06/02/2012 | 4 comments
Pivot Mach 429 £1799 (frame only)
Pivot’s Mach 429 is the company’s 29er offering and it’s actually been in their range for a couple of years, and is one of the most impressive 29ers we’ve ridden to date. It’s due for an update but before that happens we got to ride it last year, here’s how we got on.
There’s pedigree in the bike. It’s been penned by the same man, Chris Cocalis, who brought Titus to the world all those years ago. More recently, he departed the company he set up and started Pivot to give him a new direction, and the results are good, with a classy range of full suspension trail bikes.
Somehow the Mach 429 just looks right. The triple butted 6000 series aluminium tubeset is expertly and lovingly shaped into a great looking frame; though fairly traditional in appearance it makes use of Dave Weagle’s DW-Link suspension so it’s right there at the cutting edge of current mountain bike design.
Wherever you look neat details abound; a smooth tapered headtube with a zero stack design to keep the front low, a 92mm hollow-forged bottom bracket and main pivot design allows for a huge downtube and there’s eight Enduro Max sealed cartridge bearings on the all the pivots.
The upper link of the suspension assembly has been moulded in carbon fibre, not just for its jazzy looks but to increase stiffness and reduce the overall frame weight. Welds are exceptionally tidy, the frame is beautifully anodised and the carbon bits give it an expensive sheen. We thoroughly approve.
Geometry on the medium Mach 429 we tested is 71 degrees for the head angle with a 73 degree seat and 17.95 chainstays. That steep headangle give a very responsive ride and keeps the bike handling sharply through the corners, with a ride that will appeal to those interested in making fast progress. And the low 12.8in bottom bracket height gives amazing stability at speed, allowing the Pivot to track fast and planted through cornersr.
At the heart of the frame is a DW-Link suspension setup, whereby two short linkages are used to attach the swingarm to the mainframe. This allows the shock rate to be tuned to give the desired characteristics the designers wanted to achieve. On tap is 100mm (4in) of travel, which is soaked up by a Fox Float RP23 shock, and paired up front with a Fox fork.
The DW-Link keeps the frame incredibly stiff; you can really feel it tracking precisely through the trail. There’s not a hint of flex or squirm, those short linkages, combined with the strut stretching from the chain stays to the seat stays, serves to keep things all point in the same direction.
So good is the suspension linkage design that the shocks ProPedal lever was never needed, instead gathering dust in neglect. The suspension is composed and well mannered enough that there’s only the merest hint of pedal induced bob, even if you get a bit aggro on the pedals. It just remains completely focused on soaking up the bumps and you hardly ever notice it working underneath you, but the o-ring on the shock reveals it has been working fully.
Our test bike was fitted with a reliable Shimano XT/SLX 30-speed transmission with Hayes Stroker brakes for scrubbing off speed, A Fox F29 120RL fork with a 15mm thru-axle paired nicely with a Fox RP23 rear shock. Wheels are DT Swiss X490 wheels shod in fast-rolling Kenda Nevegal tyres.
Finishing kit is a combination of FSA and WTB parts, but we swapped the stem and bars for a shorter Sunline stem and wider Ragley Wiser to get a more comfortable and agreeable fit from the off.
How does it ride?
Firstly, setting the Pivot up is super easy. The supplied sag guide on the Fox RP23 makes it simple to get the bike ready for riding, and once we made a few cockpit changes we felt much more at home on the bike.
Riding it reveals two things: the sheer efficiency of the bike over any terrain, provided by the DW-Link, and the rolling speed of the bigger 29in wheels. On the gravel tracks of Gisburn the Pivot pedals with incredible stability, with barely any discernible suspension bob, and momentum along these smooth trails is astoundingly good. It eats up the distance, relishing big out-and-back epic rides. It’s clearly a bike with adventure in mind.
The Pivot isn’t all that light though, weighing in the region of 28/29lb. This was noticeable on longer climbs and out of dead corners, but we reckon it could easily go much lighter. We’d like to build one up with a lighter component package and some faster wheels, as the Mach 429 is so close to trail bike perfection, it’s just the weight holding it back. It would be a good choice for the marathon racer or 24-hour focused people reading this review.
The DW-Link really impresses, as we’ve alluded to already. There’s a huge amount of traction available, and allied to the increased traction that the larger wheels provides, the Pivot will scale any rocky/rooty/slippy climb with the grace and ease of a mountain goat. Seriously, this bike isn’t put off by any trails, in fact the harder and more off-piste the better, as far as it is concerned.
29ers are getting loads of attention in the world right now, but the Mach 429 has been sitting quietly in Pivot’s range for a few years already. It’s time it got noticed by UK riders, as it’s one of the best 29ers out there for cross-country and weekend trails riders and is well suited to UK trails.
The Pivot is one of the most interesting bikes we’ve tested in a while. We really didn’t want to give it back. fast, capable and agile is how we’d sum up the Mach 429.