Trek Superfly FS 9.8 SL review

There’s nothing superfluous about Trek’s light and superbly detailed Superfly

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0
GBP £4,200.00 RRP | AUD $5,999.00 | USD $5,249.99

Our review

Super responsive yet surprisingly controlled and charismatic high velocity ride at a cracking price
Skip to view product specifications

Gary Fisher was one of the original mountain bike racers down Mt Tamalpais in 1970s California and he’s been pushing the limits of off-road bike speed ever since he started fitting touring bike gears and motorbike brake levers to his beach cruiser.

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When Trek bought his brand and recruited him as an ambassador his thirst for racing carried on in the development of the original Olympic-winning Goldenfly for Paolo Pezzo. The long-running Superfly hardtail and full suspension range (now under the Trek brand banner) shows just how much racing and evolutionary experience the design has benefited from.

  • Highs: A super-light frame with outstanding level of detail, sorted suspension and top value ready to race kit.
  • Lows: The flexible frame might not suit powerhouse or precision loving riders.
  • Buy If: You want a blisteringly fast, fun and user friendly race or ride all day bike.

Frame and equipment: OCLV OCD

Trek has been building bikes completely from composites for longer than almost anyone else. Its trademark OCLV (Optimum Compaction Low Void) carbon has evolved over 20 years to include specific purpose related compositions and lay-up strategies such as the increased impact protection woven into Superfly’s OCLV Mountain material. Fisher/Trek was also the first large brand to use 29er wheels and tubeless-ready rubber over a decade ago. It’s no surprise then that the Superfly frame is one of the lightest full suspension chassis available at just over 4lb, or that it rolls on 29in wheels with tubeless valves included ready for conversion.

29er wheels and low tread Team Issue tyres underline the Superfly’s easy speed with even more rolling efficiency and momentum sustain
29er wheels and low tread team issue tyres underline the superfly’s easy speed with even more rolling efficiency and momentum sustain:
Russell Burton

29er wheels and low tread Team Issue tyres underline the Superfly’s easy speed with even more rolling efficiency and momentum sustain

Actually ‘rolls’ is the wrong word – it positively flies. With minimal drag from the chequerboard tread Team spec tyres and race weight spec throughout, the Superfly whips itself up to speed LOL fast. There’s definitely some flex through the back end (you can actually see the wheel twist if you’re following it up a rocky climb) as the power goes down, but not enough to lose track of what the tyre are doing or to feel like you’re wasting your effort.

While tracking is soft, traction levels are better than you’d expect from the tyres. The custom offset G2 fork boosts the lively and agile feel without undermining the inherent stability of the bigger wheels. It’s long enough in reach to thrive on singletrack with a shorter stem/wider bar cockpit too, so criticising a pure cross-country race bike for having a pure cross-country cockpit isn’t fair.

Ride and handling: easy as 123

Having recently ridden less flexible bikes with far less overall control the importance of sorted and predictable suspension is obvious on the Superfly. The Fox fork and shock aren’t amazing in any way but together with the pedal and brake neutral ABP pivot they keep the bike smoothly floated over most trail chatter so you can keep cranking the speed out.

A neat three position remote lever lets you instantly toggle shock and fork between fully open Descend, tighter Trail and locked out Climb modes too, but it’s balanced enough not to depend on your input. There’s just enough capacity to stop reckless moments ruining your ride and it’s not shy about forcing through an aggressive overtaking/descending line choice either.

The Superfly floats smoothly over the trail
The superfly floats smoothly over the trail:
Russell Burton

The Superfly floats smoothly over the trail

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In short it does everything you’d hope race suspension would, when it should making it well worth the weight penalty over a hardtail on technical trails in terms of sheer speed and properly playful charisma. It’s impressively affordable for its thoroughbred single ring carbon component loaded performance. There’s also a full range of both carbon and alloy bikes as well as Trek’s Project One custom program options if this particular bike is under/over your budget.

Product Specifications

Product

Name Superfly FS 9.8 SL (15)
Brand Trek

Available Sizes 15.5in 17.5in 19in 21in 23in
Year 2015
Seat Angle 73.8
Seatpost Bontrager Carbon zero offset
Shifters SRAM X1
Stem Bontrager Race X Lite, 100mm
Weight (kg) 11.01
Wheelset DT Swiss X1700 rim, DT Swiss X1700 hub
Weight (lb) 24.27
Rims DT Swiss X1700 Front and Rear
Bottom Bracket Height (in) 13
Chainstays (in) 17.8
Seat Tube (in) 19.02
Standover Height (in) 30.04
Top Tube (in) 23.86
Wheelbase (in) 45.24
Saddle Bontrager Evoke RXL
Rear Tyre Bontrager XR1 Team Issue TR, 29x2.2in
Bottom Bracket SRAM GXP PF95
Front Hub DT Swiss X1700
Brakes Shimano XT IceTec, 180mm rotors
Cassette SRAM XG1180, 10-42T
Chain SRAM PC 1130
Cranks SRAM X1 1400, 32T
Fork Fox 32 Float CTD FIT Performance G2 custom, 100mm
Frame Material OCLV Mountain Carbon, alloy chainstays
Front Tyre Bontrager XR1 Team Issue TR, 29x2.2in
Rear Shock Fox Float CTD FIT Performance, 100mm
Grips/Tape Bontrager Race Lite
Handlebar Bontrager Race X Lite carbon ultra low rise, 700mm
Head Angle 70
Headset Type Cane Creek IS-3
Rear Derailleur SRAM X01
Rear Hub DT Swiss X1700
Frame size tested 19in