Tested by Scott Crabill
Written by Joss DeWaele
Buying a bike today can be a headache, not because it is difficult to differentiate quality bikes from crap, but because there are so many quality bikes to choose from that the minor differences between them become magnified, often creating paralysis from analyzing what bike is best to meet individual needs and styles. Because there are more quality options to choose from today than ever before, it can be hard to find a bike that stands out from the rest. After spending a good amount of time on this bike and building a good number for our clients, we believe the Mach 6 is one of those stand-out bikes. While a lot of bikes have made the ten setting louder, Pivot’s Mach 6 goes to eleven. Like Nigel Tufnel’s Marshal amplifier, “It’s one louder.”
Scott was able to get one of the first production Mach 6 frames to hit North America in September, and he rode the bike exclusively well into the winter. When the snow started flying here in Salt Lake, Scott was enjoying the bike so much that he escaped to Southern Utah to extend his rigorous testing. In total, Scott got three months of riding this bike exclusively in and around Salt Lake City and Park City, as well as down south in both the Moab and St. George areas. Scott typically rides four to five times per week.
With its roomy cockpit and slack head angle, Pivot’s Mach 6 is built for the kind of stability at speed you’d expect from a 180 to 200mm bike, but its short chain stays and low bottom bracket give it an agility that you’d expect from 150mm-travel bike with smaller wheels. On the trail, it’s easy to reach silly speeds on rough, open trails, yet the bike is light and nimble enough to lay over through successive corners when descents get tighter and twisting.
Part of this agility has to do with the Mach 6’s seat tube angle, which is slacker at 71 degrees (M, L, and XL) than a lot of bikes in this same category. A slacker angle on the seat tube puts the rider further behind the bottom bracket, making for less efficient climbing, but it also allows for a longer cockpit without making the wheelbase too long. Some riders may not like the slacker seat tube angle for what they give up in climbing, but all riders will appreciate the shorter wheelbase when it comes to shifting their mass over the fall line.
The Mach 6 climbs extremely well for how confidently it descends. To say this bike climbs like an XC bike would be an exaggeration, but to say it climbs like a 150mm bike doesn’t seem to capture it quite right either. Although the Mach 6 has a slack head angle, the larger wheels and efficient suspension make it an easy climber on both long smooth ascents and more technical efforts, although it excels on the former over the latter. The Mach 6 was designed for the enduro race format, and it hits the mark. The best enduro tracks race DH-worthy courses, and the Mach 6 is certainly capable on those types of tracks, while still being light and efficient enough to make the transfer stage in time for the next start.
It is no exaggeration to say this bike descends like a small downhill bike. With the larger wheels, longer front end and slack head angle, the Mach 6 is planted and composed when the trail gets rough and fast.
With a total bike weight under 28 pounds, sub-17-inch chain stays and low-slung mass, the Mach 6’s composure doesn’t come from being planted—a term that people will use to describe heavy downhill bikes in a nice way, like complimenting the fat chick on her ‘personality’. Instead, the wheel size, axle path, rear shock, and aggressive geometry make the Mach 6 feel far deeper than we’ve come to expect from this travel range.
The majority of Scott’s riding was done on desert trails, but he never hesitated to brake as late as possible heading into corners, even when there were whooped out braking bumps. Scott didn’t test this bike with a regular Fox Float shock, but he assumes that the Float X combines with Pivot’s DW suspension to make the rear end active under braking for digging in and grabbing dirt to shut down speeds in a hurry. Basically, when riding the Mach 6 Scott felt confident waiting until the last possible moment to shut down speeds before leaning the bike into a corner.
Long Term Durability
With only a couple of months of riding the Mach 6, we can’t use our own experience on the bike to speak to its durability over the long haul, but Pivot’s sophistication in carbon fiber construction and our experience with their bikes over the past three years leave us with little concern. The tighter chain stays create tighter clearance for the rear wheel in the full carbon swing arm, so the cosmetic outer layers will see wear over time from dirt and mud splash from the tire. However, Pivot’s proprietary hollow core internal molding process allows them significant control over the layup schedule on their frames, and with the amount of field testing that went into this frame, Pivot’s engineers built this bike to their DH durability standards. This durability is reflected in the frame’s total weight (with Fox Float X shock) at six pounds, which is heavier than many of the carbon frames you’ll see on the market at similar travel ranges.
The shift cables bow out when the suspension compresses, but we still feel that this is the best possible routing option since wireless shifting isn’t (yet) available for mountain bikes.
The tire clearance in the rear triangle isn’t massive, but it still fits a wide DH tire. While there isn’t a ton of mud clearance, this bike benefits massively in the suspension performance from the short links, in the cornering precision with the stiffly constructed rear triangle, and in the handling with the shorter stays. So while it might be nice to have a bit more clearance in the rear, you’d have to give up a whole lot to get it.
Lastly, the graphics are a bit bold on the green, but they have more subtle offerings as well. That said, if graphics are going to decide your bike purchase, then none of this other shit matters.
This bike has proven so popular that our clients are having a hard time getting one as quickly as they would like. Unlike larger bike manufacturers who will make one run of high-end carbon frames in a given year, Pivot is able to do batch orders for their frames that trickle into the country in waves, allowing them to adjust their orders as demand dictates. So while some of our clients may have to wait a month or two for their bike, they won’t have to wait an entire model year as they would with some of the larger manufacturers, who may hit a homerun with a new model but poorly forecast its potential. With the growing popularity of enduro racing, we feel like this bike will only gain popularity as more and more people start to ride them.
Obviously, no bike can ever climb like an XC bike and descend like a DH bike, but the Pivot Mach 6 comes about as close as we’ve ridden before. Of course, our preference is for the descending capabilities of the bike, and the Mach 6 exceeded our expectations on this front.
Scott Crabill started Go-Ride.com out of his apartment in 1999 by purchasing ten Karpiel frames in hopes that he could get a free one by selling the other nine.
Joss DeWaele started working at Go-Ride in 2006, but took a year-and-a-half hiatus to sling ink for Decline and Road magazines at H3 Publications in Valencia, California.