Home Front end Pivot Trail 429 mountain bike review: beast for the climb, bomber for the descent

Pivot Trail 429 mountain bike review: beast for the climb, bomber for the descent


Pivot updated the Trail 429 last year, making substantial changes to its best-selling line. But I didn’t believe the chatter about it being a terrific climber while also being a downhill crusher—until I rode it.

I am realistic; I know the statement “quiver of one” usually means the gear is good for nothing. But man, oh man, did this bike push those assumptions down my throat. I was giddy on the way up and ecstatic on the descents. The Pivot Trail 429 had me at “DW-link”.

We tested the bike for 4 months, covering terrain from Texas to Colorado. We rode hard and fast XC trails with punchy climbs and rocky descents and bombarded 10-minute all-mountain descents.

In short: If the terrain is unfamiliar and you can only bring one bike, the Pivot Trail 429 is a great choice. You can reach the top of the climb with the energy and ability to bomb down the descent and do it repeatedly. The Pivot Trail 429 delivered on all counts, proving to be a versatile one-bike wonder.

Pivot Trail 429 Updates

Our review sample was the third iteration of the 429 with plenty of notable changes. Lighter is fairer, and Pivot shaved 300g off a midsize frame by upgrading the carbon fiber. This mass loss is impressive, because Pivot gave the geometry the fashionable lower, longer and slacker treatment.

The brand increased the reach on a midframe by 16mm and lowered the head angle by 1.3 degrees (but steepened the seat tube by 1.0 degrees).

Pivotal Trail 429

The shock now mounts vertically, hinged in two 7000-series aluminum links, with beefy-looking Enduro MAX bearings. Pivot added a “flip-chip” to the upper rocker arm.

In the “lower” setting, it lowers the bottom bracket by 6mm and slacks the head and seat tube angles by 0.5 degrees. The new orientation of the shocks allowed for straighter frame tubes and lower clearance. It also allows for longer dropper posts and larger water bottle capacity.

The Pivot Trail 429 range

Pivotal Trail 429

Frame and wheel compatibility

The new frame still mates with 29er wheels, but it is compatible with 27.5er hoops on its Super Boost hub spacing. A rider can also use a 29-inch x 27.5-inch rear “mule” configuration. Pivot provides a taller stack and lower headset cup to run 27.5-inch fronts. Pivot says tire clearance is 29 x 2.6 inches or 27.5 x 2.8 inches.

There are five frame sizes in total which Pivot says cover riders from 4’11” to 6’7″. The press-fit bottom bracket is PF92 and all cable routing is internal with access via bolt-on ports. The threaded dropouts accept a chain guide and the direct mount for the rear brake is reserved for 180mm rotors.

A water bottle fits in the front triangle on all sizes, and another fits under the downtube. A third set of bottle cage bosses sit on the bottom of the top tube for a multi-tool or similar accessory.

Component sets

Shimano and SRAM component choices exist in Race, Pro and Team levels. Then the Pro and Team tiers have options for “Enduro” builds that replace a 130mm Fox 34 fork with a 140mm Fox 36 Grip2 unit.

The Enduro version also replaces the Fox DPS shock with a Fox DPX2 shock. Pivot also offers electronically controlled Fox LIVE versions with the 130mm fork and DPS shock.

The wheels are either DT Swiss XM1700 or Reynolds Blacklabel 309/289 carbon with Industry Nine Hydra hubs as upgrades from the Pro level models.

You can find the 14 models listed (with upgrade options) on the Pivot Trail 429 site. MSRP ranges from $7,199 to $13,999. A frameset with a Fox DPS shock and RaceFace Next R carbon crankset is $3,949 for those who want to build on their own. Pivot offers two frame colors: Pacific Blue and Silver Metallic.

Our test model was a large Pro XT/XTR Enduro with the standard DT Swiss XM1700 wheelset, which retails for $7,599.

Pivot Trail 429 Trail Impressions

pivot cycles

Exceptional pedaling performance

Pedaling efficiency was the powerful first impression of the Enduro Trail 429 build. The suspension was supple and very active to and around the sag point. But pressing the pedals beyond that resulted in immediate forward momentum. I was super surprised.

The stretched front end and its relative looseness indicated a downhill-oriented bike. But man, the very first rocky climb revealed that Pivot nailed the DW-link suspension so it converted as much of my punch into rear-wheel torque as possible. I never felt the need to run the rear shock anything other than in the open position, except on pavement.

Getting out of the saddle proved that the geometry and cockpit dimensions of my 6-foot-tall frame were on point for near insane, borderline efforts. I didn’t have to pay too much attention to my body position or weight distribution to get the rear wheel hooked up and driving the bike.

Our test bike weighed in at a verified 28-pound, 15-ounce weight, which Pivot shipped with tubes and no pedals. That number doesn’t impress me when I compare it to the race-oriented XC bikes I ride the most. But it’s light considering the Trail 429’s overall obstacle-clearing abilities. That added to the climbing prowess over other trail bikes.

Excellent downhill behavior

Rolling descents on cross-country loops dotted with limestone ledges up to 2 feet high were no problem for the Trail 429. And in most cases, that was too much bike riding in Enduro form. .

A few visits to the lift-served bike park in my area (yes, Texas has a ski lift) further revealed that the chassis’ bump compliance at speed matched its excellent climbing performance.

The Pivot Trail 429 demanded thoughtful line selections in the toughest sections, but rewarded the effort with a ride that belied its suspension travel limits. Once I established my lines, I confidently bombarded intermediate trails at a speed that seemed out of reach for a “trail” bike not too long ago.

The frame’s lateral stiffness elicited immediate chassis responses from leg and foot inputs made while leaning into chop. Frontal twist resistance made bar entries efficient and predictable.

I’m not a big fan of gap-hucker or big drop. I like to go fast on flowing trails, and airtime is limited to dirt obstacles with good landings and rocky or rooty descents that don’t involve a lot of drops on the bike’s wheelbase.

The Trail 429 was all the bike I needed for this type of riding, and I could take it on XC-type trails without feeling like I was giving up too much everywhere else.

Comfort for days

Finally, the Pivot Trail 429 had the right specs to stay comfortable for long days on the trails. I could see some bikepacking on this rig in terrain that was too rough for my gravel bike. The plushness around the suspension sag point and the larger air volume of the tires contributed to this perception.


Swivel Mountain Bikes

As I get older, I want less…everything. I was lucky to have several Mountain bike test right away. But being responsible for all the bikes also means a lot of maintenance time. And the hassle of carrying multiple bikes on road trips. Finally, certainly not I could afford to buy them all.

I’ve always said, don’t compromise on equipment and get the right tool for the job. But this bike proved that there could be a middle ground. If you don’t do XC racing or are a DH specialist, but like to see elevation profiles that look like jagged teeth, this bike can climb and descend in style.

Indeed, if I was going on a road trip where I was unsure of the terrain, this machine would be at the top of the list. There are lighter bikes and plusher rides out there, but the Pivot Trail 429 is incredibly versatile, making it a unique bike with a high smile factor.