by Mark Alker
December 16, 2013
In terms of combining big hit, big wheel ability with value for money, the Remedy 9 is one of the best bikes on the market.
The Remedy is essentially a longer-travel version of the Fuel EX. Both come in 26in or 29in wheel versions and the extra 20mm of travel, plus some beefier componentry, results in the Remedy 9 29 carrying about a kilogram of extra weight over and above a similarly equipped Fuel EX. If you can’t stretch to £3,700 there’s the less lavishly equipped Remedy 8 29 for a full £1,000 less, or there’s a choice of four 27.5in wheelers: these were 26in in the 2013 range. The slightly burlier three-bike Slash range has all gone to medium wheels too.
Notable technical features include the wheel-axle-centric rear swingarm pivot (Active Braking Pivot, or ABP) which effectively stops braking forces messing with the suspension action, plus adjustable geometry (by 0.5º) via the Mino Link on the EVO rocker between the seat stays and the shock. Other talking point details include a bash guard protecting the underside of the down tube, a tough chain stay protector and some internal cable routing, including for the dropper seat post. A swept-forward seat tube results in masses of mud room, standover room is generous and a stubby tapered head tube and low rise bar stop the front from becoming too high. The press fit bottom bracket has ISCG chain guide tabs and the Fox Factory 34 Float fork and big volume Dual Rate Control Valve shock both have 140mm of travel and as much fettling potential as you could wish for. There’s a single set of bottle bosses on the big swoopy down tube. The frame’s finishing detail is excellent and the tight triangulation and quality bearing-equipped pivots keep the chassis incredibly stiff when it’s under pressure at the same time as superbly fluid in suspension action.
Parts-wise, the Remedy 9 29 gets a Shimano XT 2×10 drivetrain and brakes with 180mm rotors front and rear plus the full Bontrager treatment: Rhythm Elite wheelset, 2.3in Team treads, Rhythm Pro stem, 750mm Race Lite bar, bolt-on grips and Evoke 2 saddle. The 11-36t cassette and 24/38t rings should keep most riders happy on most terrain, as should the easy, comfy roll and grip of the tyres and simple climb/trail/descend switch modes of the fork and rear shock.
We’ll get one minor niggle out of the way first. We found that the lower bottom bracket and 0.5º slacker geometry setting of the Mino link resulted in a need to take care pedalling through bumpy corners and dips to avoid pedal strikes as the shock compressed. The most consistent and predictable suspension action was with the geometry in its steeper setting for a bit more ground clearance: this was with the shock and fork sagged to 25%. For floaty, less pedally downhill, the slacker setting with the shock fully open is ideal. For hard pedalling on raggedy singletrack we preferred the higher, steeper setting with the Fox shock lever in the middle. It takes under a minute with a hex key to flip the Mino link the other way round.
For regular trail riders and big hitters alike, the highlight of the Remedy is the way its suspension configuration gives it the capability to climb like a far shorter travel bike, even with the shock fully open. And we’re not talking about the ‘sit still and winch your way up’ type of climb capability that some longer travel bikes offer. Even when standing and really powering, the Remedy is taut, stable and as fast up climbs as any bike weighing the same, but without obvious loss in its bump absorption on the rougher sections. This gives you the confidence to attack short rocky and rooty climbs that have previously left you floundering.
Inevitably the buttery-smooth suspension performance with both the fork and shock levers set to fully open also lets you throw a certain amount of caution to the wind on the downhills. Our favourite rock-riddled riverbed descent was a doddle compared to taking the same lines on a typical 120mm travel bike. A combination of big wheels and treads noticeably smooths the ride more than most 26in 140mm bikes, to a point where you end up carrying speed confidently into tricky sections. Some riders still say 29in wheels make a bike feel less lively and less manoeuvrable, which isn’t always a bad thing anyway.
We’re not sure whether it’s the extra fork offset of the Remedy that livens it up but its lively handling certainly won over another big wheel cynic, albeit on the slow speed twisting singletrack rather than the high speed drops.
It has to be said that Trek’s large-scale production and buying power gets you a lot of bike for the money (and there’s still the next model down for £1,000 less). It tackles all types of terrain with grace, finesse and amazing pedalling efficiency and everyone seemed to like the climb/trail/descend simplicity of the Fox fork and shock, though we never really felt a need to use the almost locked out climb mode. We weren’t completely convinced by the two-position geometry and ended up using the higher, steeper option most of the time to avoid occasional pedal strikes. But riders with a strong downhill bias might be glad to have the lower, slacker option. In terms of combining big hit, big wheel ability with value for money, the Remedy 9 is one of the best bikes on the market.
- Frame // Alpha Platinum aluminium w/140mm Fox Float shock
- Hubs // Bontrager Elite
- Fork // 140mm Fox 34 Factory Kashima 51mm offset
- Rims // Bontrager Rhythm Elite
- Tyres // Bontrager 29 x 2.3in Team Issue
- Chainset // Shimano XT 38/24t
- Front Mech // Shimano XT
- Rear Mech // Shimano XT Shadow Plus
- Shifters // Shimano XT 2×10
- Cassette // 11-36t
- Brakes // Shimano XT w/180mm rotors
- Stem // Bontrager Rhythm Pro
- Bars // Bontrager Race Lite low-rise 750mm
- Grips // Bontrager Rhythm bolt-on
- Seatpost // RockShox Reverb Stealth
- Saddle // Bontrager Evoke 2
- Size Tested // 17.5in
- Sizes Available // 15.5, 17.5, 19, 21, 23in
- Weight // 29.6lb (13.3kg) without pedals