Pivot’s range of bikes has been getting pretty exciting over the last twelve months. The Switchblade was closely followed by the hard hitting long travel Firebird, giving the brand two extremely modern and competent bikes. Today Pivot drops the new Mach 5.5 into the lineup and we swung a leg over one yesterday to see if it lives up to the standards set by the other bikes in the range.

The new Mach 5.5

So we have the Switchblade and the Firebird, a mid travel 29er and a long travel ‘super enduro’ 650b sled, where does this new machine fit into the range? With 140mm of rear travel paired up with a 160mm travel Fox 36, that gives a fairly good idea of what the 5.5 might be aimed at. Pivot tell us it’s built on ‘the legacy of the renowned Mach 5.7 as the quintessential trail bike’, which is a powerful claim, but if anyone can do it, Pivot probably can!

Now there are plenty of details on this bike that make it what it is, but there are a few key aspects that make it special. Firstly this is far similar to the new breed of Pivot than any previous ‘Mach’ model, with long and low geometry giving it a 460mm reach in large, and a 66.5-degree head angle. This is a huge leap in length from the Mach 6, and although this not a replacement for that bike, it’ll certainly be stepping on it’s toes.

Other important features include short 430mm chainstays, but this time there is no Super Boost Plus, just standard boring boost, with plenty of clearance for larger tyres (more on that later). Sizing is excellent as always, with a scale sliding from XS to XL with the smallest models getting shorter drop posts and all sizes featuring super low standover and short seat tubes, allowing for riders to size by length.

Water bottle mounts allow for a full-size drink in all frame sizes, and with a frame weight of 5.2lbs, it’s possible to get a build down to under 27lbs!

The Rubber

What is definitely new, are the tyre dimensions, and the test bikes were all sporting the latest and greatest tyre size: 2.6 inches. My steed for the day was running a 2.6 Minion up front and a 2.6 Recon out back, but unless you spot the sidewall numbers, the Minion looks very close to the 2.5 WT we’ve seen a lot recently. Unsurprising given the 0.1-inch difference. Maxxis now offer the Minion in almost continuous one tenth of an inch increments from 2.3 to 2.8.
This is not a plus sized bike, but also this is not to say this is a ‘2.6’ bike, or ‘semi-skimmed skinny plus’, or whatever pigeonhole you fancy. What it shows us is that the 5.5 is a frame fully capable of taking the new breed of 2.6 tyres, and as all bikes come with these size tyres, Pivot is definitely on board with this size of rubber.

Future Proof

Chris Cocalis works very closely with two brands, Shimano and Fox, so it’s no surprise to see that the frame is set up to take Di2 as well as the mythical Fox Live suspension system. Fox Live will use various gizmos and sensors in the chainstay and fork to automatically adjust the damping on the suspension. It’s also rumoured to link into the seat post for even more integration, probably firming up when the seat is at full extension and open when all the way down.

The Mach 5.5 is also retro-proof, for those that want to run plenty of gears. No ugly front mech plate here, just minimal bolts for front mechs and side swing compatible.

Components and Spec

There are a few extra components worthy of mention on the Mach 5.5, as Pivot has collaborated on much of the parts involved. The Padloc grips feature throughout the range, and Pivot is fully committed to 35mm diameter clamping. Cutting the end of the bars at an angle may seem odd, but provides a non-twist grip with a superbly comfortable soft spot on the end of the bars.

Reynolds has also been working closely with Pivot to produce their new 36mm internal carbon wheels to pair up with the large width tyres. These are available as an upgrade on all builds over the stock Dt Swiss wheels and while we’re on upgrades, the Fox Float X2 is also available to upgrade throughout the range.

With eight bikes of varying spec and price, there is something for everyone, provided you have at least £4850 in your bank account, and the top of the line model comes in at £9000. There was no mention of how Fox Live might fit into the spec and pricing.

The Ride

After a month of dry and dusty trails, our test days was grim, and the poor weather meant I was never going to get a huge amount of time on the bike before I got wet pants.

Riding the Mach 5.5 affirmed that it sits comfortably between the Switchblade and the Firebird. It’s a shame that Pivot hasn’t gone for a more exotic name, I feel the Fire-blade would have been an excellent moniker, if not the Switch-bird.

Initial thoughts are that the 5.5 is a pretty easy bike to ride, and Pivot has hunted down the middle ground of the aforementioned ‘quintessential’ trail bike to make you feel at home instantly. It doesn’t require the speeds of the Firebird to come alive, nor does it have the stiff, racer-like qualities of the Switchblade. Neither nervous or gung-ho, the Mach 5.5 is a planted trail machine.

The large width tyres give a tonne of confidence even in the slop and being a fan of the 2.5 Minion Wide Trail, it’s not surprising I enjoyed the marginally larger version. The 2.6 Rekon is still pretty lacking in the mud, however.

Modern sizing gives it a longer reach than previous ‘Machs’ and matches it up with the longer sizing of the Switchblade and Firebird. At 460mm reach in large, it’s on the money, but those looking for super long will need to head elsewhere. The low slung frame and short seat tubes mean there is plenty of scope for choosing a size on length rather than the seat tube. That said, the kink in the seat tube means dropper selection has to be carefully worked out as they can’t all be slammed full depth into the frame.

Climbing on a DW link is always a pleasure, and the pedalling platform is excellent. square edge hits whilst climbing don’t transfer harshly through the seat, and although I was sporting some heavy-duty tyres, ascending was a breeze. The roomy cockpit is comfortable, and the 800mm bars are great on the XL size I was riding, but the 55mm stem is incongruous to the hard hitting potential of the bike, and I’d like to try something shorter on my next ride on it.

Finding the rootiest and steepest ground I could find, in particularly wet and frictionless conditions gave a good test of the suspension sensitivity and handling characteristics. The light tune on the shock works hard to find grip, and small bump compliance is super supple. I found it probably too light in the middle, but this was the same on the Switchblade and needed to run a firmer setting to get the most out of it. More time on board will tell, and as usual for Pivot time spent setting up the suspension is well spent to maximise the awesome potential of the DW link.

Overall

Pivot have done it again and produced another banger of a bike. It’s playful and spritely on the climbs, while happy to get fully on the gas when you start working with gravity.

It’s easy to imagine how this could become Pivot’s most popular bike, potentially finding that perfect balance between ascending, descending, pedalling and plummeting.

More details can be found here http://www.pivotcycles.com/bike/mach-5-5-carbon

Thanks to Adam, Rory and all the guys from Pivot UK

Thu 18th May, 2017 @ 9:52 am

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