2018 Pivot Phoenix DH Carbon Saint Bike
During the Vital MTB 27.5 DH Test Sessions, the Pivot Phoenix went head-to-head with four other leading bikes. What follows are our thoughts specific to the Phoenix. Be sure to check out the main feature for an in-depth comparison video, timed testing results, and more.
- 27.5-inch wheels
- Carbon frame
- 204mm (8.0-inches) rear travel // 200mm (7.9-inches) front
- dw-link suspension design
- 9.5x3.0-inch shock with sag indicator
- Air shock suggested due to clevis design
- Internal cable routing with cable port system
- Integrated frame protection throughout
- Press fit bottom bracket with ISCG 05 mount
- 12x157mm rear axle
- 10-year warranty
- Measured Weight: 34.3-pounds (15.6kg, stock tires, without pedals)
- Size Tested: Large
- Model Tested: Carbon Saint
- MSRP: $7,499 USD
- More Info: www.pivotcycles.com
Aside from being a proven World Cup DH racing rig, the Pivot Phoenix is often associated with Bernard Kerr and his outrageously playful antics all over the bike park. That is where this bike really distanced itself from the rest, taking the Best Park Bike award in Vital's 27.5 Downhill Test Sessions.
Upon first glance, the most notable observation in regard to the Pivot’s carbon frame is the massive downtube. This bike has a beefcake body composition but is all lean muscle mass weighing in at just 34.3-pounds – the lightest bike of the bunch. The Phoenix really excelled when the trail was dynamic, with the large downtube anchoring the bike through high-speed berms and encouraging controlled, quick maneuvers on machine-built trails.
There were many opportunities to piece together certain sections of the race track by utilizing natural undulations, roots, and rocks to pop off and find backside. The bike's ability to get airborne quickly helped smooth out some otherwise really rough sections, especially in less-steep bits that can completely kill momentum. Its willingness to pop and pump when otherwise unable to pedal came in really handy on the final segment of the test track, and carrying that hard-earned momentum to the finish line proved paramount to a top result.
When it was time to put the hammer down, the Phoenix accelerated quickly thanks to the pedal-friendly dw-link suspension platform transferring horsepower directly to the dirt. These are important moments often forgotten by a racer, and often unseen by viewers due to the relatively unspectacular nature of the terrain. Pivot's ability to capitalize on such elements help this bike excel when podium positions are separated by mere tenths of a second.
Even though Pivot provides a good suspension guide and rear shock sag indicator, suspension setup proved to be a little more difficult than originally anticipated. Totally JRA on our first run, a harsh bottom-out at the suggested setting quickly led to a trail-side re-evaluation and more air spring pressure. Aggressive riders should consider adding a volume spacer to the stock configuration. Excessive trail feedback also encouraged us to back off high-speed compression quite a bit. While the pedaling prowess and playful nature of this bike were excellent, bumps at all speeds were noticeable.
Though we tried nearly every trick we could dream up, the Phoenix is LOUD! For some, this could be an absolute deal-breaker as silence is solitude. If you value a bike more for its ride performance, the Phoenix is certainly worth withstanding the carbon cacophony underfoot. Rattly cables and brake pads, a noisy ratchet in the rear hub, and some chain slap missing the chainstay protection could be to blame.
Due to the clevis design, keep in mind that this bike is not coil shock friendly. Finally, we're not big fans of the PadLoc-style handlebar and grip combo as it adds complication and can reduce control at the edges of the bar.
Suggested upgrades for a few hundred dollars: Consider replacement grips (non-PadLoc), a faster DT Swiss ratchet in the rear hub, 200mm rear rotor, plus anything you can do to silence it.
Using the bike industry's leading linkage analysis software, André Santos was able to determine a close approximation of the Phoenix's kinematics for the purpose of this review. Though they don't always tell the full story, these charts provide great insight into several key factors that impact how it rides.
- The Pivot Phoenix has a moderately progressive rear suspension for a DH bike at 34%, which means that it is relatively easy to use all the travel. Although the linkage offers some bottom-out resistance you might need to add some high-speed compression or volume spacers to the shock on more aggressive tracks.
- Great pedaling efficiency with around 120% anti-squat for a 34-tooth chainring.
- Normal level of chain growth given its pedaling efficiency.
- Anti-rise near 90%, meaning that the geometry of the bike is preserved during rear braking.
- Overall, the Phoenix has a balanced suspension design for a DH bike, offering a moderate amount of progressivity with very good pedaling efficiency.
Vital's preferred suspension settings for a 175-pound rider on stock components: 28% sag // 1 additional volume spacer // HSC 20-clicks from closed // LSC 15-clicks from closed
What's The Bottom Line?
Though it can absolutely hold its own in the rough, the berm-smashing Pivot Phoenix just wants to have a good time cutting up corners and boosting lips – as many and as fast as possible. This bike is incredibly fun in the turns thanks to a remarkably light, oversized chassis. Its ability to pedal well and conserve momentum also make it a threat on the race course. Just be ready to spend a fair bit of time up front tuning the suspension and addressing noise.
Vital MTB Rating
About The Testers
Brian Buell - Age: 31 // Years Riding: 25+ // Height: 6'1" (1.85m) // Weight: 180-pounds (81.6kg)
Brian is kind of like Uncle Rico – even though he has a titanium rod in his tibia and is continuously trying to avoid obtaining a dad bod, he delusionaly daydreams of World Cup racing glory. That thought process transfers to the trail. Whether building trail, coaching on them, or just trying to recapture the glory days between the tape, he’s always in search of the racer line. Known for "Buelling" his bikes, Brian sometimes puts a serious hurt on parts pushing them to their limits. Although the Collegiate National Championship sweater vest jersey is collecting dust somewhere, whenever it’s time to race against the clock or perform for the camera you can bet he’s fully pinned putting it all on the line for you!
Brandon Turman - Age: 32 // Years Riding: 17 // Height: 5'10" (1.78m) // Weight: 175-pounds (79.4kg)
"I like to have fun, pop off the bonus lines on the sides of the trail, get aggressive when I feel in tune with a bike, and really mash on the pedals and open it up when pointed downhill." Formerly a mechanical engineer and Pro downhill racer, Brandon brings a unique perspective to the testing game as Vital MTB's resident product guy. He has on-trail familiarity with nearly every new innovation in our sport from the past several years and a really good feel for what’s what.
Photos by Sean Horton // Videos by Jake VanHeel and Brandon Turman