Trek’s cheapest trail/enduro bike proves that if you get the basics right, you don’t need a ton of bling to build an enjoyable and impressively capable ride.
Frame and equipment: tried and trusted no-frills setup
The Slash follows Trek’s proven suspension template. The rear pivots rotate on the same axis as the 142x12mm axle and the shock is squeezed between a rocker linkage and extended chainstay tips. There are ISCG mounts, a down tube guard and a linkage chip that lets you drop the BB by 8mm and slacken the angles by 0.6 degrees.
It’s significant that the Slash uses a standard single-chamber shock – a RockShox Monarch Plus with the new DebonAir sleeve – rather than the proprietary twin-chamber Trek/Fox DRCV dampers of the 140mm Remedy and 120mm Fuel EX. It also uses a different shaped Evo Link rocker.
The RockShox shock is matched with the excellent Pike RC fork to give 160mm (6.3in) of travel at both ends. The mixed SRAM X9/X7 2x10 transmission is OK for the money, Bontrager’s tubeless-ready wheels and tyres strike a reasonable balance between speed and control, the cockpit is well shaped and Shimano’s Deore brakes always impress. The complete bike is fractionally lighter than the same priced, but shorter travel, Remedy 7.
Ride and handling: compromises don't limit trail beasting capabilities
Unlike the Remedy, the Slash rides lighter than it looks. There is some pedal bob under power because the shock lacks the three-position compression damping of the pricier Monarch Plus RC3, but it doesn’t mess with traction or pedalling rhythm even when out of the saddle. The XR4 Expert treads are more slippery in the wet than the pricier XR4 Teams, but tyre drift is just an excuse for the Slash to showcase the slide-sustaining balance and poise of its 65-degree head angle and long wheelbase.
Super-supple traction and excellent midstroke control from both dampers also amplifies control, whatever the terrain. Because the suspension is so sorted, with the Monarch Plus R proving way smoother and more predictable than the basic DRCV shocks on other Treks we’ve ridden, the lack of fancy adjustments is refreshing.
The Slash is gagging for a dropper post (there’s internal routing for one) and has a short top tube and long stem by the latest DH-derived standards, but out on the trail the dimensions and dampers add up to a fantastic ride.