January 3, 2017
Chipps spent 12 months aboard the Mach 4 Carbon from Pivot Cycles and gave us this longterm review from Issue #105 of Singletrack Magazine.
Rewind to Issue #105 of Singletrack Magazine for Chipps’ longterm review of the Pivot Cycles Mach 4 Carbon.
When Pivot launched its first bike in 2007, the original Mach 4, it had 26in wheels and boasted 100mm of DW-Link full suspension and an alloy frame, and it found a lot of favour among keen, fast riders.
In the intervening years though, 29in wheels rose to dominate cross-country racing (prompting the launch of the Pivot Mach 29) and the Mach 4 looked a little left behind, despite a couple of revamps. The 26in wheels had dated, as had a ‘mere’ 100mm of travel. Bikes, even race bikes, were being asked a lot more of than back in 2007, so it was time to get planning.
For 2015, the Mach 4 was brought bang up to date (and beyond, even): 27.5in wheels, full Di2 compatibility, a new carbon frame and a very carefully chosen 115mm of travel.
Pivot built prototypes with increasing (and then decreasing) amounts of travel until it reached what it thought was the ideal mix of snappy handling and trail capability. The redesign of the frame also coincided with the early whispering of Shimano’s Di2 XTR groupset, so Pivot worked with Shimano to try to make the bike as compatible and future-proof as possible in those pre-Boost days.
Pivot’s importer, Upgrade Bikes, was keen for us to see for ourselves the level of integration of the frame and sent the frame, plus a pair of X-Fusion forks and dropper post over to Madison to be ‘factory fitted’ with our own XTR Di2 test groupset.
I got to watch the bike being put together and the final result, with concealed internal wires, dropper cables and brake hoses, was impressive. The raw carbon frame has many ports with custom caps for either cables or wires to ensure a clean look. Even the Di2 battery lives behind its own battery hatch behind the ‘rubberised leather’ protection patch on the downtube.
If you like your bikes to be neat and tidy, then you’ll love this – although you won’t love the outer races on the suspension bearings that started pitting with rust spots almost immediately. The Enduro Max bearings inside, meanwhile, were fine and the bike continued to work perfectly for the test without any creaking or crunching. Pulling the bike apart to send back, though, the battery hatch, and other downtube ports had been letting water in, so Pivot needs to work on its ‘real-world’ frame sealing a little more before we’re convinced.
In order to fit as many different test riders on it as possible, we chose to size up to a Large frame while downsizing stem length. This actually fitted riders of 5ft 8in to nearly 6ft fine, and I suspect the Medium might have been a touch cramped if you like a shorter stem.
One aspect of the DW-Link design is that the suspension elements don’t move with the frame sizes so, although there is an XL frame size, it just means there’s a huge seatpost supported by an even bigger extended spar from the top tube. At that height, though, you’re probably better off on the 29in offerings from Pivot anyway. (While we’re at it, the tiny XS frame only gets 100mm travel but offers a super-low standover in return.)
Over the course of the 12 months we’ve had the Mach 4, it’s been ridden fast, ridden slow, raced, taken away to birthday weekends at Coed y Brenin in the pouring rain, ridden on dusty evenings and icy ones alike. It’s never really felt out of place in any situation.
The Mach 4 is an interesting bike that happily surfs the boundary between race bike, show-off bike and trail bike. That extra 15mm of travel and a 120mm fork seems to have given it ideas away from its perceived singletrack use as a super-light trail bike (and ours came in around 26–27lb depending on tyres). The 68/72 angles (with a 120mm fork) are by no means slack these days and yet the Mach 4 had a great ‘faster, faster’ nudge to it when on the rougher stuff. There was not a whisper of delicateness to it and it was only while charging down trails like ‘The beginning of the end’ at Coed y Brenin (an unrelenting torrent of Welsh rock, sharp rollers and evil roots) that I ever wondered if I should really be riding at this pace on this bike.
As a race bike, it has the light weight and the nimble handling for someone who still wants some comfort – such as marathon or 24-hour racers, but with the realisation that 95% of your time will be spent training and ‘just riding around’ – where you don’t want your bike to be a twitchy, over-fragile thing.
It is a true boundary blurrer – is it a trail bike for riders who go out and smash every ride, whether with their mates or their Garmin? Is it a race bike that’s also fun to live with the rest of the time? Or is it a true all-rounder? I’d say that I still want a bit more of a burly feel and a touch more travel in order to eschew my other bikes, but the Pivot Mach 4 does come very close to meeting the criteria for a rider who wants a hard-charging trail bike that’ll do admirable service as a race machine for those number-pinning occasions.
If you sprint out of every corner and like to cover rolling, rocky terrain quickly, then this is a bike that needs to be on your shortlist.
The Pivot Mach 4 Carbon Specifications:
- Frame // Full Carbon with Hollow Box internal molding technology, 115mm travel
- Fork // X-Fusion Sweep, 120mm travel, QR15
- Shock // Fox Float CTD Factory Series, Kashima Coat
- Hubs // Shimano XTR, 100x15mm front & 142x12mm rear
- Rims // Shimano XTR, carbon, tubeless ready
- Chainset // Shimano XTR, 36/26t
- Front Mech // Shimano XTR Di2
- Rear Mech // Shimano XTR Di2, 11-speed
- Shifters // Shimano XTR Di2, 2×11
- Cassette // Shimano XTR 11-40t, 11-speed
- Brakes // Shimano XTR Race, 180mm front & 160mm rear XTR Freeza rotor
- Stem // Gamut Cillos, 40mm length
- Bars // PRO UD Carbon, 740mm Wide, 15mm Rise
- Seatpost // X-Fusion Hilo SL, 125mm travel, 30.9mm
- Saddle // WTB Silverado
- Size Tested // Large
- Sizes Available // X-Small, Small, Medium, Large & Large (Long)
- RRP: £2600 (frame only w/Fox shock). Complete bikes start from £4200