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Should the Pivot Mach 4 SL be on your shortlist of your next XC bike?

Should the Pivot Mach 4 SL be on your shortlist of your next XC bike?


After many months of waiting, I finally got the chance to ride the brand-new Pivot Mach 4 SL. And boy do I have some thoughts on it, even though my ride with it was very short the bike left a serious impression on me. 

I wanted to share my thoughts and my Impressions during my first ride, and whether or not you should even be thinking about it or just skip over that and move to the next bike.

In case you've been living under a rock or if you're new to this whole mountain biking thing, who the heck is Pivot, and what the heck is a Mach 4? Pivot is a bike manufacturer that makes, in my opinion, absolutely amazing bikes. I'm not ashamed to say I'm a huge fan. I have two of their bikes, and I love them. 

So what the heck is a Mach 4? It's a bike that’s designed to be a cross country rocket or a podium seeking missile. It's meant to be fast, it's meant to be efficient and it's meant to be nimble. But does it? We'll see.

Let's dive into the weeds for just a minute, now as you're looking at the Mach 4, there are two variants. One is a cross country build and the other is a World Cup version. The difference between these is primarily the travel, both front and rear. In the World Cup version you get an adjustable 95mm or 103mm and the XC build gets an adjustable 106mm or 115mm of rear travel. Enough about the specs, we all have the internet we can go look this crap up. 

But do these things make a darn bit of difference? What I have to compare this bike with is my first ride and another one of Pivot bikes, the Trail 429. I’ve owned the Trail 429 for about a year and a half, I've done anything from short track XC races, marathon races, to just tons of just trail and training miles. So I have a good comparison in the pivot family with a slightly longer travel bike that I'll be using as a reference.

The Mach 4 I rode was a demo bike, and as you know, a demo bike is usually not the ideal setup. It may have any old group set and it may be any old size. For example, I normally write a size small bike, but the demo bike was a medium, it had a different group set than I’m used to and blah blah blah. Lots of things were different, but the demo Mach 4 felt immediately similar to my very dialed-in Pivot Trail 429 that I have spent the last year and a half tuning to make it just perfect for me. It was very hard to immediately tell the difference from my daily ride. 

The bike came set on the 115 rear setting. One of the party tricks of the Mach 4 is the Flip-Chip that gives you the ability to easily swap back and forth between two rear travel settings. Because I only had about an hour with this bike, I immediately went back to the car, threw the bike on the rack and started working to swap the Flip-Chip to the shorter travel setting (from 115 mm to 106mm). I wanted to see what it would take to swap the shock setting, and to see what the shorter travel setting of 106mm actually felt like.

It couldn't have been easier to unscrew one bolt and flip some washers around and finally put it all back together. I didn't read any instructions, I didn't look anything up, to be honest I wouldn't have read the instructions even if I had them. That's not the sort of person I am, I just like to wing things. 

Did I notice a difference after I went from the longer travel setting of 115mm to the 106mm? Oh yeah, like immediately. 

I sprinted across the street and I was ready to ride the trails. The Mach 4 felt fast and ready to go even faster. I felt like one of those racehorses that's just waiting to run. It was like “let me go, let me go, let’s go faster!!!”

The trail immediately pointed uphill, which gave me the opportunity to test out the climbing and pedaling efficiency. and boy it didn't disappoint. It was just immediately apparent how good and hooked up this bike felt. 

I had some sore legs from riding the last few days in a row, but all of that just quickly faded away. I was spellbound by how good pedaling felt, every single push of the pedals was just doing something almost magical. It's so efficient it just felt good. 

My time with this bike was super brief, so I didn’t have time to find many challenging trails to ride. Much of what I rode was basically green trails behind my house. Despite the limited trail options, it became quickly apparent how playful this bike was even just on flats with a little bit of downhill grade. The Mach 4 felt poppy and so responsive. 

I get it now why Pivot says that the Mach 4 SL is fast, efficient, nimble and capable. 

So that’s my two-cents on the new Pivot Mach 4 SL after my first ride. Now, I realize I may be a bit of an outlier; I mean I actually like pedaling uphill. So for me, efficiency is important. And I appreciate and get a kick out of a bike that is responsive, efficient and fun. 

The bike seemed almost effortless in the way that it was able to translate my effort into speed and carry that speed and just move me. Whether it was on a flat bit, uphill or downhill. 

For the question of how does the new Mach 4 SL compare to my daily Trail 429? The Mach 4 SL felt more efficient and nicer to pedal. To be honest, if I could trade my Trail 429 this second for an equivalent Mach 4, hands down I would do it. My 429 has been an amazing bike; it's taking me through all sorts of different things, but I could immediately tell that my riding style is better served by a shorter travel XC bike.

I definitely want to demo some other cross country bikes. So if you have any suggestions hit me up, and let me know what other bike I have to try next. 

That’s all for this one. 

Bye!

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