One Chainring, Endless Possibilities
WHICH COMPONENTS STAND OUT?
These are the components enduro riders dream of. The
carbon DT Swiss 1550 wheels are snappy and lightweight.
The upgraded star-ratchet mechanism gives the hubs twice
the engagement points and is a must for anyone who rides
DT Swiss hubs.
The Thomson cockpit is among the best we’ve ever used,
featuring lightweight performance and rock-solid durability.
The new, 31-inch-wide Thomson Downhill bar has a perfect
HOW DOES IT PERFORM?
sweep that we instantly loved. And, of course, there is the
SRAM XX1 drivetrain that we have reviewed in this
Getting it to the top: While it’s clearly not what the
Firebird is designed for, this bike floats up climbs well
when it’s sporting a lightweight build kit like this one.
With almost 7 inches of travel, this machine is gravity
hungry, but it doesn’t require a shuttle
if that’s not an option. Still, if you
have the means (a shuttle-dri-
ving friend), this bike is
more fun on a ride that
has more descending
Pedaling: The dw-
Link suspension design
has a considerable
amount of anti-squat
built in, so it motors
well. The suspension
tends to ride in the top
end of travel, especially
during smooth pedaling
efforts. We ran the low-speed
compression damper right in the
middle of its range, and it prevented
any noticeable pedal bob. With a properly set up shock, the
Firebird is a near-perfect pedaler.
Cornering: The 14-inch bottom bracket might be high on
paper, but the center of gravity on the Firebird feels remarkably low. Carving corners is a breeze, especially at speed. The
geometry has a remarkably balanced feel that puts the rider
in a very neutral position, making it easy to maneuver on the
bike. While the suspension might seem complex, it’s designed
for all-out stiffness, and it’s readily apparent in the ride quality. We couldn’t detect a note of flex, even during hard cornering efforts.
Descending: This is where the Bird puts on its game face.
The 6. 7 inches of travel lay waste to technical trails and
inspire confidence on sections that would make lesser bikes
quiver. It’s not a downhill-specific bike, but your senses will
insist otherwise when the trail gets dicey.
The dw-Link suspension has a very bottomless feel that
tends to come through when you really need it. While the
anti-squat tendencies help pedaling, they don’t affect the
deep-in-the-stroke manners of the design. As a nice bonus,
the Firebird is remarkably playful on descents. Hopping,
manualing and maneuvering this bike over obstacles is
We tested the Pivot Firebird for the September 2011 issue of MBA and loved it. This time, we opted to approach the bike as a “Project MBA” build rather
than relying on a standard Pivot build kit. We decided to go
with a dreams-do-come-true component mix, top to bottom,
with no expenses spared. What we came away with is a bike
that causes a bottleneck at every trailhead and draws a crowd
at the top of every mountain.
WHO IS IT MADE FOR?
The Firebird is an aggressive bike, no question about it, but
that doesn’t mean you can’t pedal the wheels off it as an all-mountain bike. The Bird caters to the rider it’s built for; it
can be a lightweight enduro-slayer or a mini downhill bike.
With SRAM’s new XX1 kit, we were able to build a bike that
blurs the line between disciplines.
WHAT IS IT MADE FROM?
Our Firebird is an aluminum machine through and
through. While the stock version comes with a carbon fiber
rocker to save some grams, we opted for a custom-made aluminum version that would clear a “dream” shock for this
type of riding: the Cane Creek Double Barrel Air. The dw-Link suspension is held together with cartridge bearings and
meticulously machined hardware.
The frame is equipped with a 1.5-inch head tube, which is ripe
for an angle-adjustable headset like the Cane Creek Angleset.
The Angleset slackened the head tube by 1 degree. The frame is
equipped with a custom front derailleur mount that allows the
cage to move with the suspension and improves front shifting,
but our XX1 kit relegated that to the parts bin. We did choose to
take advantage of the ISCG-05 mounts by running an MRP
lower roller, just to test the XX1 with more chain management.
Pivot Firbird project bike