Trek World – Embracing 27.5, continuing with 29, but 26 isn’t dead…
The Annual Trek World event happened last week, and as usual we were there to get the low down on everything MTB from one of the biggest names in the industry. The thoughtful guys at Trek happened to book Silverstone during the Formula 1 young drivers test, a twist of fate that we were very pleasantly surprised by. The Formula 1 cars providing a harmonious balance in terms of speed and precision on the outside of the building, while the Trek team showcased their take on the same topics inside.
The huge news from the team is that there will no longer be a model year for the brand. No longer will they be rushing to finish product in time for a deadline, and no more will your bike become obsolete when the calendar ticks by. Instead, adopting a similar strategy to Apple Inc. bikes will be released as and when they are ready.
It’s an interesting idea that we welcome, it gives bikes a little more longevity, and considering the high price paid for these steeds it will no doubt be welcomed by the public too. Now you can buy a new Trek safe in the knowledge it won’t devalue overnight at the end of the year, instead it will remain current for the products life cycle. Of course bikes will get updated, and sometimes there will be a fanfare for a new bike launch, but essentially Trek are not going to pin themselves to an annual deadline every year. This should help them to develop products to their full potential before releasing them, ensuring you get the best technology available at the right time.
What is staying the same? The Session, Superfly Full Suss, Fuel EX 26, Elite and Stache remain unchanged for 2014, obviously there are new colourways and components but essentially these bike frames have remained the same as last year.
What’s new? The wheel size debate rolls on and on and in the words of Chris Garrison ‘it has almost become like religion and politics in terms of being off the table for discussion at dinner parties!’ However Trek have embraced all three wheel sizes in their new range according to how well those wheel sizes work in each category. At an entry level hardtail price point the X-Caliber now owns the show, 29-inch wheels and bikes to suit almost any pocket in terms of pricing.
Once you tip over the £1000 mark the X-Caliber range ends and the Superfly range begins. Again a 29-inch hardtail bike that has been tweaked for this year aimed firmly at the XC market with 100mm of front end travel. Alongside the Superfly hardtail is the Superfly Full Suss that, as we mentioned before, remains unchanged. The way Trek sees it the extra speed and easy power from a bigger wheel size makes the 29er the perfect platform for the entry-level market, as well as the XC crowd too, which makes sense to us.
Moving away from the XC crowd towards the trail end of the market the Fuel EX has a big upgrade this year in terms of wheel size. Last year saw one of the world’s most popular trail bikes gain an extra 10mm of travel. The Fuel EX 29 utilises a 120mm suspension platform and revamped geometry and frame design to incorporate the bigger wheel size. There are no less than 9 models in the 29er line up! Starting at just £1500 we had to ask ourselves whether that could be one of the best priced performance bikes on the market, we’ve booked one in for a test to find out…
Jumping up a gear again the impressive Remedy range also sees a major update. Not just a 29er version but also, you’ve waited for it, yes a 27.5 version too. This sparks a new debate, 650b, 27.5 what are we gonna call it? Here at the mag we are rooting for the Euros and Yanks with the 27.5 moniker, to us it sits far better with the existing 26 and 29er terms that we are used to.
Anyway we digress, the Remedy for 2014 sees both 29 and 27.5 wheel sizes, offering you the choice to decide which you would prefer according to how and where you ride. The 29er version is a long travel big-wheeled machine if ever there was one sporting 140mm of tuned suspension front and rear. The 27.5 version shares the same suspension platform, 140mm but obviously sports the smaller wheel size. We’ve booked a couple of these out to test back to back, it’s going to be interesting to see how they both handle. The Remedy in its previous 150mm travel 26-inch wheeled guise proved extremely popular.
The Slash is back again and is a real all-mountain killer, we have had one on long term test here at the magazine and absolutely love it. This year it too gets the bigger wheeled treatment, yet retains the 160mm travel platform from last year. 27.5-inch wheels adorn the new bike which looks rather fetching in its black and orange livery.
On the womens specific side the Lush and Cali also get the 29er makeover coupled with some rather striking graphics, and no, they are not bright pink!
Project One has hit the MTB world, you can now spec your Superfly or Fuel EX anyway you want and match that with the colours of your choice. It’s a pretty awesome idea if money really is no object and you want something a little different. Some of the colour combinations we saw were eye-wateringly good, is that a word? It is now…
Obviously Trek World wouldn’t be complete without mention of Bontrager and there are plenty of new things to get excited about from that camp too. The pumps are all looking good, and a new range of tyres has been launched to compliment all the different wheel sizes. The SE4 Tyre is a new Super Enduro tyre designed to be as tough as DH rubber yet fast enough and light enough to make pedalling a breeze.
There are also new colourways on the popular Specter XR and Lithos helmets alongside some excellent graphics on the womens Quantum lid. A new product for this year is the Rhythm MTB shoe, a durable all mountain clipless shoe with a grippy rubber sole to ensure you don’t slip over when things get too tough to pedal. All the MTB shoes now incorporate a lower profile buckle, a result of direct feedback from the riders.
There is also a full range of clothing, including some new bib liner baggy shorts, as ever there is a high focus on the quality of the fabrics used and attention to detail in terms of the finish.
Expect to see more of these products tried and tested by ourselves over the coming months. We’ll be aiming to put all of the new bikes through their paces and can’t wait to try out the Trek take on the 27.5 wheel size…