Over the last few years, Pivot has seen some great growth as a brand, and claim that they've grown by more than forty percent in the last twelve months alone. Last summer’s release of their Switchblade and other recent bikes prior to this have been key to this growth, and now they’re releasing an update to one of their staple trail bikes, the Mach 5.5. Pivot's founder, Chris Cocalis, claims that the market for trail bikes is going to grow, and he sees the 130–140mm travel segment as a go-to bike for many. With a number of updates, the new Mach 5.5 is Pivot’s take on the weapon for this audience.
Updating the Mach 5
One of the key updates to note is the move to large volume, though not quite plus tires that we’re beginning to see from a number of brands. The 2.6" tire width seems to be gaining quite a bit of support within the industry, with its benefits being claimed extra traction without the amount of tire deformation that we see from plus tires. The new Mach 5.5 rolls on 27.5" wheels that are shod with 2.6" Maxxis treads, showing Pivot’s support for the move. It also features 140mm of rear travel and the Fox 36 up front is set to 160mm, but the bike can be setup with a 150mm fork without negatively altering the geometry.
Pivot Mach 5.5 Details
• Intended use: Trail, all-mountain
• Rear wheel travel: 140mm
• Fork travel: 160mm
• Wheel size: 27.5''
• 66.5º head angle w/ 160mm fork
• 12x148mm rear axle
• Di2 integration
• Sizes: XS / S / M / L / XL
• 5.2-pound frame (claimed for a medium)
• Integrated low durometer frame protection
• MSRP: $4,899–$10,199 USD (complete) w/ nine model options.
• MSRP: $3,099 USD (frame).
Chris confessed that this update to one of their key bikes has been in the works for a while—the 5.5 model has been in the lineup since they launched in 2007. He states that the reason for this was that the Mach 6 pedaled so well they didn’t see a need, but now with things changing in the industry, he felt it a good time to move forward with the update. The new Mach 5.5 takes on the brand’s more stretched-out reach numbers, with measurements in line to that of their Switchblade, released only twelve months prior. Compared to the previous model, the Mach 5.7, numbers have grown from 20–60mm depending on where you are in the size range. They continue with the DW-Link, which is used across every dual suspension bike in their range.
Development of the updated model began two and half years ago when the team built the first aluminum test bikes using their in-house facilities—a year prior to this they began design and development. Cocalis states that more often than not, their suspension kinematics are good to go out of the computer, but they still test this on the alloy models. A key point to their aluminum testing protocol, and an important component for Cocalis, is getting the ride feel the same as what they expect from their carbon production models (once at that point of development). For the Mach 5.5, Pivot went through three rounds of prototypes to get the frame geometry and ride feel to where they wanted.
The Mach 5.5 continues to utilize the DW-Link without the need for the clevis seen on their longer travel options. This is achievable thanks to the shorter travel and the result is a shock that’s driven directly by the seatstays. Pivot found that the shorter travel models don’t require the control that the longer travel models do and it also allows the bike to be lighter, an attribute they feel is of high importance in this segment. The full cartridge bearing, upper DW-Link includes the move to a bearing for the shock mount, new for the 5.5, and the result is claimed added sensitivity off the top, which should increase traction on the trail.
On the topic of traction, the bike now comes fitted with 2.6” Maxxis rubber, with all models in the range coming with a Minion DHF out front and a Rekon in the back. Having key touch-points such as tires remain the same across the range is important to Pivot, enabling them to make sure that important components such as tires are reliable across their range. Pivot did a good amount of testing with tire and rim widths and arrived at the conclusion that a 35–36mm internal rim width is optimal with the 2.6” WT Maxxis tires. Many of their alloy wheeled models feature the DT Swiss M1700, which has an internal width of 35mm, and for the carbon wheel option, Pivot worked with Reynolds to develop a 36mm internal width carbon wheel, the first from the brand and not currently available aftermarket. The carbon Reynolds wheels are available on the top tier, Team models, or can be upgraded to on the Pro level for an additional $1,300 USD.
In developing the geometry for the new Mach 5.5, the team at Pivot stretched out their front end (440mm/17.32” reach on a size medium), but kept the chainstays short (430mm/16.9”), claiming that they wanted the bike to be stable, but still contain a lively, playful feel on the trail. Along with this, the head angle is slacker than many older trail bikes, at 66.5º, but not so slack that it encroaches on the more aggressive, all-mountain/enduro end of things. Pivot also worked hard on the ride feel of the frame, tuning it to provide a lively ride, with a stiff frame being the goal, but say they made sure it has enough flex to remain on line and not create a harsh ride.
A number of additional, interesting points of note; the rear brake mount is post mount 180mm, so there are no 160mm rotors allowed here. A water bottle will fit within the front triangle of every size model, with a Fox Float X2 shock—a $399 USD optional extra for the Team and Pro model builds. The rear axle is of the 12x148mm variety—no Super Boost here. Pivot note that there was no need to go to the Super Boost width on the Mach 5.5 and they were able to achieve plenty of clearance, both tire and heel, within the constraints of the 148mm spacing. The full bike is setup for internal cable routing, with Di2 integration and some points of integration for the upcoming Fox Live system
which is claimed to have changed considerably since our first look at the technology, but Fox remains very tight-lipped. There are no internal tubes for the cables, but things are kept tightly in place through the entry/exit port clamps for the cables.
Pivot also unveiled their range of Phoenix components recently and they had them on hand to discuss in some more detail. The new Mach 5.5 that we rode included many of the new parts as well, including their Pad-Loc grips that they worked on in collaboration with WTB. Aware that some riders were wary of the new bar/grip system, Pivot has been working with WTB on creating a cutting guide that will allow riders to cut the bars to length, but still have the wedge for the locking interface with the grip. The goal is to produce the cutting guide so that it retails at no more than $10 USD. They have also developed a plug for the end, for those that wish to run either the Phoenix Carbon bar or any other handlebar featuring the Pad-Loc system, allowing the bars to be used with regular grips.
They’ve also been doing some study on the stem interface and according to Chris Cocalis, this is where the steering on a bike can lack response with a weaker interface resulting in more twist and therefore making it harder to direct the front wheel precisely. With that said, Pivot has chosen to go with 35mm diameter bars and feel that they can improve shock absorption, steering accuracy, and weight of their cockpit by going this route over their 31.8 components. Their Phoenix Team Enduro/Trail stem comes in 10mm increments from 35mm–65mm and features 7-degree rise/drop. and their bar comes in one size of 20mm rise—it features 5-degree upsweep and 8-degree backsweep. Their grip is thick and soft and features a 32.5mm diameter, low durometer rubber that utilizes the Pad-Loc system.
We hit the trails of Moab to see what this new mid travel bike from Pivot was all about. For anyone that hasn’t ridden in Moab, think square edges everywhere, lots of rock, and very physical riding with the climbs as tough as the descents. There’s not a lot of dirt, and when you do hit some, it’s more of the loose, sandy variety. A bike of this nature seems quite fitting for the environment and the 2.6” tires were no doubt going to help with traction in a number of scenarios, right?
Our first day was spent on the up and downs of Mag 7, Gold Bar, and a slew of others along the way and finished with Portal, and day two was spent on Amasa Back and Captain Ahab. The constantly changing terrain required a bike (and legs/lungs…) that was able to climb short bursts with relative ease and take on some deep compressions and high speed hits on the descents. I rode the XL Mach 5.5 and found the fit similar to my personal bike, with a 485mm reach, 624mm stack, and 50mm stem. The seat angle was a little slacker than I am used to, and the head angle a little steeper. The chainstay length is on the shorter side at 430mm (16.93”).
My initial suspension setup was a little softer in the mid-stroke than preferred and I found the bike to sink farther into its travel too often, losing valuable momentum in the process. The simple addition of a volume spacer to the Float X2 in the rear and roughly 10psi more air in the fork remedied this, with the bike maintaining momentum out of compressions far better afterward. Traction remained really good on the loose-over-hard surfaces and cornering over varied terrain resulted in very few situations that saw the Mach 5.5 get out of sorts. The high volume of the Maxxis 2.6” tires definitely contributed to this as well and based on my size, Pivot had set my tire pressures to approximately 19psi front, 25psi rear—a little lower in the front than I would typically run, but I had no issues with tire roll on the trails.
The bigger volume Maxxis tires aren’t a great deal larger in appearance than some other tire manufacturers regular tires, but Maxxis have updated them to work better than their other tires with wider rims like the 36mm Reynolds rims fitted on the test bike. Traction on the tech, punchy climbs of Moab was great and anything short of completely mucking up a pedal stroke or lacking power would result in making it to the top. Under heavy braking was the first situation where the extra tread was most apparent, with a number of situations experienced while riding the trails for the first time, blind, being quickly diffused thanks to the tire’s ability to maintain grip when the XT brake levers were suddenly grabbed by the handful.
When we got to Portal trail the bike really began to shine. The trail is littered with square edges, loose sandy spots and plenty of boulders trying to take you out (they succeeded, claiming one of our team members, who went home with a broken hand). Momentum on this sort of trail is your friend, and to do so required a lot of body English. The bike maintained momentum well and coming over blind rock gaps, drops and quirky channels with pedal catchers was no problem, as long as momentum was present. As soon as a mistake was made and that momentum was lost, it was easy to get hung up on the features. This is not to fault the bike and speaks more to the Mach 5.5’s ability to grant the confidence needed to go hurtling down such a nasty, awesome section of trail, blind. The combination of the big tires—not too big that they feel vague—and the suspension on the Mach 5.5 did a great job in muting the noise of the trail, allowing me to keep on trucking.
The rear of the bike felt quite stout, especially when slamming it into corners or through angled G-outs like those experienced when banking across a rock roll into a compression at the bottom. Pushing the rear into corners made it very apparent that the bike wanted to propel me forward and there wasn’t going to be a lot of give in the frame when doing so. Pivot’s use of short chainstays helped in some of the awkward corners that Moab is known for, making it easier to hang off the back of the bike a little and swing the front end around. The downside I found was that combined with a seat tube angle slacker than I'm used to, the two resulted in it being more of a challenge to keep the front wheel weighted sufficiently and tracking on steeper, more technical climbs. There was room to roll the saddle farther forward in order to compensate, which once done helped, but personally, I would have liked a seat angle at least a degree steeper if the stays were going to stay so short. For shorter riders this shouldn’t be much of an issue at all, but for taller riders like myself (193cm), I found my weight was too far out over the rear hub.
Pivot’s Mach 5.5 is stiff, but it’s not harsh, and over the couple of days aboard it I never had it deflect off line. It appears that their goal of a balanced ride feel between stiffness and give may have been achieved, but more time on the bike would be necessary to confidently claim it so. The team has also done a good job of balancing the 20mm difference between the front and rear of the bike and it rode well during my time on it in Moab, working quite equally front to rear despite the difference. Initial impressions are that this is a great bike that can cover a wide gamut of riders. It felt light and nimble, but was down to get rowdy when it was required to do so.
The Mach 5.5 is available at your local dealer as you read this. The bike is available at three build levels, Team, Pro, and Race, with nine build-kits total. Full bike builds range in price from $4,899–$10,199 USD and the frame is available for $3,099 USD.