The £600 X-Caliber 7 was a strong contender in this year's Hardtail of the Year
Beautifully finished and available in two colour options, the X-Caliber 7 sports some great features. These include bridgeless stays for maximum tyre clearance in muddy conditions and a slender 27.2in seatpost to provide a modicum of flex and improve comfort for those long days in the saddle. Rack mounts are also in place, which is great if you plan to use this bike for cycle touring or commuting.
The X-Caliber is so much more than just a trusty workhorse though. Fun, fast and with great tyres and good proportions, this is a bike that really lets you cut loose. Granted, its attitude is a little more serious and race focused than the VooDoo Bizango or the Saracen Mantra Pro, so it’s definitely not as capable on the more technical trails. That said, its descending ability could be greatly improved by simply chopping a couple of inches off the seatpost to get the saddle lower.
The full Shimano drivetrain worked seamlessly, and even though the crankarms use the older and weaker square-taper design, the chainrings are all replaceable, so you won’t have to ditch the lot if one ring wears out. There is also full-length outer casing running from the Shimano shifter to the rear mech, that will help keep the shifting slick, even in the depths of winter.
All of the components on the Trek are bang on the money, the 100mm-travel Suntour XCR fork feels plush and well behaved and there’s a massive range of frame sizes to choose from. So even though Trek has gone with a similar approach to Cannondale by placing the frame centre-stage, the fact it has a better supporting cast puts it one step ahead in the ratings.