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  • Writer's pictureMo Awesome

Pivot Shuttle LT First Ride Review. My Favorite E-bike I've Tried Yet...

pivot shuttle LT ebike

Anyone who knows me also knows I have a love-hate relationship with e-bikes. I love to hate them and deep down inside I probably hate that one day I could possibly love them. Over the years, mountain bikes have brought me so much joy and relatively free therapy (okay maybe therapy would have been cheaper). I can't help but feel some part of this is the natural aspect of mountain biking, something I have never been able to feel with e-bikes. 

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When I first started testing e-bikes about 5 years ago, they were big, cumbersome, and more importantly very unnatural. The older motors would kick in abruptly, leading to bursts of unhuman-like power transfer into the bike, taking away any natural feeling to the ride. On top of this, almost every other aspect of e-bikes only contributed to that unnatural feeling. The drivetrains were clunky and cassettes sounded like they were being destroyed. The bike weights and that weight distribution made e-bikes have no trail personality, to the point where I was begging to wonder if e-bike weights even mattered. 

Now the first positive experience I had on an ebike was a few weeks ago on an ARI bikes Nebo peak, a lightweight SL e-bike with a Fazua motor. The bike itself has the Delano Peak’s geometry, which is a trail oriented style bike, and the overall weight of the e-bike was 39lbs. The Fazua motor gave the bike a very subtle power transfer initially, leading to a much more natural feel while out on the trails. After that testing, I was beginning to think maybe that was the answer, lightweight e-bikes. 

pivot shuttle LT

So when Pivot Cycles invited us to test out some e-bikes on our trip to Phoenix AZ, I was really hoping that it would be on their Pivot Shuttle SL, another lightweight e-bike. When they told me that I would be riding the Pivot Shuttle LT, an electrified full power Firebird e-bike, and that it would have Shimano Di2 Freeshift, I thought this would be another experience taking me even further back on my journey to one day accept an e-bike in my quiver. I was more wrong than the world waking up on January 1st, 2000, realizing Y2K did not in fact require all of the panic buying that occurred the nights before. 

So let’s start off with the Pivot Shuttle LT and what it is. On paper, it is an electrified Firebird with 160mm of travel, 29in wheels front and rear, a 64 degree head angle, and 600 watts of peak power. It features Shimano’s EP801 motor and the build I tested was equipped with the Shimano XT DI2 with freeshift. I'm 6'2 and I rode my standard size XL bike with a 510mm reach and it felt perfect sizing wise. The bike had a Fox 38 up front as well as a Float X2  in the rear, a shock I normally do not prefer over its smaller sibling the Float X. This is a first ride impressions article so keep that in mind, I am hoping to have more test time on this bike throughout the year. 

We headed straight out the front doors from Pivot Cycles HQ and luckily for us we had a very good resource for questions on this ride! The man himself, Chris Cocalis the founder of Pivot Cycles, was joining us and it was nice to have someone who knew the trails like the back of their hands guiding us on a bike he knew just as well! The first thing I noticed right away was how comfortable I felt pedaling while seated. The reach felt perfect on the size XL as did the seat angle. The next thing that stood out to me was how smooth the power transfer was when I turned the motor on. It definitely felt more powerful than past Shimano motors, however the initial kick in was much more natural feeling than I have felt in the past, including the previous generation Shuttle. 

After playing around with the settings a bit we made it to the entrance of South Mountain. Chris had jokingly told me he was going to take us on a route to show just how painful e-bikes could feel and I was slightly terrified. The first climb of the day was a very chunky, loose, rock covered singletrack that had steep pitches of near vertical chunk moves. I kept the bike in the trail setting and tried to keep up with Chris, who clearly knew the trails like the back of his hand. 

The bike had endless amounts of traction and the tech climbing nature of the bike made those steeper, chunk pitches way easier than I thought they could be. We were clearly climbing sections of trail that even at 31 and in the best shape of my life, probably would have had me walking on my normal bikes. The scarier part is we were doing it at a pace where I was starting to question if I would be able to keep up with Chris, who is 55 years old, for much longer. 

Move after move I was continually impressed with how non-overbearing the power transfer out of the motor was feeling and also how comfortable the bikes design felt. Pivot has clearly spent a lot of time on both the bike design aspect of the Shuttle LT, as well as tuning the motor. Judging by the 55 year old man who was currently dropping me, I was fairly certain he was heavily involved and it was an awesome thing to see. 

After every climb we would have a very steep, chunky, and loose descent. The Shuttle LT displayed large amounts of Firebird energy each time I pointed the bike downhill. The bike had a very composed feel to it inspiring an insane amount of confidence, however the Dw-link suspension design still gave the bike the ability to have a playful feel. The bike also felt very precise line choice wise, and I was able to play around with the bike putting it exactly where I wanted it, even given its 48-49 lb bike weight. I keep going back to the geometry of the bike because I feel like this is where the magic happens. The bike clearly is designed to be capable downhill but when the downhill finishes the geo numbers are still relatively conservative making climbs feel fun! 

With lots of ups and downs on our way to the infamous waterfall section, I kept experimenting with the drivetrain. What I was noticing from the Shimano Freeshift was so subtle, that it took me a bit to catch on to why I was enjoying the ride from it. There was no grinding feeling during shifts, and even when I would try and trick the drivetrain by quick dumping or speed shifting right before heavy efforts, I could never get that grind I have noticed on most other ebikes I have tested. Most people know I am not a fan of the new SRAM transmission and miss the older AXS setups. The Shimano DI2 feels like what the transmission was supposed to be, SRAM AXS speeds with smart technology. I was very impressed.

After making it to the waterfall section it was time to make our way down some serious chunk. The Shuttle LT made easy work of anything in its path! Traction over the chunk waterfall sections was plentiful however the bike also had a very playful feel. When wanting to hop in or out of a line, even with the Float X2, a shock that normally tends to mute the ride characteristics of bikes I have tested in the past. I still was able to get a lively personality out of the Shuttle LT. 

The rest of the trails we rode were filled with more ups and downs with lots of high speed tech sections. My favorite part of the ride was seeing how stoked Chris was to be out there riding. It's clear the passion he has for bikes runs deep and it made me very confident on the Shuttle LT I was riding knowing that lots of passion went into the bike I was testing. Towards the end of our ride I was getting more comfortable with the downhill speed the LT provided and found myself in situations where it was clear to me that it would probably take a bit of time to readjust to the speeds possible on an e-bike. The confidence the Shuttle LT provided is pretty mind blowing and there were more than a few moments where I would realize how fast I was going only by how far I would jump certain sections. 

Chris coccalis

Making our way back to the HQ I had a lot of time to digest what had happened. The Shuttle LT has further confused me on my e-bike journey. Am I sold on e-bikes yet? The answer is still no. Even though the Shuttle LT transformed my thoughts on the potential of e-bikes, I still at the end of the day was very stoked to get back on my pedal bike the next morning. However, what the Shuttle LT did is make me realize is that maybe lightweight e-bikes aren't the only answer. The Shuttle LT clearly has so much thought behind its numbers, weight distribution, and motor tune, that the ride quality is similar to test driving a high end car.

Every detail has been clearly pre-thought out in advance and you feel that while out on the trails. In the list of bikes I have tested, the Shuttle LT has hands down been one of the best e-bikes I have tried and if I was to buy one tomorrow that one would be a strong contender. Weight wise, it's still an e-bike and I think I personally would enjoy the Shuttle SL, the lightweight offering from Pivot. However the Shuttle LT made it very clear to me that for e-bikes to be successful, they need a very high level of thought put into their design, something that is very apparent with the Shuttle LT and me enjoying it so much. 

I'm excited to hopefully put more time on one in the future and also continue this e-bike journey. It seems like I was “marked safe from converting to the dark side” for now, however I have to say, thinkin about that Shuttle LT makes me smile, and that's a scary thought. 

-Mo Awesome

Check out the Pivot Shuttle LT here:


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