The Mach 6 is Pivot’s second-generation enduro bike, which “on paper” seems to fit comfortably somewhere between Pivot’s downhill-specific Phoenix and the cross-country Mach 429. When we tested the original Mach 6, we found it truly capable of taking down either one of those bikes. It was lightweight, had long travel and it loved to go fast. It also ticked all the necessary boxes: carbon frame, 27.5-inch wheels and enduro-ready. This is the second Mach 6 we’ve brought in for testing. While the first one impressed our testers, we wanted to see if the designers at Pivot could outdo themselves. This is the Mach 6 version 2.0 test.
WHO IS IT MADE FOR?
The Mach 6 Carbon is designed for trail riders and enduro racers who are looking to blitz the trail both up and down; however, the bike is not limited to battling the clock between the course tape. It is just as much at home underneath the ordinary rider looking for an ultra-versatile and aggressive trailbike.
WHAT IS IT MADE FROM?
Pivot went with the same “hollow box,” high-compression, internal-molding carbon manufacturing process used to make its other carbon offerings. In a nutshell, this process creates very dense and uniform frame walls (internally and externally) that can handle impacts while being both laterally stiff and lightweight. The frame features a PressFit BB92 bottom bracket, tapered head tube, redesigned internal cable routing, new Boost 148-millimeter rear-axle spacing, and rubberized leather frame protectors on the downtube, chainstay and inner seatstay.
Internal improved: One of our biggest critiques of the previous-generation Mach 6 was the execution of the internal cable routing. Pivot has made big strides, but still has room to improve. Rumor has it, a solution is going to be a running change very soon.
Dw-link sweetness: Pivot doesn’t simply take the dw-link suspension off the shelf and put it on their bikes. They custom-tune it to match the needs of the intended rider. The Mach 6 sports a bit of anti-squat in the top of the stroke, followed by a plush and well-supported mid-stroke.
The Mach 6 uses a dw-Link suspension design with 6.1 inches of rear-wheel travel. Impressively, Pivot was able to keep the chainstays to a very short 16.9 inches, thanks to a clever linkage design that uses an ultra-compact lower link. Along with helping to tune the suspension curve, the upper linkage design eliminates the need for the standard DU bushing and instead transfers the load to two large cartridge bearings at the seatstay junction. Pivot claims this design is especially helpful in boosting compliance in small and mid-sized hits.
WHICH COMPONENTS STAND OUT?
The Mach 6 is available with several different build kits priced between $4700 and roughly $10,000. Our test bike came with the top-shelf SRAM XX1 build combined with Fox suspension and an upgraded DT Swiss XMC1200 carbon wheelset. It’s the type of build kit we simply can’t poke any holes in. This level of componentry keeps the weight well short of 30 pounds, which makes this great and versatile bike even better; however, we’re willing to bet that the more value-based SRAM X1 and Shimano SLX/XT kits don’t give up much performance. Bottom line: it’s the frame that stands out on this bike.
Flawless build kit: Pivot will build your Mach 6 just about any way you want. Heck, they’ll even build it out of aluminum rather than carbon if you want to save a little more. Our Mach 6 came with a build kit we couldn’t poke any holes in. The SRAM XX1 with Fox suspension and carbon DT Swiss wheels works flawlessly.
Boost it: Pivot has gone full-bore with the new Boost 148-millimeter spacing for their axles. It’s one of the biggest updates to the Mach 6 frame and allows Pivot to keep the chainstays short and the tire clearance high.
HOW DOES IT PERFORM?
Setup: The Mach 6 is a serious bike that doesn’t require serious setup time. The Float X shock uses an air spring, and Pivot throws in a helpful setup guide clipped to the shock to make finding the recommended sag a breeze. We followed the directions, set the bike to 30-percent matched sag front and rear, put the compression and rebound adjustments in the middle of their ranges and hit the trail.
Initial impressions: The Mach 6’s riding position is fairly upright, but it has a lengthy cockpit that allows for the use of a short stem without making the rider feel cramped. Our bike came with a 50-millimeter stem that will work perfectly for most riders. Riders between sizes can also lengthen the stem up to about 70 millimeters without compromising handling much.
Robot compatible: The new Mach 6 also includes a streamlined Di2 configuration, should you want to upgrade to Shimano’s electronic shifting system. The frame has ports to house all the wires internally and sports this nifty spot to house the battery under the downtube.
Pedaling: The Mach 6 is not designed with efficiency as its first concern; however, Pivot has manipulated the dw-link suspension to ensure the pedal power is put to the ground. The Mach 6 has an efficient feel with a bit of natural anti-squat built in to the design. With the shock set to the “Open” setting, the bike sports a nice bit of supple travel to smooth trail chatter, yet offers solid support to keep the rider from feeling like he or she is on a hammock. In the “Trail” or “Climb” settings, the pedaling efficiency is almost cross-country firm and fast.
Fun and flickable: The Mach 6 comes to the table with a lively feel that’s fun to toss down the trail. It encourages the rider to find the fun lines, manualing and bunnyhopping over things rather than simply slowing down for them. The bike is lightweight and responsive in the best way.
Climbing: The Mach 6 is no slug when it comes to climbing. It’s not the lightest bike in Pivot’s lineup, but the ultra-efficient suspension design, paired with the very stiff chassis, provides a bike that will float up any hill with a strong rider at the controls. Thanks to the lightweight build, our test bike could actually out-climb many bikes with less travel.
The low and slack geometry might seem like it would cause the bike to be a handful climbing, but this was not the case. Keeping the wheels planted on even the steepest ascents was a breeze, thanks to a weight distribution that felt just right. The suspension also helps on technical ascents, providing enough travel to keep the rubber connected to the dirt and enough support to aid pedaling.
Short and swift: The short rear end and relatively short wheelbase of the Mach 6 make it feel nimble and fast through corners. The low bottom bracket and stable head angle make it confident when those corners are taken fast too.
Cornering: The long front end pairs with the short chainstays and short stem to make for a bike that rips through corners. The Mach 6 is as comfortable on a hairpin switchback as it is in a high-speed, chundery turn. The weight distribution feels spot-on, with the low bottom bracket keeping your center of gravity low as you rally though the corners. Pivot also chose Maxxis High Roller 2 tires that have a squared-off profile that makes the dry, loose over-hardpack trails we test on most frequently feel like “hero dirt.”
Enduro-ready: This may well be the bike that all other “enduro” bikes will be measured against. It’s truly light and efficient enough to climb even long and steep “transfer” sections. When the trail points down, we’d be hard-pressed to find another bike in this category that could best the Mach 6.
Descending: The efficiency and climbing prowess of the Mach 6 is impressive, but it’s the descending ability that keeps this bike in heavy rotation for the Mountain Bike Action test crew. The bike sports a lively trailbike feel, with travel and geometry more than capable of handling the steepest chutes and gnarliest lines. The Mach 6 loves to find the fastest lines on any enduro course when it’s race day. It also loves to seek out the most fun lines when the rider isn’t racing against the clock. The combination of the dialed geometry, dw-link suspension design, and top-notch Fox fork and shock make for a bike that’s chomping at the bit to be pointed downhill.
TRICKS, UPGRADES OR TIPS
When we tested the original version of the Mach 6, our only real complaint was the cable routing. The first-generation internal routing had an exposed section above the shock that would bow as the bike went through its travel. Not only did this create an annoying ticking sound, it also put wear marks on the shock air sleeve. We’re happy to report Pivot remedied this issue by routing the cable and hoses internally farther down the top tube. Problem solved.
While the shifter and brake hose issue are resolved, we did experience noise from the internally routed dropper-post cable, which is routed through the downtube. Pivot is working on a solution for this in the form of bolt-on cable guides that will hold the cables in place. We were actually able to solve the issue by using a few wraps of electrical tape on the cable to keep it from moving.
If the carbon version of this bike is a little too rich for your blood, Pivot also offers an aluminum Mach 6 with the identical geometry and suspension kinematics. The aluminum version will save you $1100, meaning you can have a Mach 6 for as little as $3600 with the far-from-entry-level SLX/XT build kit.
Long-travel trailbikes have progressed leaps and bounds over the past few years, and the Mach 6 is a prime example of a bike that’s ridden that wave of innovation. With the Mach 6, Pivot took everything we look for in a fun and aggressive trailbike and amplified it. The impressive pedaling efficiency is only eclipsed by the capable suspension and geometry. It’s every bit as versatile as a mid-travel trailbike, with extra suspension chops to make up for any mistakes you may make on the trail. When we tested the original, we said, “From this point on, any bike that claims to be the most versatile, capable and fun will have to beat the Mach 6.” The newest-generation Mach 6 improves on its predecessor. So yes, it’s even better.
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