Sim and Jenn were in Mayrhofen, Austria last week for Trek’s massive 2012 product launch. As well as overdosing on weissbier and cheese, they got lots of riding in on the new 2012 Remedy and Fuel EX as well as sneak peeks of a couple of brand new bikes that should be hitting these shores in the autumn.
Most of the tweaks to Trek’s 2012 designs are common to one or more platforms, so we’ll give you a brief run-through of each individual bit of tech here before moving on to the bikes themselves.
DRCV All Over
The big announcement was the introduction of DRCV-equipped forks. DRCV (Dual Rate Control Valve) adds a secondary air chamber to the main air spring, activated by plunger when you hit a certain point in the travel. The Remedy and Fuel EX models have been equipped with DRCV rear shocks for a couple of seasons now, to mixed response. By applying the same technology to Fox forks, Trek say they’ve come up with something which increases control in the same way for the front end, leading to a more balanced ride. Both Remedy and Fuel EX models that we rode had the new fork and we were impressed by how well it managed smaller hits and traction control without detracting from big hit performance, to the point that even sceptical Sim was heard to mutter that it was ‘really quite good’… recommendation indeed.
Hybrid Air Forks
More fork news, this time applicable to the new Session. It sports a Fox 40 tweaked to accommodate both the softest (and lightest) stock coil spring and an air spring, to fine-tune spring weight. It’s labeled Hybrid Air and aims to match the plush feel of a coil-sprung fork with the light weight and simple adjustability of an air-sprung one.
Lighter, Stronger, Slacker – pick three
Frame designs have been tweaked across the board too, with slightly altered tube profiles and head tube shapes for both OCLV and Alpha Aluminium models. Frames are lighter and slacker, with stronger, lighter construction on the carbon models and plenty of grams shed on the aluminium, too. Most models, whether race or trail orientated, have had 1 degree lopped off the head angle, increasing control and stability, and Carbon Armor rubber bumpers on the OCLV frames protect vulnerable spots like down tube and stays, hopefully giving the best of both worlds.
The Little Things
There are further changes at the detail level, too. We’ve already reported on the internally-routed RockShox Reverb Stealth seatpost but the clean lines continue with internally-routed front mech cables and full-length outers for rear mechs. Although the Stealth will only come as standard at higher price points, there are dropper post cable routing options on other models, too, allowing you to upgrade as you choose. The benefit of all these small changes is that bikes should be cleaner to look at, easier to maintain and quieter to ride.
Trek’s Mino Link appears on the Remedy, Slash and Session. It’s a flippable plate on the rearmost rocker link pivot which adds/removes 0.5 degree to the frame’s angles, raises/lowers the bottom bracket height and as a consequence tweaks the rear shock feel, too. The switch is easy and can be done out on the trail (as proved whilst we were out riding on Tuesday); whether or not many folk would genuinely notice a 0.5 degree difference in their head angle is debatable, though…
Okay, this has been around for a while but it’s such an integral part of ‘why Treks are good’ that we’ll give you a quick revision of it anyway. ABP stands for Active Braking Pivot – which means that the frames sport linkage designs which allow the suspension to keep working when you’re applying the brakes. Might not sound like much on paper but on the trail it makes a massive difference to the control and traction you have. Tied up with this are Trek’s 142×12 & 157x12mm bolt-through rear ends; labeled as ABP Convert, they’re capable of taking a standard quick release if you want to convert them but frankly we think you’d be mad to miss out on the boost in stiffness.
The new (and frankly gorgeous) full carbon Session 9.9 downhill bike might have ‘arrived’ a race or two ago but Trek still have plenty up their sleeve for 2012 that they managed to keep a secret. Whilst the Remedy and Fuel EX lines see a few (welcome) tweaks and additions, there are two completely new bikes: the Slash, which is a 160mm replacement for the Scratch under the ‘Technical Trail’ header, and the Lush, a completely new women’s 120mm ‘Singletrack Trail’ bike that sits alongside the Fuel EX. There are also new developments in the 29” arena, with the 120mm Rumblefish making a ‘Singletrack Trail’ comeback, pitching it firmly at big wheel converts looking to fulfill their ‘one bike to rule them all’ leanings.
The Lush is Trek’s new 120mm trail bike designed specifically for smaller, lighter riders; ie. women. The previous WSD (Womens Specific Design) iterations of the Fuel EX range were good but with the Lush, Trek have taken things a step further, starting with a new, smaller shock body which retains 120mm of travel but takes up less room in the frame. This has allowed them to drop the top tube, giving improved standover clearance. The tuning has also been designed to make the shock more responsive at the lower pressures required by lighter riders, and of course the shock is DRCV, with the new fork appearing on the top two of four models, too.
There are three aluminium models plus a full OCLV carbon version, which should appeal to both racers and plain ol’ riders wanting the best. We’ll be getting an exclusive first ride on the Lush when production stock is available in the autumn (in a welcome reality check from Trek which acknowledges that 2012 begins next January and not last April…).
Here too the theme for 2012 is lighter and slacker. Both aluminium and OCLV versions of Trek’s 150mm bike feature internal front mech and dropper post routing, plus Mino Link. Interestingly the 9.8 Remedy we rode didn’t drop its chain once in a full day’s Alpine rough and tumble thanks to the brilliant XTR Trail rear mech, whilst the XX-equipped 9.9 could have done with a chain device; though the OCLV Remedys have ISCG tabs, it might be that the lighter, cheaper option of the new Shimano mech will more than suffice for trail duties (SRAM lovers need not apply).
In a word (or two): much better. We rode the new Remedy on a typically steep and technical mountain day out and loved it; having both been less than enthusiastic about the overly competent and (in our personal opinions) rather dead feel of the 2011 version, we were pleasantly surprised at how much more balanced and lively the bike feels now that the DRCV RP3 rear shock is matched up with an equally capable DRCV fork.
There are now five aluminium and three carbon versions of the mighty, do-it-all, 120mm Fuel EX. All have lighter frames, a revised geometry with 1 degree lopped off the head angle and the traction-promoting ABP rear end. DRCV shocks appear on all but the entry level EX5, with DRCV forks present from the EX8 upwards and Kashima coatings on the spendiest, top-end models. Forks are also almost entirely 15QR, with only the entry-level EX5 missing out; matched to the 142x12mm bolt-through rear end this means the whole package is stiff and secure.
We melted our way through a hellishly hot and humid ride on a 9.9 and 9.8; whilst we can confirm that it goes up steep stuff like the proverbial rat up drainpipe (again, and again, and again…), we regretted not having dropper posts fitted as the rocker link pivot prevents a standard seatpost being dropped more than a few inches, making the final switchback-stuffed descent something of a mincefest in our tender hands. Hopefully we’ll be able to get our hands on a Fuel EX at a later (cooler) date for a proper test when we can see straight again.
The Slash is the direct replacement for both air and coil versions of this year’s Scratch. At 160mm it’s a burly ride that looks like it’s capable of doing everything a Session can but with a little more pedal-ability. Naturally there’s a DRCV rear shock mated to a plush Fox 36, two spec options (the x0-equipped 9 and x9/7-equipped 8), plus a bonkers Kermit-green paintjob which was universally loved. We can’t get too excited about it until we’ve actually ridden it but it certainly looked like it’s going to tick a lot of the big mountain boxes.
A 35lb, 210mm travel downhill bike? Yes please. The full carbon Session 9.9 debuted on the World Cup circuit recently; various prototypes have been doing the rounds on the TWR roster and have racked up plenty of podium results already. The aluminium 88 and 8 both stick around and share most features, whilst keeping a slightly more reasonable price tag.
The Session gets MinoLink adjustability, is AngleSet compatible and with 12mm of height adjustment on the triple crown fork is a fettler’s dream bike. Whilst we know that downhill bikes occupy a niche which is somewhat beyond our remit, the technology will no doubt start to appear in shorter travel, more UK-relevant bikes in a few seasons time so it’s worth keeping an eye on.
Thank you to everyone at Trek Europe for super slick organisation and friendly hospitality, the Austrian town of Mayrhofen for being a truly lovely place to ride bikes for a couple of days and Lufthansa for being much more lenient with flight closing times than some other airlines might have been. Ahem.