The Switchblade pivots (sorry) between 29in and 27.5 set-ups but which version really impressed?
Need to know
- Enduro-ready, 135mm-travel 29er that’s 27.5 Plus compatible
- Can take 27.5 Plus tyres up to 3.25in and 29er tyres up to 2.5in
- Geometry designed around a 150mm-travel fork, although it can run up to 160mm
- Pivot Cable Port system offers full Shimano Di2 integration
The Switchblade is Pivot’s new 135mm-travel 29er, and like a number of other recently released models, it can also run 27.5 Plus wheels. To accommodate both wheel sizes, Pivot has redesigned the swingarm and is using a downhill-specific 157mm rear axle design, which it has dubbed Super-Boost-Plus.
Super-Boost-Plus isn’t really a new design, but it has allowed Pivot to remodel the seat and chainstays to create space for a 27.5×3.0in tyre, while at the same time providing adequate heel clearance.
The wider dropout spacing has also allowed Pivot to run wider hub flange spacing — the non-driveside flange is slightly further out — which improves the spoke bracing angle and creates a stiffer, stronger rear wheel.
To ensure the chain-line is correct, downhill bikes pair up the 157mm hubs with wider cranks, but on a trail bike you’d have issues with pedal strikes. To maintain the same crank width (or Q-factor) and straighter chain-line, Pivot decided to run a Race Face Aeffect SL crankset with the offset chainring reversed. It’s a simple solution, but it works.
As well as a new rear end, Pivot has also worked on updating the geometry. It claims the Switchblade is long and low, but by that it means longer in the reach and lower at the seat tube rather than longer in wheelbase and lower in bottom bracket height.
That said, in the past Pivot would probably have run a higher BB and much shorter wheelbase on a 135mm-travel 29er, so this bike definitely has a more contemporary slant to the geometry.
I tried both incarnations of the Switchblade; the 27.5 Plus at Swinley Forest, and the 29er version around the Surrey Hills. I sussed out pretty quickly that I had to run slightly more pressure in the Maxxis Recon 2.8in tyres, on the 27.5 Plus bike, than in the 3.0in tyres I’ve used previously.
Swinley is nothing but buff singletrack, and with around 13psi in the tyres they just felt slow and draggy but at 15psi they started to zip along with enough grip and compliance to hold a line in the flat turns.
Weirdly, the carbon chassis did feel a little bit wooden in that guise, but it wasn’t something I was aware of in 29er mode a few days later. It felt lively, more responsive and a lot more connected. I also didn’t have to worry about tyre pressure — I know exactly how much to run in a 29in Maxxis High Roller II.
First rides are always just a taster, but I definitely preferred the Switchblade as a 29er. It’s not particularly light for a bike with a high-end build, but the attitude and riding position are both spot-on.
It’s rapid uphill, and confident coming back down — it’s the best Pivot trail bike I’ve ever ridden.