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When You Have Every Upgrade Possible, There's Still Berd Fabric Spokes

What do you get the mountain biker who has everything? This Pivot Trail 429 Enduro was already upgraded with some of the most blingy MTB components available, so the owner took it to the next level with Berd HAWK27 wheels built with its PolyLight fabric spokes.

When You Have Every Upgrade Possible, There's Still Berd Fabric Spokes

Written by: Bruce Lin

Published on:

Posted in:Bikes

Here at TPC, we’re accustomed to seeing insanely nice bikes. To be honest, it’s easy to become numb to the unending onslaught of bikes dripping with lightweight carbon and titanium components and shiny anodized parts. But sometimes, you see something so absurdly blinged-out that it manages to stand out among a veritable rainbow of bikes.

This 2022 Pivot Trail 429 Enduro is the perfect example. I saw it on a rack loaded with crazy expensive mountain bikes, but my eye was drawn straight to this one. It has every upgrade I could imagine adding. But it takes things an ultra-geeky step further with a unique Berd wheelset, which uses some wild lightweight fabric spokes. This is a truly pathological level of MTB bling. 

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The Pivot Trail 429 Enduro

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Let’s start with the frame. The Pivot Trail 429 is one of the most popular mountain bikes in the Pivot line-up. With 120mm of travel and a super-light carbon frame, it straddles the line between downcountry and trail bikes.

Pivot Trail 429 Enduro DW-Link suspensionThe DW-Link suspension system is well-known for providing a super-efficient pedaling platform, so the Trail 429 is just as comfortable on all-day cross-country epics as it is on gnarly and technical terrain. 

But this isn’t just any Trail 429, it’s a Trail 429 Enduro. The enduro version has been beefed up with a longer-travel 140mm Fox 36 Factory fork and a Fox Float X Factory shock that has an external reservoir to better manage heat build-up on long and rowdy descents.

Overforking the bike slacks the head angle out to a slightly more downhill-friendly 66 degrees, and the addition of the stiffer Fox 36 chassis and highly adjustable GRIP2 damper allows riders to charge harder and tune the fork to stay more composed when things get gnarly. 

To me, the Trail 429 Enduro might be a perfect quiver killer. Watch the Bernard Kerr edit above, and you can see just how hard you can shred on this bike. But it still climbs exceptionally well thanks to the DW-Link suspension system and low weight.

Our example here is 28 lbs 13 oz — a very respectable weight for a bike equipped with a Fox 36 and Float X shock. For reference, my old Santa Cruz Tallboy CC had the same travel and a smaller fork and shock, but it weighed well over 30 lbs (the head angle was slacker though). Some of that weight difference can be attributed to the fabric spokes, but more on that later. 

The Upgrade List

  • SRAM XX1 Eagle AXS rear derailleur, cassette, and chain
  • SRAM G2 Ultimate brakes
  • RockShox Reverb AXS dropper post
  • 5DEV R-SPEC Trail/Enduro 165mm crankset 
  • absoluteBLACK oval chainring
  • Roval Traverse carbon handlebars
  • Deity Copperhead stem
  • Better Bolts titanium fork compression knob
  • Slik Graphics custom fork decals
  • Berd HAWK27 carbon wheels with Industry Nine Hydra

The upgrades on this bike represent many thousands of dollars in mountain bike components. Everything is top-of-the-line and there are plenty of detail-oriented touches.

5Dev Trail/enduro cranks absoluteblack oval oil slick chainringYou have silver SRAM G2 Ultimate brakes matched to a raw silver CNC-machined 5Dev crankset

Pivot Trail 429 Enduro Fox 36 Factory 140mmThe Factory Orange Fox 36 is already pretty loud, but it’s boosted with custom oil-slick graphics that match the oil slick absoluteBLACK oval chainring, AXS chain, and XX1 cassette.

Better Bolts titanium compression adjuster knob Fox 36 FactoryThere’s even a matching Better Bolts high-speed compression knob on the fork. This knob is super nerdy. It’s machined out of titanium and it has bigger nubs and grooves to make it easier to turn with full-finger gloves.

All Mountain Style Red Bull Pivot Trail 429 EnduroThe All Mountain Style AMS x Red Bull Rampage edition protective tape is an eclectic pick with its wavey topographical pattern.

Some may think this bike is way too loud (I might be one of them), but it definitely stands out, and for some riders, that’s exactly what they want. 

How About Those Berd Wheels With PolyLight Fabric Spokes?

Pivot Trail 429 Enduro SRAM XX1 AXS 5DevEven with all that oil slick bling, I can't stop staring at those spokes.

These sort of blingy builds are generally capped off with a nice set of carbon wheels. But what if ENVEs or Reserves are just too basic for your tastes? Well, that’s where Berd comes in.   

Berd Polylight spokeA single Polylight spoke. Photo: Berd

Let’s start with the obvious stand-out feature: the spokes. Spokes are traditionally made of steel, but Berd PolyLight spokes are made of “UHMWPE,” a special type of polyethylene fiber. Essentially, it’s a piece of braided rope. Despite how it might look, these spokes are exceptionally strong, with excellent fatigue, tensile, and impact strength. They’re also very resistant to abrasion and UV exposure, and the braided construction also offers multiple layers of failure protection.

Berd Polylight fabric spokeThe part that threads into the spoke nipples is initially held onto the spoke with glue, but it's actually held more permanently under tension by a "Chinese finger trap" force created by the braided rope. This is a unique technology that Berd has patented. 

When built into a wheel and tensioned up, Berd spokes essentially act like a regular spoke. The main advantage is that they are significantly lighter than steel. In fact, Berd claims that the PolyLight spokes are the lightest spokes in the world. The HAWK27 wheels on this 429 Trail Enduro weigh a paltry 1,350 grams. This is lighter than many of the best high-end carbon XC race wheels on the market but it’s built with a tough rim designed to take a serious beating. 

Of course, there are some downsides. The biggest one is cost. Berd spokes are $8 per spoke, which is significantly more than standard steel spokes which are usually $1-3. Building a wheelset (or replacing a broken spoke) is also more challenging.

Berd Hawk 27 polyLight spoke wheels Industry Nine Hydra hubIf you’re using a standard J-bend hub, the spoke holes need to be reamed to prevent any sharp edges from cutting the spokes. A special tool is also needed to prevent spoke wind-up when tightening the spoke nipples, and the spokes need to be re-tensioned later in the build process because they stretch over time. 

If you’re an intrepid wheelbuilder, then it might be a fun challenge to build a custom wheelset with Berk PolyLight spokes. But if you’re a normie like me, then a pre-built wheelset like the Berd HAWK27s on this bike are much more appealing. It uses American-made Industry Nine Hydra hubs and Canadian-made We Are One carbon rims

So what is it actually like to ride these wheels? Supposedly, the Polylight spokes help dampen vibration better than traditional steel spokes. Maybe that’s true, but it’s very subtle. Truthfully, the wheels just feel like any other compliant (and tough) carbon wheels. That’s a good thing. 

I’d say the bigger benefit is the low weight. Otherwise, the real draw is the uniqueness. Like the rest of the bike, the bright white fabric spokes stand out. In fact, it’s the spokes that caught my attention in the first place. I likely wouldn’t have pulled this bike out to photograph if it had a regular set of wheels.

Berd spokes are the ultimate conversation starter. They immediately attract attention and people always want to touch them and ask questions. They’re perfect for the type of rider who would love this blinged-out Trail 429 Enduro.

Could We Take It Even Further?

Pivot Trail 429 Enduro UDHThe UDH means you could upgrade this bling-mobile even more... 

In my eyes, this bike is already as tricked out as it will ever need to be. But let's pretend money is no object. Could we go even crazier? Of course!

The Trail 429 frame uses a UDH (universal derailleur hanger), which means we could drop a couple grand to upgrade to one of the latest SRAM T-Type Transmission drivetrains. 

The SRAM G2 Ultimate brakes with carbon levers are super high-end, but the world of hydraulic MTB brakes is deep and extensive. We could look at rarer and more blingy brands like Hope or Trickstuff. 

The machined 5Dev cranks are pretty impressive and expensive, but if you really want to go all out, then there’s a $1,600 titanium version ready to destroy your wallet. Or you could “save” by going with Cane Creek’s $1,100 eeWings titanium cranks. While we’re at it, we could add a compatible Power2Max NG power meter and a titanium chainring. 

And what about that cockpit? A Specialized Bridge saddle? TOO BASIC. We can replace it with an absurdly expensive 3D-printed carbon-railed saddle like one of Specialized's S-Works Mirror saddles. Finish it all off with a $400 5Dev titanium stem and you'll be well on your way to bankruptcy. 

Ultimately, no one actually needs upgrades like these for their bike. This crazy Pivot 429 Trail Enduro isn’t going to magically turn you into an amazing rider. As long as your bike works well and is reliable and safe, it’s a good bike. But if you can afford it, upgrading your bike is the best way to make it uniquely yours. This Trail 429 has already been sold, and I'd bet that whoever owns it now has the most unique bike on the trail, no matter where they’re riding!

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