Is it worth buying a women-specific bike?
Laura Bailey saddles up her new Trek Remedy 8 27.5 Women’s in a bid to ascertain whether or not women’s specific rigs are worth it.
It was around two years ago that I borrowed a mountain bike and nervously set off for my first time on the trails. Twelve months on, one trip to A&E, several hairy moments, but lots of laughs and smiles later, it’s safe to say I’m hooked. So when I was given the opportunity to join MBR’s longterm test fleet on a 2018 Trek Remedy 8.0 Women’s bike I jumped at it.
It’s Trek’s All Mountain offering, a bike with 150mm travel and some serious heritage. It’s also the only 650b full suspension bike in the range, and is the filler in a pretty epic sandwich, nestled between the highly acclaimed Trek Slash and Trek Fuel EX, our MBR’s Bike of the Year 2017.
From the off I was wondering whether this was going to be too much of a bike for me. Trek’s description on the website is about getting gnarly, and spending more time with your tyres off the ground than on them. My A&E trip stemmed from poorly executed air time, and I’ve attempted to keep it rubber side down ever since! But I’m excited to ride something totally different to anything I’ve ridden before, and see whether this bike can help me take my riding up a notch.
With those thoughts flitting through my head, I switched to important issues. What was she going to be called? Yes, she’s a she, all my bikes are girls. And yes, they have names. I build a friendship (or sometimes hatred) of my bikes, and I spend a lot of time on them, so it seems only fair to christen them properly. I have one Trek in my fleet already, Stacey, so it had to ring nicely with that, and I like to give a nod to something connected to the bike or the brand in someway. So Ladies and Gents, please can I introduce, Tracey.
So a little more about Tracey – she carries a Women’s tag, however, the WSD geometry that Trek was once at the forefront of has gone. Instead it’s modified finishing kit that accounts for the differences between the sexes. Unsurprisingly, the Remedy is adorned with a full complement of Bontrager components, and it’s here you’ll see the Women’s touches: A narrower 750mm handlebar (even though Trek’s website still states 780mm), Bontrager Evoke 2 women’s saddle and thinner grips, for our oh so delicate dainty derrieres and hands. I find it a touch ironic that after my first few rides with Tracey these are two of the only things I want to change.
Sure, saddle choice is always so personal, and this one just isn’t for me, and I’m sporting a sore hands from the Bontrager grips, which are rock hard with a savage metal lock ring.
Trek Remedy 8 27.5 Women’s final verdict
As a female rider I was keen to see what all the fuss is around women specific mountain bikes. Are brands still shrinking and pinking, or is there a genuine benefit to a women’s set up. Tracey was Trek’s WSD (women’s specific design) Remedy and stood out as the only bike in the Remedy range targeted directly at women.
Did you change anything straightaway?
A couple of quick changes straight up resulted in me removing the only features that actually identified the Remedy 8 as a women’s bike. Namely the narrow Bontrager saddle and skinny grips! Aside from that I left her as she was to see how she bedded in, and in the end there was nothing else I felt needed changing.
Was the bike easy to set up?
For someone who is not a fan of anything mechanical or technical, it was a delight to have a bike that was pretty much ready to go. Aside from a quick conversion to tubeless, and setting up the suspension, she was hot to trot. Like most Trek suspension bikes the Remedy has a Mino link, which offers two geometry settings. I left it in the high position from the off, as I love a cheeky mid-trail pedal to maintain my momentum.
How did it ride?
Better than me. In fact, it has probably taken most of the time we’ve been together for my riding to come up to the level that this bike was designed for. And, until recently, I’ve always felt like I’ve been reining in an ever-eager stead. Looking back over the past ten months though, my riding has progressed so much and that is definitely due to how solid and trusting the Trek Remedy feels. She’s been a confidence builder, an ever-capable pal on my riding journey.
Did anything break or wear out?
Despite the first four months of our time together being in atrocious weather Tracey proved ruggedly resilient. Over a year of plentiful riding and racing I wore out one bottom bracket and several sets of brake pads. Oh and the SRAM Guide brakes needed bleeding a couple of times.
Aside from that, any other damage was user induced. A bashed rear mech required a replacement cage, a crash led to a folded front wheel new. In fact, the only real downer on her durability was the paint. It looked cool to begin with but within weeks it was displaying gentle scratches on the top tube, and a year down the line she looks fairly tired, the matt black detailing faring the worst.
If you could change one thing about your longtermer what would it be?
I just remove the women’s specific tag – because aside from a hint of mint green and slight shifts in finishing kit, it’s the same bikes as the men’s version. And it seems Trek agrees, as there will be no WSD Remedy for 2019.
Would I buy this bike? Yes. Trek has done a great job balancing the compromise between value and performance, and in the last couple of months my riding has reached a level that finally takes advantage of the very capable 150mm travel Remedy. It’s the confidence this bike has given me that really allowed me to up my game. And that’s worth the price of entry alone.