Reviewers’ Rides, Part 2

[Editor’s Note: When our reviewers aren’t out testing various frames and forks and whatnot, what do their own personal builds look like? The Bike Check series asks some of our riders to detail their setups, and explain why they’ve chosen these particular frames and components. First up was Marshal Olson’s bike. Now it’s Noah Bodman’s turn.]

Noah Bodman: 5′ 9″  150 lbs.

Ride Style: While I’m built like an XC guy, my climbing prowess is fairly pathetic. I’m at least a semi-competent descender, so I’m generally looking for bikes that will go uphill with minimal fuss and then kill it on the downhill.

Frame: My primary steed is a Medium 2011 Pivot Firebird
167 mm travel via a Rockshox Monarch RC3
(medium tune for both compression and rebound)

Pivot Firebird, Blister Gear Review
Pivot Firebird

Last winter, I was looking to freshen up the quiver with something in the 6-7″ travel category that was low and slack, while still being manageably light. After spending an inordinate amount of time fawning over geometry charts online, I settled on this frame, in part because I found a smoking dea on it. I hemmed and hawed over going with something carbon, but, in the end, I’m curmudgeonly and refuse to listen to the (alleged) voice of reason. With the exception of the brake levers, there isn’t any carbon on this bike.

As built, the Firebird comes in at a bit over 30 pounds, which by my standards is entirely acceptable for a downhill-oriented trail bike. I measure the bottom bracket on this bike to be right around 13.7 inches, and the head angle sits a bit slacker than the advertised 67 degrees. The Firebird pedals impressively well and roundly achieves my goal of killing it on the downhills. More than anything else, I notice that I can corner this bike really, really hard, which is just a lot of fun. Most of the build is comprised of parts that were reasonably affordable while staying true to my general goals for the bike.


RockShox Lyrik RC, Blister Gear Review

Fork: RockShox Lyrik RC with 170 mm travel

I have a casual, non-monogamous love affair with RockShox, so front suspension comes courtesy of a RockShox Lyrik RC with 170 mm travel. Ideally I would have put an RC2DH on there, but I found a deal on the RC.

The RC’s compression adjustment does a decent job of offering a middle ground solution to bump tracking, however I find that I have a tough time getting the perfect combination of small bump compliance, big hit absorption, and cornering support. This may be something that I upgrade in the future.


SUNRingle Charger Pro, Blister Gear ReviewWheels and Tires: SUNringle Charger Pros with Maxxis Minion DHF 2.3’s mounted to them
(tube in the rear, tubeless in the front)

Especially in the loam that I normally ride in, the DHF’s are the gold standard of predictable traction. I’m running a tube in the rear because, when set up tubeless, I kept ripping the tires off the rim in hard corners.


SRAM X9 Derailleur, Blister Gear ReviewShifty bits / Drivetrain:  X9 with the exception of the cranks, which are Race Face Atlas’s

It’s setup as 1×10 with a 32-tooth front chainring, occasionally swapped for a 36 if I’m feeling zesty, and an MRP 1X guide. While I sometimes miss having a granny ring (see above: lack of climbing prowess), the 1x setup is light, simple, quiet, and works well for 90% of the riding I do on this bike. The X9 parts aren’t quite as crisp (or light) as the XO or XX options, but they work well, and I won’t have to take out a second mortgage if I smash the derailleur on a rock.


Seat and Seatpost:  5″ GravityDropper Turbo with a WTB Silverado protecting my dainty bits from the otherwise uncomfortable end of the seatpost.


Cockpit is a 60mm Truvativ AKA stem mated to a 750 mm Easton Havoc bar in a 20 mm (low) rise

Easton Havoc Bar, Blister Gear Review

I’m less picky about stem length and more picky about handlebars than a lot of people. The 60mm stem is just what I had lying around; anything from 50-80mm would probably work fine. The Havoc handlebar is a good width for an aggressive trail bike, but more importantly has the sweep (9-degree back, 5-degree up) that I like. I prefer thin-ish grips, so I’m using ODI Ruffians.


Avid Elixir CR Disc Brakes, Blister Gear ReviewBrakes: Avid Elixir CR’s, 180mm rotors front and rear

I went with the Avids because (1) I got a good deal on them, and (2) that’s what’s on my other bikes, I have the bleed kit for them, and I haven’t had significant problems with them.

There are a number of good brake options out there right now, but there’s something to be said for not having to carry around different pads and different bleed kits for different bikes.


Leave a Comment