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2011 Trek Scratch Air 9 : First Look

Jul 20, 2010
by Mike Levy  
On my last day in Chatel, France, I had a chance to take a closer look at Trek's 2011 Scratch Air 9. The 170 mm travel air sprung bike uses the same frame as the coil sprung Scratch, but should weigh in less for those riders who like to earn their turns. You can find all the details and specs inside!

Read on...
2011 Trek Scratch Air 9

Trek's Scratch Air series is new for 2011, and although it uses the same frame as it's coil sprung Scratch brothers, both models are air sprung in both the front and rear to shave some weight and offer a different ride characteristic. The new Scratch Air's are designed to fill the gap left by the Remedy's switch to shorter 150 mm travel forks, and they could be just the ticket for riders who want to cover a lot of ground on a reasonably light machine, but will take full advantage of the bike's stunt friendly 170 mm of rear wheel travel. With this in mind Trek has spec'd both Air models with a dual chainring and bash guard combo, but there are also ISCG03 tabs if you want to mount up a chainguide.

Just as on the coil sprung version, the Scratch Air uses Trek's Full Floater system

2011 Trek Scratch Air 9 details
  • Air sprung front and rear
  • 170 mm of rear wheel travel
  • Uses Trek's ABP Convert for active suspension while braking
  • 12 x 142 mm rear axle (convertible to 135 QR with supplied hardware)
  • Trail tuned Fox RP23 rear shock
  • Fox 36 Talas FIT RLC, 120-160 mm
  • Shimano 2 x 10 drivetrain
  • E2 Tapered headtube
  • Adjustable geometry via Mino Link
  • Two Scratch Air models: Scratch Air 9 (shown), and the Scratch Air 8

A welded one piece EVO Link and all aluminum pivot hardware

Trek uses both their Full Floater and ABP technology on the Scratch Air that you've no doubt seen on their other models. In simple terms, ABP (Active Braking Pivot) is Trek's name for their rear wheel pivot that rotates concentrically around the hub axle. The goal of the ABP system is to limit movement between the caliper and rotor as the suspension compresses and extends - the less the distance increases or decreases, the more active the bike will be under braking.

Full Floater refers to the rear shock not being bolted to the front triangle, instead it is attached to the EVO rocker link at the top and a short piece that extends from the chainstays beyond the main pivot. This gives Trek's engineers two places to tune the shock rate, as well as allowing them to build a slightly lighter due to not having to mount the shock to it.

ABP Convert allows the use of either the stock 12 mm x 142 mm rear wheel, or a standard 135 mm QR

The Mino Link allows you to fine tune the Scratch Air's head angle by half a degree and the bottom bracket height by 7 mm

Trek has built in the ability to fine tune the Scratch Air's head angle and bottom bracket height but rotating the pivot hardware that holds the seatstays to the EVO Link. The Mino Link adjustment offers just a half a degree of change to the head angle and 7 mm of bottom bracket height difference, but it is enough to fine tune the bike for the terrain or your riding style. As you'd expect, up front you'll find a E2 tapered headtube that makes for a lighter system than a full 1.5" setup, but stiffer and stronger than the 1 1/8th standard.

An E2 tapered headtube up front

2011 Trek Scratch Air 9 specs
Frame and SizeTrek Alpha Red aluminum
•E2 Headtube, EVO Link, ABP Convert, Full Floater
•170 mm
Rear ShockFox RP23, Trail tuned
•8.5" x 2.5"
ForkFox 36 Talas FIT RLC
•Air sprung
•E2 tapered steerer
•120-160 mm travel
HeadsetCane Creek Frustrum SE Light Edition
CrankarmsRace Face Atlas
ChainringRace Face bash guard/36/24
Bottom BracketRace Face
CassetteShimano M77110 11-36, 10 Speed
Rear DerailleurShimano XT
Shifter PodShimano XT 10 speed
HandlebarBontrager Rhythm Pro
StemBontrager Rhythm
BrakesAvid Elixir CR
Front WheelDT Swiss E 2000
•20 mm thru-axle
Rear WheelDT Swiss E 2000
•12 x 142 mm (convertible to 135 mm QR by using supplied ABP Convert hardware
TiresBontrager XR4 Expert, 2.35"
SaddleBontrager Evoke 4, titanium rails
SeatpostCrank Brothers Joplin 4R

The detachable Aluminum Armor protects against rock strikes

The build kit on the Scratch Air 9 consists of a mix of workhorse parts and components that should stand up to most any riders abuse. The two chainring and 10 speed cassette with it's big 36 tooth cog make for suitable mountain goat gearing that should compensate for the added weight penalty of the extra travel and burly parts. Suspension is handled by Fox both front and rear, with a custom tuned RP23 out back and a much sought after '11 Fox 36 Talas FIT RLC up front.

Fox's air sprung 36 Talas FIT RLC

Mike Levy on The Scratch Air 9

Those riders who felt a bit left out when Trek decided to replace the Remedy's 160 mm travel fork with a shorter and lighter 150 mm version should be excited to see the Scratch Air released for 2011. Both air sprung models look to have a reasonable weight that will make ascending not too much of a chore, but the combination of slacker angles and more sag from it's 170 mm travel rear end should make for a very confident descender. The new Scratch Air platform looks to be an exciting addition for 2011.

Mike enjoying the Scratch Air 9

Read on about the Trek Remedy 9.9 and Trek Scratch 9 if you missed them last week

Visit the Trek website to see their entire lineup.

All photos by Sterling Lorence

Author Info:
mikelevy avatar

Member since Oct 18, 2005
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  • 11 0
 I really dig this bike, except I think the fact that it is running a standard RP23, instead of utilizing the DCRV shock that comes on the Remedy, is a massive failure. Given that this bike is more to the freeride end of the scale than the Remedy, it is in need of more "big hit" compliance, which is what the DRCV shock is supposed to offer. Also, it seems to me this bike could also be better served with the new Talas 180 FIT RC2 fork, instead of 160 model. Given that this is a longer travel bike, I doubt that the 120 mm adjustment on the 160 model would be as useful as the 140mm adjustment on the 180 model. Also, the extra 20mm on the 180 model could come in very handy on this type of bike. Nice bike, but I think Trek might have dropped the ball on the suspension spec.
  • 2 0
  • 5 0
 there's not enough room for the drcv under the toptube and the scratch coil already has a 180 talas. the scratch air is supposed to fall in between the 150 remedy and the 170 scratch coil, so this is perfect for a 160 AM bike
  • 3 0
 and theyre fineky for wight, the 180 weighs 5.4 pounds, and the 160mm weighs 4.6, and theres no such thing as a 180 rlc
  • 2 0
 Good point andrewavid. If the weight difference between the forks is that great, the extra 20mm might not be worth it.
  • 5 0
 ahhh weight weenies.... lol
  • 7 1
 so it's 'lighter', but you don't actually tell us how much it weighs....or say anything at all about how it actually rides....a bunch of pretty pictures and some specs, wow, exciting....
  • 2 0
 What you're reading about is the '11 Trek media camp. The goal is to share the new bikes and their specs with you guys, along with some great photos by Sterling and Geoff Waugh. One day on each bike doesn't make a test, as you know, and I'd rather not put down a paragraph of garble just so I can say that we "reviewed" the bike as on some other sites, Todd. There will be a complete test of a DRCV equipped Remedy coming up pretty quick and I'm sure that we'll get time on the new Scratch's as well =) As for weights, like other companies Trek does not supply exact numbers and I neglected to bring our digital scale. This is something that we'll be looking do so as a standard in the future though.
  • 4 0
 I just don't see the harm in a paragraph or two about riding impressions. You're going through the trouble of traveling there, riding the bikes (even if it's only a day or two), why not talk a bit about the ride? I never said it had to be a 'review', but there wasn't one word about how the bike rode. It isn't disingenuous or misleading to comment on the ride, and it only serves to give us the reader a bit more insight into the bike beyond a bunch of tech from the company.
  • 5 2
 Uhhh reads like a press release and just repeats stuff from the previous trek posts. Did you not get a chance to ride the bikes?!?! Whats the point in going all the way to france and then writing something that anyone could have written by reading some press releases. I'd really like to know more about theses bikes but and I love this site but these trek posts over the last week have been sub standard. What about some more info on the specs of the Scratch 8 ? A mere mention that it exists isn't enough, surely there are some more details on it ?
  • 6 1
 The three bikes that you've been reading about on PB over the last few days (Remedy 9.9, Scratch 9, and Scratch Air 9) were all at Trek's '11 bike launch in Chatel, France, not the other models. These articles have just been quick look at what's coming up - some great pictures, specs, and a bit of info. I can't really write a test after spending only one day on each model... Take it for what it is =)
  • 2 0
 I agree, there's not much more info here that can't already be found on Trek's "King of the Mountain" blog. Some sort of hands-on impression of the bike would have been nice, but I guess Trek said no. Also, the Scratch Air isn't new for 2011, there were 2 air models last year. And why has no one commented on the red wheels?! I'm going to buy this bike.
  • 5 2
 Yeah, do we really need another random axle option so that no wheels are compatible between bikes. Could you go ahead and dish that rear wheel too?...it'd be real nice if it would fit absolutely nothing else out there.
  • 2 1
 except that the 142 hubs are athe same as 135 one just with a longer axle, hope and superstar already have adapters for their hubs to be used on 142 spaced frames.
  • 3 3
 There will be an article coming up pretty quick that explains what 12 x 142 axles are all about - they do have some merit.
  • 2 0
 You've found the caps lock button, good. Now you can push it again... I personally think that the Joplin seatpost fits this model very well, tho it costs a little bit more. And those red wheels look dope, I hope they will be red in the final version too.
  • 1 0
 but i find the joplin seatpost break A LOT. and those red rims are super cool
  • 1 0
 That's why we have warranty Big Grin
  • 1 0
 oh you work for crankbrothers?
  • 1 0
 No I dont, what I meant to say is: That's why there is warranty.
  • 5 0
 just review the session!!!
  • 5 1
 what is the weight on one of these? it would make an awesome AM bike if it's not extremely heavy
  • 1 2
 Was thinking the same thing. I think it's awesome.
  • 1 2
 a great super d bike in addition to all mountain
  • 1 0
 the Remedy is the ultimate AM Super D bike. 150mm travel sub 30lbs! The Scratch is more like a park bike.
  • 1 1
 the scratch air isnt a park bike but the scratch(coil) is.
  • 6 3
 Ya that looks like a lot of fun. However the telescoping seatpost is not something we all want to pay for stock..just adds another couple on the bill!
  • 7 2
 ^ go big or go home*

*going big may cost you your home
  • 2 0
 142 ? WTF!!! They just keep coming up with more stuff that is only compatible with itself as a marketing ploy to get us to buy more gear. Guess what?
I will not be owned in that way. Neither will I buy useless standards.
  • 1 0
 jesus cyberhawk your a nut.....just dont buy it if you dont like it.....furthermore why the hell would fox put twenty mill thru axles on every fork they make......what xc rider is going to use a 20 on an F series....... I have a yeti 575.....it has a 2011 fox 36 float....it has a twenty thru because I jump on the bike and want more rigidity but it comes with a standard qr fork or a 15 mill because some want the rigidity with less travel....hence no need for a 20mill. When I see a guy on a trek topfuel 9 with an f-80 go off a jump where he needs a 20 mill thru axle strength ill revoke all ive said....but if he needed that much axle he would buy a 36 and would also want the additional travel. This is not to say he doesnt appreciate the stiffness and better power transfer a 15 mill gives him over a std qr.
  • 1 0
 Does anyone know the weight of the E2000 wheelet on the 9 air? Would it be 2000g as the name would imply. The Bontrager Cousin Earl are posted at 2200g on nsmb.com . Where does the extra weight come from rims or hubs or both?
  • 1 0
 Just to satisfy your moaning(s)... I have a large, weighs 33 lbs stock. The 142x12 axle is the new standard for this style of bike. It's stiff and is does the job perfectly. The tapered headtube is the standard as well. It's smart... strong and stiff. No need to get in a huff about these things.

This is what happens in the bike industry, and to add to that, this is a culmination of the best technologies and engineering out there. My bike is amazing.
  • 1 0
 so why is everybody bitching so much? if u dont like the 15mm through axel and the 142mm spacing DONT BUY THE f*ckING BIKE very simple equation, i already have mine on order.
  • 1 0
  • 2 0
 these are cool, I'd buy one, its very similar to the Reign I have but some cool features added on.
  • 1 0
 Not really trek fan but i do agree that this bike does look cool and really aggressive
  • 2 1
 the paint on this particular bike isn't as pretty as some of Treks other offerings. Trek has some beautifully aesthetic bikes out there
  • 5 0
 i disagree, i like this paint job a lot, but this is my opinion
  • 1 0
 will there be a review for every new trek bike?
i do notz get it. why is there a single page about norco und for every bike of trek a whole article?
  • 1 2
 Thank you trek for deciding that running a 142mm rear hub was a good idea. Oh but thank you for the option to run a super flexy 135mm QR on a FR/Am bike.

It's not enough that this brand now is custom E2 steers but now we need to find a 142 rear that only shimano makes if we want to run a 12mm rear axle.

I love trek don't get me wrong. But bike companies now a days are making too many standards.
  • 2 0
 Think on this. If that hub is a 135 with spacers, it may actually be more flexible than 135!!
  • 1 0
 According to the videos here: forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=636005 the 12mm thru-axle is 10% stiffer than standard ABP, which is already 30% stiffer than an open dropout system.
  • 2 0
 When is Trek going to man up and build a slopesyle bike eveyone can buy?
  • 1 0
 what and why iscg03?
  • 2 0
 in reality though how many people are going to buy a slopestyle bike? not to many so it doesnt make it cost affective
  • 2 0
 depends on the area...
  • 1 0
 ^ very true
  • 1 1
 lots of kids these days are getting into ss
  • 1 1
 if you really want trek to make one maybe let them know that you want one that the public can buy. if enough people do that then maybe they will decide that they could make some money on bikes like these and they will put some of brandons and cams bike into production
  • 1 1
 If you look at the companies that are making those bikes they are selling really well. You can't buy a specialized SX if you don't preorder they sell that quick and the Kona Bass sell just as well. I makes a good all around bike for DJ,SS and light Freeride and in some cases 4x. So why not make them. If they go through the trouble to do the design and tooling for the frames why not put them into production?
  • 1 0
 Why dont the 2011 forks have Kashima coating??
Bike looks super sweet. I wonder what price the 8 will come in at.
  • 2 1
 Odds are that the equipment shown on the new bikes in these press releases is not reflective of the actual parts that will be on the 2011 bikes. I.e. they will probably not have DT Swiss wheels.
  • 1 0
 i learned from the scratch post that the 2011 Fox's will only come with the Kashima coating on their aftermarket forks. So no Kashima on factory built bikes... which i like Smile
  • 1 0
 i dislike...i wish they were stock, but then again it would raise the price of the bike a bit
  • 2 4
 im disappointed with trek. they said that the scratch was a freeride bike, for this to be a freeride bike ( in my view ) i will have to buy stuff for it to make it good......... i mean y bring out a bike that is the remedy but lifted???? trek really need to make changes to the build.
like, short cage derailleur, new bars, new stem, no stupid seat post that goes up and down, and single front chain ring with a full chain guide.
  • 4 0
 I disagree. The bike is intended to be pedaled as well, so things like dual rings and scoping seatpost are good things. If you want something like what you're describing, why don't you look at the Scratch 9, instead of the Scratch Air 9.
  • 5 0
 First try to read, then start dissapoitment BS over here. There's Scratch 9 model with coil sprung suspension, single chain ring with chain guide and all the other sh!t that you "freeriders" need. Scratch air is for those who need to get up the hill to start downhill or however someone calls it.
  • 2 0
 Very nice!

66 is bit slack for a trail bike though?
  • 1 0
 I might be way wrong, but you can steepen it using the flip-over adjusters on the seatstays, i think. Also, for light trail riding, or climbing, you could dial the travel down, which will steepen it as well. If the bike had a steeper head angle to begin with, dialing the travel down would make it super-twitchy.
  • 2 0
 This looks so awesome.
  • 3 4
 Something really wrong with trek long travel bike : paper thin tubes wich needs a protector out of the box and you're supposed to hit big stuff with that???
  • 1 1
 yeah, doesn't inspire confidence
  • 1 0
 they are extra protection and they are removable...to me its more of a cosmetic thing that some people will use to keep from chips in the paint and little dings.
  • 3 0
 i think it's brilliant, that's right where my frames always get dings from throwing up big rocks.
  • 1 0
 why dont they make one of those armor plates for the session????
  • 1 0
 I will take an XL please.
  • 1 1
 where are the gold stanchions?
  • 2 2
  • 1 1
 Where can I get that down tube protector. I want one bad.
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