Dirt Rag Magazine

Trek releases Slash 29, focused on enduro racing


There was a general sense of “WTF” when Trek killed off the Remedy 29 for 2017. Yes the new Fuel EX 29 had the same geometry and a stiffer frame, but 130 mm of travel is still only 130 mm of travel. How is the semi-retired Tracey Mosely supposed to take on the EWS without her beloved Remedy 29?

As expected, Trek wasn’t really asleep at the wheel; it was busy developing a true race weapon for enduro riders: the Slash 29.

Trek Slash 9.9 in Squamish, BC, June 2016

This thing is all about going as fast as possible on modern enduro race courses. With that in mind, it will only come in two models, both sharing a carbon fiber frame. That 150 mm travel frame gets all the typical technologies (except Full-Floater) in the Trek acronym soup: an OCLV Mountain Carbon main frame and 1x-specific stays, ABP, Boost 148, Knock Block steerer stop, EVO link, E2 tapered head tube, Mino Link, Control Freak internal routing, Carbon Armor, PF92, ISCG 05 and G2 Geometry. Drivetrains are 1x only, and forks are 160 mm on both the 9.8 and 9.9 RSL.

We didn’t get to ride this bike at the recent press camp, but we did get a sneak peek at a complete bike, maybe to help assuage the general consensus that the Remedy 29 would be missed.

Trek Slash 9.9 in Squamish, BC, June 2016Trek Slash 9.9 in Squamish, BC, June 2016

Trek Slash 9.9 in Squamish, BC, June 2016

Some things that stand out to me:

– Four frame sizes, including a 15.5″. While a lot of companies don’t make a small, long-travel 29er, Trek felt confident it could pull of a small frame that still rides well and can fit short riders just as well.

-No 27.5″ wheels or 27plus tires. This bike is about going as fast as possible, and in Trek’s collective mind that means 29″ wheels, a frame as stiff as a Session, and lots of suspension travel.

-No more Full-Floater. Much like the old DRCV valve, Full-Floater was developed when Trek determined there were shortcomings to rear shocks that it wanted to address. With modern metric shock packaging and improved internals, Trek determined that the ride characteristics is wanted could be accomplished without the floating shock mount, so that space was freed up for other uses.

-Geometry is extreme, but that is starting to seem normal. A 65.6/65.1-degree head angle is about as slack as you’ll find any stock 29er these days; the 1187 mm (46.7 inches, size medium) wheelbase is still a little less than a medium Session; and the 434 mm (17-inch) chainstays are pretty short for a 29er with 150 mm of travel. A bottom bracket that sits right around 13.5 inches is looking pretty stable to me.

-Hope you like red.

The Pike on the 9.8 is a hell of a fork, but… Why not a Lyrik like the Remedy 9.9 RSL? Stiffer and stronger is a good thing  Looks like I caught a misprint in the spec sheet, the 9.8 will have a Lyrik after all.

-I continue to be not stoked on internal routing. I am stoked on the Knock Block headset.

-This is a high-end race bike. If you don’t have a high-end bank account, you probably need to go look at aluminum Enduro 29s if you want a cheaper 29 enduro race bike. Pretty much everything else around 150 mm of travel is all carbon and $$$.

-The Bontrager SE5 is an excellent tire, it feels like a cross between a High Roller and a Minion, which makes me confused as to why this bike is spec’ed with the the SE4. Trek says the SE4 is a more versatile all-around tire, but c-mon, this is a race bike. Put the big meats on there.

Both bikes get SRAM drivetrains (X1 on the 9.8, XO1 Eagle 12 speed on the 9.9). A Pike Lyrik and Super Deluxe suspend the 9.8, the 9.9 has a Fox 36 and Float X2. Bontrager provides most everything else for the bikes, which isn’t a bad thing at all.

Pricing

Slash 9.8 29 $5,499.99
Slash 9.9 29 RSL $8,999.99
Slash C F/S $3,699.99

This bike aims squarely at the Specialized Enduro 29, Evil Wreckoning, and the new Niner RIP. While this isn’t a direct replacement for the Remedy 29, it really does look like a true enduro race bike, not an all-’rounder. We are seeing 29ers get more acceptance each year on the enduro circuit, but there still seems to be some resistance, even if the bigger wheels are faster. Sort of like why NBA players refuse to shoot foul shots granny-style, even though it is proven to be more accurate.

Bikes should be at dealers in October, so start saving. Trek’s website should be updated with more info soon.

Trek Slash 9.9 in Squamish, BC, June 2016

Trek Slash 9.9 in Squamish, BC, June 2016


Some FAQs from Trek:

What’s new with 2017 Slash?

With the new 2017 Remedy moving deeper into All-Mountain territory, new Slash sets its sights squarely on Enduro racing. With that in mind, we designed it around a carbon frame with the fastest-rolling wheel size. All 2017 Slash models use 29” wheels with Boost110 & Boost148 hub spacing. Rear travel moves to 150mm for the right balance of capability and efficiency. Both models get Enduro-minded 130mm/160mm forks which offer a better climbing position in the 130mm setting, and more confident descending in the 160mm setting.

Like the Fuel EX & Remedy, Slash gets a Straight Shot downtube with Knock Block frame defense for DH-worthy frame stiffness with no added weight. It also gets our extra-versatile Control Freak cable routing system to tie it all together.

How many Slash bike models are there?

Two. Both the Slash 9.8 and Slash 9.9 RSL share the same race-ready, full-carbon, 1x-specific frame.

What does Race Shop Limited mean?

Race Shop Limited, or RSL models are built with a parts spec that meets the demands of our top-level Enduro racers, including extra suspension adjustments, a Rapid Drive rear hub, and the new SRAM X01 Eagle 1×12 drivetrain.

Is Slash available as a frameset?

Yes. Slash is available as a frameset, which includes a Fox Factory Float X2 shock, Knock Block headset, and Line Pro 35mm stem.

What are the available sizes for Slash?

All Slash models are available in 15.5, 17.5, 19.5, and 21.5.

While most other long-travel 29ers suffer from design constraints that don’t allow for a Small frame size, Slash benefits from Trek’s decade of 29er experience, allowing us to offer a fast, great-handling 15.5” long-travel 29er.

Why doesn’t the new Slash use Full Floater?

We developed Full Floater years ago to address performance constraints associated with the air shocks that were available at that time. Since then, mountain bike shocks have evolved. More dynamic and responsive dampers, along with more refined air springs like EVOL and Debonair, offer the performance benefits our engineers sought to achieve with Full Floater.

Using a fixed lower shock mount opens up the lower frame area, giving us more opportunity to design stronger, stiffer frames and chainstays. This also gives us more flexibility to accommodate larger, more capable shocks. All of these effects are experienced most dramatically on long travel bikes, like the Slash.

Then why is Full Floater still on new Fuel EX and Remedy?

Full Floater works great on short to mid-travel bikes where engineering requirements are not so challenging. The demanding combination of design requirements – frame stiffness, bigger 29” wheel size, long travel, and fitting piggyback shocks– of the new Slash 29 presented the greatest opportunity to incorporate a new direction in suspension layout.

What front derailleurs work with the new frame?

None. The carbon chainstay is 1x only, which allowed our engineers to optimize stiffness and weight, as well as keep the length down to 435mm.

Is Slash compatible with other aftermarket shocks?

Yes. Slash uses new standard metric shock sizing (230×57.5mm).

Does Slash use a G2 fork?

Yes. It’s a 29er, and we know that our G2 Geometry with a 51mm offset fork still makes for the best 29er handling at any speed, on any terrain.

What Mino Link position is standard out of the box?

All MY17 full suspension bikes (EXCEPT Top Fuel and Session) will ship with the Mino Link in the High (steeper) setting. This gives Slash a headtube angle of 65.6 out of the box.

Is the new frame compatible with 27.5 Plus wheels and tires? 27.5?

No. We designed Slash around 29” wheels and tires for maximum speed. Running any other wheel/tire size will adversely affect handling and speed.

What is the max tire size for Slash frames?

29 x 2.6”

 

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Trek releases new simplified trailbike lineup: Remedy 27.5 and Fuel EX 29


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

Trek Fuel EX in Squamish, British Columbia, June 2016

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:

More travel
-120mm->130mm rear / 130mm front
Slacker geometry
-68˚ headtube->67.7˚ (high) / 67˚ (low) headtube
Longer reach
-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

_MRP0976

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.

_MRP1273

 

Remedy 27.5

Trek Remedy launch in Squamish, British Columbia. June 2016.

Trek Remedy launch in Squamish, British Columbia. June 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.

More travel
-140mm -> 150mm rear
Slacker geometry
-68 / 67.5˚ headtube -> 66.5˚ / 66˚ headtube
Longer reach
-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….

Gee and Dan Atherton with Remedy in Spain 2016

Gee and Dan Atherton with Remedy in Spain 2016

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

 

Trek Launch in Squamish, BC, Canada, June 2016

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.

Trek Launch in Squamish, BC, Canada, June 2016

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.
Trek Launch in Squamish, BC, Canada, June 2016

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.

 

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Trek releases longer-travel Fuel EX 27.5 Plus


rekFuelEX27plus__WEB-1

The Fuel EX wasn’t exactly an “old” bike, even by bike industry standards. It wouldn’t have taken much for Trek to redesign the rear end of the Fuel EX 29 to accept a 27plus tire, slap a new Fox 34 Plus fork on the front and ship it out. It would have been an above average bike.

But that is not what Trek did. At all. This Fuel EX 27.5 Plus is just the start of Trek’s entirely revamped trail bike offerings. We’ll be in Squamish next week to ride the other new bikes, but in the meantime, we’ve been lucky to be one of  small number of media outlets riding the new Fuel EX.

Trek released the Chupacabra 27.5 plus tires this spring, the first clue that we’d be seeing a bike like this from Trek. In fact, we had a bet going that about whether it would be this or a full-suspension 29plus Stash that we’d see released at Sea Otter (it was a full-sus fatbike, so we all lost).

Fully blacked-out, this is perhaps the meanest looking bike Trek has ever released. It doesn’t just look mean, it has the performance to back up the sneer. Long and low geometry, a new frame that is stiffer than the current Remedy and a travel increase push this new bike out of the long-legged XC realm into do-it all trail bike territory. Think less Midwest and more Pacific Northwest.

rekFuelEX27plus__WEB-4

Unlike the 120/120 mm travel on the 29 and 27.5 bikes, the new bike is 140/130 mm front/rear. The travel is noticeably more plush, but loses some of the snappy pedalling feel of the shorter-travel bike. It hasn’t lost the oddly magic feel of controlled plushness that the Re:Aktiv shock provides, but feels better sitting and spinning rather than standing and mashing.

rekFuelEX27plus__WEB-6

The carbon frame has a huge, almost-straight downtube, and lots of stand-over, Trek’s totally quiet Control Freak internal routing and a new bump-stop headset. Developed in conjunction with FSA the Knock Block headset uses keyed spacers and stem to prevent the fork from swinging 180 degrees in a crash. This protects the top tube from the brake levers and the down tube from the fork’s top caps. This allows Trek to increase tube separation at the head tube, and get rid of the upper bend in the down tube. Straighter, shorter tubes are lighter and stiffer, the attributes everyone is chasing in the full-suspension marketplace.

The downside to this new headset? Proprietary stems and spacers. I have a feeling this idea has enough merit to expand to more of the industry, but proprietary parts are not well received right now. The stock Bontrager Line 35 mm bar and stem is more than serviceable, and any 35 mm bar will work, so it isn’t that huge of a deal unless you really can’t ride without you chi-chi Chromag bar and stem.

The biggest news with the EX is the geometry. The head angle is the most obvious change, rivalling the new Santa Cruz Tallboy 3 for biggest difference from previous generation frames. Trek continues to use the geo-adjusting Mino link, resulting in a rider’s choice of 67.2 or 66.6 degrees. Seat tube angles are steeper, chain stays are at 433 mm (17”) and a 13″ bottom bracket should keep thing on the shreddy side on the trail.

rekFuelEX27plus__WEB-10 rekFuelEX27plus__WEB-9

I’ve been on the EX 9.8, which is an interesting mix of parts for a modern mountain bike. Brakes and drivetrain are all XT, including a 2×11 with  side-swing front derailleur. The specs say the fork should be a FOX 34 Performance FIT, but my bike has a GRIP damper. Rear shock is a FOX EVOL with three-position Re:Activ valve. Wheels are DT hubs laced to Sun Duroc 40 rims. Everything else besides the 125 mm Reverb are Bontrager bits.

rekFuelEX27plus__WEB-13The other two bikes are aluminum frames. The EX 8 is 1×11 via SRAM GX, brakes are Shimano Deore, Fox 34 Rhythm GRIP fork, same FOX EVOL/Re:Aktiv shock and Bontrager hubs in place of the DTs.  A KS EThirty dropper and Bontrager parts finish it off. The EX5 gets 2×10 Deore, Shimano M315 brakes, no dropper post, and less expensive Bontrager finishing bits. Suspension is handled by RockShox, a Sektor Silver RL up front, and Deluxe RL rear.

All three models use the new “metric” shock sizing and trunnion mounts. Also, all three bikes will work with 29″ wheels, although the bottom bracket will end up about 5mm higher depending on tire selection.

The current Fuel EX with 29 or 27.5 “standard” tires will remain in the line-up, which should be a relief for those riders that don’t need a bike as aggressive as the EX 27plus, but not as race-focused at the Top Fuel.

First  Impressions

This bike is fun. It retains enough of the efficiency of the shorter travel EXs to want to take on long days on the trail, but the added travel and traction are welcome additions when things get rough. Chainstays at 17″ seem to be a magic number for this bike (or maybe just for me), keeping the front end down on climbs, but able to pop and hop without excessive body english.

I’m still messing with air pressure in the rear shock. The Re:Aktiv shock takes a little longer to dial in, and has a pretty broad range of usable pressures. Even when set up on the soft side, the regressive valve manages to make the bike pedal well, and all three positions of platform are all very usable on the trail,. Even on the firmest setting once past the threshold the shock opens up and gobbles up the bumps better than would be expected for something that feels so firm off the top.

The long and low geometry invites aggressive riding, in fact, it rewards it. Unlike the standard Fuel EXs, the plus bike feels best being tossed around versus a lighter touch. When given a choice, the EX plus bike is more fun to ride on the aggressive lines. If you like to stay seated and steer around things, this might not be your bike. With this much quality travel and traction, dropping the seat and attacking the trail is your best bet.

The Chupacabras are impressive performers for a tire with such small knobs, but they can start to feel overwhelmed with things get really hairy. I’m guessing Bontrager will have a more aggressive tread up its sleeve if we see a 27plus Remedy released. A more aggressive front tire paired with the Chupacabra in the rear would be a sweet setup.

Personally, I think Trek should have given this bike its own name, it is that different from the shorter travel EXs. How about Rumblefish or Roscoe, some of my favorites from the now-defunct Fisher brand? Regardless, even though Trek has been talking about simplifying its trail bike line-up, the addition of this bike and the full-suspension Farley EX seems like the opposite of that.

Navel-gazing about names and sales-floor confusion aside, the Fuel EX 27plus seems like a very worthy contender in the hotly-contested trail bike marketplace. We’ll have a full review in the next issue of Dirt Rag.

Pricing and Availability:

Fuel EX 5 27.5 Plus $2,399.99 June
Fuel EX 8 27.5 Plus $3,299.99 NOW
Fuel EX 9.8 27.5 Plus $5,299.99 NOW

Full specs and geometry are up on Trek’s website.

rekFuelEX27plus__WEB-3 rekFuelEX27plus__WEB-5 rekFuelEX27plus__WEB-7 rekFuelEX27plus__WEB-8 rekFuelEX27plus__WEB-12

 

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Sea Otter 2016: Trek Farley EX


Bets around the Dirt Rag virtual water cooler (which is located in the virtual Dirt Rag HQ) put money on Trek releasing a 27plus full-suspension trail bike or a Stache 29plus full-suspension ripper.

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Neither guess was accurate, obviously. Instead, Trek dropped a 27.5 x 3.8 Farley EX trail bike with full suspension at the Sea Otter Classic. Actually Trek dropped a pair of them. This 120 mm travel fatbike is looking to insert itself into what Trek sees as a growing high-end market for fat bikes.

Farley EX 9.8 Farley EX 9.8 Profile

Trek didn’t cut corners here, equipping the 9.8 model with a carbon frame, the full compliment of Trek suspension tech (RE:activ shock, full-floater shock, active braking pivot, etc.), a new Bontrager Drop Line dropper post and Bontrager 27.5 x 3.8 tires.

Farley EX 9.8 Angle

Those big tires have many of the same advantages of 29 vs 26 wheels, and some fancy engineering  actually drops weight from the 26 x 4.7 tires seen on many of Trek’s previous fat bikes.

While many companies seem to be pulling back from the fat market, this release shows is Trek doubling down with a serious commitment to riders looking for a full-time, full-fat trail bike.

Farley EX 8

Farley EX 8 Profile

Sharing most features of the Farley EX 9.8, the EX 8 saves cash with less-expensive components all around. The critical RE:activ shock and Trek’s suspension technology remain in place, but aluminum replaces the carbon as the frame material of choice.

Geometry is trail oriented. Not super slack, not super steep, but looking like a good balance between slack-shred-machine and cross-country race bike.

Farley 9.9

Trek isn’t ignoring the hardtail side of the fat bike market. There were plans in place to develop a less-expensive fat bike, but sales trends showed huge sell-through in its higher-end carbon models, hence the 9.9. Even with 27.5 x 4.5 tires, the Farley 9.9 is claimed to weigh 22 pounds. Twenty-two pounds! With real tires. Pretty amazing.

Farley 9.9 Profile

A host of lightweight Bontrager bits accompany the OCLV carbon frame, but the real star of the show are the HED Big Deal carbon rims, which are one of the lightest, if not the lightest, fat bike rims on the market.

With fat bike races now selling out in most parts of the country, this looks like a serious contender for raciest fat bike ever, even directly out of the box.

Farley 9.9 Angle

Pricing and Availability

All these bikes are scheduled for a fall release. Pricing looks like this:

Farley 9.9 $7,499.99 July/August
Farley EX 8 $3,499.99 August
Farley EX 9.8 $5,499.99 August

There are less expensive hardtail fat bikes as well:

Farley 5 $1,729.99 Now/August
Farley 7 $2,399.99 August
Farley 9.6 $2,799.99 August
Farley 9.8 $4,599.99 August

And one for the kids!

Farley 24 $989.99 Now/August

 

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Review: Trek Top Fuel 9.9 SL


Tester: Mike Cushionbury | Age: 45 | Height: 5’10″ | Weight: 155 lbs. | Inseam: 32”

Trek discontinued its 26-inch-wheeled Top Fuel cross-country line a few years back in favor of the successful Gary Fisher 29er Superfly FS. Now, as the Superfly grows long in the tooth, the Top Fuel is reborn for 2016. And it’s as modern and high-tech as a cross-country bike can be.

Trek Top Fuel -1

The frame is entirely carbon and, like the longer-travel Fuel EX, the 100 mm travel Top Fuel uses an EVO rocker link and Full Floater suspension design, which attaches the shock to two moving points. It also has Active Braking Pivot and the geometry-adjusting Mino Link. This changes head-tube angle by half a degree and raises or lowers the bottom bracket by 8 mm, going from a 70-degree head angle and 12.9- inch bottom bracket in low to 70.9 degrees and 13.4 inches in high. This brings the short-stravel bike in line with the technology Trek has been using for its long-travel bikes, raising the expectations of what a cross country bike is capable of.

The Top Fuel has Boost 148/110 hub spacing, Smart Wheel Size and Control Freak cable management. Boost, which was developed in part by Trek last year for its trail and all-mountain bikes, creates a stronger 29er wheel and frame. Boost also provides more tire clearance and gives Trek the opportunity to shorten the chainstays by 17 mm compared to the Superfly. With 148—which is as wide as you can go without affecting Q factor—width and bottom-bracket junction stiffness is maximized without making the bike wider at the cranks. By going 110 on the fork, the front end is equal to the rear in terms of strength, stability and the ability to run a bigger tire.

Trek Top Fuel -3

Trek believes that for cross-country applications a 29er wheel is absolutely the fastest, so you won’t be seeing multiple options; it’s 29 only, save for the 15.5-inch frame. Smart Wheel Sizing dictates that for this small of a frame, 27.5 is the answer to keep the bike fitting correctly, lower the front end and achieve no wheel/toe overlap. Frame sizes 17.5 inches and larger utilize 29-inch wheels.

Believe it or not, with all the various drivetrain, suspension and dropper-post options, there are 54 different ways to route cables, according to Trek. To make sure any and all work, Trek developed a very flexible system called Control Freak cable management that works with any combination of cables and electronic wires, including internally routed dropper posts. There are also small guides along the down tube and top tube to cleanly run your rear brake or dropper post externally if you choose.

Trek Top Fuel -2

Interestingly, Trek didn’t include a specific bottom-bracket or seat-tube internal option for a Shimano Di2 electronic battery; it’s meant to run sidesaddle to the water-bottle cage or for you to use a cable cinch in the down tube, meaning you’d have to take the fork out of the head tube and then lower the battery into the down tube from there. Also, the bottom bracket access port for internal cable installation is on the small side compared to other brands, making access a bit more challenging.

At a price of nine grand, the line-leading Top Fuel 9.9 SL has a complete package of top-shelf parts, albeit some surprising yet sound choices that stray from what you might expect. Shifting is handled by
the flawless Shimano XTR cable system, yet rather than a traditional Shimano double ring, the 9.9 SL goes 1×11 with Race Face’s ultralight Next carbon crank and direct-mount 32T chainring. And while accessories like the handlebar, seatpost, stem and saddle are all feathery Bontrager XXX carbon fiber, Trek felt that stiff, yet light, DT Swiss XMC 1200 carbon wheels were the best choice to match up with its Boost spacing. Suspension is controlled by a RockShox RS-1 Solo Air fork and Monarch XX shock with an XLoc Full Sprint hydraulic remote lockout that controls both the shock and fork.

All this adds up to a 29er full-suspension race bike that weighs less than 22 pounds. Trek claims a 17.5 inch frame with shock and all hardware weighs only 4.3 pounds.

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I kept the bike at the lower geometry setting to get the slackest head angle possible, in line with what most modern-day cross-country bikes are using. This, along with the added efficiency and stability
from the wider Boost spacing, makes the Top Fuel an extremely capable cross-country racer as well as an exceptional do-it-all endurance machine within the realm of 100 mm travel. It’s fast, it’s light and it handles like a dream.

Besides handling and climbing prowess, the wider stance, along with the EVO rocker link and Full Floater suspension, makes you forget, more often than not, that it has only 100 mm of travel. Oddly, within the first week of riding, the RockShox Full Sprint hydraulic remote button fell off, nullifying the ability to lock out the rear shock (the fork lockout remained operational), and I never missed it. Trek’s suspension design produced efficient pedaling even on the smoothest of climbs. If given an option, I’d easily choose a manual lockout for the shock rather than the hydraulic combination controlling both the shock and fork, since I didn’t necessarily need one for the shock.

Another surprise? While the stock Bontrager XR1 Team Issue tires looked questionable for rough, rocky conditions, set up tubeless they performed exceptionally well, providing great traction in all conditions (I could successfully run less than 20 psi when it was wet and slick). They have also proven to be very durable.

With Boost spacing, a PF92 bottom bracket and hydraulic linked suspension, there’s very little part swapping to be had with the Trek Top Fuel 9.9 SL. When you consider the quality of all those parts, there’s nothing I’d change besides having the option for a manual-lockout shock.

The Top Fuel is one of the most high-tech, potent and fun short travel 29ers I’ve ever ridden; it’s also one of the lightest. It’s a full-on racer as well as a full-on fun-to-ride bike. There is one other thing I’d change, though: adding my own dropper seatpost. This little addition would help make the Top Fuel an even more aggressively awesome bike on the descents.

  • Wheelbase: 43.7″, 53.6
  • Top Tube: 23.8″
  • Head Angle: 70°, 70.9°
  • Seat-Tube Angle: 74º, 74.9
  • Bottom Bracket: 12.9″, 13.4″
  • Rear Center: 17″
  • Weight: 21.3 lbs. w/o pedals
  • Price: $9,000
  • Sizes: 15.5″, 17.5″ (tested), 18.5″, 19.5″, 21.5″ (specs based on size tested)
  • Online: trekbikes.com

 

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Atherton family joins Trek Factory Racing Downhill for inaugural season


(Waterloo, WI) — Trek and Trek Factory Racing announced today the creation of a marquee World Cup-level Downhill racing program for the 2016 season. The new team will take on the full UCI World Cup series as well as select regional Red Bull events. Joining Trek Factory Racing Downhill for its inaugural season will be Rachel Atherton (UK), Gee Atherton (UK), Dan Atherton (UK), and Taylor Vernon (UK).

Atherton Racing in Wales, United Kingdom on the 04 November 2015

The Athertons rank among the most triumphant families in cycling. As a trio, they represent decades of downhill racing excellence on the professional circuit. A combined six World Championship titles, fifteen National Championships, two European Championships, and over thirty World Cup wins decorate the family mantle.

Trek is proud to partner with Dan, Gee, Rachel, and Taylor, and will offer full support to their exceptional competitive trajectory. Beyond their success in competition, these athletes are phenomenal ambassadors for the sport of downhill mountain biking. The Athertons’ wealth of experience also gives them a unique perspective on product development. Trek will rely on their expertise and input in the continued development of downhill bikes and equipment that have been raced to victory at the pinnacle of the sport.

Atherton Racing in Wales, United Kingdom on the 04 November 2015

“We are delighted to be a part of Trek Factory Racing,” said Team Director Dan Brown. “The team have substantial goals and we’re really excited to have Trek’s support and partnership. We’re looking forward to bringing the passion and professionalism that Trek have demonstrated across their whole cycling portfolio to our World Cup Downhill campaign and beyond.”

Atherton Racing in Wales, United Kingdom on the 04 November 2015

Trek Factory Racing’s product development relationship with its athletes has been a successful recipe, and one Trek plans to replicate with the new downhill program. Trek will work with the new team on the continued development of the best bikes and equipment through active research and testing around all aspects of downhill racing. “A lot of people out there are already saying that the Session is the fastest bike on the circuit,” said Gee Atherton. “Trek have shown how receptive they are to rider feedback, and we want to put our own stamp on the bikes.”

Dan and Rachel Atherton are equally excited to participate in the development process. “Trek is super-motivated to develop the bikes and push the brand forward,” said Dan. “They are as hungry to progress the sport as we are and we can’t wait to get started.”

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Rachel added, “I’m stoked to be working with Trek. I remember watching my fellow Brit Tracy Moseley absolutely tearing apart the field at Worlds in 2010 on her Trek Session, then going on to dominate the 2011 season. Trek is a brand with a lot of positive associations for me.”

Gee, Rachel, and Taylor will ride the Trek Session, one of the most decorated mountain bikes in history, equipped with Bontrager components, wheels, and tires. Dan Atherton will be taking turns on the Trek Session and Slash depending on the race and terrain.

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First Impression: Trek Fuel EX 29 9.9


Few bikes have such a storied lineage as the Fuel EX. Trek introduced a refreshed version of its 27.5-wheeled version last year with the incorporation of the Fox Re:aktiv shock technology. This year the 29er model gets the same treatment, with a host of the same features plus some new ones.

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While still built around a 120 mm travel, full-floating, ABP (active breaking pivot) suspension design, the new Re:aktiv shock was designed with input from auto racing powerhouse Penske Racing shocks, a company that is normally designing products for Formula 1 cars. The idea is that it can detect the difference between different inputs (pedaling forces versus impacting a root at speed) and adjust on the fly. The speed that the shaft moves is what dictates how the damping reacts. It’s a rather complex technology that is found on only some of the top models, starting with the Fuel EX 8.

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Unique to the 29er model is the introduction of Boost spacing front and rear. The 12×148 mm thru axle out back and 15×110 mm on the fork push the hubs’ flange spacing out and allow for a stronger, stiffer wheel. Trek says it makes the 29er wheel as stiff as a 27.5 wheel, and while I can’t say I can tell a major difference in the DT Swiss wheels, I have no reason to doubt their claims.

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The 9.9 build we’re riding is the flagship model in the new Fuel EX range, with a full OCLV carbon frame, chainstays, seatstays and rocker link. Geometry is adjustable with the small Mino Link, an eccentric pivot where the seatstays meet the rocker link that alters the head tube angle, bottom bracket height and chainstay length a small amount.

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Some key geometry numbers in the Low and High settings:

  • Head tube angle: 68.8 / 69.4 degrees
  • Effective seat tube angle: 73.6 / 74.6 degrees
  • Chainstay length: 436 / 434 mm
  • Bottom bracket height: 13.15 / 13.46 inches

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The frame also features internal cable routing that integrates nicely with the Control Freak ports. There are also attachments to run the rear brake cable externally, if that’s more your style.

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Hanging on is a 120 mm Fox 34 fork with the new and drastically improved FIT4 damper, a 1×11 Shimano XTR kit powered through a carbon Race Face Next crank. The RockShox Reverb Stealth sits up top and the carbon DT Swiss XMC1200 wheels put the power to the ground.

This is a spare-no-expense build ($8,400 to be specific) but Trek knows us media slimeballs are hard to please. (OK, that’s not the reason at all, actually. Brands want to show off the best of what they can do and what their employees work so hard to create, something I can hardly blame them for.) I’ll admit it is a little intimidating knowing that it retails for twice what I paid for my pickup truck.

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My first ride on the Fuel EX 29 9.9 was on some dedicated gravity trails where it felt right at home. The only thing holding it back was the 720 mm carbon Bontrager handlebar the stock Bontrager XR3 front tire, which was begging for something more aggressive. (Update: Trek informed me that some early bikes shipped with a 720 mm bar, while the stock bikes ship with a 750 mm Bontrager Rhythm Pro bar.) You’ll see in the photos I swapped in a 750 mm Truvativ Jerome Clementz BlackBox handlebar cut specifically for the new WTB Padloc grips, which I’m also testing. Plus a bell. Ding!

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I also had a packaging issue with the Reverb remote conflicting with the XTR Trail brake, leaving it skewed at a less-than awesome angle. Usually it’s mounted below the bars on the left side, but this bike shipped with the right/bottom, left/top remote.

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Aside from a few spec hiccups, the Fuel EX has really impressed me with its ability as an all-around performer. This is a bike I wouldn’t hesitate to line up for an XC race or toss on a chairlift for some bike park runs. I have very high expectations for this bike and have no doubt it has the ability to reach or exceed them. I’m looking forward to our time together! Keep an eye out for my full-length review in an upcoming issue of Dirt Rag.

Update: Some folks have asked about converting the Fuel EX 29 to 27plus. While a 27×3.0 tire easily fits in the Boost-spaced fork, it rubs on the chainstays on the frame. A few tweaks to the rear end might make it possible, so will we see something like that in the future? We’ll have to wait and see. Trek has been committed to the 29plus platform, so a whole new bike is just as likely.

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Inside Line: 2016 Trek Procaliber SL hardtail


We’ve already covered the new Top Fuel and Fuel EX 29, so when Trek invited us to a big press launch of the new bikes in Ziest, Netherlands, I decided to concentrate on riding the hardtail Procaliber.

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The hardtail has long been the cross-country race bike of choice. Even as the pro ranks have reluctantly embraced full-suspension, it seems in the collective heart of hearts, the hardtail remains  the true racer’s true love.

With that in mind, it might start to make sense why Trek spent the time and money to develop the Procaliber. Trek’s Superfly FS was a successful tool for many racers, but like any other bike that is designed to compete at the highest levels of racing, it was due for a refresh. And it got it, in the form of the new Top Fuel.

What does that have to do with this new hardtail? Trek could easily just carried it previous hardtail Superfly over for another year or ten, but instead it reengineered the seat tube decoupler from the well-received (and classics winning) Domane road bike for off road use.

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That IsoSpeed decoupler is a simple concept, but it promises to allow a touch of compliance with little added weight. Not full-suspension, and not even a soft-tail, as the compliance only kicks in when seated. Standing, the Procaliber is as hardtail as it gets.

The idea with this new bike is to increase the amount of time a racer (or rider) can remain seated over rough terrain. Staying seated reduces energy spent to propel rider and bike, a fine thing to accomplish while racing. But when the time comes to stand and deliver a crushing blow to your racing foes, the Procaliber is ready with zero bob or monkey-motion.

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Updates don’t stop at the ISO Speed. Boost 110/148 spacing makes an appearance here, along with Trek’s new Control Freak cable routing. I’ve never been one to hype up internal routing, as it seems to create as many problems as it solves, but Trek seems to have done it nicely here. With up to 54 different possible ways to run cables, a big enough access port to install or swap cables without too much headache, and a zip-tie port to keep everything quiet, my crusty reluctance to accept integral routing as a good thing may be starting to fade.

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Those wanting or needing to run an external rear brake hose have the option with super simple cable-tie slots on the downtube. And for those riders with some taste for some gnar, or who may be smart enough to realize the improvements a dropper post brings to almost any ride, internal and external routing is provided for the dropper of your choice.

It is somewhat telling that I can spend two paragraphs on cable routing, but with lockouts, droppers and Di2 electric drivetrains, things aren’t so simple anymore.

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Fortunately, I not only got the low down on the bike tech, I also got to ride this thing, along with a quick lap on the Top Fuel as well for comparison.

I got fitted up on the $4,730 Proclaiber 9.8 SL, which a step down from the top of the line 9.9 SL which signs in with a $8,400 price tag. The 9.8 is no slouch, with a SID RL fork, a mixed X01 and X1 drivetrain, and DT Swiss wheels.

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Cross country race bikes have been rare around Dirt Rag HQ lately. There’s not a thing in the world wrong with them, but we’ve all become enamored with trail bikes. Hopping on the Procaibler SL brought back some memories of long stems and narrow bars.

Don’t look at that as a negative. Most cross-country racers ride road bikes more often than trail bikes, so some steep and aggressive geometry is well suited to this bike’s intended purpose, which is to be a mean and lean cross country race bike.

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The course I rode in Zeist was almost exclusively singletrack, with minimal elevation and minimal straight sections of trail. While a few steep climbs would have been nice to get a feel for the Procaliber SL, overall the terrain was well-suited to test the bike under hard efforts and its ability to handle terrain at speed. Some sections of sand kept everyone honest, but there wasn’t much in the way of challenging terrain.

The IsoSpeed decoupler isn’t magic. I doesn’t provide the same level and comfort as the Top Fuel, but it does take the edge off some of the terrain that would otherwise require standing up. The downside to this having to retune what bumps to get out of the saddle for, as it at times lulled me into a sense of a comfort that can be rudely interrupted by a terrain disruption over particular size.

But that small amount of compliance is not a bad thing at all, especially considering this bike retains that hardtail snap when standing. With hundreds of accelerations per 16km lap, this bike revealed itself as a true race bike.

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Compared to the Top Fuel, the Procaliber SL really made me want to stand and a attack more often, but it starts to fade (or I started to fade) as terrain gets more and more rough. For staying seated and keeping a steady spin, the Top Fuel is going to win hands down. But for a rider looking for a bike to suit a “stand and hammer” racing or riding style the Procaliber SL is a more comfortable option than perhaps any race-oriented hardtail I’ve ridden to date.

All this new tech comes as some expense. When I asked if we might see these technology in a less expensive aluminum version, a contact deep inside the bowels of Trek directed me to look at the evolution of the IsoSpeed decoupler on the road side. The Domane model lineup now has less expensive aluminum versions, all the way down to a $1,430 complete bike. Still not cheap, but not crazy money either.

And as you would expect, the first year of something like the Procaliber SL is going to be expensive, but this a race bike after all. Speed costs.

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Procaliber 9.9 SL –  $8,400

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Procaliber 9.8 SL – $4,830

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Procaliber 9.7 SL – $3,680

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Procaliber 9.9 frame – $2,630

 

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Inside Line: Trek refreshes Fuel EX 29 with new features, Boost spacing


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The Trek Fuel EX has been one of the most popular trail bikes in history but Trek wasn’t about to rest with “good enough.” After the folks from Waterloo added a 27.5 version last summer with the introduction of the amazing Penske Re:aktiv shock technology, the 29er model gets a full refresh with new features, new technology and new axle spacing.

Yes, it’s Boost. You could argue till your tires are flat whether we need Boost or not, but Trek can be credited with creating most of its inertia in the market, after it debuted on the Remedy trail bike. All 2016 Fuel EX 29 models have wider hubs for stiffer wheels and better handling, Trek says. (Except for the two least expensive models, the Fuel EX 29 5 and Fuel EX 29 7, which stick with traditional thru-axles.) The Boost spacing also allows the chainstays to be shortened from 452 mm to 434 mm.

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Other changes include the disappearance of the DRCV shocks, since Trek says the new Fox EVOL version offered the proper spring curve without having to make custom units, thus allowing Trek to save some money and include the Re:aktiv damper technology on more models.

The new carbon and aluminum frames are equipped with “Control Freak” cable ports to route any combination of cables or Di2 wires inside the frame for a clean look. There is a port under the downtube that allows access to cables to zip tie them in place to prevent rattling.

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While the new Fuel EX sticks with 120 mm of travel front and rear (except for the Fuel EX 29 9, which gets a 130 mm Fox 34) the geometry can be adjusted with the Mino link that is commonly found on Trek’s longer travel bikes like the Slash and Remedy. An eccentric plate between the rocker link and the seat tube, it allows riders to adjust the head tube angle half a degree and raise and lower the bottom bracket 8 mm. The steeper setting is close to that of the previous Fuel EX 29er, while the slacker setting gets the head tube angle out to 68.8 degrees. Like all Trek 29ers the Fuel EX is designed around a 51 mm offset fork, which used to be known as G2, but has largely become commonplace for 29ers.

The 2016 Fuel EX 29 will be available in six sizes from 15.5 inches to 22 inches

2016 Fuel EX 29 pricing

  • Fuel EX 29 Carbon frameset: $3,470
  • Fuel EX 29 5, aluminum: $2,090
  • Fuel EX 29 7, aluminum: $2,670
  • Fuel EX 29 8, aluminum: $3,050
  • Fuel EX 29 9, aluminum: $4,200
  • Fuel EX 29 9.8, carbon: $5,570
  • Fuel EX 29 9.9, carbon: $8,800

Fuel EX history

Want to read more about how this model has changed over the years? Here’s some links from our archives:

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First Impression: 2016 Trek Top Fuel 9.9 SL


Trek discontinued its 26-inch wheeled Top Fuel cross-country line a few years back in favor of re-branding Gary Fisher’s successful 29er Superfly. Now, as the Superfly grows long in the tooth the Top Fuel is reborn in 2016 and it’s as modern and high-tech as a cross-country bike can be.

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Like the longer travel Fuel EX, the 100 mm travel Top Fuel uses an EVO rocker link and Full Floater suspension design, which attaches the shock to two moving points. It also has Active Braking Pivot and the geometry adjusting Mono Link nuts that connect the seatstay to the EVO link. This changes head tube angle by half degree and raises or lower the bottom bracket by 8 mm, going from a 70-degree head angle and 12.9 inch bottom bracket in low to 70.9-degress and 13.4-inches in high. This brings to the short travel bike the technology Trek has been using for its long travel bikes, a design that has become one of the best available.

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The Top Fuel also has Boost 148/110 hub spacing, Smart Wheel Size and Control Freak cable management. Boost, which was developed in part by Trek last year for its long travel bikes, creates a better and stronger 29-inch wheel. Boost also provides more tire clearance and gave Trek the opportunity to shorten the chainstays by 17 mm compared to the Superfly. At 148 mm, which is as wide as you can go without affecting Q factor, width is maximized without making the bike wider at the bottom bracket. By going 110 mm on the fork the front end is equaled to the rear in terms of strength, stability and the ability to run a bigger tire.

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Trek believes that for cross-country applications a 29er wheel is absolutely the fastest so you won’t be seeing multiple options, it’s 29 only except for the smallest frame size. Smart Wheel Sizing dictates that for this small of the frame 27.5 is the answer to keep the bike fitting right, lower the front end and achieve no wheel overlap.

Believe it or not, with all the various options there are exactly 54 different ways to route cables. To make sure any and all work Trek developed a very flexible system called Control Freak cable management that works with any combination of cables and electronic wires, including internally routed dropper posts.

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The $9,450 Top Fuel 9.9 SL we’re currently testing, as you’d expect, has a complete package of top shelf parts including cable Shimano XTR, a Race Face Next carbon crank and single narrow/wide chainring, carbon DT Swiss XMC 1200 wheels, RockShox RS-1 fork with 51 mm G2 offset and some of the lightest Bontrager bits ever made resulting in a weight of a mere 21.3 pounds without pedals. Trek claims a medium frame with shock and all hardware weighs only 4.3 pounds.

For 2016 there are four standard Top Fuel models and one women’s model, plus a frameset:

  • Top Fuel 9.9 SL: full carbon with Rockshox RS-1 fork, Monarch XX shock and carbon wheels: $9,450.
  • Top Fuel 9.8 SL: full carbon with Rockshox SID fork, Monarch XX shock and DT Swiss wheels: $5,250.
  • Top Fuel 9: aluminum frame with Rockshox SID fork, Monarch XX shock and Bontrager wheels: $4,200
  • Top Fuel 8: aluminum frame with Fox Float 32 fork, Fox Float shock and Bontrager wheels: $2,730.
  • Top Fuel 8 Women’s: aluminum frame with Fox Float 32 fork, Fox Float shock and Bontrager wheels: $2,730.
  • Top Fuel SL C frameset with Fox Factory EVOL shock: $3,470.

After a few rides so far the Top Fuel is proving to be an extremely capable cross-country racer as well as a do it all endurance machine within the realm of 100 mm travel. It’s fast, it’s light and it handles like a dream. Look for the full review in Issue #187 after we put a whole lot more miles on it.

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Trail Tested: Trek Remedy 9.9 29


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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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First Impressions: Trek Remedy 9.9 29


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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.

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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.

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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.

Pike. Never a bad choice.

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.

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Review: Trek Stache 8


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The Stache is an all-new addition to Trek’s 2013 lineup, a rugged trail bike designed to be versatile enough to serve as the elusive “one bike that’s does it all.”

Rather than give the Stache a substantially different layout, Trek adapted their tried-and-true 29er G2 geometry. The Stache’s 68.6 degree head angle is about a degree slacker than Trek’s 100mm-travel Superfly, and its 12.44-inch BB height is 0.16-inch taller. Both models have 17.5-inch chainstays.

The aluminum frame looks quite robust, thanks to the large hydroformed main tubes, tapered head tube, 142x12mm thru-axle rear and press-fit bottom bracket. Bonus points for ISCG tabs and dropper post routing (including stealth routing). The seat tube has a flattened shape at the bottom for tire/mud clearance (which hardly seems necessary, considering the ample room provided by the 17.52-inch chainstays). The total package looks agile and muscular, but not burly. With pedals and a bottle cage, the Stache 8 weighed in at 27.5 lbs.

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The $2,420 Stache 8 comes with a Fox Evolution Series 32 Float fork (with CTD) and a solid 2×10 kit. Proven Shimano SLX parts include brakes, shifters and front derailleur (there’s an XT upgrade on the rear). The Bontrager Duster tubeless-ready wheels and meaty Bontrager 29-3 Expert 29×2.3 tires are ready for rough-and-tumble action.

I found that the Stache was neither a slack play bike, nor was it a razor-quick race machine. The bike’s handling fell in between those two extremes. Dare I describe the Stache’s handling as neutral? I think I just did.

Click through to read the full review.

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