Trek's newest update to the Rail 9.9 and 9.8 see a host of changes for 2022. From revised geometry to an abundance of technology, the 2022 Trek Rail might be the most E, e-bike we've laid our hands upon. Vital has only just taken custody of this new eMTB and in that time we've been flooded off the trails with rain. We'll be looking to log the miles and pit some challenges to the new Trek Rail in the coming months. For now, let's dig into the details of this electrified mountain bike. As a quick aside, the Rail 9.7 and lower will not be seeing any of these updates for 2022.
- 160mm (6.2-inches) front travel // 150mm (5.9-inches) rear travel
- Trek ABP suspension design
- Carbon frame
- 29-inch wheels
- Mino Link adjustable geometry
- Bosch Performance Line CX Motor - 85Nm
- 750Wh battery
- Bosch Smart system
- Boost 148 rear hub spacing with 12mm axle
- Custom RockShox Super Deluxe with ThruShaft
- Knock Block 2.0 - 72-degree turning radius and removable
- 34.9 Seat tube
- Air Wiz Fork and Shock integration (as tested)
- Tyre Wiz wheel integration (as tested)
- Weight - Rail 9.9 XX1 AXS: 50-pounds (size medium, no pedals)
- Price range: $5,599 - $13,499 USD
- Price: $13,499 as tested
We'll begin with what we know best, the bike portion. Trek's new Rail 9.9 gets an update to the geometry, bringing it more in line with the latest Slash. As riders may safely surmise, the Rail now sports a longer reach across all sizes and a steeper seat angle. While the growth is rather large, the Rail's reach numbers now sit among the average for bikes of equivalent sizing designations. The new 77-degree seat angle is steepish but not wild. We are good with that, as climbing with an e-bike takes a different approach and positioning than a mountain bike.
Through the use of the Mino link (flip chip) riders can put the Rail in the high setting and run a 27.5-inch rear wheel. The result is a bike that is .3-degrees more slack and slightly lower than the stock, 29er option in the low setting. Trek will be shipping the Rail in the low position but riders can run it in high for sharper angles and greater pedal clearance.
Trek has outfitted the new Rail with the same RockShox Super Deluxe ThruShaft shock found on the Slash. The customized approach to compression tuning was actually something we enjoyed, so we're pleased to see it show up on the Rail. Additionally so, because we were less than impressed with the unit on the prior Rail. Trek upped the ante though. Incorporated on both the rear shock and fork is an Air Wiz unit. This particular setup is a Trek exclusive and will not be available aftermarket or via other brands (as far as we know.)
Riders will download the SRAM AXS app and sync their phones with the shock units. By inputting your rider weight, the app will tell you how much air to put into the shock and fork. From there, a blinking LED light will go green with the proper pressure or red if you are outside the threshold of what is recommended. Riders can see how much pressure is in the fork or shock by accessing the app, rather than hooking up a shock pump.
With Flight Attendant so freshly on our minds, we had to know if there was more. There is no diagnostic or tuning feedback provided. The Air Wiz units are strictly a tool to visually check shock pressure and see if the setting is within the baseline recommended window. So no, this is not Flight Attendant "light."
Moar Wireless Syncing
Our test bike was not done with the blinking lights though. While in the AXS app, we went ahead and synced up the Tyre Wiz units to get our tire pressure set to the recommended levels. We tested these units some time ago but have yet to see them as part of an OE build. Just like the shock units, the wheels will flash green for go and red to indicate an issue. Just as with the suspension, riders can see their tire pressure via the AXS app, rather than connect a pump.
For a total of six synced parts, we linked up the SRAM XX1 AXS derailleur and shifter. We've covered SRAM's AXS system plenty and it goes without saying that we are familiar and always pleased to ride it. It would seem that the new Rail 9.9 is ushering in an era of digital integration into mountain biking. While we are seeing all of this for the first time in one place on an e-bike, there is nothing keeping this from being on your next mountain bike. Love it or not, we are here.
For the remainder of the parts, our Rail 9.9 saw some familiar faces. Bontrager's Line Pro 30 rims are light, fast, and super stiff. They toed the line during our last go with the Rail. We were also quite happy to see some new Bontrager rubber on our 9.9. Again, one of our chief complaints with our Rail during Test Sessions was the front tire's inability to contain the fury of this e-bike. The new SE6 looks to be a promising update.
It wouldn't be an e-bike without a motor and battery. Bosch recently launched its Smart System, which is specced on the new Rail. This system, along with a 750Wh battery should have riders going all darn day. Trek's slick removable battery system stays in place. Riders can quickly remove the battery with a key. The battery can be charged separately (not mounted) from the bike, or while installed.
The Bosch Performance Line CX motor puts out 85NM of torque, right in line with its competitors. Bosch offers four different power settings to suit riders' needs. Eco, Tour, and Turbo are the most familiar to non-Bosch users as they reflect what many systems offer. The differentiating setting is eMTB, just below Turbo. This is an adaptive setting that uses a variety of assistance based on rider input. Riders wanting more assistance, while still getting improved range can just put the bike in eMTB mode and let it run.
Mounted to the left side of the handlebar is a control module that lets riders navigate the new Kiox 300 display on the top tube. Smartly, when turning on the bike, there is a warning about distracted riding, much as we see in our automobiles today. Once you've dismissed the warning, riders can begin navigating the system. There's a bevy of information to be had here and a variety of diagnostic information.
The Kiox 300 screen can be easily dismounted by hand if riders prefer to not have the display or are doing some riding where the display is in the way (bikepacking, kid seat, etc). The Bosch system will still turn on and function like normal. With a bright LED display on the bar control unit, riders will know what mode they are in via color illumination. There is even a bar graph to show the battery level.
Want even more digital tools at your disposal? The Bosch smart system will sync with your phone via the Flow app and further integrate into other apps and tools. Riders will get diagnostic information, ride stats, and the ability to integrate into health apps.
As mentioned, only the Trek Rail 9.9 and 9.8 models are receiving the latest updates. That includes a total of five different builds. The Rail line has a total of ten different builds. We recommend heading to Trek's website to see what the full lineup consists of. For now, here is how the updated 2022 models are looking.
All of Trek's 2022 Rail 9.9 and 9.8 models will use the Bosch Performance Line CX motor with a 750Wh battery. Models below this tier will use the Bosch Performance CX Magnesium motor with 625Wh batteries (500Wh on the entry, Rail 5).
The Rail eMTB line starts out with the Rail 5, listing for $5,599 ($7,499 CAD). Riders can get into the updated 2022 Rail 9.8 GX just shy of the five-figure mark for $8,999 ($12,499 CAD). The Rail line tops out with our 9.9 XX1 AXS model at a scant $13,499 ($17,999 CAD).
We've touched upon all of the wild integrations and electro-wizardry of our top-tier Trek Rail 9.9. It does not stand alone, however, as Trek is also offering a Rail 9.9 XTR ($12,499) with the same Shock Wiz and Tyre Wiz integrations. The differentiating factor here is the obvious swap from the SRAM XX1 Eagle AXS to Shimano XTR 12-speed. Due to supply shortages, our test bike is equipped with a Bontrager dropper but customers will receive a RockShox AXS dropper while the XTR build will have the Bontrager dropper post.
Trek's Rail 9.8 series offers three different builds. The 9.8 line ditches the Wiz monitoring systems on the suspension and wheels. The fork moves from Ultimate to a ZEB Select+ while the rear shock is still a RockShox Super Deluxe Thru Shaft as found on the higher-end models. The key differentiating factor on each of the 9.8 models is the drivetrain. Trek is offering a GX Eagle, GX Eagle AXS, and Shimano XT. All three models use Bontrager Line Comp 30 wheels.
We've only been able to get the Rail out on a singular ride since its arrival. Bikes all across the industry are showing closer to the launch date, it's just how things are these days. In addition, our region has been getting pounded by rain, shutting down almost every trail. We did get out on one local moto trail. Being nothing but thirsty decomposed granite and solid rock, it runs best when wet.
Pressed for time between storms, we furiously pressed the control buttons until our Rail glowed red, indicating we were in Turbo mode. The soggy fire road ascent was no match for the Rail and we feverishly hummed up the hill at an easy 15mph. It has been some time since we rode the Bosch system and even though Shimano has upped its game, the Bosch just hits differently.
At the top of the initial climb, there is a short, fun descent that is pretty rowdy and has several natural doubles. Never missing a pedal stroke, we charged right in. Through the nasty bits and doubles, the Rail was making an odd sound. We assumed it to be a motor clack and carried on. After punching back up to what would be our actual descent, we reached for our water bottle. It was empty.
Upon inspection, we saw the shock was striking the bottom of the water bottle and had torn a hole in the bottom. The noise was not a motor clack, it was our bottle being torn asunder. With no room to adjust our 22-ounce Purist bottle any higher in the frame, we accepted our fate. The damage was already done and we at least knew the noise at this point. Size medium Rails will come with a spacer installed in the frame to get proper bottle clearance. Our test bike was missing this spacer, which resulted in the bottle damage.
Piloting the Rail 9.9 downhill was a blast. We were a bit mad at it for killing our Attitude Adjuster bottle, so we held no punches on our line. Only the most direct would do in the rock gardens. Much like a Sour Patch Kid, the Rail made nice with us and by the end of the descent, it was all hoots and hollers.
We are nowhere near drawing any conclusion on the 2022 Rail 9.9 but we will say there are immediate improvements over the prior model we tested. Bontrager's SE6 tire offers decidedly more grip than its predecessor. Additionally, Trek's new RockShox Super Deluxe ThruShaft kept its composure and was far more compliant than the older model.
To learn more about the 2022 Trek Rail line, head to Trekbikes.com
View key specs, compare bikes, and rate the 2022 Trek Rail in the Vital MTB Product Guide.
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