It took a few years for all-mountain cross-country bikes to come into their own. Originally, when longish-travel cross-country bikes rolled onto the scene, they were a compromise between climbing and descending prowess. Today, thanks to lightweight frame materials, tubeless wheels, new gearing combinations and air-sprung suspension, they’re nearly the best of both worlds.
Trek has two lines of bikes that can be categorized as all-mountain: the Remedy and the Scratch Air. The Remedy line is rooted in Trek’s cross-country family, while the Scratch bike’s pedigree doesn’t fall far from the Session downhill rig family tree.
There are six bikes in the Remedy line, ranging from the $2729 Remedy 7 to the premium $8399 Remedy 9.9. Our Remedy 9.8 test bike shares the same carbon frame as the 9.9, but the price is more down-to-earth at $5249.
WHO IS IT MADE FOR?
The term “trail rider” really just means mountain biker, and this bike is made for mountain bikers who enjoy pushing themselves to become better bike handlers on each ride. The Remedy 9.8 is designed to climb like a pure cross-country machine, yet provide extra travel for descending confidence.
WHAT IS IT MADE FROM?
The Remedy 9.8 is packed with hidden features. The foundation is a carbon fiber frame that is handmade in Trek’s Waterloo, Wisconsin, factory. With 6 inches of front and rear travel, the Remedy utilizes Trek’s ABP (Active Braking Pivot) Convert, which makes the 142×12-millimeter rear axle the rear pivot. The ABP suspension system has a Full Floater shock mount that attaches the shock to two moving linkage points to increase the shock’s ability to respond to bumps. The unique dual-chamber Fox DRCV shock was designed to perform efficiently under pedaling, yet have superb performance on large impacts.
The carbon frame features Trek’s Carbon Armor downtube protection, and both the chainstays and seat stays are made from carbon. The Remedy 9.8 is available in five frame sizes.
WHICH COMPONENTS STAND OUT?
Trek works closely with Fox Racing Shox for front and rear custom-tuned suspension. The DRCV shock is a creation you’ll only find on Trek bikes, and it offers a unique high-performance ride quality. The Fox 32 fork has TALAS adjustable travel between 4.7 and 6 inches, a 15-millimeter axle and a preset low-speed compression setting tuned into the design. New to the Remedy this year are the DT Swiss M 1800 wheels and XR4 Team 2.3-inch-wide tires. The Crankbrothers Joplin dropper seatpost is a welcome sight on a bike designed for shredding technical terrain.
Plush ride: The carbon fiber Trek Remedy 9.8 has 6 inches of front and rear travel. With oversized thru-axles on both the Fox TALAS fork and 142×12-millimeter rear hub spacing, the Remedy holds a line in technical terrain.
HOW DOES IT PERFORM?
Ergonomics: To reach proper pedaling position (knees over toes) in the saddle, we slammed the Bontrager saddle all the way forward. We were struck by the narrow 26-inch-wide handlebar on a bike with 6 inches of travel, especially after recently reviewing the 4.7-inch-travel Trek Fuel EX 9.7, which had perfectly spec’ed 27.5-inch-wide bars.
Suspension is your friend, as long as you set it up properly. Use the included clip-on fork and shock sag measuring device to get your ride dialed.
Pedaling: For as well as Trek’s ABP suspension performs, it relies heavily on the low-speed compression damping of Fox’s ProPedal shock feature to prevent the suspension from “bobbing” under pedaling forces. On moderately technical flat terrain, we’d swap between running the shock open and in the second of the three ProPedal settings. On fire road sections, the ProPedal feature is helpful if you’re heading uphill. With Shimano’s 3×10 XT drivetrain, you’re bound to find a gear ratio ideal for your fitness level; although most riders will still spend the majority of their time in the middle chainring.
Climbing: For a 6-inch-travel rig, the Remedy is an uphill charger. Climbing with the Remedy’s ProPedal feature on makes a big difference in how efficiently the bike climbs on smooth terrain. Like most regions in the U.S., our trails range from fire road climbs to loose, rocky and technical uphill grunts. When the terrain features become punishing, it’s a good time to run the DRCV shock wide open for a plusher ride and improved traction.
The new Bontrager XR4 tires have tank-tread-like grip on steep and loose terrain. We never had to worry about the rear end breaking free during all-or-nothing surges. We were able to crest the harshest of climbs in the 32-tooth middle chainring and 36-tooth rear cog. On meandering uphill fire roads, our best results came from utilizing the 42-tooth big ring with the wide range of rear cassette options, with cross-chaining no longer an issue. Only on extremely cruel uphills did we drop into our granny gear safety net.
Although the Fox fork has a TALAS travel adjust feature, we preferred climbing with the fork at full extension. Simply leaning forward muted any slight front-end wandering.
Cornering: With geometry that leans ever so slightly towards the traditional trailbike end of the spectrum, the Remedy makes easy work of tight switchback corners. The Remedy is one of the most balanced bikes we’ve ridden when slamming corners at speed. A rider can drive the bottom bracket, figuratively, into a harsh rut or terrain feature to change direction at the apex of a corner, and the Remedy quickly stands to attention, exiting in the desired line choice.
Braking: Of course, it’s always best to brake early and ride out the terrain off the brakes when possible. But if you’re actively pursuing terrain worthy of all 6 of the Remedy’s inches of travel, that technique is not always possible. Trek’s ABP suspension does a standout job keeping the bike’s suspension balanced while you are on the binders on steep and rough terrain. Every time we ride Avid’s X0 brakes, we’re blown away by how consistent the feel is. They’re light enough for a cross-country bike but powerful enough for a downhill machine. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Descending: With aggressive tires, 6 inches of active suspension, and front and rear thru-axles, the Remedy 9.8 is a taut package that holds a line on demanding terrain. The ups and downs of Crankbrothers’ Joplin posts have been well documented in MBA. The Joplin 4 on the Remedy worked well, and, unlike previous samples, remained reliable. However, the posts’ side-to-side wobble was apparent from the first ride.
Chain retention is a major issue with full-suspension bikes, especially on longer-travel renditions. We dropped chains descending aboard the recently reviewed Giant Reign 0 and this Remedy 9.8. The best solution we’ve ridden was a 2×10 setup utilizing a shift guide. The jury may be out on which gearing option is best for most people (2×10 or 3×10), but when it comes to chain retention, the answer is obvious.
Looking good: The Remedy 9.8 features a Crankbrothers Joplin 4 dropper seatpost, Trek’s ABP suspension and Fox DRCV shock, as well as custom gold Avid X0 hydraulic disc brakes.
TRICKS, UPGRADES OR TIPS?
The Bontrager XR4 tires may have a tank-tread-like grip for climbing, but they roll about as efficiently as a tank tread, too. If your conditions are largely loose-over-hardpack terrain, we suggest swapping the rear tire with Bontrager’s new XR2 tire for faster-rolling rubber that still has bite.
The Remedy’s narrow 26-inch-wide handlebar makes the front end twitchy when descending at speed. If this Remedy were to call our garage home, we’d run Answer’s 28-inch Pro Taper Carbon bar instead.
Trek’s Remedy is a perfect example of a 6-inch-travel bike that is drawing more cross-country riders away from their short-travel machines. It climbs remarkably well, is lightweight for the amount of travel, and descends with nearly error-proof handling. Our current test stable includes cross-country bikes ranging in travel from 3.9 inches to 6 inches, and for nearly every ride we find ourselves reaching for the Remedy 9.8.
TREK?REMEDY 9.8 SPECS:
Country of origin
Bottom bracket height
Top tube length
Head tube angle
Seat tube angle
Fox 32 TALAS FIT RL
Fox RP23 DRCV
DT Swiss M 1800 (26″)
Bontrager XR4 Expert
DT Swiss M 1800
Bontrager Race X Lite (26″ wide)
Shimano XT (42/32/24)
Shimano XT 10-cog (11-36)
26 feet (per crank revolution)
4.5 feet (per crank revolution)
None (weighed w/ Shimano XTR)