Updated: Trek Remedy Carbon 9.9 £5000

Silences carbon sceptics

BikeRadar score4/5

The whole Remedy family has gone lighter and more cross-country this year, which makes a lighter carbon chassis an obvious move. But how much does the diet affect its trail capability? The 9.9 is beautifully balanced for maximising technical trail flow, but more cross-country than extreme in flavour.

The way it flows through technical singletrack, sucks up 6ft drops and charges up technical climbs will bring out the mojo in any mountain biker. But the semi-carbon frame isn't bringing anything massively different in performance and we reckon more radical riders will be disappointed with the lighter and steeper front end.

Ride & handling: Inspiringly tight, light ride with chaos-calming travel

With the 170mm-travel Scratch coming in as Trek's pedal-able playbike, reducing the Remedy's travel to 150mm and changing it to a more ‘go and flow’ character is an obvious move, but one that you need to keep in mind. Its low weight, fast-rolling tyres, big ring ratios and relatively steep, quick turning geometry meant we rarely lost significant ground when chasing shorter-travel bikes on rolling cross-country trails.

Whatever gaps did appear rapidly closed as soon as the trail got rougher – up or down. The long-stroke Fox RP23 DRCV shock in particular gives a superb combination of pert and enthusiastic pedalling but deft deep stroke control for thought-free racing or raving line choice. It almost feels like a long-travel coil shock – it’s supple in the early stroke, isn’t vague in the middle and ramps up at the end. But it’s the slick beginning that sticks the Remedy to the ground.

Put the power down and the Remedy Carbon sits tight and sprints out of corners or spins up climbs like a 5in-travel bike. Lean back and launch off 6ft drops or straight-line log and rock shortcuts and the extra travel just sucks it all up with no drama or slap-on-the-wrist kickback. The 13.9in bottom bracket height and long wheelbase help here too, along with that unique feel you get from a resilient carbon frame.

The big tyres roll fast, screen out the small stuff that the Fox 32 TALAS fork fails to absorb and slide amusingly to showcase the sweetly weighted handling balance of the bike. With the seat dropping away instantly when you need to get down and dirty there’s almost nothing to get in the way of linking all your favourite tech sections – up, down or along – into sweet flowing minutes of playtime.

Almost nothing? Well, while the 68-degree head angle keeps the bike lively and viscerally responsive on flatter and faster trails, it starts to feel sketchy when you’re off the back and on the brakes in properly steep situations. Combined with cross-country width – rather than proper wide – bars and noticeable fork twist, the Remedy can get bullied off line or twisted under by big boulders too.

While the mid/deep-stroke control of the 150mm-travel FIT fork is excellent, our sample was very notchy over small stuff, which caused regular reductions in front end traction. The obvious answer would be to stick a 10mm longer travel and stiffer Fox 36 fork in (like they had last year) but that would add more weight to a bike that’s already relatively heavy for a £5,000 long-travel cross-country machine.

Frame: Cutting-edge carbon chassis, but it's not that light and head angle is steep

Since its creation in 2007 by suspension guru Jose Gonzalez, the Remedy has been tweaked and refined, and the new flagship model is this £5,000 carbon fibre beauty with ‘walnut veneer’ finish. Trek have been building carbon fibre bikes for longer than any other major brand and their high pressure formed OCLV carbon, seen on this bike, is the result of nearly 20 years of development.

The ultra-robust carbon used on the Remedy is new for this frame – it’s layered and armoured for hard use, and has been tested to withstand a 150g rock collision at 38mph. Further reinforcement is provided by rubberised armour on the underside of the down tube. The mountain-proof theme continues with the stiff-yet-light E2 tapered fork front end and press-fit bottom bracket .

We’re surprised that otherwise neat cable routing lacks seatpost remote cable clips beyond the thread-through hole on the seat quick-release. You do get a proper bottle cage mount though, which isn’t always the case with longer-travel bikes, and there’s masses of tyre space at the back. While the carbon Fuel EX trail bikes have moved to full carbon, the Remedy rocks an all-metal back end for its debut year. 

The tidy rear end still uses the incredibly active ABP (Active Braking Pivot), which puts the rear pivot on the axle itself, isolating it from braking forces. The big one-piece EVO magnesium rocker drives a new – to Trek – dual chamber DRCV (Dual Rate Control Valve) shock, developed to get rid of the dead mid-stroke on air shocks.

The first chamber gives a pert and progressive pedal feel. Then a simple push rod valve opens the second pressure-balanced chamber to control the deeper section of the stroke. The result is remarkably smooth, predictable and tightly controlled suspension, throughout the stroke.

Equipment: Excellent light but tough kit to match the frame

With the introduction of the Scratch, Trek have changed fork spec on the Remedy from 160mm (6.3in) down to 150mm (5.9in). While it’s very light for a travel-adjust unit, the Fox 32 TALAS FIT RLC isn’t the stiffest fork around. It runs in a posh Cane Creek Frustum headset.

The Shimano XTR cranks may be bombproof, but it’s significant that the Remedy gets a full triple-ring setup rather than a double-and-bashguard. SRAM X.0 shifters have been appearing on downhill rigs for years though, and most top SRAM-sponsored gravity racers use Avid Elixir brakes too, so we’re not worried about the quality or performance of the stop-and-go gear that’s been supplied.

Bontrager’s Rhythm rims are usefully broad for fattening up the big XDX tyres further and are tubeless-ready, while the stiff 710mm-wide Race Lite bars never gave us reason to worry, even off the big stuff. The instant ‘drop the seat and drop in’ performance of the CrankBrothers Joplin remote control seatpost is invaluable when it comes to maintaining flow when you’re ripping more technical trails.

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