fork Fox Factory 34 Trail Adjust, Kashima 150mm
Headset Pivot
Cassette Shimano HG-81, 11 x 36, 10-spd
Crankarms Shimano XT, 24 x 38
Chainguide NA
Bottom Bracket Shimano PressFit 92mm
Pedals NA
Rear Derailleur Shimano XTR
Chain Shimano XT
Front Derailleur Shimano XT
Shifter Pods Shimano XT
Handlebar Phoenix Carbon 740mm
Stem FSA SL-K, 60mm
Grips Pivot lock-on
Brakes Shimano XT, ICE rotors and pads, 160mm (R), 180mm (F)
Wheelset DT Swiss 350 spline One XM, 27.5″
Hubs DT Swiss 350, straight pull
Spokes DT Swiss Competition S-pull
Rim DT Swiss, XM
Tires Kenda 27.5 x 2.2″ Honey Badger (R), 2.35″ Nevegal II (F)
Seat WTB Vigo Race, Pivot Logo
Seatpost KS LEV dropper

Construction Notes
Pivot’s Carbon frames are made in Asia, by a relatively small factory that limits its production to making elite level frames and components for a handful of lucky brands. The carbon comes primarily from Toray of Japan, and the molding process used in their construction is just finding its way into the most elite-level factories. While the choice of carbon material defines the best from the rest, getting the layers of carbon fibers aligned exactly in the correct orientation and then squeezing them together evenly and with sufficient pressure is of even greater consequence if the goal is to make the lightest, strongest and most reliable structure.


(Top) Flush-type headset cups maximize the area of the head tube junction without adding height to the handlebar controls. Forged-aluminum rockers rotate on double-row Enduro Max ball bearings. The use of a 92-millimeter-wide PressFit bottom bracket provides the maximum width to stiffen the frame there. The asymmetrical swingarm is a convincing argument for carbon.

“The Mach 6 traces a similar profile as its predecessors, but with well-formed lines and refreshing simplicity.”

The Mach 6 frame begins with a stiff plastic shell, molded to the final shape of the part. Layers of carbon are applied to the rigid shell, which fits the steel mold perfectly, so when the mold is pressurized and heated, the carbon layers remain in place while the resin first liquefies, and then catalyzes to its final hardness. Like all monocoque molded carbon structures, the internal pressure is applied with an inflatable bladder, but in the case of the Mach 6, the bladder pressurizes the semi-rigid shell, which in turn squeezes and cures the layers inside the mold with better compaction – and also provides little or no chance for the fibers to migrate from their planned orientation when the carbon matrix is in the slippery, liquefied stage. Essentially, each frame requires two sets of molds: one set to make the semi rigid plastic mandrels and another set to produce the finished parts.

What this means to riders, is that the Mach 6 is light enough to be ridden like a trail bike, laterally rigid to the point where it can hold its line through the scary stuff like a DH sled, and it can take a beating in the hands of a rider who is willing to pay for the price of progression in his or her own flesh and blood. It also means that both the inside and the outside of the Mach 6 frame emerge from the molds in near-finished condition, so all the important bits, like its tapered headset, PressFit bottom bracket, the suspension rocker bearings, even the seatpost, fit just right, every time.

Aesthetics are important to Pivot, but not to the degree that Chris Cocalis will let good looks get in the way of proper suspension placement and frame-strength properties. Some have criticized the curving braces, bulbous bottom bracket forgings and grotesquely offset linkages that the designer has employed in the past to sneak away the last few grams of weight, or to add a handful of Newtons to the torsional stiffness of his welded-aluminum frames. The Mach 6, however, takes full advantage of carbon’s exceptional strength and its molded construction to transcend the limitations of aluminum.

The Mach 6 traces a similar profile as its predecessors, but with well-formed lines and refreshing simplicity. The lower brace for its asymmetrical swingarm, for instance, adopts a rectangular profile to maintain the greatest cross-section while arcing around the tire to maximize mud clearance. Indentations blend the transition where upper rocker link meets the front section of the frame, while keeping the seat tube’s profile as wide as possible for pedaling stiffness. Rubberized leather frame protectors are bonded into molded recessions in the right-side swingarm and the downtube. External cable guides are faired into the frame and the lines for the shifters and dropper seatpost are routed internally. It’s a sweet looking bike.

Suspension Details
Pivot has a longstanding relationship with Fox Suspension, so it comes as no surprise that our Mach 6 was outfitted with the Float X reservoir shock and a 150-millimeter-stroke Float 34 CTD Kashima fork. Like most high-end mountain bikes, the Mach 6’s shock is custom-tuned to match the unique leverage curves of its dw-link suspension. The fork, however, was reported by Pivot to be an off-the-shelf factory tune – a notion that had us concerned that it would duplicate the mushy performance of earlier Fox CTD sliders. As testing progressed, though, it became clear that Fox had put those issues to rest. Pivot says that the Mach 6 is suitable for forks with 150-160 millimeters of travel.

“The new Mach 6 strikes a better balance, with a lower, more stable feeling ride height, and with pedaling that remains just firm enough to accelerate and climb with the shock’s pedaling aids switched off.”

Cocalis stated, in a discussion about the Mach 6 Carbon’s revamped dw-link suspension curves, that shock makers put the external suspension adjustments on there for a reason and that the slightly reduced anti-squat in the suspension provides riders with more tuning options and a suppler, deeper-feeling suspension action. “Anti-squat” is configured into the suspension geometry to counter the tendency of the rider’s mass to lag behind and compress the rear suspension with each acceleration of the pedals. Previous Pivot designs used a lot, which earned them a reputation for being excellent climbers with the suspension set wide open. The negative side of all that anti-squat was that the suspension was hyper sensitive to spring pressure and compression damping changes. The new Mach 6 strikes a better balance, with a lower, more stable feeling ride height, and with pedaling that remains just firm enough to accelerate and climb with the shock’s pedaling aids switched off. With the Float X’s CTD low-speed-compression lever set in the middle position, pedaling is as firm as anyone needs, except for a fussy XC racer, leaving the maximum platform option available for road rides and such.


(clockwise) CNC-machined aluminum caps conceal double-row bearings that help keep the dw-link rockers free from side play. Note how the yoke captures the shock eyelet in the vertical plane. Pivot installs a plastic sag meter to assist in setting up the shock pressure. The gauge sits at about 30-percent of the shock stroke. Fox finally got its Float 34 fork set to rock and roll and it is well suited to the Mach 6. Another look at the shock yoke shows that it pivots from a different location than the rocker link, perhaps to modify the leverage rate of the suspension.

Physically, the Mach 6 rear suspension differs from some designs, because it uses a yoke extension adapted to the shock to place the damper in a better position in the frame, as well as to moderate the beginning and end-stroke changes in the suspension’s leverage-rate curves. Pivot’s design does not require a custom shock, which is good news, because the nature of the beast suggests that many Mach 6 owners will want the option to switch out their shocks to coil-over types, or the damper of the moment. The business end of the yoke simply fits into the existing shock eyelet. As mentioned earlier in the text, Pivot installs double-row sealed ball bearings in the highly stressed rocker links, while single-row bearings are used in the yoke assembly.

Component Shout-Outs

Our build differed from the stated components in a few respects. Both tires were Kenda’s 2.2-inch Honey Badgers, which seemed under-gunned for a bike in the AM/enduro arena (a more aggressive, 2.3-inch Nevegal II is standard spec up front). Happily, the seatpost was upgraded to the KS LEV Integra dropper option. The stem was an FSA Gravity model, which was better suited to the bike than the SLK, which is normally spec’ed. Further highlights include DT Swiss XM 27.5 350 tubeless wheels. The 27-millimeter outside and 22.5-millimeter inside dimensions are more than adequate for aggressive riding, although we’d like to see wider rims in the future. The carbon, 740-millimeter Pivot Phoenix riser bar had a natural feeling bend and sweep-back angle, and the WTB Vigo Race saddle was also remarkably comfortable. For the drivetrain, Pivot chose a Shimano XT two-ring crankset with a sensible. 38 x 24-tooth gear ratio. The direct-mount front derailleur was also an XT item, while the rear mech’ is a clutch-type long-cage XTR Shadow Plus model. If you are going to ride a two-by ten with 26 or 27.5-inch wheels, this is probably one of the better gearing choices. All totaled, our Mach 6 Carbon was well appointed, but decidedly on the lighter side of the all-mountain spectrum.

“The Mach 6 feels lower and more capable than any Pivot we have ridden, but none of that seems to come at the expense of its agile feel in the steering department.

Some bikes feel familiar after a few rides, but the really good ones feel as if you have owned them for a year after only a dozen pedal strokes. The Mach 6 Carbon is an easy ride in all respects. It isn’t overly sensitive to suspension setups and it requires very little from its pilot to negotiate technical terrain. When a bike clicks with its rider like the Mach 6 does, the legs feel fresher, the mind is sharper and the body stays more relaxed. It probably helped that the first ride on the Pivot took place after a light rain and any soil that actually existed in Sedona was certified hero dirt. Throughout the test period, the Mach 6 never showed us a bad day. The bike seemed ready and willing to hit anything that was thrown in front of it and it was one of the best pedaling all-mountain/trail bikes we have tested in recent times.

Setup: Pivot’s toned down anti-squat makes setting up the Mach 6’s suspension straightforward. Set the shock with the sag meter, run the Mach 6‘s negative travel at 20-percent and begin with the dials set at Fox’s recommended settings – exactly half way out from full slow – and both ends of the suspension will be darn close. Sedona’s chunky rocks and steps dictated that we back the low-speed rebound off a few clicks to ensure that the wheels could find their way back to earth when we were going fast. The CTD tunes of the new Float X damper provide more dramatic steps than previous Fox shocks, so the middle position is all that most riders will need or want for a firm pedaling platform. Internal changes in both the fork’s and shock’s compression tunes mean that the Mach 6 rides level and doesn’t dive under braking nor while descending, which restores the CTD lever as the useful tool it was originally intended to be.

Climbing – acceleration: The Mach 6 is a fast rolling bike, and its Kenda Honey Badger tires reduce its rolling resistance in all theatres of operation. The tiny tread blocks of the 2.2-inch Badgers provided a surprising degree of grip, even on the gravelly climbs, assisted no doubt by Pivot’s newly configured dw-link rear suspension that manages to keep the tire connected to ground while gobs of torque is being fed into the drivetrain. Acceleration feels responsive and there is ample room in the cockpit, with the medium-sized frame’s 23.6-inch effective top tube length, to jump up and pedal comfortably out of the saddle. The slack-ish, 71.5-degree seat angle will feel even more slack if the rider chooses to climb steeps with the shock set wide open, which encouraged us to use the Float X’s easily accessible, side-mounted CTD lever for any prolonged ascent or for fast-paced, rolling trails.

Balance – cornering: A hidden benefit of the Mach 6’’s slack, 71.5-degree seat angle is that it allows for a longer top tube without adversely lengthening the bike’s wheelbase. This makes the chassis more maneuverable, and also places the rider in a natural ‘attack’ position between the wheels. The effect is that the rider is rarely caught out of position when faced with a surprise corner, climb or descent. Pivot got the bottom bracket height of the Mach 6 just right: Low enough to make the chassis ride up and out of holes, but not so low that we were bashing the pedals on every stray rock like an early 2000 model Specialized. This is attributable to Pivot’s choice of 27.5-inch wheels, which provide .4-inches (10mm) of bottom bracket drop. Insignificant as it may first seem, the magic of having the bottom bracket axle sit below the level of the wheel axles gives the chassis far more stability in the turns and over chunky terrain than its 13.6-inch BB height number would suggest. Another possible benefit is that, similar to the feel of a good 29er, the mid-sized-wheel Pivot handles turns as if the G-forces are pushing the tires into the dirt. The Mach 6 corners with conviction, tending to drift evenly when pressed beyond available traction – which turned out to be a good thing, because its tires lacked the edging grip of a proper all-mountain tire. We could have pushed the Pivot a lot harder through the bends had it been better equipped for the task.


The Mach 6 has a balanced feel fore and aft that boosts confidence on the downs and traction on the climbs.

Suspension performance: The Pivot’s neutral feeling fore/aft weight balance played well with the distinct performance of its Fox suspension. The chassis remained calm and ready for anything, up or down, which removed a considerable burden from the riders because we didn’t have to search for perfect lines. Barging over the chunky sections was always an option when we missed the opportunity to ride around them. For the truly steep and technical rides, we used about ten psi more in the fork and a slightly softer spring setting for the shock to adjust the bike’s ride height for Sedona’s innumerable ledges and drops. With the CTD left wide open, the Mach 6’s suspension levels the terrain without feeling mushy. We gave the Mach 6 plenty of opportunities, but there was never a sense that the fork or shock was bottoming. Riders seeking the silky smooth feel of a proper gravity bike may be put off by the firmer feel of the Pivot’s suspension. It eats up the big hits and it erases the small chatter quite well, but that said, the rider can always feel what is going on between the rubber and the trail surface. Contemporary riders often set their bikes up a little harsh to achieve a similar level of communication. The Mach 6 accomplishes this without forcing its rider out of the comfort zone.

Descending – technical terrain The simplest way to describe the way the Mach 6 Carbon handles downhills and high-speed sections is that when we looked where we wanted to go, the bike would figure out how to make it happen. Positioned naturally between the wheels, the rider can easily loft the front wheel, pop off of a lip, or catch a sliding rear tire. The Mach 6 feels lower and more capable than any Pivot we have ridden, but none of that seems to come at the expense of its agile feel in the steering department. Some all-mountain bikes deliver a secure, big-bike feel down the steeps, bolstered by ape-hanger handlebars, heaps of suspension travel and a fad-slack head tube angle. Top bikes in the latter category descend like their riders are winning a boxing match, which, admittedly, is pretty damn fun. The Mach 6 Carbon, however, carries its speed like a panther – with calculated movements, springing off of ledges, threading through technical sections, and leaving distinct tracks where its tires have sliced precise arcs around each turn. The ease of which it moves down a mountain has a calming effect that seems to provide a ten-percent margin of error, which more often than not, results in heroic recoveries from mistakes that should have been wrecks.

Issues: Only three complaints were repeated by test riders and all were easily solved. The first was the KS LEV Integra seatpost that constantly crept down about ten or 20 millimeters every hour of riding. The process was slow, so we wouldn’t notice until our legs felt like they were going flat because the saddle height was too low. We were blessed with hero dirt for most of the test period, so the 2.2-inch Kenda Honey Badger tires hooked up well – but the Badgers became bunnies when we pressured them to carve high-speed corners. The only other oddity that we noticed was that, in spite of the silencing action of the Mach 6 Carbon’s rubberized leather swingarm protectors, the drivetrain made a lot more noise than any of us expected when we were banging over the rocks. Perhaps the explanation is that the lion’s share of the bikes we were testing that month had super quiet SRAM one-by drivetrains, and all the clatter of the Mach 6 was simply the chain arguing with the steel front derailleur. Maybe the clutch failed on the XTR rear derailleur. Whatever the reason was, we found it annoying.


(Clockwise) Pivot’s decision to use a two-by-ten Shimano drivetrain proved to be a good one, in spite of the fact that our test riders would have preferred a wide-range, one-by setup. Shimano ICE brakes and rotors are the ones to beat. We were impressed by the fast roll of Kenda’s Honey Badger tires. A network of depressions molded into the new Pivot locking grip creates the sense that the grip is smaller in diameter.

Component Report
Throughout testing, only one component on the Mach 6 Carbon gave us trouble and that included air in the tires and possible wheel truing. What did concern us, in regard to the bike’s components, was that the dropper seatpost is an option and not listed as standard equipment on a $6099 carbon fiber all-mountain bike. One would think that the remote-actuated dropper seatpost defines the category.

• Shimano two-by-ten drivetain: Good – We were ready to rap the Mach 6 Carbon’s knuckles for showing up with a front derailleur, but given the fact that Shimano doesn’t make a cassette (yet) that has low gear larger than 36 teeth, the quick shifting 38 x 24 chainring combination is as good as you’re going to get from the Japanese component maker this season. The gear ratios proved to be far more useful than we anticipated and shifting, as expected, was near perfect. Bad – having a remote dropper lever near a shift lever stinks. The only time you use your left hand on an AM bike is in a do or die situation, where hitting the wrong control is not an option – Shimano insists that you have that option.

• KS LEV Integra dropper post: Good – internal cable routing, an easy-to-adjust saddle-clamping mech’ and a smooth-acting pneumatic extension system make the KS the main competitor to RockShox’s Reverb Stealth. Bad – having the post creep down while pedaling is downright annoying. It’s hard to believe that suspension makers can keep the air and oil inside a shock that sees a million cycles a month, while dropper post makers have struggled for five years to keep the same elements inside a seatpost that sees only a few hundred cycles in the same interval. The good news is that KS is aware of the problem and has made the necessary changes.

• Shimano XT ICE brakes: Good – brilliant feel, powerful stopping and consistent in a wide variety of temperatures and weather conditions. Bad – not having XT ICE brakes.

• Kenda Honey Badger 2.2-inch tires: Good – super tacky rubber sticks to anything and doubles the effectiveness of its minimal tread blocks. If you live where there is ample grip available, the Honey Badger will corner consistently and roll like a cheater XC tire. Bad – as mentioned, it’s not aggressive enough to play with the big boys in the AM/Trail sand box. We’d probably leave the rear tire on and switch to a 2.35-inch Schwalbe Hans Dampf or a Maxxis High Roller for the front.

• Fox suspension: Good – Now that Fox has adjusted the base compression curves for its Float 34 forks, they feel impressive throughout the speed range. The Float X reservoir damper was a winner from the start, and the Mach 6 owes some of its versatile performance to ts easily accessed, side mount CTD lever. Bad – We’ll take a lot of heat for writing good things about the 2014 versions from riders who remember the poor performance of the original Fox CTD suspension.

Pinkbike’s Take:
“Pivot’s Mach 6 Carbon is one of the most enjoyable bikes we’ve had the opportunity to test-ride. It feels light under saddle, accelerates with a quickness that is rare in the all-mountain category and it climbs like a goat. We have come to expect those attributes from Pivot’s mid-travel trail bikes – that is what designer Chris Cocalis does best. What we did not anticipate was the leap that the Mach 6 Carbon has made beyond its predecessors in its descending and technical performance. Pivot’s latest creation is already gaining respect among the sport’s top riders for its outstanding versatility and it will no doubt be touted by many owners as the “one bike to rule them all.” The Mach 6 Carbon could do well in pro-level enduro competition and with a competent rider on board, it can shred DH trails. But you don’t have to go big or go home to enjoy the Mach 6. Assuredly, its strength and capabilities far exceed the genre, but it is genuinely enjoyable in the role of a trail bike – and if the climbs are technical enough, and you have the legs, the 155-millimeter Pivot may earn you a KOM or two. Speculation aside, we came across a Mach 6 Carbon owner during testing who summed up this entire review in two words: ‘Eternal smile,’ he said. ‘That’s all you need to write about this bike.’ – RC

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Pivot Mach 6 Reviewed at Bike Radar!

“Trail-honed speed with major confidence and stiffness make the Mach 6 a gravity ready all-rounder”
By Guy Kesteven

While some companies have taken the lightweight trail approach to their 150mm, 650B (27.5in) wheeled bikes, Pivot have gone for the no-compromise, flat-out fast approach with their new Mach 6.

HIGHS: Extremely stiff and surefootedly slack steering, it’s a long-travel but light all-rounder
LOWS: Tall ride can mask gravity potential; soft pedalling in smaller gears and slightly heavy
BUY IF… You want trail bike feel with big bike capability when it counts

Ride and handling: a grower not a growler
The Mach 6’s tracking stiffness is obvious when you send it obliquely across ruts – even over the ledges of volcanic rock and baked washboard ruts of this hard American desert.

The combination of 650B wheels and the well-controlled Fox Float X damper, which presides over 155mm of rear travel, shrinks impacts impressively. We found ourselves pulling the brakes later and later each time we sessioned the drops and rock gardens of our test trails – then heading right back up for more.

Our trust and belief in the bike was progressive, and that is significant. Like other DW Link bikes we’ve ridden, the Mach 6 naturally sits high in its travel, and Pivot have given it a relatively high bottom bracket for pedalling clearance. That means despite the ample travel and slack 66-degree head angle it feels more trail bike than a gravity enduro machine at first.

You also have to push it that bit harder and lower into turns than a bike that’s nearer the ground already, but that’s something that becomes second nature when you’re riding this bike all the time.

Its smooth suspension movement also means consistent traction and roll over even when you’re pushing the pedals hard, making it a great bike for blasting along contouring trails at serious speed. You do need to make use of the Trail setting of the CTD lever to stop obvious pedal bob in the smaller ring, however, but it is at least easy to reach.

Frame and equipment: practical not pretty
The slightly crowded spliced top tube and dislocated linkage junction of the Mach 6 might not make for the neatest looks, but it creates a seriously stiff chassis. The longer we had it the harder we rode it, and by the end of our test we were smashing through savage braking bumps on near-freefall descents and into blown-out berms, but we never felt it flexing or twisting out of line.

Changing the overlong and lurch-prone 80mm stem for a 60mm and fitting larger tyres would also make the aggressive potential of the bike much more obvious, but not everyone wants their trail bike to feel like a mini downhiller though, even if it is long travel, and at 6.2lb with the Float X this frame will appeal.

It could be built to climb and accelerate as well as much shorter-legged bikes – the DW Link pedals very well in the middle and larger chainrings, giving just enough chain tension under power to feel positive when you’re giving it full gas.

If you’re looking for a low-slung, highly aggressive gravity-focused machine the Mach 6 isn’t right for you. But if you want a pedal-friendly frame for impressively easy trail speed, allied to seriously capable suspension and speed-secure handling, the Mach 6 should definitely be on your shortlist.

Arriving in stores soon!

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Transition Covert 29 Review on MoreDirt.com!

Review: Transition Covert 29

It feels like a lifetime since I have sat down to write about a bike. Probably because I’ve been having too much fun on the Transition Covert 29er that we’ve got our hands on for review.


If you cast your minds back to my review of the Commencal Meta AM2 29er you will remember that I am a firm believer in the bigger wheel size and I can’t really see any reason why more people who ride around trail centres aren’t onboard wagon wheelers yet but that is a different article for another day.

We bumped into Sean from Surf Sales (The UK Distributor for Transition) manning his stand back at the Fort William World cup and we hatched a plan to review the Covert 29. It hasn’t seen a lot of coverage on any other press outlet in print or online for one reason or another and we wanted to change that!

First Impressions

As with most engineering in the world. If something looks right it usually performs right. I was hoping that the Covert 29 fell in that category.


It certainly looks awesome and not like one of those bike that smacks you in the face and says “I’m using massive wheels!” The low rise wide carbon bars state the real intention of this bike though. It wants to go fast, jump high, rip turns so hard the tyres fall off the rims and still pedal back up the other side.

On the spec side of things… I don’t think that there’s a single part that I would upgrade from how the bike arrived with us and that’s pretty rare. Then again it’s the highest model on offer from Transition with a pricetag at an eyewatering 5125.00 with this build.

Where does the Covert 29 really fit?

The 26” Covert has occupied the 160mm trail weapon slot at Transition for the last few years but for 2013 they decided to introduce the Covert 29 and then Transition pretty much realigned the rest of the trail bike range to squeeze it in including a redesign of the Bandit 29 to give a bit more clarity between the bikes.

Transition settled on 140mm travel, a shortish top tube and tweaked angles from its 26” brother for the Covert 29. In the world of the 29er it’s 68° head angle puts it at the slacker end of things but then this bike doesn’t have intentions like most other 29ers. The complete package adds up to a bike that’s stable, fast, fun and is just dying to be thrashed.

It also has what I would refer to as a “desirable part list” straight from the factory! The model we have got our hands on is the “Build 1” otherwise known as the mutts nuts ($$$). No expense has been spared from the Easton Haven Wheels to the Carbon Bars, XT/XTR drivetrain and Fox Float CTD Boost Valve forks and shock. All this could be yours for the grand sum of over £5000. There’s no denying that’s a hell of a lot of money but you can’t deny you are getting a hell of a lot of bike for your money!

Frame: 6061 Heat Treated Aluminum, 140mm, tapered headtube, 12×142 axle
Fork: Fox 34 Float Fit CTD Kashima
Shock: Fox Float CTD Boost Valve Kashima
Wheels: Easton Haven 29 UST
Tires: Schwalbe Hans Dampf
Brakes: Shimano XT
Cranks: Shimano XT
Rear Derailleur: Shimano XTR 10spd
Front Derailleur: Shimano XT
Shift Levers: Shimano XT
Seatpost: Rockshox Reverb
Handlebar: Easton Havoc Carbon
Stem: Easton Haven

Suspension

The Covert 29 we had featured Fox’s awesome 34 140mm travel CTD Fit Kashima coated forks with trail adjust and the Fox Float CTD Adjust Boost Valve Kashima coated shock which have plenty of adjustment but for me still raised a talking point.


Up front I find it impossible to fault the Float 34’s. Set your sag correctly for your weight, 6 clicks of rebound and hit the trails. The Trail adjust feature is brilliant for someone who tends to be a bit more aggressive and wants either a bit more support from the front end or someone who takes it a bit a easier and wants a plusher ride when in the “trail” mode that added a whole new aspect to how I set up and consequently rode the bike.

The rear end of the bike was a bit of a different kettle of fish.

The Fox Float CTD Adjust Boost Valve Kashima coated shock was plush enough alright but unless you were taking it easy I was just blowing through the rear travel like no ones business.


It’s either a combination of a too lighter tune or just too much volume in the rear shock that was causing the problems but I find it a bit frustrating that when the bike is being spec’d out with the help of Fox the factory set up is only going to work for you if your less than about 11 stone or you ride the bike like a complete fairy.

It’s something you could very easily sort with a volume spacer kit for about £25 or a custom tune but I find hard to stomach when this exact model costs in excess of 5000 of your english pounds.

I feel the word thrashing is getting thrown around alot in this review but thats exactly what the bike requires to get the most from it. For me, the shock isn’t up to it.

Component breakdown

Everything was absolutely flawless but I wouldn’t expect anything less. The shifting from the Shimano XT/XTR combination was crisp and effortless with the chain being kept in check with the brilliant clutch rear mech and MRP 2X guide. It keeps everything quiet and for me a quiet bike is a fast bike.


Shimano I-spec mounted shifters and XT brake combo made for a tidy handlebar setup. It’s a shame that couldn’t be said for the cabling!

The cockpit was roomy but it was hard to make all the hoses and cables coming from the controls not look like a mess. Internal cable routing would be the only answer to this one for me but Transition only provide this on the Carbon Covert. Something they will hopefully address across the range for 2014!


Shimano’s XTR Rear mech was flawless. Crisp shifting, no weight penalty and looks the business!

The Ride

It sounds silly but getting a bike that correctly fits you is 100% my first port of call when testing. I would like to think that all bikes I ride with the intention of review start with the same base feeling so that you can genuinely feel and distinguish the differences between them. Even with the big 29” wheels(Which do actually still feel quite big for my squat 5 foot 8 frame) I felt like the bike as a whole was working really well for me.

The harder you rode it, the further you leaned into the turns and the less time you spent braking the more the bike as a whole played into your hands and the wider your grin became.

Larger wheels provide more grip. There’s absolutely no doubting that, especially when you can get your tyre pressures dialled. There is more rubber in contact with the dirt and consequently for smaller, lighter riders this can make 29ers feel a bit cumbersome and almost like your not reaching the ragged edge with a bike. It’s a hard one to explain as most of the time you may still be traveling the same speed as your 26” wheeled buddies but just in a whole lot more control.


I started to experience this with the Covert 29 but when I’d settled in got off the brakes and took a heap sized spoon of man up I re discovered the ragged edge and oh boy was that faster and more fun a lot of other trail bikes. I had one of the most fun afternoons I’ve had on a mountain bike in a long time. Blasting through bracken and drifting loamy turns I finally understood how the Covert worked, What it was good at and how I could make it work for me. In time spending more time on the bike it was on the whole more of the same and I really struggled to find anything wrong with it for me apart from the rear shock set up.

It only makes me think how awesome the Covert 29 could be if you could set the sag correctly on it!

The bike was great in the air on more freeride type lines and was pretty good at pedalling thanks to Fox climb mode on the suspension and the Schwalbe Hans Dampf’s with a suprising lack of rolling resistance from what is quintessentially a soft compound intermediate tyre. It gobbled up the dreaded false flat fireroad climbs which normally would of had me grimmising!

Conclusion

As big wheeled bikes go the Covert is about as aggressive as they come in the geometry stakes. That slack head angle and small cockpit mean the bike is just crying out to be ridden as hard as you can.


It’s fun, fast and long meaning its stable at high speeds hurtling fire road but pop the seat up and stick it in the granny gear and the Covert 29 will still climb with the same speed and composure only seen in much more cross country focused bikes.

I hate to use the “one for all” term but I genuinely feel that’s what the Covert 29 can provide. It’s a complete big wheeled quiver killer.

What a ride!

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Pivot M4X – Tested!

While 4X racing may have slipped out of the limelight it once enjoyed as part of the UCI World Cup, the 4X Pro Tour has been taking up the slack, and the Sea Otter dual slalom continues to be a fan favorite. To meet the needs of four-cross racers and dirt jump/slopestyle riders looking for a stiff, short travel bike, Pivot created the M4X. With 100mm of travel utilizing a dw-link suspension design, the M4X is purpose built for quick cornering and snappy gate starts. Available as a frame only for $2399, building up the bike as tested brings the price up to $4999. With pedals, our complete size large M4X weighed in at 29 pounds.

Pivot M4X Details
• Intended use: 4X / dual slalom racing
• 26″ wheels
• ISCG 05 mounts
• Tapered head tube
• Rear wheel travel: 100mm
• dw-link suspension
• 12 x 142mm rear axle
• Size: small, large
• Weight: 29lbs with pedals
• MSRP: $2399 USD (frame only)

Frame Construction and Geometry
Frame stiffness was high on the priority list when designing the M4X. In four-cross and slalom racing, where every millisecond counts, and getting a good snap out of the gate is crucial, it’s imperative that a frame be as stiff and responsive as possible. To accomplish these goals, the rear triangle of the M4X’s aluminum frame is braced on each side, and is connected with two short links (the upper link is constructed from carbon fiber) to the main frame, while the threaded bottom bracket shell and main pivot attachment point are constructed from one piece of aluminum that is welded to the down tube and seat tube. The lower pivot link has the bearings positioned as far outboard as possible to resist any flex under hard pedalling, and a tapered headtube and a 12×142 rear thru axle are also in place to further aid with strength and stiffness. The large tube diameters found on the M4X are based off of shapes used on the Firebird, Pivot’s longer travel all-mountain bike. Cables are routed along the underside of the down tube, and include routing for a dropper post.


Using Dave Weagle’s dw-link suspension design, the M4X’s rear triangle is connected by two short links to the main frame The upper link is made from carbon fiber, and the lower, blue link is aluminum.

Suspension Design
Pivot uses Dave Weagle’s famed dw-link suspension design throughout their full suspension bike lineup, and the M4X is no exception. “Anti-squat” is the key term to remember when thinking about a dw-link – this design is intended to be more resistant to pedalling induced suspension movement earlier on in its travel, which is when most hard pedal inputs occurs – it’s not very common to find oneself pedalling hard with the rear shock nearly bottomed out. The overall suspension feel of the M4X is intended to be firm, with enough give to suck up a hard landing, while at the same time providing enough of a platform to dive into corners and pop off the lips of dirt jumps. Fox’s 15mm thru-axle equipped dirt jump specific 831 fork handles front suspension duties, while a Float CTD takes care of the rear.


Kashima-coated Fox suspension is found front and rear on the M4X, with the Float CTD in the rear and an 831 CTD ADJ in the front.

Specifications

  • Rear Shock Fox Float CTD
  • Fork Fox 831 CTD ADJ
  • Cassette Shimano XT
  • Crankarms Shimano XT w/ 36T Saint chainring
  • Chainguide E*13 LG1
  • Bottom Bracket Shimano
  • Chain Shimano HG94
  • Rear Derailleur Shimano Saint
  • Shifter Pods Shimano Saint
  • Handlebar Gravity Light – 800mm
  • Stem Gravity Gap 45mm
  • Grip Pivot lock-on
  • Brakes Shimano XT
  • Wheelset DT Swiss Tricon FX 1950
  • Tires Kenda Nexcavator 2.35″
  • Seat WTB
  • Seatpost KS LEV 125mm



It only takes a few minutes of trail time to recognize how well the M4X gains speed – pump through a section of rollers and it’s like firing the afterburners on a fighter plane, creating that extra boost needed to rocket out of a berm and into the next section of trail.

Handling and Geometry
Acceleration aboard the M4X was quick and snappy, and even during out of the saddle sprints the suspension remained unaffected by pedalling forces. It only takes a few minutes of trail time to recognize how well the M4X gains speed – pump through a section of rollers and it’s like firing the afterburners on a fighter plane, creating that extra boost needed to rocket out of a berm and into the next section of trail. A look at the bike’s geometry numbers reveals where these handling attributes come from. With a 67.5 degree head angle combined with a 12.5” bottom bracket height and 16.5” chainstays, this bikes is made for railing turns like there’s no tomorrow. The M4X remained very controllable at high speeds, and partial credit for this stability likely goes to the 23.5” top tube of the size large frame, which is slightly longer than what is typically found on more dirt jump specific full suspension bikes

Since our test bike came equipped with a dropper post, we did take the M4X away from the dirt jumps and pump tracks and into the woods, where as long as the terrain didn’t get too chopped up and technical it made for a playful little trail bike. The M4X rides closer to a hardtail than a plush, bump sucking all-mountain rig, and takes a good deal more finesse to keep it on line when the trail turns technical, but the stiff frame does make it respond quickly to rider input. Smoother, jump and berm filled trails were where the M4X shone, bobbing and weaving like a champion boxer. Fit wise, we wouldn’t want to take this bike on long epics, since it felt at times like we were pedalling a kid’s bike, but shorter riders could likely get away with using the M4X as a trail bike.


Wide bars, a short stem and a low slung frame make the M4X easy to handle in the air.

Jumping
The jet analogy continues to hold true regarding jumping on the M4X, with the bike blasting into the air with ease, even on steep, lippy jumps. Compared to a super-short dirt jump or slopestyle specific bike a little more effort is required to navigate tightly spaced jumps, the type where the transition of one jump almost touches the takeoff of the next, but it didn’t take long to adapt to the M4X’s handling characteristics. The 800mm wide Gravity bars combined with the low top tube height meant that minimal effort was required to maneuver the bike in the air, whether it was to get sideways for style points or to line up for re-entry after hitting a floaty hip jump. The M4X’s suspension is there to soften the blow on mis-judged jumps and drops, but it doesn’t hinder takeoffs, remaining firm to help get the pop required to make it to the landing. The occasions when we bottomed out the suspension were certainly warranted – overshooting every last bit of transition, or coming up slightly short and casing the knuckle of the landing – but the M4X does seem to go through the last portion of its travel rather quickly, with a firmer bottom out feel than we’re used to, leaving no doubt that all 100mm of travel has been used.


A Saint drivetrain, Kenda Nexcavator tires, DT Swiss Tricon 1950 wheels and KS LEV dropper post were part of the M4X’s lust-worthy build kit.

Component Report
• It was interesting to see the M4X come equipped with a KS LEV dropper post. While the bike’s geometry and its firm, 100mm of suspension don’t make the M4X our first choice for all-day epics, the dropper post does gives the M4X additional versatility to access smoother, jump filled trails that require pedalling to get to. The post worked perfectly, and features one of the best feeling and easiest to activate remote levers on the market.

• Although the DT Swiss Tricon 1950 wheels need a special torx spoke wrench to true them, we never had to use it – they stayed straight and true throughout our time on them, and worked well set up tubeless.

• The Saint shifter and rear derailleur worked flawlessly, and the ability to drop two gears with one push was appreciated when trying to gain the extra speed necessary when approaching a jump.

• We’d probably switch out the 2.35″ Kenda Nexcavators for something with a little less tread for riding on hard packed dirt jumps and pump tracks, but on the trails the tires offered predictable grip, and shed mud well in wet conditions, although they suffered a slight loss in cornering traction in dusty, dry conditions.


The M4X is unapologetically built with one goal in mind – to go as fast as possible on 4X and dual slalom tracks, a goal we’d say it easily achieves. In a time where every bike seems to be expected to do it all, a bike built with such a singular purpose stands out. Certainly, the M4X isn’t a slouch on trail rides, and some riders may find it’s all the bike they need, but we’re of the mind set that the M4X is best used for its intended purpose – rallying as fast as possible through berms and over jumps against the clock. The build kit that our test bike came equipped with would be ideal for the rider looking for a bike that’s race ready out of the box – there’s not a component on it that isn’t capable of being piloted to the top of the podium.- Mike Kazimer

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Pivot Mach 5.7 Carbon Frame review at Bike Radar!

“Excellent trouble-taming capability, neutral handling and race bike weight set a new all-rounder benchmark” – By Guy Kesteven, Mountain Biking UK

Pivot’s ultra-versatile Mach 5.7 is now available in a carbon frame version to boost its all-rounder ability even further. A great ride and impressive weight make it an awesome bike.

Ride & handling: An absolute blast, whatever you’re asking it to do

Nudging towards 6in of travel (the Pivot has 145mm/5.7in) normally means a compromise between pedalling feel and acceleration response, but the Pivot drives remarkably well. In granny gear, stand up charges or churning through soft, deep gravel there was no obvious bounce or power loss, and there was just enough traction-enhancing pedal lift to claw us up the steeps or charge out of corners.

With a complete bike weight in Shimano XT based trail trim of 11.9kg (26.3lb), there’s little for gravity to grab hold of either. The Kashima coated Fox shock and DW-Link suspension design work superbly together – plush enough to keep the ride communicative without ever feeling dead or dull at any point in the stroke, and the Mach 5.7 not only handled every potential suspension-shaming situation, but also created skill-flattering speed out of every challenge.

The bottom bracket looks low on paper but the consistently crisp and pert ride height makes it less of an issue than you’d think on the trail, and it’s stable enough to slide the tyres sideways without worry. While the Mach 5.7 doesn’t let you pop its front wheel as easily as more rider-responsive suspension designs, compact sizing means it’s a great bike to move about on and use your bodyweight.

Top this blank-canvas ‘ride what you want, how you want’ character with an accurate, twist-free tapered front and screw-through axle rear, and the new Mach 5.7 is an absolute blast whatever you’re asking it to do. The scope to make it a lightweight trail bike or a longer travel skill stretcher makes it supremely versatile too.

Frame: Lightweight and stiff carbon chassis

At 2.36kg (5.2lb) with shock, frame-only weight is 200g less than the already lightweight alloy version. The Hollow Box high internal compression construction gives significant stiffness increases, and there’s minimal flex from the tapered head tube right through to the 142x12mm screw-axle rear.

The 92mm wide press-fit bottom bracket allows for better bearing support, and the dropper seatpost cable guides and post mount brakes make setup easy. Rubberised leather frame protectors on the rear stays and down tube reduce noise and chip damage, with a retrofit ISCG mount due to be available by next spring.

The Pivot Carbon will come to the UK as a frame-only deal, but there are some bits worth commenting on here. For a start, while XT works great you could definitely save some weight by spending more or choosing SRAM. The 5.7 is begging for a wider handlebar than the relatively narrow FSA SLK too.

Available in stores now!

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Manitou Circus Expert Suspension Fork Review!

I recently wrote a post about my Banshee AMP build, and in it I mentioned that I decided to go with the Manitou Circus Expert fork. After spending some quality time shredding on the new rig I am confident enough to put my thoughts on the Circus Expert down on paper – err, screen.

Last year I installed a Circus Comp on my older DJ bike and spent a long time riding it. I was so impressed by how well the fork performed that I was itching to give the top model a go. After talking with Ed Kwaterski, the product manager at Manitou, about the new Banshee Amp project that I was putting together, he was more than happy to offer up the Circus Expert for review.

Specs
The Manitou Circus Expert is much like the Comp, but with a few changes. For starters there is a big difference in weight: at 2,134 grams the Expert is 300 grams lighter than the Comp.

Where did that weight savings come from? Well for one thing, the stanchions on the Expert are made from 7050 aluminum (high strength aircraft grade metal that is both stiff and fatigue resistant), compared to the 4130 chromoly in the Comp.

The second key feature is the lighter ACT spring in the Expert vs. the coil in the Comp. Lastly, the Expert’s steering crown is hollow for additional weight savings.

With the ACT spring, you get weight savings from having the preload adjustments taken care of by the air chamber, while the coil takes care of the travel. The ACT system also adds to the bottom-out resistance when you’re near the end of the travel. As an added measure, the Circus Expert includes dual bump stops (one per leg) to keep things from smashing together when you case it badly.

What remains the same is the proven 20mm hex through-axle and the two bolts per leg arrangement. The same goes for the new Absolute+ jumping stack and TPC rebound controls. They didn’t have to change these as they already worked very well.

One feature I am particularly fond of is the clown nose and the sticker pack. Nothing says fun like stickers and a clown nose! They were great entertainment for my son while I assembled the bike.

Installation
Setting up the Circus is pretty easy, and installation took all of fifteen minutes. If you have the tools and want to do it yourself this is an easy fork to attempt.

Tuning the fork didn’t take very long either. I just needed to keep my fork pump handy and I found that I needed a bit less than the recommended air setting for my weight. 200 pounds was in their low range of 20-35 PSI.

Personally, 22lbs of pressure seemed to work best for my weight, but again that is all rider preference. Maybe when I grow up and start doing 360′s I will jack up the pressure, but for now that’s where it’ll stay.

As far as the compression and rebound settings, I am 3 clicks away from lock out on the compression side and smack in the middle with rebound. The only issue with rebound on the Circus is that there are no clicks, just a dial knob. A felt marker can be helpful for keeping track of your favorite positions.


The Test
The Circus is definitely a great match for my Banshee AMP, as both the AMP and the Circus are lightweight and stiff. Overall control is synergistic.

As I explained above, the Circus Expert has some definite improvements over its heavier sibling, and those improvements translate to real-world increases in performance. For instance, the reduction in mass makes the front end lighter and more responsive.

Once tuned, I also found I preferred the overall feel of the spring compared to the all-coil feel of the Comp. The rise in rate as the fork compressed when landing was not sudden but noticeable.

Speaking of compression, the ABS+ damper is right on the money yet again. I found that locking it out on the pump track really gave the bike a bit more drive in the berms and completely eliminated any dive. Even when it was locked out, the damper still functioned respectably.

I tend to lock out the fork when practicing skinnies. At times when I did fall off, usually at very slow speeds but with sudden front-heavy drop offs, I was happy to have that lock on preventing the bike from fully compressing.

On the bigger jumps I kept the compression settings at usually 2 – 3 clicks from lock out. At that setting there was just the right amount of compression dampening. After a while, though, the higher rates of compression did make my wrists a bit sore. It’s a small price to pay for good control over the wheel.

Rebound was a set-and-almost-forget situation. Seeing that most of my DJ riding is usually smooth with only one or two big hits, the rebound settings generally stay the same. The Circus Expert rebound worked consistently well. On the progressive jumps I didn’t feel any packing down, nor did I get the fork to toss me off the bike. The fork just provided good control.

Over the duration of my review I had no issues at all with the fork: no leaks, no creaks, no anything else. I really think Manitou has a winner here for a DJ/4x-style fork. At a cost of $449 MSRP, this fork won’t break the bank and you can still afford to take the kids to the real Circus!

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