My Search for the Ultimate Mountain Bike
Ten weeks ago, after a great summer of mountain biking in Utah, I set out to find the best mountain bike on the market. I love the burn of a long aggressive climb, followed by the thrill of a long, fast descent. So I was searching for the best cross-country bike made.
I started visiting bike shops all along the Wasatch Front, seeking information about good quality cross-country bikes. I gathered information, product catalogs, and the personal preferences of the guys running many of the bike shops. Next I jumped on the web, looking for more information and product reviews. After reviewing the information and revisiting several bike shops, I started to demo the top bikes I had researched. After riding several bikes, I really refined my search.
A friend of mine let me ride his Cannondale Rush on a few rides. We have a local trail that has four or five miles of great down hill with all kinds of different terrain. While riding the Rush that day I knew I had to have a bike with at least the comfort of the Rush and with the nimble feel that you were in control and hugging that trail at full speed.
In Utah we also have some great trails that rise above 10,000 feet in elevation. After riding several of these trails I knew I needed a light, aggressive climbing bike. The best climbing bike I found was the Cannondale Scalpel 1 with a full carbon frame. After four hours of aggressive climbing on the Scalpel, I knew the feel I was after for climbing. For all of its strengths in climbing, it did not handle rocky terrain or the down hill very well, so the search continued.
The one thing that most of the bikes that I rode lacked was the ability to shoot through trails covered with midsized rocks and other obstacles. The bike that best met this need was the Titus Racer X. It held true on very difficult trails. It also dug in on the uphill climb because of the Clevis-style Horst Link.
Now all I needed was one bike that had the feel and the strengths that I had selected as my base criteria. So back to the bike shops I went. After a few more test rides, hours of talking to riders and shop techs, I narrowed my search to the Titus Racer X Carbon and a new bike on the mountain, the Pivot Mach 4. Several bike shop owners and managers gave great reviews on the Pivot; I started searching for a bike to demo. I soon discovered that all the demo bikes in Utah had been sold as the main season wound down.
I didn’t give up on my search; a friend of mine found a Pivot Mach 4 in Moab and road it. He told me I had to get on one, and see for myself how nice of a ride it was. So Saturday morning, November 1st, at 8:30 a.m. a friend of mine and I met Rob and Jason from Pivot Cycles in Moab, Utah. They walked us through how the Pivot bikes need to be set up, to get the most from the bike. Setting the bike up right, will turn a good ride into a fantastic one. After a few minutes of setting the bike up for me, we were ready to hit Amasa Back trail in Moab. Fortunately for us, Rob with Pivot Cycles joined us on the ride.
As we started up the trail I was amazed at how the Mach 4 ate up the rocks on the trail. If you have been on that trail, you know there is no shortage of rocks. The Mach 4 absorbed the rocks like no other bike I had ever been on. Talk about smooth, it was smoother going up hill than what I had set as my standard for down hill.
What was also amazing was that it was not only smooth climbing up and over the rocks, but the traction was the best I had experienced. As I got on the pedals, the bike shot forward taking all my energy and moving forward instead of loosing energy to the suspension. It didn’t matter if I had the suspension set for climbing or for down hill, the Pivot, Mach 4 didn’t have any pedal squat. Wow, what a climber!
After climbing for a little while, we had to try some down hill. We rode back down a few sections of trail. I could not believe it was only a 4” travel bike. I thought it absorbed the rocks going up, it really absorbed them going down hill. Braking on the down hill was great as well. I didn’t experience any brake jack. The bike was nimble, easy to throw around, yet capable of handling everything the trail had to give me.
I was so pleased with the bike; I had to let my friend ride it. I took the Racer X we had brought to compare the Pivot against, and let him take the Mach 4. Only a minute or two on the Racer X and I wanted the Pivot back. The Titus would power through the terrain, but it was not the plush ride that the Pivot offered. My friend was impressed as he rode up and down a few sections of the trail. He too was sold on the performance of the Pivot Mach 4.
I got the Pivot back and finished the climb on the Amasa Back trail. There were several steep climbs where I stood up on the pedals to again test the Mach 4, with the suspension wide open, and it climbed with all the power I could give it. I was impressed that it absorbs the rocks and bumps better than any cross country bike I had been on, yet never robbed me of the power I needed to climb the aggressive hills.
After a short break at the top to talk and enjoy the beautiful view in Moab, we hit the trail to come back down. The Pivot delivered an impressive down hill ride. It shot through the midsized rocks that bounce most bikes around, and handled the jumps like a five inch travel bike. Pivot has hit a home run with this bike.
After stopping for lunch and reviewing all the benefits of the Mach 4, we talked Rob into letting us take the Mach 4 on one more ride. We wanted to try a different kind of terrain, so we took the bike out on the Slick-Rock trail. Once again the bike delivered a stellar performance. I couldn’t believe how it climbed, it performs better than a hard tail, yet delivers a nimble comfortable ride. I felt like me and the bike were one.
After a full day of riding, I still felt like I could have just kept on riding. I felt great for that much time in the saddle. I was more than impressed with the performance of this bike. I wonder if the employees at Pivot really realize what they have? I can honestly say after months of searching, I have found the best cross country mountain bike on the market. I have found my next mountain bike — The Pivot, Mach 4.
Business Manager and Biking Enthusiast