March 22, 2014
A fully capable enduro bike, with the uphill finesse of an XC whippet
Another review from ‘Office Padowan’ Dan…
For 2014 Trek are adopting 27.5 inch wheels for their new enduro/trail bike range.
In making this move to bigger wheels the Slash has also had a complete redesign from the ground up. The re-design has really optimised the advantages of the new 27.5 inch wheels, and combined with the SRAM X01 gearing this bike smashes the descents and floats up the ascents with ease.
Even with the big design changes Trek have kept both their ABP technology and DRCV suspension technology, with these features you can really focus on your riding knowing the bike is handling the tracks and any occasional harsh braking. The results of these changes are impressive to say the least, it’s hard enough to design a bike that descends like a Session and then climbs like a Remedy, but Trek have done it and have kept it light weight at just under 30lbs, which is pretty good for a top spec all round.
Moving onto specification, the Slash comes with SRAM’s X01 group set, backed up with X0 Trail brakes. For suspension the Fox Factory Series 34 Talas w/CTD gives you the opportunity to really push the front end on descents but also gives you a firm climbing platform. Backing up the rear, (ahem), is the equally awesome Fox RP23 DCRV shock, allowing you to have a firm feel in the small compressions and then giving you a plush soft shock for the techy descents; it has the feel of a coil shock but at the weight of a standard air.
For me the Slash has not disappointed, it’s a fully capable enduro bike with the uphill finesse of an XC bike. Excited to see what I can do with the bike I had some serious riding to do. After giving the Slash a good few weeks to settle in a few niggles appeared with the components. SRAM’s ever faithful Rockshox Reverb unfortunately failed on me a few times not extending all the way back up after dropping it for a couple of tech sections, a bleed and re-pressure seemed to solve that and it’s been fine since. I also initially had issues with the 1×11 system; after riding down a not so rough fire road I realised my chain had fallen off, quite surprising to say I had just been hitting some DH tracks and it was staying firmly on the rings, this happened twice once again on a local trail after hitting a gnar root section. If you’re going to be hammering the bike the extra insurance of a chain device might be a worthwhile investment. Being a pre production demo bike it’s possible this was down to initial set up.
However, despite those niggles the Trek is an extraordinary bike, over the 4 months I’ve been riding it I’ve used it down some of my local trails and a few secret(ish) ranging from steep and muddy to fast and rocky. A certain trail held the biggest challenge with three tight, steep and muddy switch backs; if hit correctly an immense sense of satisfaction, if hit incorrectly three of your friends laughing at you whilst you wipe mud from your face. The stakes were high, I didn’t know how the bigger wheels would fare and most of all how the tyres would grip. In the end its smashed through turns so much so I did them a few times, the lack of grip from the Bontrager XR4 team issue tyres were compensated slightly by the larger 27.5 inch wheels. After two weeks I found about 4mm deflection side to side in the rear wheel, which for a new wheel isn’t great, however a quick fettle in the jig and its held firm for the rest of the test period.
Another stand out point of the Slash is the climbing position
With it being marketed as a gravity/enduro bike I thought it might lack comfort and competence on the climbs. I was wrong, the Slash is a natural climber. Whether tackling techy rock strewn grunts or gentle fire road inclines, backed up with the dinner plate that is the XO1’s 42tooth cog and a 32 tooth ring on the front, I could lock the suspension out and climb with ease.
With all this in mind I have found the Trek Slash 9 to be a really fun bike to ride. Trek have perfected the geometry and feel of the Slash, and have made a race winning enduro bike, After having component issues with the reverb and 1×11 system I was a little bit disappointed reflecting on the price if you were going to part with £4300 you would at least want your chain to stay on and reverb to not jam up. Hopefully this shouldn’t be an issue on production bikes. However the way it rides and how it tackles everything you chuck at it makes up for all its small faults.
This was my first 27.5inch wheeled bike so I wasn’t too sure how it would ride, would I feel a massive difference or would it ride just like a 26? Within the first few rides I have noticed the advantages of the larger wheel, on descents and on the climbs you could really feel the bigger wheel rolling faster and taking out those small bumps.
Overall: I am really pleased with how the Trek Slash 9 rode, not only a beautiful bike to look at but a really nice all rounded enduro bike.