Last year we had our first experience riding Pivot Cycles’ Mach 429, the company’s 100mm full-susser 29er, and we’ve just got back from riding the brand new 2012 model.
Have you heard of Chris Cocalis? He originally founded Titus, which he sold in 2006. It wasn’t long before he was launching a new brand, and in 2007 Pivot Cycles was born. Chris has a real eye for bicycle design producing some really good looking and technically excellent bikes over the years, and this shows in the Pivot range.
So we rode the original Mach 429 last year, our first experience on a Pivot. We came away impressed. It’s built around Dave Weagle’s DW Link suspension system, which comprises two short linkages that control the suspension in a very specific way. Central to the design is the combating of squat that can occur under acceleration, the suspension simply squats down. Most manufacturers combat this with the suspension shock, using low speed platform damping to prevent the suspension squatting down. The DW Link does this mechanically.
Having decided this was the suspension he wanted to use, Chris designed a smart looking frame around it. Never one to rest on his laurels, Chris found room for improvement and subsequently the new Mach 429 frame manages to be 230g (half a pound) lighter for 2012.
This weight loss has been achieved with a new top tube that loses the small bracing section to the seat tube, and a new shock mount. The lower yoke area, rear triangle uprights, lower DW-Link, shock tabs and bottom bracket forged section have also been put on a diet. The derailleur hanger is now a forged 7075-T6 piece and post mounts are used, with 160mm rotors the maximum accepted size.
A bolt-through 12×142 rear axle also contributes to the weight savings as well as obvious stiffness benefits. Up front is a new tapered steerer tube, bringing the frame into line with the current evolution of mountain bike frames. The new frame will now take an ISCG05 chain guide with Pivot’s adaptor plate, so you can go 1×10 if you want. Cable routing and guides have been cleaned up.
While making the frame lighter, Pivot also found time to improve the suspension performance. They’ve switched to a short stroke shock, just 1.75in, which increases the leverage ratio giving a flatter spring curve. As high shock pressures are needed Pivot say it allows for a more usable range of tuning.
The frame and Fox RP23 Kashima Adaptive Logic shock cost £1,849. We rode a size large with an XTR Ultralight spec build costing £5,199.
How does it ride?
So plenty of changes then, but how does it ride? Fortunately, as soon as Pivot found out I would be racing the Bontrager Twentyfour12 12-hour solo race in Newnham Park, Plymouth, they offered me a bike to ride. Remembering how much I enjoyed the previous bike, I agreed. It would be an interesting and ideal place to test the new bike (and given the conditions, save wearing out my own bike! Sorry Rory).
I didn’t have much time to set the bike up, though with the suspension even easier to get dialled in it didn’t take too long to get the suspension working nicely. I rode a large, which fitted well, with the stem and bars of the right measurements, and the saddle one that I had previous experience aboard. All good then.
And so I lined up at the start of the race. Newnham Park is a good test of a bike. Any flaws will quickly be exposed. The course laid out for us used some of the best bits of the area, with a real mix. There’s fast sweeping singletrack, tight rooty awkward singletrack, steep drops, long lung-busting climbs, all manner of trail surfaces, it’s a real mountain bikers course.
I also haven’t ridden a 29er here before, but I needn’t have worried, the Mach 429 took everything in its stride. Off the line it’s not the quickest accelerating bike, but wind it up and it sits at a high cruising speed quite happily.
It’s in the rough stuff that the bike really shines. The changes to the suspension, though subtle, result in a rear wheel that tracks every lump and contour of the trail amazingly well, finding traction where it really shouldn’t. It’s incredibly compliant over the small to middling sized stuff, which meant after eight hours of racing (when I was eventually forced to pull out) I didn’t have any of the aches in my lower back that I would normally expect when riding such a rough course.
A good test of the DW-Link was one really steep tarmac climb. It’s a bottom gear job, well maybe a few up when you’ve got fresh legs. The best approach was to sit and spin, and it’s here that I really noticed, and appreciated the anti-squat capability of the bike. I experimented with different levels of ProPedal damping from lap to lap, and found that, even on the most open setting, it remained composed.
It was in the demanding and challenging parts of the course – steep drops, rooty off-camber tracks, fast descents – that the bike shone most. Considering I had never ridden this bike before, I was right at home and blasting along at full speed, overtaking people struggling to get anywhere on their hardtails. It’s got a very commanding presence when the trail gets nasty, isn’t put off its stride easily and has a very stable, predictable and sure-footed feel. It’s really at home when being asked to ride fast all day long.
While not a definitive test, it was an interesting one given how atrociously bad the conditions were. Monsoon rain ensured the course resembled a swamp or bog most of the way round, which is the reason for the very muddy bike in the photos. Even after eight hours of riding, the bike didn’t clog up at all. So my concerns about the mud clearance were dispelled early on.
It might not be our choice for short track cross-country, but for all-day epics, marathons, 12- and 24-hour races, the Mach 429 is a serious contender. If you’re in the market for a 100mm 29er, make sure to give the Pivot some serious consideration. Sure, you may have never heard of it before, but this bike has serious pedigree and insane capability.
Thanks to Rory Hitchens for the muddy bike shots.
– All new design loses over ½ pound (approx 230 grams)
– dw-link® suspension design with position-sensitive anti-squat makes for the most efficient pedaling and best performing race bike on the market
– New Fox Adaptive Logic RP23 Kashima shock with custom tuned rebound and Propedal settings: this new configuration allows racers quick access to the full maximum Propedal setting while still being able to select the other settings based on the course or riding conditions
– 100mm (4”) rear travel with 100mm or 120mm fork compatibility
– 142mm rear spacing with 12mm through axle and 160mm post mount dropouts for maximum frame stiffness.
– Tapered 1.5” headtube for increased front end stiffness and control
– Direct mount front derailleur design accommodates Shimano and SRAM systems. The direct mount design, eases set up, and provides a more rigid mount for the most efficient front shifting possible
– Press Fit 92mm wide bottom bracket, direct mount front derailleur, double row bearing carbon dw-link®, and high-modulus carbon rocker add to the Mach 429’s superior frame stiffness and incredible long-term durability