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Trek Slash 8

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Highlights:

·  Aluminium Frame

·  27.5 inch wheels

·  160mm rear wheel travel

·  E2 tapered head tube

·  65 or 65.6 degree head angle

·  Bottom bracket height 35 or 35.8cm

·  Chainstay length 43.5 or 43.3cm

·  Standover 76.2 or 76.9cm

·  Seat tube angle 66.5 or 67.1 degree

·  Pressfit BB

·  12x142mm rear axle spacing

·  Weight without pedals, frame size 18.5inch, 29.6lbs

Trek’s Slash bike had a massive overhaul for 2014 and was transformed into a very capable enduro/trail bike. 27.5 inch wheels, updated geometry (Slacker head angle and a longer front triangle) and improved spec made the Slash a very good all rounded bike. Capable of racing at the top level of enduro but still incredibly fun bike to ride around your local trail centre red route.

For 2015 the geometry stays the same. There are changes in spec and colour but also now at the top of the range carbon models. You can pick from 5 models, 2 aluminium and 3 carbon. Starting at the bottom is the Slash 7 & 8. Both come equipped with a RockShox Pike upfront, a Monarch Plus Debonair shock and on the 8 an Internal reverb dropper post which for the price is incredibly good. One of the big changes in spec this year is the RockShox Debonair shock, after years of running Fox’s custom DRCV shock the Slash finally gets an upgrade. £2500 gets you the bottom model but with some top end spec. The Slash 9, 9.8 and 9.9 are the 3 carbon models in the range. Starting at £4300 they are still very well priced especially seen as they are carbon frames, the bottom model 9 bike comes stock with a 1x11 drivetrain, XT brakes and top level suspension. All the models stick with Trek’s proven Full Floater suspension design backed up with the ABP, Active Braking Pivot. Treks Mino Link geometry adjustment system provides incredibly easy and affective changes to the bikes handling and feel. In the high position the bike sits at 65.6 degree head angle, in the low position it goes to an even slacker 65 degree head angle. All of this is easily done by simply flipping round the linkage nut/bolt just under the seat stay. All frames also include a direct front mech mount, semi internal cable routing and some ISCG tabs for an optional chain guide.

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On The Trail

From the get go the Slash definitely feels like its more of a gravity lover. Slack head angle and long front triangle gives it the feeling of a downhill assassin. But at the same time the Slash feels comfortable, it’s not ridiculously slack, it’s not outrageously long. It feels right. Getting onto climbing with the bike, the Slash does so with ease. Once again the comfort of the bike stands out to me, the position you sit in is a good one. Spinning away up the climbs is easy with no traction issues or any sluggishness. On paper the Slash definitely screams out for the descents, but it climbs like a dream. Nice and easy to pedal and a pleasure to ride. One thing that with the bottom end Slash’s is how the Monarch shock doesn’t come with any lockout/pro-pedal/open feature. The shock is just open, so on some serious effort climbs you do get a bit of bob. How much this takes out of you I don’t know, honestly I don’t think a lot. After a while you get used to it and don’t really notice any travel bobbing, and also it does prevent you from ever forgetting to take your shock out of climb mode. We have all done the classic mid way down a trail realising why the suspension felt so rigid. So we have established the Slash climbs well, but how does it perform on the descents.

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Even in the high mode the Slash’s 65.6 degree head angle is slack and with it being slack you really don’t need to hold back in any rough sections. The Slash is begging for bigger rocks, more gas to flats, massive root sections and the roughest of rock gardens. The Debonair really comes into its own on the descents, combined with Treks progressive suspension design both together make for an incredibly buttery smooth yet seemingly endless travel shock feel. With the ABP design out the back taking care of the braking, the Slash sits up when necessary and then releases when needed. I had no issues with the bikes handling, even in some of the roughest terrain I always felt planted and secure, yet when you wanted to get the back end out and turn some heads you still could.

Build Kit

The Slash is well designed, well built and in this case beautifully finished. The build kit on this Slash is pretty damn good. The new Fox 36 RC2 160 fork upfront provides amazing suspension. Really stiff fork and once a bit of time is taken to set the up, a truly brilliant fork. Low bump sensitivity with the hard hitting capabilities of a 40 fork but at the weight of a 34. The 36 really does add to the Slash’s great feel and I think without it would ride a lot differently and wouldn’t have as much aggression. The fork like the bike screams out for harder hits and takes them in its stride.

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Backed up with RockShox’s Monarch Plus Debonair out the back the pair together are a formidable team. The Monarchs ability to ride so smooth on some of the tamest of trails but then at the same time take some of the largest hits without blowing through its travel. It’s so well designed and is incredibly well built. The new Debonair system is the main source of wow factor for the Monarch. You can set the shock up to feel like a DH bike but at the same time climb like an XC whippet. With suspension taken care of the Slash’s braking is taken care of Shimano’s SLX brake, there’s not much really to say about them if I’m honest, you fit them and forget. I have had no issues with any sets and the only time they are in the work stand is for pad replacement and occasionally a bleed. Great power and nice feel. RaceFace’s Turbine Wheelset keeps the Slash rolling. The XC/Trail wheelset from RaceFace are surprisingly capable, although not really designed for hard hitting enduro tracks the Turbines have lasted well. I do occasionally have them in the jig for a quick true and tension adjust but haven’t yet broken any spokes or rims. One issue I did have was with the freehub, in the delightfully wet conditions ok the UK the lack of sealing in the freehub is made very apparent. I do have to clean it out and re-grease every few months, but with it being winter and rather wet I’m sure in the summer it will last a lot longer. SRAM’s X1 budget drivetrain takes care of gearing. Compared to all the top model XX1 and even XO1 drivetrains there is a fair difference. I find the shifting to be a lot stiffer and not as smooth, however that’s not to say its to stiff or not smooth at all. The X1 shifting is crisp and precise. The cassette is a tad heavier but is still reasonable. The mech is also a tad heavier not being carbon. But after giving mine a few whacks on rocks and other trail obstacles after a quick bit of elbow grease you have a straight mech again. After trying the same with an XX1 mech you can’t get the same result. Once you have knocked it out of line it is difficult to get it back right and it isn’t exactly cheap to buy a replacement. The rear end is good, the shifting is good, the weight isn’t to bad and it’s a damn sight cheaper. Upfront taking crank duties are the bit more expensive but a lot lighter XX1 carbon cranks. The X1 cranks supplied are heavy and I felt a little bit of carbon wouldn’t go a miss on the Slash.

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I rarely ever dropped my chain on the Slash but seen as it was my race bike I didn’t want to risk it. With Gamut’s top guide aboard it keeps the chain even more secure and doesn’t compromise the shifting or pedalling at all really. Unfortunately for Gamut though the bolts they use seem to be made out of cheese and round out incredibly easy, but it’s not difficult to put some stronger bolts in. Something I am yet to get round to. Saddle wise I am running DMR’s Stage 1 saddle, its an incredibly comfortable saddle and is appealing to the eye. The Ride Saver feature is one of the big sellers for me. The Ride Saver strap located below the saddle means you can attach a tube and canister to your seat, eliminating any need of a bag really. With a bottle cage and some pockets on your jacket you can have everything you need to go out and race or even just a quick after work spin.

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What’s the bottom line?

The 2015 Trek Slash is one of the best all rounded bikes out there. Incredibly capable and more suited to the descents but still can climb with ease. Be it super steep, super rocky or just all round death tech the Slash can handle it. And to top it off its great value for money, top spec for not to much cash. Great feel, really comfortable to ride and then when you point it downhill it turns into a raging beast that won’t stop for no rock or root section. Playful, fun and tameable at the same time. Trek’s Slash is quality and I can’t wait to race it through this years season. 

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