July 29, 2012
Jenn is out in the Dolomites this weekend at Trek’s 2013 product launch. Here’s what they’ve got planned for next year…
While the UK goes Olympics-crazy, we’ve escaped to Cortina to take a look at what Trek are doing with their ‘Singletrack Trail’ product group. We might not be too keen on arbitrary segregation but as we reckon this one is what 90% of us do, 90% of the time, we’re alright with that…
The schedule is packed with actual bike riding but seeing as we got the Powerpoint slide presentation out of the way before hitting the trails this morning, we’ll give you a quick run-down of the notes we made while trying not to fall asleep in a darkened meeting room.
Rumblefish & Stache
No, not the BBC’s new Saturday evening light entertainment, but big wheeled bikes. First up, the Stache: a brand new 120mm hardtail 29er with its emphasis on fun.
Versatility is key: tapered headtube, dropper post and internal cable routing, ISCG 05 tabs, and post mount rear brake mean you can make it do silly things if you feel like it, or leave it as a plain vanilla trail bike. One key development is the application of the Closed Convert dropout for the back wheel, as seen on Trek’s full-sus bikes in recent years. We’ve been waiting a while for this to come along and now our wish for a stiffer, more secure rear end has been granted. Hurrah!
It’s not exactly a new bike, because it’s been available in the US for a while, but new to the UK market is the Rumblefish, the trail-oriented 120mm full sus 29er.
We saw this at last year’s Mayrhofen launch and were gutted it wasn’t being brought into the UK; now we get a chance to play on what should be a perfect trail tool for many British riders. With the G2 geometry pioneered on earlier bikes from Gary Fisher, Fox’s Climb-Trail-Descend tuned shocks and clutch rear mechs on top end models (only the Rumblefish Pro and Elite will be available in the UK, while a plain ol’ Rumblefish can be had in the US), we’re looking forward to our chance to play on one shortly.
At the other end of the scale are Trek’s new race bikes, which are being premiered at the Olympic MTB race next weekend under Emily Batty and Sam Schultz (and which we inadvertently got a sneak peek at in Rab’s Val D’Isere story this week…).
Taking the place of the well-loved Superfly and Superfly 100, the new frames carry the SuperLight suffix and are mind-bogglingly svelte. They’re the product of Trek’s Apollo project which has focused on producing pure, World Cup-standard, race bikes. At 896g for the hardtail frame (barely a Milky Bar more than a Madone road frame) and 1850g (including shock) for the 100, they’re definitely ready for it. Trek hope they’ve created a clearer delineation between the Superfly 100 and the Rumblefish/Stache, too.
There’s a whole list of features to note here, including that Closed Convert rear drop out again (convertible to accommodate regular QR wheels), removable Carbon Armor (so you can strip every last extraneous ounce away for race day – reminds us of the leanweight premise used by mountain marathoners), super neat Microtruss hose mounts, and internal cable routing including the rear shock remote.
The frame has also been given the once-over, with a new carbon Flow Mold link that’s both more compact and wider, so reportedly stiffer. There’s a fully integrated headset, which sheds more grams, a post rear brake mount which straddles chain and seat stays, an extra degree added to the head angle, improved rear tyre clearance and what’s called a ‘Roll Wrap seat tube’ – which looks like a tube of carbon fibre which pierces the top tube and runs independently of the frame, allowing Trek to tune for “vertical compliance” and comfort as well as stiffness in a frame which might otherwise be a bit of a weapon. Does it make a difference? We don’t know, we haven’t ridden one yet, but when we get the chance we’ll let you know…
All-new Fuel EX
It’s not all about the big wheels. There’s still a place for 26ers in the world (even though 29ers will make up an expected 44% of Trek’s US sales this year, us Euros are still lagging behind…) and so the Fuel EX has had a full revamp, gaining 10mm of travel to 130mm and aiming to become more versatile and efficient.
ISCG 05 tabs and a removable front mech mount allow you to run it in stripped down, single-ring guise if you’re that way inclined. Stealth routing for your dropper post is of course de rigeur, as is internal hose/cable routing, and it keeps a bottle boss for racier rides or battery packs.
The twin-chambered Fox DRCV (dual rate control valve) fork we saw on the 2012 bikes has stuck around. This is good news and tuning kits are now available too. Fitted is reported to be simple – depressurise the spring, remove top cap, strap a pair of spacers around the shaft with an O-ring, replace top cap, repressurise, ride. The standard tune is said to mimic a coil spring, while the 5cc and 10cc tunes make it more progressive. Garage fettlers rejoice.
The by-now-familiar DRCV rear shocks feature Fox’s simplified CTD (Climb, Trail, Descend) system, with a new stiffer tune on the climb setting which is almost entirely locked out, and more efficient trail and descend modes.
The frame itself has also had a makeover. The linkage is mow more compact, which means there’s improved standover clearance (on a bike that already had loads – this can only be a good thing), and this has also allowed Trek to raise the leverage rate and compression settings, making for a lively shock that doesn’t get phased at the top end. We’ve spent the afternoon riding down a mountain on a 9.8 and first impressions are that although the rear shock in particular benefits from some serious attention to detail in set up (digital shock pump, anyone?), once it’s right, it feels and performs very nicely indeed.
We’ll have ride stories on the Fuel EX 9.8 and the Rumblefish up later in the week – just as soon as we’ve pedalled up a mountain…
Product shots courtesy of Sterling Lorence and Dan Milner, Trek Bikes