NOTE on Comparing Star Ratings between Interbike 2014 and 2015 bike tests: I’ve found already that the new bike designs I’m riding this year are a step better than the best bikes I rode last year. What was a 5 star rating last year would only be a 4 star rating this year.
Wow, riding this bike was a revelation. At 5’9” in height, I’m not usually the best candidate for a 29er, but riding the Mach 429 opened my eyes to what can be done to create an exceptionally capable, all-around trail bike with 29 inch wheels.
Climbing - 5 stars
The Mach 429 climbed exceptionally well with the 29 inch wheels holding speed both uphill and downhill. Although the suspension travel is short, the 29 inch wheels provided enough rollover capability that climbing rocky trails and step-ups proved to be on par with long-travel 27.5” bikes
Descending – 5 stars
I expected that the Mach 429 with 29 inch wheels would climb well. What was a surprise was how solid it felt going downhill. The handling hit the ideal balance between nimbleness and stability just right. The Mach 429 remained stable at speed and down chutes and drop-offs.
Cornering - 4 stars
The Mach 429 was both responsive and stable in cornering. The only downside that I found for the 429 was steering that might not be quick enough for tighter trails. For the Bootleg Canyon trails used for Outdoor Demo at Interbike though, the Mach 429 steering was right on the mark.
For trails that are not overly tight, the Mach 429 Trail is a great choice. It climbs well, holds its line, and rolls over stuff like a 150mm travel 27.5 wheeled bike. It is definitely a bike that would be a top choice for me if my usual rides occurred on trails similar to those that I rode today at Outdoor Demo.
5 stars - Absolutely outstanding
3 stars - Solid performance, meets expectations
1 star - Misses expectations by a wide margi