2017 Pivot Firebird
Size Tested: Medium
- 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
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.
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 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.
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