One of the best parts about PressCamp in Park City is always the proximity to incredible trails. Whether you’re looking for lift access, or you want to earn your turns, Deer Valley and the surrounding mountains have something for just about everyone. That always makes testing new bikes a bit easier since there is such a vast trail network to choose from.
This year, the big news from Pivot (and one of the few mountain bikes launched at PressCamp) was an updated version of their popular Mach 4 as well as a new LES 27.5. Both bikes gained boost spacing and a few other tweaks, but naturally the trails of the Wasatch left me reaching for the full suspension option – which proved to be far more capable than the numbers would suggest…
Realistically, if I had more options at my disposal, I would probably reach for something with a bit more than 115mm of travel for the trails in Park City. I was however, on the “Trail Build” which thankfully added a longer 130mm Fox 34 fork as well as a dropper post, larger and more aggressive 27.5 x 2.35″ Maxxis Ardent Race tires ,and a slightly shorter stem with a wider riser bar. Unless I was purchasing this bike with the sole intent of racing, this is the build I would choose every time. Compared to a lot of current “trail bikes” (like Pivot’s new Mach 5.5), even the Mach 4 Trail build is still on the XC-ish side, but it’s an XC bike that can definitely rally.
My time in Park City was spent on the Mach 4 over three very different days. On the first ride I found myself only riding park, which meant pushing the Mach 4 far past its intended comfort zone. It wasn’t the ideal tool for Deer Valley’s Black and Double Black diamond trails, but with the addition of the Fox Transfer Dropper post and slightly larger tires, I was able to make it down each trail without issue. Granted, the Ardent Race tires led to some sketchy drifts through the moon dust and gravel on sections of the trail, but for an XC rig it handled everything incredibly well.
Day two found us on what has become an annual PressCamp tradition – the Camelbak Porter ride. Lift up to the top of the mountain, then traverse along to the continually improving WOW Trail, and then it’s almost 14 miles of sweet single track descent that spits you out at the bottom of the Heber Valley. More aggressive tires would have helped immensely on the loose, dusty corners, but this turned out to be a perfect ride for the Mach 4. Most of the WOW trail is pretty buffed out, and the XC pedigree helped on the few climbs to the start of the trail. My instinct before the ride had me wishing for one of the few Mach 5.5s on hand, but when the ride was over, the Mach 4 itself did not leave me wanting more.
All good things must come to an end, so for the final day in Park City it was an awesome mix of a ride that tested both extremes of the Mach 4. The ride started with a climb from Mid-mountain up to Empire Pass, which for a sea-level flatlander is a great test of both man and machine when it comes to climbing. This is certainly the time I was most happy to be on the Mach 4 over something bigger as the bike’s light weight and dw-link efficiency made me feel better on the climb in hot conditions than I should have.
The reward for the climbing however was a sampling of some of the more fun trails on the mountain which included jumps, drops, berms, and generally trails that you would expect to ride on a bigger bike. Once again, the Mach 4 handled it all in stride and made for a memorable day on the bike with the Pivot crew.
As usual, even three days on the Mach 4 leaves us well short of a full review, but it did make for a solid first impression. True to form, Pivot has once again managed to make a full suspension bike that feels like it goes far deeper into the travel than the numbers would suggest. Bottomless is a term that is often overused, but it’s fitting here as the 115mm travel lightweight seemed to punch high above it’s weight class.
Compared to other new bikes in the Pivot line up, the Mach 4 is still shorter in the reach department as it’s meant for XC racers which still tend towards longer stems. However, with the shorter stem on the Trail build and the riser bar, it didn’t feel out of place. As mentioned, even if I was personally planning to race this thing, I wouldn’t opt for the XC build. The Trail build is still extremely efficient and completely capable of making its way around an XC race course without slowing most of us down. Dedicated racers have the option though, which is what’s important.
At the end of the day, it’s that versatility that seems to make the Mach 4 shine. Call it a modern XC bike, call it a trail bike – just don’t call it incapable.
Rider notes: Zach is about 5’8″, 150lbs with gear, and has a 690mm saddle to center of BB measurement. For this review he was riding the stock medium Trail build with the Fox Transfer dropper post.