2014 Pivot Mach 6 Carbon
Size Tested: Medium (23.6″ top tube)
Rider Info: 5’9”, 150 lbs.
- Fox Float X CTD
- Fox Float 34 CTD
Days Tested: 1
Test Location: Bootleg Canyon, Boulder City, Nevada
We just wrapped up two days of the Interbike Outdoor Demo, where we tested bikes on the rocky trails around Boulder City, Nevada. We’ll roll out First Looks of other bikes during the next week (including the Yeti SB95 and the GT Fury), so stay tuned. But before we get to our initial impressions of the Mach 6, an important caveat:
Riding bikes at a demo is always kind of tricky. For starters, we didn’t get much time on each bike—at most around an hour, and with many bikes it was just a 25-minute loop. 25 minutes can tell you a lot about how a bike handles, but it certainly doesn’t allow for the customary in-depth, BLISTER analysis.
In addition, these bikes are set up by mechanics at each company’s booth, and while these guys do a great job, there isn’t really time to get each bike dialed for how I’d normally set it up. (If nothing else, I probably would have put wider bars on most of the bikes I rode.)
And then there are the trails. Interbike’s Outdoor Demo takes place at Bootleg Canyon in Boulder City. It’s a little bastion of awesomeness that overlooks the pit of despair that is Las Vegas, and the trails are fantastic: super rocky, with lots of sand, some rocks, some jumps here and there, and did I mention the rocks? Most of my time on these bikes was spent on the more cross-country oriented trails, even though the DH trail system is (in my opinion) the crown jewel of the Bootleg trail network.
The XC trails have a good mix of flowy corners, short punchy climbs, rock gardens, and a bit of chunder. All in all, they’re decent for testing out the different aspects of a given bike, but to really develop a feel for how a bike works, there’s no substitute for riding it for a long time on a lot of different types of trails.
So with all that in mind, let’s talk about the Mach 6.
The Mach 6 is Pivot’s new bike aimed at the enduro crowd. It has 27.5″ wheels, 155mm of travel, a relatively low 13.6″ bottom bracket, and a fairly slack 66-degree head tube angle. As with all Pivot bikes, it uses a dw link suspension design. And take note—Pivot has revised the layout of the rear suspension on the Mach 6, so it looks a bit different than something like the older Pivot Firebird.
The model I tested was spec’d with Fox suspension front and rear. The front was a Float 34 CTD with trail adjust, and the rear was a Float X CTD. Without getting into the suspension in too much detail, I’ll just say that I’ve talked about my dislike for the 2013 34 Float CTD fork before. The 2014 is much better, but it still leaves a bit to be desired, especially in the adjustability category.
I have to admit, the Mach 6 was probably the bike that I was most excited to ride at Interbike. I used to own a Firebird, and I was a big fan of the dw link rear end—it pedals well and still does a great job on the descents. That said, the Firebird has a somewhat dated geometry; the head tube is a little steeper, the bottom bracket is a little lower, and the cockpit can feel a bit cramped.
The Mach 6 takes everything I loved about the Firebird and wraps it into a revised carbon fiber chasis with updated geometry. Both the front and rear triangles are carbon, and, as mentioned above, the linkage has been tweaked. Of note, the revised linkage allows the Mach 6 to have extremely short (16.9″ / 430mm) chainstays, which is impressive for this sort of suspension layout.
The reach of the bike, when compared to the Firebird, has also been tweaked. The medium Mach 6 that I rode has a 15.81″ reach, which is almost an inch longer than the medium Firebird. This extra room makes that Mach 6 much more comfortable, and it comes with the added bonus of giving riders a bit more space to shift their weight fore and aft during technical descents.
On the trail, it’s immediately apparent that the Mach 6 likes to go fast. At lower speeds, the bike felt a bit sluggish, and the slack front end had a tendency to wander. The front also feels somewhat tall, so right away it’s apparent that the bike wants to go down hills—preferably steep ones.
On the way up, the dw link did its thing, which is to say it didn’t do a whole lot. Even with the rear shock in “descend,” the Mach 6 still pedaled pretty well. It’s no XC bike, but it’ll go uphill when needed, and when you need to put some power down, most of that power is going to your rear wheel rather than your rear shock.
But the down is clearly where this bike shines. It’ll plow through chunder while still retaining a feeling of maneuverability, which is pretty noteworthy. Lots of bikes can plow through rock gardens, and lots of other bikes like to play around and whip through corners, but there aren’t that many bikes that really like to do both. The Mach 6 comes in a little bit at the plow-bike end, but it straddles that line pretty well.
Part of the reason I think the Mach 6 retains some of that playfulness is due to its short-ish rear end that’s also stiff. Throwing this bike into corners revealed little if any flex from the frame.
After a few laps on this bike, it was clear that that faster you go, the more the bike will reward you. Conversely, the slower you go, the more the Mach 6 will start to shoot you sideways glances and suggest that maybe you should just go home and watch Dancing With The Stars. This bike wants to go fast all the time, and it doesn’t work right if you don’t oblige.
A Quick Note about Wheel Size
At 155mm travel, the Mach 6 falls into a category where bike companies are pretty evenly split between 26″ and 27.5.” My “regular” bike (Specialized Enduro) has 26″ wheels, but the only 26″ wheeled bike I rode at Interbike was a DH bike. Everything else had either 27.5″ or 29″ wheels.
Is this a harbinger of the death of the 26″ wheel? Personally, I don’t think so. I still like 26″ wheels just fine, especially for places that have tighter trails, or if I’m looking for a more playful bike. But when I compare the 26″ wheels with the 27.5″ wheels, I honestly haven’t noticed a huge difference. The 26″ wheels corner a little quicker, and the 27.5″ wheels roll over bumps marginally better, but in my experience, the differences are fairly small.
So what I’m getting at is that, between 26″ and 27.5″ bikes, I’m not ready to declare a clear winner. I still like both in certain situations, and I’d be perfectly happy riding either on pretty much any given trail.
Bottom Line (For Now)
Out of all the bikes I’ve ridden at Interbike, the Mach 6 is the one that gets me the most hot and bothered. It was the most rewarding to ride hard, and it’s an extremely capable bike in pretty much every category.
Depending on the parts spec, the Mach 6 can pretty easily be built to a competitive weight (mid to upper 20′s), but it’ll still hang just fine when the going gets rough. It wasn’t that long ago that a bike in this weight class that would pedal as efficiently as the Mach 6 does could be a viable cross country bike.
If you’re looking for something that’s slightly less skewed toward the descent, take a look at the Santa Cruz Bronson (check back later next week for the review). It pedals a bit better than the Mach 6, and while it doesn’t have that deep-seated yearning for high speed pillaging that the Mach 6 does, it does an awesome job at more reasonable trail speeds, and can still hang just fine if you feel like getting rad. The Devinci Troy is also worth noting—it’s not as efficient on the climbs, but it’s extremely maneuverable and does a great job of playing nicely in tighter spots while still being well mannered at high speeds.
But for anyone looking for a bike that’ll absolutely kill it on descents while still being entirely bearable on the climbs, the Mach 6 should be high on your list.
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