When I got the call to head down to Pivot Bicycles HQ to pick up a new test bike I was absolutely frothing. Excited would be an understatement! I have had a few Pivot’s of my own in the past and have been an on looker to their new models. The build quality and riding characteristics of Pivot’s bikes really suit my style of riding, the new Pivot Trail 429 is no exception.
There are some very pronounced updates to the 2021 Trail 429 model, as well as some hidden goodies Pivot went above and beyond with, but more on that later.
Right off the bat you can tell this bike has had some major changes to the frame. Pivot has gone with a vertically mounted Trunnion layout with a new progressive DW Link with 120mm of travel that prioritizes pedaling efficiency. Paired with the new linkage is a high volume Fox Factory Float DPX2, a shock that I am a huge fan of. This new linkage gives you the hard charging support that you want when the going gets rough while also keeping you high up in the stroke on technical climbs. When standing up and grinding up a tough climb, the pedaling efficiency is immediately noticeable.
A change that’s not readily noticed just by looking at the bike is the introduction of a proprietary hollow core carbon mold, as well as full length internal cable routing. The new Pivot Trail 429 frame with the shock comes in at a 5.9lbs, a full 300 grams lighter than the previous version. Our Pro XT/XTR build comes in at an impressive 26.5lbs. This weight is very noticeable and has helped push my riding distances with less fatigue. While losing some grams Pivot was also able to increase the frame’s stiffness. This is a frame that encroaches on XC race bike’s efficiency and speed with the ground-pounding durability of a trail bike. A really cool feature that I think makes a big difference to the rider is that each size frame has a specific stiffness tune. A size Medium bike is going to be more compliant than a Large in the testing machines, but the theory is that different sized frames will have riders of different weights, and those weights will change the demands put on the frame. So if a size Medium needs to be as stiff and strong as an XL to pass durability testing, a 5’6 145-pound rider is going to get railroaded while the 6’3 210-pound rider will feel like the bike is just right. It’s a great concept that certainly adds cost to the equation but makes sense considering Pivot is a brand that puts performance above all else.
The new Pivot Trail 429 uses 157mm Super Boost Plus rear axle spacing. Although we’re not huge fans of another “Standard” there’s no denying it helps with the overall rigidity of the frame and leaves room for a much larger rear tire. The Trail 429 is approved for 27.5+ tires and for those that like to get rowdy you can also run this in a mullet configuration with the flip chip in the Low setting. The flip chip is yet another new feature on this trail weapon. Pivot gave the Trail 429 two settings, Low and Lower. In the Low setting the bike comes in with a headtube angle of 66.5 degrees and a seat tube angle of 77.5 degrees. With just an Allen key you can switch the chip into the Lower setting slackening the headtube angle out to 66 degrees and the seat tube to 77 degrees. To run the bike in the mullet or 27.5 plus configuration the chip must be in the Low setting.
Our size Large test bike has a reach of 770mm, this is a touch on the shorter side for modern geo but it provides a very comfortable cockpit. For what this bike is intended to do I think this is the perfect size. Out back there are 433mm chainstays with an overall wheelbase of 1,229mm. For a 120mm bike, it is not lacking any agility on the tech while also providing plenty of stability on faster descents.
Don’t let the weight of this bike fool you the build kit is stout and ready to be launched downhill as fast as your mind will let you go. Naturally we gravitate towards the Enduro build option, which prescribes a 140mm Fox Factory Float 36 with the Grip2 damper and a 44mm offset whereas the standard Trail 429 Pro and Team builds come with a 130mm Fox 34 and Fox DPS or Live Valve shock. For the trail model you will get 130mm’s of travel in the same configuration. We got on well with Fox the dropper 175mm Factory Transfer on our size large.
When it comes to shifting gears and slowing back down to non-warp speed, Pivot specs some Shimano XT M8120 4-piston calipers paired with 180mm XT rotors that offer plenty of bite and stopping power on those long descents. This build kit comes with the 12-speed Shimano XTR derailleur and an XT shifter. This is a great move on their part as the XTR derailleur is an absolute beast and holds hard even when late shifting under power on a climb but passes on a few bucks worth of savings with the XT shifter. The cassette is a Shimano XT M8100 10-51T beast. This bike will get yanked up some challenging climbs with so having the options for gearing are vital. Helping get the power to the ground is a set of RaceFace Affect R cranks with a 32T chainring. While these are not the lightest cranks out there, they are defiantly burly and a welcomed edition to this build kit.
Pivot will have a few options of the new Trail 429 available at price points from $5,599 to $12,499.
The cockpit is all Pivot with 780mm wide Phoenix Team Low Rise bars paired with the Phoenix Team Enduro/Trail stem. I did find the bars to be a little to stiff for my preference and would more than likely swap these out for aluminum if the bike was my own. The Phoenix Factory Lock-On Grips were great at dissipating sweat and provided plenty of grip. Being a gloveless rider for me grips are very important, and after hearing our other testers rave about these grips, I was happy to get my own set to try.
Rounding out this build is a pair of DT Swiss XM1700 wheels laced to a DT 350 hub. At 30mm wide, with straight-pull spokes these things are built to last and complement this build very well. The DT 350 hub is stout and has been proven to be extremely reliable, but I think the 36-tooth engagement hub is a disservice to the pedaling prowess this bike has. There is a noticeable lag in engagement, while this is not a make or break type of thing, it is worth noting.
Pivot’s tire choice for this bike is a great complement to an already great shred sled. The 2.4” Maxxis Dissector TR 3C EXO casing tires inspire confidence in marble to golf ball sized rock-littered climbs. There was no lack in climbing traction both seated and standing up. Cornering grip was excellent, like almost weirdly good. While these tires are a perfect fit down here in Arizona, back up in Washington, I would be swapping that front tire out for a DHF to bite into softer soil a bit better, but needless to say, it makes sense they’d spec the tire that works best for their local terrain.