During some discussions at Sea Otter this spring, Trek dropped hints it was working to simplify its trail bike line up. This was right before it dropped a new full-suspension fat trail bike, so I wasn’t sure how to take that statement.
These simplification ideas became more clear few weeks ago when Trek invited us to Squamish to ride new trail bikes. As of now, Trek has only three full-suspension mountain bike platforms (not counting that fat bike)
Top Fuel – 100 mm 29er
Fuel EX – 130 mm 29/27plus
Remedy – 150 mm 27.5
Yes, in a surprising move, the Fuel EX 27.5 and the EWS winning Remedy 29 are no longer. Well, you can still get a new Fuel EX in 27.5 wheels, but only in smaller sizes of the women’s bikes.
Fuel EX 29
This is the same frame as the Fuel EX 27plus we’ve been riding, but all 29ers have a 130 mm fork, vs the 140 mm on the 27plus bike. The 29er version comes in a lot more models compared to the EX 27plus’s three.
|Fuel EX 5 WSD||$2,199.99|
|Fuel EX 8 WSD||$3,199.99|
|Fuel EX 9.8 WSD||$4,999.99|
|Fuel EX 5 29||$2,199.99|
|Fuel EX 7 29||$2,599.99|
|Fuel EX 8 29||$3,199.99|
|Fuel EX 9 29||$3,999.99|
|Fuel EX 29 AL frame||$1,889.99|
|Fuel EX 9.7 29||$3,999.99|
|Fuel EX 9.8 29||$4,999.99|
|Fuel EX 9.9 29||$8,399.99|
|Fuel EX 29 Carbon frame||$3,299.99|
We rode top of the line 9.9 (natch). Since I had plenty of time on the 27plus EX, I was happy to stick to the 29er wheels in Squamish. In fact, the few pairs of 27plus wheels Trek brought with them never made it on a bike while the media was there. It seems no one was that interested.
Right off the bat, the 29er felt more like the EX of the previous generation, light and snappy. Some of this might be attributed to the carbon rims and light tires, but after riding quite a few of these 29/27plus bikes in both configurations, the 29 inch wheels always feel faster to me.
The geometry of the new EX 29 is almost identical to the old Remedy 29, and the frame is actually stiffer. Which somewhat explains why the Remedy 29 went away. Put something like a Pike up front and some beefier tires and I would expect this thing to be a pretty serious ripper.
A quick rundown of the changes from last year’s EX:
-120mm->130mm rear / 130mm front
-68˚ headtube->67.7˚ (high) / 67˚ (low) headtube
-448mm->453mm (low position)
Lighter & Stiffer frame
– Straight Shot downtube for strength & stiffness
Knock Block Frame Defense
– Prevents frame damage from fork controls or brake levers
We rode some steep stuff in Squamish, and the EX felt at home here. The longer front end and slacker head angle (I spent half of the day in each geo setting) are a huge plus on steeper terrain. We did a fair amount of climbing as well as descending , and the EX now feels like a bike that balances the two more evenly, where the previous EX still had a lot of XC-racing genes.
And that is where I came away surprised. This is a much more aggressive bike than the previous Fuel EX, and I wonder if that will leave a hole in Trek’s line up? The Top Fuel is more capable these days, and maybe we’ll see a version of the Top Fuel with a longer fork, beefier tires and a dropper to compete with the likes of the new Kona Hei Hei Trail and other lightweight, short-travel, trail bikes. This isn’t to say the Fuel EX feels slow, but not everyone needs or wants 130 mm of travel and a 67˚ head angle.
Most of this is speculation, as the trails of Squamish don’t lend themselves to a lot of navel gazing about the fractured state of trail bike genres in the summer of 2016.
No more 29er Remedy? Yes, and this is somewhat shocking. Tracy Moseley has been dominating the EWS circuit on a Remedy 29 for years, but with the Fuel EX taking on the geometry of last year’s Remedy 29, Trek expects most riders looking for an aggressive 29er will be happy with the EX29. Time will tell. In the meantime, those looking for a 150 mm travel 27.5 bike should get themselves a test ride on the new Remedy. We’ve got a contender here.
-140mm -> 150mm rear
-68 / 67.5˚ headtube -> 66.5˚ / 66˚ headtube
-447mm ->458mm (19.5” size)
Lower bottom bracket
-341mm -> 336mm
This is returning the Remedy to its roots as a longer travel trail bike, with a few models coming stock with 160 forks. This puts it squarely in Slash territory. Which leads one to wonder about the future of the Slash….
Anyway, the new Remedy uses the same technology as the Fuel EX, including the Knock Block headset and Straighshot downtube to make a lighter and stiffer frame. Lots of pricepoints with this one, too.
|Remedy 7 27.5||$2,999.99|
|Remedy 8 27.5||$3,299.99|
|Remedy 8 WSD 27.5||$3,299.99|
|Remedy 9 27.5 RSL||$4,499.99|
|Remedy 27.5 AL frame||$1,889.99|
|Remedy 9.8 27.5||$5,299.99|
|Remedy 9.8 27.5 WSD||$5,299.99|
|Remedy 9.9 27.5 RSL||$7,999.99|
|Remedy 27.5 Carbon frame||$3,299.99|
If you look closely at the picture above, you’ll see a new RockShox Deluxe rear shock with the red stick denoting it is equipped the Trek’s proprietary Re:Aktiv valve. This is a good thing. So is the Lyrik up front. SRAM handles most of the parts on this bike, including Guide brakes and 1×12 Eagle drivetrain. Hidden behind my leg is Bontrager’s new Line dropper post, which has an excellent remote, although it could use more than the stock 125 mm of travel, which is feeling short next to 150 mm (and even longer) posts.
I’m going to have to look into the “hows and whys” more later, but the RockShox rear shock seemed to be better at controlling bob than the Fox on the Fuel EX, while still sucking up the bigger hits like a champ. This bike just felt controlled, everywhere. I keep things below my limits (and way below the bike’s limits) as I am not a fan of pinning it at media events, but I was shocked at how well this bike scooted uphill and bombed down unfamiliar trails. I expected to miss the 29er wheels on some of the steeper and chunkier bits, but it wasn’t an issue. In fact, if I lived in Squamish, this bike would be my choice over the Fuel EX, even though the trails never open up enough to really take advantage of the travel and stability of a bike like this, at least with my skillset.
My long term Remedy tester just showed up at the office, so expect a full review soon. We’ve got the RSL (Race Shop Limited) model, which has SE4 reinforced tires and a 160 mm Lyrik travel adjust fork. In other words, the enduro model. That extra travel kicks the head angle back to 66˚/65.5˚and a slightly higher bottom bracket at 346/339 mm. Maybe I just don’t have enough steep climbs, but this is another in a long series of bikes that I’ve adjusted the travel on the first long climb, forgot to return it to full travel on the first descent, and proceeded to leave it in the long setting and never think about it again.
Wrap it up, I’ll take it.
Trek is also offering a huge range of prices and aluminum frames that offer all the features of the carbon models at about half the price. There are even a solid selection of women’s bikes, for those that are into that type of thing. Some of the cheaper models don’t get a Re:Aktiv shock, but to Trek’s credit Re:Aktiv is found at even lower price points this year.
It is pretty easy to get wrapped up in all the tech-y buzz-words the Trek uses to market its bikes. ABP, Mino link, Re:Aktiv, Full Floater, Evo Link, Control Freak internal routing, etc. It is harder to talk about how well all of this works as whole. Trek has been slowly and quietly creating some very fine trail bikes, and this pair of bikes has no trouble holding it down against some of the best trail bikes I’ve ridden.These bikes are available NOW. Check out Trek’s website for more info.
By Matt Kasprzyk
Amidst the 27.5 and fat bike boom Trek has been perfecting a 29er that redefines 140 mm travel, big-wheeled bikes. Sure, there’s a lot of proven Trek features that riders are familiar with, but the latest iteration of the Remedy is a mind-expanding ride experience because of two major design features: the Boost 148 rear hub and the new RE:aktiv rear shock.
Trek’s Boost 148 is a new rear hub standard, but before we start hating on evolution, let’s take a little time to at least humor why this makes sense. The rear hub spacing has been increased by 3 mm on each side. That might not seem like much, but it opened the door for Trek’s engineers to hit the quantitative numbers they were aiming for in terms of frame and wheel stiffness while allowing for contemporary design features like a PressFit BB shell with ISCG mounts, as well as the ability to fit larger chainrings while maintaining a proper chainline for 1x drives, without increasing Q-factor. But, maybe most importantly, this is not proprietary tech. Trek has left this as an open design. Soon we’ll see 148 offerings by companies like DT Swiss, Shimano and Industry-9—all of whom are already on board. Rumors abound that Trek’s 27.5 trail bikes will be using this standard in 2016 as well.
The wider hub increases 29er wheel stiffness by 15 percent, according to Trek, and goes a long way toward eliminating reservations about the lateral stiffness of a larger wheel diameter. The only question left is: When will we see wider front hubs for 29ers? It’s definitely coming soon, with recent confirmation of a 15×110 standard to supplant the current 15×100.
The other major story here is the RE:aktiv rear shock that was developed using technology from Penske Racing’s experience designing Formula 1 racing suspension. This regressively damped system uses a spring-loaded high-speed compression circuit that remains closed until enough pressure pushes it open. With the high-speed circuit closed, the firmly damped low-speed valve controls pedaling motions. Larger impacts open the high-speed circuit and the damping rate drops, allowing more travel to soak up sharp hits. On really big hits, the damping rate ramps back up to regain control of the travel.
Unlike Specialized’s Brain suspension that senses the direction of input, the RE:aktiv system is very sensitive to the velocity of impacts. Feedback from pedaling, or rider movements, is too slow to activate the valve. While pedaling it feels like a firmly damped and efficient climber, but as soon as you start descending at speed, the shock senses those fast impacts and fully opens up with a quick and seamless transition. The rougher the terrain the quicker it reacts, but there is never a noticeable transition or perceivable delay back and forth. The CTD settings change the preload on the RE:aktiv piston. Regardless of preload settings, when opened the valve works the same, so you get the seamless changes in damping in all three modes, but a higher amount of force is needed to activate the high speed circuit in Trail or Climb.
What does all this axle width and car-racing tech feel like on the trails? Well, it’s tough going back to a bike that doesn’t use this shock.
The Remedy seems to float over rough terrain. It skips through the rough and rounds the tops off protruding rocks. The rear wheel always seems in contact with the ground, and I felt in total control of the rear end of the bike. It felt completely balanced, where the back end was working in tandem with the front suspension. The 140 mm travel RockShox Pike was perfectly paired with the RE:aktiv performance.
Trek spent a lot of time collecting quantitative data before any prototype was drafted. On paper the geometry isn’t revolutionary, but combined with an incredible suspension system and the stiffest aluminum wheels that I’ve used, the resulting impression is that this bike is hands down the best long travel 29er I’ve ridden. The fact that Trek’s enduro team often races on the Remedy when the longer-travel Slash is an option goes a long way toward explaining just how capable this bike is.
Control at speed through rough sections is noticeably better than many longer-travel bikes out there. In addition to how much fun it is going down, it climbs very well and there isn’t any fiddling with knobs when you get to the top. A lot of bikes pedal well or descend great, but what’s remarkable is how nicely the new Remedy switches between pedaling efficiency and absolutely murdering descents without the need to adjust its CTD settings.
Trek’s Mino Link allows you to adjust the head tube angle by half a degree (68.2 or 67.5) and change the BB height by up to 10 mm, but that feature is set-and-forget for me. After trying the slacker setting, I found the Goldilocks numbers that agreed with me during all of my trail riding. The bike fit well, providing immediate confidence while riding and leaving me with zero desire to change any of the stock components, which consisted of a SRAM XX1 drivetrain and Shimano’s potent XTR Trail brakes. At 26.1 pounds without pedals it’s also one of the lightest in its category.
If this bike asked me to get on a plane to Trektown in a South American jungle, I’d grab that Kool-Aid and say, “All aboard!” Sign me up for the next two-wheeled religious experience. This is a must-ride, and I’d recommend any of the carbon or aluminum models with the RE:aktiv shock to just about anyone who is shopping for one of the best trail bikes out there.
It seems like a long while since I’ve been on a Trek. In the couple years that have passed since I last rode one, we now see some of its once proprietary geometry principles implemented by other manufacturers, such as the increased offset fork on 29ers.
‘So what’s new,’ I had to ask as I began assembling my latest test bike. The answer is a lot.
Trek’s Remedy 9.9 29 trail bike is chock full of features. The mainstays are all there. OCLV Carbon, G2 geometry, ABP braking, a tapered headtube and Trek’s EVO Link all get the nod. There are some well placed frame guards, color matched this and that and internal routings. My well-appointed XL weighs in at 27.12 pounds as shown, with pedals.
But the big story is the new RE:activ damper that’s been developed with the F1 suspension experts at Penske with Fox’s DRCV shock. We described it this way earlier this year with our coverage of the new Fuel EX:
“The idea behind regressive damping is a firm low speed platform for support while pedaling, with a high speed circuit that substantially reduces compression damping and then slowly ramps it back up to gain control of the suspension again, and help prevent bottoming. Trek has been calling this “the nose” as the graphs below illustrate why that name is fitting.”
Trek is also adding to the arms race by introducing a new Boost148 rear hub. The slightly wider 148mm hub allows for wider bracing angle of the spokes leading to what Trek says is a 15 percent stiffer wheel. This standard is only used on Trek’s 29ers, and claims to bring the stiffness of a 29-inch wheel on par with a 142mm 27.5 wheel. Unlike some of its earlier proprietary designs, Boost148 is an open standard design and has companies like DT Swiss, Shimano and Raceface on board.
As for my first impressions? I may have drank that 27.5 Kool-Aid too soon….
The RE:active shock seems to cut the top off of pumps and always feels like it’s riding at the sag point. I’ve been trying to get other forks to perform like this for years and it’s great to have a rear end that matches how I want my fork to feel. I’ve enjoyed how the bike feels like it’s skipping through rough sections rather than diving in. Regardless of the size of the bumps it feels consistent and smooth with great traction.
After a few initial rides, this bike has me thinking about a possible change up to my personal stable. Trek might need to be nervous about ever seeing it again.
RockShox Pike. Never a bad choice, and made better with a 51mm offset for the big wheels.
Bontrager tires have been improving greatly in the last few years. No need to swap these XR treads for something else. They work well everywhere.
Reverb remotes and Shimano brakes are an awkward fit when combined this way. Since this bike has a 1x drivetrain, why not run the dropper remote under bar where the shifter would be? Unfortunately, this left hand Reverb remote would need to be swapped for the right hand model to work properly under the bars on the left side.Tweet Print