First Ride: Trek's New Supercaliber XC Race Bike

Sep 4, 2019 at 13:02
by Daniel Sapp  



It hasn't exactly been a secret that Trek were working on a new XC race bike - a covered-up version of the bike was raced earlier this season, and that wrap was removed for World Champs in Mont-Sainte-Anne. The veil of secrecy has now been completely removed, revealing the new Supercaliber.

The bike replaces Trek's Top Fuel as the brand's World Cup XC full suspension race bike, wiith 60mm of rear travel delivered by their unique IsoStrut suspension system. The team at Trek claim that many cross-country riders are looking for a bike that rides like both a hardtail and a full-suspension bike all in one. There have been some attempts at this style of the bike in the past, most notably the STP from Trek nearly 20 years ago, but there were always some compromises with the performance.

Trek Supercaliber Details

• Intended use: XC Race
• Wheel size: 29"
• Travel: 60mm (rear) / 100mm fork
• Boost 12x148mm spacing
• Carbon frame
• Sizes S, M, ML, L, XL, XXL
• IsoStrut suspension
• Weight: 21 lbs
• Price as shown: $9,500 USD
• Frame only: $3,700 USD
• Available in November 2019
www.trekbikes.com
One of the biggest issues was that even with the shock firmed up or locked out a full-suspension bike inevitably still has flex in the rear end from all of the pivots. The Supercaliber is designed in a way to eliminate a lot of those problems and provide suspension with a pivot and the structural IsoStrut. The frame, including the shock and hardware tips the scale at 1900 grams.

The Supercaliber will be available only in carbon and in four different models, the 9.7, 9.8, 9.9, and a 9.9 AXS. Sizes S-XXL are available. The rear ends of the bikes are made and tuned according to the size of the frame, so Trek ended up producing four different rear ends for the bike.

In order to find out more, I headed to Waterloo, Wisconsin, to talk to the engineering team about how this bike came to be. Let's break things down and look at a couple different areas individually, starting with the IsoStrut.

Daniel Sapp at Dupont State Park


IsoStrut

Trek's IsoStrut serves multiple purposes - it contains an air spring and a damper, and also serves as a structural component of the frame. When photos of the Supercaliber first surfaced there was speculation that it worked as a pull shock, but the cutaway view reveals that that's not the case.The team at Trek spent the last four years prototyping and testing different designs before they settled on this final iteration. Key to the bike is Trek's collaboration with Fox. It was impossible to develop the frame without the strut, or the strut without the frame, so engineers had to work closely to figure things out.

The IsoStrut's air spring can be tuned and dialed in exactly how a rider desires, and it can be fully locked out. With the IsoStrut integrated into the bike as a structural component that carries top tube loads, it allows the Supercaliber to achieve stiffness numbers that are a lot higher than a typical full suspension bike. The shock has a 32.5mm stroke, which gives the bike a low 1.5-1 leverage rate. The shock and IsoStrut can be serviced with standard Fox parts.


The fact that there's no link to drive the IsoStrut shock is what sets it apart from a typical rear suspension design. Everything is built into a carbon fiber carriage which moves on 36mm bushings, and the shock is connected via hardware that runs through the center of that carriage, along with slide bushings that also prevent any rotation.



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Pivotless Seatstays

Seatstays on the bike are pivotless and flex to work with the suspension through a virtual pivot in the seatstay. There is 55mm of damped travel through the shock, and then there is an additional 5mm of travel from the seatstay bowing which also provides progression for the suspension.

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Other Frame Features

The Supercaliber can handle up to a 120mm fork and has clearance for up to 2.2" tires. The bike fits two full-size water bottles, as any proper XC race bike should. There's internal cable routing throughout and the bike also has a 31.6 seat tube so riders have the option of standard dropper posts.

Trek's polarizing "Knock Block" that stops the handlebar controls from contacting the top tube is also present on the Supercaliber. It does serve a purpose - without it, the brake and shift levers would indeed contact the top tube if turned past 90-degrees.

Daniel Sapp at Dupont State Park

A Long Process

The Supercaliber took over three years to go from inception to the finished product; engineers went back and forth on countless ideas and trial runs before settling on the final bike. That extended R&D period meant that more than a few frames designs never made it past the prototype stage - here are a few from along the way.







Geometry

The Supercaliber has appropriate angles for an aggressive World Cup level XC race bike. The head tube sits at 69-degrees, the seat tube is 74-degrees, and the chain stays are 430mm.





I'm one of a very few outside of Trek's engineering and race team that has had the chance to ride the new Supercaliber. I rode the bike briefly at Trek's Waterloo, Wisconsin, headquarters and then have a few rides on it at home in North Carolina.

In the coming months, I'll do a full review once I've had a chance to get some additional miles in on the bike and fully assess its capabilities.


Daniel Sapp at Dupont State Park

Climbing

The Supercaliber is said to climb like a hardtail when it's locked out, with a flex-free rear end and a no movement from the shock. Does it deliver? Yes. Hit the lockout lever and the front and back end of the bike both lock out simultaneously, shifting the full-suspension rig into a fully rigid and very efficient mode. The bike climbs as well as you would expect a fully rigid bike to be. If this were my bike I'd be tempted to disconnect the front lockout in order to have a little more comfort when the shock was in full rigid mode, but I understand the dual lockout setup - in an XC race any excess motion is energy that could be used to stay ahead of the pack.

With the shock and fork open, the bike has gobs of traction heading uphill and minimal pedal feedback in the suspension. The climbing position is comfortable, and I couldn't ask much more out of a XC race bike.

Daniel Sapp at Dupont State Park

Descending

Descending, the Supercaliber is an impressive bike, and it's much more sure-footed technical terrain than a hardtail. The 60mm of travel out back feels closer to that of the Top Fuel, not nearly half of it. A lot of that can be attributed to the flex-stays. One thing that was stressed to me is how important the bike is to really take time on the set up since there is so little suspension out back, compared to most full-suspension bikes we're riding these days.

Setting up the shock differently can greatly change the ride feel, so much so that Trek include three different volume spacers with the bike so riders can fine tune the shock feel themselves right out of the box. It's a simple procedure - you simply unbolt the two front bolts on the IsoStrut and then open up the shock using an open faced BB tool. Add, remove, or swap a spacer, tighten back the can, air back up, and you're good to go. I've spent a bit of time moving spacers around and I can't stress enough how much a difference they make in tuning the way the Supercaliber rides.

Daniel Sapp at Dupont State Park






289 Comments

  • 461 12
 But can we fit a coil on it?
  • 88 0
 #parklife
  • 108 3
 With enough duck tape you can fit anything you want.
  • 32 0
 @bigtim: ^^ This guy makes things happen. Big Grin
  • 53 0
 will a dual crown void the warranty?
  • 8 0
 @bigtim: with a name like bigtim I can almost guarantee his ingenuity is up there with the best of them.
  • 6 3
 Can I fit a 3" minion on it ?
  • 228 5
 We have this bike called a Session, you may or may not have heard of it on here Wink
  • 8 215
flag applesauce42 (Sep 5, 2019 at 9:18) (Below Threshold)
 @trek: duhhh, we have all heard of the session. there is a joke that all bikes look like a session. ever see that joke? jeeshhh
  • 29 1
 @trek: Doesn't look like a session
  • 37 14
 @trek: I’d still call it Sexcalibur because it’s one of the sexiest bikes you’ve ever made Smile
  • 99 2
 @applesauce42: We've never heard of that joke, must be a new one *ba dum tiss*
  • 22 2
 @trek: thank you for having a sense of humor!
  • 25 2
 @applesauce42:
Hahaha holy crap...

You must be a blast at parties Smile
  • 25 3
 @trek: I tried a session once. Barely able to climb anything. Bike sucked. I finished last in my category during a Marathon XC whilst piloting a Session. Hope this bike is better!
  • 3 7
flag nyhc00 (Sep 5, 2019 at 11:34) (Below Threshold)
 @applesauce42: You are the worst type of person.
  • 60 2
 @gonecoastal: Sounds like you're skipping leg day - but we think you'll climb better on the Supercaliber
  • 7 1
 @trek: ain’t nobody got time for that!
  • 3 42
flag applesauce42 (Sep 5, 2019 at 19:26) (Below Threshold)
 @twozerosix (Sean), @CF519 (Cam), and @nyhc00 (David)

you all get down votes from me for being such lame haters... suck itttttttt!!!
  • 2 0
 @scotttherider: @trek definately has a sense of humor. They have a bike called the "full stache" which I happen to own.
  • 5 0
 @applesauce42: your x3 downvotes look good next to several hundred on your own comment
  • 1 0
 Coil, fit a coil. You should be more responsible for you're reproductive health. What rubber does it come with?
  • 1 0
 @Dogroll: just go wireless... it's 21st century.
  • 3 0
 It rides so much better if you over-fork it, put a dropper on, and add 2.5 tires. Then the bike really comes alive...
  • 3 0
 @kuna26: then do a quick frame swap with the slash and you've really got yourself a capable xc rig
  • 128 1
 Genuine innovation right there. Looks slick as hell
  • 14 9
 Looks like a mecha slug has attached itself to the underside.
  • 35 11
 @oscartheballer: Looks like the bike has a built in fleshlight.
  • 10 30
flag lelandjt (Sep 5, 2019 at 7:46) (Below Threshold)
 You can tell from the prototypes that a "slick" look with a hidden shock that invokes a hardtail was a priority.Taking this approach is a fail in my opinion but I guess I'm not the target demographic because I like suspension. Would you rather have a bike that looks light or is light?
  • 11 0
 @lelandjt: aesthetics were definitely a factor but if the goal was a hardtaily *feel*, the strut + the one piece rear triangle are probably going to get you a much stiffer rear than you'll get with a pivots and links.
  • 4 0
 Yup, a really clean looking result, though I don't think it's fair to say that was the primary focus. While it's probably not a bike that I would end up owning, I'd really like to try riding one.
  • 23 0
 I’m dubbing this the birth of the “Up Country” bike, sworn enemy of Downcountry bikes.
  • 2 0
 Agree!!!
  • 1 0
 @nyhc00:

"I'm goin' to someplace where the water tastes like wine!"
  • 87 0
 It's a dropper post...in the frame?

Seriously though, the product development stuff is pretty cool. PB should do a whole feature on that alone...from initial concept and drawings, through the design phase, even deciding on colors, to final production. That would be a great article.
  • 4 0
 Totally agree!
  • 2 0
 I wonder if Trek would allow it? In my experience a lot of companies are pretty tight lipped about their design process. I'm even kinda surprised they showed so many "failed" frames. Maybe they did that to show they put a whole ton of time and effort into getting the best possibe design. Also wondering if we will see knock-offs of those "failed" frames in the near future too.
  • 20 0
 @pcassingham: Stay tuned for the full review where I'll go a lot deeper into the design. I spent a couple of days at Trek with the design and engineering team. There are many more drawings, FEA's, videos, photos, and stories of how the bike came to be.
  • 6 0
 @danielsapp: I look forward to it! Kudos to Trek for giving us an inside look and thank you for covering it!
  • 1 0
 Talking about colors, I really don't like this kind of 2 colors scheme. My kind of stuff is more Nicolai's raw or Santa Cruz's plain colors, but my brain doesn't quite grasp why you'd want to paint the bike blue and then switch to yellow half way through.
  • 2 0
 @pcassingham: In a similar way, BMC had shown (not sure about this conjugation) some steps of the design of their MTT technology.
  • 60 3
 Does not look like a session!
  • 14 3
 Looks like an old Yeti...
  • 4 0
 @deeeight: I had one of those for a while (a much older version)! Got it on ebay, it came with a silly little 1" travel Rockshox shock that bolted between the seat tube and seatstays, like this:
www.retrobike.co.uk/forum/download/file.php?id=127249
  • 3 2
 @deeeight: I don't want to be that guy but that top tube looks like a fleshlight.
  • 1 1
 @Duderz7: Yeah somewhere between yeti's old rail stuff, switch infinity, and Cannondale lefty
  • 4 0
 @pistol2ne: guess you are that guy now
  • 53 2
 Shakeweight
  • 47 0
 This really seems more like something Cannondale would make.
  • 21 0
 Left-sided strut = Lefty

Top tube integrated strut = Toppy?
  • 7 0
 put a lefty on it and watch the internet explode.
  • 2 0
 @MTBrent: after a mud ride... sloppy toppy!
  • 1 0
 Agree. First thought I had wast that this is what I expected and hoped the 2012 Scalpel 29er was going to be.
  • 45 0
 How can they treat those prototype frames so poorly by throwing them in a box like that? Prototype frames have feelings too.
  • 25 6
 #prototypelivesmatter?
  • 8 0
 Reminds me of the alien movie, where she finds the failed attemps to make her.
  • 4 0
 I also want to know why they abandoned the other frame designs. Ride feel? Complexity? Manufacturing? It’s nice to see what works, but it’s also nice to know what doesn’t and why.
  • 33 0
 We gave them a proper send off, we promise
  • 7 0
 I see a commercial for rescue frames with Sarah Mcwhatsherface making me feel bad so I'll adopt or donate. Those poor frames deserve a chance.
  • 11 0
 @trek: huck to flat off the loading dock
  • 3 0
 @twozerosix: furnace and melted down for the next proto’s To have life!
  • 1 0
 @dstroud70: needs an overhead shot of a xc bro, sitting in mud holding a broken frame and screaming "Noooo!" as the camera dollies out...
  • 3 0
 @dstroud70: for just 15 cents a day...
  • 1 9
flag Tjomball (Sep 5, 2019 at 13:24) (Below Threshold)
 @trek: same send off as your warranty claims? ????
Former Trek/Fisher/Klein/Bontrager dealer mechanic and rider here.
Still rocking my 99 Privateer.
Loving that hunk of steel.
Best iron bike to come out of your Wisconsin plant by far. ????

93 Adroit Green/Yellow fade (sold)
94 Attitude Pink/Purple (sold)
98 Y-Glide (Broke in 7 places, got a Y3 frame as warranty? WTF TREK? )
98 Pro Issue DH (headtube ripped off)
99 VRX (sold)
99 Privateer S (still riding this one. Make an updated 29er of this one and you can take my money again)
  • 1 0
 @trek:

A reg'lar Viking Funeral, you betcha!
  • 1 0
 @trek: Thank you Trek. I can sleep better tonight.
  • 25 0
 Bike looks great but 2.3 tire clearance would be alot more useful than 2.2, letting you run 2.25 aspens or 2.3 icons.
  • 6 0
 Especially when that’s what the top guys are running.
  • 11 0
 Yeah that really sucked so see, seems like they were 100% focused on making the fastest XCO bike possible, but this bike would be perfect with those slightly higher volume options for longer distance races. 2.2 limit seems ridiculous for a 2020 bike.
  • 3 0
 Yes, I had to laugh at the "has clearance for up to 2.2" tires"! I don't even own tires that small, and I have a Scott XC bike...
  • 1 0
 You could probably get away with 2.25". The 2.2" is with 8mm total tire clearance(4mm each side).
  • 3 0
 @cgreaseman: not worth risking damaging the thin carbon flex stats though. They should have just engineered more clearance
  • 6 0
 Considering Nino runs 2.4...
  • 4 0
 @mnorris122: Doesn't Nino run Aspens that come in a max 2.25"? Regardless, he runs a 30mm internal rim which is pretty ridiculous. There's a reason Scott sends their XC athletes 5 new frames a year, they probably break them with that low of weight+ridiculous tolerances.
  • 5 0
 @cgreaseman: hes running prototype Aspen races now that come in at 2.4
  • 2 7
flag clink83 (Sep 5, 2019 at 11:20) (Below Threshold)
 You wouldn't want anything bigger than a 2.2 on the rear of a bike like this.
  • 13 1
 We suggest a max tire of a 2.2" but anything larger would be at the rider's discretion. But we do leave a hearty 6mm of frame to tire clearance on our bikes.
  • 6 0
 @trek: Cool bike, and I love that you're on here representing, but let's be honest, that 6mm is the clearance mandated by CPSC and ISO standards. All bikes have 6mm clearance over the claimed max. width. (Well, they should anyway).

BTW: I was racing in Copper Harbor against one of your test riders aboard this rig this weekend. Looked legit. Love the concept, design, and execution!
  • 1 0
 @trek: Thanks, Ross
  • 2 0
 @cgreaseman: *cough* Mitch
  • 20 0
 Absolutely love it, something really original... and SEXY. At the first reveal I was really curious as to how the shock internals were set up and how service would work, props to Trek for sharing the exploded/section views. Cool that it's a relatively standard service procedure as well.

And now I look forward to a fruitless discussion about the "outdated" seat angle and reach Razz
  • 18 0
 Solid effort for innovation. Looks legit too.
  • 17 1
 Where are all the haters now? Looks awesome and sounds like it sure is. Good job on innovation Trek.
  • 3 3
 So the only advantage over a Spark, Oiz, Epic, Top Fuel, etc. is that it looks cool? Really good job on innovation Trek.
  • 1 0
 @Ttimer: 2nd place for Jolanda at mount saint anne.
Trying to offer hardtail efficiency and still enough suspension to soften the bumps.. That's called innovating.
  • 14 0
 It seems like there's a missing paragraph. Climbing-->Descending--> Conclusion?
  • 1 0
 I thought the same thing!
  • 9 3
 Climbs great for what it is, descends great for what it is, this bike will fit a certain group of riders - every pinkbike review.
  • 6 0
 @laksboy: They make conclusions on long-term reviews, but not on "first ride" posts
  • 20 9
 It's weird how Scott just dominates the other companies in travel/weight. My Spark RC has almost double the travel at 120g less weight. Try again Trek.
  • 5 0
 Yep Scott’s carbon knowhow is second to none. Only the Unno Horn is lighter.
  • 1 0
 Ya, it seems that there would be a ton of ways to make a ligher design than this. It has a lot of material in that top tube, and more hardware than just a few pivots.
  • 4 0
 I think there are other companies as light as scott. I just got an 2016 XL orbea oiz frame and it's 1900g with the fox float.
  • 1 0
 The fun fact that it weights almost the same, just pound or two less after 25 years of improvement
  • 12 1
 Pretty rad that it is serviceable in-shop
  • 11 1
 Trek: Let’s make the shock a structural part of the bike!

Fox: Easy! Chop up s 36 and stuff a shock down the shaft!
  • 8 1
 Looking at the video: the frame top tube is flexing when the shock is compressed (under heavy load I assume), it is easily noticeable naked eyes.
My question: Is it normal and part of the frame design? Or will we see frame failure on the top tube due to too much fatigue?
  • 15 0
 Any frame bolted to a test rig deflects under max load. Even the big FS frames. There's no such thing as a flexfree structure.
  • 1 1
 Even my Columbus Cromor bike flex....
  • 3 0
 Noticed that too... Carbon is capable of so much more than just being light and stiff.
  • 16 2
 The seatstays (which you might notice more) are actually what are supposed to flex which provides an extra 4-6mm of travel on top of the suspension travel.
  • 5 1
 Everything has fatigue life. For modern bikes, its longer than you will live even if you rode the bike every day.
  • 5 0
 @phops: What if I rode my bike every day, and twice on Sundays?
  • 4 2
 @handynzl: Yeah that's too much, it will break.. I am sorry.
  • 1 0
 @phops: Actually there is a fatigue limit; below that stress, some materials will cycle indefinitely without fracture. (Aluminum is NOT one of those materials). Probably why this is Carbon only.

Also the amount of flex you see on that top tube is not abnormal for a bike under max compression.
  • 7 0
 I would love to try a burlier version of the this with more aggro geo. My trails and fast with lots of jumps etc. but they are smooth, so something that can take the edge of flat/bad landings, but keep things super peppy while offering less maintenance sounds amazing. I ride an aggo hardtail, which does very well, but after a long day I just feel way more beat up than I do on my full sus.
  • 2 0
 Let's hope the trickle down effect occurs and they bring a similar design to a 120mmR/130mmF format.
  • 2 0
 Go take a look at an Intense Sniper Trail.
  • 2 0
 yes, would love something like this with Honzo like geo and durability!
  • 2 0
 @mybaben:

In that category I'll take a Rocky Mountain Element with 120mm front, 100mm rear, and adjustable geometry.
  • 1 0
 @dlford: RMs are nice bikes, but the Sniper Trail has way better geo for trail riding, while still being light, fast and efficient. I suggest this bike because @JesseE said he wanted a more aggro geo. Also the build kit value is better on the Intense.
  • 1 0
 @dlford: I guess that sideloading on the stanchion as can be seen while compressing would introduce stiction and binding which is probably fine here in the Game of Lockouts but on more trail oriented bikes is a big no-no. So my guess is it will remain only on XC rocket type of bike.
  • 9 0
 AD4M: 'But can we fit a coil on it?"

PUSH: "Hold my beer!"
  • 1 0
 NEEDS MOAR PLUSH
  • 5 0
 FINALLY!!! Someone posted a video of carbon flex stays actually working. I'm not naming names but some brands were full of it when they stated their seat stays flexed a quantitative value. Carbon technology just keeps improving, so cool!
  • 6 0
 “One of the biggest issues was that even with the shock firmed up or locked out a full-suspension bike inevitably still has flex in the rear end from all of the pivots.”

Said nobody, ever.
  • 6 0
 Glad Trek has solved this problem. I've totally crashed because of pivot flex. THANKS OBAMA
  • 6 0
 Cool to see the engineering work done here. I like the rear wheel load vs displacement measurement rig they got there.
  • 3 0
 I feel like this could have been executed better/lighter. That funky DH bike that kinda does the same thing (www.pinkbike.com/news/resistance-bikes-insolent-dh-fox-40-stanchion-as-a-shock.html) seems like better engineering to me. Have it enter right in the rear (thats what she said) of the seat tube and you'll ditch a ton of extra material and need the seatstays to flex less, and put less stress on the top tube. This would force trek to use a seat post mast instead (like what they used to do), but thats lighter anyways. Since this is all super proprietary, they could have just made an inverted dropper post/mast as well since droppers are finally being found on XC bikes (like this one bikerumor.com/2018/05/22/frm-flips-the-tubes-to-create-295g-xc-dropper-seatpost)
  • 7 1
 Your bike company will probably do much better, we know
  • 3 0
 @tempest3070: Watch out world, here I come!
  • 3 0
 I don't understand the "hardtail feel": If this bike is locked out the flexy seatstays are still there, so a conventional four pivot system with a hard lockout would feel more like a hardtail? Also this doesn't seem to save any weight over a scott spark frame.
  • 1 0
 Yep, that’s this bike in a nutshell. They started with the sensible goal of trying to split the difference between weight and suspension, and it looks like the weight savings just didn’t pan out. I’m sure it’s a great bike compared to any XC rig pre-Spark, but it just seems like a less-capable, less-versatile Spark or Epic alternative. Too bad they couldn’t shave a pound.
  • 3 0
 I'm thinking this could be a really great bike for Leadville. There is always a lot of debate for Leadville whether to ride a hardtail or a full suspension with even the pros split (this year the top two finishers used the new Specialized HT but many of the other pros were on full suspension including the Team EF guys). I road an Air 9 RDO at Leadville this year that weighed in at about 20.5 lbs. This Supercaliber would be close but likely still a couple of pounds heavier. The question would be how much performance would be gained over the course of with reduced fatigue on a FS and likely a little more speed on the descents vs the added weight on the climbs....
  • 5 0
 So much more performance and so much less fatigue. After participating myself, I have to ask, why would anyone willingly do Leadville when there's plenty of good mountain biking trails nearby?
  • 1 0
 I totally thought this bike would be good for marathon racing and not much else
  • 2 0
 I would love to ride this as a slightly cushier replacement for my Honzo. Obviously it's geared towards XC, but a 120 fork and possibly an angleset would give it the perfect geo for an all-arounder on green/blue trails that are too tame for a fs bike. Just wonder how much abuse the frame can take when used more aggressively than the intended purpose.
  • 3 0
 Yes! Putting suspension fork technology on a frame...now if only there was some type of linkage suspension fork you could put on there to totally reverse bike suspension as we know it...
  • 3 0
 Has no one said yet "supercaliberfragilisticexpialidocious
Even though the sound of it is something quite atrocious
If you ride it fast enough, you'll always win your races
Supercaliberfragilisticexpialidocious"
  • 5 0
 They nailed the head angle
  • 6 2
 Curious to see if they will try to make a slopestyle bike with this platform
  • 1 0
 Interesting and neat design, and an engineering feat by the guys at Trek. What's the likelihood those stays don't fail prematurely? I know Trek offers a lifetime warranty, but it still sucks having to deal with that on something that's designed to flex so much.

Also, does the flex stay allow additional travel beyond the full shock compression?
  • 1 0
 Don't know where else to put this (twss). The "shock" is 50mm travel, then about 10mm seatstay flex then about 8mm chainstay flex.
  • 4 0
 Considering my 2020 Epic is 20.07 with pedals and garmin mount. I think this is a miss.
  • 1 0
 Man, don't get small rocks stuck between the top tube and the slidey-bits, looks a bit tough to clean, but I appreciate the concept. If it works, I think it would be neat to have a "trail" version. seems like a superfun bike.
  • 1 0
 This is wrong but I want to see this bike but with a beefed up option. Like retain the same rear travel and light frame weight, but with more rear spacers for the shock to add progression, slacker geometry and a 120 fork/ bigger tires.... like a trail hard tail with something to take the edge off in the rear. Mmmmmm tasty.
  • 2 0
 Pinkbike needs hold all bikes to same standard a month at Whistler Bike park. A pass means frame didn’t break nor key components weren’t replaced. Can this Trek handle dirt merchant???
  • 4 0
 I give you plus points for the great NC riding scenery pics alone.
  • 2 0
 There were no wasted words in that article,-the guy writes like an xc machine. Lately the articles on this site have been a lot better than I can recall them being.
  • 3 0
 Fair enough. Still noticed at least one typo, the editing isn't all that great on this site though.
  • 3 1
 I'm not much of an XC race guy. That said, this bike looks really cool. I'm sure it's a rocket compared to my 5"bike trail bike
  • 3 0
 Good job Daniel for branching out from 130mm+ bike review. Nice to read about some true mtb innovation.
  • 3 2
 Trek is going in the wrong direction. They need to move AWAY from all this custom shock stuff! This is why I won't buy a Trek. I don't want to be locked into one suspension component. Sorry Trek. Frown
  • 1 0
 "The shock has a 32.5mm stroke, which gives the bike a low 1.5-1 leverage rate."

Hm, 60 mm travel and 32.5 mm stroke. 60/32.5 = 1.85. So I make that a 1.85:1 leverage ratio ("leverage rate" not the correct term here).
  • 1 0
 Later in the article it mentions that only 55 mm of the travel comes from the shock itself (5 mm from the stays flexing). So this would be 55/32.5 or a ratio of 1.7:1.
  • 1 1
 Nicolai Bikes had the same layout a long time ago, called it the 'Trombone'. Due to proprietary stupidity, Karlheinz abandoned it. For a big Co like Trek it probably don't matter. If the design changes Trek can offer a 'upgrade' frame for a massively reduce price of 30% off retail bwaaahaa.
  • 1 0
 Love the innovation. thanks for showing us those prototypes as well that way fascinating. Kudos to trek for thinking outside the box and putting something like this into production.
  • 2 0
 Another modern XC machine made for maximum climbing efficiency. And where is the seat tube angle equal to or greater than 78º that says better for climbs?
  • 2 0
 Let's start a rumor just for fun - Schurter and Neff in talks with Pole factory XC team for 2020. They just can't climb on these "super slack" STAs anymore.
  • 1 0
 @bkm303: kkk, exactly. For you to see how overestimate these 78º
  • 1 0
 It's on bikes that have enough travel to sag and significantly decrease STA on climbs...
  • 1 0
 78 degrees would be too steep on a short travel bike. (although great on something in the 160mm rsnge)

I love steep STA and have long legs, but I see the limit for shorter travel bikes at roughly 75-76 degrees. (Cf. Ibis Ripley with 120mm and 76 deg)
  • 1 0
 Geometrically, the seat stays have to flex as the rear triangle pivots upward to deal with the changed angle between the seat stay and top tube. There's no pivot on the seat stays to allow this, so it's gotta be flexing.
  • 1 0
 I'm confused by this design. Everyone else in the industry is advertising added flex in the chain/seatstay to provide some dampening. Why is Trek calling flex "one of the biggest issues" that they're trying to solve?
  • 3 0
 Torsional flex is a lot different than vertical compliance. Flex as an issue is the flex of the frame twisting side to side due to pedaling forces. The flex in the stays is vertical and controlled. It creates more compliance - if you look at the videos of the bike above, you can see that there's an amount of that. By eliminating the side to side or torsional flex issues with pivots and linkages, Trek have cut down on the bad flex and kept the good flex.
  • 1 0
 Besides it's grandfather ...Leigh Donovans 1995 Nicolai Trombone it also reminds me of this concept from 2017, too.....https://www.bike-magazin.de/hintergruende/interviews/zukunftsvisionen-canyon/a37474.html
  • 2 0
 Quite likely this suspension will be used as the basis for a new gravel bike as well. I’d almost think that gravel was the primary justification for the development.
  • 1 0
 Descending, the Supercaliber is an impressive bike, and it's much more sure-footed technical terrain than a hardtail. I feel Chromag begs to differ. LOL Still looks fun for an hour or so.
  • 3 1
 wait, so it's 60mm of travel and you still have to flick the lockout when climbing?
  • 22 0
 Yes, efficiency is everything on sprints/attacks. If you're already including a shock, adding a remote lockout adds virtually no weight and any elite XC racer will 100% use it.
  • 4 30
flag mi-bike (Sep 5, 2019 at 7:43) (Below Threshold)
 @bkm303: no shit Sherlock
  • 18 0
 @mi-bike: well endurbro up there seemed to not understand why you'd want a lockout on a 60mm bike...
  • 1 0
 @bkm303: or anyone on an XC bike with half a brainSmile
  • 1 0
 @bkm303: Hell, I love the dual remote lockout on my Blur. I don't race a ton, but I do big rides where there's sometimes road in between trails. It's like having a button to turn your bike into a road bike.
  • 1 0
 @PAmtbiker: hell yeah man. It's ~3.5 road miles to the nearest pump track on my lunch hour, you better believe I'm locking it out for the ride out/back. I don't have a remote but I'd def use it if I did. The blur is a sick bike btw.
  • 1 0
 @bkm303: I think @f00bar understood it just fine. He made a silly joke but forgot to add the ;-) imoji. ;-)
  • 3 0
 love the little stone stopping it rolling away!
  • 2 0
 Dupont seems like a great test area for that whip. I'd like to take it for a spin!
  • 1 0
 Interesting for sure. Wonder if it's worth it over a Spark RC which can also be locked out and pretty much climbs like a HT.
  • 2 1
 In a word, NO. Scott's XC bikes are amazing!
  • 1 0
 Seems like the perfect rig for shuttle free A.T.C.A. rides in Oakridge OR with 10+ mile fire road climbs and 15 mile downhills.
  • 3 0
 Heavier than a scott spark and with less travel. Hmmm?
  • 1 0
 50Hr service on your "Frame Bushings"? who replaces the bushings in the frame when people don't stick to their service intervals? send the rear end to Fox or Trek?
  • 1 0
 Would have loved to see that prototype with the shock in the seat tube in action! Reminds me of Bold Bikes which are just around the corner from where I live.
  • 1 1
 I'm just glad they aren't complaining how this cx bike doesn't have enough travel or a sushi enough head tube angle like most of the time
  • 6 0
 You can never have too much sushi in your head angle.
  • 2 0
 Needs a dropper post. Trek may finally get some of my money.
  • 6 4
 Is this a gravel bike? Or can it be used as one?
  • 3 1
 Nope
  • 42 0
 Unfortunately no. To enable the flex stays, they had to make a compromise on the density of the bushing material bond. Works great on trails, rocks, and the road but the harmonic oscillation encountered on a gravel surface causes the frame to explode. Weird, because pretty much any other bike in the world works on gravel to some extent.
  • 2 0
 You can put drop bars on anything....
  • 4 0
 "Any bike is a gravel bike, if you try hard enough"
  • 3 0
 There is no such thing as gravel bikes. There are just road bikes that pretend that they can go offroad.
  • 1 0
 @Sardine: LMAO!! Good lord. Wink
  • 1 0
 Oh, so is it better to buy a road bike and put 27.5 wheels on it? With 50mm tires?
  • 2 0
 @Pmrmusic26: or get a cyclocross... or better, a monstercross..

Or just go and buy a super old fully rigid mountain bike....

The idea of 650b is okay too, gf uses them and serves her well.
  • 1 0
 I don't think the high end xc market is anywhere big enough to justify the r&d that went into this frame. Also if it was only going to be for xc I doubt they would have capped it at 60 mm of travel. I bet we see versions of it on the Checkpoint, Boone and maybe even Domane before the end of next season.
  • 2 0
 @ebrown123: DH bike sales don't really justify the expense of R&D and factory team support they get either. But mfrs still develop and promote them because WC podiums lend prestige / legitimacy to the brand as a whole.

I'd be really surprised to see this system turn up on gravel bikes but it sure would be interesting if you're right.
  • 1 0
 @bkm303: you could argue the technology developed in DH is useful though
  • 3 0
 @ebrown123: I would be willing to bet they sell more of these than they do Sessions....
  • 1 0
 @lumpy873: I think it depends on whether you include aluminum and carbon Sessions. I don't know if an aluminum version of the Supercaliber would work out. However, if you mean they sell more frames across all models (Checkpoint, etc.) with Isostrut, then I agree with you.
  • 2 0
 @ebrown123: just Supercalibers vs Sessions, I bet the Supercaliber outsells the Session.. Even including the alloy Sessions... There are more people racing XC than DH...

Right now, the Supercaliber is the only Isostrut model.. Maybe in the future this design shows up on other models in the future but I'm not sure where else this potentially fits in... Unless they make a longer travel trail version.. A 100mm version with more of a trail bike geo numbers and a 120mm fork could be interesting... A lighter version of the new Top Fuel that just came out...
  • 1 0
 @lumpy873: take into account that making it for a longer travel will reduce the traction when braking, stuff that they solved with ABP, so a longer travel will need ABP and therefore, all the advantages of having such system are throw down to the window.
  • 3 0
 @bkm303: "Can you put drop bars on me, Greg?" (in my best Robert Di Niro impression).
www.youtube.com/watch?v=FXI21S4ZWJU
  • 1 0
 so buy this bike and buy new wheels and drop bars? make it gravel?
  • 1 0
 @ColoradoCruiser: idk who Greg is but yes I could 100% put drop bars on you

@Pmrmusic26 seems more suited to the new Freeroad / Progressive Monstergravelcross trend that I just made up. For that you'll need a longer fork, mullet road wheels, and aero TT bars.
  • 1 0
 Presumably you have to remove the entire rear triangle in order to replace dust wipers and seals?
  • 2 0
 Nope, unbolt the shock from the frame, and it will pivot down once you rotate the chain stay.
  • 2 0
 Do I have to send the whole bike to Fox for shock maitenence?
  • 2 0
 No the shock unbolts, and then pivots down.
  • 3 1
 Seems like a lot of trouble to go through to get a measly 60mm of travel.
  • 3 0
 It's to attain a stiff frame locked out while still offering 60mm of travel. This bike is targeted at those who want a full sus, but still able to lock it out for maximum stiffness as if they were riding a hard tail.
  • 4 0
 @drpheta: Id say its more targeted at those that want something in between an FS and a Hardtail.
  • 2 0
 @phops: in specific, to those XC racers that uses a full sus with super high pressure on the shock and probably max of volume spacers... Yeah, those people.
  • 1 0
 @HopeFbn: who are those people?
  • 1 0
 @clink83: XC guys who race a lot?, I do know that for example, Sam Gaze has super high pressure on the suspension.
  • 2 0
 @HopeFbn: and a bike that is way to small
  • 2 0
 It's not often I say this but that is a really good looking bike.
  • 1 1
 Seems like the suspension design my Y bike had 20 years ago... I mean pivot and shock... I'm sure it rides better, but seems like it pivots like it's 1990's again.
  • 1 0
 Are flexing seat stays common? I have never seen such a thing. Will these fatigue over time?
  • 2 0
 @applesauce42: many bikes use it whether for weight savings like the Cannondale scalpel and previous habit or for cost savings like the Giant Stance. Never heard of fatigue failures but it is quite possible.
  • 1 0
 My Salsa Spearfish (Aluminium!) also flexes without pivot -- between seat stays and chain stays though.
  • 2 0
 Would this be suitable for Downcountry?
  • 1 0
 It should be since you can pair it with a 120mm fork. At the same time you could just get the new Top Fuel which for sure is downcountry.
  • 1 0
 Nice.. I wonder if you can send the "shock" to your favourite tuner or if you need a degree from Trek to get it out..
  • 2 0
 Is this the new rampage bike everyone is raging on about?
  • 1 0
 Very cool, Trek. Innovative, great looking, and sounds like it works well! Keep it up.
  • 1 0
 Does the flex not give the rear end pop like a coil? That's the first thing I think of when I see this.
  • 1 0
 So this thing is heavier and less travel than other XC competitor bikes? Weird.
  • 1 0
 Any bike that depends on carbon flexing in the design just makes me feel icky
  • 1 0
 Cool article, really like seeing the other prototypes that got them to this point
  • 1 0
 Hey Trek can we have this in a gravel version? Maybe with GXR and that little Fox fork, a Vibrocore sweep bar?
  • 1 0
 The best progressive technology in years...I've ridden the lot in every genre, love it.
  • 4 4
 Simple question. Has this bike led to better results for any of the current racers?
  • 26 0
 Well, Jolanda is currently leading the overall with it.
  • 2 1
 @ka-brap: I don't think she would be happy with her results on it though. She hasn't won a World Cup race yet this season, very unusual for her.

And Batty and Cooper aren't very keen on it.
  • 2 0
 @Madfella: that was kind of my point. Sure Neff is fast but is she any faster with this new bike. And as you point out how are the other riders doing on it.
  • 2 0
 @Madfella: she wasn't always all that consistent like last year.
  • 1 0
 Missy... not Nissy ( I wish I could edit on PB)
  • 1 0
 Weighing 44 Big Macs is not a lot of mac, that's impressive.
  • 1 0
 Wasn't the article cut short?
PS: Can't wait for the full review Wink
  • 1 0
 Goddam that's a nice fucking bike.
  • 1 1
 Anybody else notice the frame flex in the rear triangle? Wonder what the reliability will be on these.
  • 2 0
 Whats the reliability on the Lauf Fork?

Same exact scenario.
  • 1 0
 That looks like the perfect bike for me and the trails i ride!
  • 1 0
 DuPont is always a fine choice for a glamour shot.
  • 1 0
 So why didn't Emily Batty didn't ride it at Worlds in MSA?
  • 1 0
 They probably just want one prototype tested.
  • 1 0
 Did she ride a full sus? Maybe she needs more than 60mm of travel...?
  • 1 0
 @mybaben: she rode a hardtail!
  • 5 0
 @sevn: She said that she wanted to use her 27.5 bike because wanted full confidence, there's few interviews with her about that.
  • 2 0
 @HopeFbn: Oh that's right. I think I read something here on PB with her. Thx.
  • 3 0
 @HopeFbn: Yeah, she's said before she likes the hardtail on MSA. It's hard to imagine it's the better choice, but pros will be pros. I see this as similar to how pro roadies refusing to ride aero bikes in favor of saving 300 g, even though the data always says aero is faster. Power/weight is a lot more tangible than losing energy to hits.
  • 1 0
 @nattyd: Yeah but that hardtail have something very specific that Batty wants, 27.5 inch wheels. She has mention a lot of times that she is being "recommended" by her team to use 29er but doesn't feel good on them.
And yeah, some pros do it just for the tend to avoid change (as any human being), like for example, disk brakes on road bikes, but in the case of Emily, she wanted the 27.5. She got a top 10 so I think its good, you will be faster if you are comfortable. Probably a Supercaliber with 27.5 will fit her better? we don't know.
  • 2 0
 @HopeFbn: she likes the light weight on climbs. She's tiny, so a few extra lbs add up fast.
  • 1 0
 @HopeFbn: Emily is also pretty short, so getting a good fit on the 29 is harder...
  • 2 0
 @lumpy873: Yeah,
she is shorter than my GF, and when we have tested few bikes she have told me that a 29er is super hard to control for her, so I think it would be super hard for her to get used to a bike with those wheels.
  • 1 0
 Looks great, would love to try it out
  • 1 0
 K2 had something similar 20 year ago
  • 1 0
 Best looking mountain bike I've seen in a long time!
  • 1 0
 It’s it odd that I am slightly arroused by the movement of that shock.
  • 1 0
 Is that a TREK FLESSHION?
  • 1 0
 Do you have to ride it in lycra?
  • 1 0
 If we can get a 27.5 version, I just found my new dual slalom bike...
  • 1 0
 How the hell do you do a seal service on that?
  • 1 0
 Just really like a "Dildotoys" for me.
  • 1 0
 Watching an XC bike tester with so much hair on his legs hurts me so bad
  • 1 0
 Now, let's get rid of that silly chain system!
  • 1 0
 Neff ' s SuperSloooooowly Style.... Frown
  • 1 0
 Will they bring out a long travel version, or an Ebike version?
  • 16 16
 Trek Supercaliber? No its the Trek Fleshlight*.
  • 1 0
 Why did you get downvoted for this?
  • 1 1
 @clink83: Its funny you say that. Because someone made the joke of “Its a fleshlight” when this was first seen and it got like 200+ upvotes. I correct it and gets shamed haha. Oh well.
  • 1 0
 @clink83: because it's aFacebook world of only posting happy replies. My comment was meant as positive feedback in that the chain system is becoming an archaic way to drive a bike forward. I believe their competitor, Specialized has developed a new system without a chain. Chains are messy systems that get dislodged by sticks and severe terrain. We need better thinking on this.
  • 1 0
 Return of the soft tail?
  • 1 1
 so trek just stole idea from insolent
  • 1 0
 like it a lot
  • 1 1
 Looks like a right piece of sh*t.
  • 1 0
 Looks.. Nauty?
  • 1 4
 Cannondale Scalpel........flex stays and link driven single pivot. @trek this has already been done. To bad Nino loves the dope and has beat the system and XC racing remains remains uninspiring. ????????‍♂️
  • 1 0
 Just scary to me... Smile
  • 3 6
 Pass.
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