Bike Test: Trek Slash 9
Get Ready to Slash Some Singletrack
The Trek Slash 9
Trek has improved their suspension technology by leaps and bounds over the years. Their commitment to excellence can be seen in their dedicated SoCal suspension R&D facility and their partnerships with world-class riders Rene Wildhaber, Ross Schnell and Aaron Gwin. When you’re building bikes for these guys, you’d better come to the table with something great or it’s back to the drawing board.
WHO IS IT MADE FOR?
The Slash is designed to fit in between the cross country and downhill segments that Trek refers to as Enduro riding. It’s the bike for the rider who craves the exhilaration of a long travel bike but doesn’t want to throw efficient pedaling out the window. Replacing the Scratch, which was designed for the abuses of bigger hits and bike park riding, the Slash is a more pedal-friendly platform that can still handle aggressive trail riding.
WHAT IS IT MADE FROM?
The Slash is made from Trek’s Alpha aluminum. It features the ABP (Active Braking Pivot) suspension design with a full-floater shock (the shock’s bottom mount attaches to the swingarm), tapered E2 head tube, internal shifter cable routing, Reverb Stealth adjustable-seatpost hose routing (internal), a one-piece alloy EVO Link rocker, Mino Link adjustable geometry, and 6.3- inches of travel front and rear.
WHICH COMPONENTS STAND OUT?
The Reverb Stealth adjustable-height seatpost with remote actuator and internally routed hose is exclusive to Trek and Scott bikes for 2012. It takes a feature that’s an obtrusive add-on with other bikes and makes it an advantage. The internally routed hose eliminates extra clutter and routing issues, and the ergonomics of the push-button lever make it impossible not to use.
HOW DOES IT PERFORM??
Moving out: The Slash has five cables coming off the handlebar, but thanks to perfectly executed internal routing, including the exclusive Reverb Stealth, the bike looks clean and trim. The Bontrager Rhythm Pro Carbon bar looks a little too much like a flat bar for this type of bike, but it is surprisingly comfortable.
Pedaling: The ABP suspension does a great job of isolating pedal feedback. Other 6-inch bikes might feel sluggish, but this bike feels svelte. The Truvativ double ring guide is absolutely silent and never dropped a chain during our testing.
Climbing: The DRCV RP3 shock features open, mid, and firm pedaling platform settings. The ProPedal lever is so easy to reach while riding that we could climb in the firm setting and quickly switch to the open mode for descending. The relatively steep seat-tube angles work well to place the rider over the pedals in a powerful climbing position. The SRAM X.0 2×10 drivetrain provides an adequate range for most any climb. Thanks to the 36-tooth cog on the cassette, we only used the 24-tooth chainring for the steepest and longest climbs.
DRCV, we love thee: The Fox RP3 DRCV shock is the result of a collaboration between Fox and Trek. Basically, the shock supports rider weight with a smaller air volume chamber, and a secondary, larger-volume chamber opens up to deliver a more linear spring curve on bigger hits. The technology combines the efficiency of a smaller air volume with the plush feeling of a large air volume. The suspension feels like a well tuned motocross bike’s, able to dive deeply into the travel on big hits and return to the sag point almost immediately. The Slash uses its 6 inches of travel very effectively.
Cornering: The Slash’s cornering is exactly what you would expect from a Megaavalanche inspired geometry. While the bike is stable at speed, the front end doesn’t shy away from quick direction changes or slow, technical terrain. We’re impressed with the harmony between the suspension and geometry on the Slash. Lean it over for a snap turn and the suspension feels like it propels you forward. This bike helps you find your A-game when slashing through berms and corners.
Descending: This bike is a blast to point downhill. The suspension is extremely active, even on small, chattery bumps. It also delivers a very connected-to-the trail feeling that overly plush bikes don’t. Rather than feeling Velcroed to the trail, this bike encourages you to flick it off every feature. The Reverb Stealth adjustable-height seatpost is amazing because it is so intuitive. Wrecking crewers found themselves instinctively reaching for the lever, even on short descents. It made a big difference on everything from flowy downhill trails to steep chutes. We didn’t experience any of the durability issues we’ve encountered with other height-adjustable posts, but the true test will be how this post performs a year from now.
Braking: Active Braking Pivot had better deliver. It’s in the name. ABP is designed to eliminate brake jack. We love ABP. Our X.0 brakes performed well, but had a few quirks. The brakes make a shrill chirping noise when first engaged. They also have a soft lever feel compared to other brakes. Some will appreciate the modulation, but we typically prefer a more positive feel.
TRICKS, UPGRADES OR TIPS?
The DRCV shock works so well that we would love to see the technology used in the air-sprung fork as well. Fox has an exclusive 32-millimeter DRCV fork for Trek’s Remedy. We can only hope the 36-millimeter version is coming down the pike. The Slash’s Bontrager components are nearly perfect. The handlebar is spot on; the tires are excellent, and the titanium-railed saddle is one of our new favorites. The stem, however, looks inexpensive and not at home on this nearly $6000 bike. The factory-installed chainstay protector does not protect the underside of the chainstay yoke nor the inside of the seat stay. We installed protectors here to guard the finish and keep the drivetrain quiet on chattery terrain.
This is the best aggressive trailbike we’ve ridden to date. It’s an above-average climber for its 6 inches of travel, but truly shines when the terrain gets nasty. For the technical singletrack we regularly test on here in SoCal, this is our new go-to bike and sets the standard by which other 6-inch-travel bikes will be measured. If your riding requires a long-travel trail bike, this should be your weapon of choice.
Reprinted from our March 2012 issue. Like us on Facebook