2009 Pivot Firebird Demo Report

On Sunday January 11th 2009 I got the opportunity to take a 2009 Firebird on an extended demo ride - thanks to the guys from Pivot Cycles and to Alex at Cycle Progression. Secondary thanks to Dave Weagle for the DW-Link!


My demo ride duration was about 3 hours (maybe closer to 3:30 elapsed because of two flats), and covered a bit over 16 miles of trail of varying types in the Barton Creek Greenbelt in Austin, TX.

I've already said it on the Bikemojo forum, but the upshot of my demo ride was Firebird:1, Quasi-Moto:1. But where did I squirrel away that 3000 bucks I'm going to need this spring?

Yeah, much as I hate to admit it, and I can't afford it, and I don't want to, really, Bear wants a new bike. Now to fight the UGI demon as long as I can.

If you're looking for a long legged all-mountain all-day bike the Firebird will cheerfully take you down the trail. Pivot designed it this way, and they succeeded. With the right component specification and tire choice you could very easily have a sub-32-pound bike with nearly 7" of rear wheel travel and 6.x" of front wheel travel. Pivot quotes an XTR-based build of a small-size Firebird coming in at 29 pounds on their web site in the Firebird Story!

Alternatively you could build it up a bit more burly and match the rear end with a RockShox Totem or Marzocchi 66 (possibly voiding the Pivot warranty - while they support dual-crown forks they do not seem to support longer than 170mm travel forks) and have a 7/7 travel bike and go knock yourself out at your local bike park.

I'm betting the machine does fabulously well at big mountain riding, but can't test that myself sadly.

I'm not sure that the bike will hold up to this kind of riding multiple days a week all year long since it does not appear to be the design target, but it is certainly possible. I wonder "how big" Pivot is supporting the bike to "go" - anybody know?

I experienced, and have heard a similar comment from a few other Firebird demo riders locally, that they bike feels suspiciously slack. Yet it works great. But it feels slack. After a fair amount of miles on the bike, and two days of intermittently obsessing and thinking about it, I have come to the consclusion that this is owed more to the short handlebar stem on the demo bikes than actual bike geometry. IF there had been put onto the bike a more reasonable (from my point of view) stem - something closer to 90- or 100-mm then I think maybe this feel would have gone away. For comparison, my Quasi has a 110mm stem and the same length top-tube (23").

For my own sanity I wanted it to be at best a draw which is a better bike. I have been having a very public six year love affair with my Quasi-Moto so this should be no surprise. What is the surprise is that while both bikes have advantages and drawbacks when directly compared, the Firebird is clearly a better machine which "loses" in only minor ways to the Quasi - and only to my Quasi - and probably only because I didn't bring a spare handlebar stem and different saddle to put on the Firebird. A current Quasi-Moto rider SHOULD feel very at home on the Firebird, very quickly.

If I could ride blind folded (har har har) and the bikes were configured/tuned to an equivalent degree to my personal tastes, there would be many situations where it would be difficult to tell them apart, from the cockpit. But you don't ride blind folded, and it was clearly a very cool and awesome ride. As it was, I was extremely comfortable on the demo bike very quickly. After about 45 minutes I was not holding back on technical trail features at all regardless of where I was - other than the fact that I was starting to get tired in the third hour and I was riding alone.

The fact that I felt so immediately comfortable on the Firebird really implies that Mr. Cocalis was significantly involved in both machines, and that both machines were designed, engineered, and tested in rocky desert terrain (e.g. Arizona trails, South Mountain Park, etc.). The Firebird Story talks some about the development of the bike, if you are curious.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The Good is that the Firebird is a fabulous bike for the trails in central Texas, where I currently live. Further Good is that this bike would ride awsome pretty much anywhere I can think of; chunky Texas and Arizona trails are obivously great; rough New Mexico/Colorado/Utah stuff will be gobbled up; buff hardpack of Colorado and New Mexico - including the climbing portions - will flow like wine under the wheels of the Firebird. Having personal history in bumpy East Coast trails I can say that the Firebird should also rule there. I imagine that the machine would do great in the moist log-strewn wilderness of the Pacific Northwest but I can't say for sure as I have no experience there.

The Bad is really, just, speculative at this point, for me. The strongest negatives I can think of is that the bike has no water bottle mount and that the bottom bracket "cluster" may pack-up in wet gooey conditions. The water bottle mount would be more than handy for epic riding, and racing. In those conditions is may be possible to strap-on one to the seat post though (front or rear mounted). As far as wet condition riding goes, while the frame has plenty of tire clearance - think that even in those conditions 2.5&quit; tires will be fine - I have no idea how much crud the linkage area will collect and how much it will be affected. I haven't seen an exploded diagram, nor have disassembled a machine, but it looks to me like the DW-Link will be about as easy to maintain as the main pivot on my Quasi-Moto - but still requiring the drive side crankset removal to service at least one pivot.

It would be a truly awesome thing if the bike had grease-ports for the bearings. Still, this is complete speculation on whether it is necessary or not. My Quasi-Moto has only needed the main pivot bearings changed once since 2003, somewhere around the 10,000 mile mark, and it has seen some very wet icky rides. I'd expect the Firebird to do at least as well.

The Ugly is that I could not take the demo bike home and make it my own.

If you compare the Firebird against other current- and pending-generation bikes of similar design point (2009 Santa Cruz Nomad, 2009 Turner RFX, 2009 Titus El Guapo, 2008 Canfield The One, 2009 Yeti ASR-7, 200? Intense Uzzi, 2008 Ventana El Terremoto) I'm pretty sure that it stomps all over them - but I recognize that is a pretty inflammatory statement particularly not having ridden much of the competition. I recognize that my opinion is very uninformed and I want to call that out here and now. I have very limited time on the El Guapo and Nomad and zero time on the rest. Note that the neither of the 2009 Turner RFX (with DW-Link) or the 200? Intense Uzzi are currently available.

Would I go and buy one right now (IF it was available AND I had the cash)? Well, I really don't want to admit it, but probably. Thankfully I'm not in the position of being able to even if I wanted to for quite a while. I think that's good. Assuming most of the hardware on my Quasi could move I expect it would still run well close to 3,000 bucks. That's a lot of money for what doesn't amount to a LOT of upgrade, but oh the miles of smiles. Time will only tell if it possible for me to do it. I should also seriously try to ride some more of the competition, but that is also out of my hands.

And no, my Quasi-Moto frameset will not, under any conditions, be sold or given away. Not going to happen. Ever. Quit thinking about it.

Unless you want to buy it for 3000 bucks of course.

Continue reading if you want more details, and have some minutes to spare....

The Firebird really does rack up a number more Pros than Cons compared to the Quasi. The degree of this surprised me, and I don't really want to admit it, but it's the real deal. I guess having the experience of six (or more?) years of research and development makes a difference ...

Firebird Pros Firebird Cons Quasi-Moto Pros Quasi-Moto Cons

Is The Firebird for everyone?

There will be people who think they will like it, that I think will be happier with a Mach-5 with a 150mm fork attached, I think. The yet-lighter machine, with slightly less-deep rear suspension, taller angles, and lower headset overall headset stack height, will be more suitable for many. Possibly smaller framed people. Possibly lighter people more sensitive to weight. If someone is not truly sure of the need for deeper travel of the Firebird they should strongly consider the Mach-5.

I do think that there will be people buying the Mach-5 that would be equially if not better served with the Firebird though. The bike weights are trivially different, and geometry numbers very similar in surprising ways. I think if someone is ever going to "park ride" that may be one indicator. If they're ever going to hit drops over a few feet that would also be an indicator.

I'd really like to try spending some time on a Mach 5 with a 6" fork for comparison sake, all the Mach 5 bikes I saw in the demo fleet on Sunday has 5" forks so were not of interest to me. I have had a short demo time on a Mach 5 with the standard 140mm fork and while it was nice and I would not complain a whole lot, it was not "me".

I do think that people with significant leanings towards longer DH type stuff, particularly technical trail, will just adore the Firebird. I think that people like me who year for "one bike" to hit everything with will also be well served by the Firebird.

Comparative Geometry

Or a background on the machines that I am comparing, my 2003 Quasi-Moto vs the 2009 Firebird.

2009 Firebird
(medium), 6.9" travel
17.75 23.00 4.75 67.20 71.50 17.25 13.85 28.50 > 6.95 lbs 2.35" Kenda Nevegal,
2009 Fox 36 Float fork
2009 Mach-5
(medium), 5.5" travel
19.00 23.20 4.20 69.00 72.00 18.65 13.80 30.00 6.20 lbs 2.35" Kenda Nevegal,
2009 Fox 32 Float fork
2003 Quasi-Moto
(medium), 5.9" travel
20.75 23.00 4.75 68.00 70.00 16.75 13.80 27.30 9.50 lbs* 2.35" Kenda SB8 tires,
2003 Fox Vanilla 125 fork
2003 Quasi-Moto
(medium), 6.63" travel**
20.75 23.00 4.75 66.50 69.00 16.75 15.80 39.50 8.00 lbs*** 2.35" Kenda SB8 tires,
2007 Marz. 66 SL1 ATA fork
* Bear's Quasi frame was weighed at Hammerhead Bicycles in 2003 before assembly, and this was the result.
** Bear's Quasi has a 2.25" stroke shock, so with 2.95:1 ratio that comes to 6.64" rear wheel travel, in theory. I doubt that is true in reality, simply owing to how the suspension moves, and the fact that the extra is at end-of-stroke as the shock as the stock eye-2-eye length.
*** Bear's Quasi currently has a 2008 Marzocchi Roco TST R Air shock, the stock frame came with a 2003 Fox Vanilla RC with 800 lb steel coil spring, thus the estimated difference in frame weight of 1.5 lbs.


  • ST is Seat Tube, measured Center of of Bottom Bracket to Top of Tube
  • TT is Top Tube, measured Center/Top of Head Tube horizontally to intersecting line with ST
  • HT is Head Tube, measured Top to Bottom
  • HTA is Head Tube Angle, manu-specified with rated-fork quoted
  • STA is Seat Tube Angle, manu-specified with rated-fork quoted
  • CSTY is Chain Stay, measured Center of Bottom Bracket to Center of Rear Axle, at 0 sag
  • BB is Bottom Bracket, measured center of Bottom Bracket to ground, at 0 sag
  • STD is Standover Height, measured from lowest point of top-tube to ground, at 0 sag
  • Weight is frame weight, for a medium frame with rear shock, unless stated otherwise in Remarks.

Assumption: Firebird and Mach-5 measurements are done with 2.35" Kenda Nevegal tires. This assumption is made because that is what all of the demo bikes I saw were running and I would expect Pivot to want to faithfully represent their machines both in-person and on-web-site. But this is an assumption so don't shoot the messenger if it is incorrect.

Firebird (medium): ST 17.75, TT 23.00, HT 4.75, HTA 67.2, STA 71.5 CSTY 17.25, BB 13.85, STD 28.5; these measurements are rated with a Fox 36 fork. The demo bike I rode on January 11th had a Fox 36 Float installed on the front and the Fox RP23 shock with the large air can on the back. I rode a bit with the bike as setup by the demo mechanic, but then played around a bit with various tuning options on the suspension and ended up running 65 PSI in the fork and 180 PSI in the shock. I did not end up changing the rebound (or any other damper setting) as it was not a clear improvement by changing from how the bike was given to me.

Mach-5 (medium): ST 19.00, TT 23.2, HT 4.2, HTA 69.0, STA 72, CSTY 16.85, BB 13.8, STD 30.5. These measurements are rated with a Fox 32 F140 fork. I hope it's a mis-print, but I find it suspicious that the Mach-5 and the Firebird have nearly the same BB height even though the Firebird has almost 2" more squish. This makes me wonder if the Mach-5 with a 6" fork (Fox 36 Float maybe) would be a better Austin-area ride than the Firebird. That would probably feel very Quasi-esque in many ways.

Stock Quasi-Moto (medium): ST 20.75, TT 23.00, HT 4.75, HTA 68.00, STA 70.00 CSTY 16.75, BB 13.80, STD 27.30~; these measurements are rated with a 150mm travel fork in the 5.9" travel rear shock mount position (according to the 2003 Titus Quasi-Moto manual that I downloaded off the Titus web site in 2004). I would assume (again that word) that was with a Marzocchi as there were not so many 150mm travel forks available in 2003 as there are now.These numbers are also rated with the stock 2" stroke rear shock (my Quasi-Moto came with a 2003 Fox Vanilla RC coil rear shock).

Bear's Quasi-Moto (medium): ST 20.75, TT 23.00, HT 4.75, HTA 66.50, STA 69.00 CSTY 16.75, BB 15.50, STD 30.50~; these measurements done in my garage so take them with a grain of salt please. The angle finder is a generic magnet one that I bought at Harbor Freight. HTA was measured against the fork stantion, STA was measured against the seat post. My Quasi is currently configured with a 2008 Marzocchi Roco TST R Air rear shock that has the same eye-2-eye measurement as the stock shock, but an additional 7mm of stroke (2.25" stroke instead of 2") so it yields a theoretical max rear wheel travel of 168mm (or 6.6").

A world about forks, travel, and axle-to-crown height...

The 2007 Marzocchi 66 SL1 crown is notably shorter than earlier models. For example, the 2005 Marzocchi 66 RC fork has 170mm of travel and an axle to crown of 571mm (according to the Marzocchi web site). The 2007 Marzocchi 66 SL1 has 180mm of travel and an axle to crown of 565mm. That's 10mm more travel at 6mm LESS axle to crown (or a reduction of about 1/2 inch, depending upon how you look at it).

Some of the other early model 150mm travel forks have similar axle to crown as the 66 RC, which is just nuts if you ask me.

The 2007 Fox 36 (Vanilla, Float, or Talas) have 160mm of travel and axle to crown of 545mm. Winding down the 2007 Marzocchi 66 SL1 ATA to 160mm reduces it's axle to crown to 525mm, almost an inch shorter than the Fox. This is one of the reasons why in 2007 I went with the 66 SL1 instead of the Fox.

Current information that I can find on 2008 Fox 36 forks shows 160mm travel with axel to crown of 545mm. This means the 2007 66 SL1 at 180mm travel should have the same ride height as the Firebird-geometry-designed-for Fox 36. Hmmm.

Build Kits

I've tried to keep the equipment configuration factored out of my impressions, but in the spirit of full disclosure here's the spec sheet on the bikes.

2009 Firebird, Medium, root-beer brown anodized; Fox 36 Float fork; DT 340s hubs (32 spoke), 5.1d rims, Kenda Nevegal 2.35 tires; Kenda inner tubes; Syncros handlebar and stem (short stem, like 50 or maybe 60mm); Shimano SLX group (brakes with 7" rotors and drivetrain, 22/32/bash on the chainring 11x34 cassette); WTB PureV saddle; FSA headset; ATAC Alium pedals; I frankly didn't bother noticing the rest of the equipment.

2003 Quasi-Moto, Medium frame, medium seat tower, polished; 2007 Marzocchi 66 SL1 ATA fork set at 180mm travel; Chris King hubs (32 spoke) with HD rear driveshell and Fun Bolts, Stan's Flow rims, Kenda Small Block 8 2.35 tires run tubeless; Easton Monkeylite XC Carbon handlebar; Thomson X4 stem (110mm); SRAM x.9 drivetrain with XT front derailleur and 11x34 cassette; RaceFace Diabalous cranks with 24/38/bash; WTB Silverado saddle; Chris King headset; 2007 Magura Louise FR brakes with 8"/7" rotors; ATAC XS pedals; the rest doesn't matter.

Big Setup Differences

There were two very significant differences in bike setup that I think played into on-the-trail feel differences, please keep these in mind as you read the rest of this review.

First, handlebar stem length on the Firebird was fairly short at probably 50mm vs the stem on the Quasi being a more neutral (to me) 110mm. I believe this stem difference made a noticable change to the "slacker" feel of the Firebird (by pushing my CG back) and to how well the front wheel tracked at speed both on flats and downhill (less inherent weight bias on the front wheel).

Second, gearing on the Firebird was a nominal 22/32/bash with 11x34 cassette while the Quasi was 24/38/bash with the same 11x34 cassette. The difference of chainring sizes may very well play into how the rear suspension works under load. I have read much commentary on how some frame designers take suspension curves, leverage ratios, pivot locations, and chainline as controlled by chainring, as factors in the design. So, the larger rings on the Quasi may be contributing to it not having as much squat as it would have with more normal gearing. Or not. I can't say, really. I have never noticed a difference in rear suspension behavior (whether coil or air sprung) caused by a change of gearing though.

Fit and Finish - Build Quality

Hopefully obviously, I can not make long term durabilty claims. Not only have I spent but a few hours with the bike (not that I treated it in any way gently), but production Firebird bikes have not yet hit the market so NOBODY has a day-in-day-out long term use of the bike to report.


The weld quality of the bike looks to be as high as my Quasi-Moto, really. Nice even weld "coins" - completely even and beyond complaint anywhere that I looked. Really good stuff.

The anodized finish is well done, even if I would not choose the brown color for myself (of the available options I'd have to go with black ano). I could find no bare metal exposing scratches on the bike, and that's pretty good for a demo!

It is my understanding that it is the same machine that was hammered on at Interbike, and it is difficult to believe. The people maintaining the demo fleet are doing a crazy good job.

Frame motion did not in any way affect drivetrain actuation, climbing or descending, any type of terrain.

I did have some fairly frequent chain-drop on the bike though, and that was irritating. On longer continuously bumpy downhill stuff I often found the chain dropping from middle- to little-chainring regardless of which rear-cog I was using. Snugging up the front derailleur a few notches at the barrel adjuster on the shifter helped this some, but did not cure it. Look to a chainguide if you ask me. I doubt this is a frame design or build issue, but hard to rule out until more people are riding the bike and reporting.

I do not have the same problem with my Quasi, and it's 2006 XT front derailleur, on these trails. I have had some chain-drop on my Quasi on some of the longer more severely bumpy stuff in Arizona (think La Milagrosa) but even then not much.

I can only imagine that a chainguide is required equipment for the Firebird in some locations.

My Riding Background

Many people know me either first or second hand and should skip this section and go straight to Ride Impressions.

I have been riding bikes off road since the early 70's, and been riding 26 inch wheeled machines under these circumstances since 1988. I have ridden at least some in New Hampshire, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virgnia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, West Germany, and New Zealand.

I have done what amounts to a metric ton of riding on the Quasi since 2003 (I've documented more than 14k miles on the bike), from short XC races to marathon MTB races to 12 hour endurace events to technical trail rides in NM, CO, UT, NV, AZ, and of course TX.

My favored type of riding is clearly technical trail riding, taking up easily 70-80% of my ride time. Second up would be non-technical trail riding (mostly socially). I also do enjoy some road biking, particularly long rides like the Tour das Hugel.

My favorite trails outside of TX so far have been (in no order) National Trail in Phoenix; La Milagrosa in Tuscon; Bootleg Canyon near Boulder City/Las Vegas; Ravens Ridge/REM trail near Santa FE; Half Aspen run on Parajito Ski near Los Alamos (speed SpEeD SPEED baby); Horsethief Bench in Fruita; Amasa Back in Moab...

I yearn to go ride in the Vancouver B.C. area, Kamloops, Northern California, Wyoming and the Dakotas, in specific. In general I'd love to get outside North America and hit some other cool places - think anything with mountains - the Alps in Europe, Pyrenees in France, Andes. You name it.

You, I hope, get the idea.

Ride Impressions

I will give you the short version first - I found no sitation where I did not like how the Firebird rode. It was almost all, unilateral, trail goodness beyond reproach.

After about 45 minutes or so of riding, changing flats, and tweaking suspension settings I was almost perfectly comfortable on the bike. I could only identify three elements of the ride I did not like.

  1. Handlebar stem too short
  2. Slack HTA and STA (compared to what I am accustomed to) - possibly caused by No. 1
  3. Wrong saddle

That my anonymous friends is an awefully short list for me, I am pretty dang picky about bike setup.

The stem that was on the demo bike could not have been longer than 60mm and that's way short for me. I normally ride a 110mm after all. I believe this significantly colors my impression of how the front suspension was behaving and how the bike felt overall.

I was surprised at how slack the angles feel - it definitely changes climbing, but strangely enough it didn't prevent me from climbing anything I attempted. It also changes feel on the flats to a much lesser degree. I don't know that it really holds one back, but it certainly changes the feel in a way that I did not appreciate. This also applies somewhat to saddle positioning, it makes me think my contact point is way further back on the rear wheel than I like. Again, this does not seem to hold the bike up on climbs, but it is a significant "feel" difference. Part, if not all, of this feel could come from the short stem, which forces my center of gravity back, hard for me to say without changing the stem out.

The longer chainstays probably help balance the rearward weight bias during climbs.

I'd say something snide about the saddle, but that's really just personal preference.

I can't give you a reasonable comparison of "bob%quot; between the Firebird and the Quasi in because the frame actuation is so dramatically different that I feel just looking at it from the saddle is an unfair comparision. I am not accustomed to noticing any "bob" on my Quasi, but I've had six years and lots of miles to build a fairly regular and smooth pedal stroke. The only time that I could notice any "bob" like element on the Firebird was later in the ride when I was getting tired, and I was allowing myself to cause the fork to move a lot during climbs. Even then I didn't notice any rear suspension movement. In a similar situation on my Quasi both ends would be moving to at least some degree.

The thing that surprised me was that the slack-angle feel did not, for the fork, translate into the bump absorption that I was expecting. It was clearly lagging behind what I am accustomed to with my Marzocchi 66. This surprised me. I expect there could be more tuning work on the Fox 36 Float to accomodate this though, I do not know if the model fork on the demo bike was an R or RC but would hope for the latter. If the slack angle feel was more from the stem length (which I at this point do believe) then this makes sense because the fork was not actually at a very slack angle. Plus, frankly, a 7" fork that lets you work the whole travel range is simply, probably, going to feel better to me than a 6" fork that doesn't let you get into the last inch.

Rock Fields - Barton Creek dry crossings - "flat" ground - 50 to 100 meters of pea-gravel filling gaps between water-rounded limestone "tombstone" rocks of varying sizes from 3" to 1' size.

I am accustomed to being able to rock-surf quite handily through these on my Quasi (let the tires flow like water between the rocks...) and found the Firebird to be just as adroit at doing so. The Firebird had a slight advantage at the rear wheel, probably due to the inherent behavior of the DW-Link for handling these kinds of hits more smoothly in initial travel. As configured I found the Firebird lacking slightly at the front wheel for handling the bumps. The entrance and exit areas of the creek crossing just downstream from the 360 Entrance are notably harsh and I found the Firebird to handle them extremely well in both directions.

Bum Climb - Rocky Descent - The "bum climb" is basically going up an intermittent creekbed, rough with a mixture of rounded and square hits, ranging in size from 2" to 12" and ranging between 1% and 6% grade (at a guess). It's about a third- or maybe half-mile in length. The downhill is basically a fall-line descent with lots of loose "babyhead" rocks, interspersed with pock-marked limestone "drops" ranging from 2"-18" on a grade that probably averages 5%, and is about a quarter-mile in length. This is a good test for steady climbing over varying terrain, and fast open-running downhill that does not require turns but does require good high-speed bump handling (I usually hit the downhill between 20 and 30 mph).

The Firebird squat a less than the Quasi on the climb (as it supposed to behave), the DW-Link proving better than the Horst-Link, but at the slow speed of climbing they felt VERY VERY similar to me - it was not a gigantic advantage. The cockpit on the Firebird was causing me minor cramped-in feelings, but it wasn't debilitating. The descent was just silly fun and had me giggling like a school-girl. Embarrassing. The Firebird handled some of the rougher rock-overs and square hits much better than I expected and solidly better than the Quasi.

TRU Climb - Creekbed Descent - The climb here is a dirt track based, some loose soil on top but not much so traction is good BUT the grade works up from an average 2%-4% to an extreme at the top that probably exceeds 12%. The descent is really just as named, it's a nearly fall line intermittent creekbed. Very rough, lots of rough hard edges in both directions, lots of drops, some banked turns, not much straight trail, some severe rollover/drop spots up to about 2.5' or 3' tall.

The climb up to the top was uneventful and steady. Through the various minor tree root and rock transitions I found myself muscling the bike similarly to how I would my Quasi. I could clearly make out how the demo bike was not setting into the suspension as much while climbing, with the seated- and standing-climbing providing a more firm-feeling rear suspension - in that the machine did not squat into the suspension. In the more lurch-hit climbing areas they felt about the same. To be absolutely clear though, even though the Firebird felt more "stiff veritically" while climbing the rear wheel was tracking over the trail easly as good as the Quasi. Considering that I've spent the last six years tuning my pedal stroke to the Quasi this is pretty remarkable, in my book.

I am certainly accustomed to bombing in quite fun fashion down this section, I've been known to repeat climb TRU just to come down this "trail" multiple times. I typically coast most of the downhill and pedal mostly for foot positioning, sometimes backwards. The Firebird did not disappoint. I did not make any timing runs but I would expect that I could come down more quickly on the than on the Quasi as the rear suspension clearly showed the difference behavior of hitting harsh bumps at speed with the advantage to the Firebird. I could never say that I feel "beat up" by sections like this on my Quasi but it certainly was a more smoothed out on the demo bike. I was clearly carrying more speed on the Firebird with less effort. It is good that the demo was so good at coasting though, as it was regularly dropping chain from ring-2-ring on me here.

Rocky step climb near 360 Entrance - This is a technical trail feature on the main trail of the BCGB, it goes up a short and shallow climb with a number of large tombstone rocks embedded in a firm dirt hardpack. In groups of expert riders it's not uncommon for the middle "big" rock to throw someone (even though they normally clear it). In groups of intermediate riders you usually get somewhere between 30-50% clearing it.

In my case, I'm accustomed to hitting it and usually clear it, and demo day was no exception. But, the bird did dip a foot as there was pedal strike on the rock as I pedalled through the roots and rocks AFTER the 12" rock ledge climb. Thanks heavens I don't ride Eggbeaters any more, I hate rock-induced foot release.

Rock fields - Dragon's Teeth - This is another technical trail feature on the main trail of the BCGB and is about a 50 yard section of large tombstone rocks separated by firm hardpack, definite Intermediate skill level. Recent trail work by the Austin Ridge Riders have included a new technical section that goes by the (new) Dragon's Molar (and some more pics) which is an Expert trail section with more difficult rocky entrance/exit areas and a large rock formation bump to traverse in the middle.

Again, advantage to the Firebird. It just tracks a bit more easily with less halting of forward motion from the rear wheel hitting stuff. Burst speed required to get over the Molar is probably easier for some on the Firebird but as I was starting to loose steam in general I didn't have the chutzpa required to get my body over it.

I blame having the flu a week ago.


Loose n scrabble - Mopac Climb - this is a basically straight-up fall-line climb of loose-over-hardpack that is relentlessly consistent other than the one 6" log you have to get over. The climb about a half mile long. Traction level varies quite a bit because of the "loose" bits but with good tires, balance, and equipment it is eminently managable. I know strong riders on rigid singlespeed 29ers that do this hill (not all without complaint though, and fewer yet without walking).

On this climb if you had blind folded me I could not have told you whether I was on Quasi or Firebird, honestly. It is a sit-n-spin-a-good-gear consistent thing, and so long as you have a nice even pedal stroke and keep your weight balanced on the tires you are good to go. If you don't have that nice good spin though the Firebird will hands-down rule. On my Quasi if I'm tired I am accustomed to having more frame motion caused by pedal input as my stroke becomes more jagged/piston-ish, but even though I'd been riding for approaching 2.5 hours I had no problem climbing it on the Firebird (just ask The Bomber).

This is a slow enough process and there's no severe hits so the advantage of the DW-Link over the Horst-link is not really noticed but is rather more subversive in Just Shutting Up And Working.

I can easily, EASILY, see how for many people the Firebird would make this a lot easier since it will be sagging less into the rear suspension. It's not that the chain tension pulls the suspension taught, it's simply the way it works.

Gaines Apartments - Rocky DH - this is a moderate length (for Texas) downhill that is basically just steep enough that if you keep pedalling in a good gear you can keep up a good amount of speed. There are some flats and some minor uphill grades but overall it's good downhill bumpy fun. Some turns, not straight down, but very rocky/bumpy all the way.

Here again, the Firebird's rear suspension showed a clear advantage on my Quasi, handling the shaper hits more adroitly. Not a night-and-day amount maybe, but clear. I am guessing because of that the overall speed going down it was slightly higher, but it was close - very close.

This was one hill where I found the front end of the demo to be wanting to wander more, and not tracking as well as the rear tire, and not as well as my Quasi. It was clear and obvious to me here - not unmanagable and I never felt like I could not control it, but definite.

Pumping Station Climb - This is a somewhat short climb with a number of small ledges and lots of tombstone rock in the path - it is a frequent stop-n-walk spot for many riders and takes good strength, endurance, balance, and timing skills to clean. This hits are very abrupt. The rocks are very edgy and not rounded at all.

It took me two hits to clear it, but then clear it I did, easily. To easily. Pace was slow, but the DW-Link advantage did show.

Square-edge bump field - embedded limestone - like the rough stuff on the Goodwater Trail at Lake Georgetown - Mostly level, minor up-n-down grades. Continuous square edge hits of small magnitude (1-4"). Infrequent drops or climbs up to about 12" tall. Some very bumpy double-wheel-trap areas that combine rocks with tree roots to really hang you up.

Okay now, the Firebird is truly just cheating here. The only place I even slowed down was once to catch my breath on a double-wheel-trap location. This is pretty much how I also treat it on my Quasi, but there was a *cough* lack of edge "harsh-ness" if you wil that the demo bike brought to the table which I attribute to the suspension design and made the ride notably more grin-worthy.

Swoopy ups n downs of singletrack - hill contour following trail - This is as buff as it gets in Austin, mostly hardpack dirt. Some loose stuff. Fast, swoopy, fun, good rhythm.

This was not in any way really testing the bike in any way, other than to insure that it didn't suck in the more buff trail. It doesn't, but other than the configuration-induced geometry/rider positioning changes I could not detect it as behaving different than what I am accustomed to with my Quasi - in other words silly fun.

Drop Testing - There are some varying drops and jumps in places sparead out over the network, with one run that is basically has a set of progressively larger drops/jumps that go down a hill side on a very narrow singletrack. There is no place to bail out, really. The final drop is about 3' to 3.5' from edge of lip to the bottom at the point of drop, and the landing area is transitioning downslope at about 10%.

There must be something special going on with the DW-Link and the 176mm of rear wheel travel. According to the shock wipe zone I could see I got most of the travel, and it felt great, and smooth, and never harsh bottomed, and it was always "drop, ready, steady, repeat" in quick succession like I have become accustomed to on my custom-tuned suspension. Nice, really nice.

Elephant's Butt Limestone Plate Climb (end of ride) - this is oftent the last techncial trail feature that people hit on a BCGB ride, just because it's the last one on the way back to the 360 Hwy entrance. This feature has a short flat runup, a small stone ramp climb of about 2' (shallow or steep, you pick it), followed by a large solid single stone off-camber varying-slope climb to gain another 4-5' of elevation. It's a very mixed bag for many people to climb it, and I highly advocate not trying if damp or wet as then it's slick'er-n-snot!

This day was no different for me, after almost 3:30 on the bike I was pretty pooped out (remember, I only recently recovered from the flu) but I still had enough with this lightweight trail gobbler to simply and easily motor straight up the butt, no muss no fuss. Nice.

Conditions I Could Not Test

One thing this ride lacked, and my testicular fortitude lacks particularly when alone, is longer jumps with serious air time. In those cases the lower center of gravity and lighter frame should make a significant difference. Ask someone who can ride that stuff regularly like Supermoto (from MTBR Forums) or her gal LK who have much more time on stuff of that nature than I.

Another type of trail condition this ride lacked was loose sandy soil. I can't see how that would hurt the ride of the Firebird at all, particularly with the rearward weight bias, but who knows. Maybe someone who has ridden recently out the bottom of Cane Creek Canyon in Moab on the Firebird can comment?

Lastly, the wet-condition clay-based or loamy soil, and associated stupendous amounts of tree root traversal, that I associate with the Pacific Northwest is not something I could comment upon. I expect the bike will handle it just fine with the right tires, but I really don't know.

Picture Gallery


Bike Geometry Table - All Mountain (plus) Machines

2003 Quasi-Moto (stock)
(medium), 5.9" travel
20.75 23.00 4.75 68.00 70.00 16.75 13.80 27.30 9.50 lbs* 2.35" Kenda SB8 tires,
2003 Fox Vanilla 125 fork
2003 Quasi-Moto (Bear's)
(medium), 6.63" travel**
20.75 23.00 4.75 66.50 69.00 16.75 15.80 39.50 8.00 lbs*** 2.35" Kenda SB8 tires,
2007 Marz. 66 SL1 ATA fork
2008 Canfield One
(medium), 7.27" travel
17.00 22.50 4.53 67.70
or 66.8
70.00 17.52 unk unk 7.00 lbs Tires unk, Fox 36 Float
545mm (or 565mm) a2c fork
2008 Canfield Sauce
(medium), 5.94" travel
17.00 22.50 unk 68.50 unk 17.54 14.30 29.20 7.00 lbs Tires unk, Fox 36 Talas
535mm a2c fork
2008 Knolly Endorphin
(medium), 5.5" travel)
17.99 23.50 4.75 68.50 67.00(73) 13.50 ? 29.00 7.0 lbs 2.25" tires
140mm fork w/510mm a2c
2008 Knolly Delerium-T
(medium), 6.5" travel)
17.99 23.19 4.76 67.50 62.00 16.42
? 29.88 9.46 lbs 2.4" tires
160mm fork w/550mm a2c
2008 Ventana El Terremoto
(medium), 6.0" travel)
17.40 23.00 4.50 67.50 73.00 17.00 13.80 30.70 unk Tires unknown
160mm fork w/545mm a2c
2008 Ventana La Bruja
(medium), 7.0" travel)
18.00 22.90 4.50 67.00 74.00 17.00 14.30 28.80 unk Tires unknown
203mm fork w/571mm a2c
2009 Intense Tracer VP
(medium), 5.5-6.0" travel
17.50 23.00 4.50 67.50 71.50 16.90 13.80 27.30 6.25 lbs Tires unknown
2009 Fox Float 36 fork
2009 Intense Uzzi
(medium), 6.5-7.0" travel
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? Tires unknown
2009 Fox Float 36 fork
2009 Pivot Firebird
(medium), 6.9" travel
17.75 23.00 4.75 67.20 71.50 17.25 13.85 28.50 > 6.95 lbs 2.35" Kenda Nevegal,
2009 Fox 36 Float fork
2009 Pivot Mach-5
(medium), 5.5" travel
19.00 23.20 4.20 69.00 72.00 18.65 13.80 30.00 6.20 lbs 2.35" Kenda Nevegal,
2009 Fox 32 Float fork
2009 Santa Cruz Nomad
(medium), 6.3" travel
17.00 22.80 5.10 67.00 71.50 17.40 14.00 29.00 unk 2.35" Kenda Nevagal tires,
2009 Fox 36 Vanilla RC2
2009 Specialized Enduro SL
(medium), 6.0" travel)
17.48 23.27 5.47 67
16.57 14.01
29.45 unk unk tires
150mm fork w/unk a2c
2009 Titus El Guapo
(medium), 6.1" travel
18.00 23.00 4.00 68.00 71.50 17.36 13.80 29.60 unk tires unk, 2.35" guess
2009 Fox 36 Float
2009 Trek Remedy
(medium), 6.0" travel)
17.50 23.40 unk 67.00 72.00 16.50 13.80 29.30 unk Kenda Nevegal 2.35"
160mm fork w/545mm a2c
2009 Yeti ASR Seven
(medium), 7.0" travel
18.70 23.60 4.50 67.00 75.00 16.90 13.80 31.00 7.40 lbs Tires unknown
2009 Fox Float 36 fork
2009 Yeti 575
(medium), 5.75" travel
18.50 24.00 4.50 66.90 70.40 16.90 14.00 29.70 6.20 lbs Tires unknown, 2.35" est.
2009 Fox Float 36 fork
2009 Turner 5 Spot
(medium), 5.5" travel)
17.00 23.00 4.50 69.00 74.00 16.90 13.40 30.00 6.80 lbs 2.35" Kenda Nevegal,
2009 Fox Float 32 RLC fork
2010 Turner RFX
(medium), 6.3" travel)
16.00 22.90 4.20 67.00 72.50 17.10 14.00 30.00 7.30 lbs 2.5" tires, 545mm a2c fork
Note the model year!


  • ST is Seat Tube, measured Center of of Bottom Bracket to Top of Tube
  • TT is Top Tube, measured Center/Top of Head Tube horizontally to intersecting line with ST
  • HT is Head Tube, measured Top to Bottom
  • HTA is Head Tube Angle, manu-specified with rated-fork quoted
  • STA is Seat Tube Angle, manu-specified with rated-fork quoted
  • CSTY is Chain Stay, measured Center of Bottom Bracket to Center of Rear Axle, at 0 sag
  • BB is Bottom Bracket, measured center of Bottom Bracket to ground, at 0 sag
  • STD is Standover Height, measured from lowest point of top-tube to ground, at 0 sag
  • Weight is frame weight, for a medium frame with rear shock, unless stated otherwise in Remarks.