Phoenix Rising: Pivot Mach 429Trail

Pivot as a brand is relatively unknown in SA, but after shredding their 29er trail-beast around for a couple of weeks, Rudolf Zuidema struggled to return the bike.

While doing some background reading for this month’s test bike the Pivot Mach 429Trail, we were completely stumped that the brand is a mere 10 years old! While not that well known in SA, if you’ve been around the MTB scene for a while you’re bound to have heard of Pivot and probably only good things if our test bike is anything to go by. With a simple brand philosophy of striving to be the BEST in every category they choose to enter, gives PIVOT the same focus and dedication to creating a bike that rides as well as other more established brands we’ve tested in the “niche” category. The Mach 4 is available in a number of incarnations from the 100mm SL Race Bike to the 130/116mm 429Trail on test. The 429Trail is PIVOT’s attempt at creating the ultimate do-it-all bike, which as we’ve seen recently seems to be the Holy Grail in terms of bike design at the moment. To date the Santa Cruz Tallboy has stood head and shoulders above the competition in this category, but its days could be numbered. Like the Tallboy the attention to detail on the spec of the overall package is sublime and belies the brand’s decision to only compete in markets where they can offer what they believe is the best bike in the category.

Photo: Frans le Roux

The 429Trail strikes an impressive pose with its immaculate simple yet bold Blue & White paint scheme. Like many other Boost Hub frames the 429Trail can be fitted with either 29” or 27.5+ wheels. Pivot have opted for full external cable routing which as mentioned before is not as aesthetically pleasing as internal cables, but does make maintenance a lot simpler in the long run. On the topic of aesthetics; at a glance, the 429Trail appears to be a 1x specific frame. However, it does feature the neatest removable front derailleur mount we’ve seen to date, the only visible evidence being a small blanking cap above the BB. Sculpted, integrated downtube and chainstay protectors keep the frame safe without detracting from its sculpted lines and there is provision for a second water bottle on the frame albeit in the slightly awkward underside of downtube position. Rear travel is 116mm via Dave Weagle’s superb DW Link Virtual Pivot design, which delivers superb pedalling efficiency and impact compliance. A neat feature is the custom sag meter fitted to the FOX rear shock with indicators for “Race” and “Trail Mode” although we found the sweet spot to be somewhere in the middle for our style of riding, which to be fair is somewhere between racing and trail riding 🙂 The bike is well specced for its intended purpose as a race/ trail bike with Race Face Cranks, XT Brakes & Shifters, XTR Rear Derailleur, Fox Factory 34 Fork & Rear Shock, FOX Transfer Dropper Post, DT Swiss XM 421 Wheelset with Maxxis Ardent (Rear) & Hi Roller (Front). The standout spec though is the custom Pivot Handlebar/Stem/Grip combination that features a 35mm clamp diameter and an innovative shock absorption pad in the grips that interface with the handlebar giving a super plush ride feel from a cockpit that is very stiff and precise on the steering front. The 429Trail is just sublime, Dave Weagle’s DW Link suspension is a true testament that Extra Damping of the rear shock is not a substitute for an efficient suspension design! The 429Trail climbs as well with the rear shock open as closed, only suffering from pedalling bob in open mode when standing on the pedals.

Combining the superb suspension with short chainstays thanks to the boost hubspacing allows the 429Trail to cruise up steep technical climbs with ease. On the descents, it rarely gets rattled either, often surprising at the beating its relatively short 116mm travel can soak up. The long top tube combined with the slack 67.5 head angle and superb cockpit give the rider abundant confidence to attack the trail at speed. While riding the 429Trail we couldn’t help comparing it to the Tallboy. Both bikes are super light, feature superb Virtual Pivot Suspension designs and have similar travel. In our opinion, these bikes are arguably the best do-it-all bikes available in SA at the moment! Equally at home crunching climbs as they are at smashing the descents. While the Tallboy certainly has a lot of pedigree and is probably more race orientated than the sheer precision of Pivot’s Phoenix Cockpit System; the marginally increased suspension travel definitely tips the scale in the Pivot’s favour in terms of the ultimate do-it-all bike.

For more info on Pivot bikes in SA: http://www.isikosports.co.za

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