Trek’s Remedy 29er was one of the most dominant bikes on the Enduro World Series. It lead the way for other companies to develop similar race-ready 29er enduro rigs. So it was quite a surprise when Trek discontinued its winning model. The outstanding performance of the Slash clearly owes a lot to lessons learnt with the previous bike, though.
Made from Trek’s ‘OCLV Mountain Carbon’, the Slash frame is fairly light but also massively stiff, letting you chop into the most aggressive lines with the force of a butcher’s cleaver. Cartridge bearings are used at the shock mounts to make the damper feel as sensitive as possible.
The Boost 148mm rear axle that Trek pioneered slots straight through the centre of the rear ‘ABP’ pivots, while deep, symmetrical, single-ring-specific chainstays complete the rear end.
Impact bumpers protect the belly and chainstay, and there’s another under the down tube throat in case the ‘Knock Block’ — Trek’s unique steering lock limiter, which is integrated into the top tube — slips and lets the fork whip round.
Trek pairs the top-end Fox Float X2 shock with a matching 36 TALAS fork, which can be dropped from 160mm to 130mm for improved climbing. On the trail, our Superbike of the Year testers rarely used the external travel adjustment but relished the fact it’s the high and low-speed tunable ‘racer’s favourite’ RC2 model, not the climb-lever-equipped FIT4 version.
The TALAS feature does add a noticeable amount of seal drag, which hampers the fork's small-bump sensitivity. It also adds cost to an already pricey bike. A standard 36 RC2 would be our choice.
SRAM’s X01 Eagle group with monster 50t sprocket makes climbing easier, and the 10t cranker cog means even this missile won’t be short of DH drive.
In-house Bontrager kit is used elsewhere and it has high and low points. The DT Swiss-based hubs of the Line Elite 30 wheels have upgraded pickup to create a fast and tight wheelset, and the SE4 tyres are all-conditions favourites, with a great tactile feel.
While it’s a slightly odd shape, the 780mm carbon bar is a good width once you’ve got the rotation right and the 35mm stem is spot on. The Drop Line seatpost does have it's downsides — we’d prefer a longer-than-125mm stroke and faster action.
Detail niggles aside, the ride of the Slash is jaw-dropping, even in such an exotic line-up. For a start, the sensitivity of the bearing-mounted shock and ABP architecture is phenomenal, so traction is exceptional whether you’re flat out with heels dropped, wrenching in a couple of pedal revs between turns or winching up a techy climb.
That sensitivity extends right through the stroke too, so no matter how you tune the Float X2 shock, it responds with impeccable accuracy. Add the 29in wheels and the Slash is genuinely DH bike fast in how it carries speed through roots, rocks, wheel-eating holes and stepdowns.
Not only is the suspension on point but the whole bike feels quiet, utterly poised and HD feedback-rich, no matter how much work the wheels and dampers are doing underneath. It’s as close as you’ll get to putting your head on a gimbal, letting you spot lines and stay on the attack when the trail would normally be an intimidating blur.
The hyper-stiff frame and fork let you make maximum use of the relatively slack 65.5-degree head angle, sorted cockpit dimensions and stability-boosting 460mm reach (large size).
While the Slash sits quite high on paper, the easy shock compression means it feels scythe-sweepingly low on the trail. It doesn’t just hit every mark, it opens up psychotically aggressive lines you’d never even look at normally and hits them flat out with stability, grip and confidence to spare.
While the shock looks overactive under pedalling, the Trek is actually a remarkably efficient and swift climber over the most staccato surfaces if you just get on with the job, and more stable suspension is only a flick of the climb switch away. Considering it descends like a freight train, the Slash is surprisingly light and fast-rolling when it comes to tapping out the miles too, making it a truly stunning all-rounder from first sight to last light.