The new Trek Slash 29 was one of the most anticipated bikes among our long-travel testers. Big wheels and big travel are new for the 2017 Slash lineup. It ditched its prepubescent 27.5-inch wheels and has grown into the strapping 29er weapon you see here. To no one's surprise, this bike ripped–like charged-over-everything-as-fast-as-you-want-without-picking-a-line kind of ripped. It was incredible in chunky and steep terrain. If anyone had any doubts about the Slash's new allegiance to the almighty 2-9, those doubts were forgotten after the first descent.
As with most Treks, the Slash incorporates a Mino Link flip chip. This gives you a half-degree of adjustability from a 65.1- to a 65.6-degree head angle, with a 10-millimeter difference in bottom-bracket height between the positions. As possibly the plushest and most capable long-travel bike in the test, our crew unanimously agreed that it rode the best in low position. With so much raw speed possible on the Slash, it seemed a shame to make any concessions to accommodate pedal clearance or achieve a subtle climbing advantage.
The Fox 36 Talas was a smart spec choice. The Slash was transformed into an impeccable climber with the fork in its 130-millimeter-travel setting, but to be fair it was also surprisingly capable with the fork at its full 160 millimeters. Complementing the suspension package was a Fox Float X2–supple, tunable and supportive, with the bonus of a climb switch for the way up.
One thing left us scratching our heads: The 125-millimeter Bontrager Drop Line seatpost. With many bikes in this range sporting 150- or even 170-millimeter droppers, the shorter travel seemed behind the curve, and most testers felt obliged to stop and loosen the seat clamp in order to get the seat as low as other bikes in the test.
When answering the question of what this bike excels at, one tester eloquently responded with the simple answer of "mountain biking." It was a top performer on all sections of the trail. Yes, it's a lot of bike, but it's hard to find flaws in a bike that can do so much, so well.MSRP: $8,000
Q&A with Trek Bicycles
What was the inspiration for moving the entire Slash platform to 29-inch wheels and abandoning the 27.5-inch wheel models that were so popular?
In one word: Enduro. When we set out to make the ultimate Enduro bike, we first looked toward our Trek Factory Enduro team. Rather than racing the longer-travel Slash with 27.5" wheels, they were consistently choosing a beefed-up version of Remedy 29 for its faster-rolling wheels. So we designed the new Slash around 29" wheels as our Enduro specialist, as well as to satisfy the increasing demand for long-travel 29ers in general. We didn't abandon 27.5-inch wheels, either. We know that, for long-travel bikes, wheel size is still a personal choice with no clear winner for all riders. So we bumped up the travel on the Remedy and designed it around 27.5" wheels for those aggressive trail riders who still prefer the frisky and fun handling of smaller wheels.
Was the spec of 125-millimeter dropper post a deliberate decision? Or is that what was available from Bontrager?
It was a deliberate decision. For many riders who don't have long-enough inseams, a 150mm dropper can cause saddle height issues. Using a 125mm dropper gives a wider range of adjustment within a given frame size. For those riders who do have a long-enough inseam, the 150mm Bontrager Drop Line is a good upgrade.
The Slash was our only long travel bike in the issue with a Talas fork. It's become a bit unusual to see travel adjust forks spec'd on high-end, long-travel Bikes. Did you feel like this was the final piece of the puzzle to making this such a strong all around performer?
Since Slash is our Enduro bike, we expect our target audience to be doing a lot of long, sustained climbing followed by descents of the same nature. Using a travel-adjust fork allows these riders to save some physical and mental energy on that climb by reducing the amount of effort it takes to keep the front end from wandering. That saved energy goes a long way when every little bit counts on the descent.
The way that this bike handled and tracked felt as though it's the perfect candidate for the new downtube design. Were longer travel bikes like the Slash the origin of this new design?
The first bike we designed with the new straight downtube was actually the Fuel EX, but as you've noticed, the stiffness and capability benefits of it certainly do shine most in the extra-rugged situations for which Slash was designed.