Travis Brown has been affiliated with Trek since his amateur racing big-hair days in the early 1990s. In his new role as pro racer/tester and dirt manager, Brown, based in Durango, Colorado, has been the driving force behind Trek's 29er front, 26er rear concept, dubbed "Inverse Mullet" technology (you know, party in the front, all business in the back).
Where Gary Fisher has been preaching the 29er gospel for nearly a decade, Brown, who also gives valuable feedback to the Fisher engineering department, really believes in the 69er platform. Brown's more public affiliation with Trek gives has provided the impetus to expand the 69er lineup in 2008 to include the Top Fuel 69er full sus, the 69er 3x9 aluminum hardtail, and the flagship 69er singlespeed.
Trek Top Fuel 69er
Because of Travis Brown's dual role at Trek, his input on the Fisher Genesis 2 geometry and feedback on the proper fork offset means both brands share the benefits of Trek's collaboration with Fox Racing Forks. Trek's suspension maestro Jose Gonzalez worked hand-in-hand with two Trek-dedicated Fox engineers to develop a custom 51mm offset on the spec'd Fox F100 RL 29er fork. The Trek Top Fuel 69er frame is manufactured with Trek's Alpha Red hydro-formed aluminum. There's a healthy mix of Shimano, SRAM, and Bontrager components to round out the spec. Sizes include 15.5, 17.5, 19.5 and 21.5-inch. Available August 1.
The Trek Top Fuel 69er comes with R1 Tuned rear suspension and Trek's rocker link, mated with a Fox RP-23 rear shock offering 90mm travel. The bridgeless seat- and chainstays mean additional mud clearance and room for up to a 2.5-inch tire. According to Brown, the main benefits to a 26-inch rear wheel are quick acceleration, a stiffer and lighter rear wheel compared to a 29er, shorter chainstays that move the pivot point for easier lifting of the front wheel (especially important with a 29-inch front wheel), and gear ratios "we're all familiar with."
Trek 69er singlespeed
One of the most eye-catching and sculpted bikes in Trek's 2008 stable is Brown's flagship model, the 69er singlespeed. The Matte Root Beer finish, coupled with the custom double crown and inverse design Maverick DUC 100mm fork, makes this model not only an aesthetic curiosity, but a super engineered one speed ready to tackle whatever its quadzilla rider is willing to attempt. The fork uses a 24mm thru axle hub with high and wide flanges for extra stiffness up front. The sliding rear dropouts allow easy chain tension, naturally, but also allow the use of a robust disc brake rotor, and the flexibility of choosing between a quick release or bolt-on rear wheel. Gearing is a dirt-friendly 32x16. Sizes include 15.5, 17.5, 19.5 and 21.5-inch. Also available August 1.
Jane Bentley, What Mountain Bike's editor, puts the Top Fuel 69er through its paces in Sun Valley, Idaho. Photo: Gary Boulanger