Another year, another trip to the mountain bike Mecca known as Moab, Utah. The occasion? That would be the celebration of the new Pivot Trail 429. Well, that wasn’t the only reason, but more on that later…

First Ride: Pushing the limits on the Pivot 429 Trail
All photos c. Jens Staudt/Pivot

Almost as soon as we arrived in Moab, Chris Cocalis was already in the driveway pulling wheelies and stoppies. That singular image provides a great snapshot of Pivot Cycle’s owner and founder. Chris loves to build great bikes because he loves to ride great bikes. And after years of work are put into a new frame, he’s just as excited to ride it as anyone else. And he can certainly ride as evidenced by the times he flew past me on the descents because he “knew some fun drops were coming up.” I’ve been fortunate enough to ride with the Pivot crew in Moab a few times now, and it’s clear that the company has a strong culture of riding which shows itself in the final product.

First Ride: Pushing the limits on the Pivot 429 Trail First Ride: Pushing the limits on the Pivot 429 Trail

But before we had even arrived to our home base in downtown Moab, the conversation turned to what bikes we were about to see. After guessing that it may involve a replacement for the Mach 429 Trail, we learned that it was indeed the new Trail 429.

“And where will we be riding?” we asked.

“We’re going to start with Mag 7 and finish on Portal,” Chris replied.

Collectively, our eyebrows raised in unison. We’re going to ride a short travel trail bike down Portal? The one with signs saying “dismount now. People have died here”? This will be interesting…

First Ride: Pushing the limits on the Pivot 429 Trail

First Ride: Pushing the limits on the Pivot 429 Trail

First Ride: Pushing the limits on the Pivot 429 Trail

First Ride: Pushing the limits on the Pivot 429 Trail

For those unfamiliar with the Mag 7 trail network, it’s a long collection of 7 trails that starts off mellow enough with a fun, fast, and surprisingly flowy section of trail that’s predominantly downhill – but you still have to work. From there, the trail turns upwards as you climb up onto the Gold Bar Rim which is where things start to get really interesting.

First Ride: Pushing the limits on the Pivot 429 Trail

Just about the point that your body is starting to get tired from the constant slick rock beat down, you’re presented with a series of technical rock drops, rolls, and power moves that will certainly keep you on your toes.

First Ride: Pushing the limits on the Pivot 429 Trail

The ride culminates with truly white knuckle descent down Portal which features terrifying exposure and chunky rock moves that will test even the best enduro bikes – and here we were riding a 120mm trail bike.

First Ride: Pushing the limits on the Pivot 429 Trail

But honestly, we weren’t quite as out gunned as you might expect. In fact, other than having to work a bit harder to finesse the shorter travel frame through some of the bigger moves, the Trail 429 seemed more willing than me in certain sections of Portal and the rest of the trail. Would a 120mm travel trail bike be my bike of choice to do the ride again? No, probably not. But the point here was that the bike is incredibly capable and that’s exactly what we found.

One of the standout traits of the new frame is how willing it is to lift the front end – but only when you want to. On hard out of the saddle efforts, or seated climbing, the front wheel stayed comfortably planted. But come up on a surprise drop, and it was easy to quickly shift your weight and get the front wheel up to avoid going OTB.

First Ride: Pushing the limits on the Pivot 429 Trail

Even thought the Trail 429 is certainly more capable than before, it hasn’t come at the cost of its climbing ability. On the long, slow slog up to the rim, it was definitely welcome to have something a little more efficient. As is often the case with Pivot’s dw-link bikes, the suspension seems tailor made for the chunky, square edged rocks of Moab but then settles in for an efficient ride when the terrain flattens out or turns upwards.

First Ride: Pushing the limits on the Pivot 429 Trail

First Ride: Pushing the limits on the Pivot 429 Trail

Even though the Trail 429 has a longer reach than before, it didn’t feel overwhelmingly long. In fact, it felt just about perfect – which isn’t that surprising since it’s supposedly the same as the Mach 5.5 and Switchblade, which both fit me well in a medium frame. At 5’8″ with a 690mm saddle to BB measurement, I’m can usually go with either a small or a medium, but tend to like the longer reach measurements of the bigger bike. Cocalis mentions that this is a benefit of the newer geometry trends since you now have more of a choice based on what reach you’d like to run since the frames offer more room for dropper posts.

On that note, I was very happy to have plenty of room to run a 150mm travel dropper. I was also quite impressed with the amount of room for a water bottle in the front triangle as I could fit the largest water bottle we had in the frame while running the Fox DPX2 rear shock. The medium is also fitted with a 55mm stem and 760mm bar which ends up closer to 775mm with Pivot’s Padlock grips. I’d still prefer a slightly thinner grip design, but I appreciated the extra cushion the grips provided during back to back Moab beat downs.

First Ride: Pushing the limits on the Pivot 429 Trail

First Ride: Pushing the limits on the Pivot 429 Trail

At the end of the day, while the Trail 429 ended up being surprisingly effective choice for the whole Mag 7 trail system, I couldn’t help but thing about its applications else where as well. To me, the bike seems like it would be the perfect choice for a lot of riders who don’t often (or ever) ride such gnarly terrain. Coming from the Midwest, it seems like it would be the perfect Midwest trail bike – or really anywhere that having an efficient bike that still likes to party would be ideal. It’s definitely more bike than the original Mach 429 Trail, but it doesn’t lose the ability to be fast or efficient when it needs to. The Trail 429 made for a perfect day out on Mag 7, and it’s a bike that I would love to see again.


  1. The Portal trail is indeed challenging, but let’s get real here. I cleaned that trail on a full rigid bike in ’94, and I’m only a decent MTBer, I can’t do manuals or stoppies etc. So that fact that a 130 bike is capable enough to do this doesn’t impress me all that much.

      • People get sold on the sliding, jumping, dude bro image and get way more bike then they need or can even use. I live in the midwest and i can’t tell you how many 140mm+ bikes are rolling around our trails. WTH are you going to use that much travel. when a trail is a buffed out dirt path and we have 700ft of climbing on a 10 mile trail, what could you possibly need that for? a dropper? give me a brake. the KOM’s in this area are held by 45 year old guys on rigid 29ers, some of them are SS. it is comical looking at the dudes in the parking lot with their magic marry’s since the trails close if your tire leaves an impression (not joking in the slightest).

        One benefit is you can get great deals on second hand AM bikes that have never seen the bottom of their suspension.

        • I think you (and I) will be pleased with what I predict will be a resurgence of offerings in the 100/120 bike market over the next few years.

          Fox didn’t develop the 120 mm Stepcast 34 fork just for a few xc racers……

        • I agree partially. Many people are over-biked, but more capable bikes allow less capable riders to get away with some mistakes and even have more fun. Some trails I ride on I see guys killing KOMs on cross bikes. But I’ve ridden those trails on full rigid bikes and I have WAAAAAY more fun when I ride them on my 120/130 FS bike. However if I ride it on my 140/160 bike the fun factor goes down again. So its a curve I guess.

          It’s a bit of a pet peeve of mine. One person I ride with is always like “what do you need that for” pointing at a dropper, rear shock or whatever piece of equipment he finds unnecessary; when he’ll point out some guy on a single speed steel rigid bike riding faster than all of us. Well guess what? I’m not that guy, he’s 100 times better than me and if I rode his bike I’d crash, hurt myself or on a good day I’d just be miserable riding it.

  2. Awesome photos! This was like a travel brochure, thanks BR for sucking me into the pics. Makes me yearn for another trip to Moab. The carbon super bikes Are techno marvels but priced accordingly, almost 3K for a mountain bike frame WTF, if it weren’t for credit they would not sell enough to pay for the engineering and tooling. RIders are not riding further, or harder or faster. Go to any trail system and riders are wobbling up the climbs and if it gets too steep or rough they walk instead of using the awesome traction supplied by triple compound tires, active suspension and ultra low gearing, on the descents the constant sanitizing that is happening may be allowing ‘faster’ Strava times, but the berms are the real heros. Further? the same riders that are going long today did it on rigid bikes, and are going even longer on ‘gravel’. One either can, or cannot, it is not an advance in bikes that made riders tough. IF there is any single product that has truly helped riders go longer, it is Camelbak and the like.

  3. Comments make it seem like people want bikes to regress.
    Nothing here will make me like my sultan less but when the time comes to get a new mtb, I’m glad it’ll perform waaaaay better than my old trek 8000.

  4. I demoed this bike in West Virgini mix of chunk, flow, loamy trails, up and down both slow and fast. I fell in love. FYI- I’ve demoed Santa Cruz and Trek and Scott bikes for comparison and loved Trail 429 best. Such a precise instrument. At 46 and having started riding in early 1990s, now I measure my rides by number of smiles. I don’t give a rats *ss about times anymore- my days racing are over. I don’t even have Strava bc I will get sucked into it given my competitive nature, and that’s not my point anymore. That said, what gives me smiles is still bombing a downhill as fast possible, hitting jumps and drops and having fun (up to a limit), and being able to clean rock gardens and tech-both up and down. I hit the local bike parks when I can, but most of my rides are local trails either around DC or in the Appallacian Mountains. This bike is perfect for that kind of riding and I could easily take it to the bike parks around here and it could handle it all.

    Re all the talk of the “right” bike- the right bike is the one that you love. Some peeps want to go as crazy as possible down and don’t care about the ups, so they may appear “over biked” but they’re happy walking up to go absolutely bonkers down. Others want to be able to peddle the whole thing. Who cares what others ride. But don’t say that things haven’t changed since back in the day. Yeah- I did a lot of same trails back in day, but certainly not as fun or fast. Santa Cruz had a vid on their website for one of their bikes (i forget which one) that started with pros hitting a trail back in the day and then pros doing same exact trail on the Santa Cruz- just watch it tell me that the new bikes don’t help speed and fun factor. Narrow bars, steep headtube angles, long stems, rigid seat posts, long rears, crappy brakes- they didn’t keep us from doing crazy stuff, but it was nowhere near as fast or fun. One example- rigid seat post- every feature that is large I have to stop and lower my post, with my dropper I just drop the seat, hit it, and away I go. Fun and time are both better, and it lets me do more technical trails. It’s like that with the other changes to. As bikes’ capabilities improve, trails change and more fun is had by more peeps. I have no interest in going back to old days of mountain bikes.

  5. Why did they not include full DI2 integration on this bike ? It has the battery cavity, but no holes from the front triangle to route the cable to the rear triangle?

COMMENT HERE: (For best results, log in through Wordpress or your social media account. Anonymous/fake email comments may be unapproved or deleted. ALL first-time commenter's posts are held for moderation. Check our Comment Policy for full details.)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.