Tested: Trek Remedy 9.8 27.5

It’s all about the new RE:aktiv Thru-Shaft…

Found on the Remedy, Fuel EX and Slash is a new shock design; RE:aktiv Thru-Shaft. Long story short, by replacing the classic internal floating piston design with a thru-shaft design, there are claims of reduced friction in the whole system.

The 2018 Remedy scores a new shock with some interesting tech.

RE:aktiv with Thru Shaft is the latest development from the brand’s partnership with Penske Racing Shocks with ties to Formula One Racing, while not unseen in the suspension world before it’s new to mountain bikes. The Thru Shaft tech is available on higher end Trek trail bikes, including Slash 9.8, Slash 9.7, Remedy 9.8, Remedy 9.8 Women’s, Fuel EX 9.9.

The shock has a unique shape, with a mini piggyback reservoir on top.
A closer look at the shock’s architecture, removed from the bike.
The shock uncompressed.
And compressed with the internal shaft breaking out into the light of day.

Want to know more, perhaps a moving image will help explain all the mumbu-jumbo? For the full story, video and technical details on the new shock, dive in deeper right here – All the details.


How does the Thru-Shaft change things on the trail?

We’ve always found the Trek suspension bikes – Fuel EX, Slash, Remedy etc – to be supple and very active in the rear suspension department, but add in the new shock design and that buttery smooth suspension takes one more slide across the dancefloor in your socks, like leaving the honey jar in the sun and now everything is a little bit smoother.

It’s most noticeable when you switch the shock into open mode and push down on the saddle with short and fast frequency, the shock compresses and rebounds with a delightfully light action. Even after a few solid rides, the shock felt smoother to push on than a blown coil shock in a 2003 Orange 222.

How many times can we say the word ‘smooth’ in this review?

On the trail, we forgot all about the shock tech and it all just blended in to make the Remedy feel very planted and grippy, with the supple suspension and generous traction the whole bike confidently glues to the ground where many others would skip about and feel nervous.

With the shock being so supple it pays to make the most of the three-stage compression adjustments on the shock or the bike feels a little slow to jump forward when you crank on the pedals. But in comparison to our Norco Sight long-term test bike (admittedly it’s only 130mm of travel) which uses a regular RockShox Deluxe shock, the middle mode feels far less sensitive than this one. We also found the shock to be still quite responsive when set in the middle mode, we could push off the rear suspension more with less wallow, but it would still react to small bumps, it made for a great setting for technical climbs with so much traction.


Trail time thoughts.

The Remedy doesn’t muck around when the trails turn nasty, with a huge amount of grip from the excellent tyres and supple suspension it is a total blast to throw into the corners and rip around them; our favourite thing to do on the Remedy was to cut inside on flat turns and drift out to the other side. We gained a lot of confidence in the way the Remedy would rip corners hard, and keep the rubber side down.

Good times exploring blind trails on the Remedy, not afraid of much.

Trek has the bigger Slash for the serious enduro race crowd, so the Remedy can afford to forgo that mini-downhill bike character of many modern bikes and retain ample agility.


Why roll on 27.5″ wheel when Fuel EX and Slash are 29″?

Do you sense a wheel size debate coming on, too? Don’t run off, just yet.

We’ve spent plenty of time on Treks on either side of the Remedy that use 29″ wheels; the 130mm travel Trek Fuel EX, and the monster-truckin 160mm travel Trek Slash. So we had to ask ourselves why did Trek decide to stick with the smaller wheel for the Remedy?

Well, while bike brands are becoming increasingly better at making the most out of 29″ wheels with fewer drawbacks, you simply can’t look past a 27.5″ wheel when it comes to throwing it around for the fun of it, and that’s precisely what the Remedy is great at. Whenever we jumped on board this thing, our attitude lightened, we darted around the place like a hyperactive kid on a double espresso Gu Gel. It reminded us of the time we reviewed the Whyte T-130, which we thought would have been a style of the bike better suited to a 29er, but damn did we enjoy the smaller wheels!


The weight, price, parts and what we’d change.

13.1kg is fair for this spec level, the bike’s not built for cross country racing, so this figure means that the frame and parts are pretty reasonable on the scales. Some weight could be saved with a lower tread rear tyre if your trails don’t require such chunky treads, other than that any weight savings would be big ticket items like the cranks, cassette, rims etc.

We think Trek is traditionally pretty fair with their pricing of their mid-high range carbon suspension bikes, and this Remedy is a good representation of that. Thanks to the trickle-down of great technology like the SRAM Eagle drivetrain to this price point gives the spec massive appeal; it works so damn well.

The 150mm travel RockShox Lyrik leads the way with absolute confidence.

All the Bontrager parts are so dialled, each year they prove to be a legitimate component brand holding their own amongst the best boutique options out there. The wheels, dropper post, tyres, cockpit etc. are great and give the Remedy an aesthetically stylish appearance with everything matching so well.

Even in its highest setting, the MRP guide still rubbed on the chain when pedalling the low range gears.

The little MRP guide is a nice addition, but in the lower range gears the chain rubs on the underside of the guide, we’d seek out a different size guide or just ditch it.

The bike doesn’t come specced with tubeless valves or sealant, so don’t leave the shop without adding them.


So many bikes, who is the Remedy for, and does the shock live up to the hype?

The Remedy has massive appeal for a rider that pushes hard and has the skills to turn the trails into a playground. Or if you’re after a fast and confident bike to make light work out of loose, steep, choppy and tight terrain.

And the shock? Well, like we said earlier, the Remedy has always felt really smooth and supple so unless you had a direct comparison to a regular shock, the Thru Shaft shock won’t blow you away with a huge difference in feeling. But we can feel it, and it just contributes to an already great feeling bike.

To see more of the Remedy range, head over to the Trek site here: Trek Remedy, please!

Trek’s New RE:aktiv Thru Shaft Shock

Trek has unveiled RE:aktiv with Thru Shaft, an all-new suspension design that improves response time and efficiency. RE:aktiv with Thru Shaft is the latest development from the brand’s partnership with Penske Racing Shocks, the global leader in custom motorsport suspension design, which began in 2014 to push bicycle suspension capabilities. The first collaboration resulted in RE:aktiv—a mountain bike suspension technology that responded to changes in terrain faster than any other shock on the market.

For RE:aktiv with Thru Shaft, Trek’s R & D team bucked the suspension status quo and developed a superior new design from the ground up. RE:aktiv with Thru Shaft eliminates the internal floating piston (IFP) that compensates for oil displacement in traditional dampers and the associated lag along with it.

As the IFP moves in a traditional damper, its seal causes a stick/slip effect that reduces responsiveness. RE:aktiv with Thru Shaft uses a damper rod that runs the entire length of the shock, eliminating oil displacement and the associated stick/slip effect caused by the seal necessary in a traditional damper.

The bottom line: the new design eliminates the need for an internal floating piston, the primary cause of lag. It provides unprecedented responsiveness—even when inputs occur in quick succession, as often happens while charging through short sections of trail littered with rocks and roots.

With extra-firm low-speed compression damping; supple and controlled high-speed compression damping; and a seamless transition between the two, RE:aktiv with Thru Shaft improves the all-terrain responsiveness that is RE:aktiv’s calling card. It responds to every input on the trail, delivering a seamless trail experience even as riders push their limits on technical terrain.

RE:aktiv with Thru Shaft is available on select Trek trail bikes, including Slash 9.8, Slash 9.7, Remedy 9.8, Remedy 9.8 Women’s, Fuel EX 9.9, and their respective carbon frameset options. These models can be viewed at trekbikes.com

Tested: Trek Fuel EX 9.8

Trek’s Fuel EX series went under a serious refresh for the 2017 season, growing in every aspect. Longer travel, longer reach, slacker geometry, more everything. It’s about as modern as they come, and a step in the right direction to keep up with the progression of mountain biking.

My tubes are bigger than yours.

Who’s it for?

The Fuel EX is aimed squarely at the all-round trail rider, one step up from the cross country Top Fuel, and one step down the spectrum from the Remedy. There’s 130mm of travel, 29” wheels a dropper post, wide rims, and space for a full-sized water bottle.

The classic trail bike, not too big, not too small, just right.

We weighed our 19.5” size Fuel EX at 12.74kg with no pedals and set up tubeless. That’s very competitive considering its chunky appearance!


Trek’s unique features.

Trek are known for breaking the mould and doing things their way, hence their own suspension technology inside the rear shock, custom fork offset G2 geometry and a special headset that prevents the bars and fork crowns from spinning all the way around and damaging the frame.

Instead of trying to keep the frame away from the rotating fork and handlebar, the headset stops it spinning too far instead. Additional hard rubber protection under the front end prevents the fork crowns impacting the frame.

If you’re curious to experiment, you can flip a little chip in the linkage to tweak the frame geometry slightly, we had our set in the ‘slack and low’ setting but would certainly consider trying the other setting if planning a longer ride with loads of climbing, or entering a multi-day race.

Flip the little chip to tweak the bike’s geometry, nice and simple.

Got any blacker?

2017 is the year of the black bike, and this one is about as black as it comes. If it weren’t for the blue lockout lever on the fork and the red sticker on the shock, there would be no colour at all! The matte/gloss finish is elegant, super high quality, and flawless up close. Though during some wet rides our baggy shorts left super-fine scratching on the glossy section of the top tube, maybe not the best part of the frame to be glossy?


How did it ride?

For a just 130mm travel 29er, it feels pretty burly, it packs a punch but hides it really well. The frame is long, bars are wide, and the chunky frame tubes add to the whole feeling that it wants to be ridden hard. Cruising through the singletrack it steers really well through the turns, never requiring you to persuade it into any situations with a heavy hand. It’s one of the lightest handling 29ers we’ve ridden too, the geometry feels spot on, not nervous or sluggish at all.

Get it up to speed and the Fuel’s long front end and relaxed angles had us feeling very confident to let the brakes off and ride it hard. Pushing it into the rough descents, there were plenty of moments where the Fuel surprised us of its straight-line ploughing abilities!

The double chainring took the shine off our confidence to crank hard on the pedals through rough trails, there’s always the thought that the chain may not be 100% engaged, but we’ll come back to the double debate later.

Point it where you want to go, the Fuel’s steering precision and light handling is a real standout.

We hate seeing bikes still coming specced with narrow rims, another reason to appreciate the Fuel, the Bontrager Line Comp 30 wheels with wide rims give the Bontrager XR3 tyres a whole lot of volume and in turn, the bike feels very sure-footed and composed.


The suspension.

We found the rear suspension outshone the fork in a way, the FOX 34 with the Grip Damper felt smooth and supple across clattery surfaces, especially while seated in the saddle pedaling along. But when you’re out of the saddle and leaning on the front end it required a few extra clicks of the big blue dial which would detract from the forks sensitivity.

FOX Grip Damper forks, smooth and easy to adjust, but not as supportive as the FIT 4 Damper forks found on higher price point bikes.
An aluminium chain stay doubles at the lower mount for the shock.
The rear suspension absorbs heavy impacts so well.

Standout parts.

Trek’s own component line Bontrager handles the majority of the parts, and very well too. The tyres are great, fast and tacky, with the wide rims we ran quite low pressures and found loads of grip and cushion as a result. We always like the Evoke saddle, and the carbon bar is a nice touch.

Shimano XT brakes are phenomenal as always, certainly big fans here at Flow. The Bontrager Line Dropper post works well but lacks the sophisticated feel at the lever, and in our experience requires regular maintenance during the wet season.


Double chainring, yay, or nay?

A double chainring is not for us, we can appreciate why a trail bike comes with 22 gears, but once you go single ring, it’s too hard to go back. It’s a lot noisier, adds clutter and weight for only a small increase in gear range. Shimano does have some work to do to match the fantastic SRAM Eagle drivetrain which offers a huge range with only one chainring, and even the Shimano 11-46 cassette would be a preferable option for us in this instance.

Double chainring, not for us, thanks.

Thankfully the upcoming 2018 models of the Fuel looks to have specced more single ring drivetrains.


Final thoughts.

A trail bike from Trek was always going to be a sure bet, they’ve been refining the Fuel range over many years now, and were one of the first brands to make bikes ride well with the larger 29″ wheels. The latest Fuel is a competent bike in the rough and still nice and efficient to pedal all day.

Ditch the double-ring in favour of the Shimano XT 11-46 cassette if you’re like us and appreciate a quieter and smoother drivetrain, but other than that, this thing is good to go.

For more information head to Trek’s website by clicking here.

Trek 2017: Range Highlights

With a visit to Trek World we were greeted with hordes of amazing new bikes, it’s a big year for Trek with the new Fuel EX, Remedy and Slash. We appreciate where Trek are headed for 2017, simplifying the wheel sizes down to one per model. Check out what caught our fancy from the new range.

All the 2017 bikes are now up on Trek’s site here: www.trekbikes.com


Trek Fuel EX

The Fuel EX is a real winner for Trek, nailing that middle category of ‘trail rider’ and the 2017 model scores a massive overhaul with a whole host of new frame designs. The new Fuel is 29er only, gone is the 27.5″ option, the only exception to this rule is to be found in the WSD (Women’s Specific Design) models of the Fuel, which have a 27.5-specific frameset in 14″ and 15.5″ frame sizes.

The Fuel range is massive, starting at an impressive $2999 there are eight models available in carbon and aluminium, including two women’s versions. Topping out at the Fuel EX 9.9 29 with SRAM Eagle and a full carbon frame for $9999 it’s clear that the Fuel is a solid model for Trek Australia.

Trek's James Collins is frothing for his new 29er Fuel EX, his height and strong style suits the stiffer frame with 29" wheels.
Trek’s James Collins is frothing for his new 29er Fuel EX, the stiffer frame and grippy 29″ wheels are a match made in heaven.

For 2017 the Fuel goes up to 130mm travel front and back, frame geometry is more aggressive and the frame is a whole lot stiffer.

We were fortunate to attend the official launch of the 2017 Fuel EX, Remedy and Slash in Canada, for the story on the new bikes in greater detail head to our launch feature here: TREK’S ALL-NEW REMEDY AND FUEL EX.

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2017 Trek Fuel EX 9.8 29 – $6299.
Trek Fuel EX 9.8_LOW7350
Adjustable geometry via the Mino Link reversible chip insert, nifty.
The chart topping Fuel EX 9.9, $9999. Lots of nines.
Fuel EX 9, killer value in our opinion.
Fuel EX 9, decent value in our opinion for $5199.

Project One Now

To make the new Fuel even more appealing, The Fuel EX 9.8 is a part of the Project One Now, for an extra $750 you have an extra three colour options to choose from. It’s essentially a trimmed down version of the highly customisable Project One scheme Trek offer for key models – with Project One Now it’s just the colour you can select, not spec changes. It’s usually around $1500 for a colour option in Project One, so Project One Now is a more affordable way for a little bit of unique individuality in a sweet bike.

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Our favourite, neon pink and yellow on a matte black base, seriously bold and hot!

For more on the Project One custom, click here.


Trek Remedy

A long time favourite at Flow the Remedy scores a big facelift too, stepping up in travel, stiffness and receiving an updated frame geometry for a more gravity/enduro spirit.

The four-strong lineup of Remedy models available in Australia begins at $3699 for the aluminium version and tops out at the Remedy 9.8 for $6799.

New for 2017 the Remedy is 27.5″ only, no more 29″ model. Travel bumps up to 150mm of travel and they all use RockShox rear shocks, and like the Fuel EX the frame is stiffer and geometry more aggressive.

For the full rundown on the changes to the 2017 Remedy, click through to our in-depth launch piece here: 2017 Trek Remedy.

Trek Remedy 9.8,
Trek Remedy 9.8, $6799.
New for 2017, RockShox rear shock wit Trek's Re:Aktiv damper inside.
New for 2017, RockShox Deluxe rear shock with Trek’s Re:Aktiv damper inside.
Tipping the playful Remedy into a turn.
Tipping the playful Remedy with meaty 27.5″ Bontrager tyres into a turn.

We took the 9.8 for a quick lap of Stromlo, hear are our thoughts after the ride: Quick Ride Review – Remedy 9.8

The Remedy 9 Race Shop Limited in glossy red (below) looks like a real winner. An aluminium frame keeps the price down, but the spec is excellent, RockShock Lyrik, SRAM X1 drivetrain and Bontrager 30mm wide rims. One to keep an eye out for sure.

Remedy 9 Race Shop Limited, $5399.
Remedy 9 Race Shop Limited, $5399.

Trek Slash 29

Bikes don’t get any more badass than this. The new 2017 Slash 29 is a monster of a bike, with 29″ wheels wrapped in chunky rubber and Bontrager’s new 35mm clamp bar and stem.

Slash your type of bike? Don’t miss all the details in our 2017 Slash launch post here: 2017 Slash 29.

In contrast to the trend towards 27.5″ wheels in the Enduro category, Trek have opted to go for big hoops on this monster. Why? Well the Slash is designed as an Enduro race bike, and Trek feel that for the job of winning races, a 29er is the best format. They didn’t go into this decision blindly, we might add. Over the past few years Trek have had two of the most successful Enduro racers on the planet on their EWS team (Leov and Moseley) both of whom opted for the Remedy 29er, not the 27.5 Slash or Remedy 27.5.

There are two models of the Slash 29 coming to our shores, the 9.9 in glossy red with SRAM Eagle and burly FOX X2 rear shock and 36 fork, $8999. And the 9.8 below is quite reasonable for $6999 with RockShox bits and SRAM X1 drivetrain.

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The killer value Slash 29 9.8 for $6999, black as.
RockShox Deluxe trunnion mount rear shock.
RockShox Deluxe trunnion mount rear shock.

Stache

Now this thing is a bit of an oddity, but makes so much sense – Plus size bike built around 29″ wheels with 3″ wide tyres. We’ve had loads of experience with 27.5+ bikes from all sorts of brands, hardtails and dual suspension, but we’ve only ever ridden one 29+ bike, a Surly Krampus. While it was a cool concept that offered huge stability, it was just too big and long to consider for the type of mountain biking we enjoy.

We chatted with Travis Brown about the concept behind the Stache, why it’s a 29er and how they arrived at a final product with such a short rear end. Have a look at our chat with a legend here: Chatting with the legend – Travis Brown.

Trek have gone with 29″ over 27.5″ in a plus size as they believe if you’re going to want benefits of the big tyres, why not go all out and have the benefits of bigger diameter wheels too? But with 29″ wheels you run into a lot of issues with frame geometry, trying to fit it all in with a bike that doesn’t blow out to having a massive wheelbase was a challenge that Trek managed to overcome. The elevated chainstays allow the rear wheel to be brought closer to the bike’s centre, take a look at the overlap between the rear tyre and the chainring, like nothing we’ve seen before.

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Travis Brown on the Stache, he’s mad for it.

The adjustable stays also meant this bike can be converted to a single speed and can accomodate a wide variety of wheel sizes too, it’s a freaky wonder of a bike and we like it.

The Stache will come to Australia in three variants, starting at $2399 for the rigid version, $3299 for the green one below and $4499 for the slick carbon number.

We took the mid range Stache 7 for a quick blast around Stromlo with US mountain bike legend and hall of fame guru Travis Brown and we relished the huge traction but could not believe how short the bike felt. It’ll take some getting used to that’s for sure, a bike with 29″ wheels and 3″ tyres should simply not feel that agile so when we get one on review we’ll have to re-program our minds somehow. Pop a wheelie and you’ll know what we mean, 420mm chain stays is short for any bike, and you can adjust that down to a remarkable 405mm, crazy stuff.

Trek Stache 9.6
Trek Stache 9.6 with a carbon frame.
Big rubber, 3" tyres on 46mm wide rims. Go anywhere machine.
Big rubber, 3″ tyres on 46mm wide rims. Go anywhere machine.
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No way 29er with 3″ tyres could be short enough without elevated chain stays.
The rear centre can be adjusted between 405 and 420mm. That is seriously short!
The rear centre can be adjusted between 405 and 420mm. That is seriously short!
Stache 7, $3299.
Stache 7, $3299.

Top Fuel

While it does carry over to 2017 unchanged from the current model, we couldn’t keep our eyes off the top level Top Fuel 9.9 RSL. It’s a whopping $11499, and one of picks for the ultimate XC race bike. We took the Top Fuel 9.8 SL for a lap of Stromlo and obviously enjoyed the climb, but also had a blast on the way back down (we’d not hesitate fitting a dropper post to one though, we’re tragics).

There’s nothing quite like hooking through fast singletrack on such a fast handling bike, it’s not for the faint hearted though, unless you’re dead keen on racing we’d suggest the Fuel EX for a more trail friendly bike.

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The Top Fuel 9.9 RSL, a seriously delicious race bike.
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The compact carbon linkage and rear end feels ridiculously light.
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Trek were proud to display five National Champs bikes, that’s so impressive! From XCO, Marathon, Road, Enduro and Ironman.