Click here for review. I did indeed demo the Firebird 29 in an XL. Fox 36 RC2 or maybe Grip 2. Fox something or other shock (air with piggyback and climb switch). Shimano XTR Derailleur, 11-46 cassette. 30t Race Face chainring. Geometry felt perfect immediately. A little roomier than the cockpit on my XL Tracer. It didn't really feel like a monster truck (at first) despite it being shod with 2.5" Minions (DHF, DHRII). Dropper post (Fox Transfer) seemed really long, with a lot of it exposed. XT Brakes. First impression - climbing Philips Rd. Philips is a steep paved grind that hurts on my bike (30 t x 10-42 rear), but I can usually make it unless I've already got a lot of climbing under my legs. When I clicked the Firebird into the 46, I was surprised that it felt every bit as difficult as my bike. Perhaps the large wheels and tires? So now let's check out its ability to climb chunk. This is where DW should shine, right? So off I go up some of the chunk. Well, I made it about as far as I make it on my Tracer. No noticeable difference. I really wanted to be blown away. Pushed up to the alternate route, then tried riding again. The bike felt big. I had my hands full riding up the rocky bits, but I made it. Then it was time to hit the best suspension test track in the world - Rock-It. It handled the flatter top section great, but as I dove into the section above the rock garden and the rock garden itself, I had to throttle back some of the speed I normally carry. Bummer. I figured the wagon wheels and blingy suspension would add a few MPH. As I approached the "up and over" section, there was a group of about 15 riders sessioning and filming the rock step-up. They yelled that I was clear, so I wanted to make it smooth and quick for the audience. Then the videographer yelled out "Go old man! Wow, I've never seen someone so old ride a bike before!" It was Mo, and 14 of his disciples. I did clean it with pace and got some cheers. After bantering a bit, and reminding Mo who taught him how to ride that section in the first place, I kept going. I continued through the super quick turns, rock slab and little jump. Again the bike felt a bit big, but pretty damn good. I wish I had let air out of the suspension, as I could now tell it was over-sprung. At the bottom, I had only used half of the (170mm?) of suspension. I typically like my fork to use 85% of it on Rock-It and Luge. Before climbing Cholla, I dropped the fork from 85 to 70 psi, and the shock from 240 to 218. I didn't want to hit Stairs with the suspension too stiff. The Cholla climb felt like it always feels. I was no faster. The front end on the Firebird was more apt to lift than the front of my Tracer. I took it fairly easy down Stairs, as I was alone and I was not confident in the suspension. This is where I noticed the big wheels. The ledges were noticeably less ledgy. The suspension was performing better, so I opened it up a bit. Hit my lines easily. Almost cheating. As I returned to the Pivot van, my summary was "nice bike. Really good geometry." I was not blown away by the bike in any way. It's still on the short list, but there's nothing about it that says "I need to go out and buy this." I want to try the Yeti SB 150, Ibis RipMo and the Intense Carbine next. No hurry. I don't anticipate needing or wanting a bike for at least a year. EPILOGUE: When I got on my bike the following day, my confidence was through the roof. My suspension is as dialed as it can be. The 2.3" tires on 27.5" wheels are more nimble, and the suspension kinematics are nearly identical - at least based on the short test ride I did.