T minus 5…4…3…2…1…Lift off!
E-bikes are here to stay. Since they are, we should be able to have all of the fun!
Enter the all new Pivot Cycles Shuttle LT. The LT (you may have guessed) stands for Long Travel. 160mm rear and 170mm front to be exact. It may be a simplification to call the Shuttle LT an electric Firebird. In many ways it is, but it is so much more.
Whether the Shuttle was so named for its ability to shuttle you up the hill so you can go down again... and again… and again, or the way it makes you feel like you can reach the upper stratosphere. The fact is it’s aptly named and is very good at what it does.
At times I would forget I was riding an e-bike. The way the bike handles is impressive. It provides a natural feel on trail and an unnatural climbing ease that’s a nice break (even for me) at times. The only time I felt the weight of the bike was when trying to manual or trying to clear table tops. I’m not that good at either of those anyway.
I usually avoid build specs in review and concentrate on the ride qualities of the bikes. This review won’t be much different other than needing to cover the specs on the electronics. So here we go.
The LT is using a Shimano motor paired with a slimmer Darfon battery allowing for a smaller down tube. The motor provides up to 85nm of torque while the 756Wh battery gives the bike a longer range. With three assist modes, Eco, Trail and Boost the LT is good on a wide range of trails. The Shimano E-Tube app allows for some nice customization of each mode to tailor the ride to your home trails. I find the simple display and semi-discrete mode control refreshing compared to some other systems. The Shimano motor is smooth and pretty quiet. There’s some noise, but overall much less than other brands. I can say that I’m a fan!
Let’s talk about climbing. LOL! Well, it’s easy. Pairing the Pivot DW link climbing ability with e-assist makes for the easiest climbing I’ve ever done. It’s easy on smooth climbs, it’s easy on tech climbs and just plain fun. While riding familiar trails with difficult climbs, myself, along with others were able to clean the climbs easier than ever before and be less winded at the top. The only negative would be that it made some spots a little less fun. I also at times felt a little cheated in terms of a workout. Although when comparing heart rates, the average and peak heart rates were similar on the Shuttle as it was on my Switchblade. The heart rate on the LT was a more consistent one, which made the ride feel easier overall.
When it comes to the handling on the bike, I found it easy and natural. At times even forgetting I was on an eMTB. I did however feel the need to lean the bike a bit more to really carve through corners. It was similar to the Firebird in this respect, just needing a bit more rider input. With the bike being a bit larger, tight downhill switchbacks can feel a bit more cumbersome, but with this bike being so well balanced it wasn’t hard to get the body position right. Cornering on the uphills did take some getting used to due to the power assist. With a few technique adjustments I was able to become more comfortable with these corners throughout the ride. I would either just run it in ECO, downshift more than I would on an analog bike or use the Shimano E-Tube app to change the power delivery to ease in at a lower wattage with the initial pedal stroke. After I was used to the way the LT rode I didn’t need to think about what to do anymore, I was able to just ride!
What goes up must come down, and wow does it do that well! I can tell you when gravity took hold, the smiles got bigger. The big 223mm rotors slowed the LT down with confidence. The position the bike puts you in gives you confidence. The long travel suspension (160mm rear, 170mm front) soaks up everything from small roots and rocks to big hits. While not as plush as the Firebird, it still made rougher sections feel like a sidewalk, well…….. maybe a Yooper sidewalk with a few too many cracks in it.
I was able to ride rough rocky descents at speed and huck the bike off of surprise drops easily. While riding jump lines, the bike is capable! In reality it’s much more capable than I am. I don’t do the LT justice on jump lines. While I’m able to clear some table tops, I did struggle with getting the heavier eMTB off the ground in some instances and with attempting to manual the LT. I’m sure a better rider would bring some life to the LT. In short, this is the best descending eMTB I’ve ridden!
Who is the Shuttle LT for?
HA! I could truly say it's for any and every rider. With no penalty to pay on the uphills due to the big suspension, this Shuttle LT will be at home on any trail. I know some people are against e-bikes. I know some people love e-bikes. I can admit that I have said I don’t need nor do I really want an e-bike. Well, here is where I will eat my words. Though I wouldn’t ride it every ride or even most of my rides, I can say I would ride it a lot. I would ride it when I don't have as much time, but want to get in more distance. I would ride it on recovery days to work lactic acid out of the legs after a hard week of riding or after a big ride. I would use it as a training tool. I would finally be able to do a mountain bike ride at zone1/zone2 heart rate. The Shuttle also allowed us to ride better as a group. Strength or fitness played less of a role than bike handling skills. So the riders that will benefit from the Shuttle are, newer riders, older riders, competitive riders, casual riders and the riders that only go uphill so they can ride the crazy fun downhills. While the Shuttle LT is most at home doing things like Benson laps at the Marquette Michigan South Trails, Pivot has made a long travel eMTB that is at home being a trail bike as well! I really can’t come up with anything of substance that I don’t like about the Shuttle LT.