The not-so-minor details
Trek Remedy 9 29
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Efficient and responsive for big wheels and big travel.
Long stays relative to the overall wheelbase.
We’ve developed a real fondness for the Trek Remedy series of bikes over the past half dozen years. Like watching a teenage boy growing into a man, we’ve seen them change, get stronger, find their way in the world, make some bad decisions (like the DRCV fork) and learn from them.
But now the Remedy is all grown up. So grown up in fact that it’s sprung some 29″ wheels. Say hello to the Trek Remedy in its burly 29er format!
Of course this isn’t the only shape you can get your Trek Remedy in nowadays. For 2014, Trek offered two wheel size variants of the Remedy. The wagon-wheeler you see here, and a 650B version which we actually reviewed only a few months ago. While that experience was still fresh-ish in our minds, we thought we’d give the 29er a run too, and see which bike sizzled our steak more.
At the heart of the bike you’ll find the well regarded Full Floater / ABP suspension system, which looks like a four-bar but places a pivot directly around the rear axle. This Active Braking Pivot retains suspension activity under braking, while the Full Floater aspect refers to the fact the shock is not mounted to the mainframe at all, but ‘floats’ between the upper link and a shock mount on the chain stays. It’s all about controlling the shock rate. The third card in the deck of the Remedy’s suspension is the DRCV Fox shock.
This system, like a good lover, knows when to give a little and when to give a lot.
The Dual Rate Control Valve shock has two air chambers, relying on the the smaller one to keep a firm feel for the initial travel and activating a second larger chamber to provide a more linear feel deeper in the suspension stroke. This system, like a good lover, knows when to give a little and when to give a lot.
Geometry is adjustable, from a 68-67.5 degree head angle, via the simple Mino Link on the seat stays. We left it in the slacker setting but if you’re after a sharper ride it’s nice to have that option. Other noteworthy features include room for a full-size water bottle, an internally-routed ‘stealth’ style dropper post, and ISCG tabs. We’re not sure about the mix of internal and external cable routing – it all looks a bit messy, especially with both a front derailleur and a dropper post.
Just like its 650B-wheeled brother, the Remedy 9 29er has a component spec that’s so reliable you’d swear it was Swiss made. The only blemish is the narrow handle bar, but that’s an easy swap, so swap it we did for a 730mm Thompson bar. Otherwise you’d be foolish to make any changes to this bike – the blend of Shimano XT and excellent Bontrager components is hard to top.
The gearing range provided by the 2×10 XT drivetrain is spot on, and the brakes have more power than a dinosaur’s fart. It’s a bit of pity that Trek didn’t use Shimano’s I-Spec shifter/brake lever mounting system, as the bars are a mess with so many separate clamps.
After almost finding ourselves stranded in the middle of the jungle after one too many flat tyres, we made the switch to tubeless. We used Bontrager’s own tubeless rim strips for the job. These strips simply snap into place, and we think they’re the neatest tubeless conversion system available, so good that we regularly use them on other types of rims, not just Bontys.
We were lucky enough to take the Remedy to a wide range of trails during our testing, from the groomed singletrack of Smithfield in Cairns, to muddy rainforest in the Cassowary Coast and then back to the rough sandstone of Flow’s home trails in Sydney. The Remedy took it all in its stride; if you’re looking for a versatile bike to tackle just about anything that comes your way, then this fella is worth consideration.
Before we actually rode this bike, we’d kind of mentally pigeon holed it. We’d made the assumption it was going to be monster truck, the kind of bike that just ran shit over but which handled singletrack like a barge. We were wrong.
The Remedy remains responsive and lively, which is always a challenge to achieve with 29″ wheels and this much travel.
Yes, the Remedy is jogs rather than sprints about, but this bike also climbs well and flicks through the trails far better than we’d ever envisaged. A lot of this can be attributed to the Remedy’s suspension and the way the DRCV shock offers a plenty of support in the early stages of the suspension travel. This firm feel in the initial stages of the travel ensures the Remedy remains responsive and lively, which is always a challenge to achieve with 29″ wheels and this much travel.
With a 140mm travel fork, we felt compelled to get the bars down low, to keep weight on the front wheel and prevent too much lifting on the climbs. Trek have played it smart, using a tiny 100mm head tube, that ensures it’s possible to keep the cockpit to reasonable height. With the stem slammed, the Remedy did a great job of carving up singletrack turns. The Bontrager XR3 tyres are still one of our favourites, and for fast-rolling rubber they hook in beautifully on just about all trail surfaces giving the Remedy real consistency in the corners.
Like a number of Fox forks we’ve tested lately, we found the fork took a while to reach the smoothness we’d hoped for. It did improve with riding, and lubing the stanchions with some Finish Line Max Suspension Spray before each ride definitely helped. The rear suspension had no such issues; it seamlessly blends a supportive feel in the early stages of the travel with a bottomless and controlled feel on the bigger hits.
In terms of sheer smashability, the Remedy was happy to hammer, but still wasn’t quite the bump-eater we’d expected. Strangely, we feel that some of this actually comes down to frame sizing. Because the Remedy has quite long chain stays ( 445mm ), in the smaller frame sizes (like the 17.5″ we tested) there is proportionally a lot of the bike behind the rider, rather than in front of them. This makes it harder to get your weight over the rear axle or to keep the front end up over holes. We think that the longer front-centre measurement found on the 19″ frame size and up would feel more balanced. Perhaps the Remedy is one bike that adds credence to the idea that shorter riders should consider a 27.5″ wheel, rather than a 29″.
It’s hard not to be impressed with the way the Remedy disguises its travel on the climbs.
It’s hard not to be impressed with the way the Remedy disguises its travel on the climbs. While it’s not the lightest rig out there, the way it grapples up long climbs is excellent. In the small chain ring, you do notice a bit of pedal feedback, but not enough to disturb your rhythm. When the climbs become super steep or technical, you’ll want to shuffle right forward to stop the front end from popping up, but even when your weight is moved onto the nose of the saddle there never seems to be a loss of traction out back.
We said at the outset that we wanted to pick a favourite; did we prefer the 27.5 or 29er Remedy? For us, the 27.5″ is the one. But that’s just us and our preference – the 29er certainly has advantages in many areas, particularly when it comes to climbing traction or rolling out long kays. We’re confident that many taller riders will gravitate towards the 29er too, as in the larger frame sizes we think this bike would mow down all comers. Whatever your choice – 27.5 or 29 – the Remedy has evolved in a seriously sophisticated and capable all-rounder, and if we had to pick a bike that we’d like on hand to tackle whatever came our way, then the Trek Remedy 9 would definitely be one of our top picks.
Tested by: Chris Southwood
Rider height: 172cm
Rider weight: 62kg
Tested at: Cairns, Mareeba, Atherton, Cassowary Coast, Red Hill (Sydney) and other sneaky trails.
Changes made: Wider bar (730mm) and converted to tubeless.