Chris Cocalis first introduced the Switchblade in 2001 as the do-it-all all-mountain bike under his brand Titus. 23 years later, the Switchblade is now in its third iteration as one of the most popular models in the Pivot Cycles lineup. The same goal of creating the ultimate all-mountain bike still applies today, but the intended use has expanded further into gravity-oriented performance with each iteration. Upon the second redesign, the Switchblade received high praise from Vital in 2020 for its highly active suspension, light feeling on trail, and confidence-inspiring geometry. Rather than re-invent the wheel, for 2024, Pivot wanted to build on prior success with a refined, next-generation bike.
- Full carbon frame
- 29-inch wheels with mixed wheel compatibility
- 142mm rear wheel travel // 160mm fork travel
- Geometry flip chip
- DW-Link suspension platform
- Size-specific rear center
- Internal cable routing with modular ports
- Pressfit 92 bottom bracket
- Super Boost+ 157mm rear spacing w/ 12mm thru-axle
- 10-year warranty
- Molded frame protection
- Pivot Dock tool system
- Five size options - XS, S, M, L, XL
- UDH compatible
- Measured weight (size XL, no pedals): 31.5 lbs (14.3 kg)
- MSRP: $6,399 - 11,599 USD — Tested, Pro XT/XTR Build with carbon wheel upgrade - $8,999 USD)
Leading up to the press camp, I wanted to revisit the outgoing Switchblade and re-familiarize myself with how it rides to draw comparisons between the two bikes. After two weeks aboard the old bike, I took a trip down the street to Pivot headquarters for a tour around the facility to gain some insight into their development process and get the new Switchblade out on the trails I ride daily. For this article, I'll primarily refer to what changes I noticed compared to the outgoing model.
The new Switchblade sees several refinements with the primary focus on improved descending performance.
Firmly in the mid-travel trail bike category, the Switchblade aims to tackle everything from flowy singletrack to high-speed bike park laps in a lightweight and efficient package. The new Switchblade sees several refinements with the primary focus on improved descending performance. Undergoing the usual longer, lower, and slacker treatment to do so, Pivot has taken a reserved approach that keeps the changes in geometry from going overboard. Subtle tweaks to the DW-Link suspension platform cleverly gain further downhill performance while simultaneously improving pedaling performance.
Like all 29-inch-wheeled bikes from Pivot, the Switchblade is built around the Superboost+ standard. This essentially moves the chain line as far out as possible while maintaining a standard Q-Factor (width between end of cranks) in combination with a 12x157mm rear hub to maximize wheel stiffness. Love it or hate it, Pivot has it pretty well figured out for their use, and it allows them to de-tune frame stiffness by slimming frames down from the most rigid platform possible rather than overbuilding a frame to achieve their stiffness goals. Last year, we took a closer look at how Pivot tunes different frame sizes for riders of all sizes.
When looking closer at the new bike next to the old one, tube profiles are notably slimmer, and facets between tubes are more defined around areas like the seat tube and headtube junctions. Pivot grew the tubes of the frame and still managed to shave 15 grams in the process. Other structural differences are the seat tube diameter being stepped up to 31.6mm from 30.9mm and ports for Fox LiveValve no longer being present below the top tube where the bolts for Pivot's Dock Tool system remain. Attention to detail is prominent, torque specs are labeled on all pivot hardware, cable ports are modular, and Pivot's shock-mounted sag indicator ensures an intuitive setup for riders of all mechanical abilities. Molded rubber frame protection ensures safety against chain slap along the chainstay and rock strikes around the downtube, something a company based in Arizona might be familiar with.
While the visual changes are subtle, the meat and potatoes of the new Switchblade are in the geometry. As a 6'4" rider, I am most pleased to see the slacker headtube angle, size-specific chainstay lengths, and 30mm growth in wheelbase on the size XL. While the headtube angle is only .8 degrees slacker, it does put the front wheel more comfortably in front of the bike when combined with a 5mm longer 500mm reach, growing the front center by 26mm. Chainstay lengths are now size-specific, growing 5mm on size XL for a 436mm measurement. The seat tube angle sees a .5-degree increase across all sizes, putting riders in a more upright position without sacrificing the efficient pedaling position of the old bike for a higher cadence. The bottom bracket height drops 2mm for 2.9mm of drop and further added stability. The frame features a geometry adjustable flip-chip with high and low settings. Switching from low to high results in .5-degree steeper headtube and seat tube angles, a 6mm change in bottom bracket height, and a 5mm growth in reach. The high setting also allows for the use of a 27.5-inch rear wheel without much change to geometry when compared to the low setting with a full 29er wheelset.
A big priority for Pivot with the Switchblade was to increase capability in aggressive terrain, which they felt couldn't be done with geometry alone. Aside from static geometry changes, the revised DW-Link platform uses a longer link than the previous Switchblade, similar to the Firebird and Phoenix 29. A longer lower link helps create more rearward wheel movement at the beginning of the travel and, thus, better square edge absorption. With the rear center growing slightly under sag, a byproduct of the rearward movement is increased pressure at the front wheel and improved tracking at the rear wheel.
Sticking to the solid foundation the past generation bikes have been built upon, the Switchblade is centered around a 160mm FOX 36 fork and 185x55mm FOX Float X trunnion mounted shock with various levels of Shimano or SRAM build kits. Pivot offers the Switchblade in their three-tier level build kit options: Team, Pro, and Race, which range from $6,399-11,399 USD. The Team level is the no-expense-spared option with FOX Factory suspension, full Shimano XTR or SRAM XX Transmission build kits, and DT Swiss carbon wheels standard. The Pro level is the most popular option among consumers. It also features FOX Factory level suspension, a mix of Shimano XT/XTR or SRAM X0 Transmission components, with DT Swiss XM1700 aluminum wheels standard and an available DT Swiss XMC1501 carbon wheel upgrade option. The Ride level is the most budget-conscious option. While it doesn't come up short on quality, featuring FOX Performance level suspension, Shimano SLX or SRAM GX Transmission components, and DT Swiss M1900 aluminum wheels, that base-level $6,399 price tag is going to feel steep for a lot of riders out there.
Setting up the bike couldn't have been more straightforward. Pivot's demo techs referenced the fit sheet I provided and nailed the setup. I anticipated some fine-tuning, but sag was spot on at 30% where Pivot recommends it, and fork pressure was already at my preferred 116psi when I checked it. Every other measurement I sent over was spot on, and all I had to do was think about riding the bike. Hats off to Pivot for ensuring that anyone trying a bike out of their showroom can take the guessing out of bike setup and get the best ride experience possible.
On The Trail
Testing took place at my local Arizona trails between South Mountain in Phoenix and Hawes out in Mesa; the same trails that Pivot uses to develop their bikes. The trails of South Mountain are littered with plenty of rocks and loose dirt, quickly giving me a sense of how the bike handles over square edge hits and in places where traction is minimal. The trails out at Hawes are much faster rolling with less exposed rock, allowing for some higher speed descending and cornering with more momentum.
I felt a heightened sense of confidence diving into turns at higher speeds than I would have on the previous Switchblade
As mentioned, the changes made to the Switchblade are primarily downhill performance-focused. The result is, unsurprisingly, a bike that is far more comfortable at speed. Coming off the old bike, the two most noticeable differences were a more planted rear wheel and increased front-wheel traction when pointed downhill. Rear wheel tracking across chatter and successive hits is excellent, and I felt a heightened sense of confidence diving into turns at higher speeds than I would have on the previous Switchblade. Still, the increased stability doesn't take away from the snappy handling the old bike is known for; the ability to tighten up turns at a moment's notice is still very much there. My body position on the bike felt more in the middle than before but still slightly rearward. The growth in chainstay length put the rear wheel in a more predictable spot for my size XL test bike and provided more room to lean back into than on the old bike.
When it came time to climb back to the top, the benefits of the revised geometry and axle path carried over into pedaling performance. From the first spin up the fire road at South Mountain, power transfer felt as direct as it did on the old bike with no loss of energy over small bumps. There was an improved performance over more significant bumps and ledges which resulted in a less interrupted cadence than before. Compared to the V2 Switchblade, the front wheel was easier to hold down when climbing steep pitches but could lift easily to maneuver ledges while the rear wheel remained glued to the ground. The seated pedaling position is slightly more upright than before, but it still warrants a higher cadence to maximize efficiency; grinding up climbs with less momentum resulted in a more spotty cadence with a bit more bob than when mashing. I found the pedaling performance most beneficial for covering ground quickly.
My test bike came spec'd with the Pro XT/XTR build kit and the carbon wheel upgrade option, retailing for $8,999. The build kit features Shimano Deore XT 4-piston brakes with 200mm front and 180mm rear centerlock rotors mounted to DT Swiss XMC 1501 wheels wrapped in 2.4" Maxxis Minion DHF/DHRII tires in the EXO+ MaxxTerra compound. The drivetrain is a mix of a Shimano Deore XT 12-speed shifter, cassette, chain with an XTR derailleur (the only XTR part on the build), and RaceFace Aeffect crankset. Suspension is a 160mm FOX Factory 36 with Grip 2 damper and 44mm offset and Float X shock. A 200mm FOX Transfer dropper post clamps to a Pivot-branded WTB Pro level High Tail Trail saddle with chromoly rails. Pivot's own Phoenix components are found in the form of an 800mm carbon handlebar, 45mm stem, full waffle grips, seat clamp, and headset. The complete bike without pedals weighed in at 31.5 lbs, which is pretty impressive for a size XL.
The most overlooked part of Pivot's bikes could be their long-term durability. The level of attention to detail Pivot goes to is painstaking, but for good reason. During the visit to their headquarters, Founder Chris Cocalis shared some examples of the quality control process their frames go through in-house and how they relate to manufacturing processes overseas. Cocalis explained how heavily Pivot emphasizes precision manufacturing and how they have gone above and beyond what many other brands do to ensure a controlled manufacturing process from square one. With high torque values on all bolts, aerospace-grade material bearings, and the alignment of their frames being a top priority, I sensed no durability concerns at any point of the frame. Regarding components, the FOX Transfer post was the only concern in my mind, as they have commonly had questionable durability in recent years. Aside from that, the build kits offered all seem to carry the same durability-minded approach when it comes to components.
What's The Bottom Line?
The Switchblade is a ton of fun to ride; it has a playful feeling that pairs excellent bump absorption with plenty of support and traction on tap. The changes Pivot made from the previous generation bike have succeeded in improving downhill performance while maintaining the attributes associated with the Switchblade as a light-footed trail bike made to tackle any terrain. Body position on the bike is more comfortable than before for descending but considers a wider range of use for seated pedaling. I found the bike to be great for covering a lot of ground quickly, whether going flat out across rolling singletrack, navigating awkward climbs, or throwing the bike into aggressive descents and seeing how late I could brake. The bargain hunter or penny pincher will probably pass on the Switchblade with a starting price of $6,399. For those less constrained financially, the Switchblade is a great option for anyone who wants efficiency out of a daily driver while holding onto the ability to hit the park on occasion without feeling under-gunned. Visit www.pivotcycles.com for more information on the Switchblade.
View key specs, compare bikes, and rate the new Pivot Switchblade in the Vital MTB Product Guide.
About The Tester
Jonathon Simonetti - Age: 30 // Years Riding MTB: 21 // Height: 6’4” (1.93m) // Weight: 230-pounds (97.5kg)
Jonny started mountain biking in 2003 after a trip to Northstar showed him how much more could be ridden on 26” wheels than on a BMX bike. He began racing downhill in 2004 and raced for 12 years until ultimately deciding having fun on a bike was more important than race results. After working as a mechanic in the industry for a few years and developing a deeper understanding of bikes inside and out, he has an aptitude for pairing his riding ability with the analysis of bikes and breaking down what makes them work well. He spends most of his time between trail rides and skatepark sessions, with occasional days on the downhill bike.