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August 30, 2008

Pivot Cycles Mach 4 Review

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Written by: Janne Niini
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Mach 4

About a week ago we published a review of the “Dream Bike”, Pivot Cycles Mach 5.

That bike really felt like a very well thought-out piece of engineering. So, I was quite stoked to get to test another bike from the same manufacturer; Pivot Cycles Mach 4 -  their four inch travel cross country weapon. Big thanks again go to www.pyorahuolto.com and their excellent policy of letting the potential clients to test ride the bikes in their natural environment. This surely beats the normal practice of letting the buyers pump the bike’s shocks in the parking lot for a few minutes. You get so much more out of the test bike when riding  a loop on your normal every day trails.

The Bike – Made for Reaching Mach 4 on Cross Country Races?

The frame has 4 inches of travel, and just like Mach 5,  Dave Weagle’s DW-link system, 8 bearings, integrated bottom bracket and a direct mount front derailleur (if you’re uncommon with this terminology, read more here).

Parts were a mixed bag of quality components, picked by the shop owner himself: Shimano XTR cranks and bottom bracket, Shimano XT front deraillleur, Sram X.0 rear deraillleur, Sram grip shifters, Syntace stem, Fox RLC 100mm fork, Fox RP23 shock, Avid Juicy Ultimate Brakes etc.

What really got my attention were the rims, namely Stan’s ZTR Olympic, weighting about 1,4 kg the whole pair (=just shy of 3,1 pounds). The overall package of the whole bike was also very light, around 10,5 kg, which means about 23 pounds!

The Ride – Mach 4 on the Trails

Usually mountain biking beats skiing in one aspect very clearly: the conditions dominate not so much, even a ride on rainy and muddy weather can be very fun. This time I have to say that the conditions were not optimal and not particularly fun either. Our trails consists of lots of roots and slick rock – and when it gets wet it can be extremely challenging to ride. This time it has rained a week(!) before the ride and especially the tiny moss that grows on the rocks was particularly slimy and slippery.

I was on quite tight schedule and only got ride for about one and a half hour, and the first half of the ride was spent really struggling with the unfamiliar frame and set-up. And just when I felt that I am somehow beginning to “feel it”, it started to pour down water heavily again. So, take this into consideration when reading this review – to be honest I didn’t quite get the feel and flow going on at all this time.

Slimey stuffI had to skip this section…which I normally ride with my full rigid set-up

That being said, the overall feeling of the Pivot Mach 4 was still much more cross country oriented than Mach 5. No suprise probably, but I was kind of expecting a bit “easier”, more comfortable ride. There was nothing wrong with the Mach 4, the suspension system was as good and efficient as in Mach 5, climbing and fast sections went flying but to me the bike felt still a bit too nervous and “twitchy”.

Remember, this coming from a guy that changed straight from freeride bikes to 29er hard tails. I guess 29ers forgive alot of flaws in my riding technique? And this bike, with steepish 71 degree head angle and cross country oriented geometry, wasn’t too confidence inspiring. And that was maybe the biggest difference when compared to the Mach 5. I talked about this with the shop owner and he admitted that lately he has been riding the Mach 5 in cross country events too and wondered if the bigger travel bike was actually any slower at all, even on the fast sections?

The weight difference between the tested bikes was about 1kg (under 2,5 pounds). This might mean alot if you compete very seriously but I guess for normal, more recreational riders the added comfort and ability to absorb bigger hits  means much more?

Also, I was paying attention to super light rims, rode quite carefully and kept pressures high for the conditions. The tires, Schwalbe’s Racing Ralph 2.2″, were also out of their elements in the slippery stuff. Meatier, rougher pattern tires would probably have helped alot in these conditions too?

After testing this bike, I can’t wait to get to test the 29er full suspension rigs. It will be interesting to see how the four inch travel works with the bigger wheel?

However, I’d like to test this bike again on drier conditions. I bet this would be nice rig for the events like Tahko MTB, where there are both technical and fast, roadlike sections and where the weight of the bike actually starts to matter some.

Summary – Pivot Cycles Mach 4 Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Very Light. This set-up particularly with ultra-light rims.
  • Efficient suspension, not much “squat”
  • Cross country oriented geometry
  • Fast and sharp handling
  • Climbing – this bike flies uphill

Cons

  • Requires good riding technique (= fast handling, steepish head angle)
  • Not very “confidence inspiring” for the riders not used to the cross country geometry
  • Price (but you never get good and cheap anyway…)

Autumn trail

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About the Author

Janne Niini
I am a former (not-so-competitive) mogul-skier who nowadays enjoy many aspects of snow-gliding: alpine, telemarking and occasional snowboarding too. I have two small daughters and try to ski with them as often as possible.




 
 

 
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