2017 Pivot Firebird

Fit and Geometry

The Firebird is one of the longest bikes on the market – the Medium I rode had a reach of 445 mm, which is more stretched out than the vast majority of bikes in this class. That long front end combined with a slack 65° head angle makes for a bike with a rangey 1204 mm wheelbase, which again is longer than most bikes in this class, and it’s also longer than a lot of full blown DH bikes.

But while the length of the Firebird certainly has an effect on it’s trail manners, the size medium that I rode didn’t feel uncomfortably huge for my 5’9” frame. It’s worth noting that this sizing is a departure from most of the other Pivot bikes. With the exception of the new Switchblade, Pivot’s bikes tend to be short, and I’d opt for a Large on a bike like the Mach 6 or 429 Trail. But I definitely wouldn’t be looking to size up on the Firebird.

The Ride

When I first hopped on the Firebird, the first thing that came to mind was “Dang. This thing is a downhill bike.” And yeah, those first impressions held true for the rest of my ride.

The Firebird isn’t a particularly efficient pedaler, and unless you’re into self abuse, any climbing would involve liberal use of the Float X2’s climb switch. While it’s true that the Firebird’s weight is entirely respectable (29.8 lbs as tested, without pedals), the suspension and geometry make for a bike that’s less inclined to go uphill than most of the other bikes in this class. And on flatter, slower trails, the Firebird feels fairly stupid. It’s long and floppy, and it feels pretty cumbersome at “normal” speeds. To some extent, this is true of most enduro bikes, but the Firebird felt less at home on rolling terrain than bikes like the Transition Patrol or Devinci Spartan – the Firebird is more downhill oriented, but at the cost of versatility.

Noah Bodman reviews the Pivot Firebird for Blister Gear Review
Noah Bodman on the 2017 Pivot Firebird, Bootleg Canyon, NV.

But give the Firebird a little bit of speed and all of a sudden, the bike’s purpose becomes evident. It does a better job than anything shy of a true DH bike at leveling the trail. Any obstacle that’s less than curb height can essentially be ignored. This is particularly noteworthy because the Firebird of old, as well as some other DW-Link bikes, had a reputation for being a bit less supple over smaller chatter. The old Firebird gave up some small bump performance, but retained a bit more pedaling efficiency. The new Firebird is quite different – the pedaling efficiency is significantly reduced, but suspension performance is maximized.

The suspension is fairly progressive, so while the Firebird does a great job of smoothing out smaller obstacles and maintaining traction in corners, it also doesn’t get overwhelmed by larger hits. Even on some bigger jumps that landed in rocky debris, the Firebird’s suspension didn’t flinch.

In addition to its impressively effective suspension, the Firebird has a stiff, overbuilt frame. Throwing the bike into chunky corners revealed little, if any, flex. That stiff frame combined with a moderately short rear end makes the bike a bit easier to play around on. I’m not sure I’d go so far as to call it “playful,” but it’s not the kind of bike that’s only happy when it’s on the ground plowing through chunder – it pops and pumps reasonably well.

Bottom Line

The Firebird, more so than any other enduro bike I’ve ridden, is a mini-DH bike. And to be perfectly honest, I’d actually say it’s more capable than some dedicated DH rigs. While the Firebird isn’t quite as slack as some modern downhill bikes, a fairly long wheelbase combined with excellent suspension make this a surprisingly capable bike on even legitimate downhill trails.

If you’re looking for a trail bike to get rowdy on, the Firebird might give up a bit too much ground on the climbing efficiency and flatter trail fronts for a lot of people – I wouldn’t call it a versatile bike. But for those that are looking for a downhill weapon that, yes, can get to the top of the climb when it needs to, the Firebird is very, very tough to beat. If I was looking for a bike that’d be used for 50% lift / shuttle laps, and 50% rowdy descents with fireroad climbs, I’d put the Firebird at the top of my list.

11 comments on “2017 Pivot Firebird”

  1. 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.

    • 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.


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

    • 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).


  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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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