(Photos courtesy of Matt Conto)
After months of Trek denying working on a new downhill bike design, MBA got our hands on these spy photos at Plattekill Mountain in Roxbury, NY.
ABOUT THE BIKE
(Click On Photo To Make Larger)
We were surprised to see that Trek, after canning their old single-pivot design, continues to work around a single bearing and not go with some sort of linkage system. It seems that many frame makers are re-evaluating the merits of using a single pivot design. Don?t consider a this an out-dated design quite yet. Pivot bikes will benefit incredibly when the new crop of position sensitive rear shocks currently being tested on the race circuit hit the market. The ?ALLIS? looks like it will get around 8-9? through a three-inch Fox Shock. The high positioning of the pivot is designed to react more efficiently to sharp square edged hits and drops that require most of the rear travel. It will also be a very efficient pedaler. The downside to the placement of this pivot is that the suspension will stiffen under loads. Trek has taken care of this by creating an imaginary pivot by raising the path of the chain with a pully/guide system. This system fools the chain into reacting like the suspension had a pivot that’s much lower and actually off of the frame completely, which produces a very supple, active ride. Motorcycles have been using this set-up for years and Balfa (a small custom from the Canadian East) was the first bicycle company to apply this technology to downhill bikes.
One problem that Trek hasn?t addressed on this prototype frame is what the suspension will do under hard braking. Any single pivot bike will stiffen up, brake jack, when you slam on the rear brake. This can be solved if you figure a way to isolate the braking forces from the suspension via a floating brake system. Trek needs to get one of these on there before production to make this a World Cup quality descender.
They?ve put a lot of work into the construction of this frame. The downtube/headtube gusset of the front section and the smooth front section of the swingarm are a thing of beauty. It’s a very involved process to shape these monocoque sections. Expect to see the production mono section looking nearly the same as this early prototype bike. The extensive headtube and toptube/seatube gusseting add an extra measure of safety and durability to the design.
WHAT?S IT CALLED AND WHEN CAN I GET ONE?
Since Trek still barely admits that the bike exists, they sure won?t tell us much about it. The bike had ?EMF? and ?ALLIS? markered by hand in Sharpie on the rear gusset. Maybe ?ALLIS? will be the model name. That would continue the trend of using slick marketing acronyms to sell new bikes.
When Trek stopped producing their last downhill bike and quit fielding any sort of downhill effort, we honestly thought they gave up on the gravity scene. Downhill is growing at an amazing rate but needs the backing of the major production companies like Trek to take it to the next level. The average cyclist will never be able spend $6000 on a complete custom DH rig. Bigger companies can produce complete bikes at lower prices and pass those savings on to the customer. We?re already seeing companies try to sell complete bikes for $2000 to $2500 dollars retail and these are generally small companies. Imagine what a company like trek has the opportunity to do. In MBA’s best case scenario we?d like to see this bike come into production in three forms. The first is a frame kit, with the prices of DH equipment being so high many riders simply switch over last years parts to their new frame. This also give the consumer the chance to build up their ?dream bike? with a cost-no-object, ?it’s all going on the credit card anyway? attitude. The second version would be the ?pro issue? replica frame. It would cost around $4000 and have parts to make the bike competitive at any level. The third, final and most important way we?d like to see this bike sold is in an affordable ?price point? build that would retail for around $2500. The simple single pivot design lends itself to economy and Trek has it’s own line of Bontrager parts to further the fight towards a bike that the average rider might actually be able to afford. Right now it looks like Trek is on the right track with this design. Further rumors indicate that they also have a freeride version of this design being tested for production in the near future. It’s still too early to get any pricing or release dates but MBA will stay on top of the story.