Tester: Karl Rosengarth
Weight: 150 lbs.
The Roscoe checks key trail-bike boxes with its relaxed head angle, short chainstays, wide (740 mm) bars and a short (60 mm) stem. Factor in the de rigueur dropper post and RockShox’s capable-yet-affordable Judy Silver 120 mm fork, and the Roscoe stacks up well on paper.
The aluminum alloy frame features a tapered head tube, rack mounts, and Boost141 spacing. Boost141 employs traditional open dropouts and a 10 mm QR axle, but increases spacing from 135 to 141 mm, which helps accommodate plus-width tires and short chainstays. Boost141 is convenient and functional, but note that it’s not convertible to Boost148, which may limit “upgrade” wheel choices down the road.
To maintain entry-level pricing, Trek nixed selected features found on the Stache, such as the one-piece, forged bottom bracket/non-drive-side chainstay; elevated mid-stay and the fully hydroformed frame.
It’s worth noting that Trek’s X-Caliber shares the same frame as the Roscoe, but offers a different rider experience with its standard-width 29er tires, 100mm fork, standard seat post, double-chainring drivetrain, and longer stem/narrower bars.
Visualize the midpoint of the trail-bike-handling bell curve. That’s where I’d paint the Roscoe. Balanced, quirk-free handling quickly put me in sync with the bike. Instinctive response to rider inputs made tackling varied and challenging terrain a stress-free pleasure. Thanks to a short rear end, the Roscoe snapped corners and spryly sprung onto its rear wheel. Stunt it, mon!
A relaxed (but not super-shreddy-slack) head angle gives the Roscoe a rowdy slant. This bike didn’t blink when I charged into the chunk. It also kept its cool on fast and furious downhills. When clawing back to the top, the front end stayed planted. I’ll say it again: balanced handling.
Everything felt tight and precise. Frame flex? Fuggedaboutit. Hard chargers that like to “feel the trail” should love the frame stiffness. Softies looking to blunt the trauma (present company included) have the option of running the tubeless-ready Schwalbe Rocket Ron 27.5 x 2.8 tires at reduced pressure for some pseudo suspension. Not to mention enhanced traction. Stock bikes come with tubes, but tubeless conversion is a simple, inexpensive operation.
The Judy Silver’s well-controlled coosh gave me the confidence to rumble through the jungle. Its Solo Air spring was dead simple to tune, and twirling the fork’s rebound knob (and TurnKey lockout) actually made a difference. While the Judy might not dazzle those spoiled by top-shelf RockShox models (and/or models with larger-diameter stanchions), it serves this price point quite capably.
The SRAM NX 28-tooth Direct Mount X-Sync crankset mated to the 11-speed 11-42 cassette provided uphill-friendly gearing that offered plenty of choices for hilly terrain. Nothing fancy. Everything functional and reliable.
With 27plus tires and modern trail geometry, Trek’s Roscoe stands ready to shred everything except your wallet. The model 8 reviewed here tops the lineup at $1,260. The base Roscoe 7 rings in at $1,070. Trek also offers each model in a women’s equivalent at the same price points. The only differences: extended sizing down to a 13.5-inch frame, paint color and a women’s saddle.
With predictable handling and the capable traction of plus-size tires, Trek’s Roscoe inspires confidence. This bike has the chops to squeeze every last drop of fun from local park trails, plus the talent to conquer black diamond terrain on weekend road trips. Ditch the inner tubes, and the Roscoe is super ready to rumble right out of the box.
Specs (based on size tested):
Top tube: 25.1”
Head tube: 68.3°
Seat tube: 71°
BB Height: 12.5”
Weight: 30.3 lbs. (without pedals)
Sizes: 15.5, 17.5, 18.5, 19.5 (tested), 21.5, 23 inches
Looking for a trail-shreddy hardtail? More reviews can be found in our Hardtail Issue (Dirt Rag 203), on newsstands now!