First Look | The Pivot Shadowcat is an all-new lightweight trail bike

Replacing the venerable Mach 5.5, the Pivot Shadowcat is a brand new full suspension trail bike from the Arizona-based brand. As expected, the Shadowcat carries through a similar aesthetic and many of the same features we’ve seen on Pivot’s latest models like the Firebird, the Mach 6 and the Trail 429. What we didn’t expect however, was that some of the features haven’t carried over to the Shadowcat. That gives this unique beast its own spin on things, with a strong emphasis on efficiency, low weight and maximum agility.

2022 pivot shadowcat trail bike
The Shadowcat is the newest mountain bike from Arizona-based Pivot Cycles.
2022 pivot shadowcat trail bike
The Pivot Shadowcat features a 160mm travel fork, 140mm of rear travel and 27.5in wheels.

Pivot Shadowcat overview

As with the outgoing Mach 5.5, the Pivot Shadowcat is purpose-built around 27.5in wheels. It features a 160mm travel fork and 140mm of rear wheel travel courtesy of the dw-link suspension design. It’s essentially a 27.5in version of the Switchblade.

Evidently there are fewer dedicated 27.5in bikes on the market these days than there used to. But while the bigger mainstream brands move exclusively to 29ers and mullet setups, there’s a raft of smaller boutique brands that continue to pursue 27.5in options. Models such as the Santa Cruz 5010, Ibis Mojo and Transition Scout continue to enjoy a legion of loyal followers who prefer the snappier handling of a 27.5in bike, and they’re also terrific options for shorter riders who may struggle with ergonomics and fit on a 29er.

Indeed for those riders, Pivot Cycles is not giving up on the little wheels either. That’s why the Mach 6 remains in the lineup as the 27.5in big-travel enduro bike, while the new Shadowcat slots in as a lighter and sharper, mid-travel 27.5in trail bike.

2022 pivot shadowcat trail bike
The vertical shock layout affords a sweet low-slung top tube for heaps of standover clearance, and a straight seat tube for maximum dropper post insertion.

A lean & mean carbon frame

To keep weight low, the Pivot Shadowcat is built around a full carbon fibre chassis. There are no alloy options, and Pivot doesn’t offer different tier carbon frames, so you’re getting the same quality whether you choose an entry-level spec or the top-end model.

According to Pivot, the new Shadowcat is very light, with the bare frame coming within 45g of the Mach 4 SL (yes, that’s the World Cup-level XC race bike). We’re told that advancements have been made in Pivot’s carbon manufacturing techniques, and that’s clearly paying dividends with the latest frame designs. Furthermore, each size receives its own unique layup to provide more consistent frame stiffness values and flex characteristics.

No Super Boost needed

Utilising Pivot’s new generation vertical shock layout means the Shadowcat offers a tonne of standover clearance, while still providing room for a large bottle on all frame sizes. There’s also tool mount underneath the top tube, a SRAM UDH, a 92mm wide press-fit bottom bracket shell, and standard Boost 148x12mm rear hub spacing.

That last feature differs from the latest Pivot models that have moved to the wider Super Boost 157x12mm spacing. The reason for the Shadowcat not to use Super Boost? Pivot says it could achieve its frame stiffness and tyre clearance goals with a 148mm back end, so there was no need to go wider. Plus, the smaller rear end allows for the use of cranks with a narrower Q-factor, which can be more important for the shorter riders who will naturally gravitate towards the Shadowcat over an equivalent 29er.

2022 pivot shadowcat trail bike
A compact 430mm rear centre length features on all frame sizes thanks to the 27.5in rear wheel.

Simplified geometry

The Pivot Shadowcat will be available in four sizes from XS to Large, which Pivot claims will fit riders down to a height of 147cm. If you’re a taller rider that requires an XL size, you’ll be better served by looking at the Switchblade with its 29in wheels.

Frame geometry embraces modern flavours with a 65.8° head angle and a 76° seat angle. A Medium frame has a very generous 460mm reach, and all frame sizes are built with a 430mm rear centre length for maximum agility. See the chart below for all the numbers.

Curiously, unlike the other new models we’ve seen Pivot roll out in recent years, the Shadowcat doesn’t feature any geometry adjustment. There is no flip chip in the rocker link, and since the headtube is built around an integrated headset with drop-in bearings, there is no option to fit an extended headset cup for messing around with wheelsizes.

There are also no recommendations to change the fork travel and no suggestion of mullet compatability, so what you see is what you get with the Shadowcat. That does keep things refreshingly simple, and it surely helps to achieve the low frame weight too.

pivot shadowcat

2022 pivot shadowcat trail bike
All models feature a 160mm travel Fox 36 fork and a Float DPS shock.

Pivot Shadowcat price & specs

As we’ve come to expect from Pivot Cycles, there’s a plethora of build options available with the Pivot Shadowcat, with both Shimano and SRAM groupsets on offer.

Current prices start at $9,999 AUD for the Race XT build, and go up to $14,999 AUD for the Team XTR bike. There will also be options to add on a Fox Live Valve upgrade, as well as carbon wheels on certain models.

Regardless of price, all models will be equipped with fast-rolling Maxxis Dissector tyres, a Fox 36 FIT4 fork and a Float DPS shock. There are no options to spec a GRIP2 fork or a piggyback shock, with the Shadowcat is clearly prioritising weight, efficiency and ease of setup with its suspension spec. As such, more aggro riders will be better off looking towards the Switchblade, Mach 6 or Firebird.

2022 pivot shadowcat
The top-end Pivot Shadowcat in the Team XTR build, complete with carbon Race Face cranks and Reynolds Black Label wheels.

Pivot Shadowcat Team XTR

2022 pivot shadowcat trail bike
Alloy wheels and a mostly Shimano XT groupset helps bring the price down significantly on the Pro XT/XTR model.

Pivot Shadowcat Pro XT/XTR

2022 pivot shadowcat
The Race build is the entry-point into the Pivot Shadowcat lineup, though it still features exactly the same carbon frame as the top-end models.

Pivot Shadowcat Race XT

pivot shadowcat
Not all riders want a 29er, and shorter folks will also no doubt appreciate the option of a dedicated 27.5in option in the Shadowcat. Either way, this thing looks hella fun!

It appears you're using an old version of Internet Explorer which is no longer supported, for safer and optimum browsing experience please upgrade your browser.