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2018 Pivot Mach 5.5 Carbon Team XTR 1x (discontinued)

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First Ride: 2018 Pivot Mach 5.5 Carbon – A Ripping Next-Gen Trail Bike

As trail riding continues to progress, Pivot strikes a home run with this future-proofed carbon beauty and hints at things to come. See the bike in action and read our initial impressions from two days of rallying in Moab.

Rating: Vital Review

For those looking to go fast and take chances, increasingly capable components and frames mean mountain biking of all varieties is quickly becoming a more aggressive endeavor. For those simply looking to have a good time, those same improvements ensure added safety and fun on the trail. Today Pivot Cycles introduced an all-new bike that will carry them well into the future – the Mach 5.5 Carbon.

Part enduro, part all-mountain, and part trail bike, the new Mach 5.5 brings an interesting mixture of travel, geometry, and technical features to the party. With 140mm of dw-link rear travel and 160mm up front, this 27.5-inch wheeled bike is poised for both all-day efficiency and rowdy trail capability in a cohesive package. Add in new 2.6-inch Wide Trail tires from Maxxis, FOX's updated 36 Float fork, Shimano Di2 integration, a place to mount a yet-to-be-released electronic suspension system from FOX, plus Pivot's dialed details and you've got a ride that's well ahead of the game. Building off the legacy of Pivot's Mach 5.7 Carbon, a bike Vital praised during our first Test Sessions, the Mach 5.5 Carbon presents a fresh take on just about everything from the ground up.

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Highlights

  • High-modulus carbon frame
  • 27.5-inch wheels
  • 140mm (5.5-inches) of rear wheel travel // 160mm (6.3-inches) fork travel
  • dw-link rear suspension with mid-travel specific linkage design
  • Clearance for 2.6-inch Wide Trail tires
  • Pivot Cable Port system
  • Shimano Di2 electronic drivetrain integration
  • FOX Live electronic suspension integration
  • Enduro Max cartridge bearings
  • Front derailleur compatible with removable stealth E-Type mount
  • Low durometer rubberized frame protection
  • 180mm post mount rear brake
  • 12x148mm Boost rear axle spacing
  • Press Fit 92mm bottom bracket with ISCG05 mounts
  • Claimed complete weight (size medium, no pedals, XTR 1X build): Sub 27-pounds (12.2kg)
  • Claimed frame weight (with shock): 5.2-pounds (2.35kg)

"The original Mach 5.7 Carbon was the most popular, best loved bike we’ve ever produced. We wanted to update the design and knew that it had to be absolutely perfect for all the riders out there waiting for the next generation." – Chris Cocalis, Founder of Pivot Cycles

Evolved Mid-Travel Linkage Design

Pivot's Mach 429 Trail marked the introduction of their mid-travel linkage design – a system meant to be both compact and lightweight for use in trail bike applications. Much like recent Metric-compatible frames, Pivot sought to reduce friction in the system through the use of Enduro Max cartridge bearings in the rear shock mount. Doing so drastically improves small bump compliance and results in noticeable traction gains. It's similar to Pivot's clevis design used on the Firebird and Phoenix, but the upper link resides in front of the seat tube.

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The bike's 140mm of dw-link rear travel is designed to work with the progressiveness of a large volume 7.875 x 2.0-inch (200 x 50.8mm) air shock with medium compression valving and medium rebound damping. At present the frame comes stock with a FOX Float Factory DPS EVOL shock, and a FOX Float X2 Factory shock is offered as an upgrade at an additional cost.

There is no spacer hardware or bushings on the rear shock mount, and instead the rocker mounts directly to the shock body. Swapping shocks is slightly more involved than most bikes as it requires the removal of a few pivot bolts, but with no washers to deal with it's a relatively simple process.

High-Modulus Carbon Frame

Pivot's bikes are well regarded for their impressive carbon construction as a result of their proprietary hollow core internal molding process. The Mach 5.5 takes things even further with the move to lighter weight, higher modulus carbon and a further optimized lay-up design. "Weight matters" when it comes to trail bikes, says Pivot, and the Mach 5.5 slots in at an impressive complete weight claimed to be just less than 27-pounds (12.2kg) for the XTR 1X build. The frame is claimed to weigh as low as 5.2-pounds (2.35kg).

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Pivot says they've matched the Mach 6 Carbon on the durability front, and frame stiffness was dialed in to match final aluminum prototypes. The frame is protected by cleanly molded guards in several key locations.

Future Proofing – Shimano Di2 & FOX Live Integration

Looking the frame over you'll notice various ports and rubber covers that may seem out of place. Moving into 2018, their purpose will become more obvious as various technologies come to market.

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Under the downtube, near the bottom bracket, you'll find a second water bottle mount. By removing the rear bolt you gain access to a storage cradle for a Shimano Di2 electronic drivetrain battery. This port is also useful when routing internal dropper seatpost cables or housing. The battery can be securely fastened and slides up into the base of the seat tube. Pivot takes things one step further by also providing clean internal routing specifically for Di2. Thanks to cable ports that clamp down there's little chance of rattling from any of the cables.

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What's even more interesting are two rubber covers for FOX's upcoming Live Valve electronically controlled suspension system – one for mounting the battery under the top tube and one for mounting an accelerometer near the rear brake rotor. Briefly shown as a prototype back in 2015, FOX has been working to finalize the design in the time since. While details are sparse, we do know that the "active shock-damping system" uses accelerometers mounted to the fork and swingarm which provide terrain feedback to help determine ideal suspension settings at any given moment.

When pressed for more details, Pivot's Chris Cocalis simply responded, "It'll be amazing. I'll leave it at that."

Geometry

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Pivot has been on a tear in recent years, updating several of their bikes to meet the latest trends in geometry. Notably, their reach measurements have seen a substantial increase following the introduction of the Switchblade last May. The Mach 5.5 Carbon continues down the same path with numbers that will appeal to many. The company's two and a half year development and prototype process included a handful of geometry tweaks along the way, in addition to dialing in the ride feel.

While the bike sports a beefy 160mm travel enduro-worthy fork up front (with a 44mm offset), Pivot chose to keep the geometry reasonable. It's highlighted by a moderate 66.5-degree head tube angle, snug 430mm chainstays, and a decently steep 73.5-degree seat tube angle.

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Offered in five sizes to fit everyone from 4'11" to 6'7" (1.5 to 2.0m) tall, Pivot made it a goal to keep standover height, seat tube length, and head tube measurements relatively short to allow riders some flexibility in sizing. The photos above show the extra small and extra large sizes. Want a longer bike? Chances are good that you can size up without issue. Every size, including the extra small, fits a large water bottle inside the front triangle.

Suggested sizing:

  • XS: 4'11" – 5'4"
  • Small: 5'4" – 5'8"
  • Medium: 5'8" – 5'11"
  • Large: 5'11" – 6'3"
  • XL: 6'2" – 6'7"

Fresh 2.6-Inch Rubber

Pivot makes a big effort to match tires and rims to each bike, carefully considering the intended purpose of every ride. In the case of the Mach 5.5 they've gone an interesting direction. Like most things in the bike industry, the trend is to go too far and then reel things back in a bit. New 2.6-inch wide Maxxis Minion DHF and Rekon Wide Trail tires are included on all builds. We were told the tires are very close to the same diameter as a standard 2.35-inch 27.5 High Roller II.

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On the wheel side of the equation Pivot relies on DT Swiss M1700 and Reynolds carbon hoops with very sizable 35 and 36mm inner widths, respectively. The Reynolds wheels are exclusive to Pivot, for now, and come with a lifetime warranty. The tire and rim combination offers far better support than a plus-size tire while maintaining some of the wider tire benefits like added traction and improved rollover, ultimately resulting in more control.

On The Trail

We were given the opportunity to try the bike in Moab, Utah. Following a quick setup procedure, hundreds of wheelies were popped and thousands of rocks were smashed over the course of two days and two rides including a Mag 7 to Portal Trail epic.

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The overwhelming impression is one of excellent capability and a quiet, calm ride feel that encouraged us to hold the imaginary throttle wide open. As you'll see in the video below from the famously rough Captain Ahab trail, we were blown away by how well the bike worked at speed in very chunky terrain – a testament to the nature of Pivot's Phoenix testing grounds.

While clearly capable of hauling ass, the bike also offers riders some short travel benefits including faster reaction times to rider inputs, last second bunny hops, pumping efforts, and precision moves often lost on a bigger bike. At the same time the 160mm fork, geometry, and component selection are worthy of much bigger tasks.

One of the most impressive qualities is that it suits a wide range of rider abilities quite well, which is less common than you'd think. Whether cruising along at a very casual pace or tackling the trail with everything you've got, the Mach 5.5 feels comfortable and controlled.

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While clearly capable of hauling ass, the Mach 5.5 Carbon also offers riders some short travel benefits including faster reaction times to rider inputs, last second bunny hops, pumping efforts, and precision moves often lost on a bigger bike.

Pivot's whole system approach continues to impress. From the added bump-eating ability of the tires to the jar-reducing Pivot grips, each of the components plays a crucial role in how the bike rides and we encourage interested readers to experience it as a complete bike if possible.

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As mentioned, Pivot currently offers two FOX shock options – the standard Float Factory DPS EVOL or a Float X2 Factory with a piggyback. We swapped shocks between rides and noted a big difference. If you prioritize pedaling and pumping performance, opt for the Float Factory DPS EVOL. If you want to flog your "little" bike from time to time, go for the Float X2 Factory shock. Given how rally-worthy the front end, geometry, and tires are, we felt as though we were over-riding the Float Factory DPS EVOL on our pinned descent down Captain Ahab. The X2 feels like a much better match for the 2018 FOX 36 with EVOL air spring, settles into the travel a bit better, and maintained consistent damping performance during sustained runs. The only change we made to the stock tunes was to add a bit of low-speed compression.

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It's an awesome thing when serious design skill is backed by talent on the bike. Pivot's crew shreds.

Build Kits, Pricing & Availability

We've always applauded Pivot for including quality components in places that really count across the price range. Never one to skimp on tires or suspension, they keep a good thing going with the Mach 5.5 builds. In addition to Pivot's own Phoenix Component system tackling steering duties with claimed shock absorption and more direct input benefits, they also work with WTB on custom saddles with a durable memory foam for all price points.

Race XT 1X

Pro XTR/XT 1X

Team XX1 Eagle

The Mach 5.5 Carbon is available now as a complete bike ranging from $4,899 to $10,199 USD and as a $3,099 frameset. There are nine builds to chose from, including Race, Pro, and Team level options with both Shimano and SRAM drivetrains to suit your preferences. The FOX Float X2 Factory shock upgrade runs an additional $399 for Team and Pro builds, and Pro bikes can be upgraded to the Reynolds carbon wheelset for $1,300.

  • Race XT 1X - $4,899
  • Pro XTR/XT 1X - $6,199
  • Pro XTR/XT 2X - $6,399
  • Pro X01 Eagle - $7,099
  • Team XTR 1X - $8,299 (Tested)
  • Team XTR 2X - $8,699
  • Team XX1 Eagle - $8,999
  • Team XTR Di2 1X - $9,199
  • Team XTR Di2 2X - $10,199
  • Frameset - $3,099

View Race build specs | View Pro build specs | View Team build specs

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What's The Bottom Line?

In a time when many are riding their trail bikes harder and harder, Pivot's new Mach 5.5 Carbon steps up to the challenge and succeeds in a big way. It delivers a familiar, comfortable, and capable ride that combines short-travel efficiency, long-travel eagerness, modern geometry, and worthy components that promise to carry you to new levels of fun. Pivot's forward thinking frame details also make this a bike that will still be very relevant for many years to come.

Visit www.pivotcycles.com for more details.

Vital MTB First Ride Rating

  • Climbing: 4.5 stars - Outstanding
  • Descending: 4.5 stars - Outstanding
  • Fun Factor: 5 stars - Spectacular
  • Value: 4 stars - Excellent
  • Overall Impression: 4.5 stars - Outstanding

About The Reviewer

Brandon Turman - Age: 30 // Years Riding MTB: 16 // Height: 5'10" (1.78m) // Weight: 175-pounds (79.4kg)

"My current riding joys include pulling up hard and hucking test bikes into poor landings and techy sections with reckless abandon, then seeing how they react upon landing." Formerly a Mechanical Engineer and Pro downhill racer, Brandon brings a unique perspective to the testing game as Vital MTB's resident product guy. He has on-trail familiarity with nearly every new innovation in our sport from the past several years and a really good feel for what’s what.

Photos by Jens Staudt

Rate review:

26 comments newest first

Brandon. Would you comment on the Mach 5.5 against the Yeti SB5.5. I'm coming from the Yeti SB66-C which was their 26" version which I've been really happy with. I've demoed the Pivot but not the Yeti SB5.5.

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Can you comment on this against Evil the calling?
I can't demo a calling and I'm nervous throwing all that money on a bike I've never tested. I am testing the mach 5.5 soon.

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You can read our in-depth review of The Calling here: http://www.vitalmtb.com/product/guide/Bikes,3/Evil/Calling-Eagle-X0,18117#product-reviews/2636

Here's a comparison of the specs for the two bikes we tested: http://www.vitalmtb.com/product/compare/18117-18661

Despite the difference in travel, I think The Calling is every bit as prepared for the rough stuff as the Mach 5.5. Major differences are weight (Pivot is a good deal lighter) and spec (Shimano vs SRAM).

The Calling
Climbing: 3 stars - Good
Descending: 4.5 stars - Outstanding
Fun Factor: 5 stars - Spectacular
Value: 4 stars - Excellent
Overall Impression: 4 stars - Excellent

Mach 5.5
Climbing: 4.5 stars - Outstanding
Descending: 4.5 stars - Outstanding
Fun Factor: 5 stars - Spectacular
Value: 4 stars - Excellent
Overall Impression: 4.5 stars - Outstanding

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Did you find 2.6 tire on 35mm rims slower on flat pedaling sections than a 2.5WT tire on 30mm rims? Also do you think there is a big difference in grip between the above tire/rim combo?

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Without a back-to-back comparison on the same day and same trails I can't give you an objective answer here. I can say grip with the 2.6 tire and 35mm rim was excellent. Is there a big difference? Not likely, though a larger tire/footprint will always provide more traction.

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@bturman So you know I'm a bull on a bobsled DH rider. But on a trail bike, I love to get it off the ground, rather than tractor everything since 90% of trails are just little bumps. That being said, Pisgah is steep climbing. I used to hate the Enduro seat tube angle putting me way off the back and almost looping out. How does this thing compare as far as positioning when handling things like switchbacks, steep waterbars, etc? Is it the loop out or floating front end sensation?
Also, I personally love the PadLoc grips. Now that you've ridden a pair, would love to hear your thoughts on them.

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I didn't have issues with the front end coming up while climbing, even on some very steep slickrock sections. Fore/aft saddle position can get you into effectively the same spot as a bike with a steeper seat tube angle if you feel it's needed.



Pivot uses their own grips that pair with Pivot bars using WTB's PadLoc design. They currently use a much softer end compound than WTB, which will be great for many trails and riders. I tried out a slightly harder compound and preferred it, however, noting more control (I weight the ends of my bars a lot) and a bit less hand fatigue during rough descents. Pivot is considering a change to something in-between their current compound and WTB's, and Cocalis plans on testing them out in the near future.

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Got to sit on this bike at The Hub last weekend. The Pivot grip is so squishy, it's weird as compared to the PadLoc in the Commander style.
Also the tires look so nuts. Just fat. Are they wobbly and vague feeling? I sat on it and everything looked and felt right about the bike except the squishy rubber compound of the grips and bulbous tires made it feel almost...old man set up. If that makes any sense.

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The tires worked very well in Moab's ledgy terrain. They're FAR less wobbly/vague than a plus tire. As I mentioned in my response to jsray above, they might be a little mushy in fast berms, however. I didn't have an opportunity to hit any while in Moab. (They don't exist!)

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Brandon, have you read teamrobot's article on short shock lengths? That's one of the only potential downsides. Do you see this as an issue?

http://theteamrobot.blogspot.com/2015/01/baby-shocks.html?m=1

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It's certainly something to consider. The average leverage ratio is 2.75, which is a tad higher than the norm. That said, Pivot does offer the Float X2 for those wanting the best performance on long descents and added damping control. I didn't notice a need for excessive rear shock pressures.

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Brandon, I see you said that the bike responds well to rider input, such as pumping etc. Would you classify the suspension as "poppy" (provided I went with the Evol)? This has a bit more travel and wheelbase than what I was looking for, but it might just fit the bill if it retains the pedaling characteristics and playfulness as some of the other bikes I'm looking at, such as the Transition Scout.

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The Scout is a very fun machine, though it's a bit limited when things gets hairy. I can't see myself rallying it through the rough like the Mach 5.5. You can read more in our review.

Pivot bikes are typically pretty progressive which helps with that poppy feel, especially when paired with a smaller air shock. There's plenty to push into with the Float Factory DPS EVOL, and you can see that at various points in the video above as my wheels leave the ground often both bunny hopping and popping off random rock lips. The Float X2 made it slightly more of a ground-hugger and I needed to add a fair bit of low-speed compression to get the pumping support I was after. Regardless of the shock, pulling up into a manual or making quick line changes was easy to do. Pivot bikes are well known for their pedaling performance and the Mach 5.5 continues along those lines.

Like you said, this bike has a bit more travel on offer. The Pivot is likely the better choice if chunk is on the menu often and you want a bike that's fully up to date with the latest standards. The Scout may take the edge if your trails are a bit smoother.

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this is why i love vital. responding to readers and giving quality feedback. +10283912074 points.

this bike seems to be as close as ever to the cliche "do everything, one quiver" bike. with moto and bmx roots i love berms and jump trails. with an X2 would this 140mm rear end still handle bike park jump lines?

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Jump trails? Absolutely.

You may find the 2.6 tires to be a little mushy in fast berms, however. I didn't have an opportunity to hit any while in Moab. (They don't exist!)

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Specifications
Product 2018 Pivot Mach 5.5 Carbon Team XTR 1x
Model Year 2018
Riding Type Enduro / All-Mountain, Trail
Rider Unisex
Sizes and Geometry XS, S, M, L, XL View Geometry
Size XS S M L XL
Top Tube Length 558 584 617 639 667
Head Tube Angle 66.5° 66.5° 66.5° 66.5° 66.5°
Head Tube Length 90 105 115 125 135
Seat Tube Angle 73.8° 73.5° 73.5° 73.5° 73.5°
Seat Tube Length 356 394 425 457 495
Bottom Bracket Height 340 340 340 340 340
Chainstay Length 430 430 430 430 430
Wheelbase 1116 1142 1176 1200 1229
Standover 686 690 691 692 711
Reach 390 410 440 460 485
Stack 582 596 606 615 624
* Additional Info Geometry with 160mm fork. All units in millimeters.
Wheel Size 27.5" (650b)
Frame Material Carbon Fiber
Frame Material Details High Modulus Carbon // Hollow Core Internal Molding
Rear Travel 140mm
Rear Shock FOX Float Factory DPS EVOL -or- $399 FOX Float X2 Factory Upgrade
Fork FOX 36 Factory 27.5" 110QR
Fork Travel 160mm
Head Tube Diameter Tapered
Headset Pivot Precision Sealed Cartridge
Handlebar Phoenix Team Carbon 35mm - 760mm
Stem Phoenix Team Enduro/Trail
Grips Phoenix Team Padloc
Brakes Shimano XTR Trail M9020
Brake Levers Shimano XTR Trail M9020
Drivetrain 1x
Shifters Shimano XTR 11 Speed
Front Derailleur N/A
Rear Derailleur Shimano XTR 11 Speed GS
ISCG Tabs ISCG 05
Chainguide N/A
Cranks Race Face Next SL - 175mm
Chainrings Race Face N/W 30T
Bottom Bracket PF92
Pedals N/A
Chain Shimano
Cassette Shimano XT M8000 11-46 11 Speed
Rims Reynolds 27.5 x 36mm Carbon
Hubs Industry Nine
Spokes
Tires Maxxis Minion DHF WT 27.5" x 2.6" Front // Maxxis Rekon WT 27.5" x 2.6" Rear
Saddle Phoenix WTB Vigo Team
Seatpost FOX Transfer 125mm (S & M) 150mm (L & XL) // LEV Integra for XS
Seatpost Diameter 30.9mm
Seatpost Clamp 34.9mm
Rear Dropout / Hub Dimensions Boost 12x148mm
Max. Tire Size 2.6-inches
Bottle Cage Mounts One in Front Triangle, One Under Downtube
Colors Black, Red
Warranty Three Years
Weight 27 lb 0 oz (12,247 g)
Miscellaneous Mid-travel specific linkage
180mm rear post mount disk brake
Pivot Cable Port system with Di2 integration
Front derailleur compatible with stealth E-Type mounting system
Low durometer rubberized frame protection
Price $8,299
More Info

Pivot website

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