Review: The Pivot Shadowcat is Niche & Nimble

Mar 4, 2024 at 5:43
by Jessie-May Morgan  
Pivot introduced the Shadowcat in 2022, adding it to what is now a vanishingly small group of bikes to put 27.5" wheels on a mid-travel platform. A configuration that would have been fairly standard 10 years ago is now a rarity, thanks to the rise of 29" wheels and the broad appreciation for their improved rollover capability. Nevertheless, as niche as it now is, the complete 27.5" wheelset still has its place in the lineups of some big brands. These smaller bikes are oft pushed as fun-focused, with less flipped on its head to actually mean more. The Pivot Shadowcat, with its 160mm fork and 140mm of rear wheel travel, is no different, with words like "agile," "lithe," and "feline creative mayhem" littering the marketing copy.

Pivot Shadowcat Details

• Carbon frame
• Travel: 140mm / 160mm fork
• Wheel size: 27.5"
• 65.8º head angle
• 76º seat tube angle
• 430mm chainstays
• Sizes: XS, S, M & L
• Weight: 27.6 lb / 12.5 kg (size S)
• Price: $8,899 USD (Pro XT/XTR w/ Carbon Wheels)
pivotcycles.com

It all sounds incredibly attractive, and I can't deny I was very excited to give this one a shot. Alas, I shan't pretend I didn't miss the rather more carefree riding style that a 29" front wheel allows, but happily there's a bit more to the Shadowcat than its numbers alone.

The Shadowcat is offered in no fewer than eight complete builds, with prices ranging from $6,399 USD to $11,399 USD, all of which get the same custom-tuned Fox Float DPS Factory shock. I tested the $8,899 USD Pro XT/XTR w/ Carbon Wheels, which comes with Shimano Deore XT brakes, a 160mm Fox 36 with the FIT4 damper, and a 150mm Fox Transfer Factory dropper seat post. It rolls on Reynolds Blacklabel Trail Pro carbon wheels with an Industry Nine Hydra hubset, mounted with Maxxis Dissector 2.4" tires in the EXO casing.






bigquotesThe Shadowcat was at its best when I slowed things down a little, instead of just trying to ride fast everywhere. Its quick, responsive handling and poppy suspension encouraged me to seek out little hops and alternative lines off the main rut, which was a great deal more pleasurable than just trying to plow downJessie-May Morgan



Pivot Shadowcat review
No thru-headset routing here, nor is there on any bike in the Pivot range.

Construction & Features

The Shadowcat is lightweight, with our size small test bike tipping the scales at just 12.5 kg (27.6 lbs). Like all Pivot frames, the Shadowcat gets a size-specific carbon layup. So, for each frame size, the orientation and positioning of the carbon fibers is subtly different, and the resulting tube sizes are appreciably different. The aim is to give all riders, no matter their chosen frame size, the same ride quality. They say that torsional stiffness and vertical compliance should “feel” the same whether you're a 5’2” rider on an XS or a 6’5” rider on an XL.

While some Pivot trail bikes run a SuperBoost swingarm for increased stiffness, the frame designers did not deem that necessary here.

Pivot Shadowcat review
Pivot Shadowcat review

Five sets of Enduro MAX bearings articulate two short aluminum links relative to the front triangle. All are of a considerable diameter that lends itself well to durability. LLU seals with a dual-lip sit against the inner race, helping to minimize contamination.

Cable routing is internal, though happily not through the headset. While some carbon frame manufacturers go to the pains of molding in internal guides for cables and the rear brake hose, Pivot is not one of them. However, nicely executed ports at the entry points seem to do a good job of holding them securely in place, such that there is no rattle to report. There is also a handy hatch on the bottom of the downtube that grants access for routing the dropper cable up into the seat tube.

Pivot Shadowcat review
Pivot Shadowcat review

Indeed, the Shadowcat is quiet. No cable rattle, and no undue noise from chain slap, credit to very well-considered frame protection on the drive side chainstay and seat stay. The lower link also gets some molded rubber protection, largely in place to prevent loam and stones from getting stuffed into the tight space between the link and the back of the seat tube where it could become problematic. Again, this is extremely well-executed, and has remained in place throughout this three-month review period.

The downtube gets four bottle bosses, leaving good scope for altering position. Using the lower position, the small frame easily accepts a 750ml bottle. There's space for a second bottle on the underside of the downtube, and another set of bosses on the top tube offer a secure mounting position for a multitool, such as Pivot's Phoenix Dock Tool.


Pivot Shadowcat review

Geometry & Sizing

The Pivot Shadowcat is available in sizes XS, S, M & L, with reach figures of 410mm, 430mm, 460mm and 480mm. The tallest of riders (6ft+) are unlikely to be well-served by the Shadowcat, and may find a more appropriate fit on one of Pivot's 29" wheeled options, such as the new Switchblade. Sizing options are very good for shorter riders, however, thanks to the short standover height (638mm on S), and short, straight seat tubes that can accommodate long-travel dropper seat posts.

While Pivot does dabble in size-specific chainstays on the Firebird, Switchblade and Shuttle SL, the rear-center length is fixed at 430mm across all sizes for Shadowcat.

When asked why, Pivot said. "The Shadowcat is designed to be a really light and nimble 27.5” wheeled trail bike. Keeping those chainstays short really enhances the agility of the bike in tight and twisty trails, and for making quick changes or corrections in direction. Longer chainstays would diminish this key characteristic of the Shadowcat. Extended chainstay lengths are really more of a benefit for really tall riders with high saddle positions, or for more aggressive gravity-focused bikes like the Firebird which does have size-specific chainstay lengths, and where stability at speed on steep terrain is more of a priority over agility."

The Shadowcat's 160mm fork gives it a head angle of 65.8°, which may seem reasonable for a 140mm travel trail bike, but it is certainly on the conservative side. There's now a good number of short- and mid-travel mountain bikes with considerably slacker head tube angles that can make for improved confidence and stability in steep terrain.

Pivot publishes a 76° seat tube angle for all frame sizes. They don't measure effective seat tube angle in the same way as other manufacturers, so comparing a Pivot's seat tube angle with almost any other bike's seat tube angle is like comparing apples with oranges. While most other brands measure effective seat angle at the height of the head tube, Pivot measure it at what they consider to be the average saddle height for a specific frame. That said, they don't publish what that average saddle height is, so it can be difficult to gauge whether your specific effective seat tube angle will be the same as, slacker, or steeper than the published 76°.

Can the Shadowcat go MX?

Absolutely. However, since the geometry is designed around a 160mm 27.5" fork, raising the front end with an equivalent travel 29" fork and front wheel would be detrimental to the bike's handling and geometry. Pivot recommend dropping to a 130mm fork if you want to run a 29" front wheel to get a mullet configuration. Alas, I did not test the bike in this setup.


Pivot Shadowcat review


Suspension Design

The Shadowcat runs Pivot's proven take on the dw-link suspension platform, wherein two short links connect the swingarm to the front triangle, co-rotating as the rear wheel is displaced. The top rocker link drives a trunnion mount shock with a 55mm stroke to damp 140mm of rear wheel travel. The leverage curve is progressive (31.8% overall progression). While all models of the Shadowcat are sold with an air shock, the leverage curve would work well with the linear spring of a coil shock, and indeed there is clearance for a Fox DHX2.

While they do opt for size-specific shock tunes on the Mach 4 SL XC bike, Pivot don’t bother with that for the Shadowcat. Instead, they use the tunability and adjustments of the Fox Float DPS shock to cater to a wide range of rider weights. They're able to do that by virtue of the three compression positions for the Open setting. Position 1 is recommended for the lighter riders (around 110 lbs, or 50 kg), Position 2 for heavier riders between 185-200 lbs (84-91 kg), and the 3rd Position for riders over 200lbs (91+ kg). Pivot tell us the rebound tuning range is broad enough to accommodate a wide range of rider weights.




Specifications
Release Date 2022
Price $8899
Travel 140mm
Rear Shock Fox Factory Float DPS
Fork 160mm Fox Factory 36, 44mm offset, FIT4 Damper
Headset Pivot Precision Sealed Integrated Cartridge
Cassette Shimano XT M8100
Crankarms Race Face Æffect R
Rear Derailleur Shimano XTR M9100 SGS 12-Speed
Shifter Pods Shimano XT M8100
Handlebar Phoenix Team Low Rise Carbon
Stem Phoenix Team Enduro/Trail - 45mm
Grips Phoenix Factory Lock-On
Brakes Shimano XT M8120 4-piston
Wheelset Reynolds Blacklabel Trail Pro
Hubs Industry Nine Hydra
Tires Maxxis Dissector 27.5" x 2.4", EXO
Seat Phoenix WTB Pro High Tail Trail
Seatpost Fox Transfer Factory



Pivot Shadowcat review

Pivot Shadowcat review






Test Bike Setup

I tested the Shadowcat Pro XT/XTR with Carbon Wheels in a size small, with a 430mm reach. The bike comes with a 760mm Phoenix Team Low Rise Carbon handlebar that I cut down to my preferred 740mm. I was happy enough with the 45mm stem. The bike arrived with the stem positioned high on the steerer tube, but I preferred the bike's handling with a lower ride height, with just a 10mm spacer underneath the stem.

For the suspension, 120 psi in the Fox Float DPS Factory shock put me at 30% sag. As supplied, the shock was home to a 0.6 in³ spacer that I removed for the latter half of the review period. For the most part, I ran the shock fully open on the compression damping, and fully open on the rebound, too, for the fastest return speed. I removed the fork's single volume spacer and pressurized it to 66 psi, with compression and rebound fully open.


Jessie-May Morgan
Jessie-May Morgan
Location: Tweed Valley, Scotland
Height: 5'4" / 163cm
Inseam: 30" / 77cm
Weight: 130 lbs / 59 kg
Industry affiliations / sponsors: None
Instagram: @jessiemaymorgan
The shock has a three position lever for compression damping adjustments. The firm position feels almost like a compete lock-out. The medium position is much more supple, while the open position gives the least amount of resistance through compression. The shock also has an "Open Mode Adjust" dial, with another three positions on offer. Setting 1 is the most plush, while setting 3 is the most firm.

Conditions were wet and muddy for most of the test period, not terribly ideal for the Maxxis Dissector tires. They were totally sufficient for hard pack trail center, but for straying off the overly-beaten track, I wanted something with a little more bite for softer, fresh-cut trails. Extra tread was provided by a Maxxis Minion DHF, DHRII pairing.


Testing Info

Testing took place over the last three months in the Tweed Valley, Scotland, at the Glentress trail centre and the enduro and downhill tracks around Innerleithen. Trail conditions were largely wet, with some damp greasy days as well as sopping muddy ones. The Shadowcat is capable of handling a good variety of terrain. This Trailforks route includes a bunch of trails that were ridden during the test period.


Pivot Shadowcat review

Climbing

The Shadowcat's seated pedaling position feels a little off-the-back. While the geometry chart states a 76° effective seat tube angle, it's actually as slack as 75° for me at my saddle height of 628mm. That's measuring to the center of the saddle rails. Luckily, pushing the saddle forward on its rails buys me an extra 1.5°, giving an effective seat angle of 76.5°. That steeper angle is a little closer, but still a way off, the 77.5°+ angles I've grown accustomed to, and am most comfortable on. Even then, it still feels a little too biased toward the rear, but is much more manageable. It's most prominently felt while pedaling up very steep singletrack, experienced as a tendency of the front wheel to lift unless I'm very aggressively leaning down to the stem.

As a result, I found myself opting to ride fire roads and mellower gradient singletrack on the ascent, instead of steeper, more challenging singletrack options. Running reduced sag in the shock (25%) alleviates some of the issues with the slack seat tube angle, but it's far from ideal for descending. I wouldn't recommend implementing that fix unless you are disinterested in descending performance, which I assume you are not.

That geometry holds back what would otherwise be an excellent bike for climbing. Traction under power is plentiful, and the comparably steep head tube angle makes navigating tight switchbacks effortless. The suspension does bob while pedaling along flat ground, but as soon as the gradient tips up a little, there is no discernable bob and pedaling feels incredibly efficient.

The firmer, middle shock position is useful to eliminate that pedal bob along the flat, but becomes entirely unnecessary when the bike is pointed uphill. I found it easy enough to reach down and flick the lever between positions. There is a cable port on the underside of the top tube for those who want a remote option.


Pivot Shadowcat review

Descending

The Shadowcat is a well-balanced bike, with predictable handling. The suspension has the rear wheel tracking beautifully through rough terrain. It's not the plushest feeling suspension, but it provides a solid, dependable feeling through the pedals that is firm enough to let you know it's working hard, but it never feels overwhelmed. The shock tune is sufficient for me at 60kg, but I am running the dials at the extreme (open) end of the adjustment range, so am unaware of any additional performance that could be had from an even lighter tune.

The small is fitted with a Fox Transfer Factory post with 150mm drop, which to me is the absolute minimum acceptable drop on a trail bike. I found that my thighs would lightly tap against the top of the saddle on most descents, even those with a fairly moderate gradient. That said, at my saddle height of 628mm, it is possible to run the 175mm Fox Transfer thanks to the seat tubes plentiful insertion depth (Pivot has a fit guide for Fox Transfer and Reverb AXS posts here).

I did simulate that lower dropped saddle position, but it actually wasn't preferable, given that the saddle then contacted the inside of my knee in a problematic fashion. The caveat here is, of course, that I do run an inordinately wide saddle (detailed explanation of why, here). So, others who run a much narrower saddle are more likely to benefit from that additional drop. I'm also running it slammed forwards on the rails to get that more comfortable effective seat tube angle. With the saddle positioned in the middle of the rails, or toward the back, that wide portion of the saddle is less interfering.

Pivot Shadowcat review

The fairly steep 65.8° head tube angle holds the Shadowcat back on steep, fall line trails. It helps give the bike quick handling on trails with less gradient, and keeping weight pushed through the front wheel comes naturally, giving good confidence in flatter turns. But, it does have its rider feeling a little pitched and vulnerable when the hill falls away. This positions it as a bike that is most at home on more easy-going terrain that isn't overly challenging, or too littered with drops and steps in close succession of one another.

I found the Shadowcat to be at its best when I slowed things down a little, instead of just trying to ride fast everywhere. Its quick, responsive handling and poppy suspension encouraged me to seek out little hops and alternative lines off the main rut, which was a great deal more pleasurable than just trying to plow down. It has also been a fun, dependable, and safe-feeling bike for sessioning the larger jumps I've taken to riding recently as part of the old "continuing professional development."

The bike's progressive leverage curve, combined with the 0.6in³ volume spacer inside the shock (same on all sizes), made it difficult to push the bike toward the end of its travel. I occasionally felt as though I'd bottomed-out, but a glance at the shock's O-ring position indicated that was not the case. I was effectively hitting a wall of progression. Removing that spacer allowed me to access the last 10mm suspension travel with less force. I probably went a little too far with it; the 0.2³ spacer would've been the better option. Anyway, the point is that the Fox Float DPS is nicely tunable in that aspect. However, Pivot do not provide the volume spacers with the sale of the bike; those must be purchased aftermarket for around $25 USD.


Pivot Shadowcat review
Pivot Shadowcat

How does it compare?

It's true that the number of 27.5" mid-travel trail bikes has diminished in recent years, leaving the Yeti SB135 as the Pivot Shadowcat's closest competitor. I haven't ridden it myself, but Dario's review describes it was a "a fun-focused trail bike that can handle long days of hard pedaling as well as a day sessioning jumps and features. The geometry and feel of the bike add plenty of excitement to mellower sections of trail, but with enough capability to push things into some gnarlier terrain."

The only fair comparison to make in this case is the on-paper one. The Yeti is ever so slightly slacker than the Shadowcat with a 65.4° head angle. It also has slightly less rear wheel travel at 135mm, but runs the larger volume piggyback-equipped Fox Float X shock, which could make it the better option for bigger days where meters of descending are the metric of interest, rather than meters of ascending.

Neither Pivot or Yeti are known for their affordability. The $9,000 SB135 LR T3 model fetches you an (arguably) favorable spec over the $8,889 Shadowcat tested here. It runs an electronic SRAM X0 Transmission, and a Fox 36 Factory with the higher-end GRIP2 damper, but runs a heavier aluminum wheelset with the Race Face ARC offset rim.


Pivot Shadowcat review

Which Model is the Best Value?

Price for the Pivot Shadowcat ranges from $5,499 USD up to an eye-watering $11,399 USD. As all eight models run the very same fork and shock, the performance benefits to be had from the more expensive models are, to my mind, marginal at best. At the more affordable end of the spectrum, the $6,399 Ride SLX/XT model and the (on sale) $5,499 Ride GX/X01 model offer all the performance of the $8,899 model tested here, with only a small weight penalty to accept. That's mostly owing to the use of an aluminum wheelset in the form of the DT Swiss M1900 with the 370 hub. If I was parting with my own cash here, the more expensive models wouldn't get a look in.

Pivot Shadowcat review
Pivot Phoenix Factory Lock-On Grips.
Pivot Shadowcat review
Maxxis Dissector EXO tire, front and rear.

Pivot Shadowcat review
The 4-Piston Shimano XT brakes did not leave me wanting.
Pivot Shadowcat review
The small has sufficient insertion depth for a 175mm Fox Transfer.

Technical Report

Fox 36 Factory Fork with FIT4 Damper: The fork felt a little over-damped for this lighter rider. I've had more comfort out of the higher-end GRIP2 damper before now. Alas, none of the eight Pivot Shadowcat models are furnished with it.

Shimano XT M8120 4-Piston Brakes: The XT brakes were plenty powerful and consistent, and I appreciated the light lever feel. It's good to see them spec'd with the higher-end 180mm IceTech Freeza rotors, the benefits of which I'm sure will be more easily appreciated on long descents on a hot summer's day.

Maxxis Dissector EXO tires: These are relatively fast-rolling and supple, and are well-suited to the bike's intentions. A more aggressive front tire, like an Assegai or Minion DHF will be beneficial to those riding in soft, sloppy conditions, and heavier riders or those frequently riding rocky trails will benefit from at least a DoubleDown casing on the rear.

Pivot Phoenix Factory Lock-On Grips: These were a surprise highlight. They have a relatively narrow profile that is tapered such that they are narrower on the inboard end. The rubber is thicker under the palm for more vibration damping, and thinner underneath where your fingers wrap. I like them a lot. Pivot sell them aftermarket in a range of colors for $29.99 USD.


Pivot Shadowcat review
While a 27.5" front wheel does deliver lighter, quicker handling, it is more easily hung-up on chunkier lines. Riders on the shorter end of the spectrum may appreciate the former pros, but the fact remains that we all ride the same trails, with the same size bumps and holes, no matter our dimensions.



Pros

+ Lightweight
+ Well-balanced descender of mellower gradient trails
+ Suspension is neutral and efficient while climbing
+ Very quiet, no cable rattle or excessive chain slap
+ Low standover and room for long travel dropper seat posts

Cons

- Not comfortable in steep terrain
- The seat tube angle could feel too slack for some



Pinkbike's Take

bigquotesThe Pivot Shadowcat is lightweight, and an efficient climber of hills. It will be ideal for those looking for a consistent and predictable handling trail bike for riding the trail center and a little beyond. It tracks over rough ground very well, but its conservative geometry makes it feel a little vulnerable on steeper, chunkier terrain. Jessie-May Morgan







Author Info:
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Member since Oct 26, 2023
71 articles

152 Comments
  • 180 2
 Transparency alert, I’m a Pivot UK rider. The Shadowcat was the bike that really attracted me to contact them.

I’ve said it before but there’s more ways to have fun on a MTB than going as fast as possible and I honestly think it’s a shame that most brands have ditched 27.5” wheels and slacked everything off.

I hope Pivot keep this model around for a long time as it fills my jibbing niche perfectly but is also a great option for smaller riders and those who don’t live in the mountains or want to ride the gnarliest gnar (though you’d be surprised what it’s capable of!)
  • 30 0
 Totally agree Smile I'm a notch under 6 foot and ride 27.5 both ends on everything from my commute to DH. It works. I'm not racing so a second here or there means nothing compared with the agility that comes with smaller wheels. Would love to see more brands commit to a broader range of wheel options.
  • 12 0
 agreed , its one of only a few 27.5 options remaning unfortunately is on my shortlist that is getting shorter by the year haha
  • 11 0
 @Alloypenguin: agreed its a real pity year on year to se less and less 27.5 options , not many left now sadly
  • 39 1
 It was a sad day when the 5010 went mullet
  • 18 1
 Fezzari, ARi or whatever take notes! This how you are transparent, advertise and don´t earn a shitstorm.
  • 5 0
 @milanboez: agreed , bronson too
  • 4 0
 Can't agree more, ridden a Mach 5.5 for three seasons and it was the most fun bike I ever had. Yes, in the steeps of the swiss alps it got a bit out of it's comfort zone, but on everything else it was amazing. Even managed the smaller line at Huckfest like a champ!
  • 6 0
 I was looking for a fun and playful hardtail for eastern North American riding. Ended up with a banshee enigma due to 27.5 wheels. Stupid fun. Not the fastest, but who cares?
  • 11 0
 Airdrop bikes makes some great 27.5 bikes with steep STA. Couldn't be happier with my Filter.
  • 20 0
 After a summer of demoing a bunch of extremely nice bikes my son decided he wanted a Shadowcat. His reasoning he said, Dad I know I have to race XC on it but I’d rather be trail riding and, it’s the most fun bike I’ve ridden…
For the sake of comparison he rode the Sb 120 LR SB-135 Sb140 Pivot Switchblade Trail 429 Transition Smuggler Ibis Ripley and Ripmo Santa Cruz Bronson.
Big thanks to Pivot, Yeti and all the other brands that support High School racing. Couldn’t afford a bike like this without your support.
  • 1 0
 my gen 1 insurgent was my first, and only, 27.5" bike. to this day, it is still one of my all time favorites and it never held me back on account of the 'small' wheels. that thing was an absolute ripper up, across and down.
  • 9 1
 I might be the outcast but I just moved from a full 27.5 bike to a full 29er and have yet to beat any of my times or speeds that I put down with my 27.5. I thought a 29er was guaranteed better performance but it’s not!
  • 5 0
 @midwest-mtb: i'm with you. people make too big a deal about wheel size. the way you ride the bike (not to mention your fitness) have a far greater impact on your riding than anything else.
  • 2 0
 @FoxRedLabs: I second that! I have a Bronson alloy 3 and hope it never breaks.
  • 2 0
 I'll be honest I love my 29ers but I jumped on the old 26in Banshee spitfire I built for my ex on a really tight trail and forgot what a blast it was.
  • 1 0
 @midwest-mtb: i found the same when i demoed a 29 for a week had zero cinfidence in the front end and just couldnt get enough weight through the front tyre so i was and remain faster on 27.5 . 29 isnt for everyone it seems
  • 1 0
 @FoxRedLabs: Same. I demted a flagship Yeti 130ish travel bike on a twisty trail. The only thing that made it "flickable" was that it was carbon everything. Front end still seemed kind of wallowy. 29ers are great, so we're 27.5ers. Different tools for different jobs. My 27.5 Bronson has never left me wanting for more.
  • 2 2
 Haven't tried neither 27.5" nor 29" and I never felt the need for those big wheels either.
  • 6 0
 @milanboez: As someone with the new 5010, I can say de-mulleting is possible and has been fantastic.
  • 1 0
 @Bikethrasher: how do they support high school racing?
  • 1 0
 @scribbeldibibbel: According to an update on the article written about the name change, Ari, as a brand, DID NOT commit astroturfing. Based on what is said in the update, it was a few employees, as well as "super fans" who individually said what they said.
  • 1 0
 @devin-m: you must be running a 160mm fork? Any other mods?
  • 3 0
 @milanboez: I am not, I’m running a reverse components 10mm crown race to keep the front end up, and a 27.5” front wheel in my 140mm 29” Lyrik. Front end is less than 10mm lower than stock. Head angle is still 65 degrees.

I feel so much more balanced and over the front. Bike has never cornered better. I had a long steertube, so I was luckily able to preserve my handlebar height.

Obviously this isn’t for everyone, but after 10 rides on the mullet, and 1 ride dual 27.5 I don’t think I’ll be going back.
  • 2 0
 @bmoneyak: Most High School XC races here in Colorado draw well over a 1000 people. So it’s no small feat to put on one of these events. It takes an army of volunteers and industry leaders to make them run smoothly. Most of the events are held in small Mtn towns. We are grateful that they are willing to provide the venues for us and I’m sure they are thankful for the economic boost we give them. As for corporate sponsors. Some provide financial support for the race series. Some offer good discounts to racers and coaches. Some sponsor riders and teams. Here in Colorado SRAM/RockShock provides mechanical support at all the races. Some help with logistics. Any and all support is greatly appreciated! There is always a need for volunteers and coaches. I’ve been coaching the last two years and my wife volunteers at the races as well. Coaching has been very rewarding. It’s amazing how fast some of these kids are and what they can ride on a XC race bike. If Front range trails aren’t technical enough for you. Start riding them on a 100mm travel race bike with flimsy race tires and weak brakes. I can assure you trails that seem tame on your enduro bike will be a lot more interesting on a XC race bike.
  • 1 0
 @devin-m: that crown race adjuster is the key to correcting geometry along with going up 20mm in Travel , nice work
  • 1 0
 My roots are DJ and BMX and the Shadowcat is by far the most fun full suspension bike I've ever had. I bought a Shadowcat after coming across your youtube page, Ali. You responded and helped answer some questions which was wonderful, I wholeheartedly agree with your feelings towards slack big bikes that are just lacking fun.
  • 1 0
 @devin-m: That's awesome. Truly a brilliant mod. Mullets became a thing because of way past models, and currently, someone putting a 29 wheel in front of a 27.5 bike. I wish it was a still an option: but a 27.5 bike, add a 29 wheel to the front of you want.
  • 2 0
 @devin-m: I have the MX 5010 and am considering de-mulleting it. I can see some of the benefit of 29er front wheel, but really miss the cornering and feeling in the bike of my 27.5 (had a 2018 Altitude)
  • 1 0
 @ashwinearl: I’m about 5 rides into just slapping a 27.5 wheel on and changing the crown race. Super fun! For flow and jump trails it’s awesome. Maybe not so much in the tech but definitely snappy steering
  • 3 0
 @midwest-mtb: couldn't agree more on the 29 vs 27.5 speed thing. Owned a Yeti sb130LR and bought an sb140 (older 27.5 version) to ride back to back for a month. Read tons of articles about "29 is faster and rolls over things better, 27.5 is more playful" Was faster on the 27.5 on it's first outing. Even on chunkier/rockier trails. And that bike loved to be playful too. Wound up selling the 29'r sb130... if the 27.5 sb140 was just as fast, and more playful then I couldn't see any downside to it.
  • 1 0
 @bmoneyak: I'm assuming they are referring to NICA discounts here. I know Yeti offers NICA discounts
  • 1 0
 29 does indeed have better rollover, but its at the expense of everything else - acceleration, responsiveness, playfulness, etc... all the things that make riding a mtb fun for me. I was all in on the 29er thing back 10-12 years ago, but unless I was up to speed it always felt like I was dragging a boat anchor behind me.

There is a great comparison video that boostmaster did on A-Line where the 26" was faster all the way down right until the very end wood section where the 29er rollover caught up.
  • 44 4
 75-76 STA is great for singletracks, riding along contours, you don't bike only UP and DOWN..
  • 8 0
 Exactly sir.
  • 10 1
 Agreed. For a bike you actually have to pedal for extended periods of time besides going *steeply* up or down, 74-75 degrees is ideal, particularly if you are running shorter cranks.

I will say that the "off-the-back" feeling from my experience has been a result of optimizing the suspension setup for the downhills (i.e. 30%+ rear sag)--and while that's great if that's where you want the bike to work well, realize it is a compromise.
  • 13 2
 This. I know PB is in PNW and so that's the style of riding they're used to, but for the other 90% of the country the geo on this is great. No way I'd want a 77+ STA in the upper midwest or east coast riding singletrack, it would feel absolutely horrible.
  • 7 0
 My old and slightly damaged body also doesn't like the "standing right over the pedals" of a steep STA. I'll sacrifice a little of the steep climb problems to be able to ride longer.
  • 3 2
 Totally depends on the terrain you have access to, where I live it's literally either up or down. Steep STA (79 degrees in my case) has been a game changer and I've never been happier challenging myself trying to clean silly climbs. Indeed it's less than ideal on the flats but bearable if you just want to pedal to the trails.
  • 5 0
 Preach! Steep seat angles suck for undulating terrain a lot of us ride in, but everyone is chasing the trend. Kudos to Pivot for smart geo.
  • 32 5
 Imagine that, a mid travel trailbike that weighs under 28 pounds. (cough cough, Norco, cough)
  • 23 1
 27.5" ain't dead
  • 5 1
 26" is though. It might only be a matter of time Frown
  • 1 0
 @hughlunnon: I still ride my 26" 140mm trail on occasion. Light, capable and a lesson in agility Smile
  • 20 2
 27fun. It’s a great blend for long days, jump laps and desert adventures. I’m going into season 3 on mine and don’t plan on changing any time soon.
  • 1 0
 Same. Agree. I'm going into season 7 or 8 on mine.
But currently looking for a new frame.
Any suggestions for a 150-160mm carbon 27.5 frame?
  • 3 0
 @Vyckinis: the exact bike in this article. That’s what I’ve been rocking for 3 years now. Would buy again. Been to NZ, the PNW, Sedona, New England and Easter Canada on this bike. It’s been epic
  • 9 0
 jessie-may is clearly a graduate from dario digiulio saddle-tilt university
  • 4 1
 Most likely trying to get a bit more out of the slack STA.
  • 6 0
 This rig would be a hoot on tight single track, Gapping spider roots and jumping in general. That's a fun ride imho. Long travel, slacked out 29ers do rip on the race course. I'm assuming not every rider cares about that. So I'm glad to see a bike like this hit the market.
  • 9 0
 Stop calling it conservative geometry. This is actually spicy, playful geometry. Long and slack is the new conservative.
  • 5 0
 Lowest seat tube/stand over measurement of any full suspension bike I've ever seen. AND comes in an XS size. While this bike is great for a lot of different kind of riders, it's one of the best bikes for short riders in the industry. Like the seriously short and or people with abnormally short legs. And likely one of the best bikes for BMX minded riders as well. Though 5500 minimum buy in is definitely a shock to the system of BMXers. Just wanted to say I appreciate Pivot's design as well as the offering of an XS in that design for shorter riders, especially our partners who are less comfortable about biking and falling. When you see how the linkage looks on the XS you'll know they probably went through some effort to make that thing work lol
  • 2 0
 Yes, my 12 year old rides an XS Shadowcat and it's amazing for his size. We put 152mm cranks on it.
  • 4 0
 Odd choice for a retest at this time maybe? Interesting to compare this with Henry's review from 2 years ago. Of note is the price on the xt/xtr has only gone by up by $100 (I suspect it has been a LOT higher at some point and then crashed backed down again).
  • 4 0
 One thing that is fairly relevant to mention is most riders aren't riding 77.5°+ seattube bikes that I know of .... so it's geo is actually fairly average in today's Geometries.

The Shadowcat I've been watching for awhile as it has the exact Geometry I want, and looks fantastic. Hopefully they'll release some new appealing colors (Pivot please look to Marin for color inspiration) ....
The thing is a bought an Aether 7 instead as they had great deals on them and they are aluminum and have external routing. Whats not to like.... almost the same Geo as a Shadowcat but for way cheaper and it's easy to work on.
  • 7 0
 Pink bike after pink bike on Pinkbike.
  • 6 0
 Bro that's fuchsia
  • 2 0
 @gnarnaimo: haha, you are correct!
  • 8 0
 650Biatch!
  • 3 0
 Picked up one of this for my 9yr old. The low slung top tube gives great stand over height. I think it weights less than his 24” commencal!

Planned on throwing 26” wheels on it for a year until he grew a bit but he seems to be doing okay on the 27.5”. We’ll see once the snow melts and he can really get out and ride it.
  • 24 0
 can I be your 9 year old hahah
  • 1 0
 @adrennan: Just wait until that you is 16 and driving your own Ferrari to school. "But Dad, it doesn't have a back seat."
  • 1 0
 @adrennan: it's silly ... his snowmobile is a 2022 650 Khaos with a 7s display lol
  • 3 0
 @dlford: it's actual just "Ari" now, maybe you missed the press release
  • 5 0
 Not surprised to see some usernames I recognize as fellow small wheel enjoyers from other articles. Let's somehow keep this genre of bikes alive, they can be a LOT of fun!
  • 6 0
 Great to see a full 650b bike, I'm back on the smaller wheels after 5 years on 29 and loving 650b. Nice to have options!
  • 6 0
 A killer new bike that doesn’t weigh a light 36lb
  • 2 0
 Except it's not new. It was released 2 years ago.
  • 2 0
 My trusty 2016 5010 is coming up on 8 years old (!) and I guess I just don't feel the need to switch to something with bigger wheels because I don't perceive a problem with 27.5. More travel? Sure. I have had my eye on the Shadowcat as a potential replacement, but I just keep maintaining / slowly upgrading the 5010 and wouldn't you know it -- I'm still having fun out there. I'm very slow to adopt new bike tech though -- my previous bike was a Kelly hardtail single-speed...
  • 5 0
 One of the few 27.5" options remaining
  • 3 0
 I demoed this bike. I liked it a lot, but not the fox suspension. Ended up doing a custom build on a Mach 5.5 frame. And no, it doesn't need a mullet.
  • 1 0
 What do you mean Pivot measures effective STA differently. Their website suggests they use the normal standard. If they truly did measure the "average saddle height", there would be a different effective seat tube angle across all sizes.... but its the same, which leads me to believe they use the normal standard. @pivotcycles
  • 1 0
 Love the looks and the weight. Pivot still should have engineered a way to make it mullet without having to decrease travel so much. It would make the bike more versatile imho. Seems like everyone else is doing it. This is coming from a Pivot fanboy.
  • 1 0
 I think 140/140 MX is the sweet spot. 65 degree HTA. Someone please confirm so I can convince myself to get one.
  • 1 0
 Well writen review and nice to see it was ridden in size small as the bike is clearly targeted towards smaller riders. For a bike this light and with this amount of suspension I feel Pivot missed a chance to give it a wider appeal by not making the STA a little steeper and the HTA a little slacker. The seated position along the light weight would make it a killer climbing machine and the front wheel being a little further to the front would give you a little more safety on the steep downs. The wheelsize would still keep it' agile charecter. 65/77 would be a great combo IMHO. Then mulleting it with a 140mm fork would make the angles about 64/76, which would still be reasonable.
  • 3 0
 There are 10 million bikes with the geo you just described. I am glad Pivot did things a little different with this one. The geo makes a lot of sense in a lot of different terrains/use cases.
  • 1 0
 "Its quick, responsive handling and poppy suspension encouraged me to seek out little hops and alternative lines off the main rut, which was a great deal more pleasurable than just trying to plow down"

You don't need smaller wheels to do this. This is the way everyone should be riding if they're not racing. Shit, maybe even if they _are_ racing, since trying those alt lines might end up being faster by providing a better exit line, vs. a "carefree riding style", which I'm assuming is plow-down-the-fall-line-and-lock-the-brakes-to-not blow-every-corner".
  • 1 0
 Eleven small holes (3 cables in, 2 cables out, 4 bottle mounts, 2 tool mounts) and one medium hole (just for assembly, does not add to funtionality at all!)...

This is a great argument against the bullshit claim that headset routing make for better frames.
  • 1 0
 "They say that torsional stiffness and vertical compliance should “feel” the same whether you're a 5’2” rider on an XS or a 6’5” rider on an XL."

Too bad front-center to rear-center balance will "feel" the most different possible (without doing size specific chainstays in the wrong direction). Does having a less torsionally stiff front triangle matter all that much when the shorter riders are by default that much relatively closer to the front wheel? Might actually want that stiffness back.

"Longer chainstays would diminish this key characteristic [agility] of the Shadowcat."

Nah, you're reaching there Pivot. It's all relative: the XL already has a 90mm longer wheel base than the XS, adding 5-10mm to the chainstays to bring the front-to-rear balance closer to the smaller sizes would surely be less detrimental to agility than a more centered position on the bike.

I once added about 3 inches to my wheelbase, _and_ bigger wheels, with a new bike, and also gained a _much_ more centered and balanced riding position. The increase in agility was immense, despite all the things people claim ruin agility: big wheel, long wheelbase, long chainstays. The importance of good positioning should not be underestimated re: "feel" and "agility".
  • 1 0
 I absolutely love mine. This is THE full squish trail bike if you have roots in dirt jumping and park. Before getting old and transitioning to trail riding my favorite bike was an NS Suburban 24". I've had several full squish bikes (trail/enduro)since then and the Shadowcat is the first time I haven't been wishing for a little more. If you jib and pop off everything in the trail and just ride for fun, look no further...
  • 3 0
 Kudos to Pivot for still making 27.5" AND lightweight bikes. Bought a Mach 6 last season and loving every second on it.
  • 1 0
 How will this compare to my Salsa Rustler? I've had it for years and want to try something new and could just swap the parts.

The rustler is great but got absolutely no love from the media.
  • 1 1
 Looks like a great option for a playful rider stuck living in flatlandia somewhere. Having grown up in flatlandia, I see where this bike fits (but luckily not in my quiver). Even the seat angle is spot-on for not-mountain trail biking.
  • 1 0
 How are the Enduro MAX bearings holding up? I heard mixed statements so far. So I am really wondering if they are really better than brands like SKF for example.
  • 11 0
 What I heard from people knowledgeable about bike engineering: The absolute quality of bearings on a bike doesn’t matter all that much. Proper alignment, size of bearings, weather shielding and avoiding pressure washers has far greater influence than the difference between high-end and average quality bearings.
  • 1 0
 IME they're 'fine,' not terrible, not oustanding, fine. My Cotic came with them and they lasted two and a bit years, then I replaced them with Schaeffler bearings because they were available. Can't say I can tell the difference.
  • 1 0
 My Knolly Chilcotin has been running on the original set for 2.5 seasons now. The most exposed pair did get a bit crunchy after a while but I managed to clean and repack them before any major scoring took place. Overall, not the worst/not the best
  • 4 0
 Pros + its pink
  • 1 0
 "...should “feel” the same whether you're a 5’2” rider on an XS or a 6’5” rider on an XL" --- This bike is not offered in XL.
  • 1 0
 On paper this looks a lot like my 2014 Transition Bandit 27.5", which is still the bike I take out when I want to have maximum fun on the trails.
  • 1 0
 way better then 29" bikes. thanks pivot, always had an eye on you guys. maybe this is the one or the banshee enigma. hard choice
  • 2 0
 if anyone wants to sell their shadowcat let me know. mid travel 27.5 bikes rock
  • 2 0
 So, in other words, it's not the cats whiskers
  • 2 0
 My sort of bike, and a good review too.
  • 2 0
 Still waiting on the firebird review promised years ago lol
  • 2 0
 It's bonkers. Fairly lightweight and agile considering the travel numbers. Slapped a 27.5 wheel and coil shock in the rear and rips the bike park but also can pedal all day.
  • 5 0
 I have had both Firebird 29 versions. Love it. Pedals like allot of 140 bikes. It’s my one quiver bike as I sold my switchblade. It’s more nimble than bikes like the spec enduro that just eats anything in its path. Compared to Ibis Ripmo V2 my wife rides Firebird feels a half star more enduro full star better climber. Build quality of pivot bikes are best in the business in my opinion.
  • 2 1
 why is it that every cool bike now is at least 6 thousand dollars, its insane
  • 1 0
 Pivots are always like this though
  • 2 0
 Looks like my kind of bike!
  • 3 1
 I never understood the benefits of 29ers
  • 4 0
 For keeping up with the Jones
  • 2 0
 But does it backhop?
  • 6 0
 I’m pretty sure that under @aliclarkson it does!
  • 4 3
 So, do I tuck my t-shirt in when I ride this, or nah?
  • 1 0
 Ross Geller would love it
  • 1 0
 I don't get it
  • 4 0
 @Allen82:

There’s a famous friends episode where Ross is yelling “Pivot” while
Trying to move a new couch the apartment stairs.

Seriously though, this is a great bike for its intended use: trail riding. It always seems
Like pinkbike will give an enduro bike a pass on climbing, but then seem to be pretty harsh on trail bikes descending. Does anyone at Pinkbike even like
To ride non-29” bikes? Serious question…
  • 3 6
 When will Pivot give up its slack seat angles? Seemingly never. If a size small rider is "off the back," your frame design is making serious compromises that belong in 2012. Been waiting for them to fix this for years after two XL frames (since wised up and moved on to other brands).
  • 10 1
 I dunno man. I'm 5'10" (178 cm), ride a large 2020 switchblade, ride up lots of steep things, and never feel "off the back".

Maybe there's more to geometry than just 1 number. Maybe it's a good thing that different companies offer different geometries to provide us, their customers who all ride differently and have different bodies requiring different bike fits, meaningful choice among the bikes we're considering.
  • 1 0
 I’m with you. I’ve demo’d a couple Pivot over the years. The geo always turns me off. Different strokes for different folks, as they say. I will say Pivot make a gorgeous bike. Top notch build quality.
  • 2 2
 I think everybody who wants a bike like this already has it, right?
  • 1 3
 Running MX, Pivot recommends dropping the fork to 130, meaning the front has less travel than the rear at 140mm. This doesn’t seem ideal, or I just don’t understand
  • 2 0
 To preserve geometry you need to look more at axle to crown distance than to fork travel. Still will be some differences as sagged 160 (27.5) and 140 (29) could be different, and unsagged the same. But will you fill this 4mm difference? Additionally axle to crown difference from manufacturer to manufacturer, for example RS Lyric 150 has close to Ohlins 140 axle to crown distance (both 29).
  • 1 7
flag benpinnick (Mar 6, 2024 at 5:21) (Below Threshold)
 Unless there's some un-mentioned flip-chippery going on in order to preserve geo you'd need a 105mm travel fork.
  • 1 1
 To go MX on a 27.6 and maintain geometry, you reduce the A-C by ~ 20mm, so a 140mm fork would be appropriate.

Considering the steepish HTA, a 150mm fork would probably be a better option.
  • 5 1
 @sanchofula: The 29er wheel has an inch below the axle too, so you need the difference in a2c + difference in ground to axle, and then also you need to allow for the loss in sag too.
  • 1 0
 @benpinnick: interested in how you came up with that...
  • 8 3
 @deez-nucks: If you just chuck a 29er wheel into a 27.5 set up you gain 25mm under the axle straight away, as a 29er is actually 29.5" tall (So 2" for the diameter = 1" on the radius). So you're already 25mm the wrong way. Then if you make the fork a 29er you gain another 20mm of fork length (on average) so now you're 45mm too long. If you had 30% sag you had 48mm on the 27.5, but say its a 120 fork now, you only get 36mm, so thats another 12mm the wrong way (when sagged).

When it all adds up the fork length that would give you the same ground to crown, when sagged, which is what you need to 'maintain' riding geo, would be around 105mm.
  • 4 1
 I think the 105mm measure is correct. You need to adjust for both the amount of wheel below the axle (-17mm or so) as well as the additional length of the lowers (~17mm). basically you've got 35mm more wheel, and the same gap between the crown and the tyre at bottom-out, so you need 35mm less travel to have the crown in the right place at 0 travel
  • 3 1
 I just actually looked the numbers up, and with nominal tyre diameters on a RS fork its:

+19mm for the g2a
+21mm for a2c

Which would give you a -40mm starting point, but then you're losing 12mm on the sag, so a 110 fork would be about right/slightly over, but a 120 might be the more common choice given whats out there.
  • 5 3
 @benpinnick:Your math sucks.

The difference in radius between a 29er/622 bsd and 27.5/584 bsd is only 19mm ( 622 - 584 x .5 = 19mm ) and the fork is at an angle to the ground so 20mm A-C is really only about 15mm of height at the headtube.
  • 2 1
 @Joecx: Fair point about the angles, but you still have a ride height difference from sag to overcome or your bike is riding higher than designed even when static is the same on paper.
  • 3 0
 @benpinnick: if I were MXing this bike, I would run a 140 fork (or even 150) and remove 20mm in headset spacers. Probably throw a -.5 or -1 angleset in too. I know it doesn't completely preserve intended geo, but running less fork than rear travel would feel weirder.
  • 2 0
 @dwbaillar : Me too (140). I was just really pointing out that if you wanted a bike that was actually _the same_ when you rode it 130 isn't enough to do that; so pretty much in line with your view, if I cant get 130 to be the actual same at sag, I would just run 140 and suck it up with a slightly bigger difference again.
  • 1 0
 @Joecx: Didn't have time to clarify earlier. You're correct the angle of the fork has an impact, but you've got it the wrong way round.

Above the axle the angle doesn't matter, the same A2C the same HA will cause the same vertical offset, so in order to make the vertical offset the same, you need the same A2C, in the case of a 160 RS fork (Im using RS forks as I have the A2C to hand and I expect Fox etc. to have close enough differences) thats an A2C of 552, 19mm less than the A2C for a 160mm 29er (I screwed up on the A2Cs/g2a above the wrong way round but it wont make any difference).

Below the Axle the vertical offset is at 19mm, but as the only thing we can use here is the fork travel to make the adjustments, as you said we need more than fork travel mm adjustment than we do vertical offset mms. The ratio isnt 3/4 as you suggest though, its more like 9/10; in order to yield the necessary 19mm of vertical adjustment we need another 21mm of fork travel change.

So we had 19mm on the A2C correction and 21mm on the g2a correction, which gives us a 40mm travel adjustment for a 29er, so a 120 fork, but.... as I mentioned earlier, your sag is now all out of whack, and since sagged is going to count for how the bike actually rides, even a 120 fork is potentially going to ride too high - you'll have a consistently slacker HA and SA, and a higher BB. That may indeed be fine, but it just something to note.

If anyone wants to check yourself, then www.bike-stats.de/en/geometrie_rechner is a great site to do that. You will just have to pull up the Shadowcat, using 552 (rockshox 27/160mm) as the A2C for the 27, select both a wheel and fork swap, switch it to a 29er front wheel and use 531 (Rockshox 29/120mm) as the A2C on the 29 fork and you will see you get perfectly matched static numbers.

If you update the fork lengths with Sagged numbers instead you see that the frame gets all out of whack again, and you need a 484 29er A2C sagged to get close to our 160 27.5 fork sagged again, that would be 40% of a 120 forks travel, but also the A2C of a theoretical 105mm fork at 30% sag. Hence why I suggested 105 was a closer equivalent in real terms.
  • 1 0
 Rut track bike.
  • 2 2
 So get this or save your money and buy something used from 2012?
  • 1 2
 76 is too steep anyway.
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