2018 Pivot Firebird 29

Discussion in 'Bike Reviews' started by herzalot, Nov 20, 2018.



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  1. herzalot

    herzalot iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Laguna Beach
    Name:
    Chris
    Current Bike:
    '20 Pivot Firebird 29
    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.

    EPILOGUE PART II
    I bought a Firebird 29. October 26, 2019.
     
  2. shawndoh

    shawndoh Member

    Location:
    Lake Forest
    Name:
    shawn
    Current Bike:
    I ride all the bikes!
    not clicking that chit...
     
  3. herzalot

    herzalot iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Laguna Beach
    Name:
    Chris
    Current Bike:
    '20 Pivot Firebird 29
    OK, I'll transfer the entire report from the other thread. Stand by.
     
  4. Danmtchl

    Danmtchl Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Bakersfield
    Name:
    Dan
    Current Bike:
    2015 Devinci Troy Carbon 27.5
    Great bike review, I also have ridden this bike and found it fun. But honestly I am not a great reviewer especially something out of my realm. I did Just Outstanding on it. Not as technical as your ride, but still enjoyed it.
     
  5. herzalot

    herzalot iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Laguna Beach
    Name:
    Chris
    Current Bike:
    '20 Pivot Firebird 29
    Isn't Just Outstanding a cliff hanging, death defying, exposure riddled run up near Cannell? Or am I confusing that with something else.
     
  6. mike

    mike iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Western US
    Name:
    Mike O
    Current Bike:
    GG Smash
    JO is the Luge of the Forest, pretty smooth overall.
     
  7. Danmtchl

    Danmtchl Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Bakersfield
    Name:
    Dan
    Current Bike:
    2015 Devinci Troy Carbon 27.5
  8. mtbMike

    mtbMike Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Oceanside
    Name:
    Mike
    Current Bike:
    Ibis Ripmo & Intense Primer
    Nice report. Maybe it's because I ride a medium but I actually prefer 27.5 bikes (like our Tracers) in the chunk and tight stuff. I get the "rollover" benefit on the 29ers but sometimes I also feel like I'm 6 feet up off the ground when rolling over ledges and big boulders. An analogy that fits that you have heard before....I tend to feel like I'm riding "ON" the 29ers vs "IN" the cockpit on 27.5 bikes. Have you seen the new colors/graphics on the 2019 Tracers? I think they did a great job. Maybe by the time you're ready to buy, you can pick up a leftover 2019 for a great price.
     
  9. herzalot

    herzalot iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Laguna Beach
    Name:
    Chris
    Current Bike:
    '20 Pivot Firebird 29
    It's funny you should mention that... when 29ers first hit the scene, I remember riders describing the 29er as feeling "in" the bike rather than "on" the bike because the frame was "enveloped" by the big wheels. I could definitely see that experience for medium or small-sized riders. The wheels look like they come up to the saddle. I definitely felt ON the bike and not in it. As I said, really liked the fit and geometry, but I was a little disappointed at its uphill manners. I would like to try it on Camarillo's switchbacks.
     
  10. mtbMike

    mtbMike Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Oceanside
    Name:
    Mike
    Current Bike:
    Ibis Ripmo & Intense Primer
    That might be the case when I'm seated at times, especially with the dropper down but that whole thing changes when I'm up off the seat and going over the downside of a steep section or big boulder. I'm sure it's different for everybody.
     
    Danmtchl, Cyclotourist and mike like this.
  11. mtnbikej

    mtnbikej J-Zilla

    Location:
    Orange
    Name:
    J M
    Current Bike:
    SC Chameleon SS, SC Hightower

    That used to be the case, but it was more because of the XC geometry and super steep HA’s.

    Nowadays the fit is still similar to all other bikes.

    I personally still don’t find the big wagon wheels to be lacking in nimbleness. It is just a little different feel than what you are used to. I’d imagine if you demo’d that bike for a week, you’d feel it better.
     
  12. shawndoh

    shawndoh Member

    Location:
    Lake Forest
    Name:
    shawn
    Current Bike:
    I ride all the bikes!
    Nice review Chris.
    I'd never buy a bike after saying this to myself,
    "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."
     
  13. herzalot

    herzalot iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Laguna Beach
    Name:
    Chris
    Current Bike:
    '20 Pivot Firebird 29
    I agree. If the suspension were as dialed in as it is on my bike, it would be an equivalent ride. Maybe a smidge better with the bigger wheels.

    All said, no need to buy the bike.
     
    Cyclotourist, scan, Danmtchl and 2 others like this.
  14. herzalot

    herzalot iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Laguna Beach
    Name:
    Chris
    Current Bike:
    '20 Pivot Firebird 29
    The bike is just bigger in every way, so on my short ride, I could feel it up the hill and in the turns. I am absolutely in agreement that if I owned it for a week, it would be the new normal. But would the new normal be better? Based on how much fun I had today on my bike, I am not motivated to change.
     
    Cyclotourist, scan, mtnbikej and 3 others like this.
  15. SnakeCharmer

    SnakeCharmer iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Crescenta Valley
    Name:
    Mike, aka "Ssnake"
    Current Bike:
    Vassago/Trek
    The Firebird of old would never have been considered a climber. I wonder if climbing was a consideration while redesigning this bike. It seems that most every bike can go down hill well and go up hill well these days. Sort of destroying categorization.
     
  16. Derkderkall

    Derkderkall Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Monrovia
    Name:
    Derek Allison
    Current Bike:
    2012 Rockhopper 29
    I demod 3 29ers this past weekend. And that is spot on. My current bike is xc geo hardtail. There were spots that I knew I would be flying over the bars had I been on my own bike.

    All the bikes from the weekend felt way more nimble and stable, 29ers have come a long way.
     
  17. Tom the Bomb

    Tom the Bomb Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Alta Loma, Ca.
    Name:
    Thomas Cosgrove
    Current Bike:
    Niner rip 9
    Ok Herz, whats the scoop? You did not like it. Then bought it now like it? I saw you smoked the Luge on it last week . How did it go from meh to Holy hell!
     
  18. Runs with Scissors

    Runs with Scissors iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    West Anaheim
    Name:
    Mark Whitaker
    Current Bike:
    2015 Giant XTC Advanced 1 29er
    I was there - I think it's safe to say he liked it.:thumbsup:
     
  19. SnakeCharmer

    SnakeCharmer iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Crescenta Valley
    Name:
    Mike, aka "Ssnake"
    Current Bike:
    Vassago/Trek
    A good rider can make any bike perform well.
     
    mountaingirl sara and Danmtchl like this.
  20. herzalot

    herzalot iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Laguna Beach
    Name:
    Chris
    Current Bike:
    '20 Pivot Firebird 29
    In my report above, my biggest niggles were that the suspension wasn't set up right for me, and that the bike felt big. I also mention that the geometry was spot on for me, and as I descended Stair Steps after adjusting the suspension, the bike came to life and started showing its potential.

    The bike still feels big, as any long travel 29er will feel. And that's my primary doubt to this day. Am I a 29er guy? I've been on it 6 times now, all on trails that will challenge the abilities of any bike. As soon as I get my Tracer put back together, I will take the Roasted Chicken out on a selection of trails on a Saturday and take the Tracer out on the same trails the next day. That should provide me a solid answer to the question of which wheel size is best suited to me.

    On every ride - whether it was the initial demo ride or my first few rides, I mentioned that it seems to have limitless potential, once dialed in. So I am trying to get it dialed in while getting familiar with the genre of long-travel 29er. On my 6th ride, I finally felt that potential come to life - in a setting where I didn't really expect it - The Luge.

    Why did I buy it after a "meh" demo ride? Mostly opportunity and timing. It was there at a time when I was looking. There aren't any other bikes that match what I think I am looking for any better - although the Ripmo, SB-150, Smash and Carbine are in the same camp. I did not make a rational decision, however I am not one to talk myself into loving the bike just because I bought it.
     
  21. SnakeCharmer

    SnakeCharmer iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Crescenta Valley
    Name:
    Mike, aka "Ssnake"
    Current Bike:
    Vassago/Trek
    It almost sounds as though you are willing to give it up, so soon in it's life. I think it's clear that you are starting to adapt to the Firebird, though. If you are looking for a modern match to your Roasted Chicken, you won't find it. No two bike models are alike. Logically, you will keep this bike and continue to build a relationship with it. That will take several months for a guy who is as dialed in on the personality of any bike as you are. I say just shut up and ride the thing. :laugh::cool:
     
    mike and mountaingirl sara like this.
  22. Faust29

    Faust29 iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    irgendwo
    Name:
    Stef
    Current Bike:
    3 SC is now 2 SC.
    "Meh...", in Herz speak, is high praise for a first ride. There were too many clues in your initial report that gave it away, and hinted to the potential you saw. That's the part I remembered when we were merging onto the 91 and J said you bought a bike. ;) I spend too much time on the forum. :poop:

    "The ledges were noticeably less ledgy. The suspension was performing better, so I opened it up a bit. Hit my lines easily. Almost cheating."

    Six months form now you'll have adjusted and fiddled with every setting imaginable, and you'll wonder how you ever lived on kids' wheels. :thumbsup: Then we'll make that introduction. :D
     
    herzalot, DangerDirtyD, mike and 5 others like this.
  23. Cornholio

    Cornholio iMTB Rockstah

    Location:
    Usually work
    Name:
    Bort
    Current Bike:
    Like electrical current bike?
    I’m pretty sure Roasted Chicken = Firebird and not Tracer. :p
     
    herzalot, DangerDirtyD, mike and 3 others like this.
  24. SnakeCharmer

    SnakeCharmer iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Crescenta Valley
    Name:
    Mike, aka "Ssnake"
    Current Bike:
    Vassago/Trek
    Really? I haven't had my spinach this morning so I guess my brain hasn't woken up yet?
     
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