Can Trek's long travel trail bike still remain top of the class?
Our in depth review of the Trek Remedy 9.7 long travel trail bike. At £2700, the 9.7 sits in the Remedy range just above the entry level Remedy 7.
The Remedy slots into Trek’s full suspension range as the long travel trail bike machine. It uses the same RE:aktiv suspension platform as the award winning Fuel Ex range of trail machines but ups the rear wheel travel to 150mm, providing further confidence when the trails start increasing in technicality. All the while with the intentions of being able to pedal all day if so needed. The Remedy range, unlike the Fuel Ex, sticks firmly with 27.5″ wheels and regular width tyres for all models. If you want a 29er, you’ll need to look elsewhere. Namely the Slash, a slacker angled 29er billed as Trek’s enduro race machine.
Trek Remedy 9.7 27.5 (2018) review
The Trek Remedy 9.7 sits one up from the entry point in the Remedy range. You actually have choice of two Remedy models at this exact price point; the Remedy 9.7 or Remedy 8. Opting for the 8 ‘just’ gets a full aluminium frame but does come with a better level of componentry. The 9.7 we opted for comes with Trek’s OCLV (Optimum Compaction Low Void) Mountain carbon fibre front triangle that helps make it lighter than the full aluminium version even with the lower spec. It still retains an alloy rear end, but we almost would opt for aluminium stays from a durability perspective. The frame retains Trek’s ABP (Active Braking Pivot) rear end to help isolate braking forces from impacting the suspension. It also has the Mino-Link, adjustable chip to adjust the geometry.
The newly (well, 2016) redesigned frame now features a straight down tube. This might reduce frame weight and increase stiffness but has no clearance for the fork crown in the case of a spill. So to prevent damage to the carbon Trek has incorporated the neat Knock-Block steering lock to remove the chance of impacts.
The RockShox Deluxe RT3 rear shock has been given Trek’s RE:aktiv treatment. This custom tuning produces a shock that supposedly can determine between inputs (either rider or trail) and determine how the shock should react. Providing a stable pedalling platform without compromising small bump sensitivity. It now also runs on metric sizing for improved reliability.
Up front is a 160mm travel RockShox Yari RL fork. Within the first few rides the suppleness and sensitivity of the rear suspension really highlighted a discrepancy in performance between the two units. It wasn’t that the Yari was performing poorly, just that it was being eclipsed by the rear. It remained composed on big hits but felt almost wooden in comparison over multiple, small hits. Removing the tokens that came preinstalled and experimenting with air pressure settings went some way to balance the feel of the front and back of the bike.
It might not have the appeal or range of Eagle but SRAM’s 11 speed NX drivetrain has been reliable throughout the test period. Yes, the shifter is a tad plasticky and hasn’t the precision of higher models and yes, the crankset is a touch agricultural. But it’s held up to abuse and replacement parts are relatively cheap. The Guide R brakes on our particular bike have spent most of the six months of testing feeling pretty spongy, despite bleeding. A 200mm rotor does go someway to help them retain some power so at least it was only on occasions when I would mash the levers into my knuckles.
Bontrager’s Line Comp 30 wheels come ready fitted with a neat tubeless insert but Trek supply the Remedy with tubes. Luckily it’s a simple job to swap and the Schwalbe Nobby Nic tyres are ripe for tubeless conversion (The Trek website lists the Remedy 9.7 as coming with Bontrager XR4 tyres). Both wheels are BOOST spacing and the aluminium rim has a 30mm internal width making them work really well with the 2.35″ tyres.
Bontrager also supply the rest of the build kit. The Line aluminium handlebar’s 780mm width makes it suitable for most riding without compromising handling, even in tight singletrack. With a reach of 784mm for the 21.5″ model I tested, the 50mm stem feels spot on. Although if you do want to change the stem be aware that the Bontrager version is designed to work with the Knock Block steerer lock. Dropper duty is performed by the Drop Line seatpost. Thanks to the extended seat tube on the Remedy, even the larger sizes only come with a 125mm drop. The good news for those riders wanting to spend all day on the Remedy is the Evoke 2 saddle is a very comfy place to be.
Do you remember that kid in school, the one that was annoyingly good at everything they tried? The Remedy is that kid. Want it to smash out laps at the bike park? It’ll do it. Want it to ride an all-day epic with bonkers metres of climbing? No worries. Blasting around the woods with your mates? Easy. It just seems to adapt to suit however the mood takes you that day.
Thanks mainly to how wonderfully supple that suspension is without suffering from a lack of progression that can stifle some of its contenders. But its RE:aktiv magic somehow endows it with a pedalling proficiency beyond what should be allowed from a 150mm bike. Stamp on the pedals and there’s very little delay in the raw translation into speed, the same goes for climbing. It allows you to adopt a style more usually appropriate for short travel XC machines, getting out of the saddle and sprinting is almost encouraged.
The geometry feels supremely balanced and thanks to the use of the Mino-Link, flip chip you can swap it from all-dayer to bike park warrior within a few seconds. In the low setting it really drops the BB height, giving it a slacker stance and really improves its confidence on steeper trails. Even if it is at the expense of more clipped pedals.
The Remedy 9.7 really does deserve full marks. But even more so deserves a better fork to truly bring out the best of its character.
The Trek Remedy is still one of the best long travel trail/all-mountain suspension platforms on the market. In this 9.7 guise the bike is a touch let down by the fork choice purely because the rear end is so good! If you were looking to spend this amount of money we would probably opt for the Remedy 8. It might 'just' have an aluminium frame but the Lyric fork and GX Eagle drivetrain makes it an even better choice.