Pivot Cycles Trail 429 Dissected | One Bike, Two Characters


Enduro Vs Trail – How Different are they?

Words by Robert Johnston | Photos by Dusten Ryen & Brian Niles
Video by Treeline Cinematic


If you’ve been in the market for a do-it-all mountain bike, chances are, you’ve dealt with the inner debate around travel, build spec, weight and what matters most. We get asked quite a bit, “How much does build spec matter?” Depending on how much time we’ve got to chat we could go ’til we’re blue in the face, but in short, it matters a lot. How much is a lot, and does that percentage really mean you should suffer from analysis paralysis? We’re not so sure. Thanks to Pivot Cycles, we were able to conduct a fun few weeks of testing on a perfect platform to see just how big (or small) the differences are. Our testers put the Pivot Trail 429 head-to-head against the…Pivot Trail 429 “Enduro.” Pivot isn’t the only brand offering a versatile frame in two different build options designed for riders who want similar but different things out of their trail bike. Stay tuned to learn about this impressively capable mountain bike, and see if the Trail or Enduro build spec comes out on top, or is fastest to the bottom, or….whatever aspect of performance matters most to you!

As with all of our Dissected Features, this is not intended to be a long-term review or endorsement of a product but is instead a chance for our viewers and readers to get unique looks into new bikes, performance comparisons and other in-depth topics. We thank Pivot Cycles for the opportunity to create this feature and getting you some valuable beta on this lightweight, yet impressively capable trail ripper.


The Pivot Trail 429 was an easy pick for the bike to base this feature on. It is highly versatile in nature, blending some XC-race inspiration with more aggressive trail bike elements. It’ll happily cover big miles and offers efficiency to crush pedaling sprints, yet provides enough capability to handle some more aggressive and technical descents without a sweat.


Pivot builds the Trail 429 with high quality carbon fiber materials and uses their proprietary Hollow Core molding technology to deliver a medium frame with a shock at an impressive weight of just 5.9lbs / 2.7kg. Full build weights start at just 26.5lbs for a size medium, which is quite exceptional when you consider the reassuring stiffness and confidence the frame provides on the way down.

Pivot’s full carbon frame features size-specific ride tuning, to ensure that riders on every frame size in the XS to XL range get the same ride feel and performance out on the trail. This is an expensive, time consuming engineering exercise that really highlights Pivot’s premium quality and attention to detail.

Pivot Cycles Trail 429


Thanks to the Cable Port System, the Trail 429 features Hassle-free, full-length internal cable routing that’s easy to service and keeps any rattles to a minimum. This is much appreciated from both a mechanic’s standpoint when working on the bike, and in the dialed, quiet ride on the trail.

There’s a water bottle mount on the down tube with room for a large bottle on all frame sizes. Pivot’s Tool Dock System makes for a clean solution to transport a multi tool with you to keep you covered on a ride.

Pivot Cycles Trail 429 Geometry


Pivot selected the geometry on the Trail 429 to deliver a trail character that features XC-race worthy agility blended with stability and poise for more technical all mountain style trails. Riders can choose between Low and Lower geometry configurations thanks to the Flip Chip. In Low position, the Trail 429 has a more agile all-round handling package, and Lower provides a half-degree slacker HTA and 7mm lower BB for a more aggressive and stable ride.

Notable on the geometry sheet of the Trail 429 is the compact 432mm rear end, which aids agility in the tighter sections of trail and makes more playful riding a treat.


Pivot’s DW-Link® suspension is designed with pedaling efficiency at the forefront, but still provides an impressively plush and controlled 120mm rear end. By moving to the vertically mounted trunnion shock, Pivot was able to lower standover heights without sacrificing water bottle compatibility. There’s also mounts for their Dock Tool System to help you carry the essentials on your ride.


Pivot offers the Trail 429 in their three primary build levels (Ride, Pro, Team) with options from both Shimano & SRAM at each level, along with options in the more affordable Brunch Ride configuration. Pricing goes from the $4,999 Brunch Ride which still features Fox Factory suspension, to the $11,499 Team XX Eagle Transmission Enduro package, which is dripping with the best of the best.

For this feature we pitted the Pro XT/XTR Trail and Pro XT/XTR Enduro builds head-to-head, both with the carbon wheel option. These share a lot of the spec, and retail for comparable $8,699 and $8,899 price tags respectively.

Both of these builds feature a mixture of Shimano XT and XTR for the drivetrain, with a set of RaceFace Aeffect R alloy cranks. Braking duties are handled by a set of XT 4-piston brakes, which offer plentiful stopping power. There’s a Fox Transfer Factory dropper post in generous lengths across the size range to maximize clearance on the way down. Finally, Pivot’s comfortable Carbon Bar is mounted to the steerer with their alloy stem.

Where these two builds differ is in their suspension, wheels and tires. The Trail build spec features lighter weight choices for maximum efficiency and agility, whereas the Enduro spec receives more aggressive spec choices for more testing descents.

Reynolds Blacklabel 309/289 XC Pro / I9 Hydra vs DT Swiss EXC 1501 / DT 240 36T

The Reynolds Blacklabel 309/289 XC Pro wheels on the Trail build with the ultra-fast Industry Nine Hydra hubs are an incredibly zippy wheelset. Moving to the burlier DT Swiss EXC 1501s makes a notable difference on the Enduro build, which offer pros and cons depending on who you’re asking. The increased strength and stiffness of the DT Swiss wheelset increases confidence and precision when pushing hard, whereas the lighter Reynolds XC wheelset provides snappier acceleration and more agile handling overall.

Fox 34 130mm vs Fox 36 140mm | Fox Float DPS vs Float X

Going from a 130mm travel and a lightweight Fox 34 chassis to the burlier 36 at 140mm makes a notable difference to descending confidence, but it does come at a small cost. With the slacker Head Tube Angle, higher front end and increased suspension travel, the front end of the Trail 429 Enduro spec guise is more stable and confident. To more in-tune XC riders, it also feels a little more sluggish on the way up and while threading the needle through tighter bits of trail.

The Fox Float X shock upgrade on the Enduro adds extra oil volume thanks to the piggyback reservoir. This boosts heat management and damping consistency for the longer descents and bigger hits.

Maxxis DHR2/Dissector EXO+/EXO vs DHF/DHR2 EXO+/EXO+

Last but not least is perhaps the cheapest and easiest way to transform the character of a mountain bike. By changing tires to suit your preferences and trail conditions. You can choose to maximize rolling efficiency and lower weight, or go burly and ultra-grippy, or choose to sit somewhere in the middle to get a blend of characters.

The two Maxxis tire sets on these bikes may not be drastically different, but the lighter and faster rolling Dissector on the rear on the Trail build helps to eke a little more speed out of flatter and faster terrain, at the expense of a little durability, braking power and traction for the rowdier trail sections.

THE RESULT | Trail vs Enduro Builds

Comparing the Pivot 429’s Trail to the Enduro builds on paper, you receive small geometry changes due to the slightly longer fork, and a weight differential that may be a little more notable.

For the same spacer stack, the Trail build keeps rider weight closer to the handlebars and in a more racey, pedal-friendly attack position, whereas the Enduro build’s slightly higher front end and slacker Head Tube Angle make for a safer feeling on the descents.

The Trail 429 in Trail spec weighed in at 28.8lbs (13.1kg) whereas the Enduro spec weighed 31.1lbs (14.1kg). With 2.3lbs or 1kg difference between the two – most of which is rotational mass – the two bikes are notably different in feel. To put it differently, that’s 7.68% difference in overall weight, with a good portion of that weight difference being rotating mass.

Let’s talk about exactly what these differences amount to, both in terms of feeling and when they go up against the clock.

Pivot Cycles Trail 429 Dissected | One Bike, Two Characters


In short, the sum of a few part swaps does in fact amount to two bikes that are notably different in feeling.

Pivot’s Trail 429 is undoubtedly a fun machine in both build guises, but favor different terrain and rider types. An explosive, efficient pedaling character is shared between the two bikes, and makes logging big miles or dropping the hammer a pleasure. Countless times we found ourselves digging deep to lay down an effort on this bike, as the reward in forward momentum is addictive. The 429 Trail build’s lighter weight and more racey geometry serve to push this a notch further, with truly impressive speed.

Similarly, on more flowy and smooth descents both of the build specs offer plentiful reward for pumping efforts and carve a turn with reassuring confidence. Playful riding is rewarded with plentiful pop, and geometry lends itself to quick darts side-to-side or getting onto the back wheel at any given opportunity.

To help illustrate the difference between the two bikes on the clock, Travis put these two bikes head-to-head on both climb and descent stages to see what the spec changes would amount to. While not in any way scientific, the “Equal effort” approach both up and down the hill served to confirm our suspicions.

Pivot Cycles Trail 429 Dissected | One Bike, Two Characters


The climb, spanning just under two-tenths of a mile, gradually increased in steepness as I approached the end, culminating in a punchy final 50 feet. While it may not have been as technically demanding as places like Sedona, it provided enough variety to keep me on my toes, selecting the best lines as I ascended.

In comparing the times, the results were as many of us might have anticipated. The Pivot 429 Trail completed the climb in 1:37, while the more robust Trail 429 Enduro was 4 seconds slower, finishing in 1:41. This means in our repeated testing, the Pivot Trail 429 is just over 4% faster than the Enduro build. In other words if you climbed for thirty minutes and your rate of effort was the same, which we could argue it wouldn’t be as you’d fatigue at a faster rate aboard a heavier bike with more rolling resistance, you’d have almost a one minute and fifteen second lead per climb. Not a small gap by any means.

Pivot Cycles Trail 429 Dissected | One Bike, Two Characters


On the descent, I started with a chunky, technical section over some of Central Oregon’s infamous lava rock. After bashing over the rock, the trail dropped through a patch of trees with several loose, flat corners, some rooty tech, and tight squeezes through the pines. The descent finishes with a long, fast straight with a rock or two to avoid. At just over a quarter of a mile, this quick down was the perfect section to put these two trail bikes head-to-head.

As you may have guessed, the results were flipped from the climb. With a more robust build and a bit more traction, the 429 Enduro made it down in just 0:58 seconds. The 429 Trail was a tad slower, clocking a time of 1:01 on the downhill section, three seconds slower. While the seconds may be close on our short test track, it’s actually about a 5% difference. And once again, if you remove the larger margin for error aboard a bike with more travel, traction and better braking power, and assume you can maintain a downhill race speed without fatiguing, a five minute descent would give the 429 Enduro rider a 15-second gap. A sizeable gap for sure and one that will likely grow as terrain gets more demanding. Plus, it offers a lot more comfort and confidence when things get steep or rough.

Pivot Cycles Trail 429 Dissected | One Bike, Two Characters


As expected, the lighter weight and more climb-focused Trail spec took the win on the uphill stage. A combination of the snappier acceleration off the line and the psychology of the lighter trail build made for a bike that begged you to push that little bit harder on the pedals. In the Trail spec, the Pivot Trail 429 could likely serve as a XC race bike, at least for longer marathon style events where comfort and descending capability takes more of a priority. Boosting the aggression of the spec going to the Enduro build, and the good pedaling manners were still very much there, but acceleration off the line suffered a small amount and the timed uphill stage result helped to illustrate this.

When the trail turned downhill though, the increased capability and stability of the Enduro spec was much appreciated for more aggressive riders and gnarlier trails. With a mixture of flow and tech combined on the descending stage, the Enduro spec edged it thanks to the increased confidence to let off the brakes in the rough stuff and commit to the more technical and speed focused lines. On the flowier sections of trail, there was little to tell between the two bikes, with both offering a fun and engaging ride.

If we move beyond the clock and focused more on what our body was telling us, it was that both of these bikes were a lot of fun, but we would absolutely grab one over the other depending on the day and trails we’d be riding. The percentages may be small, but in some situations, we felt a much more notable difference in either energy spent or more frequently, confidence to attack. While the Trail 429 was a rocket ship, handled fun jump lines and trail rides with ease, when we arrived at some our favorite descents, there was no denying that the rider aboard the burlier Enduro-spec bike would be dropping in first. While times and percentages are easier to measure, our riders certainly felt like the difference in ride change was far more drastic. In fact, our riders agreed on a roughly 10% margin on the 429 Trail when it came to speed, pedaling and efficiency and a whopping 20-25% more confidence on the Enduro build! That’s massive! So, while the clock may say one thing, it’s safe to assume most riders aren’t living by the clock and the confidence and safety-blanket feel of a burlier build could be worth that weight and speed penalty on the way up, at least for us gravity-hounds it is.

With a versatile and adaptable frame, the Pivot Trail 429 could see potential for riders looking for “One bike to rule them all.” More importantly though, after our testing we could easily make a case for riders opting to own two wheelsets and even a different fork to switch out depending on the trails or destination. Over the years we’ve ridden enough bikes in similar and different categories to know where things matter most and what our own personal preferences, however we realize that most consumers don’t have the ability to just hop aboard dozens of bikes before each purchase. Hopefully this fun, anecdotal test will offer some valuable insight as to just how big, or little, the differences truly are. We’ve all been there and have spent hours researching, debating and stressing over a decision that in reality will equate to seconds, or at most two minutes on the trail. So, if there’s anything to take away, it’s that unless your paycheck comes from you crossing that finish line ahead of everyone else on the trail, you may just want to have a one-on-one with yourself to see what really matters most when it’s just you, your bike and the trail ahead.

If by chance that heart-to-heart conversation with yourself lead you towards the Pivot trail 429 (Trail or Enduro build) rest assured that you will be stoked as hell! We thoroughly enjoyed taking both of Pivot’s Trail 429 rippers out to attack the local trails, but for us, the Enduro takes the cake, hands down.

Pivot Cycles Trail 429 Dissected | One Bike, Two Characters