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Long Term Review: Pivot LES 29er.

Long Term Review: Pivot LES 29er.

Pivot LES 29″ Carbon Hardtail.

I’ve had my LES for about a year and for the most part it is a fantastic bike. I’ve ridden it an awful lot.
I rode it hard almost every day during 3.5 months in Nepal; including Yak Attack. I also used it for The Strathpuffer 24.
It does however have a couple of issues that need to be considered before you part with your hard earned cash. I’ll come to these later.
It isn’t cheap; £1600 for the frame only is a lot of money. These days you can still buy a pretty good full-build trail hardtail for that kind of cash.
For a full build you will be looking at somewhere between £2500 and £5000, that’s a lot of money! Is it worth it?

It’s very stiff and super responsive, and those big old 29″ wagon wheels means that it climbs like a mountain goat. All of this is aided by the 12×142 bolt-thru rear end, 92mm BB housing and a huge downtube.
It also goes down hill in an impressive manner, in fact it is massive grin-inducing fun, and the harder you ride it the more it proves its capability. The very short chainstays keep it really snappy. The big wheels do require a more aggressive approach to cornering but I soon got used to that. On rough trails the chatter absorption of the carbon is a godsend. Dropper post compatibility is catered for with a 30.9mm seat tube.
I have the small – 16″- version and it is extremely comfortable for all day epics (and 24 hours races).
As a ride it is actually quite amazing, it’s an extraordinarily capable machine.
I’ve run it with a 60mm stem, 120mm suspension fork, and a dropper seatpost, as a super capable trail weapon.
I’ve also run it with a 100mm stem and a rigid carbon fork and it’s been a super comfortable endurance bikepacking machine.
It is definitely very versatile. 

However…

Pivot make a big deal about the internal cable routing:

“Full internal shift cable routing with under bottom bracket access port design for hassle free installation.

The LES features well thought-out internal cable routing that protects the cables from contamination while also being very user serviceable and easy to route which is something that cannot be said for most internal routed designs.”

Well that’s a complete crock of shite! The cable routing is a pain in the ass and you certainly wouldn’t want to be doing it out on the trail (bear in mind here that I am a very experienced Mechanical Engineer so I have some fairly extensive skills to lean on). It’s OK in the house with the Bottom Bracket removed otherwise it is an infuriating process.

As for contamination? Sorry Pivot but you’ve got that wrong too. The access cover isn’t particularly well sealed, add in the potential for water ingress down the seat tube and from the headset and you have a lovely little spot around the BB, where the internal cables route, for all sorts of problems to occur. It might be wonderful in California but in the UK, where it rains occasionally, contamination is a big issue. I have now had to run a full length external cable to the rear derailleur because shifting has become so difficult at times that I’m in danger of suffering a thumb dislocation!

Running an external cable to the rear mech was my only solution.

To be honest internal cable routing is wonderful on paper, personally I think it’s a stupid trend that will hopefully die out when everyone realises that external cable routing is simpler. Unless all manufacturers do it in such a way that we can run the standard outer casing through the frame.
It might look aesthetically pleasing but that’s about all it’s got going for it. Whoever thought it was a clever idea is an idiot! 

The second issue centres around the Bottom Bracket if you run a 2x crank set up. If the chain drops off the front chainrings the frame clearance is insufficient and the chain jams between the frame and the crankset. It then grinds in to the carbon when you inadvertently begin pedaling. I run a rear clutch-mech (Shimano XT Shadow+) but on rough descents the chain is going to drop from time to time, it’s unavoidable, and every time it does it chops in to the frame!

Also if the chain rides up on the chainring (chain suck) the chain jams in the chainstay and grinds that away too.
 I have had to replace my 2x with a 1×10 set-up and a Hope Narrow-Wide chainring just to get around it and it’s still too close to the chainstays for comfort. I might even have to fit a direct-mount chain device if this doesn’t eliminate it. 

Chain-suck damage on the chain-stay is clearly visible. More images below.

I bought The LES with Ultra-endurance in mind, 24 hour races and bikepacking adventures, so having to convert to a 1x drivetrain isn’t my ideal solution. The granny ring gears are a godsend on huge climbs with tired legs. However I’m just going to have to live with it because I can’t afford to invest in an alternative.

So if you’re prepared to run a full length external cable to the rear derailleur and 1x drivetrain then buy one now because apart from those two (actually quite major) issues it is a bomber of a bike.

If not then avoid it like the proverbial plague!

**Pivot have actually just announced the release of a new updated version of the LES with Boost and Di2 compatibility so they may have addressed some of the issues. I’d advise checking out the reviews on the new model as soon they as become available.**

You can view full details here: Pivot LES 29


The quick way down the stairs. Nepal 2015.
2016 Strathpuffer 24 hour race. Scotland.
2016 Strathpuffer 24 hour race. Scotland.
Inadequate clearance for the chain between the crank and the frame.
You can clearly see here what happens if the chain drops.
I had to pack the BB area with grease just to try and keep the shifting functional, it didn’t work for long.








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About The Author

Neil Cottam

Neil is the founder of Chase The Rainbow. He has spent a lifetime exploring the outdoors, from a childhood climbing trees and scrambling his bike around old pit heads to hiking in the Himalaya and backpacking around Europe and Asia.

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