The Good: Solid components for the price, great balance of performance and cost. I haven't changed a thing from stock and it performs well on steep climbs, rocky trails, tight corners, and fast descents. A great do-it-all bike!
The Bad: Tires are a bit thin on tread for rocky areas and loose-over-hard conditions. They are just "OK', but I would have liked to see the XR4's fitted on a bike like this. To really nitpick, I'd say that Trek/Fox needs to lower the recommended shock pressures. They're too high for anything but smoother trails.
For reference my last two bikes were a 2012 Blur LTc and Trek Fuel EX9. Both great bikes, but the Blur was the clear favorite. The trails I normally ride (Upper Bidwell Park in Chico, CA) are rocky, technical, and rarely maintained. It's a lot like Downieville, minus the smooth flow of some of the more loamy forest trails. So keep that in mind with this review, as it seems to differ quite a bit from most mountain bike trails in other places I've ridden.
Component spec:Overall, the component selection on the Remedy 8 is excellent, especially considering the price tag of around $3,000. A mix of SLX/XT components, tubeless compatible Duster wheelset, and suspension make this a very capable bike bone stock. Aside from having my LBS convert the wheels to tubeless with rim strips, I've been running the bike stock for the past 3 weeks. It's handled everything I've thrown at it incredibly well, and performs on par with my old Blur LTc.
Gripes: As I mentioned above, the tires leave a bit to be desired. They're a light, lower tread design more suitable for trails with plenty of dirt to grip. They don't inspire confidence on loose soil over hardpack or on loose rocks. No surprise there, and before I even bought the bike I knew I'd be swapping those meats out eventually. The only other change I'm going to make from stock is the addition of a dropper post; most likely the KS LEV.
Suspension: At stock recommended fork and shock pressures the bike rides a little stiff. It's perfect for smoother trails, but the bike feels bouncy and unsettled on fast, rocky descents. This was the case even in "Descend" mode I notice the front tire pushing out on loose corners and found I got kicked off my line more than usual. Lowering the rear 15psi and the fork 10psi solved the problem immediately. All modes feel as they should: plush, medium, firm.
Fox Float CTD DRCV Shock: I was pleasantly surprised at the improvement of the latest revision of the DRCV rear shock. I had a similar setup on my Fuel EX9, but could just never get it quite dialed. Either it was too firm and nervous on the downs, or would bottom out on the hard hits. And that impression seems to hold true for a lot of people on previous DRCV shocks. That seems to have been resolved on the Remedy: flip the shock into Climb and it's surprisingly firm, hardly moving when you're mashing out of the saddle. Trail mode could be used all the time, and works well for a mixture of climbing and moderately rough descents. On the rough and fast downhills though, the Descend mode is buttery smooth but with enough support to keep the tire hugging the ground.
Fox 34 CTD 140mm: Similar to the shock, the Fox 34 up front does a great job once you find the right pressure. I rarely feel the need to flick it into Descend mode except on prolonged or really rough descents. In Trail mode it works perfectly 90% of the time, so that's usually where it stays. On out of the saddle climbs, I did notice some unwanted compression of the front end in Trail mode, but nothing too extreme. I only have felt the need to use the Climb mode on fire road climbs, and it firms up the front end like a lockout.
27.5 vs. 26": Oddly enough, I've seen little difference between wheel sizes in actual riding. The bike seems to have better traction up loose uphill scrambles, and maintains speed better than my Blur LTc. Like 29ers I've tried, it feels like the wheels are harder to get rolling initially, but like to keep rolling. But again, the difference is so small it's insignificant. Just like any bike, the more I ride it the more the handling feels like second nature. Chalk that up to wheel size, geometry differences, or just the fact that it's a new bike!
Last words: I think one term that defines this bike is "balance". As far as decent full suspension trail bikes go, it seems the Remedy 8 strikes a perfect balance of price and performance. There are some Bontrager house parts, but they're all solid and well chosen. It literally needs nothing else other than some pedals and a rider to be a "ride all things" type of bike. It feels very planted and comfortable maneuvering in tight corners or through rock gardens. The 67.5 degree head angle is well balanced for climbing and descending. It feels easy to track stand, or crawl slowly through technical terrain, and is a hell of a lot of fun on descents. I suspect this will be a good ride for many years to come!