Bike Review: Pivot Shuttle
Two years ago European bike dealers told Pivot Cycles founder Chris Cocalis that if he didn’t bring an electric mountain bike to market, they would stop carrying the rest of the Pivot bike line. Ouch! When Chris returned a year later with his Shuttle e-MTB, it developed much fanfare. American bike shops suddenly jumped to the fore and said that if he brought that bike to the U.S., they’d stop carrying Pivot. Holy opposites, Batman! What a paradox.
Fast-forward to 2018 and the bike finally made its U.S. debut at the Sea Otter Classic in an exclusive new colorway for the U.S. market. Funny thing, but now that it’s available, all the open-minded American bike shops that ordered the $10,000 bike can’t keep them in stock (as the old saying goes, “He who laughs last, laughs best!”)
The Shuttle is actually based on two non-e-bikes—the Firebird and the Switchblade. They re-engineered the dw-link suspension to handle the added weight and power of an electric bike, resulting in a Fox component setup with 140mm of travel. Pivot experimented with several motors before deciding on the Shimano STEPS E8000, partly because it was the smallest and lightest solution to provide the best power.
One major weight savings, besides the carbon frame and STEPS motor, was using the 504 Wh battery designed for external applications as an internal battery. The reason was that the internal battery is designed with a more rugged exterior with a built-in skid plate for being mounted in the underside of the downtube, weighing a full 2 pounds more than the external battery. This type of outside-the-box thinking pays off in spades.
“American bike shops cannot keep it in stock.”
Cocalis spent some time prototyping the rear triangle; first in aluminum to be able to make tweaks easier. He wanted it short enough to make it agile, but with the extra power, it had to be slightly longer to keep it from wanting to loop out. On a couple of really steep climbs, it kept the front wheel on the ground and made the climb easier.
Although the bike comes with 27.5-plus-inch tires (Maxxis 27×2.8-inch tires, Minion front and Rekon rear), but it’s designed to welcome the use of 29-inch wheels/tires per rider preference.
The Fox Float DPX2 shock was tuned specifically for e-MTB use with firmer mid-stroke compression damping, and it reacted well for anything we could throw at it. Small-bump compliance was good and allowed us to go confidently faster over rutted sections and kept the Maxxis Rekon 2.8-inch tires in contact with the ground. The grip on those tires, especially in conjunction with a well-dialed suspension, is outstanding. The bike feels planted and rails through turns confidently.
The wheelset is one that Pivot worked directly with DT Swiss on and is exclusive to the Shuttle. Their Super Boost Plus 157mm-wide hubs allow for better wheel clearance and spoke angles for stronger wheels while not increasing Q-factor.
Shifting is done with state-of-the-art Shimano Di2 electronic shifting powered straight from the battery. The motor cuts almost imperceptibly during shifting, the interruption is so short that it’s not really noticeable, yet enough to be gentle enough on the drivetrain to cause less strain on your chain.
The Shimano E8000 motor is simply one of our favorites. It’s small, light, relatively quiet (sounds a bit like a sewing machine when running) and has a narrow-enough Q-factor to make it feel like a regular mountain bike.
Range from the 500 Wh battery is outstanding, allowing us to go 25-plus miles on rides with lots of elevation gain and not using eco at all. We don’t think too many will need to have a second battery or even have range anxiety.
As with any E8000 motor, the very first thing we do after an initial test ride is to go into the E-Tube app on our phone and custom-tune the motor settings. Eco is fine, but trail is only a slight notch above eco at the factory setting. Our advice is to bump trail up to around the 50-percent mark (it feels like 25 percent, so there’s a ridiculous jump from trail to the 100 percent of boost). It’s easy, though the user interface could use a little more work to make it more usable and well worth the five minutes it takes to set that tweak in place. Trust us. Shimano engineers, are you listening?
WHO IT’S MADE FOR?
The Shuttle is a no-holds-barred, top-level and top-dollar e-mountain bike for cross-country or all-mountain riders who want a very capable bike. Even stock, this thing is expert level and one of the lightest full-suspension e-MTBs on the market, coming from an incredible lineage of mountain bikes.
The lighter weight of this bike is palpable. It’s easier to flick around, and the geometry is fantastic. We test new bikes every week, and rarely have a good chance to get to know any bike. Almost instantly the Shuttle feels like an old friend. It’s very comfortable from the get-go.
Cocalis spent some time prototyping the rear triangle; first in aluminum to be able to make easier tweaks. He wanted it short enough to make it agile, but with the extra power, it had to be slightly longer to keep it from wanting to loop out. On a couple of really steep climbs, the front wheel stayed planted on the ground and made the climb easier.
Bouncing around, you can’t hear anything but the tires on the dirt. The fit and finish of the bike is as you would expect on a bike of this caliber. Cocalis compares this to what you get on a higher-end Mercedes AMG or BMW M-series car. The battery compartment is well-sealed with an automotive-quality gasket around a window that exposes the top of the battery for access to the power button and indicator lights.
All of this comes together in an amazing package that provides ride quality and a fun factor greater than the sum of its parts. It does as well on the smooth, flowy parts of the trail as it does on the technical, pucker-inducing ones. We felt like better riders than normal on it. The 140mm of travel proved to be plenty, even over substantial drops and a few fun hits we took.
The bike is a favorite at work; it rarely spends the night in the warehouse. Whenever someone at the office wants to ride it, there’s a queue to borrow it! During testing we had both the medium and the large frame, and depending on the size of the rider, it’s a noticeable advantage to have the right-size frame.
The Shuttle is easily one of the best e-bikes we’ve ever ridden. It felt like home from the first few minutes of riding. It isn’t cheap, but it will instill more confidence in even a less-experienced rider. It’s easier to control because of the light weight, also a little easier to stop when needed. The suspension is fantastic, the E8000 motor is one of our favorites, and the battery range is more than enough for longer rides.
Motor: Shimano STEPS E8000
Charge time: 4–5 hours
Top speed: 20 mph
Range: 30–50 miles
Drive: Shimano Di2
Brakes: Shimano XT 4-piston hydraulic disc brakes
Controls: Shimano STEPS E8000
Fork: Fox 36 Performance Elite 29/27.5+, 150mm
Rear shock: Fox DPX 2, custom valved
Frame: Pivot carbon fiber
Tires: Maxxis Minion DHF 27.5×2.8” (front), Maxxis Rekon 27.5×2.8” TR Silk Shield (rear)
Weight: 43 lb.
Color choices: Charcoal (U.S.), Blue/gold (EU)
Sizes: S, M, L