While we often like to think that our riding is limited only by our imagination, we'd be naïve to think that the bike we're on doesn't make a big difference. Charging into chunky rock gardens on a XC speed machine may be ill advised and leave you with disaster, and diving your DH rig into a day of XC singletrack will surely result in sore calves, a red face, and a plethora of four-letter-words spewing from you at the top of a trying climb. But you shouldn't have to feel completely limited to one kind of terrain, that's why Pivot makes bikes like the 2018 Mach 5.5 Carbon Race X01 Eagle Complete Mountain Bike. With progressive trail geometry and DW-link suspension, the Mach 5.5 powers down steep and chunky -descents, light on its feet, but heavy on control as it soaks up the roots and rocks, and if you flip it 180-degrees its strong pedaling platform launches you up climbs, handling switchbacks like a nimble, shorter travel steed. Now, we won't try to fool you into thinking it's got the pedaling feel of a hard tail, its 6-inches of suspension will tell you otherwise, but it does ascend with less lag, and more quick-acting control than most other long-travel bikes in its class.
Seeing as how the industry is constantly evolving, it makes sense to see the Mach 5.5 Carbon with slacker, longer, and lower geometry to satisfy riders seeking a progressive trail bike that stays glued to the trail and retains stability at high speeds. The 66.5-degree head tube angle provides composure on high-speed descents, without being overly slack or wandering on sustained climbs with steep, punchy sections. Just a tick shorter in the front-end than the notoriously long and slack Firebird, the Mach 5.5 Carbon's longer top tube gives you ample cockpit room, which is especially welcome if you have a longer reach. This longer front end is complemented with snappy-short 16.93-inch chainstays, which provide extra maneuverability for cornering and climbing tight sections of trail.
The Mach 5.5 Carbon retains the sought-after benefits of the DW-Link suspension platform, namely the ability to claw up the steepest, chunkiest climbs and soak up square-edges on the descent. Once you've reached the top of a long climb, 5.5 inches of rear travel gobbles up chunky rocks as you demolish technical terrain with speed. It's all party up front, with 6 inches of travel providing the confidence to smash over anything in sight, including sections usually reserved for longer-travel enduro bikes. The 20mm disparity between front and rear travel gives you a bit more efficiency for pedaling, with extra plushness up front for rallying across the rough stuff.
A few key details make the Mach 5.5 Carbon a truly stand-out trail bike. Delving into its carbon frame construction, Pivot employs their proprietary hollow core internal molding process with an optimized lay-up of high-modulus carbon for the lightest weight possible. This method produces a frame that approaches the feathery feel of the Mach 429 SL Carbon, but with similar strength and stiffness to the enduro-bred Mach 6 Carbon. Looking at the rear end, both the seat and chainstays clear tires of 2.6 inches, which is a nice benefit for riders seeking the added grip and bump compliance of high-volume trail tires.
This particular build enjoys the precise shifts and plentiful low-end of SRAM's XO1 and GX Eagle 12-speed drivetrain, complete with a 10-50t cassette for spinning up the steepest climbs. The FOX 36 Performance fork is impressively stiff for picking apart the technical lines and plunging into steep descents with confidence. The bike's equipped with 35-millimeter DT Swiss M1700 wheels rolling on 2.6-inch Maxxis Wide Trail tires for impressive traction and cornering confidence—all without the significant weight penalty of a plus-sized tire.
- A climb-ready enduro steed hungry for chunky descents
- 6+in of DW-Link suspension with light-off-the-top DH pedigree
- Removable front derailleur mount tidies up a one-by
- Longer, lower geometry than the previous version
- Steep seat tube and stubby stays keep climbing on point
- Boost spacing stiffens the rear wheel and allows truncated stays
- Pivot's carbon expertise protected by rubber frame guards
- Workhorse build kit shrugs off trail abuse