First Look & First Ride: Pivot Vault

Zap's secret Kanza race bike is now public

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Three weeks ago we rolled into Emporia, Kansas with a bike that we couldn’t really talk about. Sure, plenty of people saw the bike, but since the re-designed Pivot Vault was still in it’s pre-production phase, Pivot Cycles asked us not to go “public” with the bike. So beyond some vague discussions about the bike for those who asked us about it, the retail info was off-limits – until today when the embargo was lifted and all the product spec was deemed “final.”

We’d actually  first laid eyes on the new Vault at the Sea Otter. Having lost its original cyclocross leanings, the new version looked as gravel ready as they come with a new frame that featured increased tire clearance and a unique isolated seatpost for added compliance.

For just a penny shy of $6700 a new blue Pivot Vault with a SRAM Force eTap AXS 1x drivetrain could be yours

WHAT ABOUT THE PRODUCTION BIKE?
Pivot will be releasing two versions of the new Vault with five frame sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL for riders between 5′ (152cm) and 6’5″ (196cm). The bike is capable of running up to 700 X 45c and 650b x 2.0” wheel/tire combos. The complete bike is available in two configurations:  with a Shimano Ultegra drivetrain for  $5,199, and a SRAM Force eTap AXS for $6,699. A frame and fork will be available for $2699. Pivot claims a 998 frame weight.

DT Swiss wheels and a Shimano Ultegra 2x/11-30 drivetrain highlight the entry-level Vault.

ZAP’S DIRTY KANZA VAULT
With just about a week between the bike arriving at the well-lit, palatial RBA office and when it had to get thrown back in a box to head to Dirty Kanza, we had a rash of spec decisions to make. Here’s a look at how the bike was modified for the race.

 

  • Bars: Vision Metron
  • Bar tape: Lizardskins 2.5
  • Saddle: Selle Italia SLR TM Flow
  • Stem: 110mm Bontrager XXX
  • Pedals: Crank Brothers Candy
  • Wheels: Boyd Pinnacle
  • Tires: IRC Boken 40mm Team Racing edition
  • Sealant: Bontrager
  • Computer: Wahoo Elemnt
  • Computer mount: K-Edge pro
  • Lights: Bontrager

For a look at the other bikes we used at Dirty Kanza – Team RBA Kanza Bikes.

KANZA TECH POINTS

  •   When the Pivot arrived, it was spec’d with Shimano Ultegra brakes and shifters with an RX rear derailleur and Praxxis crank with 48/x32 chainrings mated to a 11-30 cassette. With our own professed requirement for a minimum of a 1:1 gear ratio, we swapped the stock cluster for a bigger 11-32 gear. Yes, even two added gears helps a lot.
  • For Dirty Kanza, showing up with inferior rubber is one of the bigger mistakes you can make. My presumptive tire selection was narrowed down to a handful of potential 40mm treads, but in the end, I went with the offer from IRC to run some special 40mm Bokken Team Racing tires with double wall protection that were flown in from Japan specifically for Dirty Kanza.
  • With comfort in mind the stock saddle also had to go. I was deciding between a super-comfy, split-tail Selle Italia SP-01 and a more traditional Selle Italia Flite Team Edition. In the end I chose the longer Team Edition which allowed for more fore and aft positioning.
  • Although I was only riding in the 100-mile Half-Pint race, comfort was still a priority, so I swapped the Pivot’s stock 12-degree alloy flared handlebars for a pair of non-flared carbon Vision Metron that had a nice forward bend and flat top section. Since the lever reach was longer with the new handlebars, I had to swap the 110 mm stem for a 100mm Bontrager carbon XXX stem. Expecting bumps and wet weather, I tossed the stock bar tape in favor of some 2.5mm thick Lizard Skin tape that provided extra cush and grip.
  • In the weeks leading up to the DK I had been toying with the idea of running a suspension seatpost. The choice was between the Silk-ee from Cane Creek and an old Ergon suspension post (now a Canyon branded part). Coincidentally, the Pivot has its own solution for added compliance with its “Iso-Flex” seatpost which consists of a 27.2 carbon seatpost that’s inserted into a hard rubber sleeve in the oversized seattube.
    The design is not meant to provide any up-and-down movement, rather just a level of “isolation” from impacts. Unlike the easily noticed movement of the suspension seatposts, the Pivot’s rear end still felt like a standard rear end. We were told that offering different sleeve durometers for a softer ride could be in the works. Using a dropper post is also possible.
  • One key gravel frame feature that was overlooked was a third bottle mount. While the accessory box mount on the top tube is nice, I abhor those things and would’ve much, much preferred a bottle mount on the underside of the downtube.
  • Make no mistake, the Vault easily places itself in the “race bike” category of gravel entries. Just one look at those big tube shapes at the bottom bracket will tell you, it’s stiff.

Action Photos: Ben Anderson, Salsa Cycles

 

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