Pivot Trail 429

THE PIVOT TRAIL 429

Australian Mountain Bike - - Contents - PHO­TOG­RA­PHER: ROBERT CONROY TESTER: JOHNNY LAW

Hot off the pro­duc­tion line, the Pivot Trail 429 sits as the com­pany’s re­place­ment to its ev­er­pop­u­lar 429 Trail, a bike that was re­ceived very pos­i­tively in the Aus­tralian mar­ket. The ‘Mach 429 Trail’, pre­vi­ously equipped with 116mm of rear sus­pen­sion travel is now shod with 120mm as the new ‘Trail 429’ bike, but this isn’t all Pivot have done to bring their new bike into the ‘mod­ern’ trail bike era. Much has been done to the new ma­chine to keep up with ever-pro­gress­ing mar­ket de­mands in­clud­ing a longer reach, steeper 74º seat-tube, and slacker 67.3º head tube an­gle. With the Trail 429, Pivot is con­tin­u­ing to push the Su­per­boost+ stan­dard first seen on their Switch­blade re­leased last year. This stan­dard does re­quire a spe­cific Q-fac­tor crank and dif­fer­ent off­set chain ring, though the trade-off is su­per short 430mm chain­stays and mega tyre clear­ance for up to a 29x2.6” tyre or a 27.5x3.0”. Oh, and did we men­tion a 30% in­crease in stiff­ness over what was al­ready renowned as a stiff bike? Su­per­boost doesn’t sound so bad then. The Trail 429 sits in a hotly con­tested mar­ket seg­ment, it has to be able to hold its own with both an XC racer on a climb with­out drop­ping be­hind when the go­ing gets craggy.

FIRST IM­PRES­SIONS

Pivot’s Trail 429 falls in line with their newer aes­thetic by ditch­ing the di­vi­sive curv­ing, swoopy and droopy lines from Piv­ots of old. Straighter and box­ier lines sim­i­lar to their Mach 5.5 and Fire­bird with­out sac­ri­fic­ing the sig­na­ture stan­dover height. We think it looks good, how­ever when out rid­ing on trail with the gen­eral pub­lic, very few rid­ers iden­ti­fied the bike was new or even a Pivot, which can be good or bad de­pend­ing on what you like. Our test bike was Pivot’s ‘XT/XTR Pro’ build kit that re­tails for $9,199 with ex­cel­lent 30mm wide DT M1700 wheels, with an up­grade to Reynolds car­bon rims set­ting you back $10,899 for the bike in­stead, which is com­pet­i­tive with its bou­tique brethren. Ac­cord­ing to Pivot this XT/XTR Pro is the model you’re most likely to see out on the trails. It’s re­ally not hard to see why, XT shift­ing is ever re­li­able if a lit­tle dull, great sus­pen­sion and drop­per from Fox, 30mm wide rims, and Pivot cockpit with car­bon bar round out the kit, noth­ing to hold it back from get­ting a bit rowdy then. The set-up of the sus­pen­sion is made very sim­ple thanks to Pivot’s handy ‘sag-o-me­ter’ which has two mark­ings, a stiffer ‘race’ set­ting, and a slightly higher sag ‘trail’ set­ting. We played around with set­tings through­out the test, but set­tled on a sag num­ber closer to the trail num­ber with firmer low speed com­pres­sion.

As stan­dard pivot specs a 30t chain ring on the Trail 429, which seems mighty small when matched with Shimano’s 11-46T cas­sette and the speed that we know DW Link bikes carry up hill. Through­out the test we swapped to a 36T chain ring to com­ple­ment the pace of the thing.

ON THE TRAIL

The Trail 429 is an in­ter­est­ing one, de­spite the very mod­ern ge­om­e­try num­bers, the cockpit felt short, most likely as a func­tion of the steeper seat tube an­gle. Un­for­tu­nately, Pivot Aus­tralia were un­able to pro­vide us with a roomier XL for test­ing. The steep seat tube an­gle com­bined with a fairly short head tube put us in an ex­cel­lent po­si­tion for pedal mash­ing, the bike re­ally looks after you on longer ad­ven­tures that a bike with only this much travel would usu­ally beat you up. The cockpit felt great, a 55mm stem com­bined with a 760mm bar is a good combo on the Trail 429, some may be­grudge the bar not be­ing any wider, but on nat­u­ral and tight trails the bar width felt just right. Pivot’s unique ‘PadLoc’ lock grips are love or hate, for those who haven’t come across them be­fore the, Pivot Phoenix bars have a notch cut out to al­low for an ex­tra thick part of the grip to take some of the sting out of the trail. In prac­tice I found the PadLoc grips to be dis­con­cert­ing, they make the bars feel as though they’re flex­ing, so the grips were changed for the lat­ter half of the test to Er­gon’s ex­cel­lent GE1. Shimano’s XT/XTR mix is un­de­ni­ably re­li­able and ever pop­u­lar, but I don’t get on with it nearly as well as SRAM. The brakes felt grabby and dif­fi­cult to mod­u­late on trail, which leads to oft locked rear tyres. The Clutch on the XTR rear derailleur seemed to be a lit­tle weak, the chain would reg­u­larly jump down a cog-or-two after par­tic­u­larly rough sections of trail. This is, of course, a per­sonal pref­er­ence and most peo­ple will have no is­sue with the build kit, but when you’re so of­ten ex­posed to ex­cel­lent SRAM Ea­gle it’s hard to ig­nore. The Shimano clutch sys­tem is highly tune­able – it’s worth get­ting it set for your trails and rid­ing. Throw a tech­ni­cal climb in sight of the Trail 429 and the bike is drawn to it like a mag­net, this thing ab­so­lutely lives for climb­ing. One par­tic­u­lar climb on my lo­cal trails is usu­ally a 50/50 make or break for me on any other bike, awk­ward speed­sap­ping rock step ups with lit­tle spare space be­tween them, loose rocks that throw the wheels off line like an an­gry Don­key Kong, and oft mossy sand­stone just to pil­fer all the rest of your speed, and the Pivot just scram­bled up ev­ery sin­gle time. No com­plaints, no fuss, just com­po­sure and scarcely be­liev­able DW link trac­tion. Don’t worry

about flip­ping the com­pres­sion lever on the rear end, I tried it and you don’t need it. Even stand­ing up on fire-trail climbs the anti-squat is fan­tas­tic and the bike just goes. Thank­fully, the Trail 429 isn’t just good on straight and tech; in fact, it’s al­most bet­ter on tight switch­back climbs. Those minis­cule 430mm chain­stays let the Trail 429 whip around hair­pins like a WRC car, get on the power mid-way through and you can pre­cisely con­trol the rear end drift with pedal strokes com­ing out. When you find a spot to open the Trail 429 up on a ‘mickey mouse’ trail it con­tin­ues to im­press. High speed flow sections that are quickly fol­lowed by un­sa­vory short punchy climbs that snatch the wind from most bikes sails are rid­den with ease on the 429 Trail. The 29” wheels com­bined with the ac­cu­rate Su­per­boost rear end al­low the bike to sim­ply shrug off those awk­ward changes of pace that lit­ter many of our trails here in Syd­ney. With only 120/130mm of travel, you would ex­pect the Trail 429 to get a lit­tle flus­tered out on chun­der­ous and rocky de­scents, so be pre­pared to be sur­prised. This lit­tle bike rips! As a lighter rider com­ing from a more rigid MTB back­ground, I have al­ways got on well with shorter travel trail bikes, but this might not be the case for you. Luck­ily the Trail 429 is out­stand­ing, I let a few peo­ple I met on the trail take it for a quick spin, and they all rode this bike faster than they rode their own bikes straight away. Point the Trail 429 down a slow and tight de­scent and it loves it, again the laser pre­cise rear end just keeps on giv­ing, you can place it with to-the-mil­lime­tre pre­ci­sion over and around rocks nail­ing ev­ery line, it’s very ad­dic­tive. Aim the Pivot down a series of drops and the Trail 429 loves it. The front and rear end feel so bal­anced, mov­ing through their travel with­out com­plaint, with a won­der­ful sup­port­ive mid­stroke from the Fox sus­pen­sion. With a lit­tle bit more time on the bike, it would be amaz­ing to get the sus­pen­sion dialled in as I found I was us­ing all of the Fox DPX2’s rear travel a lit­tle too of­ten, de­spite run­ning the sus­pen­sion at the stiffer ‘race’ sag marker, some­thing that vol­ume spacer ad­just­ment would iron out no prob­lem. Up through mid speed trails the Trail 429 con­tin­ues to shine, it digs cor­ners, the front and rear are again so very bal­anced, you can take any cor­ner ex­actly how you want, be that neat and fast or with a lit­tle bit more fun and pizazz, the con­trol­la­bil­ity of a drift is in­cred­i­ble! It’s on higher speed trails where the Trail 429 can feel a lit­tle out­classed by big­ger, slacker bikes. Hardly sur­pris­ing re­ally, although high-speed turns es­pe­cially feel a lit­tle ner­vous even when com­pared to other bikes in its class. Pivot’s claims of the Trail 429 be­ing a bike where “Crazy fast meets ridicu­lously ca­pa­ble” are on the money though, the bike is a hard bike to flus­ter, and an even harder bike to go slow on. Dur­ing the test pe­riod the bike was pretty much fault­less, my only con­cerns were the DT

Swiss M1700 wheels. Through­out the test they per­formed ad­e­quately, the wheel stiff­ness it­self was fan­tas­tic as was the width, but after pick­ing up a dent in the rim while run­ning very rea­son­able pres­sures, I’d be in­ter­ested to see how long they last, es­pe­cially un­der a heav­ier rider. On a par­tic­u­larly muddy ride, there was a lot of gunk that built up around the lower link on the DW link rear end. This has been a prob­lem con­sis­tent on all Piv­ots of late, and the Trail 429 has at­tempted to solve this with a lit­tle rub­ber flap, and it did a very good job of keep­ing the bike scratch-free. The Fox equip­ment was a stand out. The ex­cel­lent Trans­fer Drop­per that is so smooth, light, and quick enough with­out scar­ing your gen­i­tals ev­ery re­turn like some posts. The Fac­tory 34s feel amaz­ing in the mid-stroke, great sup­port and bot­tom out re­sis­tance that’s so im­por­tant when work­ing with this much travel. The Trail 429 stands out amongst its sta­ble mates when it comes to climb­ing, the only bike that feels like it shoots up hill as well as this is the Yeti SB4.5, and yet the bikes have such dif­fer­ent char­ac­ter­is­tics. The rear wheel sticks to the ground tena­ciously, more so than just about any other bike in this class, a lot of which rely on the bike skip­ping over bumps where the Trail 429 tracks the ground un­flus­tered.

OUR TAKE

Just like the pre­vi­ous Mach 429 Trail, the new bike is up for any­thing. The short travel trail-bike is one of the most hotly con­tested mar­ket seg­ments, and it’s im­por­tant to bring unique fea­tures so that a bike is known for more than its travel num­bers. Pivot’s use of the so-far-un­com­mon Su­per­boost+ rear spac­ing makes this bike what it is. Stiff. Some will be­grudge the use of a ‘new stan­dard’, but the truth is that it’s not new, it has been around for years and there are now a fair few hub op­tions on the mar­ket to work with the bike. The pos­i­tives from go­ing Su­per­boost+ make the Trail 429 what it is, stiff­ness and pre­ci­sion is the name of the game, along with amaz­ing com­po­sure on the trail with­out sac­ri­fic­ing ag­ile han­dling. At high speed and on re­ally gnarly trails the Trail 429 does feel slightly out­classed by longer-travel 29ers, but that’s to be ex­pected when deal­ing with the steeper head tube an­gle and shorter chain­stays. Through­out the test­ing, the wheels were my only real point of con­cern, a mys­te­ri­ous dent in the rear is some­thing I found greatly sur­pris­ing, and again, eye­leted rims on a bou­tique bike are not the best look. Shimano shift­ing and brak­ing are not my favourite, they feel clunky and heavy, but it’s hard to ar­gue with re­li­a­bil­ity. Pivot does of­fer a mul­ti­tude of specs in­clud­ing an X01 Ea­gle build which comes in at $10,499, though for only a lit­tle more ($10,899) you can get the XT/XTR Pro build with Car­bon wheels. From a per­for­mance on trail per­spec­tive, the Car­bon wheels would match the stiff­ness of the Trail 429 per­fectly, so if you had to choose how to spend nearly $11,000, I would go the Car­bon wheel ev­ery time and use the Shimano shift­ing. The Trail 429 will un­doubt­edly keep Pivot cus­tomers happy, great trail ge­om­e­try, DW link sus­pen­sion, and stiff rear ends are what the brand is known for. The new de­sign lan­guage is likely to ap­peal to a wider au­di­ence, and that’s got to be a good thing for what is Pivot’s ‘most pop­u­lar’ bike. En­durance rac­ers will love this thing, if you can get past the lit­tle ex­tra weight, throw a pair of wide XC tyres on and the Trail 429 will eas­ily han­dle a 4 hour en­durance race, and look after you like no ded­i­cated XC rig would on a longer 4 day stage race. Put the stan­dard EXO Min­ion DHRIIs on and you’ll still be ral­ly­ing tech­ni­cal trails all week­end long and hav­ing an ab­so­lute hoot. Some­one look­ing for a bike to huck, jump, and reg­u­larly race En­duro event would be bet­ter suited look­ing else­where, the high-speed sta­bil­ity and head an­gle be­ing a lit­tle steep for those shenani­gans. But if I had to pick only one bike to ride XC, Trails, and even en­ter a cheeky En­duro event, the Trail 429‘s ex­cel­lent bal­ance of pace and com­po­sure does make a very im­pres­sive case.

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