FIRST RIDE: PIVOT SHUTTLE
Late last summer social media circles among the mountain bike community lit up when renowned bike brand Pivot Cycles posted an entertaining video of test rider Aaron Chase slinging a slick blue Pivot around like any other mountain bike, trials-riding it up trees and rocks, showing all the control and flingability you’d expect from a lightweight, rugged bike.
Beyond Chase’s impressive skills on display, the one aspect about the video that got everyone talking was that on closer inspection it was obvious that Chase wasn’t just riding any Pivot mountain bike, but a previously unseen and unknown about electric mountain bike. Mountain bike traditionalists were shocked that Pivot would cross over to the “dark side” of pedal-assist technology. Of course, the population of less-small-minded dirt bike fans were thrilled to see Pivot join other traditional mountain bike brands like Specialized, Rocky Mountain and Cannondale, jumping on the e-bike bandwagon.
An electric full-suspension mountain bike with a carbon frame weighing in at a scant 44 pounds? That had our full attention. Selling (in Europe) for over $10,000, the Pivot is not cheap by any measure.
Owing to the successful legacy building non-assist bikes, Pivot never had plans to enter the e-bike business, but they were pushed into it by German dealers who demanded that they either start making them or they would stop carrying the popular brand altogether. Juxtapose that idea with American shop owners who told Chris that if he brought the Shuttle into their shops, they’d stop carrying Pivot. Luckily, however, not all of them felt that way. CEO of Pivot Cycles Chris Cocalis estimates that if he had the bikes here, he’d have sold over $1 million worth in the first few months.
A lot of effort was put into making the bike look and ride as well as the Pivot models that it’s based on—the popular Firebird and the Switchblade pedal bikes. The suspension had to be able to actuate well with the added weight and power. The result is a Fox setup with 140mm of travel. Pivot tried many different motors and decided the Shimano STEPS E8000 was the smallest, lightest and best solution.
One major weight savings, besides the carbon frame and Shimano STEPS motor, was the ingenious use of a 504-watt-hour battery designed for external applications as an internal battery. The reason was that the internal battery is designed with a more rugged exterior with a built-in skid plate for being mounted in the underside of the downtube, weighing a full 2 pounds more than the external battery.
Cocalis recently came by the EBA office and brought a few Shuttles along with him. It was safe to say that after first seeing the bike at the Eurobike show (EBA, December 2017), we were chomping at the bit to get out and ride them. We buzzed out to some trails near the office in the waning daylight and put the bike through its paces on familiar trails, offering a great comparison with other bikes we’ve ridden there.
Cocalis spent some time prototyping the rear triangle; first in aluminum to be able to make easier tweaks. He wanted the bike to maintain a short wheelbase to maintain its agility on singletrack, but owing to the added power source, he knew the bike also needed to be long enough to keep it from looping out. On a couple of really steep climbs, the bike’s front wheel stayed planted on the ground and made the climb easier.
The Fox Float DPX2 shock was tuned specifically for e-MTB use with firmer mid-stroke compression damping. It reacted well for anything we could throw at it. Small-bump compliance was good. It allowed us to go confidently faster over rutted sections and kept the Maxxis Rekon 2.8-inch tires in contact with the ground.
Bouncing around, you can’t hear anything but the tires on the dirt. The fit and finish of the bike are as you would expect on a bike of this caliber. Cocalis compares this to what you get on a higher-end Mercedes AMG or BMW M-series car. The battery compartment is well sealed, with an automotive-quality gasket around a window that exposes the top of the battery for access to the power button and indicator lights.
The wheelset is one that Pivot co-designed with DT Swiss and is exclusive to the Shuttle. Their Super Boost Plus 157mm-wide hubs allow for better wheel clearance and spoke angles for stronger wheels while not increasing the Q factor.
All of this comes together in an amazing package that provides ride quality and a fun factor greater than the sum of its parts. It does as well on the smooth, flowy parts of the trail as it does on the technical, pucker-inducing ones. We felt like better riders than normal on it.
The Shuttle is easily one of the best e-MTBs we’ve ever ridden. It felt like home from the first few minutes of riding. It isn’t cheap, but it will instill more confidence in even a less experienced rider. It’s easier to control because of the light weight, also a little easier to stop when needed. The suspension is fantastic, the E8000 motor is one of our favorites and the battery range is more than enough for longer rides.
Currently, the bike is only available in Europe, but we really hope the bike will eventually enter the U.S. market sometime in 2018. Ask about it at your local Pivot dealer.
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