Trek Remedy 9.9 Race Shop Limited review£5,700.00

Trek's new more aggressive, top-end trail bike

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The Remedy has been a mainstay of Trek’s mountain bike range for many years now, but 2016 — or 2017 in bike industry years — has seen it get a serious overhaul, including the fact it's only available with 27.5" wheels. It’s now stiffer, burlier and much more aggressively shaped than ever before, finally giving it enough bite to match the marketing bark.

This is the absolute tippy-top spec Remedy, with a full carbon fibre frame that uses all of Trek’s composite know-how to minimise mass. While that obviously makes it much lighter than the aluminium models found lower down the range, they all share some pretty neat technology.

The Trek Remedy 9.9 Race Shop Limited is the top model from the new Remedy range
The Trek Remedy 9.9 Race Shop Limited is the top model from the new Remedy range

Swing a leg over the bike and one of these will become apparent as soon as you try and turn the bars, because you’ll find that they don’t spin all the way round. Instead of kinking the downtube to allow the fork crown to clear it, Trek has simply not bothered. From an engineering point of view this makes a lot of sense; triangles are the strongest structures after all.

The headtube to downtube junction is one of the most highly stressed areas of the bike, so having a more direct connection allows Trek to keep this area strong, and also much lighter, as it doesn’t require a load more material chucking in there to compensate for the flawed design. Of course, that does leave you with the not so inconsequential problem of allowing the fork crown to contact the downtube.

To get around that, Trek uses a steering lock limiter that it calls Knock Block. This uses a special headset and frame insert in conjunction with specially keyed headset spacers, which prevents any contact and potential damage. It’s possible to use a conventional, non-keyed stem too, but you’ll need a special lockring to hold everything in place if you do that.

A stumpy 35mm stem is married to the clever Knock Block system to prevent the forks hitting the extra straight downtube
A stumpy 35mm stem is married to the clever Knock Block system to prevent the forks hitting the extra straight downtube

Solid and synchronised frame

The upside of all this messing about is a frame that feels utterly, utterly solid along its chassis. That big, squared off downtube simply doesn’t let the front and rear of the frame move in anything other than utter synchronicity. It’s really noticeable on rocky, cross-cambered sections or on the exit of corners where the bike simply cuts a line with the type of precision a brain surgeon would be proud of. That’s not to say it’s harsh or so stiff it becomes snappy, quite the opposite in fact. It’s a very impressive blend of accuracy and comfort and a good reminder that not all carbon fibre layups are equal.

The feeling of stiffness and precision is definitely helped by the sturdy chassis of the RockShox Lyrik fork, which also offers plush and supple control. Trek has fitted a travel adjustable Dual Position Air model, which thankfully doesn’t suffer from the Stuka-like dive of previous iterations of the design. It’s also got Boost hub spacing, as does the back end of the bike — unsurprising when you consider Trek was responsible for the standard.

The RockShox Lyrik is a solid fork and Boost hub spacing only helps the accuracy
The RockShox Lyrik is a solid fork and Boost hub spacing only helps the accuracy

Unlike standard Remedy models, which sport 150mm at the front, the rather oddly titled Race Shop Limited has a 160mm model for a touch more composure on the descents. 

Elsewhere on the frame, the Trek technology farm is in full effect, with its squeeze-it-from-both-ends Full Floater shock linkages and the ABP concentric pivot rear suspension design offering 150mm of rear wheel travel. Metering that out is a RockShox Deluxe RT3 shock with the clever Re:Aktiv pedalling platform valving developed in conjunction with race car suspension specialists Penske. It provides a 

150mm of rear wheel travel is controlled via a cleverly valved shock and Trek's concentric rear pivot design
150mm of rear wheel travel is controlled via a cleverly valved shock and Trek's concentric rear pivot design

Hitting the trails hard

The geometry is adjustable via flippable ‘Mino Link’ chips in the seatstay too. Leaving the acronyms aside, what you get is a really nice supportive and controlled serving of suspension that manages to pull off the trick of handling super rough chundery terrain with aplomb. It pedals well too, without excessive bob even when the shock is in the fully open mode, which is where we left it for the vast majority of our testing.

As you’d expect from a bike that costs this much money, there’s really very little to grumble about when it comes to spec on the Remedy

The same went for the geometry tweaking chips. At 65º, the head angle in the high/steep position is actually pretty much spot on for all but the steepest trails, and the same goes for the 9mm BB drop. It’s a good compromise between engaging handling and flat-out stability, with enough pedal clearance to still be a useful all-day machine on more rutted trails. Of course, the option to drop half a degree off the head angle and 10mm off the bottom bracket height is a nice one to have if you prefer a more speed focused set up.

We tested the 19.5” frame, which had a respectably long reach of 459mm and the 74.1º effective seat angle keeps you in a decent position while seated. Frames do top-out one size larger at 21.5”, so if you’re both lofty and like a long bike, you might be left wanting.

Thanks to an all-in weight of 12.78kg, it’s also a very pleasant place to be on an extended climb too, despite all the travel. A 12-speed SRAM Eagle X01 drivetrain might give you just a single ring up front, but the 10-50T gear range means you both winch yourself up ridiculously steep hauls and also hammer along flatter sections without issue. It’s also a much smoother feeling than SRAMs 11-speed offerings, with a less violent but still positive shift between ratios.

A SRAM X01 Eagle drivetrain gives 12 ratios with a whopping 10-50T range
A SRAM X01 Eagle drivetrain gives 12 ratios with a whopping 10-50T range

As you’d expect from a bike that costs this much money, there’s really very little to grumble about when it comes to spec on the Remedy. Bontrager might well be the house brand of Trek, but it produces some consistently high performing products, so despite the large asking price it’s not a disappointment to see that Bontrager provides most of the finishing kit.

There’s a set of usefully wide 780mm carbon bars with a 35mm diameter clamp paired to a 35mm long stem that allows you to wrestle the bike where you want it, even when you get up to speed. The Drop Line dropper post only has 125mm of travel and it’s a bit of an unknown quantity in terms of long-term reliability, but it performed smoothly and consistently during our test period.

The own brand dropper post works really very well
The own brand dropper post works really very well

The under bar cable remote was a pleasant surprise too, it’s easy to locate and has a reasonably light action. The Bontrager Line Elite wheels are great too, the ratchet drive has a super fast pickup and at 30mm internal width they give the 2.4” Bontrager SE4 tyre a good, squared off profile.

The tyres themselves were respectably grippy and durable despite the slightly low profile tread. If you regularly ride in sloppy conditions, you’ll almost certainly want to switch the front for something more aggressive as a minimum. In drier conditions they corner and roll well, while the combination of tubeless compatibility and reinforced sidewalls fended punctures off nicely.

Fat 30mm internal width Bontrager rims give the tyres a nicely squared off profile
Fat 30mm internal width Bontrager rims give the tyres a nicely squared off profile

It shouldn’t be surprising that the most high-end trail bike from a big manufacturer is good, but it is mightily impressive that Trek has done such an excellent job to turn the Remedy into a much better all-round aggressive trail bike. It’s stiff, capable and — most importantly — a whole load of fun.

Jon Woodhouse

Technical Editor, France
Jon's been working with bikes for as long as he can remember, from spanner monkey to product tester. He's always looking out for new kit that'll give an edge when the going gets rough and is happiest experimenting with geometry, rubber and suspension.
  • Age: 31
  • Height: 173cm / 5'8"
  • Weight: 65kg / 143lb
  • Waist: 79cm / 31in
  • Chest: 92cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Mountain
  • Preferred Terrain: Big days out that pack in the steep and technical
  • Current Bikes: Mondraker Foxy Carbon, BTR Fabrications Custom hardtail, BMC Teamelite SE02 SLX
  • Dream Bike: Nicolai Ion 16 Longest
  • Beer of Choice: Franziskaner Weissbier
  • Location: Paris, France

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