Pivot Trail 429 – First ride

Pivot’s Mach 429 Trail is a best-seller for Pivot, so when it came up as the next in line for a revamp, careful consideration had to be given to not messing up a good thing.

To signify the change to a new bike, and reduce confusion between this new bike and the Mach 429 SL cross-country bike, Pivot’s short-travel 29er trail bike is now the Trail 429, dropping the Mach from its name.

Besides the most obvious increase in travel from 116 to 120 mm, the Trail 429 also gets the full complement of modern updates, including a steeper seat angle, longer reach, slacker head angle and shorter chainstays.

But in a smart move, Pivot didn’t go too far off the deep end in any of these numbers, keeping the Trail 429 solidly on the cross -side of the trail bike equation. The reach numbers are the same as the Mach 5.5 and Switchblade, but the chainstays are a little longer and the head angle is steeper.

click to make bigger (as with all images in this post)

The frame gets a lot of updates as well, starting with the 157 mm “Super Boost Plus” rear hub spacing. The wider spacing increases spoke bracing angle for a stiffer wheel and spaces out the chain line for more tire clearance and shorter stays. Pivot introduced this idea on the Swithblade a few years ago, and a few other brands have designed bikes around this idea as well.

The 157 mm rear hub isn’t a new standard, it just adapts the existing downhill standard for trail bike use. It requires a 56-57 mm chainline, but it still uses a normal bottom bracket width. Pivot helped develop Shimano’s PF92 press-fit bottom bracket standard, and that what is used on the Trail 429.

There is plenty of tire clearance for 29×2.6 tires or install the 17 mm lower headset cup and run 27plus tires up to 3 inches wide.

Pivot claims the five frame sizes will fit riders from 4’11” to 6’7”. A large water bottle will fit inside the front triangle on every frame size including the extra small.

The rear shock is now metric sized and riders can choose between a Fox DPS or DPX2. Since the new bike is NOT designed for front-derailleur use, the dw-link suspension has been tweaked for use with single-ring cranks and the lower pivots are much wider. Pivot wasn’t keen to share specifics of the changes, so no anti-squat graphs for you real suspension nerds. Also of note, this is Pivot’s first non-DH bike developed without front-derailleur compatibility.

The frame weight is a claimed 6.4 pounds with shock. The rear brake is a post-mount 180 mm, no room for a 203 mm rotor. No plans for an alloy frame, as the lead time and development are longer than carbon. No frame-only option, for now, that may change as more Super Boost cranks come to market.

The stock builds all come with a 130 mm Fox 34, but will work with 140 mm travel as well. The frame is strong enough to handle even longer-travel forks, but Pivot isn’t stoked on what that would do to the handling.

The Ride

All riding photos courtesy Jens Staudt/Pivot Cyles.

Pivot didn’t pussyfoot around for the first ride. A quick shuttle from Poison Spider got us up to the start of Mag 7; a rocky, tech-y, climb-y route only a few minutes outside downtown Moab. It showcases a bit of everything that Moab has to offer, except maybe for the alpine riding that can be had if the snow is melted enough to get up that high.

This bike is bookended by the Mach 429 SL cross-country bike and the Switchblade trail bike in Pivot’s line up. I haven’t spent any time on the 429 SL, but I became intimately familiar with the Switchblade during a long-term test last year.

There was plenty of climbing to get a feel for the pedaling efficiency of the new bike. As has become expected of Pivot, the Trail 429 pedals extremely well. So well that even on the steepest of slickrock climbs I never thought about using the pedal-platform switch. It was left in the full-open position for the entire 26-mile ride.

I sometimes wished for an even more “full-open” position on some of the chunkier climbs as the rear shock was not very active while climbing. More suspension tuning may take the edge off what felt like a very taut rear end. A bigger volume-reduction spacer should improve initial plushness and reduce bottoming, both things I was wishing for thoughout the day.

I was a little worried the Shimano XT 11-speed drivetrain might not have a low enough gear for my low-lander legs, but the 46-tooth cog and 32-tooth chainring were a fine combo.

It is hard to remember to stop and look around, but the views demand attention.

There was plenty of flat to rolling stuff between the climbs and descents, and the Trail 429 was easy to get along with in that situation. The neutral geometry responds well to both aggressive and more gentle inputs. The suspension is firm and controlled with the poppiness that comes from short travel and short chainstays.

Moab provides almost unlimited chances to find gaps and doubles, and the 429 a willing partner in those shenanigans, and long as things go as planned. Come up a little short on a transition or gap and the rear end is going to remind you it isn’t a bottomless pit of plush.

I came up short on this gap, bottomed the shock, burped the tire, and slightly dented the rim. It sounded (and probably looked) terrible, but I rode it out with no real drama.

The final descent on Portal trail is probably at the very edge of the intended use of this bike. Weird low-speed moves around big rocks, serious exposure, short blasts down slickrock, some loose chunky stones, and some sections of hiking to get around areas where a misplaced wheel or pedal would mean a long tumble that would mostly likely result in calling the coroner rather than the EMTs.

By the time we all made it to the bottom, I was worked over. The Mag 7 trail system is a long day of almost constant work. There are few sections that are seriously strenuous, but there is very little time not spent intently concentrating on staying on the best line.

The Trail 429 didn’t disappoint, and it acquitted itself well in terrain that is a challenge, even on more-aggressive trail bikes. The graphics and colorways retain the familiar Pivot feel, but I think these bikes, in either color, are the best-looking Pivot to date. Understated, but still eye-catching.

The new frame carries on the design language from the new Mach 5.5. All the frame tubes are straighter, giving the Trail 429 a more purposeful look than the S-bend tubes of the previous generation. Between the new shapes and new graphics, Pivot is stepping up the aesthetic game to better match the high level of engineering and performance that has always been present.

The ideal rider for this bike is looking for a taut, efficient ride with modern trail bike handling and fit. I expected it to feel like a little brother to the longer travel Switchblade,  but instead it felt like a second cousin more closely related to the Mach 429 SL. I’m looking forward to a long-term review bike to ride locally on trails more suited to its strengths. Expect a full review at a later date with more ride impressions from places that aren’t Moab.

Pricing and Availability and Demos

Firstly, these bikes are on the Pivot demo trailers as I type this. That means if you’ll be joining us at Dirt Fest PA this weekend (May 18-20), you might be one of the first consumers to score a ride on the new Trail 429. Pivot dealers should have these bikes on the sales floor as well.

There are three build levels: Race, Pro and Team. Each of those kits has a SRAM or Shimano option, and the wheels come in either 29 or 27plus. The Pro level has the option to upgrade to Reynolds carbon wheels. Pricing starts at $4,699 for the Race XT 1x model with either wheelsize, and tops out with the Team XX1 with Reynolds Black Label carbon wheels. Pivot’s website has lots more info and specifics. 

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