Nate had more time on the Pivot Mach 429 Trail than me and my observations were a bit jaded by my end-of-the-day stupor and flat out awe-struck wonderment after my ride on The Following so I asked him to write this review.
I’ve edited a few things and I’ll add my thoughts at the end, but these are Nate’s words.
“Our goal when designing the Mach 429 Trail was to create a new category of trail bike – one that takes advantage of the best features of 29 and yet maintains the performance characteristics that make you forget about wheel size and, instead, translate to the “best-ride-ever,” every time you ride.” -PivotCycles.com
Pivot did not disappoint! The new, trail version of the 429 has all the benefits of riding a larger wheel size with the feel of a mid-size, plush bike. The 429 Trail is part of a new league of aggressive 29ers hitting the market this year and we were very anxious to ride one. Finally, at the end of the day we were able to get our hands on a large and just catch the last shuttle up Bootleg Canyon.
We put the 429 Trail against The Following by Evil on this ride. The two bikes were extremely comparable in geometry and feel despite the Following being a size medium and the M429 a large, and it was tough to find much lacking in either one. The most noticeable difference was that the front wheel on The Following looked like it was extended out more in front of you than the 429, which felt exactly like a mid-size wheel from the cockpit. However, the numbers are actually very close. When you look at the math, there are indeed very few differences between these bikes. But those departures do explain some of the differences in how these two feel on the trail. Though they have similar wheel bases, how they get there is what’s different: The Following has a longer front center and shorter rear center along with a slightly slacker and lower stance compared to the 429T giving it a more aggressive bent.
We knew these wagon wheels would handle the climbing (and we were tired), so we opted to shuttle up and come down Boy Scout. After riding the same trail on the Mach 6 and other long-travel bikes, I was surprised how smooth the 429 still felt on the ledges and rocks. This can be credited to Pivot’s improved, “trail-tuned” dw-linkage, stiff rear triangle, and the slacker head angle of this “trail” model. The suspension has Pivot’s bottomless feel, despite only having 116mm of travel. When it came to riding down Girl Scout, a more flowy trail, the 429 really shined. It was quick and responsive in the corners, with just the right amount of stiffness to really push through and pick up speed. If I didn’t know it was a 29er, I would have believed it was a 27.5 like I’m used to riding.
Nothing about this bike felt like the 29ers from the past. It’s made for serious trail riding and enduro racing (assuming you’re not doing EWS venues on WC DH courses), with a light carbon fiber frame and great component options from either Shimano or SRAM to go with it. The model we rode had Shimano’s 2x 11 with a new side swing front derailleur. We didn’t honestly find much use for the higher gears on our rides, but I could see the benefit if you’re serious about racing. With the front derailleur removed, the bottom bracket is left looking clean and light with very little visual evidence of the offending device. Cables are routed under the down tube, with the exception of internal routing from the bottom to the seat for your dropper post. There’s even space for a water bottle, if that’s what you’re into.
While I’m a big fan of the Rockshox Pike and Monarch, I wouldn’t bother changing the Fox 34 Factory fork and Float DPS shock setup that Pivot had on this bike. The fork is excellent and they’ve got the shock tune matched perfectly to the geometry and leverage ratio of the dw Link supension of the 429 and I think you’d have a hard time doing better by picking your own. As I said, the ride was smooth and fast. The suspension was perfect for most everyday riding. Also, with the Boost setup, the fork and rear triangle easily accept plus-size tires, opening up new riding opportunities with just a second set of wheels.
There’s also something to be said for Pivot’s customer service. Most booths we visited were crowded, disorganized, and often, basically rude. Pivot was a better experience all around. They moved people through quickly, remembered you, and had fun. The techs knew each bike really well and talked us through everything while they set up the suspension and pedals. When we returned the 429, well after the cutoff time, they had no complaints. We were even applauded by Chris Cocalis (CEO of Pivot Cycles) and his team before leaving for the night. And, while you shouldn’t buy a bike based solely on service, it definitely helps you choose one company over another.
So, in summary, this is a great all-around trail bike for most riders and for 95% of the trails most of us ride, most of the time. It will easily get you up the trail and bring you back down with speed and comfort that rivals most medium-travel bikes out there. It really fits the aggressive 29er description well. I’m not a fan of 29” bikes in general, but this bike has challenged my concerns and changed my opinion of them for the future. If you’re a bigger guy, or you want that extra rollover capability without the high-seat, slow response of those big wheel bikes of yesteryear, or if you’re just looking for a great, do-all bike to ride every day, this is a great choice. And, with a price tag significantly lower than the Mach 6 (and Mach 429SL), a great option for your budget, too.
Excellent Float 34 Factory fork, external cable routing on the front triangle (except up the seat tube for the Stealth dropper post routing) along with a little cheaper, slightly heavier (but equally stiff) carbon lay up which helps reduce the price point for the Trail model by $500 dollars compared to other carbon models. (At least I think, that’s what their marketing speak for the Trail model is saying)
This is KRob again. I’ll just add a couple responses to queries about these two bikes here from private messages and posts on mtbr and on the blog to give you a feel for my slightly different view point on the M429 Trail.
I liked the M429Trail quite a bit and think Pivot did a good job creating a bike (though I’d question whether they’ve created a new category) that covers a wide range of riding from XC to aggressive trail quite well but not as much as I liked the Following. The Following felt like a low slack, short travel all-trail shredder with some impressive overlap into the endruo/am category. Very fast, nimble, and capable. The M429 was impressive and did feel more relaxed and trail worthy than your typical short travel 29er but it had the misfortune of being ridden directly following the, um, Following. I think Nate liked the M429 better than the Following for his purposes which may lean a little more to the XC side of the aggressive trail category.
So for all-day, big climbing rides on moderately technical and rough trail, adventure riding, back country stage races, and endurance races I’d lean towards the M429 Trail, but for more all-around hooliganism and aggressive riding I’d go with the Following all…. day……long.
The 429 Trail is a pretty cool bike, but there were others I liked better. It did fit well and for its skimpy 116mm of travel felt like it had more travel than it did. It was agile enough and tracked well in the rough but felt like it got bounced around some on the rockier sections. I would’ve preferred bigger, meatier tires for the loose, dry, rocky Bootleg conditions but the Ardents weren’t bad. Overall the 429 Trail hit its mark pretty well, but I think it was too conservative in its “Trail” iteration. I mean if you’re going to keep the standard 429 (which is an excellent bike), why not go a little crazy and separate it more towards the aggressive side of the spectrum. If I had just stepped off a regular XC 29er or 29 HT onto the 429 Trail, I think I would’ve noticed its more relaxed, aggressive, “Trail” character more, but like I said elsewhere, it had the misfortune of following the Following.
Overall we were quite impressed with the Mach 429 Trail but I definitely feel like I’d need some more time on it to get a more complete picture of its strengths.