Pro bike: Ross Schnell’s 2012 Trek Slash

By Zach White in Winter Park, Colorado, USA | Wednesday, August 24, 2011 8.30am

All-mountain specialist ‘Rad Ross’ Schnell helped with the design of Trek's new Slash and it paid off, with him piloting one to first place at this weekend's inaugural Trestle All-Mountain Enduro. This wasn't a standard production bike though – it was equipped with lashings of prototype BlackBox SRAM kit.

The 160mm-travel Slash replaces the Scratch in Trek's 2012 lineup, with what Schnell says is a much more pedal-friendly design that can still take all-mountain abuse. “Rene Wildhaber and I provided feedback [to Trek] on what the Scratch should be, which was something that pedaled better but still had big-hit capabilities," he told BikeRadar, shortly after stepping off the top of theTrestle Enduro podium.

"It also needed a longer top tube to allow riders to run shorter stems for better handling, and to offer geometry adjustments. The end result of the Slash is essentially a trail bike for downhillers, and the bonus is that it came in a cleaner package with internal cable routing and an integrated [RockShox Reverb] Stealth post.”

Up front, Schnell runs a 170mm-travel RockShox BlackBox Lyrik fork with 2012 internals, a DH damper and black DLC (diamond-like carbon) coated stanchions. “The stanchions make for a completely stiction-free, buttery-smooth fork," he said. "At first I thought I’d have to add air pressure or compression damping to the fork, but I just rolled with it, and love it now. The material and process to coat the uppers would make for such a ridiculously expensive fork that it’ll never be offered to the public. It’s all part of the process to offering better things in future production lines though.”

Schnell’s 170mm rockshox blackbox lyrik with 2012 internals features dlc-coated stanchions: schnell’s 170mm rockshox blackbox lyrik with 2012 internals features dlc-coated stanchions

Schnell’s 170mm-travel RockShox BlackBox Lyrik with 2012 internals features black DLC-coated stanchions

As for going with a 170mm Lyrik over a 160mm, Schnell said it was mostly to dial in the right head tube angle. “As it’s set up right now, I’m at almost exactly 65 degrees, which is perfect for this course,” he said.

Though Schnell wasn’t running one, the Slash will come stock with a Cane Creek AngleSet. Further adjustment is offered by the Mino Link found in the frame's EVO rocker – flipping this changes the stock head angle from 66 to 66.5 degrees.

“One thing that kept coming up in our riders’ feedback on developing the Slash was different geographic regions demanding slight variations to the geometry," Trek’s mountain bike brand manager, Michael Browne, told us. "So the adjustable Mino Link and the AngleSet were our solution.”

Balancing the RockShox front end is an extremely rare Monarch Plus rear shock. “There are only two of these in the world – mine and one on Rene’s bike,” Schnell told us. The rarity is due to both the stroke and upper shock mount being exclusive to the Slash; at time of publication, RockShox were unavailable for comment on future plans for Monarch Plus availability for the Slash. Schnell’s is set up with a RockShox mid-tune.

Schnell and rene wildhaber are the only two riders in the world that have rockshox monarch plus shocks on their slashes: schnell and rene wildhaber are the only two riders in the world that have rockshox monarch plus shocks on their slashes

Schnell and Rene Wildhaber are the only two riders in the world that have RockShox Monarch Plus shocks on their Slashes

Specific to the five-stage Trestle All-Mountain Enduro, Schnell switched his usual 11-36T cassette for a tighter-ratio 11-32T SRAM XX cassette and a short-cage X0 rear derailleur. “We cut the chain down to the absolute shortest it’d go, which made for nice and tight shifting all weekend,” he said.

Over the three-day event, Schnell was swapping out tires on his Easton Haven Carbon wheelset just about every time we swung by his camp in the expo, but he ultimately chose Bontrager FR3s for the majority of the races. "They roll really fast and offer great traction," he said.

Well known for competing in almost all disciplines of mountain bike racing, it’ll be interesting to see which events Schnell chooses his new Slash for. “It handles like a full-blown downhill bike but pedals like my Remedy,” he said. Set up the way it’s seen in the photos, including pedals, computer, number plate and dirt, his size large Slash weighed in at 30lb even. That’s a few pounds heavier than his 2011 Remedy, but still an impressive real-world weight for a bike of its claimed abilities.

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Complete bike specifications

  • Frame: 2012 Trek Slash
  • Rear shock: RockShox Monarch Plus
  • Fork: RockShox BlackBox Lyrik with 2012 internals
  • Headset: FSA ACB
  • Stem: Truvativ 60mm AKA
  • Handlebar: Truvativ Boobar, 780mm
  • Grips: ESI Silicone
  • Front brake: SRAM X0, 180mm rotor
  • Rear brake: SRAM X0, 180mm rotor
  • Brake levers: SRAM X0
  • Chain device: MRP G2 SL
  • Rear derailleur: SRAM X0 short cage
  • Shift levers: SRAM X0
  • Cassette: SRAM XX, 11-32T
  • Chain: SRAM 1091R
  • Crankset: SRAM X0, 175mm, w/ MRP 38T ring
  • Bottom bracket: Truvativ Blackbox GXP
  • Pedals: Shimano XTR M980
  • Wheelset: Easton Haven Carbon
  • Front tire: Bontrager FR3, 2.35in
  • Rear tire: Bontrager FR3, 2.35in
  • Saddle: Fizik Tundra, carbon rails
  • Seatpost: RockShox Reverb Stealth
  • Computer: Sportcount

Critical measurements

  • Rider's height: 1.83m (6ft)
  • Rider's weight: 72.57kg (160lb)
  • Saddle height, from BB (c-t): 783mm
  • Seat tube length, c-t: 470mm
  • Seat tube length, c-c: 420mm
  • Tip of saddle nose to C of bars (next to stem): 530mm
  • Head tube length: 135mm
  • Top tube length: 570mm
  • Total bicycle weight: 13.61kg (30lb)

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