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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“It’s not very often I get new things, but when I do it motivates to push myself even further, as it signifies a new chapter.”
“Now I know I’m no shredder but I do know how much I love riding bikes.”
“I wanted to, in essence, create a light-hearted approach to encapsulate how MTB has affected my life since my good mate finally gave me the bug. The way it haunts your every thought, how sometimes you wake up and don’t know if you were dreaming or if it really happened.”
“Obviously, I’ve a landed myself a new rig and safe to say I’m frothing buckets at the prospect of getting back to the trails.”
No, this isn’t silly, it’s amazing! And especially available from the big manufacturers, it simply says that riders are pushing the boundaries of mountain biking and the technologies involved have made them a reality.
Watch the video here.
Take 160mm of travel and jam in a bike with 29″ wheels, and you’ll end up with a monster of a bike that will allow you to cut sick on the descents, but on the other hand, it poses serious challenges to the manufacturer to pull off. There is a lot of stuff and moving parts to fit into a space that can be still pedalled, let alone lightweight or even to fit a water bottle in the frame; it’s not as simple as it may seem from the shop floor.
We chose two bikes that in our mind epitomise this booming segment, the Norco Range C 9.2 and Trek Slash 9.8 to review head to head, back to back, fork to fork, in a review where we took them both out on the trails. With identical setup, we aimed to determine where they would shine, how different they would be, but most importantly which one we would choose if we were to keep it.
Why put the Slash and Range head to head?
Aside from looking quite similar from a distance, both black paint jobs, SRAM builds kits, RockShox suspension all round, same travel amounts and only $300 apart, we chose these two because we both know their suspension platforms well. The Norco Range is the bigger brother of the Sight that we reviewed recently, and the Slash is the big brother of the Remedy which we have ridden countless times over the last five or so years.
The Trek is the second-tier option available in Australia with the flashy red Slash 9.9 model above in a higher spec, but in the Australia Norco catalogue, this is the top spec Range.
Who are they for?
These bikes are mighty serious, not for the faint hearted and not for a comfortable ride. Aggressive riders only need apply, or if enduro racing on the most ragged and wild tracks is your thing too, they might be your bag. But we’d strongly recommend looking at the Norco Sight or Trek Remedy if the majority of riding might not warrant such a huge bike.
How do they differ on paper?
The Trek is nearly 1kg lighter, has a lot going on in the frame with the Knock Block system, geometry adjustment, and a full carbon construction. It’s a whopper of a bike, with a down tube that gives the bike a real ‘get outta my way’ attitude, and it’s murdered out black paint job is even more menacing.
The Norco is a heavier bike and appears much more swoopier in the tubing, especially up the front to allow clearance of the fork crowns to rotate fully under the down tube. The four-bar linkage drives a trunnion mount shock, and there’s just enough space for a water bottle. Interestingly (also took us a few days to notice) that the graphics are green on one side, and black on the other, tricky!
Frame geometry differences.
Comparing the two bikes in terms of geometry is a little tricky, as the Trek is available in four sizes from 15.5″ to 21.5″ while the Norco sticks to the more common school of thought with one of the three M, L, XL options, the Range is also available in 27.5″ wheels in a wider range of sizes too. We reviewed the 19.5″ Trek and M Norco.
Taking a look at the geometry charts the bikes are very close, though the Trek does have the MinoLink adjustment to allow 0.5-degree adjustability in the head angle which also alters the bottom bracket height by 10mm.
Norco vs Trek regarding spec.
Yes, we can hear the keyboards furiously smashing away, criticising us for comparing two bikes with $300 difference between them, but in our opinion, that is about as close as it gets.
For an extra $300 you get a lot for the cash with the Norco, the SRAM Eagle drivetrain is superb, the gear range is huge and had us cleaning the steep climbs easier with a few gears up our sleeve, and the shifting and operation is so crisp, quiet and smooth. The SRAM Guide RS brakes (S stands for Swing Link) have a much snappier lever feel, and the power delivery is excellent.
Rim widths are similar between the two, but the tyres feel vastly different when you hit the dirt – the Bontragers almost feel a little under-gunned in comparison to the meaty Maxxis Minions on the Norco. We’d love to try the Bontrager G5 tyres on the Slash to let it rumble.
How different were they on the trail?
By choosing two bikes that on paper were so close, you’d think that would reflect on the trail, right? Well, yes, they were very similar when it came to turning the pedals.
In summary, we found the Trek a more efficient bike to ride, with its low weight, fast rolling tyres, and Dual Position fork for the climbs it was an easier bike to get along with after a few hours on singletrack.
But whenever we got back onto the Norco our attitude changed, the skies darkened and we released our inner maniac. We rode more aggressively into the corners, braked later, jumped further and let it hang out more.
The tough task of picking one.
It was tough, they both are amazing bikes, nothing went wrong with either of them, and there was never a moment that a frame design, spec choice or compatibility let us down. If you were to lean towards longer rides on lesser aggressive trails the Slash would be ideal, and even on the race tracks we have here in Australia it might be a more logical choice due to its great efficiency and speed.
Though we couldn’t go past the fact that if you’re in the market for a bike this size with this much suspension travel you’re going to want it to descend hard and fast, and that’s what the Norco does very well. You could easily find some faster rolling tyres to bring it closer to the Trek Slash, and vice versa with the Bontragers on the Slash, but we could go on forever about spec modifications, as it stands we’d pick the Norco.
The world’s fastest downhill race bike gets even faster.
For more speed, we’re offering all the benefits of new Session on a 29er chassis. Offered in limited quantity as a frame & fork package, Session 29 brings faster-rolling big wheels to the downhill scene.
More Aggressive Geometry
Updated race-focused geometry is the least visible change to Session 9.9, but it’s the one that riders will feel immediately. This is where the Athertons and World Cup racing had the most influence. The reach grew by about 20mm on each size, putting the rider in a more aggressive position on the bike. The chainstays stay on the longer side to match the increased front-center length and keep the bike stable at speed, and also allowing it to plow through the rough stuff without getting the rear end hung up.
Another way we’ve increased the bike’s stability and cornering prowess is by giving it a slacker head angle and a lower bottom bracket. Session 9.9 is now 10mm lower and sports a 63 degree head angle out of the box.
Hoping for a slightly different head angle? Session features an easily adjustable head tube angle, but it’s not the creak-prone adjustable type. The bike ships with zero-offset cups installed, but it also includes a set of 1-degree-offset cups that can be installed with a forward or backward angle for an additional 1 degree of head angle adjustment in either direction. Like all of our other full-suspension bikes, Session also gets further adjustability with Mino Link, which offers another half degree of head angle adjustment, as well as about 8mm of BB height adjustment. Between the Mino Link and the adjustable angle headset, riders can dial in their head tube angle to anywhere from 62 degrees to 64.5 degrees depending on the course or their own personal preference.
Though new Session sets its sights squarely on the finish line, it still works great for crushing laps on the bike park jump lines. Session is primarily sized by reach, which means that park riders can size down to get all of these suspension and stiffness improvements but with a more playful fit.
One of the most visible changes to Session 9.9 is the new Fox Float X2 air shock. What’s not so visible is the Float X2’s redesigned internals, which were developed on the same timeline as the Session. Trek’s Suspension R&D team worked closely with Fox Racing Shox to optimise the new bike and shock together in a high-performance package with more flexible tuning options than ever before. Updates to the new DH-focused Float X2 include progressive instead of digressive valves and enhanced spring characteristics, which complement new Session’s lower leverage ratio and longer shock stroke. These changes to the frame accelerate the shock’s compression speed and introduce higher spring and damping forces for a given amount of wheel travel.
All of that translates to the rider as a livelier ride with more control and more support, especially in the midstroke, where the suspension works the hardest. With the damper doing more of the work and dissipating more energy through the midstroke, the shock gets much more predictable bottom-out resistance for better control on even the biggest hits. The suspension is also more responsive at the beginning of the stroke, allowing the bike to respond to smaller bumps, so it tracks the ground better and improves grip. Achieving all of these suspension performance improvements at the same time without compromise might seem impossible, but we’ve managed to do just that with the new Session and new Float X2 working together.
More responsive, stiffer frame
Another visible change to new Session is the absence of Full Floater. We previously used Full Floater as another means of tuning suspension characteristics. With the massive improvements in air shocks, including more tuning features like air pressure, spring rate, and spring volume, we can now trade that Full Floater tunability to gain more strength and stiffness in the frame while saving weight and maintaining plushness. So Session is still one of the lightest DH frames available, but now it’s even stiffer, so it’s more responsive in and out of corners, and it holds a precise line through even the roughest, gnarliest terrain.
While improved suspension performance, increased frame stiffness, and racy-yet-adjustable geometry are the most notable changes, Session still features the classic Trek tech technologies that make all of our bikes shine. Trek’s patented Active Braking Pivot keeps the suspension working freely under braking loads that can cause other designs to stiffen up and stop working. Its OCLV Mountain Carbon frame is light and strong thanks to a precise carbon layup that minimises weight, enhances ride feel, and maximises durability. Carbon Armor adds an extra layer of protection to impact-prone areas like the downtube, chainstays, and seatstays. Fork bumpers are built into the Control Freak cable routing guides, which allows for versatile and easy-to-use internal control routing for added protection and slick aesthetics.
It all adds up to a downhill bike that performs better in every way. It’s stiffer, more aggressive, more adjustable, and just plain faster with suspension that’s more plush and grippy off the top, more supportive and controlled in the middle, and better able to absorb big, bottom-out hits without losing its cool.
Is Session still compatible with coil shocks?
Yes. Updated metric shock sizing allows riders to run most aftermarket coil shocks.
Is this a new headset standard?
No. It uses the common 56mm/49mm cup size, so you can still run your favourite headset if you’re happy with the stock head angle.
Can the new X2 be tuned with volume spacers?
Yes. Float X2 offers additional air spring tuning by adding or removing volume bands. Visit www.foxracingshox.com for more information.
What is the rear hub spacing?
What about alloy Session?
While new Session’s changes focus squarely on racing speed, Session 8 returns as a carry forward model that retains the same frame as years’ past. This frame features a more all-around geometry that works well for racing, but also feels equally at home playing around the bike park.
Who’s the right rider for Session 27.5 and 29? The Session 27.5 will be the overwhelming right choice for most riders. It’s fast and nimble. The Session 29 is for the accomplished rider looking for every bit of speed possible.
What are the differences between the Session 29 and 27.5? Aside from wheel size and ride, the Session 27.5 and 29 feature the same frame features. The Session 29 geometry differs in that it has a slightly longer wheelbase due to the bigger wheels and the BB drop is greater giving it more stability.
What’s included with the framesets? The Session 9.9 27.5” frameset includes the FOX X2 air shock and fixed angle headset cups. The Session 9.9 29 will include the FOX X2 air shock, fixed angle headset cups, and the FOX 49 fork. We include the fork on the Session 29 since it’s such a unique, relatively scarce fork.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Thankfully the upcoming 2018 models of the Fuel looks to have specced more single ring drivetrains.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
For 2017 suspension bumps up to 150mm of travel and slackens off the head angle, now adjustable between 66.5 and 66-degrees. Reach has been pushed out quite a lot as well, by 11mm on a size 19″ (large) frame, and short 50mm stems are employed across the range.
With more travel and such aggressive geometry, the Remedy can be ridden harder, so Trek needed to make the bike stiffer. The Remedy and the Fuel us the new Straight Shot down tube, the massive, boxy down tube shaves a few grams and gives the front serious stiffness. But with the wide fork crowns of boost spacing forks they ran into clearance issues so to stop the crowns impacting the frame when the wheel turns right around, they came up with a headset that stops the rotation, ‘Knock Block’. In addition to the headset there are bumpers underneath the head tube area to further protect the frame.
The wide Bontrager Line rims, grippy XR4 tyres and big 35mm stem clamp give the Remedy a far tougher appearance than the 2016 model, these were the areas we upgraded our long term test bike last year, Trek are onto it!
A complete Shimano XT groupset is always a good sight, the 9.8 is covered in the stuff. The brakes are especially nice and Trek are using the I-Spec single handlebar clamp for the brake and shifter to keep the cockpit as neat as it can be.
The 9.8 does have a double chainring, which isn’t our cup of tea but sure can come in handy on the longer climbs out there.
We spent a whole year aboard the hot green/yellow 2016 model 9.8 and after just a quick ride on this one we’re very impressed. It feels a whole lot more robust and the rear suspension feels more planted, and with the wide rims and insanely good XR4 tyres it feels great at speed.
With 29ers on either side of the Remedy in the Trek range with the 130mm Fuel and 160mm Slash, the 150mm travel Remedy is a bike that will enjoy a jump, drop, drift and a tight line on the trail.
Stay tuned for more as we get our hands on a Trek Remedy for a proper review.
Enduro, all-mountain, aggressive trail… call it what you will (our new personal favourite is ‘down-country’). Bikes with long legs for soaking up gnarly terrain, and then striding back up the climbs again.
Over the last 12 months we’ve been fortunate enough to sling a knee-padded leg over a lot of these kinda bikes. Looking back, four of these bikes share a lot of similarities in terms of pricing and component spec, so we’ve decided to compile a comparative overview of them here.
There’s the Giant Reign 1, YT Capra CF Comp 1, Norco Range C7.2 and Trek Slash 9.8. All four have an Australian retail price between $5599 and $6299, all have largely equivalent component spec, and all four have very similar amounts of travel.
All four of the bikes here are close enough in price that, assuming they’re not on sale at a reduced amount, the price is not likely to be the sole determining factor in choosing which bike is for you. The Trek is the most expensive, at $6299 (previously $5999 before the dollar tanked). The Norco sneaks in at $5999. The Giant comes in a bit cheaper at $5699 – given it uses an alloy frame, rather than carbon, we had thought it might be a little less expensive. The YT, with its direct to consumer sales model, has the lowest price tag of $5599, BUT you do need to add $200 in shipping to this price if you’re in Australia, so its real price tag is $5799 . Not such a huge price advantage then at all.
Of the four bikes, three are predominantly carbon, while the Giant is alloy throughout (there is a carbon version of the Reign available, but it’s a big price jump up to $7699). The Norco, YT and Trek all run an entirely carbon front end, with an aluminium chain stay assembly. Internal cabling is standard on all the bikes, though the Slash has an external rear brake line, which can be an advantage from a maintenance standpoint, even if it’s not so nice to look at. All bikes use an internally routed RockShox Reverb Stealth dropper post too.
Trek: A flawless paint job, down tube protection and neatly integrated chain slap protection are all nice touches on the Trek. The removable front derailleur mount lets you keep the look super clean too. It’s also the only bike to incorporate geometry adjustability. Water bottle friendly as well.
Norco: The Norco has great standover height, while still keeping room for a water bottle. The use of a Syntace rear axle makes for a super clean drop out area, and the inclusion of a spare derailleur hanger bolt is a neat addition. The Norco is the only bike that has no provision for a front derailleur and we admire its commitment to the single-ring setup.
Giant: We particularly like the Giant’s use of a bearing at the shock mount, to provide a more supple bump response and reduced wear and tear on the shock bushing. As is usual with Giant, the pivot hardware is rock solid, and the frame stiffness is sensational.
YT: The frame shapes of the YT are super trick – it has a very different vibe to the swoopy lines of the other bikes here. We like the neat, narrow assembly of its linkage too, which keeps the bike’s front-on profile very slim.
Trek: The Trek’s ABP rear axle is super ugly and clunky – it protrudes a long way from the bike, snagging and scrapping on things a lot.
Norco: Tyre clearance isn’t as good as the competition. We think the dropout pivot is a little undercooked too – it could definitely be beefed up a little.
Giant: We experienced some cable rattling from the Reverb Stealth post cable inside the frame.
YT: The lack of a water bottle mount is a downer. If you’re pedalling any real distance, you’ll need to run a pack.
While all four of these bikes have similar geometry on paper, there a plenty of subtle differences that have a pronounced effect on the trail. All measurements are a for a size medium. Click to view the full geometry table.
Trek: The Trek is the only bike here with adjustable geometry. Its slacker setting has more in common with the other bikes here. The head angle is pretty laid back, but its balanced out by reasonably long stays. The top tube is on the shorter side, but a 60mm stem keeps things roomy enough.
Head angle: 65 degrees Effective top tube: 587mm Wheelbase: 1179mm Chain stay: 435mm
Norco: The Norco runs the sharpest geometry on test, which translates into its more lively ride on flatter trails. Short chain stays add to this whippy feel.
Head angle: 66 degrees Effective top tube: 598mm Wheelbase: 1153mm Chain stay: 426mm
Giant: Slack, long and low. The Reign’s geometry numbers are very downhill oriented. It has the longest top tube by a good 20mm, and the longest wheelbase too for excellent stability.
Head angle: 65 degrees Effective top tube: 620mm Wheelbase: 1191mm Chain stay: 434mm
YT: The Capra’s geometry is on the short side in the top tube, but with a slack head angle to balance it out. With a short stem, it definitely feels quite small in terms of reach, and we can envisage some riders will want to size up.
Head angle: 65.2 degrees Effective top tube: 582mm Wheelbase: 1169mm Chain stay: 430mm
All four of these bikes use RockShox front and rear – all have a Monarch Plus rear shock, paired with some variant of the Pike up front. At first glance the Norco, Giant and Trek are visually similar, but each bike has its own take on how to deliver 160mm of travel. The Capra uses a different arrangement, and has 5mm more travel, at 165mm rear.
Trek: Trek’s ABP (Active Braking Pivot) and Full Floater suspension system is a big favourite of ours. It delivers a very neutral, calm suspension feel. It’s unusual to see a Trek without the brand’s proprietary DRCV shock, and with a conventional shock like the Monarch. The system does best when you use the shock’s compression lever on climbs as it doesn’t have a lot of inherent anti-squat.
The Trek’s Pike fork is travel adjustable, from 160-130mm, which is a feature we used a lot. It’s not the bells-and-whistles version, but the more basic RC.
Norco: The Norco runs a four-bar / Horst link setup. The system has great anti-squat properties and pedals very well, but there is noticeable pedal feedback when stomping over rough terrain. It performs well under braking, maintaining responsiveness when you’re on the anchors.
The fork is the simple Pike RC. We recommend experimenting with the Bottomless Token system to tune the spring rate – we’ve had great success adding tokens and lowering the air pressure.
Giant: The Giant’s Maestro II rear suspension system is a dual-link arrangement and delivers a very smooth 160mm travel. It’s a very plush system, a real ground-hugger, and it ramps up nicely on big hits. It’s sheer smoothness means you’ll be using the compression lever on climbs.
Like the Trek, the Giant scores a travel adjustable fork, which we used to great effect on climbs and flatter trails. It also runs the more sophisticated RCT3 damper, with independent high and low speed compression adjustment.
YT: The Capra’s VL4 suspension system is another four-bar system, but the shock is driven by the seat stay, rather than the link. Given the bike’s travel, it’s a fantastically efficient climber – the Norco offers similar efficiency, but the Capra has less pedal feedback. The shock has markedly progressive in the latter portions of the bike’s travel, for excellent resistance to bottoming out.
The fork gets the premium RCT3 damper, but is not travel adjustable, which saves a little weight.
There’s barely a fart between the weights of the Norco, YT and Giant (which is impressive from the Reign, considering its alloy frame), but the Slash is a significantly lighter bike overall, by more than 700g. A light frame and carbon bar help keep its weight low. Note – all weights are without pedals and converted to tubeless.
Beyond the similarities in suspension items noted above, these four bikes share nearly identical drivetrains and a smattering of other components too. The dominance on SRAMs X1 drivetrain in this segment is well deserved, though we may see that challenged now that Shimano have released XT 1×11 with a 42-tooth cassette.
Trek: The wide-bodied Maverick wheelset on the Slash is a very big plus. We’re seeing more and more riders upgrading to wider hoops, so to get them stock is a real bonus. Bontrager’s XR4 tyres are sensational too. We’re also firm fans of the Shimano XT brakes, and the Bontrager Rhythm carbon bar.
Norco: A 30-tooth chain ring may sound small, but it’s an intelligent choice on this bike – the Norco has the gear range to climb just about anything. The massively stiff Raceface Atlas bar/stem combo is a winner too. We also like the addition of the bash guard to protect the chain ring.
Giant: Giant have specced the Reign with both an upper chain guide and a bash guard, for great security. The Pike RCT3 dual-position fork is a highlight too, a true performer both climbing and descending.
YT: A 150mm-travel dropper post lets you get the saddle right the hell out of the way on the Capra. The E13 wheels are both a highlight and a potential low light – they’re light and stiff, but quite narrow. A small item maybe, but we really like the Sensus grips, and the E13 upper chain guide.
Trek: While we like the XT brakes, they mesh poorly with the SRAM shifter and Reverb dropper lever.
Norco: The Norco’s wheels are its weakest area – especially the cheap front hub. There’s lots of weight to be saved here, without sacrificing durability.
Giant: You’ll want to lop a bit off the Giant’s 800mm bar!
YT: The E13 wheels are narrow by today’s and the hub is super, super loud.
First up, all of these bikes are superb to ride. They all fulfil the Enduro mandate of grinding out the climbs with minimal fuss then hammering the descents. That said, their abilities aren’t equally weighted, and some bikes really standout in some areas.
Trek: The Trek is the probably the best all-rounder in this company. With its low weight and travel adjustable fork, it manages to do a good job in a huge range of situations. We often rode this bike with the fork dropped down and the rear compression in its firmest setting and it performed pretty damn well on flatter, smoother trails. On the descents it was a bomber too – a 65 degree head angle keeps it all very stable and the tyres/wheels make the most of the grip on offer with the supple suspension.
Norco: A lively, fun and inspiring ride. The Norco requires no suspension fiddling to rule the singletrack, it accelerates nicely and can ascend without a lot of lever flipping. It’s very responsive for a bike with this much travel and it lends itself to a rider who likes to pick lines and play with the trail.
Giant: A supremely planted, stable and confident ride, the Reign will give a lot of downhill bikes a serious run for their money in many situations. The long wheelbase and buttery rear suspension keep the tyres on the ground. It straight up charges.
YT: A good blend of the downhill smasher and efficient climber. The YT has the angles and travel that encourage you to wallop it into some rough situations, especially as it’s so hard to upset the rear suspension. On the pedal back up, it’s very resistant and bobbing, even if the climbing position is a bit cramped.
Trek: The Trek’s rear suspension isn’t an inherently efficient design, so it’ll always be a tradeoff between suppleness and pedalling performance as you need to use the shock’s compression lever a lot.
Norco: With its short stays the Norco requires a bit more rider input at high speed to keep the wheels down. We also threw the chain on the Norco a handful of times, which wasn’t an issue on any other bike.
Giant: The Giant typifies the tradeoff between climbing and descending performance. With the fork dropped and the shock in its firmest compression setting, it’s a decent trail bike, but it still feels big in tighter situations.
YT: The YT’s short top tube demands a very upright climbing position. This bike really needs you to get right over the front wheel too, to keep it biting in flatter trails, especially when compared to the Norco or the Trek with its fork dropped down.
Two shots - both landscape
Three shots - Big on top
Four Shots - Big on Left
Two shots - landscape and square
Three shots - Big landscape, two small squares
Four Shots - All Same Size
Two shots - vertically stacked, both landscape
For a more in-depth look at each of these bikes, make sure check out the full reviews here on Flow.
Trek claim to be the biggest bike brand in the world. Together with their accessories subsidiary Bontrager, Trek reportedly spend the most money within the industry in the pivotal area of research and development.
Looking at these claims, it would be an easy conclusion to make that Trek’s products should be well ahead of the game. Recently, Flow attended Trek’s interplanetary 2015 launch – Trek World – to find out just what this extensive funding and research has led to for their 2015 line-up.
[divider]Fuel EX series [/divider]
Trek World may be the official launch of Trek’s 2015 range, however new products have been trickling into Trek dealerships for months now. One of these early releases for the year was the Fuel 27.5. The Fuel used to be an outstanding 26 inch trail bike before it was given the bigger wheel treatment only two years ago, and Trek’s return to giving consumers a smaller wheel option came about after an outcry of public support for a 650b option.
The Fuel EX 27.5 rides a lot like the older Flow favourite, 26″ Fuel EX. Flickable, fun and generally looking to play more with the trail than its 29er brother. If you’re looking for a trail bike that’s fun to ride, can be thrown around a bit more than the mile-munching 29er and you’re not worried about lap times at the local XC course, the Fuel EX 27.5 is worth a look.
The Fuel EX range is in serious contention of being one the best trail bike range out there. Seriously, these bikes are amazing! Flow rode the 9.8 $5899 pictured here in volt green colour (available in both wheel sizes), a Shimano equipped Fuel EX and it’s managed to be even more impressive than Trek’s 2014 offering.
The major difference for this year’s model is the all new RE:aktiv rear shock, designed in conjunction with Penske Racing Shocks, the suspension gurus involved in Formula 1, NASCAR, and Indy racing. Put simply, this new suspension design incorporates ‘regressive damping’- where there is no compromise between low speed compression damping and high speed compression damping. The aim is to allow the shock to react to quick imposts, whilst retaining a firm pedalling platform to resist unwanted suspension bob. Leaving what would be a complicated description aside, the shock rides really, really well. On the first ride, the shock gave us so much confidence, especially coming into sections of the trail at high speeds and knowing your suspension is capable of handling the rough stuff, and climbing through chattery trails where the suspension performed exactly right, allowing the focus to be on the trail, not the bike.
The Fuel EX is available in both 27.5″ and 29″ wheels starting at $2799. The Fuel EX 9.9 29er below, is a real stunner for $9499.
[divider]Slash 9.8 [/divider]
Another key announcement at Trek World was the introduction of a carbon Slash 9.8. Trek have totally re-vamped the Slash range, aiming to increase their share of the booming all mountain/enduro market. The Slash features new beefy Bontrager Maverick wheels, which follow the new pattern of ultra-wide rim profiles, a Sram XO1 groupset, Bontrager 750mm wide carbon bars, Stealth Reverb dropper post and Shimano XT brakes. Adding to this excellent spec, Trek have decided to use the RockShox Monarch Plus RC3 rear shock (with piggyback reservoir), and… the RockShox Pike up front! This bike is seriously well-specced, and comes in at just under $6K, completely busting apart the myth Trek can’t produce well specced bikes at low prices. We’ll expect to see this lightweight shredder by the end of October.
So how did it ride? The bike felt light whilst climbing and through singletrack, with 160mm of travel being provided at just 12.6kg. Whilst this was the case, even with the fork dropped down into the travel with the Two-Stage adjuster the bike still felt a little reluctant climbing at anything more than a steady, social pace. As climbing like a cross country racer is not key focus for this bike it’s definitely to be expected to a degree, but it’s surprising that with the fork dropped to 130mm, consequently steepening the head angle, the bike still felt a little uncomfortable smashing through Stromlo switchback after Stromlo switchback with its slack and relaxed angles.
Descending, and negotiating tricky trails. That is what this bike is all about. When you point this bike downhill, it goes where you want it to. Through rock gardens, no problems, the RockShox suspension and Maverick wheels will handle that. Steep sections, no worries, the geometry is great for hanging right off the back and nailing the vertical stuff. This is such a capable bike that it was underdoing it riding on the generally buff and smooth Stromlo trails. It was begging for a trail made of sterner terrain. The downhill tracks were an adequate match for this bike, and it soaked up the high speeds, rough stuff and frequent flyer miles with aplomb. The only criticism that we had in our time on the bike when analysing its descending capabilities is that it takes a bit more prompting when popping off trail features, or jumping over a section of the trail. Don’t worry, it’s just a simple trade-off, the bike gobbled up hard landing and felt stable in the air landing where you expected it to.
[divider]Remedy series [/divider]
For the Remedy 29 in 2015 we see wider hub spacing for bigger tyres and increased chainring clearance, as well as an all new carbon frame – used for the top end 9.8 and 9.9 models. Trek have labelled the wider hub spacing only on true 29er ‘Boost148’, and claim that this move leads to a stiffer wheel as well as more tire and chainring clearance. Both the Remedy 29 and 27.5 switch to Sram 1x drivetrains for the higher end models in the series (9 and above).
Continuing with the dominance of Sram as a theme of this year’s models, Trek have decided to move away from Bontrager wheels with the higher end models and use the highly praised SRAM Roam wheels. The top carbon model, the 9.9, reportedly weighs in at 11.9kg at $9499. That is seriously impressive weight for a big travel 29er!
The Australian World Cup racing duo of Dan McConnell and Bec Henderson’s bike of choice – the Trek Superfly hardtail, are a mainstay of the Trek line-up. With the help of Gary Fisher, Trek have dialled in the geometry of these bikes to create quick handling and lively XC weapons. One change for the 2015 frame was to shorten the chain stays to further quicken the handling of the bike in the turns. In making this adjustment, the bottom bracket was lowered slightly, making the bike more stable at higher speeds. Other than these slight tweaks the frame hasn’t changed, but the spec of some models has been increased at no suffering to the retail pricing.
For example the Superfly 9.6, the cheapest carbon Superfly, still comes in at under $3000 but is now equipped with Bontrager’s tubeless ready Mustang wheels! Loving it! Again, as seen across all the mountain bike range, Trek have chosen to use Sram 1x drivetrains on the higher end models. Pictured here is the Superfly 9.8, $5399, due August with the SL frame (super light carbon layup and slightly different shapes).
Another point worth mentioning is the ‘Smarter Wheelsize’ approach to frame size versus wheelsize that Trek are taking for some of the lower end hardtails. The smaller frame sizes will use 27.5″ wheels, whilst 17.5″ frame sizes and above will come equipped with 29″ wheels.
In 2015 Trek have gone the 27.5″ route with their downhill weapon. The bike sports 210mm travel and longer chainstays for better high speed control. Another upgrade from the 2014 model is the full carbon EVO link that drives the rear shock. The carbon used in the Session is not a weight saving measure primarily, but a way in which to add strength to the frame. Judging by Brook MacDonald’s resurgence as a world cup force and Neko Mullaly emerging as a rider to watch in the future, this bike is obviously very capable, and very fast.
So there you have it. Trek truly have delivered some epic bikes for 2015, with great new technologies like the RE:activ rear shock, the carbon Slash and the introduction of 1x drivetrains across a number of models. After trying the new models for ourselves, we here at Flow think we’ll be seeing a few of these highly colourful bikes out on the trail!