On Review: Pivot Mach 6 Carbon XX1

The Pivot Mach 6, or M6, has been around for about three years and arguably set the first definitive benchmark for the modern enduro bike design. Chris Cocalis and his crew at Pivot have worked hard to make sure the M6 stays on top, endorsing such rowdy riders as stoppie-king Bernard Kerr, who clearly rocks this bike in this video like no one else can.

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After testing several bikes over the past few years, both long and short term, one thing is certain: numbers do lie, and you need to throw your leg over any bike that you are considering spending a good chunk of money on. Two bikes with identical geometry could easily ride very differently.

I’m sure many of you are tired of seeing the top-tier builds reviewed every time someone gets a bike to test, but this review is a little different. Why? Because Pivot didn’t send me this bike to review–instead, I worked my butt off to buy it myself, after testing every bike I could get my hands on last season. So, there 🙂

One thing is for sure, this bike can handle it.
One thing is for sure, this bike can handle it.

Like many of you, I had a list, which I whittled down into a smaller and smaller list until finally it came down to several very similar, but very different bikes: the Pivot Mach 6, Santa Cruz Nomad V3, Ibis Mojo HD3, and the Yeti SB5 or SB6. They are all fantastic bikes for different reasons, but this isn’t a comparison article. Instead, this is an article about why I personally chose the Mach 6, and why I think it stands out.

A little customization is always fun. The top tube and headtube are extremely stout
A little customization is always fun over this extremely stout toptube and headtube.

After weeks of deliberation, it basically boiled down to this: a strong frame, combined with the DW link, gives the Mach 6 a little better climbing prowess and more dexterity when trudging through slow, chunky, technical terrain–something I always need help with. While some of the other bikes are arguably better descenders, the Mach 6 can definitely hold its own when pointed downhill, and I’ve got the data to prove it.

The Fox Float X has been an impressive shock so far, soaking up ugly landings and making everything plush
The Fox Float X has been an impressive shock so far, soaking up ugly landings and making everything plush. Yes, I named my bike the “Infidel,” in honor of a close friend and fallen soldier.

With 27.5in wheels, a relaxed 66-degree head tube angle, low 13.6in bottom bracket, 44.85in wheelbase (medium, tested), and dwarfish 16.95in chainstays, this bike strikes a great balance between being nimble on climbs, and stable at speed. The truth is, despite the slack 72.3-degree seat tube angle, this bike has more traction than anything else I’ve ever ridden, with excellent anti-squat built into the rear. I attribute this to the DW magic, and a shorter top tube that positions you just a little further back to place more weight over the rear tire.

Since the M6 was introduced, top tubes have gotten longer, but longer isn’t always better. Perhaps to compensate for this, Pivot specs the M6 with a 60mm stem and 740mm bars, which fit most riders comfortably. However, these are both very personal items in terms of fit, and I swapped them out for the Easton 35 60mm stem and 750mm bar that I reviewed in this article recently. Truth is, like many of you, I love running 780+mm bars and a 40-50mm stem, but something just feels right about this setup–it keeps the handlingly lively when the trail gets downright ugly.

The Guide RSC brakes are amazing
The Guide RSC brakes are amazing. Excellent modulate. Smooth appearance. Whisper quite. Stay tuned for my review.

I also have a reputation for breaking bikes–especially carbon–and one of my main criteria for purchasing any new bike was finding the strongest frame. After hours of lengthy conversations with several industry professionals, I was reassured that Pivot’s proprietary “hollow box, high-compression internal mandrel technology” is regarded as some of the strongest carbon in the industry–if not the strongest. The Mach 6 is definitely a stiff mule, so, “challenge accepted.”

There are a lot of very strong and tight linkages that enable the DW link suspension to help the M6 to climb as well as it descends.
There are a lot of very strong and tight linkages that enable the DW link suspension to help the M6 to climb as well as it descends.

The 155mm Mach 6 is offered in builds ranging from $4,599 for the SLX version up to $8,949 for a full XTR setup with carbon wheels (sans dropper), with excellent components spec’d at every price point. The frame-only option will run you 3 Gs. Frame sizes range from extra small to extra large so that everyone can get their Enduro ™ on!  All bikes are setup with internal cable and dropper post routing, are chain guide compatible, and come equipped with rubberized leather down tube and chainstay protectors that help quiet the ride.

Already a few scratches, but so far this bike has never seen an easy day and the XX1 has been flawless
Already a few scratches, but so far this bike has never seen an easy day and the XX1 has been flawless

Pivot also built the M6 to use the 92mm press-fit bottom bracket (BB). I have heard some people complain because this is a little harder to service than threaded BBs, but how often do you need to service a BB? The trade off is that it allowed Pivot to engineer a massive BB for power transfer (seriously, look at it) that can accept most current and future cranksets, run a low Q factor, and maintain a decent chainline with 1x, 2x, and 3x systems.

The 92mm BB accepts pretty much anything you want to stuff in it, including this sexy strong carbon Canadian...

Pivot worked exclusively with Fox to design its progressive suspension around the Fox line. The higher end M6s come spec’d with the Fox Float X CTD, while the more affordable builds come with the Fox Float CTD. I will admit that the extra reservoir of the Float X is nice for big hucks and fast chunky descents. At this time Pivot doesn’t offer any other stock shock options for the M6 builds, but you can install other shocks, such as the Cane Creek DB Air. You cannot run coil-over shocks on this bike due to the progressive suspension design. I have also been told to stay away from aftermarket parts like Vorsprung that change the progressive rate to a linear one.

Pivot makes sag set a breeze with an included sag tab
Pivot makes sag set a breeze with an included sag tab, although every suspension requires a little more tweaking depending on how you ride. Thanks to Louis at Fox for helping me dial this in at Outerbike!

This review tests the Mach 6 carbon XX1 build, which has these choice parts:

No one trule needs carbon wheels, but these top shelf hoops make this bike even more stiff and nimble
No one truly needs carbon wheels, but these top-shelf hoops make this bike even more stiff and nimble

Pivot is a great company, and I like the fact that they don’t take themselves too seriously despite their quality builds and rapidly-expanding quiver of top-notch athletes like Kerr, Chase, Sigenthaler, and Looney. Buried in their “FAQ” tab on the Mach 6 website is this little gem:

How do I enduro?

  • #1 Purchase a blue Mach 6. The black and green or stealth black will work, but ideally your bike will match your Enduro blue kit. If your bike and kit do not match, you will not look as cool nor go as fast.
  • #2 Document everything. Every ride, session, and race must be thoroughly recorded in no less than two manners. Appropriate methods of documentation include GoPros, Strava, and having your photographer/videographer friend follow you around and make sick edits.
  • #3 Enduro-specific helmets and goggles are required at all times when descending. Be sure to bring your spare XC lid for climbing.
  • #4 You must wear a minimum of three articles of Troy Lee Designs clothing at all times. If you cannot afford Troy Lee, have fun on your cross country ride.
  • #5 Create a Hookit profile to maximize sponsorship exposure.
  • #6 Be sure to get pro name decals with your state/country flag so that you can easily identify your bike.
  • #7 Equip your bike with Enduro-specific components, including but not limited to stems, wheels, and grips. (Fortunately, these are all included in our awesome Pivot complete builds.)

That, my friends, pretty much sums up the definition of “Enduro.”

The headbadge is simple but makes a bold, fiery, red statement about the brawniness of the headtube
The headbadge is simple but makes a bold, fiery, red statement about the brawniness of the headtube

I’ve already had a few weeks to test this rig in Moab, Fruita, and the Colorado front range, and so far I am extremely impressed… if not giddy! Stay tuned for a more in-depth review of the Mach 6 in the next few weeks!

Your turn: Do you own a Pivot Mach 6? What are your impressions?

Custom stickers for the Fox 36, the stiffest, most tunable fork I have ever ridden
Custom stickers for the Fox 36, the stiffest, most tunable fork I have ever ridden.
Tight linkages to give this bike sub 17in chainstays
Tight linkages to give this bike sub 17in chainstays

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A little extra style courtesy of Pivot for those of us who no longer need a front derailleur
A little extra style courtesy of Pivot for those of us who no longer need a front derailleur
The new, updated KS Lev Ingegra is svelte, reliable, and comes in sexy black to match most bikes
The new, updated KS Lev Integra is svelte, reliable, and comes in sexy black to match most bikes
The KS Lev standard lever; KS now also offers the Southpaw for those who prefer a shifter-like feel
The KS Lev standard lever; KS now also offers the Southpaw for those who prefer a shifter-like feel
Pivot branded Volt team saddle with a few style points. So far comfortable and no complaints.
Pivot-branded Volt team saddle with a few style points. So far comfortable and no complaints.
Another view of the cranks and closer look at the stock 30T chainring
Another view of the cranks and a closer look at the stock 30T chainring
The hollow box frame is wraught with many functional voluptous curves
The hollow box frame is wraught with many functional, voluptous curves

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