Previewed: Trek Develops Carbon Remedy; Fine Tunes Trail and Race bikes

/// Carbon is the Remedy ///

Trek's lightweight all-mountain bike, the Remedy, is about to get a whole lot lighter. The company, famous for its OCLV carbon mountain and road bikes, is bringing that carbon expertise to the 150-millimeter-travel Remedy.

The company, last weekend in Altaussee, Austria, unveiled two carbon Remedy models, the 9.9 and 9.8. The bikes use a carbon front triangle with an aluminum rear end. The lightest model, the $6,500 9.9, will weight about 27 pounds—about 2 pounds less than last year's aluminum model. Trek keeps two aluminum frames in the line as well.
All new Remedys will come with the unique Dual-Rate Control Valve (DRCV) shock, first introduced on the Fisher Roscoe last year. The shock, co-designed by Fox and Trek, separates the overall air volume into two chambers, which are actuated in sequence. On smaller bumps and low-speed hits, the DCRV operates like a traditional small-volume air spring shock. But on bigger hits, where the shock's shaft velocity increases and pushes the shock into a certain portion of its travel, the second chamber opens, yielding the performance of a bigger-volume air shock, like Fox's DHX.

"The more travel you add to the DRCV shock, the better it feels," said Trek mountain bike product manager John Riley. "It feels nearly bottomless, but still pedals well, because this is a pedaling bike."

The carbon frames use extra material in high-stress areas like the bottom bracket and downtube, as well as external pads to protect against rocks and other trailside debris. They also use a direct-mount front derailleur. The aluminum versions come with ISCG tabs, and the geometry for all the models remains unchanged over last year's bikes.

All the frames feature a new magnesium rocker link that saves about 75 grams over the current aluminum version, and an oversized, stiffer, 95-millimeter-wide bottom bracket. The Remedy also features Trek's slightly redesigned ABP (Active Braking Pivot) rear axle. The system now features a clocking detent on the drive-side nut, allowing the quick release to be operated with one hand.

The four bikes will retail between $2,600 and $6,499.

/// Trek Fine-Tunes Suspension on Race and Trail Bikes ///

Both the race-ready Top Fuel and the trail-oriented Fuel EX bikes received notable upgrades for 2010. The new bikes are significantly lighter and stiffer than previous models, with improved suspension performance.

Most notably, the DCRV will be available on the high-end Fuel EX 9.9 and 9.8 EX models, as well as the Fuel EX 8, which has a retail price of $2,500.

A few other changes to the 120-millimeter travel Fuel EX: The bike now features carbon headset and bottom bracket bearing races that are molded directly into the frame. The design eliminates the need for aluminum inserts in the headset, bottom bracket, brake mounts and shock pivots, thus saving weight.

The EX also uses press-fit bottom bracket and headset bearings (available from most headset and crankset manufacturers these days) and a 95-millemeter-wide bottom bracket for increased stiffness. A medium frame weighs 4.5 pounds, with shock—nearly half a pound less than last year's frame.

The Top Fuel line of XC bikes also received some nice improvements, again starting with the shock. Trek's suspension guru, Jose Gonzales, worked with Fox to develop a unique race-oriented RP23 rear shock called "Race Cam." Most off-the-shelf RP23s offer three levels of platform damping, and in each of those settings the platform can also be turned off. But the shock on the Top Fuel goes a step further. The third, heaviest, platform setting works almost like a lockout, providing a solid, snappy pedaling platform. But when the platform is switched to the off position, the shock reverts to the lighter level-one platform instead of completely turning it off, as it would on standard RP23 shocks.

The new Top Fuel uses the same headset and bottom bracket design as the Fuel EX, but goes to a 90-millimeter bottom bracket shell that, when coupled with the press-fit bearings, creates a narrow q-factor (the width between the crank arms) desired by many racers. The bike also has an extended seatmast that offers many of the benefits of a cut-to-fit post, like those found on bikes from Yeti and Scott, while still allowing some adjustability. Carbon seatstays are new for 2010 as well.

The new Top Fuel frame weighs 4.3 pounds with shock, about a quarter pound lighter than last year. Models start at $2,600, and the high-end 9.9 should retail for about $6,500.

Speaking of APB, Trek will extend the suspension design deeper into its product line, including the lower-cost Fuel EX 5 and 6, as well as the EX 5 women's model. Trek will also use its E2 tapered headtube across a broader range of the EX line, including it on all but the EX 5 and 6.

How'd the bikes ride? Well enough, though most of the riding consisted of hard-pack double-track climbs and some sections of rooty, swampy trail. The Race Cam RP23 on the Top Fuel worked as advertised, delivering a solid, snappy ride that was appreciated on long climbs. Still, the bike felt comfortable and stable. While it's intended for the racecourse, it would definitely feel at home on long XC rides or in endurance races.

The relatively smooth terrain offered less opportunity to test how well the DCRV shock performed on the Fuel EX, but on the rare occasion that the suspension was called into duty, the bike felt like it had more than 120 millimeters of travel. It also climbed surprisingly well. We did not have an opportunity to ride the new Remedy, but stay tuned for a long-term test on these bikes.