Ridden: The 2012 Trek Slash 9

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Welcome to Whistler! Michael Browne, Trek's Brand Manager and fellow trail shredder, fills us in on why we're here. The new Slash 9 and Session 9.9 await. - Photos by Sterling Lorence
Our ride for day one - the 2012 Slash 9. This replacement to the Scratch Air is the latest technical trail offering from Trek. A balanced 160mm of travel front and rear, slack geometry, and carefully chosen components combine to make what many are calling, "a downhiller's trail bike."
For what this bike is designed to do, these numbers are perfect. The 66 degree head angle promises a forgiving yet agile ride, and the relatively long wheelbase means it'll stay stable at speed.
Going up! Ross Schnell and Rene Wildhaber lead the way toward a trail capable of fully testing the bike they helped create.
Geared up at the top and ready to roll. In the audio, Browne describes what Khyber Pass had in store for us during a nearly 5500 foot descent into Whistler. How did the bike purposed for true enduro style riding handle? Keep watching...
Before dropping in, check out the Mino Link, the black piece which allows you to fine tune the head angle and BB height. We were in low and slack mode - perfect for the day's agenda.
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Just flip the Mino for a 1/2 degree head angle and 1/4" bottom bracket adjustment.
Just a little way into the trail we were pointed down several steep rock rollers. Every 1/2 degree counted. Avid X0 brakes kept our speed in check above and below each steep pitch.
Notice how the pivot is located at the axle? That's Trek patented Active Braking Pivot (ABP) system.
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This is how it works.
The shock is attached to two moving linkage points, also known as Full Floater suspension. This provides two places to dial in the shock rate. With the ABP and Full Floater systems combined, the Slash has an incredible ability to respond to bumps over a wide variety of terrain.
On several occasions, we smashed through repeated small bumps leading into turns. The Slash soaked all of them up and stayed glued to ground when it mattered, even while braking.
At the heart of the ABP system is a 142x12mm axle.
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Have some 135x5mm wheels kicking around? ABP Convert has you covered.
The EVO Link is Trek's one-piece rocker link. One-piece means less flex, which translates to a stiffer frame than those with a multi-piece link.
All the technologies combined make this bike incredibly stiff, which made it feel predictable and comfortable. Navigating techy turns at speed was a breeze. As Andrew Shandro demonstrates, it's easy to put the rear wheel exactly where you want it.
The bike features SRAM X0 2x10 components paired with Truvativ's new X-Guide, which is currently the best setup for aggressive all-mountain use. The 36-22 front rings provided plenty of useable gear options.
Big bumps in a turn - this is the stuff loose chains have nightmares about. No problemo with the Truvativ X-Guide up front. Chain retention was a non-issue.<br />
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The bike devoured tech sections with precision and control. Honest. It ate them up and was hungry for more.
Suspension can make or break a bike. The Slash uses a Kashima coated Fox RP-3 with DRCV. Eli Krahenbuhl, one of Trek's suspension testing gurus, explains the benefits in the audio.
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Inside the real deal.
Compared to standard rear shocks, we found that the DRCV system really shined over bumps immediately following big hits. It remained lively and active all the time.
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The RP-3 features three lever positions to suit three riding modes.
Extended climbs were made easier with the RP-3 flipped to the climb lever position and the Fox Talas FIT RLC fork lowered to 120mm of travel.
A removable downtube guard offers protection from stray debris. Trek thought ahead in order to protect your investment.
What do slack, low, and long usually add up to? A very stable platform. The Slash is a bike that begs to be ridden fast, and it doesn't wander when doing so.
Up front, controls are mounted to the new Bontrager Rythym Pro Carbon Bar. It's light, stiff, and unconditionally guaranteed. Can't beat that.
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The Slash uses a tapered head tube, the clear winner in this scenario.
Had anyone attempted to ride this insanely steep rock roller, they would've surely been grateful for the added stiffness up front.
Internal routing for the adjustable seat post and front derailleur is icing on the cake.
New for 2012 is the RockShox Reverb Stealth seat post. The cable routes through the frame and up through the seat tube. Trek believes in this adjustable post so much that they've also made it available in the Slash 8 model.
Seat up! The trail we rode was littered with quick climbs where the Reverb proved to be essential.<br />
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At just 31 pounds out of the box, the Slash climbs well, especially with the built-in suspension aids.
Traction wise, the new Bontrager XR4 performed well in every condition we experienced (loose/dusty, hard pack, loose over hard pack, and loam). They rolled fast and hooked up in turns, but were a bit too thin for some of the super sharp rocks up top.
Ross Schnell's enduro racing addiction was a big reason why the Slash turned out the way it did. We're glad he was involved. Ross uses his Slash for everything, including XC.
We couldn't agree more with Ross. Just 20 seconds into the trail, while drifting sideways through loose baby heads, it was clear that the <a href="http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes/mountain/technical_trail/slash" target="_blank"><b><font color="#ffff00">Trek Slash</font></b></a> is at home in any type of terrain. It's truly a confidence inspiring bike and we're looking forward to a proper long-term thrashing.
Before we go, we'd like to say thanks to dedicated builders that created Khyber Pass and the trails that follow. Cheers guys. We had an absolute blast!
While we were out riding Khyber, Aaron Gwin was just warming up on the new Session 9.9 Carbon. Stay tuned for day two...
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Description
Whistler beckoned us again. This time we headed ALL the way to the top to test out the new 2012 Trek Slash 9.
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