Pivot’s burly but super stiff aluminium 429 was the bike that switched one of our testers onto the benefits of big wheels. Their new carbon version isn’t a featherweight but it’s a shockingly stiff and properly tough piece for pushing your fast techy trail riding to whole new limits.
Ride & handling: Incredibly stiff and responsive
There’s no doubt that one word outweighed all others during our test time on the 429C. Whoever was riding it attached every possible superlative (and a fair amount of swearing) to the basic bottom line of ‘stiff’. Load the pedals into a corner, shove the inboard tip of the bar towards the trail, flare the back end broadside and slam land it sideways. Whatever we did with it, the frame didn’t flinch an inch.
Add a low bottom bracket and super smooth Fox Kashima fork and shock action, and this translates into phenomenal cornering accuracy and tenacity on the trail. The Pivot consistently carved through corners with an aggression that stretched our trust in the tyres to the limit.
Despite the uptight cross-country cockpit, the slack angles made for easy high-speed confidence, which its smoothly controlled reaction to rocky sections did nothing to undermine. The super short back end still means you can whip through tight stuff very smartly, and power is transferred outstandingly well.
Unfortunately, this super aggressive cornering character had dire implications for the rear wheel, which barely wobbled past the frame stays by the time we’d finished with it. It was stiff until it started to warp and dismantle itself though, and the end result was more a sign of the abuse it was getting rather than any specific weakness.
The stiffness also affects shock setup, in that we had to drop the shock and fork pressures to take the inherent sharp sting of the frame out of the ride. Once we’d done that, though, we never really thought about the suspension again.
Set the CTD shock in the middle Trail mode and there’s certainly very little trace of rear wheel movement through the pedals, whether you’re spinning from the seat or standing up and stomping. Just consistent ground connection and rich traction that you’ll soon learn to trust whatever the surface underneath.
It sucks up drops and square edges well enough for the 100mm (3.9in) of rear wheel movement to feel totally in sync with the 120mm (4.7in) up front as well, making it totally suitable for fitting up with a chain device and dropper post for fast, technical trail-blasting.
This carbon speed machine has taken a smoothly neutral suspension design and bolted it into one of the stiffest 29er frames we’ve ever ridden. When you add a full all-mountain/future-proofing feature list that includes extensive frame armouring, the result is a super precise, trail tough, high velocity weapon that aggressive riders will love.
Frame & equipment: Expensive but trail-tough carbon
Pivot only claim a 15 percent bottom bracket and 12 percent head tube increase in stiffness over the alloy bike, but compared to many other bikes it feels as though it’s hewn from granite.
Pivot have also used the strength and stiffness gains of the material for practical benefits. Standover clearance is increased by 1.5 to 0.5in depending on frame size. The chainstays are also 8mm shorter than on the alloy bike, while still giving triple chainset and 142x12mm screw-through axle clearance. The DW Links are super short too, with the lower one swinging inside pockets that are sunk into the massive base of the seat tube.
While 2.61kg (5.75lb) is slightly heavy for a 100mm (3.9in) travel cross-country bike, Pivot provide ISCG tabs on the press-fit bottom bracket, and there are dropper post cable guides. There are big ‘armour’ patches on the down tube belly, chainstays and inner face of the dropout too.
The gear cables are routed internally through the mainframe and there are also up and under bottle cage mounts.
We tested the Pivot in complete XT Pro format, and the Shimano XT stop and go kit (with an XTR rear mech highlight) is an excellent match for such a tough and capable bike.
The 120mm (4.7in) travel Fox Kashima fork is the default too, despite the Fox CTD can out back only having 100mm (3.9in) of travel.
We like the KS seatpost, with its neat collar-mounted cable stopping paint scuffing. Thankfully, the style-cramping FSA bar and stem will be replaced by a more ‘power assisted’, trail friendly cockpit on UK build kits.