Let’s address the elephant in the room: What’s up with the half-hydro, half-cable TRP brakes? At this price, there’s no excuse for not going full hydro. There are tons of great options out there, and a hydraulic system would solve the occasionally squishy, vague feel we got when braking.
Aside from that misstep, Pivot has created a light, full-carbon, thru-axle dirt-road machine that could double as a cyclocross bike. Throw some CX tires on and toe the line at the Saturday race. It even looks like a racer, with a curved top tube and elegant seat stays. 425-millimeter chainstays make for a spry feel: Rip through tight corners and take full advantage of the Vault’s balanced geometry.
Though the low (65-millimeter) bottom bracket drop caused a few testers to hit their pedals, we think the confident cornering that comes from the low BB is worth a few pedal nicks. It contributes to that steering stability, especially at high speeds. We especially enjoyed the explosiveness out of corners thanks in large part to the BB386EVO bottom bracket.
The Vault can clear 38mm tires too, so it’s ready for gravel adventures. The Ultegra build comes with an 11-28 cassette, which is fine if you’re going to be doing fast cyclocross racing, but you may want to swap it out for an 11-32 for true gravel adventures. The medium cage rear derailleur can handle it.
If you want to run Di2, though, you’ll need to get the down tube-mounted battery, which isn’t ideal, especially if you’ll be spending a lot of time off the pavement. And the Vault doesn’t have any bosses for racks — not too surprising on this sleek carbon gravel rider — so you’ll need to get strap-on bags if you intend to do multi-day trips.
Component highlights: Shimano Ultegra drivetrain with 46/36 FSA Gossamer Pro crankset and 11-28 cassette; TRP Hy/Rd brakes; Stan’s Grail wheels