New Trek Supercaliber aims to combine the performance of a full-suspension bike with the lightweight minimalism of a soft-tail.
Trek Supercaliber need to know
- Prices go from £4,000 for the 9.7 up to £9,200 for the 9.9 XX1 with AXS wireless shifting.
- Straight Shot down tube saves weight and increases stiffness, while the head tube uses the Knock Block device to prevent fork damage in a crash.
- Isostrut brings 60mm of air-sprung rear travel matched with 100mm of fork travel.
- Six frame sizes from small to XXL.
- Full carbon frame with pivotless flex stays.
In the fast-paced world of XC and marathon racing, the quest for downhill suspension performance combined with hardtail efficiency has been keeping designers and engineers awake for decades. As such, there have been numerous brands over the years that have claimed to have found the best of both worlds. Most notably there was the rise of the soft-tail around the turn of the century, boasting less weight than a proper full-suspension bike, but most of the comfort and control. But the genre never really took off, mainly because the space to package the spring and damper was so small, and it was also part of the frame structure, so the shock tended to bind under load and wear out quickly.
By enclosing the shock in, what is effectively, a fork leg, Trek has made the shock a structural element of the frame (to save weight) while isolating it from external loads, so that the shock can move freely without damage or binding. This complex, bespoke component is called the Isostrut and it connects to a triangulated swingarm with no pivots at the rear axle. Instead, the carbon seatstays bow in the middle through the 60mm of rear wheel travel. Trek has taken steps to ensure the Isostrut is user-serviceable, as well as easily tuned for rider weight, damping preference and the spring curve with volume spacers – just like a regular shock.
For pure rolling speed, the Supercaliber is available only as a 29er, even in the small frame size, and only with a full carbon frame (claimed weight 1,950g with shock). There’s room for two water bottles within the main triangle and all four Supercaliber models come with carbon wheels.