Like a Russian gymnast from the 1980s, Pivot Cycles seems to be growing bigger and stronger and at rate that beggars belief. In the last few months this Arizonan company has released an all-new Mach 4 (which we’ve had on long-term test), the lightweight Mach 429SL and now a gorgeous do-it-all 29er with the 429 Trail. That’s a lot of new platforms for a small operator.
From the moment we caught wind of this bike, we made it our mission to secure some saddle time with extreme urgency, and we grabbed this early release air-freighted demo bike practically straight out of the Fedex cargo hold so we could get it onto the trails ASAP.
The 429 Trail is not just 429SL with a longer fork bolted on (it’s designed around 130mm up front), but is a very different machine entirely. Geometry-wise, Pivot have added a bit of tiger to the tank, by slackening the head angle to 67.5 degrees and shortening the stays to 437mm. Rear wheel travel goes up a bit too, to a very precise 116mm.
It’s the first 29er we’ve ridden that employs the full suite of new Boost hub spacings, with a 148x12mm rear axle and an 110x15mm front. It’s all in the name of increasing stiffness and clearance, two issues that still plague 29ers in the trail/all-mountain category where hard riding and big tyres often don’t play nicely.
While the 429 Trail isn’t a grand departure in design style for Pivot, it takes things in a slightly new direction. We have to admit, as much as we admire these bikes, Pivots have traditionally ranked pretty highly on the ugly’o’meter. Function over form, perhaps? Whatever the case, the 429 Trail is the best-looking dual suspension bike in Pivot’s range. The lines are clean, and the simple under the down tube cable routing is much neater than in years past, and keeping it external also saves construction costs, which makes this bike more attainable than Pivots have traditionally been.
The linkage arrangement is new too. It takes inspiration from the Phoenix Carbon downhill bike, and in conjunction with the wide hub spacing we can tell you the rear end of this bike is stiffer than an old dog in winter.
There are a swathe of build kit options for the 429 Trail, and ours uses a mix of XT/XTR in a 1×11 setup. Most Pivot builds will be coming with an XT 2×11 drivetrain, which we think is sensible – converting to a 1×11 setup is simply a matter of installing a chain ring with the new Shimano 11-speed stuff, so it’s an easy modification should you not want to run a front mech.
On obvious blight on the otherwise excellent build kit is the absence of a dropper post! Our carbon post is already a scuffed up mess from raising/lowering it during a couple of wet rides – hopefully future bikes will be shipped with a dropper.
Tragically (and that’s not overstating it – it’s a goddamn tragedy), we need to return this bike shortly so it can do the rounds of local dealers, but we’ll be bringing you a full review of this machine as soon as a new shipment lands. We won’t divulge too much about the ride just yet, we’ll save that for the main review, but our time on this bike so far has left us feeling like this.