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Pivot's new 27.5 Shadowcat: an ultra-playful trail bike

Rider jumping of a rock on Pivots new Shadowcat bike
(Image credit: Pivot)

Pivot's Mach 5.5 has been replaced by the Shadowcat, a completely redesigned trail bike that brings it more in line with the brand's other best full suspension bikes, which use a DW-link suspension system and a vertically positioned shock. 

Pivot has carried a couple of design cues over from the Mach 5.5 though. The Shadowcat has 160mm front and 140mm rear suspension travel and - while the best trail bike category is dominated by bigger, 29-inch wheels - it still uses 27.5-inch hoops. 

Pivots new Shadowcat bike

Pivot's new Shadowcat bike is a 160mm/140mm trail bike with 27.5-inch wheels (Image credit: Pivot)

Pivot already has the Trail 429 covering the 29er needs which means it was able to dedicate the Shadowcat to take advantage of the added agility that comes with smaller wheels. It's a 27.5 only model - Pivot warns against running it as a mullet as doing so would affect the intended snappy nature of the bike.

Visually, the biggest difference between the old Mach 5.5 and Shadowcat is the move to a vertically positioned shock, as opposed to the horizontal arrangement under the downtube. By switching to the vertical DW-link suspension platform, Pivot says it was able to improve pedaling performance and add more sensitivity later in the travel.

The other advantage of moving to the vertical shock position is lower standover, which offers more clearance and greater flexibility for customers who wish to size up, or riders who are on the shorter end of the spectrum. Pivot says the sizing spread, rated at X-Small through Large, should fit riders between 4ft 10in to 6ft 3in.

Geometry is pretty progressive with a long 480mm reach (large), a 65.5-head angle and a 76-degree seat angle. To make the most of the smaller 27.5-inch wheels. Pivot has kept the rear end short at 430mm while still fitting a 2.4-inch tire. 

Lower weight

Weight was a big consideration for the Shadowcat, and Pivot's goal was to reduce overall mass to improve climbing ability and to give the bike a livelier ride quality. The switch to the vertical shock position has dropped some weight, as have the carefully considered Hollow Core tube shapes and integrated headset. Unlike its Super Boosted brothers, the Shadowcat's rear end uses Boost spacing.

Pivot claims that the Shadowcat front and rear triangle is only 45g more than the Mach 4 SL cross-country mountain bike, despite its longer travel specs and rowdy trail intentions. Overall, a medium XT bike is claimed to weigh roughly 12kg, Pivot feels that the Shadowcat is probably one of the lightest 140mm trail bikes available.

There are still plenty of frame details, too, including water bottle bosses in and under the downtube as well as an accessory mount for Pivot's Pheonix dock tool, which has been created in collaboration with Topeak. Pivot has added chainstay and downtube protection to protect vulnerable parts of the frame, not to mention a universal SRAM UDH derailleur hanger.

Pivots new Shadowcat bike being jumped over a rock feature by a woman rider

Pivot's goal was to create a fast, yet extremely playful, trail bike (Image credit: Pivot)

Pivot Shadowcat specifications

Pivot is one of the few brands that are offering bikes equipped with Fox's Live Valve electronic suspension, too. The Shadowcat will be available in 10 build options, starting with the Race XT at $6,199 or the Race X01 at $6,599. There are also Pro XT/XTR or Pro X01 and Team XTR or Team XX1 AXS in both standard and Live Valve setups. The most expensive Team XX1 AXS Live Valve option costs an eye-watering $13,599.

The Shadowcat is available in Danger Fruit or Blue Mirage color options. For more details, check out the Shadowcat on Pivotcycles.com.

Pivot Shadowcat range overview

Graham Cottingham
Senior reviews writer, Bike Perfect

Graham is all about riding bikes off-road. Based in Edinburgh he has some of the best mountain biking and gravel riding in the UK right on his doorstep. With almost 20 years of riding experience, he has dabbled in downhill, enduro and, most recently, gravel racing. Not afraid of a challenge, Graham has embraced bikepacking over the last few years and likes nothing more than strapping some bags to his bike and covering big miles to explore Scotlands wildernesses. When he isn’t shredding the gnar in the Tweed Valley, sleeping in bushes or tinkering with bikes, he is writing tech reviews for Bike Perfect and the muckier side of Cyclingnews 


Rides: Canyon Strive, 24 Bicycles Le Toy 3, Surly Steamroller

Height: 177cm

Weight: 71kg