The frame quality is standout
Without any branding it would be easy to recognise the Trek Roscoe 9 as a product of the Trek stable. Signature E2 tapered head tube is a give away.
Even though this is an aluminium frame, the head tube still has the stepped profile found on Trek’s high-end carbon full suspension bikes.
Trek Roscoe 9 review
All in, the Roscoe frame is a class act. It comes in seven unique sizes, covering the tallest and shortest riders. And even though the 2.8in tyres provide a massive increase in comfort, Trek has still engineered some compliance into the frame with its slender stays. An added bonus of the bridgeless design is that the back end on the Roscoe isn’t a mud-magnet, even with that big 2.8in tyre.
Trek pioneered the Boost standard. It was originally developed to improve the strength and lateral stiffness of 29in wheels, but an additional benefit of the 6mm wider dropout spacing is that it also increased tyre clearance, paving the way for Plus bikes.
The Roscoe frame doesn’t have the original 148x12mm Boost dropouts though. Instead, it uses a quick release 141mm version. It’s still 6mm wider than the old 135mm QR standard, so you get most of the benefits without the additional cost of the bolt-thru hub.
And, given that hardtails don’t have suspension pivots and links than need shoring up, the only real downside of the QR version is that the rear wheel isn’t held as securely in the frame. Oh, and not being able to swap in wheels that use the more common 148mm Boost standard.
The chromed steel upper tubes on the RockShox Recon fork are hard wearing and the surface finish is super smooth, so even though they add weight, they do not detract for the ride quality in any way.
Granted, the Recon’s 32mm chassis can’t rival the stiffness and steering precision of the 35mm Suntour fork on the Merida Big Trail 500 or new Revelation on the Sonder Transmitter, but it’s still a really sensitive fork and very effective at ironing out small to medium size hits. And, just like the Recon on the Norco Fluid 1 HT, the range of rebound adjustment is more useable for lighter riders.
By swapping the Performance compound Schwalbe Rocket Ron tyres for our 3C Maxxis Rekon control tyres we gave the Trek a massive leg up in this test. Schwalbe’s cheapest rubber is hard like plastic, so it lacks grip and the paper-thin sidewalls offer very little in the way of pinch flat protection.
Trek has upped the stakes a little with a Shimano XT rear mech though, and while it brings bragging rights, it’s actually the shifter that makes the biggest difference to gear selection. The SLX unit on the Trek is better than Shimano’s higher end shifters as the single shift function feel’s much more positive than the multi-release design. It’s great too that you can adjust the position of the shifter pod independently of the handlebar clamp, for fine-tuning its position.
With the steepest head angle, longest stem and fastest rolling tyres, it’s fair to say that the Trek Roscoe 9 is the most XC focused bike in this test. That’s not to say it isn’t capable though, it just has a more forward riding position that the other bikes here. As such it’s rapid on the climbs and can easily keep up on fast, flowing trails.
Where the Roscoe comes unstuck, is on stepper, more technical descents. And it’s not really the stem lengths or geometry that is it’s undoing, it’s more the tyres and the lack of length in the frame. With a 438mm reach measurement it’s easily the shortest bike here, and combined with the longer rear end you really notice that your weight is more forward on the bike. Not ideal when you need to be off the back of the bike to maintain control.
With hindsight being 20/20, we should have gone up a frame size, just like we did on the Norco. And with seven sizes on offer and ample standover clearance, Trek makes this really easy to do, even for taller riders.
Trek has really gone to town with the build kit on the Roscoe 9. The combination of the Shimano XT rear mech and Race Face Aeffect chainset is simply unbeatable, and the unbranded dropper post worked like a charm. The frame quality is standout too. But the sizing on the Roscoe is more conservative. It’s the shortest bike on test, and even though it has an excellent feel to it, we’d like more length in the frame and less in the stem. Which is why we recommend going up a frame size and getting the shop to swap the 60mm stem for something shorter.