Mach 429sl – initial impressions

Back into the endurance game, and I needed a new whip.

When I learned about the new Pivot Mach 429sl I jumped at the opportunity. I had never ridden a Pivot, but heard nothing but good things. Since I’ve been riding more aggressively and more challenging terrain, I was keen to ride a short travel 29er that had a reputation for being a capable trail bike as well as an XC race bike.

Pivot Mach 429sl Medium

Pivot Mach 429sl Medium

The frame arrived up at the 29Fifty shop and boy was she a beauty! I’m personally not into red, but the color here was subtle and stealthy. I can honestly say it looks far better in person than this photo can convey. It wasn’t long before we had her built up and ready to roll. Here she is after my first legit ride (43 miles in Rabbit Valley near Fruita, CO)

 

Dusty!

Dusty!

 

Initial Impressions

As with any new build there’s always a bit of adjustment time and getting used to the handing, etc. This past weekend I got in two rides with enough climbing, descending, fast flats, gnarly tech, etc to get a really good feel for the frame and they way I have it built up. Full specs here.

Handling – Fantastic! The bike is nimble enough to wiggle between tight rocks and the rear is stiff enough to track exceptionally well. I’ve had 100mm 29ers that felt nimble and sprightly, and others that turned like the titanic. The 429sl is nimble, but with a confidence inspiring solidity.

Climbing – The frame was far different than I’ve ever experienced. I left the rear Fox CTD in descend nearly the entire time. It’s hard to explain but the rear suspension has some strangely magical qualities. It doesn’t feel particularly active (like the Norco Sight) but it does an amazing job of smoothing out the trail. Even standing climbing is just fine when left wide open. The only time I would notice the suspension moving is hammering out a sprint on a climb. Switching to climb would help there, but it wouldn’t be a huge gain and I doubt I’ll do often.

Descending – When a suspension platform is firm on the climb I’d expect it to be firm (read harsh) on the way down. Not so with the Mach 429sl. It took everything with aplomb. I never once felt a harsh bottom out (or any bottom out) and only once used full travel. The bike seemed more than willing to handle far more than I was able to throw at it.

 

The sticky wicket and priorities

I need a new fork. The fork above is a Rockshox Sid XX World cup. It’s one of the lightest on the market with a full carbon crown and steerer tube. It is smooth in the early travel and has a fantastic lockout. However, it just doesn’t fit the way I ride or the way I’ve built this bike. I range between 145-155. I’ve never had an issue with “stiffness” and never even really felt it until now. The frame is ROCK solid. The Enve wheels are also exceptionally stiff. The fork, well, not so much. It feels very out of balance with the rest of the build. And not just in stiffness. The fork has 100mm of travel which can be taken to 120. The damping in the Sid is not to my preference. It’s exceedingly smooth in the initial stroke but ramps up super fast, leading to the impression that it actually had less travel than it does. This isn’t a knock against the Sid – it’s a baller fork. Rather it’s a testament to the capabilities of the frame. while the frame kept begging for more, the fork already felt like it was whimpering.

It’s about priorities.

Honestly, if I wanted to focus on the fastest times and winning I’d keep this fork on there and take the dropper post off. I have different goals though. I’m seeking out more technical rides and actively looking for all the optional drops and jumps on the trail. I’ll take a bit of comfort and capability over pure speed and weight savings. The 429 is great in this respect; you can easily build it is a capable light trail bike or a zippy fast xc bike. If I wanted I could simply swap components between events and have two different machines. I can’t say that about every bike I’ve had. The Scott Spark 900 I had did NOT feel like it could handle half of what the Pivot seems to be begging for. A 120mm Pike is one order. Stay tuned for the next iteration…

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6 responses to “Mach 429sl – initial impressions

  1. Thanks for writing this up. I would love to ride one for agressive XTERRA courses. What is the largest water bottle you can fit inside the frame? Also, does the bike ride as fast as more narrowly focused XC bikes like the Scott Spark 900? Thanks.

  2. Alex – If you look at the second image above you can see that with a side loader cage I can fit a full size water bottle in the Medium frame I have. As far as racing is concerned the 429sl seems every bit as nimble as the Scott I had, just more capable. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it for Xterra racing. Since you can build it up very light, I’d say the only advantage of something like the Scott is the lockout. If you’re prone to lots of out of the saddle sprinting a true lockout could be an advantage. I really didn’t notice much bob when out of the saddle pedaling though on the 429sl. When I did toggle the CTD lever it went away completely.

  3. Twice write up. You have two bikes that I’ve been eyeing. (Norco vs. Pivot). I’m leaning Pivot for most the reasons you like it. My concern is the sizing. I’m just shy of 5’8″ and am kind of in between sizes. Any recommendations or thoughts? Thanks. Brandon

  4. Pingback: Selecting the right frame size – Part 1 (points in space) | The Endurance Experience·

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