First Look: Trek’s 2015 Mountain Bikes
Last week at an event near Brevard, North Carolina, Trek Bicycles unveiled new components designed to enhance the ride and feel of its Fuel EX and Remedy platforms. The company also announced some new and updated bike models. Here’s a quick rundown, followed by some additional details and ride impressions:
• The Fuel EX full-suspension trail bike line sees two new 27.5-inch offerings in carbon and three in aluminum. Prices start at $2,630 for the aluminum models and $5,250 for carbon. The bikes are on their way to shops now.
• The women’s Lush full-suspension line goes from three models to four, and moves from 29-inch wheels to 27.5.
• The Remedy 29 will also be offered in carbon for 2015, with availability TBD.
First Ride: Re:aktiv and Fuel EX 27.5
Trek partnered with Penske Racing shocks to improve the dampers found in the Dual Rate Control Valve (DRCV) shocks found on its Fuel, Lush, and Remedy bikes. Penske Racing has a long history building shocks for some of the most demanding motorsports, including F1, NASCAR, and World Touring car racing as well as other disciplines such as ATV and motocross.
The new technology is dubbed Re:aktiv. At the heart of the system is a new damper stack that allows faster low-speed-compression reaction time while providing a firmer platform for pedaling. The new shocks will retain the DRCV air spring, and will continue to be produced by Fox Racing Shocks. The DRCV shock has two air chambers. On smaller bumps or smooth terrain, the shock uses only the primary chamber. Larger hits that force the shock shaft to travel halfway through its stroke open an auxiliary chamber that increases the overall air volume. Trek claims the DRCV offers the lively feel of a shock with a smaller air spring, but provides the plush bump absorption of a larger air spring. Combining that technology with a firmer platform to pedal against, it says, will result in a bike that will perform just as well whether you’re pedaling over rough terrain or letting the suspension (and gravity) do the work on a descent.
Jose Gonzalez, Trek’s director of suspension design, explained that the new damper optimizes the suspension by keeping the shock at the sag point (previous-generation shocks tended to sit closer to the mid-point of the stroke). The benefits of this are twofold: It holds the bike closer to the true geometry of each model and allows the damper to react quicker and return to its optimum position sooner. As a result, the bikes pedal more crisply in all three shock modes, Climb, Trail, and Descend.
Trek also linked up with Push industries to supply air volume reducers for its DRCV shocks and forks. The parts are available directly from Push and allow riders to tune the suspension to their liking by altering the factory air spring rate. These small spacers are available in multiple sizes so you can make incremental changes in a fork’s or shock’s air spring rate.
I tested the design on the new 27.5-inch carbon Fuel EX 9.8, a 120mm travel bike perfect for the hills and hollers of the DuPont State Forest. Compared to the previous non-Re:aktiv equipped machines, the bike did sit higher in the travel without resorting to higher air pressure and/or an air-volume reducer. The Climb mode, which was previously useful only for long, smooth ascents, became a viable setting for anything from pavement-smooth trail to smaller bumps and rougher patches of track. Set in Trail mode the shock provided crisp, efficient pedaling, remaining firm when I stood to jet up over small rises or during sustained seated climbs. Yet it still ate up the bumps when the terrain became stuttery and coarse. I spent the bulk of my time in Trail mode, resorting to the fully open Descend mode only at the highest speeds on the chunkiest terrain.
Re:aktiv will be available on Trek’s 9-series bikes this year. Lower-end models could get the new damper as early as 2015.
New Remedy 29 Carbon with Boost 148
The Remedy 29 gets a makeover for next year with the addition of carbon-frame offerings. Most of the bike remains unchanged, with geometry and spec carrying over from the current models. The biggest change is at the tail of the bike, with the introduction of Boost 148. Trek increased stiffness laterally in the wheels by partnering with SRAM to offer a hub that is 6mm wider at the axle ends and pushes the hub flanges out by 3mm each. Trek claims this will create better triangulation and even out spoke tension, and that the 29-inch wheels will ride closer in stiffness to their smaller counterparts. The Boost 148 design adds clearance to the frame for tires as large as 2.3 inches, while also keeping chainstays short and chainline in check for proper shifting performance. For riders using a single-ring drivetrain—the system will work with a double setup too—SRAM developed a spider that keeps the centerline of the ring in proper alignment with the cassette so shifting performance is unaffected. Trek and SRAM designated the system as “open source,” so the design is available to any manufacturer.