Pivot Trail 429 Review | A premium trail ripper with big bike ambition

The not-so-minor details

Product

Pivot Trail 429 Team XTR

Contact

Jet Black Products

https://www.jetblackproducts.com/

Price

$13,499 AUD

Weight

12.4kg

Positives

- Beautifully crafted carbon chassis
- Wheelsize, fork & ride height adaptability
- Incredible technical pedalling performance
- Masterfully controlled for a 120mm trail bike
- Sag guide is so simple, but bloody brilliant!
- Light & whippy Reynolds wheels

Negatives

- Rattly cable port
- Rattly brake pads
- Super Boost may be a turnoff for some

Wil Reviews The New Pivot Trail 429

Standing proud as one of the most important and commercially successful models for Pivot Cycles, the Trail 429 is the Arizona brand’s versatile go-fast trail bike. Flanked by the Mach 4 SL (Pivot’s 100mm XC race bike) and Switchblade (the 142mm All Mountain bike), the Trail 429 splits the difference with 120mm of rear wheel travel and a 130-140mm fork. That puts it in the ring with other short travel rippers like the Santa Cruz Tallboy, Ibis Ripley, Norco Optic and Specialized Stumpjumper.

The Trail 429 is the freshest faced of the lot however, having just received a radical redesign with an updated suspension design, a brand new carbon fibre chassis, revamped geometry, and a little extra versatility thrown in for good measure. How do all the new changes play out on the trail? We’ve been riding the new bike for the past few weeks to find out.


Watch our video review of the new Pivot Trail 429 here!


pivot trail 429 team xtr 2021
Big changes for the new Pivot Trail 429. To see how it rides, we’ve been putting it to the test on our home trails for the past few weeks.

Generation 3

The very first Trail 429 (the bicycle formally known as the Mach 429 Trail) was launched all the way back in 2015. It was Pivot’s biggest 29er at the time, featuring a gargantuan 116mm of rear wheel travel and a 130mm fork. It was also the first Pivot to utilise Boost hub spacing and offer 27.5+ compatibility. I fondly recall riding the Mach 429 Trail for the first time, where its efficient suspension, taut chassis and playful handling stood out amongst many other 29ers of its era.

The Trail 429 then got its first big update in 2018. Rear travel was lifted slightly to 120mm, the back end went to Super Boost hub spacing, and consequently the chainstay length was snugged right in. It got a bit burlier and a bit longer up front, and Pivot even started offering an ‘Enduro’ build with a Fox 36 fork and DPX2 shock. The added versatility and improved aesthetics meant it quickly found its way onto our most-wanted list, and it’s been a thoroughly popular bike for Pivot ever since.

And that brings us to this bike here – the 3rd generation Trail 429. Pivot’s newest, and most refined mountain bike to date.

pivot trail 429 team xtr 2021
Sitting in between the Mach 4 SL and the Switchblade, the Trail 429 is Pivot’s 120mm travel trail bike.

Lighter, Sleeker, More Compact

Undergoing its biggest overhaul yet, the 3rd generation Trail 429 joins Pivot’s new wave alongside the latest Mach 6, Switchblade and Mach 4 SL. No longer does the shock mount underneath the top tube, instead it’s now positioned vertically in front of the seat tube. By switching to a trunnion shock mount, Pivot has been able to package the same stroke into a more space-efficient package. There’s more standover clearance, long-stroke dropper compatibility, and the option to fit a large-sized water bottle on all frame sizes.

The low-slung top tube gives way to a near straight line from the head tube to rear axle. Pivots have historically been known for prioritising function above all else, often at the expense of form. That is not the case with the new Trail 429. This bike is most pleasing to the eye.

pivot trail 429 team xtr 2021
The new shock layout affords a cleaner, more space-efficient frame design.

Frame construction is still a carbon-only affair, though Pivot has switched to more expensive, higher-modulus fibres to help reduce weight. Around 300g has been shaved off the entire chassis, impressive given it is considerably longer than the old Trail 429. Claimed weight is now just 2.7kg. That’s for the frame with a Fox Float DPS shock and hardware.

Rear suspension is controlled by a dw-link suspension design. The two links are manufactured from cold-forged 7000-series alloy, with machined pockets housing large diameter Enduro MAX bearings. With the exception of the trunnion bearing mount, all the main pivot bearings share the same size.

pivot trail 429 team xtr 2021
The carbon fibre structures are joined together by two alloy suspension links and big bearings.

Pick & Mix

Pivot has carried through the dual-wheelsize versatility of the original model, but steps it up a notch with the addition of a two-position flip chip in the upper rocker pivot. Bikes will come from the factory in the ‘Lower’ setting, though flipping this chip into the ‘Low’ position will lift the BB by 6mm and steepen the angles by 0.5°.

Complete bikes can be had with a 130mm fork (Race build) or a 140mm fork (Enduro build). 29in wheels come as standard on all bikes, though the frame is 27.5+ compatible, and with the Super Boost back end there’s huge tyre clearance – you can fit up to a 29×2.6in or 27.5×2.8in tyre in the rear. For those embracing the trend of the moment, the Trail 429 can even be setup in a mullet configuration with a standard 27.5in rear wheel.

With the new frame, Pivot has updated the Trail 429’s geometry with most of the changes you’d expect. The head angle is over a degree slacker, and the seat tube angle is a bit steeper. The biggest change however is the increased top tube length. On our Medium test bike, reach has grown from 439mm to a whopping 455mm. In essence, each frame has basically gone up a size in terms of reach. That’s a hefty change and it’s quite noticeable too – more on that in a bit.

There are significant updates to the Trail 429’s geometry, including a new two-position flip chip.
pivot trail 429 team xtr 2021
The ‘Race’ build comes setup with a 130mm travel Fox 34, whereas the ‘Enduro’ builds get a 140mm travel Fox 36.
pivot trail 429 team xtr 2021
A shapely Super Boost rear end affords masses of clearance for plump rubber.

How Many Models Will Be Available?

With Race builds, Enduro builds, Live Valve and carbon wheel upgrade options, there’s a total of 20 different configurations for the Trail 429. Yes, twenty! Prices start at $8,499 AUD for the Race XT build, and go all the way up to $18,999 AUD for the Team XX1 AXS Live build that has all the batteries.

Pivot will offer the Trail 429 in five sizes in both Metallic Silver and Pacific Blue colour options. Worth noting is that Pivot manufactures just the single carbon frame. So unlike Specialized, Santa Cruz and Yeti for example, you’re getting the same quality of carbon fibre regardless of which spec level you choose.

The bike that Pivot sent us to test is the top-level Team XTR option in the Race trim with a 130mm Fox 34 and Float DPS shock. The same build can be had in the Enduro option with a 140mm Fox 36 and DPX2 shock for an extra $500. And if you’re a fan of automated suspension, Pivot also offers a Live Valve upgrade for $1500.

pivot trail 429 team xtr 2021
Dressed with an XTR groupset, Fox Factory suspension and Reynolds Black Label wheels, the Team XTR model is a premium piece of kit.

Pivot Trail 429 Team XTR Specs

pivot trail 429 team xtr 2021 wil harcourt
The Trail 429 is Pivot’s newest mountain bike, and after riding it for the past few weeks, we can say that it is without doubt its most refined too.

Sizing Up The Trail 429

As with previous generations, I’ve been riding a Medium size in the new Trail 429 to suit my 175cm height. This is a noticeably bigger bike though – the 455mm reach is long for a Medium, and while the seat tube angle is steeper, it’s not as near-vertical as we’ve seen from some other brands. That means your weight is spread out quite comfortably and evenly across the cockpit. However, I’d recommend a cautious approach to anyone who typically likes to upsize.

With the lower slung top tube, Pivot has also lobbed some length off of the seat tube. The tube itself is straight with no kinks or bends, maximising dropper post insertion depth. Our test bike has a 150mm Fox Transfer as standard, but I could easily bump up to 175mm if I wanted.

To rein in the long front centre, Pivot specs the Trail 429 with a 45mm stem. Along with the 780mm bars and wider Q-factor from the Super Boost crankset, you’re delivered a riding position that feels purposeful and efficient like an XC bike, albeit with the footprint and stability of a bigger travel trail bike.

pivot trail 429 team xtr 2021
A modern cockpit for a modern trail bike. We also have to give a shout out to Pivot’s own lock-on grips, which are well damped and tacky – in the good way!

Suspension & Tyre Tuning

Setting up the suspension on the Trail 429 is an absolute doddle thanks to the clip-on sag guide. Seriously, why can’t more brands do this?

For my 68kg riding weight, I aired up the Float DPS shock to 160psi, which lined up the O-ring with the blue line at sag. This is recommended for a slightly firmer and sportier ride quality. If you’re after plusher performance though, set your sag on the red line.

Pivot has fitted the largest 0.95³ volume spacer inside the rear shock, which gives the Trail 429 a very progressive and supported feel out of the box. This is likely to suit a lot of riders, though less aggressive folks who aren’t able to access full travel will want to look at downsizing to a smaller volume spacer. Once sag was dialled in, I set rebound one click faster than halfway (8/14 clicks), and left the low-speed compression adjuster in the most open position.

pivot trail 429 team xtr 2021 sag guide
Why can’t more brands put in this kind of effort to make suspension setup easier?

The setup guide for the Fox 34 is similarly effective, and it proved to be more accurate than my encounters with the current 36. I setup the fork with 70psi and three volume spacers inside the air spring, set rebound a click faster than halfway (11/20 clicks) and added five clicks of low-speed compression damping from the most open setting.

As for rubber, the Trail 429 comes with 2.4in Maxxis Dissectors front and rear. According to my vernier callipers, the tread on the Dissector measures up at 2.45in wide, while the casing is a touch narrower at 2.35in wide. The rear tyre is a bee’s dick narrower due to the slightly skinnier 28mm rim width. On the note of tyres, it’s nice to see Pivot sending the Trail 429 ready to go tubeless, with several bottles of Stan’s NoTubes sealant included with the bike. Once setup tubeless, I inflated the tyres to 21psi in the front and 24psi in the back.

Confirmed weight for our Medium sized test bike without pedals? A very impressive 12.4kg.

maxxis dissector pivot trail 429 team xtr 2021
2.4in Maxxis Dissectors front and rear are a great match for the Trail 429.
maxxis dissector tread tyre dirt pattern
Troy woz ‘ere.

Go-Fast Pedalling

Setting out on the commute to the trails aboard the Trail 429, there is a detectable amount of movement at the rear shock while cruising. The combination of the progressive leverage rate, high volume air can and trunnion bearing mount means the rear suspension is quite supple and active off the top. If you’re just plodding along without paying too much attention to your pedal stroke, you’ll see the rocker link gently oscillate in rhythm with your weight shifts.

This can be a little deceiving though, because you don’t actually waste a lot of energy while pedalling on the Trail 429. It’s only the very first portion of the travel that’s ultra sensitive, with a firm mid-stroke platform engaging around the sag point. Of course you can mitigate this small amount of movement via the shock’s three-position compression lever. The Firm mode isn’t a full lockout, but it’ll tighten up things sufficiently for the bitumen and smoother fireroad sections.

Push more forcefully through the pedals however, and the Trail 429 quickly stands to attention. You can feel the links clench under chain torque, propelling the whole bike forward with the sort of get-up-and-go enthusiasm that you’d expect from the Mach 4 SL race bike. Even with the rear shock in the fully open position (which is where I left it), the back end feels energetic and sprightly whenever you’re on the gas.

pivot trail 429 team xtr 2021
Don’t be fooled by the initial sensitivity – the Trail 429 is a supremely efficient pedaler.

Aiding acceleration, the lightweight Reynolds wheels spin up quickly thanks to the low-profile, asymmetric carbon rims, bladed spokes and super-buzzy Industry Nine Torch freehub (690 engagement points – yikes!). Weighing in at just 1,540g on the workshop scales, the Black Label 309/289 XC wheelset is whippy and well-tuned, and a fabulous match for the Trail 429.

The Dissectors rumble along reasonably well given their weight (957-965g confirmed), and they’re noticeably quicker than an equivalent Minion. However, mile-hungry riders may wish to fit some faster-rolling rubber, at least on the rear. Perhaps a Rekon or even a Rekon Race, to help add a little more zip to the Trail 429’s stride.

The chassis itself must also take some credit for the bike’s pert pedalling performance. Pivot has gone to some lengths to reduce lateral deflection through the back end of the Trail 429, with the sturdy one-piece swingarm braced by the stout alloy links, large bearings and pivot junctions. As well as minimising a wagging tail, it also helps to keep all of those moving parts in sync with each other, reducing side loading on the rear shock.

Speeding Through The Chunder

While there’s plenty of enthusiasm on smoother trails, the rougher and more technical the terrain, the better the Trail 429’s pedalling performance gets. Even when the rear wheel is constantly being driven into square-edge rocks, it never seems to get hung up. There’s less jolting through the frame, and I found I could stay seated a lot more as a result.

And this is the real magic of the dw-link suspension. The way it calmly separates your pedals from what the rear shock is doing, its ability to keep feedback to a minimum, is dead brilliant. Maintaining momentum through flat or uphill rock gardens becomes less pain and more pleasure.

The uninterrupted pedalling performance is also enhanced by the Trail 429’s relatively tall ride height. With a distinct lack of suspension wallow, there’s a generous degree of ground clearance for scaling rock-laden climbs. On top of that, the BB itself also sits fairly high. I measured the static BB height at 338mm, which is a fraction lower than what Pivot quotes in its geometry chart. Still, it is a touch taller than the Optic (337mm) & Ripley (335mm), and it’s notably higher than the Stumpjumper (333mm) and Tallboy (332mm).

pivot trail 429 team xtr 2021
When the trail gets rough and rocky, the suspension just gets better and better.

Bear in mind that all of those numbers are quoted in the lowest geometry positions. Which makes Pivots use of the terms ‘Low’ and ‘Lower’ to describe the two geometry positions a little misleading, and unnecessarily confusing.

Still, the tall ride height does make it unlikely to stall out during the crux of an awkward tech climb. Even in the Lower geometry position, pedal strikes were very much a non-issue on my local test loops. And when I did come across a sniper rock that had target-locked onto my cranks, the near-instantaneous hub engagement meant I could quickly ratchet at the pedals to avoid collision, while keeping the rear wheel churning up and over the mess in front of me. Certainly on those 50/50 climbing sections, the Trail 429’s impeccable pedalling performance and stable suspension meant my odds of achieving a clean run were drastically improved.

pivot trail 429 team xtr 2021
It may be heavier than a single pivot suspension setup, but gosh does the dw-link platform perform beautifully on the trail.

Enhanced Stability

There are no doubts that the Trail 429’s steady demeanour on rough, undulating singletrack extends through to faster-paced descending. The newly endowed front centre provides a solid footprint on the trail, promoting notably greater high-speed stability than its predecessor. Despite this being a sub-13kg trail bike, it takes quite a lot to get knocked around on the Trail 429.

Bump control is also fabulous given there is ‘only’ 120mm of travel out back. While it doesn’t hover like the longer travel Switchblade, the rear suspension absorbs a wide range of impacts effectively and efficiently, and it recovers with a cat-like reflex on rapid-fire stutter bumps. The rising rate sees support increase deeper into the travel, allowing the Trail 429 to moderate its travel well. Despite some horrendously ungracious hucks-to-flat, I’m still yet to bottom it out completely. That kind of progression in a short travel package is impressive – this ain’t a bike that surrenders its travel willy-nilly.

The Fox 34 fork is equally impressive up front, but having ridden the GRIP2 version of the same fork, I must admit that I missed its buttery-plush performance here. The 4-way adjustable GRIP2 damper offers greater high-speed poise, and it’s even more sensitive than the FIT4 damper. However, it is heavier, more expensive, more involved to setup and tune, and it also misses out on a lockout. For those reasons, I can see why Pivot has spec’d the FIT4 fork on the Race builds. And chances are that riders who value a plusher setup for more technical riding will naturally gravitate towards the Enduro build, which comes with the bigger 36 GRIP2 fork and DPX2 shock.

pivot trail 429 team xtr 2021
The suspension is all-quality on the Trail 429, though we’d love to try out a GRIP2 fork up front for a little more traction and control.

It’s Still Mighty Poppy

With all that extra length up front, I was initially concerned the new Trail 429 would be a more docile bike compared to the old version. I needn’t have worried though, because there is still a generous dollop of pop and playfulness here.

With its low weight and responsive carbon chassis, the Trail 429 is an easy bike to flick about on twisty singletrack. Another big contributing factor is the predictable suspension behaviour. Since the rear shock never seems to get bogged down, weight distribution on the front wheel is consistent. And with the low-slung top tube and roomy cockpit, you can easily shift your weight around when required.

As with a lot of modern trail bikes, you do have to more actively ride the front wheel though, since it sticks out quite a bit further ahead. All that extra stability doesn’t come for free after all, and the lazier or more tired you are, the greater your chances of understeering around tighter corners. For those coming from the old Trail 429, you’ll need a few rides to recalibrate your dynamic riding position, particularly on flatter singletrack.

pivot trail 429 team xtr 2021
Despite the extra length, the Trail 429 loves whipping through rolling chicanes and berms.

Carve-able Cornering

Within those first rides, you soon learn to anticipate corners and lean the bike just a little bit harder. The 51mm fork offset provides a light steering feel to help initiate turns to begin with, and the short 432mm rear centre length facilitates quick changes of direction. However, it’s the stiff back end that ensures the rear wheel isn’t found wandering off line though high-speed turns.

While it’s hard for me to say how much of an effect it has, the Super Boost hub does afford a wider spoke bracing angle, which (in theory) elevates lateral wheel rigidity. Either way, the back end of the Trail 429 feels snappy, and there is a strong path of communication from the grips through to the rear axle. Along with the supportive suspension, you can really drive the back wheel hard to square off sharper turns.

When pushed to the limits of surface grip through a dusty high-speed berm, the Maxxis Dissectors engage a nice, controllable drift. These are an excellent choice for the Trail 429, with a good balance of rolling speed and cornering traction that straddles the difference between a Rekon and a Minion DHF. They’re sturdier and more dependable than a Forekaster, with excellent traction on our local rocky, hardpack trails.

The slightly rounded, mohican tread profile means they also put up very little resistance when being leaned side to side. However, the gaping channel between the centre tread and cornering blocks means there is a slightly unnerving traction gap that is somewhat reminiscent of the old High Roller. If you can commit to tipping the bike over though, the robust cornering blocks will provide a steady hold on most trails. They are less predictable on natural off-piste trails though, where deeper ruts and loose rocks start to overwhelm their capabilities. For those kinds of conditions, I’d be tempted to throw a Minion DHR II on the front.

2021 pivot trail 429 team xtr
The lack of transition knobs mean the Dissectors have a distinct traction gap. Best results are achieved by committing and reefing the bike over onto those chunky shoulder blocks.
2021 pivot trail 429 team xtr
The short and stout rear end can be driven hard and fast through high-load corners.

Multi-Personality

Speaking of handling, it’s worth noting that riders choosing the Enduro build will encounter a slightly different experience on the trail. In addition to the DPX2 shock, the Enduro build also pumps up the fork to a 140mm travel Fox 36 with a shorter 44mm offset. As well as providing a tougher feel to the front of the bike with access to more grip and sensitivity, the taller fork will slacken the head angle out to 65.5°, and the shorter offset will also further stabilise the Trail 429’s high-speed steering. For riders wanting maximum capability out of a short travel package, the Enduro build will be worth investigating.

Along with the ability to fit 27.5+ wheels or even go Full Mullet™, there’s certainly a lot of in-built versatility for tuning the Trail 429 to your riding style and conditions. That said, the Super Boost spacing does mean wheel swapping will require a little more consideration. I was going to try out a lighter set of wheels and tyres on our test bike, before I realised that the 157mm dropouts wouldn’t accept my regular Boost wheels. Dang! Pivot clearly believes in the Super Boost standard though, and nearly all major wheel and crankset manufacturers are offering options to suit, so it’s less of a deal than it was back in 2016 with the original Switchblade.

While I couldn’t change wheels, I did make use of the geometry flip chip during testing. The Trail 429 is shipped in the Lower position, though all you need is a 6mm hex key to adjust the geometry on the side of the trail. Flipping that chip into the higher of the two positions steepens the head and seat angles by half a degree, and lifts the BB by 6mm. I measured the static BB height at 344mm off the floor.

Only on the steepest of descending trails was I wishing for that Lower geometry position.

The difference in ride quality is subtle, but appreciable. More bodyweight is shifted onto your hands, the seated climbing position feels both more comfortable and more powerful, and there’s even greater ground clearance for scaling lumpy singletrack. Most importantly though, the steering is a lick more assertive. Because your weight is naturally pushed forward in the high geometry position, the Trail 429 doesn’t require such a concerted weight shift over the front tyre to keep it sticking. For longer distance trail rides with plenty of undulating terrain, I actually found the high geometry position to be my favoured setup. The head angle is still sufficiently slack at 66.5°, and there’s still a tonne of stability from the supportive suspension and long front centre. Only on the steepest of descending trails was I wishing for that Lower geometry position.

Given the Trail 429’s low weight and efficient pedalling performance, it certainly makes for a speedy endurance machine, especially when setup in the higher geometry position. On that note, it turns out that the frame can even be setup with a 120mm fork, which would open up the option of fitting a lighter weight 34 Step-Cast or a RockShox SID. Along with some faster-rolling tyres, the Trail 429 could make for an exceptionally capable long distance XC bike.

pivot trail 429 team xtr 2021
There’s a tonne of versatility on offer with the Trail 429 chassis, depending on your riding style and preferred terrain.

Component Highs & Lows

Having put a little over 300km of riding into our test bike so far, I’ve had plenty of time to get accompanied with the meat and potatoes of the Trail 429. And as you’d expect for a mountain bike that sells for well over ten grand, it’s a very high quality package. Still, it hasn’t been totally immune from any issues.

While the Cable Port system is neat and easy to work on, the head tube port for the dropper post cable isn’t quite snug enough. This means the cable is free to retract and bounce around inside the downtube. Some electrical tape around the cable where it’s clamped at the port sorted this out, but we’d rather it wasn’t sloppy to begin with.

Speaking of rattles, no surprises that Shimano’s finned brake pads make the usual racket down at the four-piston callipers. When the pads wear out, replace them with non-finned pads for a better chance at true trail serenity. Otherwise the XTR Trail brakes have been absolutely spot-on, with huge controllable power. It’s also nice to see a 180mm direct mount for the rear brake too, which is very tidy alongside the bolt-up axle.

Shift quality has also been top-notch, though I haven’t found the Race Face chainring to be as smooth in dirty conditions compared to a Shimano DCE+ chainring. On longer and dustier trail rides, when a rumbling sensation would develop through the pedals, I had to squirt the chainring with my water bottle to quieten it back down. More regular chain cleaning and lubrication is required to keep it running quiet.

The carbon crank arms are beautiful though, and with the 30mm alloy axle, the Next R crankset is quite light at a confirmed 527g with the 32T chainring. However, you won’t find a matching Race Face bottom bracket. Instead, Pivot specs the Trail 429 with a custom Enduro bottom bracket that features deeper cups, double row Enduro MAX bearings, and external rubber seals.

There are plenty of other neat details to be found throughout, including the chain-silencing 3D chainstay protector, the option to fit Pivot’s Tool Dock system, and a large port underneath the downtube for accessing the internal cabling. I also dig the fabulous lock-on grips, which taper from 30mm on the inside to 32mm at the ends, while also having a little more rubber facing your palms to improve vibration damping.

Fox’s 1x dropper lever is also brilliant, with a light action and a nicely machined paddle for your thumb. It also sits quite a bit further below the grips, making it a cleaner and easier target to hit compared to the Shimano dropper lever that’s been coming on a load of our test bikes recently. The post itself has been brilliant, with a similarly light action, a fast return speed and a low stack height for the amount of drop on offer.

Pivot Trail 429 vs Specialized Stumpjumper

Out of the Trail 429’s closest competitors, the Specialized Stumpjumper is the one that I’ve spent the most time on, having recently tested the new Stumpjumper Pro.

The Stumpy is slightly longer-legged, with 10mm more travel at both ends. Despite this, and the fact that it has SWAT storage, the frame is around 500g lighter than the Trail 429, with a claimed weight of 2.28kg. This is primarily achieved by a simpler single pivot suspension layout, which utilises flex through the carbon seatstays instead of a conventional pivot.

With Specialized being the bigger mass-produced brand, and the fact that it also produces an alloy frame, the Stumpjumper is by far the more accessible option of the two bikes, with prices starting at $3,200 AUD for the base model. Once you’re into carbon territory however, the pricing isn’t actually all that different alongside the smaller, more boutique Trail 429.

2021 specialized stumpjumper pro
The Specialized Stumpjumper is another new lightweight trail bike we’ve been spending some time on recently.

The Stumpjumper Pro we tested has a list price of $12,700 AUD, so it’s pretty close to the Trail 429 Team XTR. It also gets Fox Factory Series suspension, and specs a SRAM X01 drivetrain with G2 RSC brakes. You get carbon Roval wheels, but they’re quite a bit heavier than the Reynolds wheels on the Trail 429, and the tyres are more aggro too. The complete bike weight shows this, with the Stumpjumper Pro coming in at 12.84kg – almost half a kilo heavier.

Geometry isn’t too far different between the two bikes. The rear centre length is the same, and the reach measurements for the Medium/S3 size are within 5mm of each other. The Stumpy’s head angle is a degree slacker, the seat tube is a degree steeper, and the BB also sits a bit lower to the ground. On paper at least, it’s slightly edgier, and it’s also available in a broader size range. However, the Trail 429 does offer considerably better standover clearance, particularly in the smaller sizes – something that shorter riders will want to take note of.

Having ridden both bikes on the same test loops, there’s no denying that the Trail 429 is the better pedalling bike of the two. The dw-link suspension possesses enviable natural efficiency, whereas the Stumpjumper is much more reliant on the rear shock’s low-speed compression damping to stabilise it against pedal-induced bobbing. The firmer mid-stroke on the Trail 429 also sees less squat on the climbs, so while the static seat angle is slacker, it doesn’t feel that way in real life.

2021 specialized stumpjumper pro
The geometry is a touch more aggressive on the Stumpy, and top-end models come with a GRIP2 fork for added control.

There is a more lively feel to the Stumpjumper though, which likely comes down to the slender chassis and plusher suspension performance. There’s more activity through the rear suspension’s mid-stroke, which delivers a smooth feel and it generates superb traction on choppy trails. The GRIP2 fork is also plusher and more responsive, keeping the front tyre connected with the trail more of the time. I did find I clipped pedals more frequently on the Stumpjumper due to its active suspension and low-hanging BB, and it wasn’t totally uncommon to hit full bottom-out on the shock either. Aggro types will want to consider tuning the shock with volume spacers to get the support that they need.

In comparison, the Trail 429 offers a tighter and more progressive feel straight out of the box. Despite having less travel, there’s excellent support and big-hit control. Bolstering that sensation is the Trail 429’s solid chassis – a direct result of the well-braced swingarm, chunky links and big bearings. It might not be quite as plush as the Stumpjumper, and the geometry might not be quite as trendy on paper, but the high quality chassis and finely-tuned suspension design give it a remarkable level of control and versatility for what is a lightweight and stupendously efficient trail bike.

pivot trail 429 team xtr 2021
Pivot’s Trail 429 has been a popular bike since it first arrived in 2015, but there are no doubts that this 3rd generation model is the best one yet.

Flow’s Verdict

The new Trail 429 isn’t just the best looking iteration yet, it’s also the highest performing trail bike to have worn the Pivot Cycles logo.

By reworking the shock layout, Pivot’s engineers have been able to improve packaging on the new Trail 429 chassis, while also improving its dynamic performance on the trail. The progressive suspension provides excellent mid-stroke control and bottom-out support, giving the Trail 429 a level head even when you’re batting well above your weight.

It also delivers impeccable pedal efficiency, and the Trail 429’s ability to hold and build speed over rocky, undulating terrain is for sure one of its most impressive traits. It also doesn’t hurt that the new frame design cuts a thoroughly pleasing silhouette, and its ability to adapt to different wheelsizes and forks bolsters its range of appeal further.

However, there’s no getting around that it’s a pricey bit of kit. Of course you are getting a beautifully engineered chassis with a near un-upgradeable build kit, and the overall package does compare quite favourably to equivalent top-end Treks and Specializeds. It’s also arguably better value than comparably boutique offerings from Santa Cruz and Ibis.

Certainly if you’re on the hunt for a premium lightweight trail bike, and you place a strong emphasis on pedal efficiency and technical trail proficiency, the Trail 429 is one of the most versatile and well-balanced 120mm travel bikes out there right now.

2021 pivot trail 429 team xtr wil harcourt
We’ve had an absolute blast riding the Pivot Trail 429 – this bike is a properly impressive piece of kit.
pivot trail 429 team xtr 2021
Wil, contemplating the value of his second kidney.

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