Trek Remedy 9
Trek’s ‘technical trail’ (all-mountain by any other name) Remedy has been out for about four years now, and has undergone a gradual process of evolution over that time. For 2012 it sees probably the biggest change to date, with plenty of tweaks to the frame and geometry, as well as a new fork designed in collaboration with Fox. The previous Remedy garnered almost universal praise, so you’d expect Trek to be cautious about messing with such a proven recipe. No need to worry; whatever mountain biking illness afflicts you, the 2012 Remedy will almost certainly cure it!
For 2012 Trek will only be bringing three versions of the Remedy into Australia; the carbon-fibre framed Remedy 9.8, kitted with Shimano XT brakes and drivetrain plus an XTR Shadow Plus rear mech (and topped off with a Rockshox Reverb Stealth seatpost) at $5,999; our $4,299 aluminium Remedy 9, which loses the dropper post but is otherwise mostly the same in regards to the component spec; and the $3,299 Remedy 8, which drops theFITcartridge on the fork, has a simpler RP2 rear shock, and runs a predominantly SLX drivetrain with heavier wheels and a 135x5mm rear axle. The geometry and frame features are shared across the range, so you’d expect a lot of similarities in performance traits between the three. These prices clearly show that Trek is working to make their pricing competitive with the other major brands inAustralia. Our 18.5-inch test bike weighed 12.9kg without pedals, with a frame and shock weight of 2,960g; not bad at all for a full alloy bike with 150mm of travel at both ends.
Shape of Springs to Come
Trek’s Dual Rate Control Valve (DRCV) rear shock is not new, and has featured widely across their previous Fuel EX and Remedy ranges. For those who haven’t come across it yet, this slightly odd-looking shock has a smaller secondary air chamber which sits atop the main air can; at around 30% travel an internal pushrod opens this extra air chamber to increase the shock’s air volume. The underlying theory is sound, and simple; the initially small air chamber keeps the bike from feeling mushy and provides more sprightly pedalling performance, but when you go deeper into the travel the larger air volume provided by the additional chamber makes the suspension more linear and plush. The transition between these two modes is utterly seamless, and the shock works exactly as claimed; pedalling is generally taut and controlled, and yet you’ll still use full travel on big hits without smacking the bottom-out bumper.
Whilst the Remedy 8 uses the familiar Fox RP2 with DRCV, the Remedy 9 and 9.8 get a DRCV-equipped RP3 shock; that’s not a typo, but another very neat feature from Trek and Fox. It uses a three-position Pro Pedal lever, with the three positions corresponding to a fully-open damper setting for descending, a light Pro Pedal setting for general riding and technical climbs, and a firm Pro Pedal setting for long, smooth sections of trail and fire roads. Apparently some of the Trek riders have been asking Fox for this configuration for some years now, and it’s great that they’ve finally listened; it’s far easier to flick this three-position switch on the fly than it is to fiddle with the dial on an RP23 shock. Interestingly, Fox used to employ this three-position configuration in their top end aftermarket shocks before they decided that the RP23 format was the way to go. I found it very easy to use and very effective; love it, love it, love it!
But the bouncy fun doesn’t stop there, oh no! For 2012 the entire Remedy family gets DRCV technology in the fork as well, which solves the problem inherent in most air-sprung Fox forks; excessive end-stroke progression. In the past if you ran your fork firm enough to stop it diving under brakes it’d never use full travel, but if you ran it soft enough to use all the travel it’d dive like a startled penguin and bob like a crazed pecking chicken. It’s no surprise that the DRCV technology that works so well on the rear shock also performs on the fork, although it did seem to take a little longer to break in than a standard fork, and on our test bike felt ever so slightly less supple. That being said, it regularly gave up full travel, didn’t bottom out harshly and was composed under pedalling and braking loads. The second air chamber is cleverly hidden inside the stanchion, so there’s no external visual strangeness to give away the more complex internals of the fork, either. It’s gratifying to see bike and suspension manufacturers working together to push the development of new ideas, which can surely only be beneficial to us as riders.
The frame for the 2012 Remedy range gets a thorough re-work as well, from the head tube all the way to the rear dropouts. Over the last year or so we’ve seen top tubes on 150mm bikes getting longer and longer; the Remedy’s hasn’t stretched as far as some other brands, so whilst it’s comfortably long, the riding position is slightly more upright and keeps your body weight centred; this helps to make the bike feel more nimble and ‘flickable’.
Variable & Versatile
In stock form, the head angle has been slackened to a very stable 67-degrees, however Trek have also added their geometry adjusting ‘Mino Links’ to the seat stay/rocker link junction. With a 5mm allen key and about two spare minutes, you can raise the bottom bracket by 6mm and steepen the head angle to 67.5-degrees should you prefer a slightly faster steering ride or a shade more pedal clearance. Trek isn’t the only company to utilise this type of system, but it’s very easy to use and has virtually no weight or stiffness penalty, so why wouldn’t they offer riders the ability to fine-tune their Remedy’s geometry to their own personal tastes? Taking ‘customisation’ a step further there are three middle sizes (17.5, 18.5, and 19.5-inch) in the five size range, so average height riders are better able to pick exactly the right size rather than being stuck in-between; sorry to those who are either particularly short or tall.
The 2012 Remedy has stiffness in spades, helped no doubt by some very wide tube junctions in the front triangle, asymmetric chainstays, a serious cross brace at the seat stays (which still leaves masses of tyre clearance), and Trek’s Active Braking Pivot (ABP) concentric pivot rear end. One of the other inherent advantages of theABPdesign is that the two sides of the rear triangle are ‘tied’ very tightly together at the pivot location, so lateral flex is virtually eradicated. Even in the 135x5mm version ofABP(as used on the cheaper Remedy 8), the stiffness is noticeably better than most open dropout designs. However the Remedy 9 and 9.8 come with the 142x12mm version ofABP, so you’d probably have more luck finding a Thylacine than finding flex at the Remedy’s rear axle. You can also buy a conversion kit to swap between the 135x5mm and 142x12mm versions ofABPshould you have other wheelsets that aren’t compatible—thanks, but we’ll stick to the 12mm version if that’s okay.
As the name suggests, the specific layout of the rear linkage also allows the suspension to feel neutral under brakes, allowing you to ride hotter into turns and throw out the anchors later, confident that you won’t be skipping over the bumps like little red riding hood on the way to grandma’s. Whilst it’s true that most modern dual suspension bikes behave relatively well under brakes, the Remedy does at least live up to its acronym.