In the Pivot lineup, the Switchblade has always stood for versatility – on the trail, in terms of components and in the choice of wheel sizes. We attended the launch of the new Switchblade 2020 in Gran Canaria and found out whether this elegant all-rounder can still maintain its predecessor’s reputation as “one bike for all”.
Pivot fans rejoice – the wait is over. The American brand proudly presented a new Switchblade in Gran Canaria. More modern, more capable and with lots of attention for detail. In a time where enduro bikes are becoming more and more like flat-out shred-machines, trail bikes are following suit and becoming increasingly capable whilst remaining the true all-rounders. Enter the Switchblade 2020: with 160 mm travel up front and 142 mm rear wheel travel supplied by its DW-Link rear triangle. As well as increase in travel, the Switchblade has also been given a more capable and stretched-out geometry. The well-known features of the previous model such as the flip chip and 27.5+ compatibility are retained for 2020. We rode the Switchblade in its 29er configuration in the Pro XT/XTR spec, which comes in at € 7,649.
The Pivot Switchblade in detail
Yes, it’s true: the Switchblade is quite expensive, but also pretty darn chic. With its elegantly shaped carbon tubes and clean design language, it immediately attracts attention. The curved seat stays are not just a visual highlight but also necessary because of the super boost plus rear triangle. They also give enormous tire clearance and enough space for your heels to avoid ugly shoe rub on the frame. Thanks to the flip-chip you are spoiled for choice: there’s a high and low setting as well as the choice between a 27.5+, mullet or 29” setup – everything is possible and with the correct angle set installed the geometry is retained no matter the wheel size choices.
In order to make space for a large bottle inside the front triangle of all frame sizes whilst also allowing a modern geometry with a low-slung top tube and a short seat tube, the Switchblade’s shock has moved from a horizontal to the vertical position. According to Pivot, this also saves weight and enables easier integration of the FOX Live Valve system. Pivot offer the modern electronic suspension as an upgrade kit for the team and pro specs. A FOX DPX2 damper is used in all models, which generates 142 mm of rear-wheel travel. The shock was specially tuned with Fox to optimise the suspension for the frame’s kinematics. As you would expect from a high-end brand, the quality of the finishing touches is high. However, despite great chainstay protection and effective cable clamping, the Pro XT / XTR model we rode made a lot of noise. The reason for this was the clattering pads in the XT brakes. During our test in Gran Canaria, we changed the loud troublemakers for TRP pads so that we could enjoy even the roughest descents in complete silence.
The elegantly shaped tubes, design and the high-quality workmanship immediately trigger the “l want effect
More modern, more capable – the geometry of the Pivot Switchblade
The Switchblade’s geometry has been completely updated. A short seat tube and a low-slung top tube not only enable a dropper post with lots of stroke but also increase freedom of movement. The front has been raised, the reach is 10 mm longer (in size L), the seat angle is 1° steeper and the head angle is 1° slacker. This suggests that the new Switchblade has become more capable on the descents and more efficient when climbing. Compared to the current competition, the geometry is not on the extreme side, but reflects the compromise of a modern trail bike. Only the length of the chainstays is questionable, measuring in at a pretty short 431 mm. The bottom bracket drop of 28 mm in the low setting is also quite small. In the low setting, the head and seat angles are slackened by 0.5° and the bike is available in 5 frame sizes from XS to XL.
|Seat tube||569 mm||592 mm||620 mm||638 mm||661 mm|
|Head tube||85 mm||90 mm||102 mm||108 mm||120 mm|
|Head angle (low/high)||66/66.5°||66/66.5°||66/66.5°||66/66.5°||66/66.5°|
|Seat angle (low/high)||75.5/76°||75.5/76°||75.5/76°||75.5/76°||75.5/76°|
|Chainstay||431 mm||431 mm||431 mm||431 mm||431 mm|
|BB Drop (low/high)||28/19 mm||28/19 mm||28/19 mm||28/19 mm||28/19 mm|
|Wheelbase||1,147 mm||1,169 mm||1,193 mm||1,216 mm||1,241 mm|
|Reach||410 mm||430 mm||455 mm||470 mm||490 mm|
|Stack||610 mm||614 mm||625 mm||630 mm||641 mm|
SRAM or Shimano? It’s your choice!
Pivot are offering the Switchblade in three specs: Pro, Team and Race. With all three models, you have the choice between components from Shimano or SRAM. In addition, the Pro and Team specs have the option to upgrade to the FOX Live Valve for around € 2,200 – not cheap. After our tests in the past, however, we would not advise the upgrade for a capable trail bike. You also have the choice to run the bike with 27.5” or 29” wheels. The 29” setup runs on 2.5/2.4” wide MAXXIS Minion DHF/DHR tires in their EXO carcass. The smaller wheeled option runs on 2.8” MAXXIS Rekon EXO rubber. In our opinion, you can still get a lot more out of the bike using tires with a better carcass. The Pro model also gives you the option to upgrade to Reynolds Blacklabel Enduro carbon wheels. We tested the Pro XT / XTR model in size L with 29 ”DT Swiss M1700 wheels, FOX Factory suspension with a 36 GRIP2 fork, XT disc brakes and FOX Transfer seat post with 175 mm stroke. The bike comes in at a whopping € 7,649. We recommend the Pro spec, because the Race models, which are available from € 6,199, come with the less-sophisticated GRIP cartridge in the fork. Those who spend money on a high-end bike should not compromise on the suspension.
|Team XX1 AXS||Team XTR||Pro X01||Pro XT/XTR||Race X01||Race XT|
|Fork||FOX 36 Factory FIT GRIP 2 160 mm||FOX 36 Performance GRIP 160 mm|
|Rear shock||FOX DPX2 Factory||FOX DPX2 Performance|
|Brakes||SRAM G2 Ultimate||Shimano XTR||SRAM G2 RSC||Shimano XT||SRAM Guide RE||Shimano SLX|
|Drivetrain||SRAM XX1 Eagle AXS||Shimano XTR||SRAM X01 Eagle||Shimano XT/XTR||SRAM X01/GX Eagle||Shimano XT/SLX|
|Wheels||Reynolds Blacklabel Enduro (29″) / Reynolds Blacklabel 27,5 Plus (27.5″)||DT Swiss M1700 (29″) / M1700 (27.5″)||DT Swiss M1900 (29″) / M1700 (27.5″)|
|Tires||Maxxis Minion DHF 2.5 WT / DHRII 2.4 (v/h) – EXO/MaxxTerra (29) / Maxxis Rekon 2.8 – EXO/MaxxTerra (27.5+)|
|Seatpost||FOX Transfer Factory 100 mm (XS), 125 mm (S), 150 mm(M) 175 mm (L, XL)||FOX Transfer 100 mm (XS), 125 mm (S), 150 mm(M) 175 mm (L, XL)|
|Price||€ 11,849||€ 10,149||from € 8,249||from € 7,649||from € 6,549||from € 6,199|
The Pivot Switchblade on the trail
As the geometry figures suggest, the bike’s handling is super intuitive. You immediately feel comfortable on the Switchblade and can’t wait to take it to the trails. The high front and supple rear end give loads of comfort on the way to the trailhead. If you give the Switchblade a kick, it charges forward like a stallion driven by a whip. The well-thought-out anti-squat values minimise any pedal-bob even when sprinting out the saddle – no Live Valve needed here.
The DPX2 shock, which has been specially tuned by FOX, has a small change in its medium compression mode compared to standard. The seat angle puts the rider in a central and a relaxed climbing position, which, in combination with the rear-end traction and the Switchblade’s direct and nimble character make technical uphill sections very fun. However, as soon as you venture into really steep terrain, relaxed climbing is no longer possible. Due to the short chainstays, the bike must then be ridden with an active riding style to keep the front wheel on the ground. The rising front is the only thing that limits the bike on the uphills.
How much fun is the Pivot Switchblade on the descents?
As soon as you point it downhill, it quickly becomes clear that the Pivot Switchblade is a versatile bike. No matter whether on demanding, rough trails or on flowing singletrack, both are a lot of fun with the capable trail bike. It encourages you to charge forward and only comes to its limits on incredibly fast and rough downhill tracks. The rear triangle swallows up small bumps smoothly whilst still giving the rider good trail feedback. It’s stable in compressions and keeps its speed through the corners. Despite the relatively short chainstays, the bike is balanced and generates a lot of grip on both wheels when cornering. Thanks to the well-chosen rear-end progression, we experienced no harsh bottom-outs, even when landing large drops. However, large, repetitive hits are passed on to the rider and it is noticeable that the Switchblade only has 142 mm of rear travel. If you want to make the bike more capable, you should fork out for tires with a stronger carcass.
Tuning Tipps: Change the XT brake pads
and upgrade to tires with a stronger carcass
When the trail gets steep, the Switchblade gives a lot of confidence thanks to its high front and sufficient freedom of movement. You are well integrated into the bike and have everything under control at all times, no matter how technical it gets. The Switchblade benefits from its lively character on flat and built trails. The good acceleration, low weight and the poppy suspension feel encourage you to play and pump. The Switchblade encourages you to pull up off any rock or kicker, loves to flick into corners and turns almost every trail into a playground.
The Switchblade is a true all-rounder on the downhills and also encourages you to explore the limits of what is possible uphill
The Switchblade was able to prove on the rough trail of Gran Canaria that it has great all-round properties and is able to take everything we put it up against. If you are always on the gas and live for ploughing through the roughest trails around, you will want more reserves at the rear – but that’s what the Firebird 29 is for. If you don’t spend all your time on super rough trails, it is a stunner! Anyone who actively rides the Switchblade will never be able to stop grinning.
Our conclusion to the 2020 Pivot Switchblade
Pivot has sensibly revised their multi-talented Switchblade and modernised its ride character. Whether on technical singletrack or built flow trails, the Switchblade stands for pure riding pleasure. The revised DW-Link rear triangle and the balanced geometry ensure traction, playful character and effective uphill properties. However, the short chainstays require an active riding style on steep terrain.
- Great suspension
- Great climbing qualities
- Playful yet capable
- Elegant design and high quality workmanship
- short chainstays limit uphill performance
- Loud XT brakes
Für mehr Infos besucht pivotcycles.com
Words: Jonas Müssig Photos: Stephan Peters, Jonas Müssig