Pivot Mach 6 Carbon | 2015 Bible of Bike Tests

A DW-link equipped all-mountain sender with a hankering for speed

Pivot’s Mach 6 falls squarely in the busting-at-the-seams all-mountain segment, sporting a head angle of 66.5˚ and 160 millimeters of travel. The Arizona brand worked with suspension-whisperer Dave Weagle to create a bike that we found to be fond of high-speed descents but also quite efficient on climbs. But of course, these days there are lots of bikes that match that description. Check out the video to see if Pivot’s Mach 6 stands out amongst the crowd.

PIVOT MACH 6 CARBON | $6,200 | pivotcycles.com

Filling a void between the more trail-oriented Mach 5 and the gravity sled Phoenix in the Pivot lineup, the new Mach 6 Carbon combines 27.5-inch wheels and DW-link suspension. Attributes from both bikes create a 6-inch-travel climbing machine intended to plow terrain with the best of them once gravity takes over. To aid in this cause, our carbon-fiber frame arrived kitted out with Fox suspenders front and rear (a 36 Factory RC2 fork up front and Float-X CTD shock out back), and a SRAM X0 drivetrain coupled with Shimano XT brakes. Pivot-branded 740-millimeter bars, KS Lev dropper post, new DT Swiss M 1700 Spline wheels and Maxxis High Roller II tires rounded out a great package. Long, low, slackish, 6-inch travel, wait, is this yet another bike destined for Enduroville? Why, yes, it says so right there on the Pivot website.

If graphics are a concern, at the risk of being petty we'd deduct points for the number of times the Pivot logo appears on the bike. If this bothers you, too, there's a matte-black version available with a more low-key look.

On the trail, the Mach 6 climbs capably, indifferent to pedal input or terrain, yet still remaining active, and hooks up efficiently even when the rider is standing in loose conditions–impressive for a bike with this travel and this intended use. Pointing it downhill, the Mach 6 is stable, confident and effective. If suspension performance is your main criteria, this is a contender. The new Fox 36 shines in the rough, and the rear suspension mated to the Float X shock matches the supple front end very well. The short 16.9 chainstays engender a snappy sense of maneuverability without sacrificing stability, and overall the bright blue bomber does the business without fuss. It is a solid, jack-of-all-trades performer, but make no mistake: Its preferred trade is definitely going down. – Mike Ferrentino

Pivot Mach 6 Carbon

Q&A with Pivot CEO Chris Cocalis

We had questions about the new bikes before we even got our test rigs, so we sent out a few queries—the kind of things we thought you might be asking yourself when you're looking at this bike. Then we sent out another round of asks if any major questions or issues came up during testing. Here's the feedback we received from Pivot president/CEO Chris Cocalis.

Consider this a bonus feature—just a little something extra to chew on if you're still hungry for information after you've watched our video reviews and flipped through the Bible of Bike Tests.
—Vernon Felton, Bible of Bike Tests Moderator

VERNON FELTON: The Mach 6 has been around for awhile now, but our readers might still be wondering what sets it apart from past Pivots (such as the Mach 5.7 or Firebird) that they might have ridden. What are the key differences between the Mach 6, 5.7 and Firebird (aside, of course, from wheel size and, in the case of the Firebird, frame material)?
CHRIS COCALIS: The Mach 6 falls right in between those two bikes. The Mach 5.7 is a great all around trail bike with the pedaling efficiency to be raced at the highest level in events like the Brec Epic and 24 hour type endurance events while being able to handle technical trails. The Firebird is a bigger travel bike that some riders use to race downhill. It also makes for a great park bike but it is not as fast as the Mach 6 on the uphill. The Mach 6 is the newest of the three and is longer and lower than the other two bikes. It was also the first designed from the ground up with 27.5-inch wheels. It pedals almost as well as the Mach 5.7 and, for most riders, it can actually descend faster than the Firebird. If the biggest drops and jumps are the goal, then the Firebird is a little more capable in this specific area, but the Mach 6 is designed to handle the toughest world enduro courses, which mimic some of the toughest DH courses in terms of steepness and terrain difficulty.

VF: What were your primary goals with the Mach 6, in terms of how you wanted the bike to perform on the trail?
CC: Like I said earlier, we wanted the pedaling capabilities of the Mach 5.7 and the downhilling capabilities of the Firebird or in simpler terms, a lighter, faster, Firebird that could be ridden on even tamer trails without feeling like you're pushing a freeride bike around. We achieved that. Personally speaking, I ride certain obstacles on the Mach 6 with confidence that I hadn't been willing to attempt on anything other than the Firebird in the past and, at the same time, unless I am going on a pure cross-country ride where the majority of riders are on 29er hardtails, I never feel like I have too much bike underneath me for the job. We are always redefining what the "one" bike to have is and right now, this is that bike that gives riders a new level of technical confidence and capabilities without giving up anything in terms of weight, pedaling performance or climbing capabilities.

VF:How did you (from a design and engineering perspective) make those goals a reality?
CC: We certainly try to build on our previous successes. With the Mach 429 carbon design we took the carbon tube diameters and frame stiffness to a new level. We continued this with the Mach 6 to make sure the frame would allow all the power to get down to the ground while still retaining a similar weight to the Mach 429 carbon. From there, we worked on the geometry and the suspension design in unison. It was important to achieve both the 155 millimeters of travel and the short chainstay length, so we worked with Dave Weagle to come up with the Mach 6's upper linkage design that opened up the area behind the seat tube and allowed for the increased travel and 27.5-inch wheels, while keeping the chainstay length under 17 inches (16.95-inches, to be exact).

We had the suspension dialed in pretty early on, but continued to build prototypes with different geometries. Two of the critical areas were the head angle and bottom bracket height because this is where you can go overboard with making the bike too specific for one area or another.

We built several rounds of prototypes with different BB heights until we hit a level in testing where pedal strikes became an issue and then backed off slightly to a point where we were confident that the balance was not leaning too much towards the downhill end of the spectrum.

We did the same with the front-end geometry, arriving at a 66-degree head angle with a 150-millimeter fork and approximately 65.5 with the 160-millimeter fork on your test bike. These are pretty slack and low numbers in general and on most designs would clearly place the bike towards the more gravity- oriented end of the spectrum. However, with dw-link bikes the anti-squat characteristics really come into play. Because the bike doesn't squat and slack under power like other designs, it will stay up in its travel during harder pedaling efforts which means we can get away with slacker and lower because the BB won't lower when pedaling up and over obstacles and the front end will not wander when pedaling up hills and through switchback style climbs.

On the descents, the anti-squat doesn't come into play and the slack-and-low geometry outshines many of the more descending-oriented designs on the market. Lastly, over the years we have really worked on the suspension balance to achieve the fully active braking of my previous 4-bar designs with a more rearward travel path and a great feel throughout the suspension curve. The Mach 6 is our best example of achieving this balance to date.

VF: What sets the Mach 6 apart from other bikes in this niche?
CC: Versatility and pedaling performance. In this category, other bikes just don't have the pedaling performance and the ability to hold traction on climbs like the Mach 6. At the same time, the Mach 6 handles very steep technical descents like an even slacker bike, but is very neutral in less aggressive terrain.

VF: Who is the ideal rider for this bike? What kind of ride applications does it excel in? I suppose those questions fall into the "stupid question" column, but the enduro/AM category is diversifying a good deal of late with some bikes skewing heavy towards descending and other bikes trying to achieve more of a balance between climbing and descending.
CC: The ideal rider for this bike is any trail rider looking for a bike beyond the cross country category. This bike has really widened our customer base because it has proven capable at the highest level in World Enduro competition, but has advantages for every level of rider. It allows even less technical riders to push their riding to a new level while not having to give up anything in the way of climbing, pedaling, and weight. When we started this project (before there were 27.5-inch Enduro bikes), the Mach 6 would have been considered a bike that really pushed the boundaries (and that was just one year ago), but now, it is right in middle. The low bottom bracket and slack head angle keep it very competitive with the newer bikes that could more be considered "light" DH bikes but we did not go crazy with the super long front centers and excessively low bottom brackets that make the bike more suited for just descending stages.

More from our 2015 Bible of Bike Tests:

Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt

Evil's The Following

Yeti SB6C