Trek Slash 29 - First Ride: Crankworx Whistler 2016

Aug 19, 2016
by Mike Kazimer  
Trek Slash 29

I'd been itching to take Trek's new Slash 29 out for a ride ever since the veil of secrecy surrounding it was lifted at the beginning of June. The Slash is one of those bikes that looks fast standing still, a carbon fiber beast poised and ready to pounce and devour its unsuspecting prey. On paper, the numbers are positively drool-inducing: 29” wheels, 150mm of rear travel matched with a 160mm fork, 434mm chainstays, and a slack 65-degree head angle.

As luck would have it, Trek had a few Slash 29s on hand at Crankworx Whistler, and I was able to take one out for some quality time on some of the best trails in the world. 'Best in the world' isn't a phrase I toss around lightly, but when it comes to the gems that are hidden in the woods surrounding Whistler, it's entirely true.


Trek Slash 29
The Slash 29's gloss and matte red paint scheme wouldn't look out of place on an exotic supercar.
Trek Slash 29
A flip chip allows for two different geometry settings, but I have a feeling most riders will pick the low and slack option.


Climbing

The ride started with a steep climb up the side of Blackcomb Mountain, a fire road grind that's full of loose gravel, perfectly placed to cause rear tires to spin out and riders to curse, especially under the merciless heat of the summer sun. With the Float X2 in the full open position, out of the saddle climbing is met with a fair bit of bobbing, but that's where the shock's little blue lever comes in handy. It's easy to reach, and once it's turned to the firmest position any unwanted movement is drastically reduced. There's still enough shock movement to allow the rear wheel to absorb bumps and stay planted to the ground, but the increased compression damping makes the bike feel much more efficient on the climbs.

Even though the Fox 36 TALAS can be switched dropped down to 130mm of travel from 160mm, I never felt the need to reduce the amount of travel – I was perfectly comfortable spinning away with it in the fully-extended setting. There are some riders that swear by dual-position forks, but I'm not one of them – I find that the weight shift caused by the lowered front end makes climbing feel more, not less, difficult. Because the climb was mainly on a chewed up dirt road, I can't comment on the Slash's handling on tighter, more technical climbs, but once we get our hands on one for a long-term test there will be plenty of tricky ascents in its future.


Trek Slash 29
The Fox Float X2 shock deserves a good chunk of the credit for just how smooth the Slash feels on rough and rocky trails.


Descending

Once the climb was over it was time to reap the reward – a descent down the same terrain used for the recent Enduro World Series, full of steep straightlines, loose turns, and enough roots and rocks to keep it interesting – exactly the stuff the Slash 29 was designed for. As aggressive as its geometry numbers are, the Slash was surprisingly nimble in the tighter sections of trail. It's certainly happiest plowing through anything and everything at warp speed, but it'll also whip around sharper corners without putting up a fuss. Compared to the Nukeproof Mega 290, the Slash is less demanding to ride - it doesn't require as much muscle to get through slower speed sections of trail. There's a very satisfying amount of grip in the corners, and even in the looser, dustier portions of trail I was able to push hard with minimal loss of traction.

The Slash proved itself on that particular trail, but I was still curious about how it would do in a bike park setting, so I headed over to the lift to find out. It turns out the Slash is no slouch hitting jumps either, and in fact, I preferred its handling to that of the 2017 Trek Remedy I'd been riding the previous day. The slacker head angle and slightly longer wheelbase (not to mention the bigger wheels) made the Slash feel more stable, with trail manners that were more reminiscent of a downhill bike than a trail bike.


Casey Brown was on fire today finishing in third place. There s nothing so sweet as a podium on home soil.
The Slash made its Enduro World Series debut under Casey Brown, who piloted it to a third place finish.


More to Come

Now, half a day on a bike is just starting to scratch the surface, and there are plenty of questions that will require more ride time to figure out, including how the Slash 29 handles on techy climbs and slower, less steep descents. Is this a one trick pony, suited only to the gnarliest terrain around, or is there enough depth to its handling to make it a feasible option for less aggressive riders, or those who don't have the wild trails of British Columbia in their backyards? Keep an eye out for a long term review later this year.



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164 Comments

  • + 108
 talas on that thing is a crime. Put a float 36 on there and enjoy the descents even more!
  • + 35
 Lyrik
  • + 63
 Shivers
  • + 2
 I wish more companies would offer it still on there super slack enduro rigs.. makes climbing a bit easier, if it's like any bit technical.
  • + 3
 @ThomDawson:That would be soooo sick, but It's gotta fit a 29" wheel. Jr T with the arch removed?
  • + 8
 @MmmBones: there'a been a 40 29er prototype knocking about...
  • + 24
 Quadra 10
  • + 11
 I don't mind climbing with fully erect fork for an hour, or on rocky-rooty, tight bits where I find the tall front to help in getting over tricky sht. But I can totaly see folks living in really big mountains wanting to get the fork low for a 2 hour + fireroad grind. The last time I climbed almost 2k vertical meters with a tall fork gave me arm pump and numb fingers after 1,5h with an hour to go. It's not some preference, it's simple fkng body mechanics. Lower fork allows your back to be at a better angle to your legs and engage glutes more.
  • + 1
 @ThomDawson: I seentit but it looked like a regular 27.5b that had an angle grinder taken to it.
  • + 13
 @MmmBones: 1999 80mm SID, you pussy!
  • + 1
 @MmmBones: yeah I think it was 'modified' lol
  • + 15
 @WAKIdesigns: Fully erect for over an hour? Waki, I thought you still had ED?
  • + 8
 @WAKIdesigns: I think you are preaching to riders who do not climb and only shuttle.
  • + 3
 @ViceGrips: Screw the SID, 1993 Manitou 3, but be sure to warm up the elastomers before you ride (funny now looking back, I was actually proud to own that fork).
  • + 3
 @WAKIdesigns: Same here, all my forks has been travel adjustable type, climbing here to reach the top is very hard and sometimes painfully, climbing 2 hrs seated almost in the tip of the saddle of a 160mm rig F/R is not easy, that small amount of travel reduced paid the rest of the body for make an enjoyable descent. Also my Nomad has 63.5deg in front so I need to compensate their angle reducing the front travel for step climbs.
  • + 6
 Put a rigid on it to keep the head angle constant on decents and climbing will be a breeze. Saves you about four pounds and all you have to do is wheelie the technical DH.
  • + 1
 My new talas works great asshole
  • + 4
 Dorado lowered to 170
  • + 1
 @rnayel: that would be cool actually
  • + 3
 I love a bike with a down tube nearly as thick as my johnson.
  • + 1
 @rnayel: why lower it!?
  • + 5
 I'm one of those people who swears by a dual-position fork. I have the Lyrik on my Evil Wreckoning, and the lower setting makes steep, technical climbs so much easier. Unless you live somewhere you can ride tame fireroads to the top, the difference between up and down is too much for one geometry to handle. I think someway to adjust handlebar height is essential for the trails I typically ride.
  • + 1
 @dthomp325: The new ones are smooth as f*ck too !
  • + 3
 @Silliker269: I have not tried the Lyrik solo, but the DPA seems great. I run ~25% sag and I use 3 or 4 clicks of low speed compression because it's a bit too sensitive off the top. I have ridden both the solo and DPA Pike, and I can't say I can tell any difference between the two other than climbing is easier with the DPA.
  • + 1
 @aoneal: Those Manitous were great.. they didn't bottom out as bad as everything else back then. I loved mine.
  • + 47
 I was super keen to buy one until I saw the quality of that kick stand
  • + 7
 That's what she said.
  • + 2
 There is a light carbon fiber kickstand but that's a 3k option
  • + 1
 not sure why it posted twice Blank Stare
  • + 30
 Based on the way it descends, would it be fair to say that this Slash has an appetite for destruction?
  • + 22
 Want. One. Now.
  • + 2
 as someone with the 27.5, all i've ever wanted was an X2 on my slash, it's be the tits
  • + 1
 Me three please!
  • + 14
 jesus, 29ers are getting really badass now. That's the first 29er ive seen that looks like a DH bike - probably cos of the Session styling. Not seen one with a 65 ha before as well. This could see a lot of 27.5ers thrown in the bargain bin!
  • + 66
 longest paraphrasing for "looks like a session" yet.
  • + 5
 Check out evil's wreckoning
  • + 7
 29ers are the new 650b, and 27.5 are the old 26ers.
  • + 3
 @abzillah: 26er will be the new 29er, what comes around...
  • + 3
 @colincolin: haha you're right!
  • + 4
 Who is the bike that'll shred down hills for his brother man? Slash!!! Can ya dig it? It's a bad mutha... Hush yo mouth!
  • + 2
 Tossed mine in the bargain bin two yrs ago!
  • + 16
 That chainstay protector? Trolling much? Like a Lambo with a brah.
  • + 8
 Let's make this the ultimate bike, no expense spared. Make it look the absolute best best possible with every detail done to absolute perfection. Except the chain stay, f*** it. Zip ties and an old tube will do.
  • + 1
 @bigtim: they want their demo bikes to be in somewhat decent condition down the road
  • + 1
 My $2850 Reign 2 comes with an integrated chainstay protector. Come on Trek, that's pathetic.
  • + 1
 I just wanted to say I could help you out making that chainstay protector look way sexier in 5 minutes and only use one zip-tie.
  • + 13
 Weapon of Slash destruction
  • - 1
 Slash and burn.
  • + 2
 Like it!!
  • + 2
 I'd session it
  • + 3
 @WAKIdesigns: My kind of bike. Big 29er, love em!
  • + 2
 I think I have the remedy for that pun, and it's a long trek uphill.
  • + 4
 I just bought a Mega 290 and I'm very happy with my purchase but this thing is on another level (which I can't afford btw). I think Trek may well have created the most capable bike ever and it is an absolute stunner to boot. Can't wait for some proper reviews...and to win the lottery.
  • + 1
 In which way it's on another level? I doubt if it's in the way it rides or rather what it allows you to do. I love shiny toys for being a piece of jewelry but at the end of the day...
  • + 3
 @WAKIdesigns:
carbon vs ally = lighter
Properly tuned Fox vs not really tuned Rockshox
Looks may be subjective but this looks (like a session) awesome.
The geometry between the two is remarkably similar but the Nuke has nice big chainstays, though I dare say that most will prefer the Treks 430 over the Nukes 450 (not me personally). I get your comment on the jewellery but from what I can tell this bike is just a cut above my own although they are based at different price points and while I'd chose the Mega again I admire the Trek for what looks to be broad all round capability - not just at the gnar end of the spectrum.
  • - 1
 @ThomDawson: CS gate... I can't believe people liek you and me have to go over and over again about sht like that just because there is a repetitive pattern of doubting on the internet. I wish some people got out and rode some different bikes for fuks sake rather than go over checklist of geo features everytime a new bike comes along. Steve Jones Sumpy 29 Evo was one of the best handling bikes that I have ever ridden - why? Because it's A-cool bike and B- it was setup like a dream. NS Snabb has very similar feel to it's geo to my Antidote CJack. I felt right at home from the first few meters on the trail, buuuut suspension and shock are not as good, they just aren't. Anti with Double Barell Coil, setup with help of suspensio tuning company BFG, is a steady iron bitch, as if fore aft balance was managed by an accountant in burkha. Tell it to swing and Harely Quinn comes out, jumping around and fkng up everything with a baseball bat, blinking to you in the end if you want to have another go.

That Slash looks like a great bike but just as some hardocre 26" ripper, if setup badly, with wrong tyre choice, it can be just another bike out there.
  • + 6
 This Waki guy should design and produce his own bike or just f#$% right off.
  • - 1
 He's a mainstay of pinkbike and has good contributions. Maybe you should just fuck right off.
  • + 7
 Any idea if they are going to release this in a tandem?
  • + 5
 Evil Wreckoning
Nukeproof Mega 290
Trek Slash 29
Specialized McDuro 2017
Intense Carbine 29 replacement (to be announced soon)

All badass....
  • + 7
 McDuro. Comment of the day.
  • + 6
 Alu Remedy 29 w/ 160 up front.
  • + 1
 @BridgitWolf: you aren't being serious right? Lol shorter chainstays, longer reach, lower bb,knock block, different geo, slacker, boost148 and 110 and the list goes on and on not even close
  • + 3
 Now I know why I still have a 26 at home. Always thought that this 27.5 middle thing is not necessary. If I want something bigger I definitely will buy a 29. Slowly the get it, that a 29 can also have more than 120mm. This is good news. Now they just should build a Bike without a plastic frame...
  • + 3
 Why would they build it out of alu when they can build it stronger and lighter, where needed, with carbon?
  • + 2
 @CaptainSnappy: Perhaps because I am a metalhead, plastic can stay where it is. I just don't trust it in case of an accident. For me the value of a little bit stronger and a little bit lighter vs. much more expensive is just not worth the money.
  • + 5
 @mikekazimer any thoughts on seatpost position? The seat angle looks SUPER slack.
  • + 1
 That's what I was thinking we're behind the bottom bracket
  • + 2
 Anyone having issues with climbing a big bike on "technical" climbs, with tight turns and necessity to negotiate boulders and roots, should try improving their trials skills. There are many good courses online right now and I can recommend ones from Ryan Leech. I personally have no need for any more whining on how the bike goes around a tight turn because of long wheelbase and slack head angle - a few hops, maybe a bit of rocking and you point your bike where you want it to go, quite comfortably. All that in a more controlled way, than just trying to ram into a switchback, hoping the front wheel will somehow go around the turn and maintain balance while rolling over some occasional rocks or roots in the middle of all of it. My trails are tight and rocky and ever since I started practicing, there's no problem for me to manage a 160 bulldozer with 1250 wheelbase.

Also, with current tyres like Maxxis Minion in maxxgrip you can literally endo at speed in the midst of a tight corner without the front slipping. It is insane how good bikes are today compared to 5 years ago, and how good and accessible are learning tools for anyone wanting to excel at riding. Not to mention how many strength training programs for MTBers are now out there, sht non contaminated with some roadie science. You can take a monster like that Slash and climb anything on it, then smash the downhill almost like a DH bike. You no longer need to compromise and get a short travel bike with whimpy light tyres because you feel you need to be able to tackle those climbs somehow, and then hold back on descents.
  • + 10
 As an "enduro" bike this will be great ride. As a trail bike not so much. Who wants to drag this type of wheelbase around all day on a technical trail ride? It's an energy suck, while you watch the back of your friends heads get smaller and smaller in the distance.
  • + 0
 @SlodownU: we have to ride together... the biggest factor for speed is always the tyre choice. Also if your trails ain't bumpy and being male alpha is your thing, then get a Spec Epic or Top Fuel. Whatever your buddies have up their descent sleeve, whatever crap you are about to descend somewhere on the way, the sheer climbing speed of xc racer bike will leave them behind. Riding my bumpy tight trails with 160 bike makes me as happy as a kid who just learned that he's a son of the more fortunate of penis conjoined twins.
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns: "as happy as a kid who just learned that he's a son of the more fortunate of penis conjoined twins."
  • - 2
 @PHeller: Got to give SOME of it to John Oliver...
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns: I'd love to ride with you, however there is that geography thing....I ride a 160mm bike, but it doesn't have the wheelbase of this thing, and the 27.5 wheels don't have the inertia. I'm sure that the Slash will descend like a beast, because look at the numbers, slack angles and wheelbase, descending is its priority. Grinding up a long fire-road is one thing, but not everyone's trails aren't setup that way. This bike just looks like a handful to throw around all day on singletrack that isn't pointing down most of the time. I need to ride alot of technical, tight, single-track to get to the descents.
  • + 2
 Tight trails on a bulldozer--maybe it's not the trails that are tight. Horses for courses. Ask the unfortunate twin.
  • + 7
 @WAKIdesigns Your suggestion of using trials moves to get around a tight turn does an excellent job of underscoring why long wheelbase bikes are not always desirable.
  • + 1
 @miles-e: Yeah man, but short wheelbase bikes suck at speed.
  • + 2
 That thing is sleek, aggressive & so clean. The lines & the angles, FAAACK! Although I would never, ever even consider a bike with wagon wheels (or 650B FTM, if I can help it) This is the first time I've ever had anything nice to say about one. It doesn't look at all like it actually has wagon wheels on it. Nice job Trek.
  • + 2
 So now that Trek has gotten rid of the "full floater", what separates this suspension from Dave Weagles Split Pivot found on DeVinci (i.e. a fancy term for a single pivot that brakes ever-so-slightly better, but not as well as a horst link)?
  • + 4
 Can you write a bit more about how the sizing of the bike feels compared to other bikes? What size did you ride?
  • + 6
 looks like a session
  • + 3
 Hey, quick question...is that a TREK?? I couldn't tell with the OVERSIZED lettering on the downtube...
  • + 4
 What a beast. It looks unreal. The red finish is breathtaking.
  • + 0
 I too love the Atherton Wrangler red Big Grin
  • + 4
 The 18in frame has a 47.992 wheelbase holy shit
  • + 3
 1"'shorter than the mega 290!
  • + 3
 @Richt2000: that's because the Mega 290s chainstays are about 3/4" longer
  • + 0
 I like it! They seem to have the numbers right. It will not be for all trails though..
I think the X-country people will now need a bigger wheel size. Could this be the beggining of the end for 650b?
  • + 1
 Alright, this is a sick bike!

Someone send me a poster of it for my wall, it's the only way I will be able to have it in my bike room. ????
  • + 2
 I swear the term "nimble" seems to be mandatory in every review I read these days. PB, MTBR, MBA...all of them.
  • + 1
 Sh#t, "nimble" has been used exhaustingly since the 90's. But if I ever read about another "playful" bike, like I have in every review in the last 5 years..... I may just snap and have to get off the twitternet and actually go ride.
  • + 3
 Trek just won a new customer from Santa Cruz
  • + 6
 Yea SC have lost that certain buzz. They used to innovate. Now they just iterate...
  • + 2
 @Richt2000: @Murbahman I think Intense is taking that title away from SC for VPP bikes and I expect to see something in this category from them soon.
  • + 0
 @Richt2000: Let's see, the new Hightower is one of most desirable bikes out there. One comes in the shop and is gone within 3 days. The gen 3 nomad has been dialed from day one and has had a massive influence on the market. They have the new talboy coming out which will be killer.

Santa Cruz doesn't give into bullshit trends. They set the trend the nomad is a great example. Every enduro bike that has come out recently, the pivot firebird even this week has basically copy pasted the nomads geometry. How can you say they are not innovators? They made the market what it is now.
  • + 1
 @poozank: not saying they are not popular, hey I've had 4 myself (Blur LT, Tallboy, Tallboy LTC and 5010 mk 1)
Just saying that all the new bikes of the last few years are iterations of the old.

Eg 2011 Tallboy - gamechanger.
2012 and the TBLTC comes out and is a gamechanger.
Erm, since then, no game changers.

Evil are far more innovative.... I wouldn't day SC set trends 'anymore'. They did, but not anymore. Until recently they had the longest chainstays in the business for example.

Don't get me wrong, the combination of vpp (possibly the most efficient rear sus design for climbing and not bad at all for descending) and slick brand management is a winner for SC. i just feel like they are in cash cow mode now.
  • + 1
 @salespunk: agree 100%.
Intense, Evil and dare I say it, even trek are thinking outside the SWAT-hole!
  • + 1
 @salespunk: I'll still be in he line for the New Nomad - love my SC's
  • + 1
 I just took mine out for a ride, and it is truly a stiff and nimble a agile bike I have ever ridden. I can't wait to get more miles on it.
  • + 0
 First trek that I've ever lusted for.. to steal me away from my usual unique bikes takes an awful lot of convincing.. i want even that stoked about the sb6
  • + 2
 Like to see how the Norco Range 29" will stack up against this.
  • + 2
 If only Trek had gone back to a threaded BB it would've been perfect :o(
  • + 0
 Numbers are just numbers. Would like to know if the riding position is the same most of the 29ers, kind if riding a bus, big steering wheel .
  • + 1
 Still a 29r longer travel and slack won't make me buy it none the pricetag
  • + 0
 Isn't the "low / high" writing on the mino link wrong? Should be the other way around, shouldn't it?
  • + 3
 Don't think so dude.. think about it.. bolt it towards the back.. Up & Raise the BB... More towards the front.. drop it and slack it!
  • + 1
 @steviestokes: my exact thoughts! in the position on this picture, the seatstay gets lengthened, means higher bb. and vice versa (gap between rocker and seatstay is bigger)
found a picture of another slash where it's correct: www.pinkbike.com/photo/13725168
  • + 1
 Please compare to new Spec Enduro.
  • + 2
 I need this bike!!!!
  • + 1
 lol @ poah that was hilarious
  • + 2
 Cant wait to get mine
  • + 1
 Why aren't we seeing a Lyric on any of these bikes?
  • + 3
 Fox is still considered a more premium product than Rockshox.
  • + 6
 A dual stage Lyric will be along with Super Deluxe is spec'd on the Slash 9.8.
  • + 1
 Which trails did you ride Mike? Any low speed tech bits?
  • + 0
 just take my money!!!! now!!!!
  • - 2
 This bike does everything the Remedy does but better, even climb. I couldn't wait until October for it so got a Yeti SB5.5c instead.
  • + 0
 Didn't PB promise a Mega 290 review many months ago?
  • + 0
 Talas?? BUAJJ
  • - 1
 Bro-duro Requires a Bro-mad
  • + 0
 this!
  • - 1
 Trek sucks
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