My wife calls it the Ferrari. It’s a joke we like to make on long bike trips, especially since she has a new Trek bike that she loves and glides along smoothly on our trips. Because I tend to test and review bikes, and the one I own is actually a bit older, we’ve always had a joke that the model I’m testing is more like a sports car as opposed to the gravel-ready bike I usually ride.
This time, my Ferrari is the Pivot E-Vault, and it more than lives up to the name we’ve given it. Because this is a road bike that is meant to compete with the lean and sporty model you might typically use, minus the electric battery, I was curious if it could keep up.
Normally, electric bikes are made for comfort. They are geared (no pun intended) for those who want to enjoy biking on long rides but maybe don’t want to put effort into it as much anymore. You know the type of bikes I mean: They have a soft and comfortable seat, high handlebars, and easy pedaling with power coming from the electric motor.
The Pivot E-Vault is not that bike. It is meant for serious cycling enthusiasts who know what the words Shimano and Fazua mean. The components are what you might find in a high-end Trek or Diamondback bike, lighter than most road bikes by far and smooth to operate. What this means is that you have a “real” road bike for long rides with all of the components you would expect from a bike meant for people like me who don’t blink at a quick 10-mile ride in the morning and yet with the battery assist in making it even more enjoyable.
Controlling the bike is about as easy as I’ve ever seen. There’s a touchpad right below you where you can turn on the bike. A quick tap up or down changes the E-Vault setting from green (light assist) to red (full assist). I used the bike several times without even enabling the battery power, and it still rides just fine without the heavy bulk of a comfort electric.
The Pivot E-Vault includes a Garmin GPS for tracking your miles and also seeing your cadence (which is a measure of how consistent you are pedaling), seeing a map of where you are headed, and seeing your current speed. The bike has a full-carbon frame, which accounts for why it costs $9,299 but is also what makes it so much lighter than most.
The E-Vault works great on paved trails, but I also tested it on a light gravel road with no stability problems. Probably the coolest feature has to do with what Pivot calls the “custom assistance profiles,” which is a way to tweak the settings for pedal assistance to match exactly what you want. Using a desktop app, you can use this software toolbox to make the bike propel you at exactly the right amount and yet use the battery power you want as well. I’ve never seen such customization before, and for serious riders, it means great flexibility in how much power you use (from the battery and from your own legs) on long rides.
My one recommendation with the E-Vault is to consider a second battery. I really wanted to take the bike on a seriously long commute — say 40 miles to a remote office — and if I owned this model, I’d probably want to bring a spare battery along. (The actual distance you can ride depends greatly on your settings and even things like how many hills you encounter.)
I will say this. I’ve never tested such a capable and fun electric road bike. I have to give the Ferrari back to the dealer soon, but I’m riding with the wind for now.
Thanks to Trailhead Cycling in my area for arranging this test bike.