2019 Pivot Shuttle

2019 Pivot Shuttle

Size Tested: Medium

Geometry: (Here)

Build Overview:

  • Drivetrain: Shimano XT Di2
  • Motor: Shimano STEPS E8000
  • Brakes: Shimano XT
  • Fork: Fox 36 Performance Elite
  • Rear Shock: Fox DPX2 Performance
  • Wheels: DT Swiss EB1550

Wheels: 27.5′′

Travel: 140 mm rear / 150 mm front

Blister’s Measured Weight: 46 lbs (20.87 kg) without pedals

Reviewer: 5’9”, 155 lbs

MSRP: $9,999

Noah Bodman reviews the Pivot Shuttle for Blister
Pivot Shuttle
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Review Navigation:  Specs //  Intro //  The Build //  Fit & Geometry //  The Ride // Bottom Line

Caveat

I rode the Pivot Shuttle at what we now know to be the last Interbike Outdoor Demo (R.I.P.) this past fall. Which means this mini-review gets our usual Interbike caveat — my time on the Shuttle was relatively short, and it took place at the Northstar Bike Park. Northstar has a bunch of great trails, but still, my ~2 hours on the Shuttle was limited to bike park trails, and therefore this write up has some inherent limitations in that respect.

And this caveat is a bit different than the other bikes I rode at Interbike because, as you probably already know, the Pivot Shuttle is an e-bike. And so this review is a bit weird in that it’s based on a relatively short ride. It’s also a bit weird because riding an e-bike at a lift-served bike park is a little bit dumb. And it’s also limited because I didn’t have time to assess a lot of things that you’d probably want to know about an e-bike, like (among other things) battery life. The battery didn’t die in my 2 hours on the bike, but I didn’t do much pedaling since I was at a lift-served bike park.

Noah Bodman reviews the Pivot Shuttle for Blister
Noah Bodman on the Pivot Shuttle.

So, more than with Blister’s other Interbike coverage, don’t take this to be a “full” or conclusive review of the Shuttle.

So why should you bother reading this?

Well, I’ll admit to being a bit of an e-bike… skeptic. Hater would be too strong of a word — I don’t have any inherent problem with e-bikes. But I’m pretty concerned about the access issues they present in North America, and a lot of the e-bikes just kinda seem like a crappy middle ground for people who aren’t strong enough or coordinated enough to ride a dirt bike, but aren’t in good enough shape to ride a mountain bike. My overly simplistic take on e-bikes has been that they climb like a crappy dirt bike, descend like a crappy mountain bike, and cost as much as a crappy car. That’s admittedly not fair, but as I said, I’m a skeptic.

But the Shuttle is one of the most advanced e-bikes on the market, and it weighs in at 46 lbs — which is quite light for an e-bike. So is this thing sufficiently awesome to squash my skepticism? Would what is undoubtedly one of the best e-bikes in the world change my view? Do these clickbait-y questions make you want to close this tab and go watch .gifs of cats falling over?

Ok, enough of that. First, a bit about the Shuttle.

The Build

Like all of Pivot’s full suspension bikes, the Shuttle is based around the DW-link suspension platform. The version I rode was built out with Fox suspension front and rear — a Fox DPX2 Performance rear shock generating 140 mm travel out back, and a Fox 36 Performance Elite fork with 150 mm travel up front. Both are solid performers, and are fairly standard on a bike like this. The addition of a motor and ~15 lbs on a “normal” mountain bike doesn’t seem to change the suspension requirements too much.

Shifting was handled by a Shimano XT Di2 drivetrain, which worked great. Shifting was smooth, even under e-boosted power. The motor and battery are also provided by Shimano — a STEPS E8000 system. As I said at the outset, I didn’t really have the opportunity to spend a lot of time playing around with the system, but it has three modes that you can toggle through on the handlebar mounted computer — Eco, Trail, and Boost. I’ll get into how those played out while riding, but for now, I’ll just say that the system is pretty straightforward and intuitive to operate, and apparently there’s additional customization that can be done by hooking up the system to a computer.

Noah Bodman reviews the Pivot Shuttle for Blister
Noah Bodman on the Pivot Shuttle.

Stopping was also accomplished by Shimano, with XT brakes doing a good job of slowing down the extra mass of the Shuttle.

The wheels on the Shuttle I rode were DT Swiss EB1550’s, which are beefed up and designed for e-bike use. They have a wide 40 mm rim that worked well with the Maxxis 2.8 tires that were mounted (a DHF in the front and Rekon in the rear).

Fit And Geometry

Geometry wise, the Shuttle falls into a category that could be called “aggressive Trail” or maybe “light Enduro.” In Pivot’s lineup, the Shuttle’s geometry falls somewhere between the Mach 5.5 and Mach 6. That means a 65.8° head tube angle, and a 445 mm reach on the Medium that I rode.

Notably, the Shuttle has 437 mm chainstays, which are maybe a tad longer than average these days, but still pretty normal. And that’s notable because some e-bikes end up with super long chainstays due to the motor hardware down around the bottom bracket.

The Shuttle’s seat tube angle is 74.25°, which would have been steep-ish 5 years ago, but by modern standards is on the slack end of things. And, on the Medium, that not-super-steep seat tube combined with the 445 mm reach generates a 620 mm top tube length, which is fairly stretched out for a Medium.

All in all, none of the numbers on the Shuttle stand out as being out of line with a modern Trail bike. There are plenty of e-bikes on the market that have somewhat dated geometry numbers, but the Shuttle isn’t one of them. Compared to non e-bikes, it’s not the most progressive bike on the market, but for anyone that’s comfortable on most of the current crop of Trail bikes, the Shuttle should be easy to get used to (at least in terms of fit and geometry).

For more on geometry numbers and how they can affect the fit and ride of a bike, check out our Bike Fit & Geometry 101 and 201 articles.

The Ride

Ok, here’s where this gets interesting.

So first things first. What goes down must first go up. And even though I was at the Northstar bike park that has perfectly good chairlifts that’ll take me to the top, I figured I needed to see how this e-bike did on a climb. So I skipped the chairlift and pedaled up.

And yeah, it was really easy. Even in Eco mode, the motor adds considerable power. Theoretically, the more power I applied to the pedals, the more the motor would assist me. In reality, I found that the motor seemed to deliver maximum power even when I wasn’t pedaling particularly hard. This also meant that on even moderately steep climbs, if the dirt was even a little bit loose, it’d break traction at the rear wheel as soon as the motor kicked in. And at Northstar, pretty much everything is at least a little bit loose, if not full-blown moon dust. So I had to be cautious in my pedaling to keep the rear wheel from spinning a bit on each pedal stroke.

Toggling between the different modes didn’t seem to produce much difference here — the motor added a lot of power, even in Eco mode. I think with a bit more time on the bike, and maybe some adjustment of the motor settings, I could have gotten that dialed in a bit better. And I think on trails with tackier dirt, it wouldn’t really be an issue.

While climbing up a loose, gravelly trail was not a perfectly smooth experience, it’s tough to ignore the ease of the Shuttle. I maintained close to 15 mph uphill for about 10 minutes. And that was putting in an effort that I’d call semi-casual — I was working just a bit harder than “conversation pace.” I’d say, putting in the same effort on a regular mountain bike, it would’ve taken me 30-40% longer. So yes, as advertised, the Shuttle makes climbing a lot easier.

But I expected the Shuttle to do well on the climbs. That wasn’t a huge surprise. The real question for me was how it would do on the descents.

The short answer: pretty damn impressive in some situations, less impressive in others.

On jumpier, flowier trails, the Shuttle was a bunch of fun. I took a lap on Livewire, one of Northstar’s jump trails, and the Shuttle was a blast. The trail is mostly tabletops and large berms, with a few bigger jumps and double-able options. It’s maybe like a slightly mellower A-Line at Whistler.

I’d ridden the same trail earlier on the Devinci Spartan, and I can’t say the Shuttle was notably worse. The Spartan is certainly lighter, and it’s easier to whip around off of jumps. But the Shuttle still jumps well, it’s not so heavy that it’s un-whippable, and the extra mass seems to make it a bit more composed through brake bumps and choppy berms. If I was riding that trail all day, my first choice would probably be a DH bike. But given the choice between a random Trail bike and the Shuttle, it’s a tougher call. And without a doubt, if I had to pedal to the top each lap, then yeah. Shuttle. No question.

But I also did a lap on a trail called Sticks and Stones, which is a lot less flowy and has a bunch of steep bits and rock gardens that are decently technical. I’d ridden that trail a few times during the Interbike demo on regular mountain bikes, and that’s the kind of trail that I really like. Riding it on the Shuttle was… ok.

The Shuttle handled all of the technical sections more or less ok, meaning that I never had a “holy shit I made a huge mistake” kind of moment. It wouldn’t say the bike was massively undergunned for the trail or anything like that, and in fairness to the Shuttle, a DH bike is going to be preferable to any 140 mm bike on that trail, regardless of whether there’s a motor attached to the bike.

That said, the weight of the Shuttle was noticeable, and trying to yank the bike through tight corners or do a quick line-change mid rock garden was noticeably more difficult on the Shuttle. Riding that same trail on a bike like the Devinci Spartan or the Mondraker Foxy RR was a lot more enjoyable, mostly because I had a much easier time making those bikes do what I wanted, when I wanted. I also found that the Shuttle was less composed off of drops, and it took a bit more effort to slow it down when coming hot into a corner.

Noah Bodman reviews the Pivot Shuttle for Blister
Noah Bodman on the Pivot Shuttle, hucking to flat.

Now, I know someone out there is saying “46 lbs isn’t that heavy — we were all riding DH bikes that heavy 20 years ago.” And this is true — I had a 47 lb Rocky Mountain RM9. That thing was a heavy pig in 2003 and mild nostalgia aside, I don’t miss it. And there’s also the fact that the Shuttle has neither DH-bike geometry nor DH-bike travel, so comparisons to bigger DH bikes are a bit lacking. The fact is, while the Shuttle is impressively light for an e-bike, when it comes to tighter, more technical terrain, the weight is noticeable.

I also found that, when descending, I didn’t really like using the motor. There are lots of times while descending that I’ll give a quick ½ pedal to get the bike back up to speed if I hang up in a hole or when coming out of a corner. But with the motor in the Shuttle, it was a little unpredictable how much “boost” that small pedal kick would give me. In areas where I was putting in multiple pedal strokes, this wasn’t really an issue. But for those quick, occasional pedal strokes on the descent, I found that sometimes the motor would give me more juice than I wanted and then I’d over-cook whatever the next obstacle was. And then I’d expect that extra boost the next time I ratcheted the pedals, but it wasn’t entirely consistent and sometimes it didn’t give me the speed boost I expected. Some of this could likely be dialed in with the settings on the E8000 system, but particularly on techy trails that involve more frequent accelerations and decelerations, I preferred just having the system turned off.

But while the power delivery from the motor has some quirks, most of those issues are things I could either dial in for my preferences or get used to with time. In terms of riding the Shuttle on a trail, the main issue (at least for me) was really just the weight. Yes, it’s light by e-bike standards, but it’s still 50% heavier than a comparable mountain bike.

Now, it shouldn’t be too surprising that the weight is noticeable — the real question is whether it’s problematic. And I think the answer to that question really depends on the individual rider, and to some extent what kind of trails they’re usually riding. Personally, I can think of a few trails locally that I’d be pretty psyched to have the Shuttle for. There are a bunch of relatively mellow (but super fun) interconnected trails that I hit on a semi-regular basis, but stringing them all together makes for a massive ride that I’m usually not up for. But with an e-bike, I could pretty feasibly bang out that loop in an afternoon.

And there are some other trails that I ride occasionally, but they start with a huge 5,000 foot climb that’s steep enough that I end up pushing a bunch of it. With an e-bike, I think I could probably ride up most of it, which would probably mean I’d ride that trail more often. And all of those trails that I’m thinking would be great on the Shuttle are legal for dirt bikes, so there wouldn’t be any access issues.

On the other hand, most of the trails that are closest to my house, and the ones that I ride most often, are closed to all motorized uses. Which includes e-bikes. So that means the usefulness of an e-bike, no matter how awesome it is, is somewhat limiting. And then there’s the fact that none of the people I ride with have e-bikes, nor do they have $10,000 burning a hole in their pocket to go out and buy one, so any e-bike adventuring I might do is likely to be a solo endeavor.

Bottom Line (For Now)

There’s a good reason that a lot of people are attracted to the idea of e-bikes. They make climbing easier, and, as the Shuttle demonstrates, they still do pretty damn well on the way down. The Shuttle is an impressive piece of machinery, and it pretty much works as advertised. Yes, there are noticeable differences between it and a regular mountain bike. And yes, if you’re looking for something to rally hard down technical trails, you’re probably going to be disappointed if you expect it ride the same as, say, a Pivot Mach 5.5 or Mach 6. But if your expectations are a bit more reasonable, there’s a bunch of fun to be had on the Shuttle, particularly on flowier, less technical trails.

So did the Shuttle make me less skeptical of e-bikes? Yes. Sort of. The Shuttle performed better than I expected it to on flowy jump trails. And truth be told, even though it was noticeably less agile than a regular bike, it still did pretty dang well on tighter, techier trails. So in terms of what the bike can do, it’s pretty impressive.

The limiting factor, at least for me, has less to do with the bike itself and more to do with the limitations on e-bike access and the cost of entry. While the cost issue is somewhat inherent to having the latest and greatest e-bike tech, I will say that Pivot deserves a bunch of credit on the issue of e-bike access. They’re working with Shimano, IMBA, and others to help out with access issues, and they have a couple different resources on the web page for the Shuttle to help people figure out where they can legally ride. There are a lot of people who have spent a lot of time working to secure mountain bike trail access in North America, and e-bikes represent a complication to that work. So I give credit to companies like Pivot that are trying to smooth out those issues and provide e-bike access without muddying up the waters too much for mountain bike advocates.

So, bottom line, would I buy one? Well… [glances at wallet] … no. But if I win the lottery tomorrow, then yes, I would have an e-bike in my quiver. Definitely. On the list of bikes I want, it ranks slightly below a 29er DH bike, but above a fat bike and cyclocross bike. Your ranking may vary.

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19 comments on “2019 Pivot Shuttle”

  1. Blister does not review snowmobiles. This is a human powered sport site. Leave the motorcycles to MX rags.
    If this continues I’ll have to reconsider my membership.

    • Hey Matt,

      Thanks for the comment. I was kind of hoping we’d get some feedback like this because I more or less agree with you.

      I mostly got on the Shuttle as a sort of curiosity, and because the opportunity presented itself. Like I said, I don’t have any inherent problem with e-bikes (nor do I have a problem with snowmobiles – I own two). But e-bikes aren’t mountain bikes, and Blister’s two wheeled coverage is mountain-bike focused. So I don’t think you need to worry about e-bike coverage taking over Blister’s front page.

      Cheers,
      Noah

      • Wow, what a bigot you are. E-bikes are only for people who aren’t strong or coordinated to handle a dirt bike or are not in good enough shape to handle a regular mountain bike. Gee, what are your feelings about people with real disabilities or are wheelchair bound. You must have a real contempt and disdain for them. It is hard to believe that guys like you are still hired by any form of media to spew this kind of hate and bigoted condescension.

        • Hello Gerald,

          My wife actually has an ebike to help her recover from an injury, but I’ll be sure to let her know that she married a bigot. Ebikes clearly have some excellent uses for the injured and disabled, but while that’s valid, it’s not how they’re primarily marketed, and it’s not the context in which this review is written.

          If you’re disabled and are using ebikes as a way to get out on two wheels, then I commend you. That’s awesome, and I’m glad that technology has found a way to make your life more enjoyable. If, on the other hand, you’re an able bodied person who just likes to ride ebikes, but you’re using disabled persons as a straw man to defend against perceived slights against your chosen form of recreation, then I’d suggest that you need to lighten up.

          – Noah

    • Just. Stop. A Class 1 eBike with an average fitness rider puts out about the same power as an elite level racer. It isn’t a dirt bike. My eMTB in MAX boost (which is basically NEVER used in the real world), adds about 250W of power to what I put in. My KTM 300 generates *35000* watts of power. No comparison. Not even close. Comparing apples and nuclear plants.

  2. How much human-power am I laying down when I take a chairlift up to access bike park trails? Does human-powered mean we stop riding lift-access? (Coincidentally, I met Noah on the chairlift in Whitefish during the NW Cup last year. Thanks for the line tip on Classic Rock, nice job crushing that Cat 2 course, and I really like the reviews I’ve seen here, Noah!)

    I see e-bikes as a legitimate option in a few scenarios:
    – Balancing fitness differences between riding partners (e.g., fit rider wants to ride with less fit spouse)
    – Rider wants to skip the car shuttle and uses the pedal assist to shuttle, instead (lower carbon footprint, higher fitness footprint)
    – Rider wants to cover more ground in a given time.

    Unlike a motorcycle or snowmobile, they are often going to be gravity-powered riding downhill. I don’t have a problem with someone choosing assist to get up to the descent quicker and without the use of other assistance.

    Cheers –
    John

  3. “Does human-powered mean we stop riding lift-access?”

    Sounds fine to me. I’m that weirdo that goes to Whistler and skips the bike park to ride the valley trails. I’d rather ride up than shuttle in all, but the most exceptional circumstances.

    Having to power my bicycle 100% with my legs and lungs has always been a feature of mountain biking I really liked. It’s never been a problem I was trying to solve.

    Great site. Great reviews. If I had a vote I’d prefer you skip the motorized sports equipment.

    • Hi, Vik. The cool thing about an eMTB is that you still can use your legs and lungs as hard as you want. It will reward you with extra effort though! In eMTB races, it isn’t the bike that wins the race. It’s the rider. On old school effort and bike handling skills.

  4. I use my e-bike more and more on eco and work the gears more to replicate a regular mountain bike. This guy made all kinds of condescending, childish and bigoted insults directed at the large and growing number of e-bike users enjoying the magnificent sport of mountain biking. It is disappointing that a modern day sports magazine saw fit to print his negative and silly stereotypical views of a group of folks who enjoy e-biking. His comments towards this group of athletes drip with contempt. Gosh darn it, everybody must be in their prime and in peak physical condition to participate in this sport, don’t you know. Blister can do better than this. Hire writers who love the sport of mountain biking and want to encourage others, even folks who have physical challenges to participate in this awesome outdoor adventure.

    • Riding an e-bike is not mountain biking. It’s a different sport electric mountain mopeding? Sounds pretty catchy. I thought Noah went out of his way to give a balanced perspective on this machine.

      • It’s 100% the same as MTB descending, 90% the same on the flats, and 80% the same climbing. By comparison riding my dirt bike is the same as MTB 1% of the time. They’re coming and can’t be stopped. You’ll own one within 5 years. And you’ll love it.

        • I’ve ridden motos since I was 17yrs old. I have no interest in putting a motor on a mountain bike. I’m 50 and I’ll keep pedalling my bike for a lot longer than 5yrs. I don’t see myself ever getting a mountain moped. I love mountain biking not mopeding.

  5. It’s rather funny how one side declares bigotry (sorry, this isn’t a race or religious issue), and the other side declares e-bikes aren’t MTN biking. One bit of common ground is how self-righteous both sides are. I bet y’alll could find more positive common ground if you tried.

    • I find it surprising anyone who has been a long time cyclist would be shocked that a bunch of us consider adding a motor to a bicycle to make it a different form of recreation. I have no issue with folks who want to use motors to recreate advocating for trail access on public lands. I don’t care if it’s a dirt biker, ATVer, 4x4er or ebiker/mopeder. I totally get wanting to be outside enjoying nature with your friends. I’ve ridden motos since I was 17.

      How each activity fits in with the other and needs to be managed is an important part of land use planning. We aren’t all going to agree on what that should look like. That’s normal. Get involved in the process. Present your vision of how things should be to the land managers and make it happen.

      Personally I don’t want all motorsports folks banned from public land and I also don’t want it to be a free for all with no rules. I’m prepared to listen and compromise, but I don’t think it makes sense to add motors to bikes and then wave your hands and say “nothing to see here this is just a mountain bike….errr….with a motor.”

      Mountain bikers have worked long and hard for trails access. We don’t want it jeopardised because some folks think it’s fun to ride motorized bikes. That’s not an unreasonable position. How to successfully do advocacy work is well understood. Ebikers can do it and if they don’t want to do it they shouldn’t be shocked that they have access issues.

    • Hi, John B – self-righteousness is a drag, for sure, and often a pretty big impediment to progress. And while I certainly have seen a good amount of self-righteousness from the anti-e-bikes sector, what I primarily see here from Noah and Vik is that they *keep* having to underscore that their primary concerns about e-bikes are related to very real issues surrounding trail access. That is a 100% legitimate — and important — factor to keep bringing up.

      But in specific areas where there are no issues of trail access, I personally can definitely see how an e-bike could make a lot of sense and be a lot of fun. But if I ever get an e-bike, I certainly am not going to tell people (like Noah or Vik) that they should shut up about related issues of trail access, or that they are being bigots or self-righteous.

      In sum, until those trail access issues get to be more settled / less of a battleground, I hope people like Noah and Vik and many others keep reminding us all that these are real issues that deserve (and arguably require) our local participation.

      • As I stated to Vik, the fundamental fallacy is that eMTB riders are different people than MTB riders, and that eMTB riders have not been involved in trail advocacy. I happen to ride both, and I have been involved in trail advocacy, access, and construction/maintenance for a long time. I also happen to have a grounded perspective on the real issues, having ridden both types of mountain bikes on the same trails. Let me summarize: a class 1 eMTB is not that dramatically different from a competent rider on a MTB to warrant any distinction or restrictions on accessing the same trails that an MTB can ride.

  6. Vik, respectfully you’re wrong on so many levels. First is the flawed assumption that MTB and eMTB riders are two different groups. There’s 95% overlap. And many eMTBers have spent many years on trail advocacy and access and construction. Second is that an eMTB is more like an engine powered vehicle. Not even close. 250 watts vs 35000. No similarity.

  7. I am 68 years young and am 50 % riding a ebike on the midtuff rides. I feel that if it gets more people out on a bike and getting some exercise then it is a good thing. But there does need to be a separation of averrable rides if there are lot of hikers then there needs to be a ban on ebikes. But it does put out there some questionable people with different abilities who could get into trouble since it does make it easer for the less trained. But that is life i is full of risk. So if we can get more people trying to stat fit it is a good thing. This is not totally a machismo sport(young ) it is the idea of getting off over your assand enjoying the outdoors and not a gameboy on the couch. Still nomatter how you do it the BEER taste better after a ride.

  8. I just listened to the Bikes & Big Ideas podcast with IMBA’s Dave Wiens and then read these posts and wanted to chime in. I will make my point right up front before expressing any opinions I have on the subject.

    The point of view that allows everyone to move forward and make progress is: emtb’s are NOT mtb’s from a regulatory or trail access point of view. Doesn’t matter how close or different they perform, they are a seperate class, accept it and move forward. The agencies that regulate trail use need to be lobbied or advocated to allow emtb use on trails in a reasonable (safe, responsible, any word you want here) manner. If you want to ride a emtb on trails, get working (or keep working) on the regulators to allow their use and apply the same regulations as mtb’s. Do not push to have them be in the same class, just push to allow them to have equal rights. One broad brush policy on them probably isn’t realistic and the considerations for each trail network will have to be taken into consideration by the regulators. This is a new “thing” in its infancy, lets get unified and push for equal rights, not “there’s no difference”.

    I have watched the fishing industry in New England self destruct because each boat owner stayed self centered and refused to compromise and cooperate. The NE Fishing Association (made up of fisherman) was charged with coming up with plan to regulate the industry about 30-40 years ago. They never could agreed on a plan, missed all their deadlines, and finally a judge was appointed to regulate the industry. It has been a horror show for over 20 years and the once thriving industry is completely decimated. Even recreational fisherman are prohibited from keeping cod fish due to the low population.

    Emtb’s may not be exactly like NE fishing, but the point is lack of agreement never produces anything good. (Washington DC, are you listening??)

    I personally feel similar to Noah about emtb’s, but I will sign up for the point of view I stated above. I was on a trip recently and I rented mtb’s for my wife and I in the Northeast Kingdom trails in NE Vermont. Absolutely beautiful area and great trails. My wife should have been on a emtb, she did not have the fitness to ride the up and down nature of the terrain. I almost asked if they rented them, but I didn’t. In retrospect, I think she should would have enjoyed it a lot more if on a emtb and I would have stuck with a std mtb. To each his own, we can co-exist.

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