Out on the trail the character of this bike is defined clearly by the DW-link suspension. It’s a short-link-four-bar system that utilizes drive chain forces to provide ‘anti-squat’. In basic terms, when you load up the pedals, the chain pulls back against the swing arm and stiffens the suspension slightly to resist unwanted bob. Pedal harder when climbing and the suspension stiffens even more. The suspension is free to move w hen descending or pedaling along the flat. Anti squat is used by almost every modern suspension design but in the DW-link this force is even more prevalent. Even compared to the VPP-2 short link-four bar systems used by Santa Cruz and Intense, the Pivot has more anti-squat! This means the suspension can be soft and free to soak up terrain due to the strong anti=squat characteristics.
The Mach 5.7 leverage ratio early in the travel combines with a really light valving tune to make the Fox CTD shock incredibly supple. It takes no effort to get the shock moving once set with the recommended 30% sag. Just push down on the saddle with your thumb and the suspension will compress. The 5.7 feels like it has a coil sprung back end of downhill bike – at least at the start of the travel anyway. This thing virtually erases small bumps, ripples and just about anything else; a real magic carpet ride.
Most trail bikes have more breakaway force than the Mach 5.7 and they usually need it. Without some initial stiction, they’d suffer when it came to pedaling In this regard the Pivot seemingly defies logic; it’s so soft that you can’t help thinking it will pedal horribly. However, within a few strong pedal strokes you realize that this simply isn’t the case. Under power this bike feels responsive and bounds forward like a good 11 kg cross-country bike should – even with the CTD shock set in the super soft ‘descend’ mode.
That’s not to say that the rear end doesn’t budget when you’re out of the saddle. Look between your legs and you will see the shock moving a little bit but it does not feel inefficient or soggy at all. As you stomp on the pedal during the down stroke, the chain tension maximises the anti-squat and the bike drives forward hard.
You can always add some pro-pedal damping by using the middle ‘trail’ setting on the CTD shock but it is not necessary – just pedal this bike in ‘descend’ mode and it climbs, sprints and goes hard. Best of all, it achieves this efficiency without manually activated travel adjustments, remote lockouts, platform damping or stiff initial travel to cover up a design that’s inherently inefficient. With the Pivot you’ll always have the full 5.7 inches of travel at your disposal keeping the rear tire glued to the trail 100% of the time, both uphill and down.
With lots of torque going through the drive chain on a steep climb, you can really fell the rear suspension firm up – it actually causes the back end to rise and helps to keep your weight forward when climbing. There may be a slight loss in bump compliance but for me the compromise was worth it for the gain in pedaling efficiency. If anything the chain torque helps to drive the rear tire into the ground and gain traction. Some like soft and hyperactive suspension for seated climbing up root-riddled trails. If that sounds like you, the DW-link might not be ideal but I feel that Pivot has achieved a great balance between pedaling efficiency and overall suspension activity.
Once the climb has been dispatched with the real fun begins. The chain-growth that we’ve described comes about through a more rearward movement of the wheel-axle. In addition to assisting on the climb, the distinctly rearward axle-path makes the suspension better able to absorb square edge bumps. This effect combined with the super supple suspension ensures that the 5.7 inches of travel irons out the trail like a much longer travel bike. Prior to testing this bike, I was on a new Santa Cruz Tallboy LT. While the big-wheeled Santa Cruz had the edge when it came to clambering up rock ledges at lower speeds, the small-wheeled Pivot ploughted through high-speed square-edge rocks with even greater ease. Perhaps it was the extra 10mm of travel, lighter shock tune and more rearward axle-path all combined. Whatever the case the Mach 5.7 enhanced my descending skills another notch.
One thing that makes the Pivot feel so good is the linearity of its travel. Some bikes will only use 75% of their travel unless you huck from a cliff. The 5.7 will use all 5.7 inches of travel on any moderately rough trail. Whilst this could be a recipe for disaster when you do a drop-to-flat or mistime a jump, the Boost-Valve equipped Fox shock always seems to mitigate the situation. I could use all the travel by riding off a gutter, yet never felt the back end bottom out harshly on the trail.
That said the Mach 5.7 has its limits if you’re taking on really big jumps and drops. There’s certainly a place for more progressive bottom-out resistant suspension; that’s why Pivot employs a more progressive suspension curve on their 167mm travel Firebird.
Out on the trail, the Mach 5.7 was a lot of fun. The suspension turns rocks and roots into pitter-patter under the tires – you know it’s there but the bike remains poised and calm no matter what you throw at it. The new generation 150mm Fox CTD fork is a great match for the rear end on this bike and the 67 degree head angle strikes a nice balance between descending confidence and manageability when climbing. As always the 26 inch wheels give the bike a sense of agility and liveliness that is often lost on bigger wheels.
To summarize this bike makes you want to go fast and push your limits whenever an opportunity arises. It will have you hammering through the rocks, popping off lips and milking the trail for everything it can give – it is a lot of fun!
We recently found some great deals on the Pivot Mach 5.7 from our trusted specialists at Competitive Cyclist so grab yourself a bargain while you can!
An amazingly fun and capable trail bike.