It’s always exciting when a new test bike spices up the ride on my favorite trails—and lately it seems that mid-travel bikes have added the most spice, due largely to their maneuverability and point-and-shoot control.
So, from the moment I hopped aboard the new Pivot Trail 429—the Arizona-based company’s third-generation version of its best-selling model—it was clear this bike was going to have a real kick to its performance. The new Trail 429 was redesigned to be a lightweight climb assassin that descends with agility and precision, with 29-inch wheels and 120 millimeters of rear-wheel travel. It comes with two travel options in the front—130 or 140 millimeters—and given the renowned steepness of many of Bellingham, Washington’s trails, Pivot wisely sent us the 140-millimeter Pro Enduro version to put through its paces.
Its climbing credentials were validated from the first few pedal strokes uphill. The ultra-lightweight bike (the frame and shock weigh only 5.9 pounds) gets up to speed quickly, and the tried-and-true DW Link rear-suspension platform allows for efficient use of all 120 millimeters of the Fox Factory Float DPX2 shock’s travel without the slightest hint of pedal bob. This was true when pedaling both in and out of the saddle, which is a rare trait when a rider of my size is standing and stomping on the pedals. The ultra-progressive leverage curve provides suppleness off the top while still enjoying a near-bottomless end stroke, and I was able to maintain traction through rough terrain without paying the price in speed-stifling bottom-outs.
Geometry & Specs:
Wheel Size: 29"
Rear Travel: 120mm
Head Tube Angle: 66°
The new Trail 429 features adjustable geometry that is delivered via a flip-chip that effectively lowers or raises the bottom-bracket height. For the standard version of the Trail 429, with a 130-millimeter fork, the head angle is 66.5 degrees, and the seat angle is 75.5 degrees in the higher of the two bottom-bracket settings. When switched into the lower bottom-bracket setting, the head angle becomes 66 degrees, while the seat angle becomes 75 degrees. For the Pro Enduro version, due to the longer-travel 140-millimeter fork, both the head and seat angles are slackened by another half-degree, making the head angle 65.5 degrees and the seat angle 74.5 degrees when in the lower bottom-bracket setting. I appreciated this when charging into some of Bellingham’s most technical downhill sections, and the 140-millimeter Fox Factory 36 GRIP2 fork delivered the perfect amount of travel for me to blast full-speed through root-filled terrain. And when it came time to jump, it always left me smiling on the landings.
But what stood out most about the Trail 429’s descending prowess was its sheer agility. It carved through tight-and-twisty trails with a precision I have yet to experience on another bike in this travel range. The predictable rear suspension and overall tight feel of the bike essentially turned some of my rowdiest local trails into pumptracks, making typically challenging corners feel wider and allowing me to scan further down the trail for wider doubles to gap. Adding to the Trail 429’s capabilities was the choice of tires on this build: The 2.4-inch Maxxis Dissector 3C Maxxterra tires delivered excellent traction, even in slippery, late-winter conditions.
It’s not an overstatement to call the new Pivot Trail 429 a masterpiece, especially when you’re zipping through tight corners and popping high into the air. And when a bike pedals as well as this one, it’s always begging you to climb up for yet another lap.
Pivot Trail 429 - Pro XT/XTR Enduro - $6,999