2017 Pivot Mach 429 Trail
Size Tested: Large
Drivetrain: Shimano XT/XTR
Brakes: Shimano XT
Fork: Fox 34 Factory FIT4
Rear Shock: Fox Float DPS Kashima
Travel: 116 mm rear / 130 mm front
Blister’s Measured Weight: 28.2 lbs. (12.77 kg) without pedals
Reviewer: 5’10”, 143 lbs.
Test Location: Moab, UT
We swung through Outerbike in Moab a few weeks ago to hang out, ride some bikes, and partake in the good times that happen when bike people gather together in the desert.
If you don’t already know about Outerbike, you should; it’s a great opportunity to demo new bikes on some great trails. There are three Outerbike events throughout the year — Moab in the spring; Crested Butte in the summer; and Moab again in the fall. Each event lasts 3-4 days, and you can get more information at outerbike.com.
So we had three days to ride some of this year’s new bikes on a smattering of Moab’s best trails. And while it was a great opportunity to learn a good bit about a number of new bikes (including the one reviewed here), we only rode these bikes for a few hours each, so keep in mind that this isn’t our regular, full-scale review.
In 2015, Pivot released the Mach 429 Trail as a longer-travel, trail-oriented companion to their Mach 429SL XC race bike. While the Mach 429SL has a fairly traditional 100 mm of rear travel, the Mach 429 Trail has 116 mm of travel paired with slacker geometry and a 130 mm fork.
Based on these changes, the Mach 429 Trail clearly falls somewhere between the categories of “Trail” and “XC Race.” My take is that the 429 Trail is a bike that exhibits technical capabilities beyond that of a typical XC bike, but that clearly hasn’t forgotten its XC racing roots.
I rode the Mach 429 Trail in the PRO XT/XTR 2x build ($5,499), which is spec’d with a Fox 34 Factory fork, Fox Float DPS rear shock, XT brakes, and a 2x drivetrain that pairs an XTR rear derailleur with an XT one up front.
The suspension and brakes are exactly what I would spec on a bike like this. The Fox 34 and Float DPS make for a supple ride with a decent range of adjustment, and it’s no coincidence that Shimano XT’s are some of the most popular brakes on the market.
The 2x drivetrain struck me as a bit of an odd choice, but it’s worth noting that this bike is also available in an XT 1×11 configuration for $5,299, or with XO1 Eagle for $5,999.
The build is rounded out with an in-house cockpit, a KS LEV Integra dropper post (available as an upgrade from Pivot’s standard rigid carbon post), and DT XM 1501 25 mm rims. However, my test bike was running DT XM 1200 Spline carbon rims.
Fit and Geometry
At 5’10”, I’m at the top end of Pivot’s recommended height range for a Medium, and the bottom end of their recommended range for a Large.
I opted for a Large, as the Mach 429 Trail is a pretty short bike. The reach on a Large is only 423 mm, putting it in the range of most brands’ size Medium. Pivot specs an 80 mm stem on the bike, so it still fits like a Large.
The short frame / long stem combination took a bit of getting used to, as most brands these days are lengthening their reach and shortening their stems. Combined with the bike’s 67.5-degree head angle, I had the sensation that the front wheel was under my hands rather than in front of me. The resulting steering feel helped the bike retain its XC race bike characteristics, which is something that I’ll talk about more below.
The Mach 429 Trail rewards sprinting and pedaling hard more than anything else. The suspension stiffens significantly under power, making it feel snappy on smooth trails, and a bit harsh when pedaling over rougher terrain. When coasting over small bumps, the suspension opens up a bit, but it remains more supportive than plush.
This, in combination with a longish stem and short front triangle, makes for a bike that favors getting over the front end and hammering up steep climbs. While I haven’t ridden Pivot’s 100 mm travel Mach 429SL race bike for comparison, the Mach 429 Trail climbs well enough that I could legitimately see myself doing XC races on it as well as taking it on more casual trail rides.
The bike soaks up bigger hits well, ramping up toward the end of its stroke and keeping the bike composed as it tracks the ground. No one will mistake this bike for a longer travel rig, but the Mach 429 Trail certainly makes efficient use of its 116 mm.
The relatively composed and supportive feel of the Mach 429 Trail combined with its stiff pedaling platform makes the bike feel more like an efficient long distance machine than a playful, flickable ripper. While some bikes of this travel range favor gapping through rock gardens and drifting corners, the Mach 429 Trail is more apt at finding the smoothest line through rocky sections, then sprinting out of the apex of the next corner. This isn’t to say that the Mach 429 Trail can’t be ridden playfully, it’s just that the bike is better at gaining speed from getting on the pedals than pumping and popping through the rough stuff.
Pivot Mach 429 Trail vs. Ibis Ripley LS
After riding the Mach 429 Trail, I got the chance to ride the same trails on the Ibis Ripley LS. While the Ripley LS also rewards aggressive pedaling, I found the Ripley LS to be more capable thanks to its affinity for floating and popping over rocky sections. All in all, the Ripley feels more active and lively, which helps it feel more “trail” and less “XC race.” So while both bikes appear pretty similar by the numbers, I’d be inclined to categorize the Ripley LS as a XC-leaning trail ripper, while the Mach 429 Trail feels more like a longer-travel XC race bike.
The Pivot Mach 429 Trail is billed as a trail bike, but it rides more like a XC race bike with a bit of added descending prowess. Given this, I see the bike as best suited to riders who like endurance rides that involve technical terrain, but who don’t want to sacrifice the pedaling efficiency and supportive feel of a true race bike. So if “XC with a bit extra” sounds like your cup of tea, the Mach 429 Trail could fit the bill perfectly.