Sleek, modern hardtail with softtail seating for comfy climbing
Need to know:
- New vertical-flex frame design for more comfortable seated ride
- Ultra-wide Boost hubs create stiffer, stronger wheels
- Carbon frame, with internal cable routing for clean lines
- Size-specific wheels: 15.5in gets 27.5in, bigger sizes roll on 29in
Trek’s brand new Procaliber hardtail is an absolute beast on the climbs. Its stiff frame delivers a stack of power to the rear wheel while still managing to feel comfortable and ‘squishy’ through the saddle. The ‘stiff yet compliant’ cliché has actually been realised here.
Smartly, Trek has built a load of vertical compliance into the seat tube, letting the bike flex a little as you ride — up to 11mm of vertical movement. The system is called IsoSpeed Decoupler, initially developed by Trek for its road and cyclo-cross bikes.
The seat tube and top tube are ‘decoupled’ — although they’re still connected by two bearings and a bushing, with the join covered by a rubber seal. You really can feel it doing its job too — or rather, you experience none of the harsh impacts you usually feel on a hardtail.
The big, 2.2in tyres and wide rims may well be part of that effect, allowing me to run 24psi in the rear and softening things up further, but it’s still an impressively fast ride.
By the time it came to go downhill, I’d been thoroughly lulled into a false sense of security by the fast climb. The IsoSpeed system affects how the bike feels only when you’re sitting down, and doesn’t give the bike any compliance when you’re standing on the pedals. It’s not a harsh ride by any stretch — the Reba fork feels good, and clunk-free, and the bike’s stiffness means it’s really precise and solid.
We like the ultra-wide Boost 148 back end and Boost 110 front hub, as they mean the 29er wheels feel really stiff. And we like Trek’s Control Freak Cable Management: a neat way to tidy up the cables inside the frame, with entry and exit ports plus a cinch point to stop them rattling.
The SRAM GX 1×11 drivetrain is spot-on too; the only thing that’s wrong here is a daft 100mm-long stem. Then again, it is an XC race bike!
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