Trek Bikes Lush Carbon 27.5  2015 Mountain Bike Review

Trek Bikes Lush Carbon 27.5 2015

Reviews / Trail Bikes

Trek Bikes 1,434,564

At A Glance

The Lush Carbon is the crème de la crème of Trek’s women’s range. The Lush series has no less than four models, each with a slightly different build package and price tag, yet the overall Women’s Specific Design, attention to detail and technology carries throughout the range.

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You can tell the minute you take the Lush Carbon out of the box that it means business, and not just any business, this is business with a Savile Row tailored suit, Cartier cuff links and a silk tie. (That’s not to say it’s geared up for a man, just that it has that kind of refined sex appeal.) The matt and gloss black combo, with lime green detailing is subtly eye-catching, and wants to party (without shouting about it too much).

As you would expect with the Lush Carbon being the queen of the crop (pun intended), it is specced with an impressive array of components; SRAM takes care of the drivetrain duties with the X1 set-up, whilst Shimano Deore XT handles the braking and Fox has the suspension covered with an Evolution Series 32 Float up front and Performance Series Float at the rear.

It’s worth mentioning at this point that the rear shock includes the all-important RE:aktiv suspension, having been tuned by Trek in California and developed in connection with Penske Racing Shocks to give regressive damping technology that’s used in motor racing; working when it needs to, but staying firm and providing efficient pedalling when not. Each RE:aktiv shock has been tuned specifically for the bike series it’s intended for, and to work with the weights and styles of riders in that category, in this case females (typically lighter weight etc).

The rest of the kit is a mainly Bontrager affair, apart from the RockShox Reverb dropper seatpost. It’s clear that nothing on this bike has been left without thought and it truly is a gleaming, high-end machine, begging to be admired…and also ridden!

Trek having been doing a grand job over the years of pushing the women’s side of cycling in general, and have followed through with this focus and passion by creating women’s specific bikes that really have been designed from the ground up, not just by colouring them in differently. The frame geometry gives a shorter standover, and the angles and tube lengths distribute the weight more evenly between the wheels.

All this is geared up for the slightly different build, weight and reach that women have. It’s easy to assume sometimes, that women’s mountain bikes either haven’t had that much thought, or are just a cheaper (maybe dumbed down) version of one of the men’s models, yet these days a lot more thought has been going into women’s bikes and that fallacy is diminishing rapidly. The Lush Carbon certainly puts that notion to bed in a heartbeat.

On The Trail

Now, as often happens when a good-looking bike arrives to test, particularly one that’s been specifically geared up for us ladies, I got this one out of the box, and after a quick set-up and minor adjustments, headed straight out on the trail without too much further inspection. It might come across dis-interested in the spec, but it’s sometimes a good way to fully appreciate a bike without any preconceived ideas about how it might perform.

In this instance it truly showed just what a superb creation the Lush is. With only 120mm of travel you could easily be forgiven the misconception that this is a tame pony, aimed at the cross-country side of riding - and indeed on the Trek website the Lush series is listed under both Cross Country, and Trail Bike sections. The key there is the listing under Trail Bike, and the absolute disbelief we had after the first ride that on closer inspection realising it is, in fact, only 120mm - incredible!

When riding the Lush it certainly doesn’t feel anything like a short travel cross-country rig (until of course you get to the climbs when the CTD suspension comes into its own and the SRAM X1 has you wondering why you ever needed three cogs in the past), its geometry, technology and excellent build really do inspire confidence and have you riding trails faster, smoother, and somehow feeling more balanced than even before. One of the main nods towards its cross-country affiliation is the slightly narrower handlebars. We swapped these after one ride for a wider pair which gave a far more controlled and planted ride up front, more in keeping with the trail riding the Lush encourages you into.

The RE:aktiv shock works wonders at smoothing out the rough stuff without losing any energy through the bike or overly sucking up the speed. Ridden a lot of the time in Trail mode it just got on with the job in hand whilst you could concentrate on what lay ahead and enjoy the ride. This smoothness and ease of pedalling is of course aided by the 27.5 wheelsize – new to the Lush this year, and a very welcome addition.

We found the handling on the Lush Carbon to be excellent, nipping round various trails, eating up singletrack and weaving through woodland, it seemed happy going up, down and around everything we pointed it at.

I must admit I’m not a fan of climbing, and I’ll often just slip into the granny and day dream my way to the top at my own pace, much to the annoyance of the boys! With the 11 speed set up on the Lush, however, there is no granny ring option - although the gearing ratio gets reasonably close. Aided by the lighter frame weight and the excellent pedalling efficiency I found myself not only climbing much faster and, dare I say it, enjoying it, but I also wasn’t far off the boys when I reached the top!

I think what amazed us the most though was how well this bike handled when the gradient got steeper and more technical going downhill. It really didn’t bat an eyelid, and had a devilish determination to attack and conquer, which seemed to permeate into the rider.

Overall

The queen in the Lush castle, this carbon model really does hold her crown well. Lively, ridiculously refined, with a top-spec accessories list all set on a gleaming, lightweight yet strong frame that really does surpass itself by its ability. The handlebars are probably the only area we’d change for more trail-orientated riding and front end handling, however that’s personal preference and feel of course. If you want to splash out and ensure you’ve got one of the best women’s trail bikes on offer, that will have you enjoying all the singletrack you can throw at it then you certainly won’t be disappointed.

The Lush Carbon is rather like that friend at school who was studious, ‘sensible’, and had your parents seal of approval, yet somehow always managed to get you into trouble by having too much fun…

Specifications and Geometry

Frame: WSD OCLV Mountain Carbon main frame & seatstay, alloy chainstay, Carbon Armor, ABP Convert, Full Floater, E2 tapered head tube, BB95, ISCG mount, magnesium EVO link, internal derailleur & dropper post routing, 120mm travel
Front suspension: Fox Evolution Series 32 Float, CTD (climb-trail-descend) damper, rebound, E2 tapered steerer, 15QR, 120mm travel
Rear suspension: Fox Performance Series Float, DRCV, RE:aktiv, CTD (climb-trail-descend) damper, rebound, tuned by Trek in California, 6.75x1.75"
Sizes: 14, 15.5, 17, 18.5"
Wheels: Bontrager Rhythm Comp Tubeless Ready w/TLR strips, Stacked Lacing, 142x12 rear, 15mm front
Tires: Bontrager XR3 Expert, Tubeless Ready, aramid bead, 27.5x2.35" front, 27.5x2.20" rear
Shifters: SRAM X1, 11 speed
Rear derailleur: SRAM X1, Type 2
Crank: SRAM X1 1400 X-Sync, 32T
Cassette: SRAM XG-1180, 10-42, 11 speed
Chain: SRAM PC-1130
Saddle: Bontrager Evoke 2 WSD, chromoly rails
Seatpost: RockShox Reverb Stealth, 2-bolt head, 31.6mm, zero offset
Handlebar: Bontrager Race Lite Riser, 31.8mm, 15mm rise
Stem: Bontrager Race Lite, 31.8mm, 7 degree
Headset: FSA IS-2, E2, alloy cartridge
Brakeset: Shimano Deore XT hydraulic disc
Grips: ESI Racers Edge

Trek Lush Carbon Medium/17”(16.5”Actual)

Seat tube 406mm
Top Tube 580mm
Head tube 105mm
Chain stay 433mm
Wheelbase 1121mm
BB Drop 15mm
Head angle 68°
Seat angle 74°
Reach 417mm

Weight w/o pedals 26lbs

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This review was in Issue 36 of IMB.

For more information visit Trek Bikes

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By Mary Booth
Mary Booth has been a keen mountain biker for decades; she grew up on the Purbecks in the South West of England and has spent thousands of hours on the trails in that area. She moved to the South East to work in the IMB office and regularly gets out to the Alps and the Surrey Hills where she loves to ride the more technical trails…

Tried this? What did you think?