FIRST RIDE REPORT

THE ALL-NEW PIVOT SHUTTLE

Words by Drew Rohde
Photos & Video by Brian Niles/Treeline Cinematics

Boasting a longer range, more power and more aggressive geometry, the new 29-inch wheeled 2021 Pivot Shuttle is here. Our team was lucky enough to get the inside scoop and have been working very closely with Pivot’s Chief Executive Shredder, Chris Cocalis over the last several months. In that time we’ve spent over 30-hours testing a prototype Pivot Shuttle, in a raw/unpainted finish to keep us under the radar, before receiving our “Switchblade green” production unit days before the embargo lifted. We’ve got just enough time on the finished Pivot Shuttle Team XTR model to give you some pretty thorough impressions on this eBike. But, before we get into the tweaks we made, the fun and conversations we’ve had during this process, let’s talk about what’s new for 2021.

THE LAB
Starting at the heart of the bike is Shimano’s new EP8 drive unit with a 726Wh battery. The battery is easily removable via two Allen bolts and the bike is also compatible with 504Wh and 630Wh batteries, should you want to order another battery to lighten the bike up for quick after-work rips or to pack a lighter spare for all day adventure rides. Pivot also moved the location of the On/Off button and charge ports, which make them easier to access.

First Ride Report: The All New Pivot Shuttle

Shimano’s new EP8 systems come with two factory preset power profiles that are easily customizable via the Shimano mobile app. Pivot worked with Shimano to develop two presets they think will cover most rider’s needs whether they’re looking for a full power-blaster ride or a slightly longer ride where a more natural feel and battery management is required. We rode in the stock settings for a while but wanted to experiment with the app so we did some tweaking and had fun changing up the settings, sometimes without telling whoever was going to ride the bike next.

Moving out from the drive unit and battery, riders may notice similar lines and aesthetic to the previous generation Shuttle, but there are in fact some significant differences. A new linkage design makes room for a Metric-length shock that has the Switchblade valving but is customized to meet the demands of an eMTB. The new linkage and shock help make the 140mm of rear wheel travel a bit more aggressive and ready to handle the faster and larger hits that the more aggressive geometry and 160mm Fox 38 will certainly lead you into.

We found the geometry to strike a nice balance of being playful without being twitchy. The chainstays struck a balance of being long enough to climb steep pitches with yet we could still manual this bike better than most eBikes we’ve been on. Granted that could also be a bonus of the higher 630mm stack height. After much demand, specifically from their European customers, Pivot added 10mm to the head tube height, and ships the bike with a lot of steerer tube spacers. We’re trying out the tall bar concept and aren’t 100% sold just yet, but we look forward to more laps at various bar heights. Along with the taller stack height, the new Pivot Shuttle has some other adjustments to the geometry. Our size large has a 460mm reach, 441mm chainstays, 74-degree seat tube angle and 64.3-degree head tube angle.

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First Ride Report: Jamis Hardline C4 Action

RIDE REPORT
As has been the case with just about everything in the supply chain, multiple delays due to parts meant that we didn’t get as much time on the full production version of the Pivot Shuttle as we’d like to. We have put in a couple hundred miles on the prototype test mule however and have been very stoked overall. One issue we did have that Pivot attributes to us having a non-production bike and spec, was the rear tire contacting the seat post during extreme bottom out moments. Pivot attributed the occasional contact to us not having the correct shock and different tires than the OE spec. Pivot has told us that they’ve not been able to replicate the issue in either their computer programs or any of their production bikes in Phoenix. We believe that we have a responsibility to talk about this issue, especially on such a high-dollar eMTB, but Pivot assured us that should anyone have any similar issues that arise and cause any sort of problem, they will be taken care of, before reiterating that they’ve not had any of their testers or sample bikes have similar issues. So perhaps our shock and tire were just slightly out of spec by a couple millimeters and combined to make this little bit of contact happen under extreme bottom out.

First Ride Report: The All New Pivot Shuttle

While we’re talking about the rear shock we’ll talk about the Switchblade valving and DPX2 shock. The Switchblade valving gives the bike a slightly firmer, and more aggressive feel, but Pivot needs to keep the Shuttle comfortable and functional for beginner and entry level riders too, so the need to talk about volume reducers is definitely part of the conversation. As advanced level riders weighing around 170lbs, our testers quickly found the bottom of the travel with the OE-spec’d volume reducer. After talking with Chris Cocalis we opted to test out the larger .8 reducer before moving up to the biggest .95 size. For 90% of our terrain we found the .8 to offer a great balance of platform in the mid-stroke while pushing out of corners, charging over rough terrain and playing around on the trail. If you’re not pushing super hard, we think the stock feel would be great as it offers a soft and comfortable ride. If you’re a heavier rider or push it we think you’ll get a lot more performance out of this bike by tuning the shock for your weight and style.

Getting out of the weeds on shock tuning let’s discuss the overall feel of the bike and how we find it. Our team liked the overall fit and feel of the Shuttle very much. It’s not overly cumbersome or long like many modern bikes are and we’re very happy about that. We really liked the bike on technical trails, both up and down. It’s nimble, snappy and playful but the 64.3-degree head tube angle and 29-inch wheels give it stability and confidence at speed.

The Shimano EP8 motor has some good traits and some quirks as well. Shimano intentionally made the system feel less artificial and more “natural,” which purists will love as it really does offer a little better work out and go figure, a more natural feel. The downside is, if you’ve grown accustomed to soft-pedaling in Boost mode at 20MPH up the hill, you’ll have to put in a bit more effort on EP8-equipped bikes. At first it was a bit weird but we’re now enjoying the more controlled application of power, especially in technical sections of trail or while trying to climb really steep, loose rocks. Another common issue we’ve been hearing about is the knocking or rattling sound. On one of the bikes we did have some of that coming when coasting over bumpy terrain at slower speeds or when half pedaling softly as the system tries to engage and shut off quickly. While we see lots of comments on social media and message boards, we can’t say the sound has been enough to affect our rides or mental state just yet. We’ll keep riding the bikes and see if that changes, but it’s certainly not anywhere close to as annoying as a bent rotor rubbing or a dry, noisy chain and once we start descending at any sort of speed the sound fades into the background.

First Ride Report: The All New Pivot Shuttle

The Wolf’s First Impression

Over the course of this project we’ve had a ton of fun hashing things out with Pivot, talking tech, suspension, development and the logistical costs and challenges of eBikes. It’s crazy to learn about some of the crazy details and major things that go into creating these awesome machines. From having to source expensive new hazardous material shipping containers that deliver batteries to costly testing and certifications to be compliant with electronic safety standards, we love this booming new eMTB scene. It has reinvigorated so many riders that have burnt out and has jaded lifers learning all over again.

When it comes to capable, all around eBikes, the Pivot Shuttle spent a couple years as a solid, dream-worthy rig but as battery size grew and more powerful motors came out, it slowly fell off the back like an eMTB with a dead battery. When it comes to the new 2021 Pivot Shuttle however, it seems to have risen like a phoenix (pun intended) out of the Lithium-Ion ashes and is once again a force to be reckoned with. Our testers have quickly grown to love this bike and while we look forward to spending more time on the production bike to see if we can replicate any of the issues our prototype had, we can certainly say that if you’re in the market for a fun, capable and well-rounded eMTB, you should find a local dealer and give one a try. We like fun and so does the Pivot Shuttle.

Price: $10,999
Weight: 49lbs 4oz
Website: PivotCycles.com

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