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Pivot Switchblade Pro XT/XTR

2020 Pivot Switchblade Pro XT/XTR

 

The Pivot Switchblade went through a complete redesign this year, now featuring a DW link vertically positioned rear shock,142mm of rear suspension, and 160mm up front.  The rear Fox DPX2 shock has a custom tune from Fox specifically for the Switchblade, and you can feel it, and up front you get the brand new Fox factory grip2 36 fork.  To this point, I’ve spent 2 months and have logged over 400 miles on the 2020 Switchblade, and simply put, this bike is top notch.  At 5 foot 9 I’m a comfortable medium in the Pivot line up, and the same is true for the Switchblade sizing and geometry. 

The 66 degree head angle isn’t as slack as other bikes on this category, however as trail bike geometry continues to get longer in the reach, and suspension travels continue to grow, the more conservative headtube geometry makes the Switchblade shine on climbs, it feels remarkably quick and snappy up everything, and with the Fox suspension nothing has been sacrificed for descents, the bike absorbs absolutely everything and the 29” wheels roll over rough terrain with ease.

Some people may have some worry about Pivot because they use superboost spacing in the rear (157mm), and most of the competition uses boost (148mm). I have come to find when I get deep into corners or the trail is super chunky, the superboost makes the rear end feel stiff and stable.

Overall, this bike is very playful, stable at high speeds, and just wants to go.  The 2020 Pivot Switchblade is slowly climbing up my list as one of the best bikes I’ve ridden.  

- Tyler C 

Review: TREK Slash 9.9

2020 TREK Slash 9.9 

The Trek Slash was systemically revamped in 2017 and in turn won many bike of the year awards that year, I rode the 2017 9.8 level version of this bike and it was fantastic, so good in fact that I decided to give the top tier 2019 Slash 9.9 model a ride this past season. 

The 9.9 level build does not hold back in the quality of the components you get for the price of $7499.99 USD.  Up front the bike comes with the amazing new Fox Factory Kashima coated 36 Grip2 fork that is always a must have on any bike I ride.  Additionally, compared to other bikes in this category at this price point you get Bontrager Line Pro carbon fiber wheels, and at a rider weight of 210 pounds, they did not flinch on any of the terrain I threw at them (the new lifetime warranty from Trek is a bonus).  Other noticeable perks of the 9.9 build are Bontrager carbon Line Pro bars, Sram XO1 carbon cranks, and the always reliable Bontrager Drop Line seat post.

The slash sits in an extremely popular and growing category of long travel 29” wheel bikes, with 150mm of rear and 160mm of front travel, it sits in the center of this group.  The number one feature of this bike that keeps me going back to it is that is is remarkable snappy and playful compared to any other bike I’ve ridden in the same category.  It’s also fast, very fast.  It reminds me of the first time I took a run on the Trek Session downhill bike, for how “big” the bike appears both in person and on paper, it performs and maneuvers like a bike with 20-30mm less in suspension.  As a person that avoids climbing at all costs, I do end up moving my bikes up the hill every season, and again, the Slash with the Sram XO1 eagle drivetrain moves up the climbs smoothly, feels very planted to the ground, and I never felt as though I lost any pedaling efficiency.  For anyone looking for a longer travel one bike do-all, I would highly encourage you to consider this as an option.

-        Dr. Josh Mueller

Review: Santa Cruz Megatower CC XX1 AXS Reserve

2020 Santa Cruz Megatower CC XX1

The 2020 Santa Cruz Megatower is an enduro lover’s dream. I have been on this bike all of the 2019 season and it absolutely rips; the bike I was riding is a CC carbon frame, XX1 AXS reserve build. Equipped with 160 mm of travel front and rear, this bike can handle almost anything you throw at it. In my opinion, the Megatower is best suited to technical downhill riding, such as what you might see down in southern Utah or and endure run at Deer Valley bike park.

 The lower-linked VPP suspension helps lower the center of gravity on the bike to help it track the ground exceptionally well (I recommend using the flip chip in the low setting to really reap the benefits of this bike). I opted for a wider 2.6” front tire than what comes stock to get some extra traction in loose sections of trail. As far as pedaling goes, the Megatower feels just like you would expect a 160 mm travel bike to perform on the uphill. For the most part it feels a bit sluggish and the slackened geometry puts you in a less than ideal pedaling position. However, I have done several long climbs on this bike and though it feels slow going uphill at first, once you settle into a groove you barely even notice that you are on a long travel bike.

 If you are looking for a bike that is well suited for the trails around Salt Lake City, the Megatower is probably not the bike for you. On most sections of single track the 160mm of travel is just overkill, and it I feel like it takes away from the maneuverability of the bike most of the time. On the other hand, if you’re the type of rider who likes to lap the bike park or takes several Moab trips a year, you likely won’t mind pedaling around this beefier bike on your local rides.

 

-       Devin Keefe

Review: TREK Fuel EX 9.8

2020 Trek Fuel EX 9.8 

 

I have put about 200 miles on the new 2020 Trek Fuel EX and the experience has been quite positive. The bike is equipped with fast 29in wheels alongside a 140mm Fox 36 up front and a 130mm Fox Float Re:Aktiv shock in the rear.  The Fox 36 feels as good as you would expect from Fox, smooth and plush all around, and the Re:aktiv rear shock feels nice and firm when pedaling and plush on the descents. The Fuel operates well on a wide variety of trails so far, from easy going XC rides to more testing downhill runs. Without hesitation the bike has handled everything that I’ve thrown at.  If you are looking for one bike to do all, the 2020 Fuel EX should be on the short list. 

 

Pros 

Carbon bar

GX 12 speed paired with Shimano brakes

Full carbon frame 

Fox suspension

 

Cons 

Bontragar 2.6 tires are a bit wide much for my liking 

Not many after-market rear shocks compatible with this bike

Saddle and grips aren’t that comfy 

Bontrager dropper Post is a bit slow but the new lever is well designed. 

 

Cheap Upgrades I’d recommend 

Grips gotta color pop the bike 

3 more pawls in the rear hub for better engagement 

Adding 10mm to front fork to slacken and beef up the front end. 

    - Tyler Callister