Rethinking the Remedy
Trek's Remedy platform has been a favorite of ours since its inception more than five years ago. We've spent a considerable amount of time on every variation of the 150mm travel, 26''-wheeled bike over that time, from the original aluminum model to the carbon fiber, DRCV version of more recent times, with all of them performing well. We aren't the only ones that feel that way, though, with the Remedy receiving critical acclaim over the years from other media outlets as well. It is for this reason that we have to admit that we were taken by surprise to learn that Trek was planning to introduce a 140mm travel, 29''-wheeled version of the bike, a move that seems odd given how many other companies are shifting their efforts to 650B wheels. All sorts of questions immediately came to mind: what will happen to the 26'' Remedy? Why not 650B? Would Trek be able to make the 29'' version perform up to the expectations of riders who might be really throwing down aboard the bike? Would it handle like an 8ft long tandem bike when on slow, technical trails? We got the answer to all of those questions and more during our time in Sedona, Arizona, as well as enough time on the bike to come away with some well-founded riding impressions.
Big Wheels, Less Travel
As of right now the Remedy 29 will not be replacing the 26'' version, with the two platforms being offered concurrently in Trek's 'technical trail' lineup. This point needs to be stressed as it often seems as if wheel size debates stir up feelings that range from religious zeal to all out fury - those riders devoted to the 'original' wheel size shouldn't feel like Trek is forcing them to cast aside their beliefs or be burnt at the stake in the town square. Wheel size isn't the only difference, though...rear wheel travel has been bumped down slightly from 150mm to 140mm, although some riders may find that the bigger wheel's ability to take the edge off of a lot of terrain will act as an equalizer, making the 10mm difference only noticeable on paper. Interestingly, Jose Gonzalez, a suspension engineer at Trek, told us that the travel decrease wasn't down to the packaging challenges that are often associated with fitting 29'' wheels in longer travel frames, but a conscious decision on their part to create an overall package that rides the way they want it to. In fact, 150mm travel versions of the Remedy 29 were tested extensively, with Gonzalez and the rest of the design team favouring the suspension performance of the 140mm platform and its slightly shorter stroke FOX DRCV shock.
Remedy 29 Details
• Intended use: all-mountain/enduro
• Wheel size: 29''
• Rear wheel travel: 140mm
• Aluminum frame
• ABP and Full Floater suspension
• FOX DRCV CTD shock
• ISCG 05 chain guide tabs
• Internal dropper post, derailleur routing
• E2 tapered head tube
• 'Mino Link' adjustable geometry
The $4,729.99 USD Remedy 9 29 (claimed weight: 29.6lb
) we rode in Sedona sits, for now at least, at the top of the Remedy 29 hierarchy, with all three of the new bikes assembled around the same aluminum frame. The other two models slot in below price-wise, at $3,459.99 USD for the Remedy 8 29 (claimed weight: 30.5lb
) and $2,839.99 USD for the Remedy 7 29 (claimed weight: 30.2lb
). Where do the carbon fiber Remedy 29s fit into the picture? No where right now, but we fully expect that to change in the near future. Trek didn't deny this, only saying that it is pretty easy to figure out given their history of first introducing an aluminum model followed by a carbon version, but they did politely dismiss our probing about when we might see this happen.
Why Not 650B?
There is no doubt in our minds that the new Remedy would be readily accepted by more riders had Trek decided to design the bike around 650B wheels. This fact isn't lost on the Wisconsin brand, and they conceded that they have been testing numerous different 29'' and 650B-wheeled platforms for some time, including the 29er DH mule from a few years ago that is pictured at right (no, Trek is not pursuing the bike shown). When it came time to make the call as to what wheel size to go with for the new Remedy, Trek felt that the 29er version was simply a better bike, knowing full well that there would be more consumer resistance than if they had gone with the 'tweener wheels. That isn't to say that there won't ever be any 650B bikes in Trek's lineup - we suspect that we'll see Trek World Racing riders competing on 650B Session 9.9s at some point this season, although Trek declined to comment on the subject - but that they believe that 29'' wheels offer more advantages for how a bike like the Remedy is intended to be ridden. Regardless of how one feels about the Remedy platform using 29'' wheels, Trek gets full marks for not yielding to the 650B-wheeled steamroller that is changing the face of the mid-travel bike market. Not into the big wheels? Trek is still be offering the current Remedy with 26'' wheels as well.
The Tech• ABP Convert
|We're still moving the ball forward for 29ers, and we're not going to rush a 650B bike to the market for the sake of having one. Wheel size is one variable in the package, with the bike a sum of all its parts. The suspension has to be dialed, the geometry has to be dialled - it's all part of it. We're going to deliver the best overall package, whatever that wheel size might be. - Travis Ott, Mountain Bike Brand Manager|
: Trek has been using their Active Braking Pivot on the Remedy for many seasons now, and the 2014 Remedy 29 employs their latest ABP Convert system. The design allows the dropout pivot to rotate concentrically around the rear axle, limiting the amount of rotation between the caliper and rotor, which in turn helps to keep the suspension working better regardless of if the rider is on the brakes. The 'Convert' signifies that the pivot hardware is easily interchangeable to allow for both 12 x 142mm axles and standard 135mm quick release rear wheels.• Full Floater
: Attaching the bike's FOX DRCV CTD shock to an extension off the front of the chainstays rather than a fixed position on the front triangle isn't a new concept, but it is one that Trek has employed for a number of years on everything from their Session downhill race machine to the shorter travel Fuel trail bike. Trek says that doing so allows the shock to ''better respond to bumps across a wide variety of terrain,
'' which is a simple way of saying that the arrangement gives them more opportunity to tune how the shock performs throughout its stroke by altering the leverage from both ends. • DRCV
: Trek's proprietary rear shock technology developed with the help of FOX. The 'DR' stands for Dual Rate, with the shock's two different air chambers providing two different rates depending on where the shock is at in its stroke. Connecting the two chambers is a plunger, or valve, that opens the airway between the two at a predetermined point in the travel. The plunger is referred to as the control valve, or the 'CV' in DRCV. The goal is to be able to have your cake and eat it too, meaning to have a lively but firm spring to push against that is provided by the main chamber, but benefit from the secondary chamber's ability to add a more linear and forgiving end to the stroke.Riding Impressions
The current 26'' wheeled Remedy is the kind of bike that, when spec'd correctly, we would travel to nearly any destination with and be happy to head out for a long ride with the locals. It has enough travel to pull you through some truly hairy situations, can be built light enough to not feel like a boat anchor on long climbs, and its handling rates among the best in its class of mid-travel bikes. In other words, the Remedy 29 has a lot to live up to regardless of its wheel size. The time that we spent on the bike showed us that it might be able to do just that and then some.
Our main concern centered around how 'big' the bike would feel on Sedona's sometimes tight and technical trails. We're not talking about sizing, but whether or not the Remedy 29 would feel ponderous in slow-speed situations due to its travel and big wheels, a feeling that we've experienced with other relatively long travel 29ers. It didn't take long to see that the bike felt very much unlike the lumbering beast that some riders might expect it to be, and it had a very lively feel that was in contrast to its somewhat portly weight and longer wheelbase (46.42'' compared to 44.84'' on the 26'' Remedy). Our feelings were backed up by the thoughts of the other editors in our group, most of us sharing similar concerns, and we actually had an easier time scaling some of the tricky climbs on the bike than we ever had on the multiple 26''-wheeled Remedys that we've ridden on the very same trail.
The longer wheelbase and bigger wheels felt like just the ticket for Sedona's rocky and marbly downhills, and the bike felt less skittery and on edge. While the handling did feel a touch quicker than the 26'' version, the bike was far from feeling pointy on steep downhills or when the speeds picked
up. How did the 10mm travel reduction effect the ride? Very little, we'd say. In fact, the bike actually felt more
forgiving in the first third of its travel than the 26'', 150mm travel Remedy, no doubt a by-product of the larger wheels and supple DRCV shock. Did the Remedy 29 do anything bad during the first date? While its trail manners were very un-29er like, the bike's heft was noticeable when accelerating from a standstill, as you'd expect from a 30lb bike. A set of relatively light wheels would be on our parts list if we were to build a Remedy 29 up for ourselves.
| Trek's Andrew Shandro getting on well with the Remedy 29.|www.trekbikes.comPhotos by Sterling Lorence and Dan Milner
|No matter how great the Remedy 29 turns out to be, and our initial impressions have us believing that Trek has hit this one out of the park, the bike is bound to garner criticism simply due to its wheel size. That is a shame because much of the unwillingness to accept 29'' wheels is born from either their appearance or a rider's previous experience on a sub-par big-wheeler. Then there is the 'get to know each other' period that, akin to cosying up to a new lover, can feel a bit awkward for awhile before you start leaving the washroom door open. Get yourself on a proper 29er, though, for more than just a single ride or two, and you'll be leaving that door open without a second thought. At this early stage of the relationship with the Remedy 29 it feels every bit as capable as its long standing 26''- wheeled brother, but we are only days away from receiving our personal test bike that we plan to thrash on more familiar terrain. Will the Remedy 29 be one of those 'proper' 29ers? We'll know within the next few weeks, and you'll be able to read our thoughts shortly after. - Mike Levy|