When it came to supplying a bike for testing, the Trek demo cupboard was almost bare apart from the uniquely freaky Stache 5. We’d heard consistently great things about this monster wheel machine all year though, so we were keen to find out if this radical head turner was a genuine opinion changer on the trail.
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It’s immediately obvious that the Stache 5 is far from conventional, even in today’s broad reaching MTB landscape. 3in wide Bontrager Chupacabra 29er plus tyres sit on windowed, 50mm wide Mulefüt rims. The result is a similar ground smoothing low pressure footprint to a 27.5in plus-tyre, but amplified in terms of bump shrinking speed sustained by the shallower contact angle of the 29in diameter.
Once you’ve got these rubber dinghies rotating, the smoothing effect on rolling, rocky or rooty trails is genuinely amazing. You’ll only miss not having any suspension when you start hitting bigger blocks and drops and the tyres start bottoming out and bouncing. As long as you get the tyre pressure right they’ve got the same traction levels as a slug on a wet window too.
By using a radical curved tube, asymmetric raised chainstay frame, Trek has managed to keep the Stache 5 feeling genuinely agile in terms of steering. The carbon rigid fork keeps weight down to an effervescent 12.18kg that’s easy to pop and hop over potential trouble and amplifies its feeling of float even further.
With the frame-only option costing £700, single ring component spec is okay rather than outstanding. It’s equally tyre pressure dependent and potentially puncture prone as other plus rides too, although the ‘Stranglehold’ dropouts make it compatible with conventional 29er or 27.5in plus wheels too.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.