The Pivot Switchblade is an athletic trail bike with a precise and surgical attitude. This aluminum shredder has 135mm of travel and blends stellar climbing abilities with an incredibly fun downhill experience. Four testers spent six weeks hammering this bike around California and Nevada to determine its key ride characteristics. The Switchblade's versatility is impressive as it was comfortable slaying berms on flow trails and holding its own on some burly trails. Climbing performance is predictable and efficient despite weighing nearly 33-lbs. At $3899, our Switchblade 29 XT 1X offers high-end performance at a more attractive price point compared to the carbon version of this bicycle
Pivot Switchblade Aluminum Race XT Review
Cons: Heavy, requires a skilled pilot on gnarly trails
Manufacturer: Pivot Cycles
Compare to Similar Products
Pivot Switchblade Aluminum Race XT
|Price||$3,509.10 at Competitive Cyclist||$5,099 List||$4,899 List||$4,409.00 at Competitive Cyclist||$3,499 List|
|Pros||Stiff frame, quick-witted attitude, precise||Excellent climber, aggressive geometry, rim/tire combination||Lightweight, playful, well-rounded, modern geometry, solid component specification||Extremely well-rounded performance, confident and predictable descending, superb climbing abilities||Affordable, nice component specification, lively, fast climber, lightweight|
|Cons||Heavy, requires a skilled pilot on gnarly trails||Expensive, big impacts are less supportive, handlebars have too much backsweep||Not a brawler, Fox 34 fork can be overwhelmed||Not the most aggressive long-travel 29er, spendy||Non-aggressive tires, steeper head tube angle, requires skilled pilot in rowdier terrain|
|Bottom Line||An incredibly fun and precise bike that sucessfully blends downhill performance with uphill skills.||An aggressive 29er with geometry to get rad while retaining a sporty and nimble feel||We loved the old version, but believe it or not, the new Ibis Ripley is even better.||A well-rounded enduro shredder that can serve as an excellent daily driver.||The Canyon Neuron CF 8.0 is a lively, lightweight, mid-travel trail bike with an XC attitude.|
|Rating Categories||Pivot Switchblade Aluminum R...||Ibis Ripmo GX||Ibis Ripley GX Eagle||Santa Cruz Hightower LT XE||Canyon Neuron CF 8.0|
|Fun Factor (25%)|
|Downhill Performance (35%)|
|Climbing Performance (35%)|
|Ease Of Maintenance (5%)|
|Specs||Pivot Switchblade...||Ibis Ripmo GX||Ibis Ripley GX Eagle||Santa Cruz...||Canyon Neuron CF 8.0|
|Suspension & Travel||DW-Link - 135mm||DW-Link - 145mm||DW-Link - 120mm||Virtual Pivot Point (VPP) - 150mm||Triple Phase Suspension - 130mm|
|Measured Weight (w/o pedals)||32 lbs 15 oz (Large)||29 lbs 7 oz (Large)||28 lbs 14 oz (Large)||30 lbs 2 oz (Large)||28 lbs 10 oz (Large)|
|Fork||Fox 36 Perfromance - 150mm, 36mm stanchions||Fox 36 Performance - 160mm, 36mm stanchions||Fox Float 34 Performance 130mm 34mm stanchions||Fox 36 Performance Elite - 150mm, 36mm stanchions||Fox 34 Rhythm 130mm 34mm stanchions|
|Shock||Fox Float Performance DPS||Fox DPX2 Performance Elite||Fox Float Performance DPS EVOL||Fox DPX2 Performance Elite||Fox Float DPS Performance|
|Frame Material||Aluminum||Carbon Fiber||Carbon Fiber||Carbon Fiber "C"||Carbon Fiber|
|Wheelset||Sun Ringle Duroc 30mm ID w/ Sun Ringle Hubs 157 Super Boost Rear||Ibis 938 Aluminum Rims 34mm ID w/ Ibis Hubs||Ibis 938 Aluminum Rims 34mm ID w/ Ibis Hubs||E*Thirteen TRS+ Rims 29mm ID w/ Novatec Hubs||DT Swiss M 1900, 30mm ID front and 25mm ID rear|
|Front Tire||Maxxis Minion DHF 27.5 x 2.5"||Maxxis Minion DHF WT 29 x 2.5"||Schwable Hans Dampf 2.6"||Maxxis Minion DHR II 29 x 2.4"||Maxxis Forekaster 2.35" EXO 3C Triple|
|Rear Tire||Maxxis Minion DHRII 29 x 2.4"||Maxxis Aggressor WT 29 x 2.5"||Schwalbe Nobby Nic 2.6"||Maxxis Minion DHR II 29 x 2.4"||Maxxis Forekaster 2.35" EXO 3C Maxx Speed|
|Shifters||Shimano XT||SRAM GX Eagle||SRAM GX Eagle||Shimano XT||SRAM GX Eagle|
|Rear Derailleur||Shimano XT 11-Speed||SRAM GX Eagle 12-Speed||SRAM GX Eagle||Shimano XT 11-Speed||SRAM GX Eagle|
|Crankset||RaceFace Aefect 30t||SRAM Descendant 30t||SRAM Descendant Alloy 32T||RaceFace Turbine 30t||Truvativ Stylo 6K DUB 30T|
|Saddle||WTB Vigo Race||WTB Silverado||WTB Silverado 142mm||WTB Silverado Pro||Iridium Trail|
|Seatpost||Fox Transfer - 150mm||KS LEV-SI-150mm||Bike Yoke Revive 160mm||RockShox Reverb Stealth - 150mm||Iridium Dropper|
|Handlebar||Pivot Phonenix Race Aluminum - 750mm||Ibis Aluminum Bar - 780mm||Ibis 780mm Alloy||Santa Cruz Carbon - 800mm||Iridium Flatbar|
|Stem||Pivot Phonenix 55mm w/ 35mm Clamp||Ibis 3D Forged Stem 50mm w/ 31.8mm Clamp||Ibis 31.8mm 50mm||RaceFace Aeffect R 50mm||Iridium|
|Brakes||Shimano SLX||Shimano Deore XT||Shimano Deore 2 Piston||Shimano XT M8000||SRAM Guide T|
|Measured Effective Top Tube (mm)||633||628||625||631||620|
|Measured Reach (mm)||457||473||475||453|
|Measured Head Tube Angle||66.7-degrees||65.8-degrees||66.5-degrees||66.0-degrees||67.1-degrees|
|Measured Seat Tube Angle||74.5-degrees||76.1-degrees||76.2-degrees||71.1-degrees||75.0-degrees|
|Measured Bottom Bracket Height (mm)||346||343||338||335|
|Measured Wheelbase (mm)||1191||1220||1210||1197||1196|
|Measured Chain Stay Length (mm)||430||436||434||444||442|
|Warranty||Three Years||Seven Years||Seven Years||Lifetime||Six years|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Should I Buy This Bike?
The Switchblade should be on your shortlist if you're seeking high-end bike at an attractive price. Despite its weight and a few mediocre components, this bike has a well-designed frame that delivers on the trail. Performance is very impressive and the quick and responsive handling makes for a very, very, fun ride. Yes, there are less expensive bikes that offer impressive performance, but the Switchblade is a stellar offering from a manufacturer typically associated with much higher prices tags.
The Santa Cruz Hightower is another intriguing choice. Just like the Switchblade, the Hightower has 135mm of rear wheel travel but feels slightly more capable on bigger terrain. The Santa Cruz is longer and slacker which lends itself to better high-speed stability. The Hightower can't match the quick and nimble feel of the Switchblade, but it feels more comfortable on rowdy terrain. Climbing abilities are comparable. It should be noted that the Santa Cruz offers a much more airy and spacious cockpit. The entry-level Hightower model is the Carbon R build which sells for $3999 but has inferior components compared to the Switchblade Aluminum XT.
If all of this still seems a little too expensive, the Canyon Spectral offers an unrivaled value at $2399. This 140mm shredder rolls on 27.5-inch wheels and has high-end components such as a Rock Shox Pike and a GX Eagle drivetrain. On-trail performance is almost as impressive as the price tag. The Spectral is a well-rounded bike that boasts reliable climbing and aggressive descending skills. Handling is sharp thanks in part to the wonderful specification of a 2.6-inch Maxxis Minion DHF front tire.
The Switchblade has 135mm of DW-Link travel. This dual-link system features one link slightly above the bottom bracket and another approximately halfway up the seat tube. As the bike moves into its travel, both links rotate in the same direction. This system offers excellent climbing efficiency and isn't heavily affected by braking forces. One of the drawbacks is mediocre small bump compliance. This frame uses Super Boost rear spacing. Super Boost uses a 157mm rear spacing compared to 148mm with normal Boost. This causes problems for interested buyers who want to slap their trusty wheels onto this bike, they won't fit.
Our large Switchblade Aluminum XT 1X has a measured 66.7-degree head tube angle and 74.5-degree head tube angle.
The effective top tube measures 633 mm and the reach is 457 mm. The chainstays are 430 mm and the wheelbase measures 1191 mm. The bottom bracket height is 346 mm.
The Switchblade hit the scales at a lofty 32 lbs 15 oz set up tubeless without pedals This is significantly heavier than all of the aluminum trail bikes we have tested this year. It is also heavier than a few aluminum enduro bikes we tested such as the 2017 Commencal Meta AM and the 2017 YT Capra. We measured the Switchblade to be only 3-ounces lighter than the super-burly, 170mm, 2018 Santa Cruz Nomad Aluminum R. Here at OutdoorGearLab, we typically don't dwell on weight, but it is noticable and worth mentioning on the Switchblade.
- Compatible with 29-inch (tested) or 27.5+ wheels
- 135mm of DW-Link of suspension
- Designed around a 150mm fork
- Super Boost 157mm rear spacing
- Press Fit bottom bracket
- Aluminum build kits ranging from $4099 (tested) to $6199
- Carbon build kits ranging from $5099 to $9399
The Switchblade is a stellar descender that relies on its precise and surgical attitude. This bike is very capable within its travel class but is somewhat limited on burly terrain. The geometry, combined with the stiff frame and aggressive tires, create razor-sharp handling that can't be overstated. The component grouping is largely impressive on the descent.
The Switchblade is in impressive descender. This bike cuts its way down the hill with impressive precision. The 66.7-degree head tube angle creates crisp steering at any speed. The quick and direct handling is backed up by a meaty 2.5-inch Maxxis Minion DHF front tire. One thing that was apparent to all of the testers was how stiff the frame was. Aluminum frames are often said to lack the stiffness of their carbon fiber counterparts. That said, the front triangle is fused approximately 8-inches behind the head tube moving rearward between the top tube and down tube. This fused front triangle paired with very short and stout 430mm chainstays creates a very stiff and responsive frame. As a result, no energy is lost into the frame when yanking on be bars or snapping out of a turn.
With 135mm of rear wheel travel and steep head tube angle, the Switchblade is most comfortable relying on its quick handling. This bike can be pushed beyond its limit carrying speed through truly choppy and steep sections of trail. Things can get out of control quickly when you rattle its confidence. As is the case with most mid-travel bikes, the Pivot can't simply be pointed down the gnar. Small to medium size hits are handled with composure, but rapid-fire bigger lines can be problematic. It's better to utilize the Switchblade's sharp handling to strategically slice and dice down the hill. It should be noted that some gravity-minded riders build up the Switchblade with a 160mm fork and an aggressive shock such as the Fox Float X2. We can't comment on how this bike rides with this burly setup, but it is very intriguing.
The Switchblade's quick-witted attitude lends itself to a very playful feel. Raising the front wheel to manual or wheelie through a dip in the trail is easy thanks to the ultra-short rear end. Popping over logs or holes is super easy due to the manageable wheelbase and responsive frame. Ripping jump lines and slashing berms is more fun than a barrel of monkeys. It was difficult to discern any obvious positive effect of the Super Boost spacing on the suspension feel. But if this new spacing allows Pivot to create such a short, playful, and stiff rear-end, we like it.
The components on our Switchblade XT 1X were reliable, if not flashy, on the descent. The Fox 36 fork with the GRIP Damper worked well enough. It can be tricky to find a suitable air pressure that balances bottom out support and small bump compliance. That said, the chassis on the Fox 36 is burly and isn't easily deflected. The 750mm Pivot branded handlebars are too narrow. While the common 800mm handlebar width is a bit excessive, 750mm is too narrow and detracts from downhill confidence. The Shimano SLX brakes offer reliable performance. The proven combination of Maxxis Minion DHF 2.5-inch and Maxxis Minion DHR II 2.4 works well, plain and simple.
The Switchblade is a stellar climber that provides a firm pedal platform while retaining decent traction. The suspension functions well but has a minor quirk or two. There is no denying that this bike is a bit portly, but the weight isn't a crippling flaw. The short chainstays can cause some problems when navigating tricky climbs. The component grouping functions well on the climb.
The Pivot puts riders in an efficient and comfortable climbing position. The rider is more or less on top of the bottom bracket and power is transmitted effectively. Our 6'1" tester found the top tube to very, very, cramped. Pivot's sizing chart says the large frame is recommended for riders from 5'11"-6'3". If you are 6'1" and over, we would highly recommend the extra large frame. The 346mm bottom bracket height is lofty enough to keep pedaling through crank-grabbing zones.
The DW-Link suspension remains firm under seated or standing pedaling loads. There is minimal pedal-bob. The Switchblade does benefit from the use of the shock's climb switch, but it is largely unnecessary save for those buff climbs or fire road grinds. The suspension is active enough to maintain traction through loose or bony sections of trail, yet firm enough to maximize energy.
The short chainstays on the Switchblade help retain a manageable wheelbase, stiff feel, and impressive handling. This is beneficial when changing lines and cutting a tight corner uphill. The short chainstays can make it difficult to control the front end when punching up steeper sections of trail. If you give the Pivot a short burst of power, the short rear end makes the bike go into wheelie-mode in a hurry. This can cause you to loop out very quickly. After few tough climbs, most testers learned to anticipate when the front wheel will decide to wander and act accordingly.
The Shimano XT/SLX drivetrain offers a cozy 30-46t climbing gear. Testers could find a relaxed cadence for those long, suffering, slogs. The Sun Ringle Duroc rims have a 27mm inner diameter and provide a reasonable footprint for the 2.4-2.5-inch tires. A wider rim would only improve traction.
Pivot is viewed as a premium brand. The $5000+ price tags for their entry-level carbon fiber bikes reinforces the company's high-end image. The Switchblade Aluminum XT 1x is a more affordable and attainable bike that offers a stellar ride. Even if this bicycle is heavy and some components are only mediocre, it shreds. It shreds hard. It is easy to call the Switchblade a solid value.
The Switchblade Aluminum XT offers striking on-trail performance at a reasonable price. Handling is quite impressive and the Switchblade operates with razor-sharp precision. Climbing skills are respectable and, despite its nearly 33-lbs of mass, this bike ascends effectively. Riders seeking a lively bike that can handle a wide range of terrain will love the Switchblade.
— Pat Donahue, Joshua Hutchens, Paul Tindal, Annie Clark