Race Report - Olly Morris Rides the Pivot Firebird
09 February 2023
By Olly Morris
New year, new bike, new race
It’s a new year, so time to get back against the clock and begin preparations for the 2023 season. As a racer, I will take any excuse to get between the tape and against the clock, so the popular Mini Downhill races at the Forest of Dean seemed the ideal place to start.
On top of that, race day was new bike day. I’ve moved to Pivot Cycles UK for 2023 and recently went to pick up my new enduro bike, the Firebird. If you haven’t seen this bike yet, go and take a look, it's beautiful – but as a racer, the biggest thing on my mind was, “Is it easy to ride and does it ride fast?”
New bike day
I picked the bike up from Saddleback HQ on Friday evening. It is a stock XT/XTR build with a Fox suspension, so I can't complain about the build kit at all. When I got the bike home, I put some base settings in the suspension, set my bar roll and lever height and got the rest of my kit ready for a weekend of racing. By this point, the track had been announced and I knew I’d be racing on Mr Rooty. Perfect.
At the Mini DH races, Saturday is an unofficial practice day. The Mr Rooty track chosen was actually pretty varied for a short track. It had flow turns at the top that went into a crazy tight left hander; in my eyes, the only way to go was to endo round it.
That chucked you over a fire road and into the technical section of trail, which included slippery roots and technical corners without much support. The only way to ride this section fast was with finesse. Good braking and finding the lines that gave exit speed was the key here. I saw lots of crashes in practice and during the race here, so it was clearly the section that you could lose it all in if you override it.
If you were still on the bike at this stage, you went out into the fast bottom section, which was great fun but started to get some soft patches in it. Here the key was to generate as much speed into this section as possible and find lines where you didn’t hit the soft patches.
I loved the fact my first run on the new bike was on a race track, the brakes were literally bedding in on my first practise run. I felt so comfy on the bike straight away. That is rare for me as I am very fussy when it comes to how a bike is set up. All I did through the weekend was to ramp up my compression in the shock as I was building speed.
At regional races, you generally get two runs and they take the best one to count. This keeps things nice and chilled. It’s not normal for a DH race, but I was pedalling up on the Firebird for all my runs throughout the weekend.
I really liked the pedalling position, it felt like I didn’t have to wrench on the bars when pedalling uphill. It was all very relaxed and I didn’t find myself locking the shock out for climbs either. The one good thing about pedalling up was it acted as a good warm up for my race runs.
Race run one didn’t go quite to plan, my run was the fastest in Elite but that is only because the other guys made big mistakes. I always aim to be proud of my performance, but that wasn't the case on this run.
However, in the second run I was super proud, kept speed, rode neat and enjoyed myself (my number one performance indicator). Oh, and it was two seconds faster, meaning I kept my first-place position. Stoked!
So, I picked up the new Pivot Firebird on Friday, bedded it in on the racetrack on Saturday and won with it on Sunday. My two questions when I picked the bike up were, was it easy to ride and was it fast? I can confirm that the answer is a yes on both accounts.
The race organisation was seamless and I’d like to say a massive well done to all the riders who got into it. Also, huge thanks to all the people involved with the race, especially the volunteers, such as the marshals, Dean Trail Volunteers trail crew and Forestry England. It was a great race and I am already looking forward to the next round in March.
What Olly Rode