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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've owned both these bikes and have gotten several questions about my opinion of how they compare, so thought I'd just post it here for all to see.

I had an XL BronsonC for about a year. It was stolen, and insurance came through for me big time, so I got an XL Mach 6. Notably, the Bronson had a 2014 Float fork while the M6 has a Pike. Both at 150mm.

The bottom line is that both bikes are awesome, and I'm certain that 95% of owners of either will never really test the limits of either design. Neither of these bikes is going to hold you back on the trail. I'll ignore differences in parts spec, but identify two main frame-intrinsic differences: geometry and suspension feel/performance.

1) Geometry. I was on an XL in both cases, though I think these observations apply to other sizes. Both bikes have similar measured top tubes, but the Bronson has a steeper ST angle; this effectively "pushes" that top tube forward, so the Bronson has a longer reach measurement. The Bronson also has a much shorter HT, over an inch shorter than the M6 in XL. (Caveat: reach and HT are related, and the M6 is not quite as short on reach as it may seem. Reach is horizontal distance from BB to top of HT, and the HT is obviously sloped, so the taller the HT the shorter the measured reach, all else being equal.) Finally, the M6 has shorter chain stays and wheelbase.

The upshot of all this is that with the M6, the seated rider's center of gravity is further back, more over the rear wheel (slack ST + short chain stays). Also, standing up in the same position on the M6 puts ones knees nearer the bars (short reach), so the M6 rewards a sharper bend at the waist when standing, to get the chest down and keep the bars in front of the rider.

The effect of all this on the ride is that I find the M6 to be a more playful bike. Short wheelbase and short chain stays make it positively whip around tight switchbacks, and it's noticeably easier to lift the front end, either over obstacles or to manual. Nothing seems too steep on the M6, just hold on and keep the rubber side down. It's also a blast in the park, where you can really get up high on wall rides and boost jumps off everything in sight. The downside is the up; it requires a noticeable weight shift to keep the front end planted when climbing steep terrain on the M6, where the Bronson lets you just sit and spin. And the Bronson struck me as a bit more stable on fast/rough descents (longer chain stay and wheelbase). I've had to adjust to the shorter reach of the M6, learning to stick my ass back to stay behind the bars when standing up on steep descents; once I got used to this though, the M6 has been a blast. I think the M6 might better reward a skilled rider looking to play all over the trail, where a Bronson might be more confidence-inspiring for those wanting to just haul ass over rough terrain.

Suspension VPP and DW both work well, and I should note that I had a normal Fox CTD on the Bronson but a FloatX on the M6. With that said, I find the DW to offer noticeably better small-bump compliance, while also yielding better mid stroke support. I found the VPP to feel a bit stiff early in the stroke over small bumps, but then open up and wallow into its travel on larger hits (still not a big issue; it's not like an FSR bike). DW by contrast feels super-supple on smaller bumps but gives a nice, supportive feel on bigger hits. This is similar to the difference in feel of a Fox Float fork and a Pike; the DW and Pike both ride fairly high in their travel and provide great small-bump sensitivity. The only issue is that with the DW (and the Pike) you need to carefully dial in rebound dampening; the progressiveness of the suspension means that it really bounces back at you on bigger hits, and if you're under-damped you can actually feel like the bike is trying to eject you on landing. This is the case with all suspensions to some degree, but the DW deep in its travel really accentuates this feel in my opinion.

Both suspension designs yield nice firm platforms when pedaling. I'd give a small edge to the DW in this regard, though when climbing I'd probably prefer the Bronson due to geometry.

Bottom line: Both these bikes are awesome. If I had the choice between them, identical spec, I'd pick the M6. It's just a bit more playful and feels like it will stay composed over any terrain, jump, drop, steeps etc. If I were ONLY using my bike to race Enduro-type courses, or to cover lots of rough trail as quickly as possible, I might consider a Bronson. You really can't go wrong with either.
 

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The effect of all this on the ride is that I find the M6 to be a more playful bike. Short wheelbase and short chain stays make it positively whip around tight switchbacks, and it's noticeably easier to lift the front end, either over obstacles or to manual. Nothing seems too steep on the M6, just hold on and keep the rubber side down. It's also a blast in the park, where you can really get up high on wall rides and boost jumps off everything in sight. The downside is the up; it requires a noticeable weight shift to keep the front end planted when climbing steep terrain on the M6,
That's why I got the M6. I wanted a more playful & agile version of my Nomad with bigger wheels. :thumbsup:

I had a hard time climbing on my Nomad the first few weeks, but now I am up climbs at the front of the pack. So the slack STA doesn't phase me.

Thanks for sharing your perspective. :)

FWIW - I must be one of the few people [based on what gets posted] that actually needs a slack STA and the saddle back on the rails to get enough room for my leg between the saddle and the BB.
 

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Good Review

I do agree with the slack ST. I'm fighting that a bit with my Mach 6. I am putting on the Fizik Thar saddle which has extra long rails to help put my knee over the peddle a little better.
I did like the Bronson but still not enough time to give a full review.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I have no problems with the STA in terms of saddle/pedal relationship. Dropping a plumb line from the nose of the saddle on the M6, I get a ~4" setback from BB center, which is just about identical to my road bike; on the M6 my bars are obviously higher and closer to saddle, so the riding position is no problem. My weight is nicely balanced between saddle and bars when riding.

For me the difference comes from how the geometry places the rider relative to the wheels: with the M6 you're more over the rear wheel when seated, and nearer the bars if you stand up straight on the pedals. This leads to some front-end wander when climbing seated, and necessitates some gymnastics to keep the front end down on steep climbs; I find myself having to shift forward onto the nose of the saddle to a much greater degree on steep climbs. This took some getting used to, but is now a non-issue.

Obviously bike design is a balance, and the features that make a bike a great climber (long chain stays, steep STA, long low front end) make for poor descending. I think Pivot erred a bit more on the side of playful and fund downhill, while SC aimed for a do-it-all geo. And FWIW, the M6 is actually has a steeper STA and longer front end than the Mojo HDR, which everyone agrees is an awesome bike. So not like the M6's numbers are way outside the norm.
 

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Great write up and you confirmed what I suspected about the main Bronson/M6 differences. Since I was leaning more towards longer stability, decided on the Bronson and will probably put a Float X on to improve its DH capabilities. XL rider also. Except now you have me wondering if I should throw on a 35mm rise bar instead of a 20;)
 

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Great review DrewBird. I can't ever remember a time with so many fantastic bikes and choices. The STA is not a big deal, just move the seat 3/4 of an inch forward and it is like you have a 73 degree STA. You will loose 3/4 of an inch of effective head tube length when you are seated, so you have to size accordingly. For that reason, at 5'10.5" I ordered the large Mach 6. You can compensate for the slack STA to a large extent. That said, I wish Pivot would adopt a steeper STA. By the same token, you can effectively slacken the Bronson STA with a setback post or potentially sliding the seat backwards in the rails (effectively lengthening the top tube).

What you can't adjust for is the super short chain stay length. As DrewBird points out, this is going to have a positive impact in taking switchbacks, manualing, boosting off jumps, etc. It's also going to have a negative impact on stability and the ability to keep the front wheel down when climbing. The slight 0.4 inch difference in chain stay length has a pretty substantial impact in handling.

All of this just highlights the importance of trying out a bike before you squander the children's college fund.
 

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I suppose it's all what you are used to riding, but I find Pivot's slack HTA and short chainstays to my liking. Sooo playful and flickable. I have an '09 Mach 4. And I've ridden the Mach 5.7 a handful of times and I really enjoy the handling. I suspect I have short femurs for my height and I still like the slack HTA. I've been using a setback seatpost the entire time I've had my Mach 4. But maybe I'll try a non-setback seatpost to see how it feels. Thanks for the review!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Regarding the slack STA of the M6, I think it's also important to consider the anti-squat built into the DW link, which is quite significant. Even when climbing steep stuff on the M6, you really don't sink into rear travel much at all. Keep this in mind when comparing the STA of the M6 to something like an FSR or Kona Process--which have steeper STAs on paper, but when pointed uphill will squat into their rear travel a good deal more, effectively slackening the STA.
 

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Regarding the slack STA of the M6, I think it's also important to consider the anti-squat built into the DW link, which is quite significant. Even when climbing steep stuff on the M6, you really don't sink into rear travel much at all. Keep this in mind when comparing the STA of the M6 to something like an FSR or Kona Process--which have steeper STAs on paper, but when pointed uphill will squat into their rear travel a good deal more, effectively slackening the STA.
+1 - you ride a bike not a seatube angle....so you need to evaluate the whole machine together. Looking at one design element in isolation is misleading.
 

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Thanks for the great and helpful review. I want one of these two bikes with a 2014 TALAS or Pike. All that you say makes sense to me, but the climbing assessment is almost opposite from what was in MTBR's Enduro Compare-O. In their reviews, they said the Bronson's front wheel was hard to keep down and the Mach 6 climbing was a strength.

My local trail has a longish, steep, technical climb. I really want to run the 150mm Pike, but not is the front wheel is going to be hard to keep down on either bike. The Bronson C from Santa Cruz comes with a TALAS, which kind of suggests it needs it?

I'd appreciate your or anybody's insights on this.
 

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Thanks for the great and helpful review. I want one of these two bikes with a 2014 TALAS or Pike. All that you say makes sense to me, but the climbing assessment is almost opposite from what was in MTBR's Enduro Compare-O. In their reviews, they said the Bronson's front wheel was hard to keep down and the Mach 6 climbing was a strength.

My local trail has a longish, steep, technical climb. I really want to run the 150mm Pike, but not is the front wheel is going to be hard to keep down on either bike. The Bronson C from Santa Cruz comes with a TALAS, which kind of suggests it needs it?

I'd appreciate your or anybody's insights on this.
When I first got my SC Nomad [slack STA, slack HTA and 160mm fork] I regretted not buying a Talas fork on steep techy climbs. I felt so wrong I thought I was going to be spending some $$ fixing the problem.

A few weeks later it was not on my mind.

Now I climb steep tech really well on that bike [same fork as I started with].

I put a 160mm Pike on the Mach 6.
 

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Thanks for the great and helpful review. I want one of these two bikes with a 2014 TALAS or Pike. All that you say makes sense to me, but the climbing assessment is almost opposite from what was in MTBR's Enduro Compare-O. In their reviews, they said the Bronson's front wheel was hard to keep down and the Mach 6 climbing was a strength.

My local trail has a longish, steep, technical climb. I really want to run the 150mm Pike, but not is the front wheel is going to be hard to keep down on either bike. The Bronson C from Santa Cruz comes with a TALAS, which kind of suggests it needs it?

I'd appreciate your or anybody's insights on this.
I demo'd both Bronson C and Mach 6 in Moab at Outerbike in October last year. Since then I've owned both in Size Large (I'm 5'-10".) I bought the Bronson even though I preferred the M6 because I got a deal on a Bronson. I ended up selling the Bronson frame/fork so I could build up my M6. I didn't like the Talas on the Bronson, it suffered from severe brake dive and a heavy stiction feeling. It also didn't feel like the VPP suspension was as efficient climbing as the DW Link, but it still climbs good, way better than my Nomad.
As for travel adjust - My Nomad has a 160 Talas and I use the different travel positions (I didn't say need it!) My M6 is a fixed 160 and it's kinda nice not messing with it. I haven't hit a climb yet that has caused me to regret not getting an adjustable travel fork, but if I did, I'd still get a Pike!
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
When I first got my SC Nomad [slack STA, slack HTA and 160mm fork] I regretted not buying a Talas fork on steep techy climbs. I felt so wrong I thought I was going to be spending some $$ fixing the problem.

A few weeks later it was not on my mind.

Now I climb steep tech really well on that bike [same fork as I started with].

I put a 160mm Pike on the Mach 6.
^^^This. If jumping from one bike to the other back-to-back, you'd have to adjust how you climb a bit on the M6. But after a few rides it'll become natural. It's a very good climber, just requires a touch more body weight shift now and then. I also do lots of climbing and have no regrets on having an M6 and not a Bronson.

I'm also certain that size will make a big diff. I'm tall an ride and XL, so my center of gravity is far above my rear hub. As the trail goes uphill, this means I tip backward more readily, i.e. I need to shift forward more to keep the font end down. This issue would be less pronounced for a shorter rider.
 

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I agree with other reviews above.
I have M6 with Talas. Used the 130 at first for climbing now I am used to 160 and climb with no wondering. (Loose hands/two fingers help alot) I demoed a bronson for a week, it climbed well but the M6 does it with much less effort.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Very curious to see how the new Nomad compares to the M6 once some folks have a chance to ride them back-to-back. Seems like the geometry differences noted here are pushed even further with the Nomad; it's a looooong bike, steep STA, very slack HTA. Wheelbase is a full 2" longer than the M6! But only 10mm more travel.

Guessing the new Nomad will be super-stable in fast DH, but not so quick and playful as the M6. Very interested to try one sometime.
 

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Very curious to see how the new Nomad compares to the M6 once some folks have a chance to ride them back-to-back. Seems like the geometry differences noted here are pushed even further with the Nomad; it's a looooong bike, steep STA, very slack HTA. Wheelbase is a full 2" longer than the M6! But only 10mm more travel.

Guessing the new Nomad will be super-stable in fast DH, but not so quick and playful as the M6. Very interested to try one sometime.


+1 - not sure if you saw this photo [new Nomad Mk3 = black and 26er Nomad Mk2 = red]....it's interesting...especially since I have a Nomad MK2

The long wheel base on the MK3 Nomad makes me happy I got a Mach 6 for our tight forest trails. :)
 

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Interesting pic overlay, it would be cool to get a 3D CAD model and overlay it onto a Mach 6. It doesn't look 2" longer, but that might make me wanna try a medium instead of large like my current Mach 6 & Nomad. Not sure if the HTA would really be much different than my M6, cuz they both have the same Pike 160 fork. I spoke with SC today, they don't have any demo's available yet, but they'll be at the Sea Otter with some demo rigs. I'll be trying one soon just for comparison purposes!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
To be clear Vikb's overlay is the old Nomad vs. the new. Makes it clear that they basically shortened the chain stays and moved the BB back, while keeping end-to-end dimensions the same. Looks like the wheelbase difference between M6 and Nomad is about half due to longer reach on Nomad (a full 1" longer!) and half due to slacker HT angle putting the front wheel further out in front of the bike.

I'm also glad I got an M6 for the twisty forest trains here in the PNW. I think the Nomad will be an AWESOME enduro race bike, and will be very very fast downhill, kind of like the Enduro 29er. But I'd expect the M6 to be more snappy and flickable, and to change direction better. And it should climb way better too.
 

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Hey DrewBird,

Given the same length stem on the XL M6 and Bronson, would you say one was roomier than the other? I have not been able to sit on a XL M6 but have sat on the XL Bronson. Very curious how these compare room wise and if you felt more "in" one versus "on top" of it?
 
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