Trek Bikes Slash 9 27.5  2014 Mountain Bike Review

Trek Bikes Slash 9 27.5 2014

Reviews / Enduro Bikes

Trek Bikes 1,418,845

At A Glance

The Trek Slash has been in the line up for a few years now; billed as an all-mountain slayer it boasts 160mm of suspension front and rear. This year the bike has been completely redesigned around the 27.5 wheel program. Despite the larger wheels the bike is lower than its predecessor and also a little longer this year. The frame has been tweaked and the linkage adjusted accordingly.

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There are three models in the Slash range, the top end 9 that we have here which is very good value for money when you look at the components on offer, and the Slash 8 and 7 which offer equally impressive spec for their price.

Tech Heads

The bike is built around an Alpha Platinum Aluminium frame which offers the best strength-to-weight ratio in the Trek frame range, in short it’s about as good as aluminium gets. An E2 tapered head tube and press fit BB feature alongside internal cable routing for the drivetrain and the seat post. There are also ISCG 05 mounts and downtube armour to protect the frame from flying rocks.

The suspension platform is the tried and tested Full Floater system from Trek with ABP Convert set up to ensure it still works under braking. The EVO link is made from magnesium to save on weight and the set up offers 160mm of travel. Geometry can be tuned via the Mino Link which gives .6 of a degree adjustment on the head angle and moves the BB height by .8cm.

Suspension is catered for with a Fox Factory Series 34 Talas w/CTD, adjustable FIT damper, rebound, Kashima coating, 15QR through-axle and adjustable 130/160mm of travel.

The rear end features a Fox Performance Series Float w/DRCV, CTD damper, rebound and is custom tuned by Trek in California. DRCV stand for Dual Rate Control Valve and essentially the shock has two chambers, the second of which only opens and comes into play after 50% of the travel is used. You get excellent small bump sensitivity, whilst still having big hit control too.

In terms of the drive train it is an all SRAM affair featuring the new 1x11 X0 set-up with an 11-speed XO rear shifter, SRAM XO X-Horizon Carbon Type 2 11-speed rear derailleur. A SRAM X1 32t Crank compliments the SRAM XG-1195 10-42 11 speed cassette.

Brakes are again XO from SRAM with a 180mm rotor up front and a 160mm rotor on the rear.

A Bontrager Evoke 3 saddle with titanium rails sits on top of a RockShox Reverb Stealth 31.6mm dropper seatpost. Handlebars are Bontrager Rhythm Pro Carbon 31.8mm with 15mm rise held in place with a Bontrager Rhythm Pro 31.8mm 0 degree 7cm stem.

Wheels are Bontrager as you would expect and the Rhythm Comp Tubeless Ready with Stacked Lacing 27.5 feature with a 15mm front hub and 142x12mm rear hub. Tyres are Bontrager XR4 Team issue tubeless ready aramid bead 27.5x2.35”.

Trek Slash 9

Low 18.5 High 18.5
Seat tube 445mm 445mm
Effective top tube 600mm 598mm
Head tube 100mm 100mm
Chain stay 435mm 433mm
Wheel base 1192mm 1190mm
BB height 350mm 358mm
Head angle 65.0° 65.6°
Seat angle (effective) 66.5° 67.1°
Reach 440mm 447mm
Stack 581mm 576mm

Weight w/o pedals 28.7lbs

On The Trail

The new Slash is longer than the previous bike, you’ll definitely want to swing a leg over it before you buy one, I found I was much more comfortable on the 18.5 frame which was a size up on the bike I rode last year. I normally enjoy a small compact cockpit and even with the stock 6cm stem the new bike didn’t make me feel overly stretched.

It’s a light bike, when you consider there is no carbon on the frame, and the burliness of the 160mm travel it’s pretty impressive that it comes in well under the 30lb mark, right off the shelf. Trek have done well with the spec in terms of keeping the weight down. Imagine the possibilities with some carbon rims…

We’ve had a few enduro/all-mountain bikes on test this issue, and without a doubt it is the hot category for the year. The Slash is one of the few models boasting an aluminium frame; a lot of the manufacturers are looking to carbon in this class. At this point I would have normally said the aluminium frame saves you some money, but the Remedy 9.8, the top spec bike in that range, has a carbon frame and is the same price. Admittedly the spec is a lot lower but you have to wonder when they will launch a carbon version of the Slash. Especially with the competition out there, of course compared to some of the prices of the other bikes in the test, the Slash 9, with this spec, is positively good value for money.

Anyway enough with the car park speculation and banter, how does this new bike ride… Heading up the hill first, the initial stroke of the suspension is very plush. It’s strange, as you don’t feel like you are losing pedal efficiency, but when you look down at the frame you can see the suspension working away. Flick the DRCV shock out of Descent mode though and the frame immediately stiffens up and feels much firmer. If you want the ultimate in traction then having the shock wide open on tricky terrain works well as you don’t really lose forward pedalling efficiency despite the suspension compression in that initial stroke. Move the dial to Climb mode and the whole bike tightens right up for excellent power delivery on tarmac transitions and smooth fire road climbs.

The weight of the bike is also a positive factor when climbing, the bike is lively and spritely and we didn’t feel like we were being held back at all. Having the ability to drop the fork to 130mm travel is a real bonus too, and the CTD controls on the front fork can also be deployed to ensure you can get it up a mountain pass quicker than an old bloke on Viagra.

Heading into more entertaining terrain the bike accelerates quickly to speed and the improved rolling resistance with the bigger wheels is certainly noticeable. The small bump sensitivity is sublime and the rear end tracks the trail beautifully. Over really rough and rocky terrain you can keep the speed up and just point the front end and the rest will follow. Heading round the corners the Slash feels planted and comfortable. Initial skittishness was remedied with a drop in tyre pressure on the rear and the grip came back in abundance.

The slack angles inspire confidence when it gets steep and the bike eats up the terrain with relish, the rougher it gets the more capable you realise the Slash 9 is. Jumping is fun and despite the larger wheel size the bike feels nimble in the air, no doubt helped by the svelte waistline. The long wheelbase gives the bike real stability at high speed and it feels surefooted at all times, inspiring plenty of confidence to push faster and ride harder.

Overall I think the 27.5 platform really adds to the Slash this year, it certainly feels like a much smoother and more planted ride. At high speed the wheels keep on rolling and the front end remains stiff and controllable.

For

Exceedingly well spec’d enduro machine at a great price; the lower end models offer good value for money too with the same frame. Great small bump sensitivity and plush feel throughout the suspension stroke. Both up and down hills this bike is a force to be reckoned with!

Against

A carbon version surely has to come soon, whilst we don’t feel the bike lacks anything as the aluminium frame is really well made, there are customers in this class looking for that extra something. The extra stiffness and weight savings would surely only add to an already excellent bike.

Overall

We’ve loved the Slash for a while now, if you want one bike that can handle a few weeks in the Alps, keep up with the best on the race scene and handle an all day XC loop around your local area then the Slash is it. The 27.5 version this year really brings some added value whilst not sacrificing the playful nature of this bike. It will handle anything you throw at it, and be able to scamper back to the top of the mountain to do it all again!

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This review was in Issue 27 of IMB.

For more information visit Trek Bikes

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By Rou Chater
Rou Chater is the Publishing Editor of IMB Magazine; he’s a jack-of-all-trades and master of none, but his passion for bikes knows no bounds. His first mountain bike was a Trek 820, which he bought in 1990. It didn’t take him long to earn himself a trip to the hospital on it, and he’s never looked back since. These days he’s keeping it rubber side down, riding locally and overseas as much as possible.

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