Trek Roscoe 9

Trek Roscoe 9 review

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  • Price: £700 frame only, £2,300 as tested
  • From: trekbikes.com
  • Tested by: Darren Hall
Trek Roscoe 9
Trek Roscoe 9

The Trek Roscoe 9 features in our ‘Going to unextremes’ bike test

The Roscoe comes in three flavours, the 7, 8, and top spec 9 on test here. All three models share the same Alpha Gold aluminium Boost frame featuring ISCG mounts, a threaded BB, and internal routing for both gear and dropper cables. It’s a shame all colours aren’t available across the models as the splattered Matte Quicksand/Olive Fade/Black colour reminds me of a particularly horrific paint job my parents did on our kitchen in the ’80s, and it would be good to have more than the crimson alternative. The lack of colour options is more than mitigated by 12-speed SLX/XT/e*thirteen drivetrain and 4-piston Shimano brakes, and at £2,300 this won’t break the bank either. I know there’s a big debate around what represents good value in these inflation-fuelled times, but it doesn’t take much effort to find similar bikes at higher prices, and if this is too much then the lower spec 7 and 8 models provide excellent opportunities for saving money at £1,400 and £2,000 respectively.

Which is mud and which is paint?

At 5ft 9in tall I often suffer from frame size anxiety as a result of straddling medium and large sizes so it’s good to see that the Roscoe adds a M/L size to the standard small, medium and large. The very short and very tall are also catered for with XS and XL versions, although the XS has 27.5 wheels to keep everything in sensible proportion. We’re testing a large here, which is slightly beyond Trek’s recommendations for my height, but those used to longer bikes will not find any issues with opting for the larger size, and this is made easier by the low-slung top tube which provides loads of standover clearance. Shorter riders may find it a little less obvious which size to choose, due to the significant overlap in recommended height between the M and M/L. I would always go for the larger size in this case, but a careful decision may be required if you’re in this range.

The frame itself is something of a beast. The oversized downtube and thick rear triangle provide a stiff and supportive base for ploughing through rocks and roots and maintaining control through the roughest of terrain, although this suggests the rider will need to cope with the physical demands of such a direct and unforgiving platform. If this isn’t a problem though and you’re up to the job of pushing the Roscoe to its limits, then the double side chainstay and downtube guards provide protection from flying rocks to prevent any damage. The rear brake caliper is also partially protected by what can only be described as a rather radical bend in the left chainstay to enable the caliper to be placed on the inside of the frame, although this does raise the possibility of interference with pedalling at the rear of the stroke. There was just enough clearance with my size 9 shoes to avoid any unwanted impacts or rubbing, but larger-footed riders might want to check this out.

If the geometry and overall burliness of the frame left any doubts as to the gnarly intentions of this bike, those can quickly be dispelled on consideration of the rest of the spec. It’s not unusual for trail bikes at around the 140mm travel category to opt to save some weight with 34mm forks so it’s good to see that Trek have resisted this with the addition of the thicker and stiffer Fox 36 Rhythms. Combined with the 30mm internal Bontrager Line Comp rims and bulky 2.6in XR4 tyres, the rider is left with little doubt that this bike wants to be ridden hard. All this meat does come with a weight penalty however, and at 13.9kg this can hardly be called lightweight for a hardtail. That really shouldn’t matter though for a trail bike which is clearly aimed at the more aggressive rider, and thankfully Trek seems to have considered this with the addition of the higher power four-pot Shimano M6120 brakes, and a twiddly 30T chainring to winch you to the top of the hill.

The Ride

The first thing you notice when sitting on the Roscoe is that the uber-trail characteristics suggested by the geometry and the specs are even more in evidence when meeting it in person. This doesn’t quite qualify for the hardcore hardtail category, but the slack head angle, upright position and fat tyres have you instantly thinking about where the closest steep and rowdy trails might be. This isn’t a bike to be riding around forest roads or reservoirs with the family. Although if you were to do that, you’d possibly spend most of your time looking for cheeky unmarked trails and random opportunities to huck it off contrived drops and other obstacles. In fact, it’s so robust and confidence-inspiring you can probably ride it anywhere you like whether a trail exists or not. It’s quite literally a bike that can get you into trouble, in more ways than one.

When you do find some trails worthy of the Trek Roscoe, you’d best be ready to commit to them because the ride is somewhat unforgiving. On rough rocks and roots your thighs and core will receive a proper workout as they as they absorb the shocks that at the front are being sucked up by the excellent fork. For any skiers out there, it’s a bit like the first day on the slopes after a long lay-off. The large tyres compensate a little if you run the pressures low (< 20psi), but then you run the risk of dinging the rims so tyre inserts might be an advisable first upgrade. The stiffness does have its benefits though if you have the physique and athleticism to take the hits. Trail obstacles and debris are no match for the Roscoe, and the 36mm forks, tyres and frame combine to provide a bulldozer-like character if you have the confidence to take advantage. On the very steepest trails the 36 forks and head angle come into their own and the front wheel maintains traction very well if you don’t hang off the back, but it could possibly benefit from a longer dropper to keep the saddle out of the way and encourage you to keep the front wheel weighted.

On tamer terrain, the Trek Roscoe is no slouch either, and I was torn as to whether it prefers man-made or natural terrain. Hardtails are often my go-to option for trail centres and places where I know there’s a smoothish hard-packed surface, and the Roscoe excels in this environment as well as it does on the rougher stuff, albeit with a very different character. Here the wide tyres and the active Fox Rhythm forks smooth out bumps very effectively, providing a fast and flowing ride with little sign of the bone-jarring stiffness exhibited on more technical trails. It’s probably a little vague in the steering due to the head angle and length on the tight and twisting courses you’ll find at manmade areas, but a little effort in wrestling it around corners compensates for that and encourages you to ride the bike rather than acting as a passenger.

Given the previous comments about the Trek Roscoe aggressive and bulky character while going downhill, it won’t come as any surprise that I haven’t talked much about its climbing ability. Not that it’s terrible at going uphill. The stiffness of the frame, the weight and grip offered by the XR4 tyres, and the stable climbing position provided by the 74.5° seat angle will get you up pretty much anything, and the more technical the better. But you’ll need the power and fitness to do it with any type of speed. Most riders will take advantage of the twiddly 30×51 bottom gear, and that’s fine for most uses. The comfortably upright riding position will even facilitate long days in the saddle or marathons/enduros – just don’t expect to be breaking any records in the process.

Overall

As the most gnarly trail shredding bike in this test, it won’t surprise anyone that the Trek Roscoe is biased in favour of the rowdier type of riding. Aggressive, strong and physical riders are perfectly placed to get the best out of this bike, and it will reward those who like a full-body workout rather than simply testing their legs on fire road climbs and then recovering on descents. It also does just enough of the milder type of riding to make it an all-rounder in a loose sense of the word. Ride this bike enough, though, and those from the tamer end of the spectrum probably won’t stay there for very long as the Roscoe will either amplify or bring out the inner thug.

Check out all our mountain bike reviews

  • Frame: Alpha Gold Aluminium
  • Fork: Fox Rhythm 36, Float EVOL air spring, 140mm travel
  • Hubs: Bontrager Alloy, Boost 110/148mm
  • Rims: Bontrager Line Comp 30
  • Tyres: Bontrager XR4 Team Issue 29×2.6in
  • Chainset: e*thirteen Helix, 30T
  • Rear Mech: Shimano XT M8100
  • Shifter: Shimano SLX M7100, 12-speed
  • Cassette: Shimano SLX M7100, 10–51, 12-speed
  • Brakes: Shimano 4-piston hydraulic disc
  • Stem: Bontrager Elite, 35 mm, 0-DEG, 45mm
  • Handlebars: Bontrager Line, alloy, 35mm, 27.5mm rise, 780mm width
  • Grips: Bontrager XR Trail Comp, nylon lock-on
  • Seatpost: TranzX JD-YSP18, 150 mm travel
  • Saddle: Bontrager Arvada, hollow chromoly rails
  • Size Tested: L
  • Sizes Available: XS, S, M,ML, L, XL
  • Weight: As Tested 13.9kg/30.6lb

See the complete data set for this model (Members only)

Sonder Dial GX Eagle – The DATA

Ibis DV9 XT – The DATA

Canyon Neuron 6 : The Data

Specialized Epic EVO – The DATA

Whyte T-140 RS 29er – The DATA

Kona Process 134 27.5 – The DATA

Review Info

Brand: Trek
Product: Roscoe 9
From: trekbikes.com
Price: £700 frame only, £2,300 as tested
Tested: by Daz for 2 months

Daz got into mountain biking by accident, quite literally. After falling off a cliff in the Peak District while climbing and nearly killing himself, he decided something safer was probably a good idea, so bought a mountain bike some time around 2004. It sat in his flat unused for about 6 months until a mate bought one too, when a whole new world of excitement was discovered by pushing it up unrideable climbs, and falling off unrideable descents in the Peak District. In the rain. Fast forward 10 years, several bikes, countless injuries and scrapes, and a lot more fitness and skill later, his Mrs told him if he wanted any more bikes he had to buy a bigger house in which to put them. At which point he moved to Todmorden, and randomly bumped into a bunch of magazine types who have the good fortune to do this sort of thing for a living. Somewhere along the way he also acquired a masochistic love of winter endurance racing, and as a result can be found riding his bike on ‘training’ rides in the dark and the drizzle, when everyone else is huddled in front of their wood burner. This provides excellent bike and kit testing/breaking opportunities and we try to keep him busy doing just that.

More posts from Darren

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  • Trek Roscoe 9 review
  • simon_g
    Full Member

    Proper boost at last! I liked the look of previous ones but not the weird 141QR rear spacing they went for.

    weeksy
    Full Member

    Anyone ever buy a Roscoe ? I’ve got one on my HMMM list currently for local stuff. Not sure if i’ll press the button but i was looking at a few HTs and this is enough i terms of travel/fun, but a better weight than the others i’d shortlisted (Orange Crush and Ragley Blue PIg).

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