We here at OTE are lucky to get to ride any number of the coolest bikes in the world. Our demo fleet reads like most people's mountain bike bucket list. As much as I love new bikes I don't get quite as giddy as I used to. It's a rough life having to deal with nothing but high end bikes all day long. However, when my Trek rep rolled the still unavailable Trek Slash 9 into the shop I got seriously excited.
Here's what I got to ride for a day: 2014 pre-production Trek Slash 9, 650B/27.5" wheels, 160mm of travel, Rock Shox Reverb post, and an XX1 single ring build kit. (production will be XO1) I put on my high wide bars and an Enve front wheel with my personal Maxxis Highroller II tire and went out for a test ride on Horse Thief Bench.
Now I've measured the circumference of my big fat 2.4" 26" tires against most of the 650B tires currently being offered. The difference seems laughable. However, after about two minutes on the bike, as I climbed up the ledges of Mary's Loop, I began to notice that it took less effort. It wasn't like a 29er that takes almost no effort to get up ledges, but it was indeed easier than my 26" bike which has HUGE tires. The cool thing is that it did not have the 29er downsides, like less then playful handling. All the marketing hype aside, there seems to be something to this "tweener" wheel thing.
I have a much different way of testing bikes then most magazines, or even most people. For me, the critical performance of a bike must be that it is FUN! I've ridden fast bikes, light bikes, heavy bikes, and crappy bikes. Even some of the crappy bikes I've ridden were more fun then the ultra light weight bikes I've ridden. My point is, if a bike isn't fun I won't own it for long.
I get asked a lot what bike I ride. Almost without exception people are surprised by my answer. I ride a Trek, despite having the opportunity to ride pretty much any other brand that I might want. I've been on Trek bicycles since 2008 when they adopted their ABP suspension design. I personally think it's the best suspension platform made for my style of riding.
Another big question I get asked all day long is which of the three wheel sizes is better. My standard answer for that question is that it depends on the type of rider that you are. If you like to stay close to the ground, roll over everything and carry momentum a 29er is the obvious choice. My style is the polar opposite of that. I like to go really fast downhill, I like to fly through the air over rocks, I am very comfortable with my rear wheel sliding at a high rate of speed. I like that feeling I get when I'm about to crash! I do like to climb if the trail is technical and scaling big uphill ledges is my definition of "fun climbing." Reading my own description of my-self I sound like every downhiller I've ever met, but I'm different in that I don't shy away from long all day rides on the same bike I like to shred downhill on.
With the above description of my riding style in mind I was very impressed with the 2014 Trek Slash. I think it's better then my 26" Remedy and just enough more playful then a 29er that I still won't be making the move very soon to big wheels. The new Slash allowed me to ride the ragged edge that I crave when riding a mountain bike. For me, I think it's my new favorite bike.
Trek will also be making the new Remedy a 27.5" wheeled bike this year. It will have slightly less travel then the Slash, but will retain most of the same characteristics that I experienced on this bike. Over The Edge will be demoing the carbon version of the Remedy 27.5" bike in the coming year and we already are demoing the 29er version. If you want to try out these new offerings we're your place. Come try them on the trails they were designed for.
Remember folks, riding bikes is FUN! ON YER BIKE!