A lightweight, mid-powered e-bike with no range anxiety? Sounds good...
Lightweight, mid-power e-bikes are the hot ticket right now, and none are coming in hotter than the new Shuttle SL from Pivot. Based on a 29er trail bike platform that delivers 132mm of travel, the Shuttle SL isn’t just another self-service uplift e-bike… but is it one of the best electric mountain bikes out there?
The answer is a resounding yes, with this bike taking the title of MBR Lightweight Electric Mountain Bike of the Year 2023.
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Pivot Shuttle SL need to know
- 29er e-trail bike with 132mm travel that weighs 18.47kg
- Designed around the Fazua Ride 60 motor with 60Nm torque and 450W peak power
- Integrated Fazua 430Wh battery helps reduce range anxiety
- Shimano XTR drivetrain and four-piston brakes offer ultimate control
- Flip-chip in the rocker link pivot provides two geometry settings
- Entry-level Shuttle SL 29 Ride SLX/XT costs £9,500
No one can accuse Pivot of jumping on the lightweight e-bike bandwagon. When it launched its first Shuttle e-bike back in 2017, it was a 140mm travel carbon ripper with DW-Link suspension, a Shimano E8000 motor, 500Wh battery, Di2 electronic shifting and a build kit that delivered an impressive 19.95kg package.
So six years on, what’s changed? In short, everything. The SL version is a completely different bike. Built around the new Fazua Ride 60 motor (1.96kg) and corresponding 430Wh integrated battery (2.2kg), the Shuttle SL has the best range in this test without needing a range extender. So almost overnight Fazua has gone from being the kid at the back of the e-bike bus that smoked fags on his lunch break, to becoming an all-star player that all the cheerleaders want to date.
Extra battery capacity comes at cost though, mostly in weight, but at 18.47kg, with our EXO+ casing Maxxis control tyres fitted, the Pivot Shuttle SL is still the second lightest bike in test. The motor is really quiet too, which just adds to the whole natural ride feel of the bike.
Fazua’s handlebar mounted Ring Control is very intuitive in use, and while it feels fragile, it works like a charm. The LED Hub battery/power indicator on the top tube uses a traffic light system for the three power modes. In Breeze the max power is 120W, River delivers 280W and Rocket peaks at 350W. There’s also a fourth Boost mode. Hold the control button up for two seconds and no matter which mode you’re in you get a peak power delivery of 450W that’s sustained for 12 seconds. Use it too often however, and it will burn through your battery like a wildfire. There’s also a USB-C port tucked under the LED Hub for charging accessories.
Hold the control button up for two seconds and no matter which mode you’re in you get a peak power delivery of 450W that’s sustained for 12 seconds.
Some things remain unchanged however. The rear hub spacing is still Super Boost Plus 157mm, but by manipulating the position of the pivots in the front triangle, Pivot has been able to introduce small changes in the chainstay lengths with the same swingarm across all four frame sizes. On the S and M the rear ends measure 430mm, on the size L it grows to 432mm and XL gets 436mm. They are all short rear ends then but they are paired with generous reach numbers, our size L test bike measuring 480mm on the money.
Six years on and Fox is still Pivot’s preferred suspension supplier, the Shuttle SL 29 Team XTR equipped with a Factory level Float X shock and 36 Float fork. The 150mm travel 36 fork uses the e-bike tuned Grip 2 damper that has less low-speed and more high-speed compression damping than the standard Fox 36 fork on the Specialized Levo SL. As such, it’s not quite as plush or as supportive.
Still, with the DW-Link rear suspension capped at 132mm travel, and being quite progressive in nature, the bike actually feels very balanced, especially when running the fork with more air pressure to make it ride a little higher. The shock tune also is very light, so if you run the rebound damping too fast, you’ll notice a slight top out clunk on really choppy terrain. Still, it’s nice for once, not to have to run all of the dials wide open, and still find that the shock doesn’t return fast enough.
And Shimano is still Pivot’s preferred drivetrain supplier, where XTR 12 speed helps Pivot hit that target weight without compromising on gear range – the XTR cassette delivering a 10-51t range, in smooth even increments. No additional batteries required. The Fazus Rode 60 motor uses an open source ETRO crank interface, and Rotor supplies the 165mm alloy crank arms on the Shuttle SL. Freehub engagement on the carbon Reynolds wheelset is lighting fast so the bike feels really rapid and quick to react to pedal inputs, which just enhances the altogether snappy ride feel. The motor also has overrun, which makes awkward, stop-start climbs that much more manageable.
We’ve had mixed experiences with Shimano XTR brakes. On the Canyon Spectral:On CFR, for example, they felt amazing with the Shimano Ice Tech Freeza rotors. On the Pivot, the 4-piston callipers are paired with Galfer 6-bolt rotors and they seem to have less power and more dead lever travel. So like most things Shimano, it’s probably best to keep it in the family.
All of the contact points on the Shuttle SL are dialled though. The Phoenix carbon bar has a nice profile, the WTB saddle is comfy and even the Pivot lock-on grips are nice and soft. Upgrading the stock Maxxis Dissector tyres for something with a little more meat made a big difference to the overall ride quality of the bike, so that’s one upgrade we’d really recommend before punching holes in the stock EXO casing rubber.
When we published the first ride on the Shuttle SL, we mentioned that the Fazua Ride 60 Motor had a slight delay in pick up once the overrun had run its course. Well, Fazua’s latest firmware update eliminated that. We also said that the Pivot Shuttle SL was the first lightweight e-bike where the very first question wasn’t “when is the range extender available?”
Now that we have performed our various range tests, it’s pretty clear why. The Pivot literally blows the door clean off the Forestal in range, leaving the Trek limping behind in the distance, where only the Specialized with its range extender can exceed the miles accrued on the Pivot. The motor is smooth and efficient too, Fazua claiming that the losses in the system are as low as 4 watts. It also claims that the motor decouples from the bottom bracket axle when pedalling above the speed limit or when the motor is switched off, improving efficiency further.
So there’s no questioning the Shuttle SL’s staying power, but how does it handle? The tight rear end and support from the DW-Link suspension make it great for snapping in and out of tight turns, but the flip side is the bike also gets deflected off line easier when traversing slippery off camber roots or navigating nasty rock gardens. Basically you get more feedback from the trail, so while that makes it a really exciting and engaging ride, it’s also more fatiguing. Something worth considering given how good the range is with the 430Wh battery.
Get the Shuttle SL on more flowy, pumpy terrain and it is a total rocket ship, primed for take off
The short rear end also makes the bike feel slightly smaller than the generous reach suggests, and to compensate for the more rearward weight bias, we found ourselves shuffling our feet forward on our flat pedals a touch to better load the front end. Rolling the bar forward and softening up the fork a little really helped in the department too. Get the Shuttle SL on more flowy, pumpy terrain and it is a total rocket ship, primed for take off. You can literally go to the moon on jumps.
E-bike comparison chart
For our power-hour challenge, we put all four bikes in max power mode, be that boost, Rocket, level 3 or Nitro. We then rode the same test loop where the bikes were fitted with the same tyres, ridden in the same conditions, by the same rider. The results were surprisingly different though. The loop consisted of one steep technical climb, two fireroad climbs and a few Tarmac climbs, depending on the bike. We recorded time and elevation to limp mode, typically 10% battery life, then rode until the lights went out.
Probably the most telling metric of all is the number of trails ridden. On the Pivot shuttle SL we completed 7 descents, which is almost double that of the Forestal. We also used the estimated calorie burn as a proxy for effort, where the calories burned per metre for elevation gives a good indication of rider input on each bike. The Specialized Levo SL required the most rider input, the Forestal Cyon the least.
|Bike||Time to limp mode||Dist to limp mode||Elev to limp mode||Total ride time||Total dist||Total elev||No of trails ridden||Est total calorie burn||calories/meter elevation|
|1h 34min||26.38km||1,034m||1h 36min||28.43km||1,080m||7||881||0.82|
|1h 21min||21.07km||826m||1h 31min||23.92km||924m||6||921||0.99|
|1h 12min||17.09km||680m||1h 21min||20.36km||802m||5||742||0.93|
Lightweight Electric Mountain Bike of the Year – verdict
Pivot was exceptionally quick to market with the Shuttle SL when Fazua launched its latest Ride 60 motor system, beating several big name brands in the process. Why the rush? Well the Fazua system uses a 1.96kg motor allied to a relatively large 430Wh battery to give 60Nm of torque and up to 450W of peak power in short bursts. Yes, the Ride 60 promises power and range in a single neat plug-in package, making it an attractive solution for designers and consumers alike. It’s got plenty of power, a free-revving motor that encourages you to pedal above the limiter, and in our range test it chalked up an impressive 1,080m of climbing in max power mode before the lights went out.
You’ll want to drain every drop from the battery too, as the Shuttle SL is great fun to ride on smooth, flowing trails where the short travel doesn’t get overwhelmed. You’ll need to be on top of your game to wrangle it on rough tracks, but the geometry is totally up to the job if you’ve got the skills. It’s mega expensive, and arguably would be more versatile with a bit more travel, but it’s still an excellent mid-powered package.
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As an out and out trail bike, the Pivot Shuttle SL delivers the goods. The Fazua Ride 60 motor is quiet, smooth and efficient too, so it offers a very natural ride feel and thanks to the 430Wh internal battery it has an impressive range. In fact, the limiting factor here, other than the EXO casing tyres, is the 132mm rear travel. It’s just not enough for how fast this bike can be ridden. Skilled riders will be able to ride around that single fault, even relish it, but if you’re looking for one bike to tackle all situations, the Shuttle SL may come up a little short.