One of the best trail bikes
With the Pivot Mach 5.5 the brand waited seven years before deeming itself ready to bring out the successor its most popular bike ever, the Mach 5.7.
The 140mm travel Mach 5.5 is Pivot’s latest generation trail bike. It sports a high modulus, full carbon frame and the bike simply looks stunning. It incorporates plenty that’s hot right now too, like wider rims with high volume 2.6in tyres (Maxxis Wide Trail), and longer, slacker geometry.
Both halves of the carbon frame are united by the DW-Link suspension with an upper rocker assembly that enables the shock to rotate on sealed bearings for increased sensitivity. One design addition that won’t be everyone’s favourite though is the 92mm Press Fit BB. That said, we experienced zero creaking and had issues with it during the test.
The sophisticated Dave Weagle suspension design uses two short rotating links to tune chain forces, axle path and the way the suspension balances rider weight shifts. It pumps out 140mm travel but it still has all the pedalling efficiency of an XC bike. The short, stout links presumably contribute to the frame’s immediately noticeable lateral stiffness too.
Kashima-coated Fox Factory level suspension reigns, including the latest 160mmn travel Float 36 suspension fork with a bigger negative air chamber for increased small bump sensitivity.
For easy of set up, the Fox rear shock now features a sag meter. It also has the new EVOL spring technology for improved sensitivity at the beginning of the stroke and you have a 3-way compression lever within easy reach for fine-tuning the pedal platform.
Granted, the Fox Float DPS shock isn’t the latest metric size, and can get a little overworked on long, rough tracks at the speed the Mach 5.5 typically encourages you to ride.
DT Swiss M1700 wheels are easily the best in test. With a great turn of speed and excellent stiffness and compliance they bring a ride quality that’s simply unmatched. Shimano’s 11-speed drivetrain performed solidly too, but is a notch down in smoothness and doesn’t offer the same gear range as SRAM’s 12-speed GX Eagle.
It felt churlish swapping out the high-volume 2.6in Maxxis tyre combo for our control tyres when there’s a clear advantage in grip and comfort with the fatter tyres. Obviously our narrower Maxxis control tyres reduced bump isolation and traction, but they also significantly lowered the BB on the Pivot, which brought clear advantages for straight-line stability and when slashing turns.
With a generous 460mm reach measurement, Pivot’s 55mm stem felt a bit long, and while the 800mm carbon handlebar was welcome, it’s hampered by WTB’s strange PadLoc grip system. Every tester complained about the grips, and you can’t swap them out without changing or chopping down the dedicated handlebar.
Pivot Mach 5.5 Pro performance
A two-word summary of the Mach 5.5 would be, seriously rapid. Up or down hill, pumping terrain, popping out of turns and pounding over rock and root, nothing seems to erase the Pivot’s pace.
The frame is über-stiff, to the point where it’s almost impossible to deflect off line through the gnarliest sections, and combined with the oversized tyres, the bike flutters and chops away at the ground for grip when leant right over.
Mach 5.5 pedalling prowess is ruthlessly effective too, so you simply don’t feel like shifting down, which makes the biggest cog on the 11-46t XT cassette nearly as redundant as the shock’s three-position compression lever. It’s basically as easy to stand up and smash up every climbs just to get it over with, then simply wait for your friends who are sat down spinning to catch up. This efficient streak sees you sprinting wherever you can sneak a pedal stroke in, but what’s really cool is that there’s little trade off in terms of flat-out downhill speed or security.
The Pivot’s slightly higher BB and sharper suspension means chuck-ability and ultimate smoothness is a notch below the Evil The Calling, but that’s more testimony to Evil’s freakish behaviour, than any negative reflection on the Mach 5.5.
The 140mm rear end rides tight and punchy so even though it has more travel than the Evil, big hits can feel a bit more hectic too, but this precise feel never blunts the edges off the Mach 5.5’s monster truck rolling speed or destabilises rider balance too much.
There’s no denying that the new Pivot Mach 5.5 is a rocket ship. It has incredible, XC-bike-like, speed and climbing prowess, but it’s also super capable on the descents. Its suspension response is tight and nimble in a good way, but can easily handle short fast bursts of enduro-level terrain without getting out of shape. It looks drop dead gorgeous too and Pivot has really delivered a truly boutique trail bike. And, even if it’s not and out-and-out downhill rider’s dream build, it’s certainly one of the best trail bikes we’ve tested for riders that place pure efficiency over raw DH speed.