The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Pivot Trail 429 Race XT 2019 Review

A quick-handling trail bike that flys uphill like a cross country bike.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Price:  $4,699 List | $4,079.99 at Competitive Cyclist
Pros:  excellent climbing abilities, sharp handling, very fast on the right terrain
Cons:  performance on sustained rock, lofty price of entry
Manufacturer:   Pivot Cycles
By Pat Donahue, Joshua Hutchens, Paul Tindal  ⋅  Aug 20, 2018
  • Share this article:
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
69
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#20 of 23
  • Fun Factor - 25% 7
  • Downhill Performance - 35% 5
  • Climbing Performance - 35% 9
  • Ease of Maintenance - 5% 5

Our Verdict

The Pivot Trail 429 is a zippy, xc-minded, trail bike with very impressive climbing abilities. For 2019, the Trail 429 has replaced the popular Mach 429 model in the Pivot lineup. The Trail 429 adds a small amount of travel, slacker angles, and a slightly more airy cockpit. Three professional mountain bike testers spent ten days riding this new bike as much as humanly possible. The Trail 429 is a great bike for those who like a sporty short-travel bike with tight handling and tremendous climbing abilities. This bike is best riding terrain with intermittent technical features. It carves and slashes its way down singletrack with impressive composure. Things are less pleasant in longer rock gardens. The 429 can navigate boney and technical terrain, but it requires some finesse and a good bit of precision. Climbing abilities are very impressive and we don't hesitate to call this bike one of the best climbers we have ridden. We tested the Race XT build kit which sells for $4699 and features a mixed bag of components. It is easy to call this bike a solid value for the right rider.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award 
Price $4,079.99 at Competitive Cyclist$5,099 List$7,299.00 at Competitive Cyclist$4,999.00 at Competitive Cyclist$5,399 List
Overall Score Sort Icon
100
0
69
100
0
86
100
0
86
100
0
82
100
0
82
Star Rating
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Pros excellent climbing abilities, sharp handling, very fast on the right terrainExcellent climber, aggressive geometry, rim/tire combinationExcellent climbing abilities, impressive downhill performance, high fun factor, tremendous build kitWell-rounded, modern geometry, fun on a wide range of terrain, more capable than previous modelLightweight, playful, well-rounded, modern geometry, solid component specification
Cons performance on sustained rock, lofty price of entryExpensive, big impacts are less supportive, handlebars have too much backsweepExpensive, pivots came loose a few times during testingA little heavy for carbon, chattery over high frequency chopNot a brawler, Fox 34 fork can be overwhelmed
Bottom Line A quick-handling trail bike that flys uphill like a cross country bike.An aggressive 29er with geometry to get rad while retaining a sporty and nimble feelA fantastic trail bike that blends superb climbing abilities with fun and well-rounded downhill performance.The Santa Cruz Tallboy is a highly capable, versatile, and hard-charging short travel trail bike.We loved the old version, but believe it or not, the new Ibis Ripley is even better.
Rating Categories Pivot Trail 429 Race XT Ibis Ripmo GX Yeti SB130 TURQ X01 Santa Cruz Tallboy Carbon C S Ibis Ripley GX Eagle
Fun Factor (25%)
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
Downhill Performance (35%)
10
0
5
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
Climbing Performance (35%)
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
9
Ease Of Maintenance (5%)
10
0
5
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
7
Specs Pivot Trail 429... Ibis Ripmo GX Yeti SB130 TURQ X01 Santa Cruz Tallboy... Ibis Ripley GX Eagle
Wheel size 29" 29" 29" 29" 29"
Suspension & Travel DW-Link - 120mm DW-Link - 145mm Switch Infinity - 130mm Virtual Pivot Point (VPP) - 120mm DW-Link - 120mm
Measured Weight (w/o pedals) 29 lbs 14 oz (Large) 29 lbs 7 oz (Large) 29 lbs 9 oz (Large) 30 lbs 10 oz (Large) 28 lbs 14 oz (Large)
Fork Fox 34 Performance - 130mm, 34mm stanchions Fox 36 Performance - 160mm, 36mm stanchions Fox 36 Factory - 150mm 36mm stanchions Fox 34 Float Performance 130mm Fox Float 34 Performance 130mm 34mm stanchions
Shock Fox Float DPSD Performance EVOL Fox DPX2 Performance Elite Fox DPX2 Factory Fox Float Performance DPS Fox Float Performance DPS EVOL
Frame Material Carbon Fiber Carbon Fiber Carbon Fiber "TURQ" Carbon Fiber "C" Carbon Fiber
Frame Size Medium Large Large Large Large
Frame Settings N/A N/A N/A Flip Chip N/A
Available Sizes XS-XL S-XL S-XL XS-XXL S-XL
Wheelset Sun Ringle Duroc 30mm ID w/ Sun Ringle Hubs Ibis 938 Aluminum Rims 34mm ID w/ Ibis Hubs DT Swiss M1700, 30mm ID w/ DT Swiss 350 hub Race Face AR Offset 27 with DT 370 hubs Ibis 938 Aluminum Rims 34mm ID w/ Ibis Hubs
Front Tire Maxxis Minion DHRII 29 x 2.4" Maxxis Minion DHF WT 29 x 2.5" Maxxis Minion DHF WT 29 x 2.5" Maxxis Minion DHF 3C EXO TR 2.3" Schwable Hans Dampf 2.6"
Rear Tire Maxxxis Rekon 29 x 2.4" Maxxis Aggressor WT 29 x 2.5" Maxxis Aggressor 29 x 2.3 Maxxis Minion DHR II EXO TR 2.3" Schwalbe Nobby Nic 2.6"
Shifters Shimano SLX SRAM GX Eagle SRAM XO Eagle SRAM GX Eagle SRAM GX Eagle
Rear Derailleur Shimano XT 11-speed SRAM GX Eagle 12-Speed SRAM X0 Eagle SRAM GX Eagle SRAM GX Eagle
Crankset Race Face Aeffect 30t SRAM Descendant 30t SRAM X0 Eagle Carbon 30T SRAM Style 7K DUB 175mm (size Large) 32T SRAM Descendant Alloy 32T
Saddle WTB Vigo Race WTB Silverado WTB Volt WTB Siverado Pro WTB Silverado 142mm
Seatpost Fox Transfer - 125mm KS LEV-SI-150mm Fox Transfer 150mm RockShox Reverb Stealth Bike Yoke Revive 160mm
Handlebar Pivot Phonenix Race Aluminum - 750mm Ibis Aluminum Bar - 780mm Yeti Carbon - 780mm Race Face Ride 760mm Ibis 780mm Alloy
Stem Pivot Phoenix Team Enduro 55mm Ibis 3D Forged Stem 50mm w/ 31.8mm Clamp RaceFace Aeffect R 35 Race Face Aeffect R 50mm Ibis 31.8mm 50mm
Brakes Shimano SLX Shimano Deore XT Shimano XT M8000 SRAM Guide R Shimano Deore 2 Piston
Measured Effective Top Tube (mm) 612 628 628 620 625
Measured Reach (mm) 442 473 477 470 475
Measured Head Tube Angle 67.2-degrees 65.8-degrees 65.1-degrees 65.7-degrees H / 65.5-degrees L 66.5-degrees
Measured Seat Tube Angle 74.2-degrees 76.1-degrees 76.8-degrees 76.4-degrees H / 76.2-degrees L 76.2-degrees
Measured Bottom Bracket Height (mm) 342 343 335 337 H / 334 L 338
Measured Wheelbase (mm) 1166 1220 1231 1214 1210
Measured Chain Stay Length (mm) 431 436 438 432 short / 442 long 434
Warranty Ten Years Seven Years Lifetime Lifetime Seven Years

Our Analysis and Test Results


Should I Buy This Bike?


Pivot states the Trail 429 is "brilliant just about everywhere. It accelerates and climbs like a cross-country bike yet more than holds its own on tough terrain." We find this to be a somewhat accurate assessment. While it certainly pedals like a cross-country bike, saying that it is "brilliant just about everywhere" is a stretch. It can hold its own on rougher and technical downhills, but it is far from brilliant in that situation. The 429 is a great bike for the right buyer. Cross country minded riders who value stellar climbing and sharp handling will love this bike. This bike is best suited for flowy to moderate trails with few big rock gardens. Oh yeah, it is fast too.

Those interested in a short-travel 29er that is more well rounded should check out the new and improved Ibis Ripley. The Ripley got a complete redesign that brought its geometry into the modern age. It still has most of the fun-loving and playful attitude of the previous version with greatly improved stability at speed, downhill confidence, and climbing abilities. It climbs with similar efficiency to the Trail 429, in a much more versatile package. The Ripley is available in carbon fiber only with prices starting at $4099.


If your looking for a short-travel 29er that punches above its weight class, the Transition Smuggler rides bigger than the 120mm of travel suggests. This bike is a better choice for the rider who wants to retain a little mid-travel attitude on their short-travel rig. The Smuggler has the ability to ride bigger lines with impressive composure. Small bump compliance is excellent and does pretty well on bigger impacts. That said, the Smuggler can't come close to matching the zippy acceleration, handling, and excellent climbing abilities of the 429. The Transition is available in carbon fiber and aluminum with prices starting at $2999.

Frame Design


The Trail 429 uses DW-Link suspension and has 120mm of rear-wheel travel. The DW-Link design is a dual-link system that uses one link just above the bottom bracket and another link about ¾ of the way up the seat tube. As the travel activates, both links rotate in the same direction. This design offers an excellent climbing platform and nice performance under braking forces. One of the downfalls is that the small bump compliance can be mediocre.


We measured our medium Trail 429. We measured a 612mm effective top tube and 442mm reach measurement. The chainstays came out to 431 and the wheelbase was found to be 1166mm. The head tube angle was 67.2-degrees while the effective seat tube angle was measured to be 74.2-degrees.

Our test bike hit the scales and came in at 29 lbs 14 oz without pedals and set up tubeless.

Design Highlights

  • Accommodates 29-inch (tested) and 27.5+ wheels
  • Designed around 130mm fork. Also accepts 140mm fork.
  • Carbon fiber only
  • 1x drivetrains only
  • 10-year warranty
  • Runs metric shocks


Downhill Performance


The Trail 429 offers a reliable and sharp-handling downhill experience. This bike can ride some rocky and rough trails, but you need to use a good deal of finesse and dial the speed back a few notches. The Pivot is far more fun carving down flowy trails with intermittent rock gardens. The component grouping worked fairly well given this bike's intended application.

This bike descends quite well if we consider its intended use. This 120mm trail bike undoubtedly leans more towards the cross country application rather than trying to hang with the mid-travel crowd. If we keep that in mind, the 429 holds its own on the descent. While this is not the best for carrying speed through chunder, it can always make it through. The rear suspension could be described as sporty and tight rather than plush. This description of the suspension feel may sound like a criticism. That said, when you're hammering out of a corner and getting on the gas, the tighter suspension is beneficial to supreme power transfer. It shouldn't be a surprise that this bike isn't meant to plow through rocks.


The 67.2-degree head tube angle is slack enough to be stable at moderate to high speeds on most terrain. The reasonable head tube angle allows the 429 to steer quite well in most situations. At slow to mid speeds, this bike operates with excellent precision. Rider input immediately transfers to the bike. At high to very high speeds this super quick steering can feel a little twitchy. It takes a dose of speed to feel that way, but the 429 isn't one of those bikes that feels better at a blazing pace.

The component grouping was decent. Given this trail bike's cross-country attitude, it makes sense to run a mid-width pairing of a 2.4-inch Maxxis DHR/Rekon. If you are using this bike as a trail bike with no intention of racing, a meatier tire combination would be beneficial. The added grip and extra damping provided by a 2.5 or even 2.6-inch rubber would be beneficial. The 130mm Fox 34 Performance fork was serviceable but felt a little flimsy when pushed hard.


Climbing Performance


The Trail 429 is an excellent climber. This bike offers a firm and ultra-efficient pedal platform that has plenty of pep. This bike crawls up technical climbs very effectively, but we wouldn't necessarily call the 429 comfortable over rocks and roots. The geometry is spot-on despite a slightly cramped top tube. The component grouping is effective on the climb.

The 429 sets you up for success. When perched in the saddle, you are smack dab on top of the cranks. With your hips right above the bottom bracket, your pedal stroke is very direct. Testers found the top tube on our medium test bike to be on the lighter side of the spectrum. It is by no means debilitating and the 442mm reach number seems about average for a medium frame. That said, all three testers stated that the bike felt short.


The Pivot is very impressive when scurrying uphill. There essentially no energy wasted into the suspension. The 429 along with the Yeti SB4.5 are the most efficient climbers we have ridden in the past year. With the climb switch open this bike does just fine. Standing or seated, there is just enough suspension movement to maintain traction without bobbing. With the climb switch in the middle position, the pedal platform is even more impressive. The shock stays high in its stroke and doesn't settle into a low, geometry-killing, sag point.

Climbing over rough and technical terrain is fast and confident but the trail surface is significantly translated to the rider. This isn't necessarily a negative as the rider looking into a short travel bike should not be expecting an especially plush ride. The suspension remains active enough to offer great traction on rough and rocky trails, but be prepared to feel it.

The 429's uphill handling is impressive. The direct steering and shorter wheelbase allow this bike to change direction relatively quickly. The measured 431mm chainstays can be a curse and a blessing. While they create a nice, stiff, rear end, they can be problematic on steeper turns where the rider is seated. A quick punch of power can cause the front end to lift and loop out. The short chainstay pulls the rear axle inward to the bottom bracket and provides a little less stability in this situation. This is by no means a crippling problem, but you need to pay attention when your seated and powering through a technical uphill turn.


Value


The Trail 429 is a perfect example of a bike that does what it does very well. It is a fantastic climber, offers sharp handling, and is serviceable on the descent. Our test bike retails for $4699 with a solid build kit featuring a Shimano XT 1x11 drivetrain, SLX brakes, and Fox Performance suspension. While this bike carries a sizeable price tag, it delivers stellar performance and could be a fantastic choice for the right rider. It is easy to call this bike a solid value.

Conclusion


The Pivot Trail 429 offers impressive climbing abilities, quick-handling and a personality that leans towards the cross country side of the trail bike spectrum. When aimed downhill, this bike is capable, but it shies away from rough trails and super high speeds. The Trail 429 operates very well within its comfort level. This is a stellar option for the rider who wants a cross-country weapon with a little bit of extra travel and more relaxed angles.



Pat Donahue, Joshua Hutchens, Paul Tindal