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2017 Pivot Firebird

2017 Pivot Firebird

Size Tested: Medium

Geometry: (Here)

Build Overview:

  • Drivetrain: Shimano XT / XTR
  • Brakes: Shimano XT
  • Fork: Fox 36 Factory Fit4
  • Rear Shock: Fox Float X2 Performance Black
  • Wheels: 27.5′′

Travel: 170 mm rear / 170 mm front

Blister’s Measured Weight: 29.8 lbs (13.29 kg) without pedals

Reviewer: 5’9”, 155 lbs.

Test Location: Boulder City, Nevada

MSRP: $6,099.00

Noah Bodman reviews the Pivot Firebird for Blister Gear Review

2017 Pivot Firebird

Caveat

I rode the Pivot Firebird at Interbike’s outdoor demo, which is located at Bootleg Canyon in Boulder City, Nevada. While people like to shun Vegas, the Bootleg trails are a little oasis of awesomeness in a land that’s otherwise dominated by neon excess. Bootleg has a mix of fast, sandy flow, and rocky cheese grater gnarliness that’s plenty technical. If you haven’t been, Bootleg is a worthy stop on any southwestern road trip.

Normally, Blister tries to get as much time on a bike as we realistically can so that we have time to play around with setup, get comfortable with the fit, and hopefully reveal any durability issues that might arise. But for obvious reasons, spending an hour or so on a bike at Interbike’s outdoor demo doesn’t give us the time to give the bike our usual treatment.

That said, there’s a lot of value in riding a bunch of different bikes, back to back on the same trails. Traits that might not be obvious when the bikes are ridden weeks or months apart become evident.

We try our best to get the bikes set up like we’d set up our own personal bikes, so that means dialing in the cockpit and suspension as best as possible, and we’ll often fuss with air pressure and other settings mid-ride to try to address any perceived issues. But given the short time on the bike, there’s only so much we can do, and we also take the component spec as we get it – sometimes the bars are too narrow, the seat too wide, or the tires too… crappy.

The “too long, didn’t read” version of this caveat is simply this: back to back comparisons on great trails are useful, but don’t take this as the final word on these bikes, especially when it comes to maintenance and durability issues.

So with all that in mind, let’s take a look at the Pivot Firebird.

Intro

The Firebird has been in Pivot’s lineup for a long time, and I actually owned one of the original Firebirds a while back. It was a long travel bike, but it still worked surprisingly well as a trail bike due to a more upright geometry and decent pedaling characteristics. But as bikes evolved over the years and got lower, longer, and slacker, the Firebird’s tall, short, and steep geometry became pretty dated.

For 2017, Pivot has completely redesigned the Firebird – it’s caught up with modern geometry trends, and it’s fair to say that aside from its name, there’s not a whole lot of common ground between the new Firebird and the old one. By the numbers, the new Firebird is competitive with any number of enduro rigs on the market, and on the trail it was perhaps the most surprising bike that I rode at Interbike this year: it’s closer to being a legitimate downhill bike than any other “enduro” bike I’ve ever ridden.

The Build

The Firebird I rode was kitted out with Pivot’s Pro XT/XTR 1x group, which is essentially an XT group with an upgraded XTR rear derailleur. The drivetrain functioned smoothly, and XT is always a reliable performer, although upgrading to Sram Eagle is certainly an attractive option.

Suspension on the Firebird is handled by Fox throughout the lineup, with a Float 36 Factory fork offering up 170mm travel in the front, and a Float X2 shock providing a matching 170mm travel out back. The 36 is a fantastic fork that’s a bit more supportive than some of the comparable Rockshox options, and is light enough that it helps keep the bike’s weight reasonable. Personally, I’d rather have the more adjustable RC2 version of the fork (rather than the Fit4 / CTD version), but that might just be me.

Noah Bodman reviews the Pivot Firebird for Blister Gear Review

Noah Bodman on the 2017 Pivot Firebird, Bootleg Canyon, NV.

This was the first time I’d spent much time on the Float X2 rear shock, and I have to say, that thing is really impressive. It’s 99% as smooth as a coil shock, but with the additional tunability of an air shock. Yes, they’re currently being recalled and apparently are prone to explosion, but assuming Fox can iron out that snafu, the Float X2 is perfect on a bike like this.

The Firebird I rode was rolling on DT Swiss M1700 wheels, which are a solid option that holds up well. Pivot also gets a lot of points for including the 36 tooth ratchet upgrade in the hubs, which resolves DT’s problem of worst-on-the-market hub engagement. The higher end build kits from Pivot all come with a Reynolds / I9 wheelset that’s essentially the Reynolds Enduro wheelset that I’ve been spending time on in the 29er iteration. It’s a significant price bump, but those are sweet wheels. Regardless of the build kit, the Firebird is running on Maxxis DHF / DHRII Wide Trail tires, which are, in my humble opinion, the best tires on the market for a bike like this.

The Firebird comes with the new Fox Transfer post, which worked well in my short time on it. Rounding out the build are a Pivot branded stem and carbon bar which were perfectly functional and looked slick.

NEXT: Fit and Geometry, The Ride, Etc

11 Comments

  1. Aaron C October 21, 2016 Reply

    Hi Noah,

    Can you compare the new Firebird to the Canfield Balance (2016 version, if you’ve ridden one)? On paper the geometry seems pretty similar, with about 10mm each added to the chainstays and the top tube. I’d be interested if that’s accurate, and how significantly that impacts the DH performance vs versatility tradeoff.

    • Noah October 21, 2016 Reply

      Hey Aaron,

      Unfortunately I don’t have any real time on the Balance. I have a friend who rides one and he’s certainly fast on it, but he’s fast on most bikes, so there’s that. I think it’s safe to say that it’s in the same ballpark as the Firebird, but beyond that I can’t say with any certainty. But if I manage to get some real time on the Balance, I’ll put together a quick comparison.

      -Noah

  2. Bernard Simmonds October 22, 2016 Reply

    Hi Noah, how does the Firebird compare to the Nomad and SB6?

    Thanks,
    Bernard

  3. Jason October 29, 2016 Reply

    Can you compare the firebird vs Nomad downhill ability, climbing ability, playfulness, and maneuverability on tight twisty single track.

  4. Ben March 21, 2017 Reply

    Noah,

    At 5’10 would you opt for large with 35mm stem or medium with 50mm stem?

    Cheers!

    • Noah Bodman Author
      Noah Bodman March 22, 2017 Reply

      Hey Ben,

      The Firebird’s a pretty long bike, so I’d definitely go medium. I don’t even think you’d necessarily need the longer stem. A size medium Firebird is bigger than many other companies’ size large (for example, the medium firebird is about half way between a Large and an XL Santa Cruz Nomad).

      -Noah

    • Bernard March 22, 2017 Reply

      I’m 6’2″ and the XL with 35mm stem is perfect.

  5. Rich March 26, 2017 Reply

    I just rode the Firebird on a portion of the Whole Enchilada in Moab last week (UPS, LPS, Porcupine Rim). In that type of terrain I found it to be a shockingly good climber, and surprisingly comparable to my 2014 Mach 429 Carbon. I also rode the Yeti SB 5.5 and the Firebird was superior. It got me through extremely technical climbs, then you point it downhill and it gobbles up anything in its path. I also found it to be incredibly responsive in tight, twisty single track when at speed. It likes to go fast, so if you like to go fast you’ll be grinning ear to ear the whole way down. I would buy this over the Mach 6, but I can’t compare it to the Yeti SB 6, as I’ve never ridden it.

  6. JD April 3, 2017 Reply

    Really surprised to hear that the Firebird wasn’t a very efficient climber… I’ve owned the Phoenix Cf and for awhile even ran a dropper on it while waiting for my trail bike, and it was a fantastic pedaller and fireroad climber. Shockingly good actually. Figured the Firebird would be a step above. Vital’s review claims it’s has “efficient pedalling performance rivaling shorter travel bikes” as well.

    Curious if you had more time on it if it would make a difference. Thanks for the review!

  7. Trey April 10, 2017 Reply

    I love my 2017 Firebird, but there is a glaring disappointment that I’ve not seen mentioned in any of the reviews or on my regular forums…Pivot did not see fit to include some sort of rear debris guard on the Firebird. The rear/lower linkage frequently gets chewed up by small pebbles flung up from the trail and tire. No amount of protective tape applied in that area will prevent this. I consider this to be a serious over site on Pivot’s part. Devinci had this problem with their “Wilson” DH bike, and they resolved it with a stout rear guard. Pivot should have seen this coming and done something about it before releasing this bike.

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