A frosty Canberra played host to Trek World last weekend, the annual dealer and media get-together hosted by Trek Bicycles Australia. It’s a chance for dealers to chat with the Trek team directly, learn about the new range and, most importantly, put some of the key models to the test on the trails of Mt Stromlo.
There are a number of significant revisions to the mountain bike line up that Flow was particularly interested in, notably the introduction of 650B models in the Slash and Remedy range, along with a burly 29er variant of the Remedy as well. The other key model change is the introduction of the new 29er Fuel EX, but we’ve talked at length about that bike previously (and you can find a comprehensive review in Flow issue #4) so we won’t delve into too much detail here.
Two wheel sizes for the new Remedy:
The Remedy range is a favourite of the Flow team – we’ve ridden numerous incarnations of this bike in years past – and it’s exciting to see so much evolution for 2014. Firstly, there is no more 26″ Remedy (actually, there are just about no 26″ high-performance mountain bikes aside from the Session or Ticket series). Instead, you now have the choice of a 650B or 29er Remedy.
It’s an interesting decision to offer both wheel sizes, especially considering that both versions run the same amount of travel but Trek feels both options are justified. Make sure you listen to James Collins from Trek below to hear Trek’s reasoning behind the two wheel options.
Travel has actually decreased on the Remedy for 2014, down to 140mm front and rear from 150mm in previous years. At 140mm, the Remedy fits more cleanly into the space between the new Fuel EX 29er (120mm) and the Slash 650B (160mm travel). The physics of a slightly bigger wheel should theoretically negate the reduction in travel to a degree, at least where ‘roll over’ is concerned.
Features-wise, both Remedy lines feature the usual host of Trek frame and suspension features, plus adjustable geometry (half a degree head angle, 8mm bottom bracket height). The Remedy 9.8 650B is the only bike in Remedy lineup to be offered in OCLV Carbon, there is no carbon option for the Remedy 29, sorry.
Slash gets angry:
We tested the 2013 Slash recently and came away fairly frothing (read the review here). For 2014 Trek’s 160mm-travel all-mountain machine has undergone a bit of a revamp, including the addition of 650B wheels, and is more descent-focused than before. The head angle has been kicked back to a super relaxed 65-degrees (in the lowest setting), the bottom bracket height dropped and the top tube lengthened. It’s a burly beast now.
There will only be one version of the Slash offered in Australia, the all0y-framed Slash 8, but it’s more than up the job. Spec highlights include a FOX TALAS 34 fork and a Rockshox Reverb Stealth post, plus Bontrager’s ridiculously grippy XR4 treads. If you’re thinking about racing some gravity enduro, this is a hard bike to ignore.
Listen to James explain a little more about the new Slash.
The hardcore hardtail makes a comeback:
This is a cool bike – a tough 29er hardtail, 120mm-travel fork, relaxed geometry, built with a dropper post in mind. The new Stache range (pronounced ‘stash’, as in short for moustache) is not for everyone admittedly, but we really dig it – it kind of takes us back to our roots, bombing around on a tough hardtail (albeit, we didn’t have the big wheels back then!). If you’re a technically oriented rider but you don’t want the complication of dual suspension, there aren’t that many option nowadays from the bigger brands, so this is a refreshing machine. James Collins explains a little more below.
Bontrager wheel and rubber line up keeps growing:
With the arrival of 650B, the Bontrager components, parts and accessories side of Trek’s business has had to go into overdrive. There are loads of new products that caught our eye, particularly on the wheels and rubber front.
On the wheels side of things, there are two standout items for us. First of all there’s the new XXX wheelset, which is the exact same wheelset that Dan McConnell and Bec Henderson have been running on the World Cup circuit. At 1360g/pair, these are a dirty light set of hoops, and they’re priced very aggressively as well, at around $1300. You can also get them in 26″, but not 650B.
For trail riders, the most exciting wheel development is the new $2300 Rhythm Pro carbon wheelset. The benefits of carbon wheels in regards to strength and durability are beginning to be understood more fully now, and Bontrager are ahead of the curve by offering a carbon-rimmed wheelset in both 650B and 29″ versions for aggressive riders. The rims are wide too, with an internal width just shy of 23mm, and should offer the support needed for tyres 2.3″ and up. There won’t be a 26″ version available!
The rims are laced to Bonty’s new overdrive rear hub too, which offers much faster engagement than previous Bontrager hubs, with 54 engagement points. All up, these look to be an extremely desirable set of wheels, and while they’re not a cheap item, comparatively speaking they are a lot more affordable than some of the opposition.
We’ve harped on about the improvements in Bontrager tyres before, but it’s good to see that Bonty haven’t rested on their laurels, expanding the range to include 650B options galore. The tyre that grabbed our attention was the new SE4 tread – it’s a ‘Super Enduro’ pattern, with an aggressive XR4-esque tread and a extra belt of puncture protection running beneath the tread blocks themselves (an area where we’ve sliced some Bontrager tyres previously). The tyre was developed in conjunction with enduro specialist Justin Leov and Tracy Moseley and is the exact same rubber they’re running on the Enduro World Series at present. It’s a tubeless ready (TLR) tyre as well.
We’ll be brining you a more comprehensive overview and first ride impressions of the Remedy 9 650B soon, so stay tuned! Oh, and if you’d like to win yourself a Trek Project One custom dream bike (worth up to $10,000), perhaps you should consider subscribing to Flow – click here for more detail.