Trail Tested: Pivot Mach 429SL

In: BIKES By: Mike Cushionbury On: July 15, 2015

Pivot's Mach 429SL is quickly gaining a reputation as one of the best short travel full suspension bikes available. After testing it long term we're not going to argue.

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Pivot isn’t a brand that rests on its laurels. With the undeniable success of the original aluminum Mach 429 came the natural progression to a full carbon frame in 2013. More than just a change of frame material, the bike also had small but important geometry tweaks to further refine the already great-handling machine. Now, for this year, Pivot is at it again, further refining the Mach 429 with the new 429SL.

While geometry remains the same, new hollow-core carbon technology increases stiffness and shaves half a pound off the previous carbon frame, now 5.3 pounds including the shock. Match that to 100 mm of potent dw-link-controlled suspension and this venerable favorite becomes even more attractive.

The frame comes standard with a Fox Float Factory shock and a 120 mm travel Fox 32 CTD Factory fork, but geometry is designed to work with a 100 mm travel fork as well. As shown, our bike weighs 25.2 pounds without pedals, but could be less with a standard seatpost and lighter wheels. The bike’s stiffness and seemingly bottomless suspension creates a feel of confidence not usually associated with 100 mm travel frames. Of course, the fact that the geometry is adjusted to comfortably accept a 120 mm fork certainly adds to that go-anywhere attitude.

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With a head angle measuring in at 69.3 degrees with the 120 mm fork, Pivot is utilizing a fairly common number for cross-country bikes. That’s matched to mid-length chainstays to keep the bike quick and nimble. A 100 mm fork steepens the head angle to 70.3 degrees, speeding things up to World Cup cross-country handling. Climbing, the 429SL has just a touch of movement at the very top of the stroke to maintain traction on technical climbs, with excellent anti-squat from the dw-link design to keep the bike feeling fresh and spunky when really putting power to the pedals on smooth sections. Generally, I kept both the front and rear suspension set in Trail mode for the majority of my ride time, using Climb only for long sections of smoothness and Descend when I knew it was time for a long downhill.

On the East Coast’s rough and rocky trails, the Pivot’s active dw-link characteristics made it feel planted and confident at any speed. Its geometry, while stable at speed, makes it one of the easiest-handling 29ers I’ve ridden. The Mach quickly sneaks around the tightest of switchbacks, climbing or descending. Out West, on faster, open trails with more sustained climbing, the 429SL made it easy to maintain speed through sweeping corners with precise steering.

Thanks to the Pivot’s handy little plastic guide zip-tied to the shock, setting up sag for racing or trail riding is easy. The Pivot frame also provides ample standover height and room for one bottle cage, though I had to turn the shock around, moving the Fox CTD adjuster upward to get clearance for easy bottle removal—a trick Pivot suggests, with no effect on damper performance.

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The Mach 429SL is the second-ever production bike released with full Shimano XTR Di2 integration, and using Shimano’s Pro-line Tharsis XC Flat Di2-specific stem and carbon handlebar with internal wire routing, the XTR Di2 wires are almost completely hidden and totally out of view at the cockpit. The complete package showcases Pivot’s beautiful and thoughtful design.

The Mach 429SL Carbon frameset retails for $2,999, and various complete bikes are offered. The Shimano XTR Di2 bike retails for $10,400 with a few slight differences from ours, including Reynolds carbon wheels, Pivot-branded Phoenix Carbon seatpost and handlebars and an aluminum Team stem.

Vital Stats

  • Price: $2,999 (frameset with shock)
  • Sizes: S, M (tested), L, XL
  • Wheelbase: 43.9 inches
  • Top Tube: 24inches
  • Head Angle: 69.3 degrees
  • Seat-Tube Angle: 71.9 degrees
  • Bottom Bracket: 13 inches
  • Rear Center: 17.65 inches
  • Weight: 25.15 pounds (w/o pedals)
  • specs based on size tested
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