HOW DOES IT PERFORM?
Moving out: The Stache’s simplicity shines during setup.
Set the saddle position, sag and rebound on the fork and
you’re basically ready to hit the trail. Its short chainstays put
your weight over the rear wheel, though the position is far
from a stretched-out, cross-country style. The wide Bontrager
handlebar and short stem combo is perfectly spec’d for control
with the big wheels and trail geometry.
Cornering: Big wheels usually offer solid traction through
sweeping turns but can falter in hairpin switchbacks. Trek’s
G2 geometry takes care of this. The G2 geometry seems to
position the rider’s weight perfectly for keeping the front end
feeling light and lively while still offering plenty of bite.
Climbing: The Stache has trailbike chops but still benefits
from its hardtail chassis when it comes to climbing. You get
out what you put in on the climbs, and out-of-the-saddle efforts are rewarded with quick acceleration. While
the frame is stiff, the large, 2.3-inch Bontrager tires absorb trail chatter and small rocks, making seated climbing surprisingly comfortable.
The geometry strikes a balance that is
especially noticeable when climbing the steepest trails, as the front end is easy to
keep tracking on the trail rather than
wandering around like on some more
Descending: The Stache is one confident hardtail when it comes to descending. The geometry is stable at speed, and the
frame’s burly construction had us pushing the Stache hard without feeling like it was close
to its limit. While it is most at home on flowing singletrack, we piloted it down numerous rock-littered, all-mountain trails. We just had to pick our lines more
carefully and slow down from our 6-inch-bike pace through
the rougher rock sections.
While the 17.5-inch rear stays keep the rear wheel tucked in
tightly, the 29-inch wheels make the wheelbase feel long.
Picking up the front wheel over obstacles or manualing through
rollers takes a bit of work, even with a lowered seatpost.
Braking: The SLX brakes may be Trek’s third-tier option
for trailbikes, but they offer lever feel, modulation and power
that is incredibly similar to their more expensive XT and XTR
cousins. It is safe to say that if we were building a bike with
our own hard-earned dollars, the SLX stoppers would be on
our short list.
TRICKS, UPGRADES OR TIPS?
First things first: The Bontrager Duster wheels and 29x3
tires are both tubeless-ready, so you’ll want to yank those tubes
out and immediately gain some traction via the additional
suppleness of the tires.
The Stache 8 may not come with a dropper seatpost, but
with multiple routing options available on the frame, Trek
might as well stick a label on the top tube that reads: “For best
results, install a dropper post immediately.” The absence of an
adjustable post certainly keeps the bike’s price more attractive,
but you’ll be doing yourself a serious favor by investing in a
RockShox Reverb Stealth seatpost.