Recently, red rocks and red and blue bikes have come to mean one thing – Pivot Cycles has a new bike. Almost exactly a year to the day, we’re back in Moab to see what Chris Cocalis and the Pivot team have in store for the riding public.
Since we were last here for the launch of the incredible Switchblade, Pivot has been extremely busy. There were updates to the 429 SL, a new Phoenix component system, and a pedal friendly park bike, the new Firebird.
Now, Pivot has released yet another new bike. Something with mid-travel. Something with 27.5″ wheels. Something Cocalis refers to as the quintessential trail bike…
While many of the details of Pivot’s latest bike may come as a surprise, if you studied their current line up you could probably see what’s coming. When Pivot launched their brand in 2007, they started with two bikes – the Mach 4 and Mach 5. The Mach 4 was an XC race machine, while the Mach 5 was designed to be that perfect, all around, nimble trail bike. Since then, the Mach 5 was superseded by the Mach 5.7 carbon, which turned out to be a huge boost for Pivot Cycles. Cocalis mentions that the Mach 5.7 carbon might be their most significant product to date, stating that it was responsible for essentially doubling the size of their company.
Yet, you may have noticed the lack of the Mach 5.7 Carbon in their line up recently. Cocalis says that’s due to how well the Mach 6 has been selling since it appeals to both full on enduro racers, to aggressive trail or all mountain riders.
But that also has given Pivot a chance to see where things may settle out in terms of wheel and tire sizing to create the best Mach 5 yet. That seems to be exactly what they’ve done, with the all new Mach 5.5 Carbon built around 27.5 ‘Wide Trail’ tires. No, it’s not a plus bike. But it’s also not quite a regular trail bike either. Designed around 27.5 x 2.6″ Wide Trail tires with matching 35mm internal width rims, Cocalis says that they have been tuning rim and tire size to the intended use of the bike, and that 2.6″ seems to be the jumping off point for ‘regular’ tires vs. ‘plus’ tires. The key difference being the height of the tire, with the 2.6″ Wide Trail tires supposedly running a similar height to other 2.35-2.5″ from Maxxis. Moving to the 2.8″ the tires get taller and that’s when Cocalis considers it plus size territory.
In this case, that means something with 2.6″ tires and tread that is optimized for 35mm rims to provide more sidewall support than a plus rim and tire, but a larger foot print than a standard 2.35-2.5″ tire. This results in a ride with more confidence inspiring traction than your average trail bike, but in a way that is more stable for aggressive riding. Based on the influx of 2.6″ tires we’ve seen lately, this is probably just the start of bikes designed around the ‘Wide Trail’ sizing. Of course, if you wanted to run narrower tires with the Mach 5.5 and barely effect the ride since the tire height will remain similar.
The frame itself is of course a carbon dw-link design with 140mm of rear travel mated to a 160mm travel suspension fork. The Mach 5.5 Carbon can accommodate a 150mm travel fork as well, but all stock bikes will include the 160mm Fox 36 Factory Boost fork (36 Performance for Race build).
In order to build the Mach 5.5 frame as light as possible, Pivot says that the new frame includes a lot more high modulus carbon in order to keep the stiffness to a similar level as the Switchblade – and almost a pound lighter than the frame on the Mach 6. That correlates to a slightly higher price for the frameset, but it’s partially responsible for the low 5.7lb frame weight (medium frame, missing the axle, derailleur hanger, battery cover, and a few other small parts).
Starting with the same prototyping process of all of their carbon bikes, Pivot began the design process of the 5.5 with aluminum prototypes manufactured in house. These aren’t just your average aluminum prototypes though as each is constructed from aluminum pieces that require hundreds of hours of machining time. The level of manufacturing is to the point that Pivot claims that they can get the weight, and the stiffness to near identical levels of a production carbon bike which really helps them in the testing process. However, the process is far too costly for a production scale, which is one of the areas where carbon still reigns supreme.
Along with the changes in layup to get the stiffness and weight numbers where they needed to be, Pivot redesigned their mid-travel linkage to further improve the performance. Pivot’s longer travel bikes use a clevis on the rear shock which allows them get the seat tube out of the way for bigger wheels and tires and to use sealed bearings instead of bushings for smoother performance. Those same clevis designs don’t fit on the mid travel bikes, so Pivot has used a linkage design that drives the rear shock off the seat stays. Now, the design has been reworked so that the linkage uses those same cartridge bearings instead of a bushing for the rear shock mount for more suppleness out of the stroke.
Mounted to that mid-travel linkage is the 2018 Fox Float DPS Evol rear shock, though the Float X2 will be available as an upgrade ($399, $565 for Race build). The Mach 5.5 also has one other option for suspension, though it’s something that doesn’t even exist yet. You’ll notice relatively large ports under the top tube and by the rear brake which are there to future proof the frame and make it compatible with Fox Live. We’re still hampered by what we can actually say about Fox Live, but the fact that there are now a few bikes built to run the system seems to suggest that it might be coming pretty soon.
In addition to the ports for Fox Live, the 5.5 includes the Pivot Cable Port System which offers fitment for 1x, 2x, Di2, internal droppers, and moto-style brake routing. Each hose or cable is clamped in place with the cap which is intended to prevent any rattle from loose cables inside the frame. Front derailleurs (remember them?) are compatible if you use the included adapter which bolts above the PF92 bottom bracket with two bolts. The adapter allows the use of direct mount front derailleurs and the Cable Port System has ports for mechanical or electronic front derailleurs. The bottom bracket also features ISCG05 tabs for whatever guards or guides you want to run.
It’s worth noting that even with a rear shock with a piggy back reservoir, all sizes fit a water bottle inside the main triangle. This will always be a matter of personal preference, but on our first ride on the 5.5, the cage was a welcome addition, even with hydration packs due to the near six hours we were out on the trail in an area without water.
Continuing with their Long and Low geometry, the 5.5 is definitely more of a modern fit with longer reach numbers, a 66.5º head tube angle, and 430mm chain stays. Other important considerations to fit include impressive stand over height and five sizes to fit riders down to 4’11”. Pivot doesn’t make any “women’s specific” bikes, but they emphasize that their bikes will fit smaller rider than many of the competition’s women’s bikes and they’re built to offer the same suspension performance with lighter riders in mind.
Rounding out the frame design is a Boost 148 rear end. Expecting Super Boost? According to Cocalis, Super Boost was a requirement for the Switchblade due to the amount of tire clearance the frame needed for plus tires while still allowing for a front derailleur and simultaneously making for a stronger 29″ wheel. Since the 5.5 only needed one of those three criteria, Boost 148 is sufficient for the 27.5″ Wide Trail wheels and tires – which means there will be a ton of other options for rear wheels available. The rear also features a 180mm post mount which means the bike is limited to 180mm or larger brake rotors. Other small details include new injection molded frame protection pieces made from the same ultra low durometer rubber Pivot has used on recent bikes.
Offered in three levels of build – Team, Pro, and Race, complete bikes will be available with both SRAM and Shimano drivetrains. All Team builds will include custom Reynolds carbon wheels with a 36mm internal width that at the moment are only available through Pivot. The carbon wheels are also available as an upgrade for Pro builds ($1,300), though all builds will include the same 27.5 x 2.6″ Maxxis Minion DHF and Rekon Wide Trail tires.
Every build also includes a Fox Transfer dropper post (125mm for S/M, 150mm for L/XL) with the exception of the XS frames which will use a KS LEV Integra due to its shorter length inside the seat tube. Depending on the build pricing ranges from $4,899 for the Race XT 1x to $10,199 for the Team XTR Di2 2x, with frames available for $3,099. Bikes are available now and ready to rip.
Up next is the first ride review.