Evolution of a Pivot Original Favorite
When Pivot was founded back in 2008, it only had two bikes in its lineup—the Mach 4 and the Mach 5. The former was built as an XC rig, but the latter was the more popular trailbike, with lightweight construction, a bit more travel and—gasp!—26-inch wheels. Well, Pivot has not strayed far from its roots. The Mach 5 platform has been through four generations with varying travel and wheel configurations, but still stays true to its trail-riding roots. This is the newest version, the 5.5. We brought one of these cutting-edge machines to the desert of SoCal to see if it could eclipse the already sterling reputation of the Mach 5 of the past.
WHO IS IT MADE FOR?
This is the Everyman’s bike in the Pivot lineup. That’s not to say it’s not exceptional, but it’s designed to work reasonably well in nearly every trail condition. When somebody asks, “Is it an all-mountain bike or a cross-country bike?” You can say, “It’s a bike I ride all over the mountain and across the countryside. Does that count?”
The Mach 5.5 is built for anyone who wants a bike that’s as comfortable lining up on a cross-country course as it is doing shuttle runs on technical trails. This thing is lightweight yet forgiving. It’s a mountain bike in the truest sense of the word.
WHAT IS IT MADE FROM?
The Mach 5.5 builds on the legacy of the Mach 5 and 5.7 that came before it and brings to the table an all-new carbon frame with 140 millimeters of dw-link suspension. The frame is built with a high-modulus carbon layup that Pivot claims saves up to a pound of frame weight compared to other trail or enduro designs. It also uses Pivot’s unique long-travel clevis shock mount and linkage, which allows Pivot to make a compact design that can handle the travel with room to fit a water bottle on the downtube too.
WHICH COMPONENTS STAND OUT?
Pivot builds the 5.5 with the burly Fox 36 fork, which says to us that this bike means business. The 36 is relatively lightweight but also impressively stiff with plenty of travel. This is the fork of choice for many enduro racers who ride the most technical and steepest trails we’ve ever seen.
The rest of the build is spot-on with a Shimano XTR drivetrain and brakes and Race Face NEXT carbon cranks, all of which have never let us down. Pivot sent us this bike with two different shocks to try. The stock setup is with the Float Evol, and the upgrade is the Fox X2 Evol. Both of them worked flawlessly; the one you choose for your Mach 5.5 will depend on your riding style.
Nice touches include a cable port system that’s ready to accept Shimano’s Di2 system with ease, as well as a stealth front derailleur mount should you want to run a double. The bike also comes with rubberized frame protection to not only protect your investment but keep your bike ultra quiet on the rough stuff.
HOW DOES IT PERFORM?
Setup: The Mach 5.5 comes in many configurations, all with the same carbon frame. Whether your budget is 4k or 10k, the setup is still relatively easy. The Fox 36 fork comes with a pressure chart on it that proved accurate for most of our test riders. The shock also comes with a custom sag guide to help you dial in the bike. Follow both of those guides and the bike will be spot-on right out of the gate.
Pedaling: The 5.5 could easily be raced in a local series. You won’t see this frame used at the top level, but the pedaling efficiency is certainly good enough to propel you to a podium with enough gumption on your part. It’s also efficient enough to be the first to the top of any climb, saving enough in the tank for you to really charge the descent.
Climbing: The 5.5 is designed as a jack of all trades, so it’s engineered to climb better than most bikes out there. It delivers that in spades with a suspension system that keeps the rider relatively high in the travel and has minimal bob. There’s no need for a remote lockout on this bike, as we didn’t find ourselves reaching for it even on long and smooth climbs. The anti-squat of the dw-link suspension has more than enough platform to help propel you to the top of the hill without a shuttle. On technical climbs, the suspension also opens up and lets you use the travel to charge through rocks and roots while keeping the wheels planted and the traction plentiful.
Cornering: Downhill bikes corner slowly and with stability. XC bikes are nimble and quick but can be hard to handle at speed. The 5.5 splits the difference perfectly with handling manners that would be equally at home on an XC racecourse or on the downhill trails at Big Bear. Pivot chose not to go overboard with either a slack or steep geometry, and that shows in the balanced handling that helps riders tackle steeps, chutes or even tight, uphill switchbacks.
Descending: Pivot designed the 5.5’s suspension to be firm but still plush enough to handle technical trails. Its big brother, the Mach 6, is better at descending. That said, though, this bike would certainly give it a run for its money on the downhills. With the right setup, this bike is capable of handling the roughest of descents with confidence. The frame is stiff and predictable. The suspension isn’t afraid to dig through its travel on big hits and drops, and the geometry is balanced and confidence-inspiring.
TRICKS, UPGRADES OR TIPS?
If you’re looking to “rally” the Mach 5.5, then the upgrade to the Fox X2 shock is worthwhile. The shock offers more tuning options and delivers exceptionally consistent performance, even on the longest descents. If weight savings is your thing, the stock Float is the better choice.
The bike is available in five sizes, so nearly everyone should be able to find a Mach 5.5 that fits. Our size large fit very true to size with no problem. It even accommodated our short stem and fairly wide bar setup with ease. Don’t let the price in the spec sheet below scare you off. Pivot offers this bike in many component configurations that can bring the price as low as $4900.
There’s nothing better than a bike that can do it all. If we had our druthers, we’d be riding a 22-pound bike with 9 inches of travel. Unfortunately, that bike doesn’t exist just yet. But we’re sure Pivot is working on that project for 2020.
The Pivot Mach 5.5 is here to help in the meantime, because this bike actually can ride on any trail and in any circumstance and hold its own. This bike is a good climber, an efficient pedaler and a confident descender. At the end of the day, what more do you want?