Trek Mamba review

Fun entry-level hardtail

Our rating 
4.5 out of 5 star rating 4.5
GBP £699.99 RRP | USD $1,019.99

Our review

A popular test ride, if let down slightly by a couple of (easily upgraded) components
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The Mamba’s frame and fork are decent offerings on a £700/US$1,000 bike, so we can excuse the fact the that drivetrain is downmarket compared to a lot of its price rivals. So the big issue here is whether Trek’s considerable 29er design expertise can overcome those parts compromises. 


Ride & handling: Fun and easy on difficult trails

We’d say the Trek is relatively easy to ride, either fast or slow. It responds superbly to every little nuance of rider input, never feels like a 14kg (31lb) bike on the climbs and tames bumpy terrain more effectively than a 26in-wheeled bike with a 120mm travel fork.

The rounded carcass, spacy knob profile and soft compound of the Bontrager tyres mean they grip very well in almost all trail conditions. This adds considerably to the feeling of confidence the bike exudes. But the fact remains that’s it’s not as well equipped in the drivetrain area as a lot of other £700/US$1,000 bikes.  

Frame & equipment: Excellent design and spec

This is one of Trek’s Gary Fisher Collection bikes, and the extra cash you might fork out for the RockShox XC32 fork is money well spent. The relatively fat stanchions make for better tracking and less fluttery responses than with cheaper suspension options. You also get a decent lockout, an effective preload dial and rebound damping adjustment. 

Fisher’s G2 geometry specifies a custom fork crown that increases fork offset and reduces trail; this conspires to produce a ride that has the inherent stability of a 29er, yet the more lively low-speed steering of a 26er. 

Trek mamba hardtail:
Russell Burton/Future Publishing

The Mamba frame is nicely constructed. A squat reinforced head tube and curvy down tube avoids the lanky front end that often afflicts 29ers, but the washer stack on the steerer allows more than an inch of up/down adjustment – more if you flip the stem. The Bontrager handlebar is almost flat, but the comfy backsweep is kind on the wrists and the 27.5in width seems to suit most riders. 

The frame offers generous standover clearance and two sets of bottle bosses. The Hayes Dyno Sport brakes are powerful enough but not as nicely modulated as some others, and the pads need heating up on a long descent to bed in before you can rely on their stopping power. 

The Deore/Acera/Alivio mix 3×9 drivetrain is downmarket compared to many price rivals, but function is still excellent. The wheels are average: Bontrager AT-850 rims and Formula hubs shod with fast but grippy 2.2in Bontrager treads. 

We were disappointed with the Trek’s brakes, but the downmarket drivetrain still works well and the frame and fork will certainly bear the cost of eventual drivetrain upgrades.


This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

Product Specifications


Name Mamba (13)
Brand Trek

Available Colours Black Orange
Handlebar Bontrager, low rise, 700mm
Weight (kg) 14
Stem Bontrager, 80mm
Shifters Shimano Alivio, 3x9
Seatpost Bontrager SSR
Saddle Bontrager Evoke 1
Rims Bontrager AT850
Rear Tyre Bontrager
Rear Hub Formula DC22
Rear Derailleur Shimano Deore
Grips/Tape Bontrager Race
Available Sizes 15.5 17.5 19 21 23"
Front Tyre Bontrager
Front Hub Formula DC20
Front Derailleur Shimano Acera
Frame Material Alpha Gold butted aluminium
Fork RockShox XC32, coil, lockout and G2 geometry, 100mm
Cranks Shimano Alivio, 44/32/22T
Chain KMC
Cassette Shimano HG20 11-34, 9-speed
Brakes Hayes Dyno Sport hydraulic discs, 160mm rotors
Bottom Bracket Shimano Octalink
Weight (lb) 31.1