Reviewed by Steve Wentz and Brandon Turman // Photos by Shawn Spomer and Lear Miller
The Trek Remedy has been a mainstay in the trail bike realm since before trail bikes were a must have item. For 2014 the bike received a few upgrades in the form of 27.5-inch wheels and a burlier 34mm stanchion fork. Surprisingly Trek reduced the travel from 150 to 140mm as a result of the bigger wheels and in an effort to better fill the gap between the 120mm Fuel EX and 160mm Slash. They also reduced the head angle by 0.5 degrees. Would any of the changes be detrimental to the ride or would they improve it in other ways? Curious to find out we pedaled it all over Sedona, Arizona during the 2014 Vital MTB Test Sessions.
Trek Remedy 9.8 27.5 Highlights
- OCLV Mountain Carbon main frame and seatstay, alloy chainstay
- 27.5-inch (650b) wheels
- 5.5-inches (140mm) of rear wheel travel
- Trek Full Floater suspension design with DRCV FOX Performance Series CTD Float rear shock
- Integrated E2 tapered headtube
- 67.5 or 68.1-degree head angle (size 18.5 tested)
- 67.5 or 68.1-degree seat tube angle (size 18.5 tested)
- 13.3 or 13.6-inch (338 or 346mm) bottom bracket height
- 17.1 or 17.0-inch (435 or 433mm) chainstay length
- ISCG05 tabs
- 142x12mm through axle
- Measured weight (size 18.5, no pedals): 28-pounds (12.7kg)
- $5,559 MSRP
Our test bike was the Remedy 9.8 model, which is the second-tier in the Remedy lineup and one of three carbon offerings. After a thorough once over, everything about the frame seemed very well thought out - something we've come to expect of Trek bikes.
Expect for the chainstay, the Remedy 9.8 frame is made with Trek's Optimum Compaction, Low Void (OCLV) Mountain Carbon, which could be argued is a good thing seeing as how the chainstay is most likely to be struck by rocks and trail debris.
The bike features a Mino Link geometry adjustment system in the seat stay. In the “high” position the bike has a 68.1-degree headtube angle and 13.6-inch bottom bracket height. Flipping the chip to the “low” position brings the head angle down to 67.5-degrees and lowers the bb height to 13.3-inches.
Out back, the Remedy relies on Trek's Full Floater suspension design coupled with a magnesium EVO link and Active Braking Pivot (ABP) centered on the 142x12mm rear axle to deliver 140mm of travel. Trek's Dual Rate Control Valve (DRCV) FOX Float CTD shock uses an internal plunger to cycle between two chambers, combining the pedaling benefits of a low volume shock and the big hit cushion of a high volume one. Unfortunately the bike uses a proprietary 197x57mm shock size, making swaps a little difficult, but RockShox recently released a compatible Monarch for those looking to make a switch.
Internal routing for the rear derailleur, front derailleur, and seatpost add to the sleek look of the frame and really clean things up nicely, though they can be a hassle when it comes time to do maintenance. Additional frame features include a post mount disc brake, direct mount front derailleur, exclusive BB95 bottom bracket, integrated tapered headtube, ISCG tabs, room for a water bottle inside the front triangle, ~1.25cm of mud clearance with the stock 2.35-inch Bontrager tires, and a rubberized downtube guard.
With six different models to choose from, ranging in price from $2,840 to $8,300, the Remedy line is just as diverse as the terrain they say it can tackle. Add in five sizes per model and you've got a whole lot of variations of the same bike to choose from. Options are good, and in this case it's very likely that Trek has one to fit your budget and size needs.
On The Trail
We piloted the Remedy up and down some of Sedona’s best rides. Trails included Tea Cup, Jordan, Slimshady, HiLine, Old Post, Carroll Canyon, Ridge, and Templeton.
To our 5’8” tall tester the size 18.5 Remedy frame felt spacious with lots of standover. To our 5’10” tester the same frame felt very compact. Having just come off a long-term test of a similarly sized 18.5 Trek Slash, a burlier 160mm travel bike, he had grown accustomed to the roomier 440mm reach. Hopping on the same size Remedy he was surprised to find the bike felt noticeably shorter. While the top tube measurements are similar, the frame’s reach measures just 417mm, over an inch shorter than the Slash and the shortest of all 25 bikes in our Test Sessions. Trek does spec a longer stem on the Remedy than the Slash, but that's not an ideal solution. In short, for those on the border of typical medium/large sizing, consider the slightly larger 19.5 size.
While we’re on the topic of sizing, it's odd that the size (e.g. 18.5 or 19.5) doesn't actually correlate to the seat tube height measurement. In most cases the seat tube is 1-inch shorter than the size indicates. This nomenclature could be misleading to some.
The stock bars are a bit narrow at 720mm, which seems a bit out of place for the very capable Remedy line. The nearly flat, narrow bar coupled with 140mm front travel seemed a bit low and stretched out for descent oriented riders. A wider riser bar with a 50/60 stem would likely be an improvement to the overall handling. The low front end feeling is made worse on larger sizes that have a very short head tube, so consider the use of spacers under the stem if new bars aren’t an option.
Pointed downhill the Remedy has tons of potential. Provided you’re on the right size, the bike’s geometry helps create a ride that’s stable and really fun to charge on. It picks up speed quickly, aided by the lightweight Bontrager tires. Confidence isn't as high as the burlier bikes on offer from Trek, but it will handle most trail obstacles in its stride. It jumps well, pumps well, manuals easily, and feels stable under most trail conditions. When things turn steep, however, the bike is held back a little by its head angle and stock cockpit. A fork with 10mm more travel would be a welcome addition, helping to slack the front end a hair, raise the sagged ride height slightly, and give the bike a more rearward weight bias when going downhill. We rode the bike in the lower/slacker geometry setting with a 67.5-degree head angle and 13.3-inch bottom bracket height, and can't imagine a scenario when we’d want to go to the steeper/higher mode. As it was there was lots of clearance for rocks and it cornered well.
The FOX Float 34 CTD fork was sufficiently stiff, a welcome change from prior years, and the rear suspension matched up quite well. The DRCV shock felt very controlled and close to bottomless on sections with successive bumps, which helped it track nicely and feel planted in corners. G-outs and jumps were decent as well as we pressed into the mid-stroke. Large single hits easily bottomed the shock with the frame’s slightly progressive design, but luckily Trek offers aftermarket shock volume spacers made by Push for those who find this to be a common occurrence. Overall the bike strikes a great balance between sticking to the ground and being able to move it around at will.
At 28 pounds, the Remedy 9.8 isn’t incredibly lightweight on the scale, but on trail it changes direction quickly and feels very nimble. Rolling speed seemed on par with many other 27.5-inch wheeled bikes if not a little quicker thanks to the lightweight Bontrager tires.
Pedaling and sprinting was very good in the big chainring. Quick bursts from the granny ring resulted in a more perceptible loss of power and bob, however. The bike puts you in a good position for climbing and does not require a shock lockout or any special levers. Pedal efficiency is aided by the Trail mode on the rear shock, though it performs best in Descend mode on rough terrain, allowing the rear to track the terrain better and maintain traction. In the rockiest terrain, the Remedy was easy to move around on, keep our balance, and just keep moving up and through rough sections, which surprised us in a good way.
The Remedy 9.8 comes equipped with a nice mix of components from FOX, Shimano, Bontrager, RockShox, and FSA.
Aside from a possible bar/stem swap as mentioned previously, we’d also consider changing out the white Bontrager saddle and grips. Though comfortable, they’ll likely get dirty your first ride out.
The 125mm RockShox Reverb Stealth seatpost was a welcome addition to the build and worked well. Reverb and Shimano XT brake lever compatibility could be better as the two don’t interact well on the bars, however, making it difficult to get that perfect position.
Braking and rolling speed was great on the 2.35-inch Bontrager XR3 Team Issue tires, and we commend Trek for spec’ing a set of high volume tires on a bike that will use them. They were a slight bit vague on Sedona's sometimes loose-over-hard dirt and steep slickrock terrain, leading us to believe a slightly beefier/knobbier front tire would help out up front. Something with a little more sidewall support could also add to the overall stability of the bike. We’ve found puncture resistance while running tubes to be poor on many Bontrager trail tires in the past, but we didn’t have any issues this time.
The Bontrager Rhythm Comp wheels were stiff and problem free. We’ve put the wheels through a beating in other tests and they proved to be quite durable. They’re easy to repair with readily available parts if something really goes wrong. Provided you pick up a set of Bontrager TLR rim strips they’re also tubeless compatible, and we’ve had good luck with their ability to hold a tire without burping.
Shimano’s XT brakes bedded in very quickly, providing lots of predictable power consistent with all the other Shimano stoppers we’ve used.
After riding many bikes with single ring drivetrains during our Test Sessions, the 2x10 Shimano XT setup seemed a bit out of place at first. The added range was welcome though, especially after several days of big rides back to back. There was very little drag and we never dropped a chain thanks the clutch mechanism. Chain noise wasn’t too bad, but in the small chainring there was some chain slap on rougher terrain.
Long Term Durability
It's tough to forecast long term concerns, but the bike as a whole seemed very reliable. Trek sweats the small details, has an impressive testing facility, and maintenance of the critical components seems like it won't be an issue. Worst case, the frame and Bontrager components are backed by a limited lifetime warranty with a five year condition on the swing arm.
What's The Bottom Line?
The Trek Remedy 9.8 27.5 is a great all around, all day bike that strikes a great balance between fun and stability. Trek classifies it in the same “Technical Trail/Enduro” category as the burlier Slash, and there's certainly potential in that classification given the performance of the suspension and most of the components. We think it'd take a few part swaps to be ready for the burliest of trails, though. In the end we think it’s a great platform to build on and a really good starting point that lots of people will enjoy as a trail bike. Just be sure to carefully consider the sizing before purchasing.
Visit www.trekbikes.com for more details.
About The Reviewers
Steve Wentz - A man of many talents, Steve got his start in downhilling at a young age. He has been riding for over 17 years, 10 of which have been in the Pro ranks. Asked to describe his riding style he said, "I like to smooth out the trail myself." Today he builds some of the best trails in the world (and eats lots of M&M's).
Brandon Turman - Brandon likes to pop off the little bonus lines on the sides of the trail, get aggressive when he's in tune with a bike and talk tech. In 14 years of riding he worked his way through the Collegiate downhill ranks to the Pro level. Formerly a Mechanical Engineer, nowadays he's Vital MTB's resident product guy.