PIVOT MACH 5.5
Words & Photos by Andrew Lee
Pivot bills the Mach 5.5 as a Plus-tired do it all machine, but as skeptics, we’re tired of hearing every brand’s bold claims about the ultimate all around performing bike. Despite our skepticism, we have spent lots of time on different Pivot models over the years We were excited to see how the bike would stack up in today’s competitive field. The Pivot Mach 5.5 was born from the roots of the Mach 5.7 and maintains Pivot’s signature stiffness and aggressive demeanor.
Sporting 5.5 inches, or 140mm of DW-Link travel, our test bike came equipped with a Shimano XT/XTR blend. The XT shifter and brakes paired with an XTR derailleur are a great option for riders wanting to blend performance with some practicality. Race Face Aeffect cranks and a 30-tooth chainring direct power to the DT Swiss M1700 wheelset.
The 35mm wide wheels are wide enough to optimize the profile of the Maxxis 2.6 Minion DHF and Rekon rear. Fox Shox spec includes: a 150mm Transfer seatpost, 160mm Factory Fit4 36 and a Kashima DPS shock. Pivot specs a branded WTB Vigo saddle, PadLoc grips and Pivot’s own 35mm diameter, 760mm wide carbon bars with a 55mm stem. Overall the build does not disappoint. We spent plenty of time inspecting the bike as we assembled it in our stand and feel that Pivot does a great job of offering a tight package all around. I set the sag according to Pivot’s handy sag meter on the rear shock and I was ready to ride.
As with any new bike, there’s almost always some tinkering and tuning required before we feel totally at home. The Mach 5.5 was pretty straightforward however. Tire pressure proved to be our most time consuming endeavor in the tune process. Finding their happy place was highly dependent on riding style and terrain. We’ll get into that later.
First I’d like to highlight the contact points. The PadLoc grips and WTB Vigo saddle deserve a little more attention. If you haven’t ridden a bike with PadLoc’s or even grabbed a pair at a bike shop, they are definitely unique. The goal of PadLoc is to offer a secure grip with extra padding under the outside edge of the palm. PadLoc grips rely on an angle cut bar end that works as a rotational stop and open void for the extra padding.
The design is neat and there is no denying the benefits in comfort. The extra squish may not be something everyone loves but on long descents it was a welcome feature. My only negative note is that I felt I had to scoot my hands outboard of my normal riding position to utilize the extra padding. My hands are pretty average in size, I typically wear a medium or Large glove, but perhaps I’m just not an end of the grip rider.
The WTB Vigo saddle is worth mentioning also as I found it to be very comfortable. It is a welcome to change to so many of the OE saddles getting spec’d these days. Even though It does come with a small weight penalty, I’ll gladly trade the few extra grams for some extra cush on my tush when I head out for long trail rides.
One slight critique in the spec relates to the stem length. Pivot specs a 45mm stem on the XS-MD sized bikes and a 55mm for the L-XL on the 5.5. Given the 465mm reach on our large, I ended up putting on a 45mm stem of my own on. It instantly made the bike feel more comfortable, and is something I think could have been spec’d from the get go. While it did climb a touch better with the 55mm, it was just too long for me, and the increased confidence on the descents was worth the slight climbing penalty.
Climbing One of the very first things I noticed about the Pivot Mach 5.5 was how active the rear suspension is. The DW-Link rear end truly smooths out the trail and tracks the ground exceptionally. Thanks to the efficiency of the DW-Link and Fox shock, I found myself leaving the shock unlocked most of the time. Sensitivity and power transfer are definitely strengths that made lasting impressions on each and every climb.
Descending Much to my surprise, I managed to snake a few Strava PR’s on this bike– something I was not anticipating. The 5.5 didn’t feel as fast as my personal mid-travel 29er, but the clocks don’t lie and I had shaved off a few seconds on some of my favorite local trails.
Anytime I got to run this bike wide open down some chunky technical terrain we both came out happier. Begging for more, it loved when the trail got rough and urged to me keep off the brakes. Obviously a 140 bike has limits, but the Mach 5.5 does a great job exceeding the typical 140mm bar. Only in very extreme circumstances did the 140mm of rear travel have trouble keeping up with the 160mm fork.
On smoother, flow trails and compressions, I enjoyed the supportive mid-stroke. It keeps the bike feeling confident under high load situations like lips, berms and g-outs. A progressive ramp near the end of the stroke makes big hits disappear. If you keep the bike in its intended usage zone, the DPS shock is an excellent choice. Everything you need, and nothing you don’t.
The one area of contention with one of the other testers is the Plus tires. There is no denying they offer improved traction in certain conditions and also really smooth out the chatter, they leave precise riders with a vague feeling when trying to thread the needle or making minor line adjustments mid-turn. The roll is also noticeable when cornering hard in a berm or loading into a lip. The 2.6 rubber also adds significant rotational mass, which is immediately noticeable on the trail. If this were our personal ride, we’d swap out some 2.4 or 2.5 tires for most trails and keep the Plus rubber around for super rocky or washboardy trails where the extra volume would help tame the ride. We also feel for most riders that aren’t throwing the bike around, or looking for ultimate precision in line selection, the Plus tires do increase traction and make the bike more forgiving. It’s all a matter of personal preference.
The Wolf’s Last Word
With a burly 160mm fork leading the charge, the Pivot Mach 5.5 is a very capable trail bike. Modern geometry features like a 66.5-degree head angle, 465mm reach and 430mm chainstays help blend high-speed confidence, low-speed playfullness with all around trail efficiency well. It is a very good bike that could cater to anyone from an aggressive trail rider, XC rider wanting more confidence for descents or an enduro racer who doesn’t race on terrain that requires 160mm front and back.
While some of my fellow friends and testers have billed me as a die hard Wagon Wheeler, I have no problem admitting that I really like this 27.5er. In fact I may have even shed a couple tears as I boxed it up for return. The Mach 5.5 never let me down. Pivot builds a quality bike, and while some might say you pay for it, I think it’s worth it. Plus they do have a pretty generous range of bikes for a variety of budgets. If you’ve been eyeballing the 5.5 we can definitely give it a Loam Wolf stamp of approval.
Weight: 29.2 lbs
Frame: Carbon, 140mm
Fork: Fox Factory 36 Float,160mm
Shock: FOX Float Factory DPS EVOL
Brakes: Shimano XT M8000
Handlebar: Phoenix Team Carbon 35mm – 760mm
Headset: Pivot Precision Sealed Cartridge
Saddle: WTB Vigo
Seatpost: Phoenix WTB Vigo Pro
Shifter: Shimano XT 11 Speed
Stem: Phoenix Team Enduro 35mm dia. clamp. Length: XS, SM – 45mm, M, L, XL – 55mm
Hubs: DT Swiss
Rims: DT Swiss M1700 35mm
Tires: Maxxis Minion DHF WT 27.5″ x 2.6″ Front TR/EXO, Maxxis Rekon WT 27.5″ x 2.6″ Rear – TR/EXO
Bottom Bracket: Race Face
Cassette: XT M8000 11-46 11 Speed
Cranks: Race Face Aeffect SL 30T – 175mm
Derailleur: XTR 11 Speed GS
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