by Ben Haworth
November 16, 2010
First impressions from the first ride
Pivot Mach 4
From: Upgrade Bikes
Price: £1,599 (frame only)
First things first, the headset dilemma. As described in my last update, I had a bit of difficulty finding the correct headset for the Mach 4. In the end it was Neil at Hope Technology who won the postal race to supply the right headset. Thank you Neil 🙂
(our recent bit about “No More Headset Headaches” has some good news and useful info about this sort of thing)
Anyway, first ride. I finally got to ride the Mach 4 last weekend. I wouldn’t claim it was a massive ride but it was long enough to act as a good shake-down and set-up type of ride.
I still (deliberately) haven’t weighed the bike, so all you weight weenies will just have to wait a bit longer for those particular scores on the doors. It doesn’t feel/ride like a particularly light (ie. sub-26lbs) bike but it definitely has a nippiness and sprightliness about it that you don’t get with bikes that hover around the 30lbs mark. It feels a nice weight for an all-rounder; not too sluggish on the way up and not too sketchy or skittish on the way down. Once the back end was set up properly anyway…
I was reminded just how much a bike’s suspension action can affect how “heavy” the bike rides. On the first couple of climbs the bike felt a bit slow. I upped the air pressure in the rear shock to run closer to 25% sag and this improved things a bit, but not much. It still felt sluggish. During the next climb it occurred to me that I hadn’t ever really set up the rebound damping. As it happens the shock had the rebound dialed all the way off. It was extending far too rapidly. This was causing the bike to bob under rider movement/pedaling (not much, but enough to have an affect). A few clicks of the magic red rebound dial and hey presto – the bike felt a lot “lighter” to climb on. Don’t believe that a suspension design will magically remove all bobbing without you having to fettle. Basic damping know-how and adjustment is still required.
I mention all of this as a reminder that it’s absolutely crucial to spend time setting up suspension. It has more of an affect than you may think. It doesn’t only affect how it absorbs bumps. Brilliant bikes can be made to ride poorly by inappropriate set up.
Back to the test ride…
Seated climbing felt a bit wandery at first. I did wonder if the seat angle was a bit on the slack side but then I took a few steps away from the bike and realised that the saddle position was a bit dodgy. The saddle was quite far back on its rails and was a bit nose-high. After a brief bit of Allen key wielding and saddle shuffling and things were greatly improved.
Again, a reminder of how set up is everything. And it shouldn’t be rushed.
By the time I got to the final descent the bike was just about set up properly! What do I think of the bike? I like it. It’s a relatively long bike, which I think improves balance and stability. And I like to be able to move around the bike a lot. It was still easy enough to pop the front end and/or loft the bike over obstacles. The back end felt nice and punchy. Responsive. The suspension did a good “balancing act” job of digging the tyre in for cornering traction and soaking up roughish stuff as and when required. The bike took moderate sized hits very, very well. I didn’t really encounter any genuinely “big” rough stuff so I’ll pass comment on that. In the slip-sliding filthy conditions it was hard to get any idea of chassis stiffness or flex so I’ll not pretend I have any thoughts on that sort of thing just yet either.
All in all, it was an interesting first ride that was principally about setting things up, tweaking and fettling. I’m looking forward to getting out on the (now suitably set up) Mach 4 for a proper ride ASAP.
Snowdonia is calling…
If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below