The Pivot Shuttle Team XTR
Words & Images Neil Kerr
We’re all accustomed to the terms superyacht, supercar, superbike, and brands synonymous with them – Blohm & Voss, Lamborghini, and Ducati. Now we can add to that list, with the SuperE-bike, a category of high-end pedal assist mountain bikes that spare no expense in the pursuit of excellence. The Pivot Shuttle sits firmly in this in class.
Chris Cocalis and his Arizona-based company have pushed the updated Shuttle into the SuperE category with a no-holds-barred attitude to performance and ride experience. They went after the holy grail of electric mountain bikes: a lightweight, powerful, mid-travel bike that rides like a regular trail bike. Their grail quest has seen them put everything at their disposal into the Shuttle, from the latest carbon fibre frame, to cutting edge standards, plus the highest quality components in the bike industry.
The Shuttle’s spec sheet reads like a gear connoisseur’s wet dream. Pivot’s full carbon frame with 140mm of travel via Dave Weagle’s DW-link suspension. Fox’s 44mm offset, 160mm 36 fork, paired with their custom tuned DPX2 shock and a 150mm Transfer seatpost. Shimano XTR 12 speed drivetrain and 4-pot brakes. DT Swiss EB (E-bike) wheelset with Maxxis Minion DHF 2.5WT and DHR II 2.4WT tyres. The carbon cockpit and seat are Pivot’s house brand Phoenix, and it’s all powered by the top of the range Shimano Steps E8000 motor with the 504Wh battery. The result is a sleek, elegant, 20kg bike sporting 70Nm of torque and a thirst for rough and rowdy trails.
For 2020 the Shuttle moves to a full 29er platform (previously 27.5+) allowing Pivot to add an extra 10mm of travel to the fork for a more aggressive ride. They also moved away from Shimano’s electronic Di2 system to the new mechanical XTR 12 speed. These small yet subtle tweaks have done enough to give the Shuttle a whole new feel and ride style.
When it comes to geometry, the Shuttle’s rap sheet is equally impressive. The big wheels have slackened the head angle to an attack-oriented 65.2° and a 74° seatpost angle makes for comfortable climbing, but the standout for me was the 438mm chainstay. This is incredibly short, sitting very close to lengths of a standard trail bike and 15–30mm shorter than average for an e-bike. Those paltry chainstays combined with the slack angles make the Shuttle as nimble and agile as a 20kg bike can possibly be and are the cornerstones of its handling prowess.
So how does all this translate to the trails? The Shuttle climbs effortlessly and remains very composed under the guidance of the Shimano motor. While the E8000 isn’t the most powerful unit out there, it makes up for its lack of high-end torque with buttery smooth power delivery, allowing the Shuttle to cruise up even the most technical climbs with ease. That said, on the steepest ascents those short chainstays and extra fork travel do come back to haunt you with a tendency for the front wheel to lift, although this can be counteracted by shifting your weight over the bars.
However it’s when you hit the descents that the Shuttle really comes alive and shows its true character; this bike loves to go downhill. You can throw it into corners, and charge through root sections and steeps with reckless abandon without it missing a beat. The Super Boost hub spacing on the rear end adds stiffness and traction, and is also the reason Pivot can get away with such short chainstays on this style of bike. The agility and playfulness they provide mixed with the supple suspension push you to pop off drops and take on lines you feel you shouldn’t on an EMTB, but that’s the true beauty of this bike—it doesn’t handle like an e-bike.
Does the Shuttle have an Achilles heel? Not really; any weaknesses are minor. It would be great to see Shimano offer a bigger battery option, as the 504Wh is relatively small versus the competition, but the flipside of that is more weight. As we’ve already touched on, the front lifting on steep climbs can be frustrating, but for me it’s a small price to pay for the superb, snappy handling on descents. Obviously the price tag is very restrictive too, but the Shuttle is also available in an XT Race version, which is still carbon and well-appointed but comes in $4k cheaper.
Overall Pivot has nailed it with the new Shuttle. It’s a category-defining SuperE-bike complete with all the trimmings. It powers you up hills like a Red Bull-fuelled teenager but more importantly rides downhill better than any EMTB I’ve ridden to date, in fact better than a lot of analogue bikes. Yes, the XTR team model is extravagantly expensive, making it all but a pipe dream for most, but if you do have the means to join the SuperE club, the Shuttle has very few peers.