Pro Bike Check: The Pivot LES of the Stan’s-Pivot Pro Team p/b Maxxis

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Keegen Swenson at the 2019 Epic Rides Whiskey 50, dropping into one of the technical features while building his gap to 2nd. Photo: Les Stukenberg

Keegen positioning for a win in the Wiskey 50 Fat Tire Crit- L. Stukenberg

Marathon and XC racing in the USA is getting “fully involved”. As full suspensions become lighter, stiffer, and more adaptable to terrain types more and more riders are excluding the hard tail from their stables. Increasingly technical world-cup courses and a pattern of longer distance races growing in popularity have the full suspension sending it past hardtails and off bike store racks in greater numbers than ever. This trend makes the Pivot LES a standout at races the world over and in particular in the 2018 Epic Rides series of races.

The unique format of the Epic Rides series dictates that riders must use the same machine for both the Friday evening fat tire criterium and Sunday’s “Epic” back country marathon. While riders may change their tires for the criterium the rest of their gear choices must remain unchanged between events; putting each rider in an even higher stakes toss-up between the two mountain bike platforms.

Swenson’s Pivot LES immediately post Whiskey 50

With four back country wins and four crit wins the Stan’s-Pivot Pro Team has dominated the Epic Rides series in 2018. The cadre of Chloe Woodruff, Keegen Swenson, Rose Grant, and Sofia Gomez-Villafane have regularly chosen the hardtail LES (get it? PivotLES) almost exclusively for Epic Rides events in 2018 and have begun their 2019 season aboard the same platform. I spoke to Chloe Woodruff shortly after the Carson City Offroad about the bike choice:

“I’ve raced the LES at Sea Otter, the Whiskey Off-Road and Carson City Off-Road so far in 2018. These were my first races on Pivot’s 29er hardtail as I’ve stuck with the LES 27.5 for the past few seasons. While I still race 27.5″ wheels on the World Cup, I’ve enjoyed adding the LES to my quiver this year. I’ve actually found that moving back and forth between the wheel sizes isn’t all that hard. This is, in part, due to the fact that we’ve been able to achieve the same reach and drop on the LES as the LES 27.5. So the Small LES fits me quite well and I’m just 5′ 2″ tall. I’ve also removed my dropper post from my LES for as much weight savings as possible. This is key for courses like the Whiskey Off-Road and Carson City with some massive elevation gain. But whatever I may lose in a few tricky corners or steep sections I find I can re-gain on high speed descents and loose corners where traction is everything. Simply put, the LES feels really comfortable at speed but is still light and maneuverable enough to handle some varied terrain. When I first started racing on Pivots I believed I’d be all 27.5” wheels all-the-time. But now that I’ve spent some time on the LES, I’ve found that’s no longer the case. “
Woodruff’s assertion that the LES is light enough for the steepest of climbs while still being comfortable and stable at speed puts it in rarified air and proves that while full suspension platform bikes are becoming incredibly efficient the hardtail is still the go-to for riders seeking maximum efficiency; and the Pivot LES delivers in particularly remarkable fashion.

Chloe collecting hi-fives on her way to the podium- L. Stukenberg

You could say the LES does some winning. -K. Wehn

2018 Argentinian National champion, world cup racer, and bright-eyed shredder in residence of the Stan’s-Pivot Pro Team Sofia Gomez-Villafane has swapped regularly between the LES and the XC platform full-suspension Pivot 429SL. Gomez-Villafane and Keegen Swenson both fully-commit their LES’s with the addition of Fox Transfer Dropper posts to ensure their handling skills can cash the checks written by fully suspended competition.

Gomez-Villafane cruising the LES in the Soldier’s Hollow Stage Race- K. Wehn

In this editor’s experience the Pivot LES is an absolute ace option for whenever efficiency is a major consideration. The LES was my bike of choice for the 2017 Pioneer mixed race (2nd place) and the 2017 Brasil Ride UCI stage race (1st Mixed). 7 of my 8 singlespeed national titles were also aboard the LES. Ive added a Fox 34 120mm fork and brought the LES to Enduro events as well as pushed its light weight limits with a rigid fork and fixed post for climbing intensive races like LaRuta de Los Conquistadores. One unique characteristic of the LES is its ability to run either standard rear dropouts or Pivot’s proprietary “Swinger” sliding dropout. The indexed forward backward slider with disc caliper mounted to swing in tandem is without a question the most effective and reliable adjustable dropout system I have ridden.

Editor and author Gordon Wadsworth Ripping the LES as an SS to a US Marathon National Championship title. Photo: Weldon Weaver

With Keegen Swenson already hot off the first Epic Rides Series win of 2019; doubling wins in the Crit and the Epic, the LES is clearly firing on all cylinders again for 2019!

The Spec

Full Spec of Keegen Swenson’s Pivot Les:
Frame: Pivot LES Size Medium
Fork: Fox Factory 32 Step-Cast (71PSI, 2 Volume spacers)
Wheelset: Stan’s Podium SRD w/ Stan’s Neo Ultimate hubs Boost 148 rear spacing.
Tires: Maxxis Aspen 2.25 EXO (20-21 psi Front, 22 Rear)
Shifter: XTR M9000 Di2
Rear Der: XTR M9000 Di2
Brakes: XTR M9000 “race” brakes, 160 rotors f/r
Crankset: XTR M9000 w/ Stages Powermeter, 170MM. 32-36t rings
Cassette: XTR 11-40
Handlebar: PRO Tharsis XC 720mm
Stem: PRO Tharsis 90mm
Grips: ESI Racer’s Edge and BikeTogs thumb-grips
Bottom Bracket: Shimano Pressfit
Bottle cages: PRO carbon w/ alloy bolts
Seatpost: Fox Factory Transfer dropper post.
Saddle: PRO Turnix Carbon
The full geometry of the Pivot LES:

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