The Ultimate Trail Slayer?: In-Depth Pivot Mach 5.5 Carbon Review

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It seemed natural to take the Pivot Mach 5.5 carbon X01 Eagle to the top of Burke Mountain in Vermont’s Kingdom Trails for its test run. Filled with rock gardens, gnarly roots and epic berms, these trails were made to rip and huck at speed. Is it a cross country bike, progressive trail or all mountain? Regardless of what you call it, the Mach 5.5 turned out to be the perfect tool for the job.

It was quickly apparent that there wasn’t much — if anything — that this bike couldn’t handle. Like a caffeinated labrador off leash, this bike felt like it was shot from a cannon. Every pedal stroke sent the stiff frame flying forward, eager to confidently navigate the terrain ahead.

The 2.6 inch Maxxis Wide Trail tires cornered like a boss, carving in and hooking up on every turn. I ran them at 20psi. A bike like this inspires confidence and makes it hard not to keep pushing the envelope and watching the bike rise to meet any challenge.

Climbing

The Ultimate Trail Slayer?: In-Depth Pivot Mach 5.5 Carbon Review

Perhaps one of the most surprising features of this bike is its ability to climb. Its burliness is deceptive. Despite a long front end, I didn’t have any trouble keeping the front wheel down. I put it through its paces, ascending a few wincing grades littered with roots and stepped rocks.

The bike excels at cornering and climbing tight sections partly due to its 16.93 inch chainstays which help balance a longer front end. The DW Links are designed to minimize pedaling force and bob, which is one of the reasons this feels more like an XC bike, especially during ascents.

In the final miles, when my knees were screaming to call it a day, I rode it up the pavement to our condo near the top of the mountain. With locked out front and rear (the rear shock has a three position lever), this bike has minimal bob, thanks to the Dave Weagle (DW) link and I was surprised I was able to keep pace with my buddy on a Pivot Firebird 29.  

The 10×52 cassette on the SRAM Eagle 12 speed offers plenty of gears for even the steepest of ups. With 6 inches of travel in the front and 5.5 in the back, this 20mm disparity provides more pedaling efficiency.  

One thing I had trouble getting used to was the bike’s wandering front end under low speed ascents. Spinning isn’t this bike’s preferred climbing method. It requires a little gas and as long as I was in a slightly harder gear, I could maintain control on technical uphills.

The Mach 5.5 is extremely responsive to even the slightest twitch on the bars, which is awesome for cornering (hell, just throw your hips into it and feel the bike respond), but a little unnerving when the urge to take my foot off the gas and spin lazily left me drifting off the trail. 

Descending

If this bike climbs like a mountain goat, it descends like a rocket. Eager to huck, jump or just slay a rock garden, this bike shines in the gnarliest, most technical terrain. This is the kind of bike you can throw around or quickly whip into a better line. On other bikes, I’d be dabbing, but the Mach 5.5 allows for quick course correction.

An ultra stiff Fox 36 Factory Fork tightens up the front end and its larger negative air chamber allows the fork to soak up all those small bumps. The steering is snappy and responsive, something that took a few runs to get used to.  I quickly learned to throw my body weight around instead of simply steering the bars. And the few times I found myself hurling toward a tree, I was able to quickly shift, as the bike changed course on a dime. This is one confidence inspiring, fun as hell, ride.

Geometry

Building off the Mach 5.7, the 5.5 has a longer, slacker and lower build. Fit-wise, I landed just between the small and medium. I opted for the small, a good choice, as I felt much more in control in the cockpit. At first, this feels like a big bike, but it doesn’t take long to achieve one-ness with it and to feel the bike eagerly respond, while still feeling in control.

Pivot’s proprietary hollow core internal molding process utilizes high modulus carbon to produce a light bike that also has the durability and stiffness of an all mountain machine. Think Mach 429 SL Carbon meets Mach 6 carbon.

The Mach 5.5 has been criticized for its slightly high BB and Press Fit 92mm bottom bracket. I didn’t experience any squeaking or noise coming from the BB (though this is something that might present itself over the long term). I didn’t feel any lack of stability due to the higher BB. At several points, I was grateful for the increased clearance over the day’s obstacles.

The Final Run

Pivot has found the sweetspot with the Pivot Mach 5.5. A solidly progressive trail bike that’s well equipped for all mountain adventures, this ace is ready to fly downhill with confidence, but it’s no slouch on the uphills either. While not a pure DH machine, you’ll sacrifice speed for pedaling efficiency.  Buy it if you’re feeling feisty and your sense of adventure calls you to hit the mountains one day and super sweeping singletrack the next.

Pivot Mach 5.5 Carbon Specs:

  • Suspension: 140mm dw-link™ rear suspension:  FOX Float Factory DPS EVOL with Pivot’s mid-travel specific linkage design. Front: Fox 36 Factory 160mm travel fork

  • 27.5” wheels with extra clearance for larger tire sizes. Designed to fit 27.5 X 2.1” to 2.6” tires. Complete bikes spec’d with new Maxxis 2.6 Wide Trail Tires on 35mm wide rims

  • Features Pivot’s new long and low geometry

  • Short 430mm (16.9”) chainstays

  • 12 x 148mm Boost rear spacing for maximum stiffness and control

  • SRAM Eagle X01 12-speed

  • Crankset: X01 Eagle (30T)

  • Brakes: Hydraulic, 180mm rotors (rear post mount)

  • Frame material: Carbon Fiber

  • Wheels: DT Swiss M1700 (35mm)

  • Tires: [front] Maxxis Minion DHF Wide Trail, [rear] Maxxis Rekon Wide Trail

  • Every size clears a full size water bottle inside the front triangle

  • Available in 5 sizes from X-Small to X-large

  • Pivot Cable Port system for easy internal routing of shifters, brakes and droppers and full Di2 Integration

  • Front derailleur compatible with Pivot’s stealth E-Type mounting system

  • New ultra quiet low durometer rubberized frame protection

  • Warranty: 3 years

PIVOT Mach 5.5 Carbon Pro X01 Eagle Complete Mountain Bike - 2018

8.9

Specs

9.0/10

Stiffness

9.0/10

Versatility

9.0/10

Ride Quality

9.5/10

Overall Value

8.0/10

Pros

  • A burley bike that excels on climbs
  • Stiff and ultra responsive
  • DW link for climbing confidence
  • Wide tires hook up in fast corners
  • Rips downhill over technical terrain with confidence

Cons

  • A longer top tube can feel unwieldy. You may need to size down
  • 27+ tires can feel like overkill in certain situations