Pivot Trail 429 Review: A Rare Trail Bike Designed to Climb as Well as It Descends

Check out the 2021 Singletracks Mid-Travel Mashup reviews on Singletracks and video reviews on our YouTube channel.

The spectrum that Singletracks chose for our Mid-Travel Mashup was fairly wide, but bikes needed to be the latest iteration of a trail bike with rear travel between 120mm and 141mm. All of them happened to be 29ers, and they all happen to fit within that travel spectrum, yet they are all vastly different.

This Pivot Trail 429 sits at the beginning of the spectrum with a racey-feeling 120mm of travel, paired with a 130mm fork. The bike is 5-7lbs lighter than a few of the other trail bikes we reviewed alongside it.

That’s not surprising, really. Pivots generally have a light, stiff, and efficient feel underneath the rider. It’s also not surprising because the price tag on this Shimano XT and XTR, carbon-smothered build is $9,799 and with that price tag comes higher expectations.

Our Team XTR build with carbon rims (one out of 20 build options) includes a top shelf Shimano groupset with 4-piston XTR brakes, carbon Reynolds Blacklabel rims and I-9 Hydra hubs, a Fox Factory DPS shock and 34 fork with a Fit4 damper, a carbon Pivot handlebar, a 150mm Fox Transfer Factory dropper post, Maxxis Dissector tires, and a Race Face Next R crankset.

The most affordable Pivot Trail 429 starts at $5,900 while builds top out at $13,099 for electronic shifting and suspension control with SRAM AXS and Fox Live Valve.

The size medium we tested has a stubby 394mm seat tube length – maybe the shortest of all of these bikes, with a very low standover height of 682mm, a 66.5° HTA, a 75.5° STA, 430mm chainstays across the board, and a 1,187mm wheelbase. Reach on the medium 120mm trail bike was almost as long as the Privateer 141 at 460mm.

Other features on the Trail 429 include a flip-chip with a low/lower setting, space inside the frame for a water bottle, full internal cable routing, and room for a 2.6″ wide tire in the frame.

Climbing performance

Test pilot profile height: 5’8″ (173cm) weight: 165lbs. (75kg) testing zone: Colorado Front Range

There are two things most mountain bikers do when examining a new bike in person: They run their eyes over the frame and review the placement and aesthetic of the tubing and second, they’ll pick it up for a weight check. You can easily pass two major judgments before pedaling a new bike out onto the trail and those are how the bike looks and if the weight is appropriate given the bike’s intentions.

The Trail 429 boldly checks both boxes. The silver color glistens in the sun and the square tubing, in a near straight light from the head tube to the rear axle, gives the bike an arrow-like look. The weight, 27.2 pounds, excited me that much more before I even threw my leg over the Trail 429.

I kept the bike in its lower chip setting for more aggressive geometry and have kept the sag at the race setting on the shock’s sag-o-meter. The Trail 429 and its greyhound-like stature beg to be pedaled hard, and the suspension and frame respond. This Pivot is one of the most eager bikes in this Mashup as far as pedaling goes.

The bike stays up rather high in its travel, but the Trail 429 did feel more active through the first 25-35% than other Pivots I have ridden. This means that it soaks up techy climbs rather well for a shorter travel bike, but on smooth ascents with the long reach and not-too-steep seat tube angle, the rider can feel like they’re falling behind a little. I opted for the middle position on the Fox shock for a more supportive feel on some climbs and traction didn’t suffer from the added damping.

The Trail 429 is happier when you’ve got your foot deeper into the gas pedal though. Sure you can granny gear up the mountain, but with how lightweight the bike is, you can shift up a gear or two and the suspension feels like it keeps its footing better.

Descending performance

This might be one of the only bikes where we don’t have to announce that “this bike is clearly made for descending.” The Trail 429’s engineers were mindful of how the bike would climb and descend equally, whereas a few other bikes in this review series are definitely prioritized for descending but will still get you up the hill.

Light, stiff, and nimble are traits of this trail bike pointed downhill. Pivots are known for being marvelously stiff and with the HTA still 66° and above, the Trail 429 snaps around the trail nicely. The head tube angle feels reactive and the bike still uses a 51mm offset fork.

While the HTA, and 1,188mm wheelbase aren’t pushing any boundaries, the 455mm reach is somewhat long for the medium trail bike and gives the rider an added measure of stability.

With how light and lively the Pivot feels underneath you, it can take some getting used to attacking rock gardens, but the stability is there and the bike stays pretty well planted. You can find the limits on steeper, chunkier trails. The rear wheel does an admirable job at getting out of the way and letting you pick up speed.

The nearly $10,000 build I tested carries its speed better than any other bike I can recall riding lately. Better have a good set of eye protection on if you’re riding this thing down a sustained straightaway.

Component check

Pivot could have gone a lot of different directions with this bike given its climbing and descending capability, but they did a good job speccing parts that are mindful of both, and the enduro build will add a reservoir shock and a 140mm fork for people who want more punch.

Everything held up well on our bike, though the rear Shimano XTR brake did start to feel a little light toward the end of the test.

There’s not much to pick apart on this build except for the price, and since this bike’s price is twice as much as some of the others in our test, that should be a given. Price is usually a factor for Pivots, and there are some other mainstream brands out there that don’t offer a value-oriented option.

Should Pivot consider building aluminum frames to help make the sport more accessible? I’m not sure. Lexus and Audi don’t seem too concerned about making their cars more affordable when there are Toyotas and VWs available for those who can’t afford the luxury brands. Not that Pivot has a sister brand, but you get the point.

Fabric seats, manual transmissions, and crank windows just might not be Pivot’s thing.

Who’s it for?

Reading both the climbing and descending sections, this one is easy to determine. The Trail 429 is a great all-rounder for people who want a trail bike that can climb just as well as it descends and are tired of the schtick that mountain biking is all about the downhill.

While certainly a pricey bike, the Pivot Trail 429 delivers as a well-rounded trail option for people who want to enjoy all aspects of mountain biking.

Pros

  • Light, responsive, and capable climber
  • Agile handling makes it a fun trail bike
  • Well balanced suspension for climbing and desending

Pros and cons of the Pivot Trail 429.

Cons

  • Expensive, even at the entry-level builds
  • No aluminum option

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