Pivot Switchblade 29 Pro review

Santa Cruz 5010 S Carbon C 27.5

Initially launched in 2020, the sleek and compact Switchblade still looks bang up-to-date. Pivot’s lightweight carbon trail bike has what the brand calls ‘enduro’ angles, but in the last three years, mountain bike geometry trends have shifted and it’s now positioned more centrally in the trail category. Pivot has added an up-to-date Universal Derailleur Hanger and refined the Switchblade’s chassis lines by moving the latest trunnion mount shock vertically inside the frame. It has also upped rear travel to 142mm on the DW-Link driven Fox shock. An additional shock clevis that previously wrapped the seat tube was removed to save weight and the resulting design shares the same gorgeous silhouette as most modern Pivots. There’s more standover and room for full-size water bottles – handy if you’re riding in the deserts of Arizona, where the brand is based.

Pivot Switchblade 29 Pro frame and suspension

Pivot Switchblade 29 Pro Full Suspension Trail Mountain Bike

Cables enter the frame at the junction of top and down tubes. In terms of construction, Pivot goes further than most to justify its pricing. Renowned for light frames, the brand has developed a special way of moulding higher-grade carbon to reduce wrinkles and resin pooling, called Hollow Core. This involves fibres laying against a solid core, rather than an inflatable bladder. It also tunes each frame size for torsional and vertical stiffness across rider heights. Further pieces in Pivot’s weight-saving puzzle (that ensure the Switchblade frame starts at just over 2.5kg without shock) are a press-fit BB92 bottom bracket and Super Boost+ 157 hub spacing.

This setup moves the drivetrain out 6mm for increased frame stiffness, 12mm more tyre clearance and an opportunity for shorter stays. The resulting broader rear-hub flange makes for a stiffer wheel, mud clearance is huge and you can forget about any issues with heel rub. This chassis is packaged so neatly, there’s more clearance than on most trail bikes. However, replacing a damaged hub or wheel will be more difficult. The DW-Link suspension setup delivers 142mm of rear-wheel travel, controlled by a vertically positioned, trunnion mount Fox shock.

Pivot Switchblade 29 Pro geometry

Pivot Switchblade 29 Pro Full Suspension Trail Mountain Bike

Pivot provides rugged chainstay protection. Having a roomy 475mm reach that’s only 10mm less than Yeti’s SB140 sounds up to date, but geometry numbers don’t always tell the whole story. With a higher bottom bracket and steeper head angle (that equates to a shorter wheelbase), this feels so much smaller, even despite a more tilted-back saddle angle that pulls your hips further back when we’d prefer them to be more over the bottom bracket.

Low / HighLow / HighLow / HighLow / HighLow / High
Seat angle (degrees)75.5 / 7675.5 / 7675.5 / 7675.5 / 7675.5 / 76
Head angle (degrees)66 / 66.566 / 66.566 / 66.566 / 66.566 / 66.5
Chainstay (mm)431 / 430431 / 430431 / 430431 / 430431 / 430
Seat tube (mm)343368394432470
Top tube (mm)569 / 568592 / 590620 / 619638 / 636661 / 660
Head tube (mm)8590102108120
Bottom bracket height (mm)346 / 352346 / 352346 / 352346 / 352346 / 352
Wheelbase (mm)1,147 / 1,1461,169 / 1,1681,193 / 1,1921,216 / 1,2151,242 / 1,241
Standover (mm)648 / 654668 / 673694 / 699696 / 701700 / 706
Stack (mm)610 / 606614 / 611625 / 621630 / 627641 / 638
Reach (mm)410 / 415430 / 435455 / 460470 / 475490 / 495

As mentioned, Pivot touts the Switchblade as blending trail and enduro geometry (and even lists it in the ‘enduro’ category on its website). However, even for a trail bike, a 66.5-degree head angle in the highest setting is pretty steep and quick-steering by today’s norms.

Pivot Switchblade 29 Pro specifications

Pivot Switchblade 29 Pro Full Suspension Trail Mountain Bike

Pivot is one of the brands to favour Dave Weagle’s DW-Link suspension system. Pivot has long been an advocate of Dave Weagle’s dual short-link suspension design and works directly with Fox to develop shock tunes that best suit the DW-link. The frame is ported for Live Valve, but here it’s a Fox Float X shock with no electronics. Fork, shock and Transfer dropper post all have the shiny gold Kashima coating that indicates Factory-level kit. The 36 fork has the best GRIP2 damper too. At just over 1,900g a pair, DT Swiss’ XM1700 wheels aren’t quite as weight-focused as the frame, but they’re solid and turn over well. We rate them, but they have a slower engagement. You can feel the lag when changing gear on technical climbs.

Pivot Switchblade 29 Pro Full Suspension Trail Mountain Bike

Most of the drivetrain is Shimano XT, with the derailleur XTR. Elsewhere, Pivot’s 780mm carbon bar has a good shape, but shortening the 50mm stem by 10mm made the steering a little more intuitive and precise. I also swapped out Pivot’s fat grips, which you need big hands to wrap around comfortably. With a mostly Shimano XT drivetrain (the derailleur is XTR), there’s sensible reliable kit, but Race Face Aeffect R cranks aren’t really the level of bling you’d hope for on a bike costing more than £8,000.

Pivot Switchblade 29 Pro ride impressions

Pivot Switchblade 29 Pro Full Suspension Trail Mountain Bike

The Race Face Aeffect R cranks don’t set the pulse racing. Whoever at Pivot came up with the name Switchblade for this poppy, chuck-it-about, engaging trail bike deserves a bonus. Rarely has a label been so fitting for a bike. Reactive and responsive are the first two adjectives that spring to mind when heading either up or downhill. After shortening the stem length, having a longer-travel 160mm fork enables you to lower the bar height a little to weight the front tyre properly. With the steeper head angle, you can fire from side-to-side on the trails so fast it almost blurs your vision.

Pivot Switchblade 29 Pro Full Suspension Trail Mountain Bike

There’s a Fox Float X shock at the rear. These energetic traits extend to climbing and sprinting too. The DW-link suspension has good traction and while there’s some mild pedal bob, it still pedals efficiently to the point it almost helps the upwards crank arm over the summit of each revolution. There’s a sense of basic raw speed. Tons of bite into loose surfaces means if you stand up and sprint uphill, the Switchblade rewards efforts and doesn’t ever feel energy-sapping. Sitting down on tarmac or fireroad climbs, it’s a different story. The seated position is too rearwards on the steepest grades, and I had to winch the saddle forward on the rails to get into a comfy climbing position.

Pivot Switchblade 29 Pro Full Suspension Trail Mountain Bike

The saddle is WTB’s Volt Pro. Another slight niggle when seated climbing is the front tyre can feel a bit light and go wandering. The overall effect is almost the opposite of a super-stable, overly calm, long, low, slack modern trail bike.

Pivot Switchblade 29 Pro Full Suspension Trail Mountain Bike

The familiar Kashima coating of the Factory-level kit. I added more low-speed compression to the rear Float X shock to dull the rear suspension, which feels a bit too fluid and bouncy at times. However, with a higher bottom bracket and steeper head angle speeding up handling and ensuring it doesn’t feel completely stiff, the Switchblade can sometimes still seem a bit over-worked in rough enduro terrain.

Pivot Switchblade 29 Pro Full Suspension Trail Mountain Bike

The Switchblade’s lively, engaging ride is refreshing. Fast, lightweight and easy to lug around, there’s a whiff of a previous-generation trail bike here. That’s no insult though, because in a sea of longer, slacker, lower enduro bikes, it’s refreshing to ride a 29er with this much zest. It’s hard to believe you’re not rolling on 27.5in wheels half the time. If the Pivot sounds as if it’ll float your boat, it’ll light up less-demanding trails. However, there are plenty of trail bikes available for far less money that offer similar levels of performance and attitude. Whether it’s a compelling enough package to part with more than £8,000 is up to you.

Pivot Switchblade 29 Pro bottom line

Pivot Switchblade 29 Pro Full Suspension Trail Mountain Bike

Descending is tons of fun. The Pivot Switchblade is fast, edgy, lively and fun, but not best optimised for hold-on-and-survive, high-speed enduro mashing or taking chances racing on the edge of grip and safety. The seated climbing position feels a bit dated too, with weight further off the back than most modern rivals.


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