It's been a few years since the Slash saw a revamp, and given the recent development of the Session high-pivot frame, this new take on Trek's long travel all-mountain bike shouldn't come as much of a surprise. As those of you with a crystal ball or skilled intuition might have guessed, the Slash has gone the way of the idler, now featuring a high main pivot and all the spinny bits that accompany such changes.
There's a lot more to this bike than just some extra drivetrain complexity though, with frame, specification, and kinematics all seeing broad changes for the new model. The team at Trek went through all the details of the bike in an attempt to create the most capable pedal-friendly bike they could, and the results have been impressive so far.
• Carbon or Aluminum frame
• Full 29" or mixed wheel size
• Size S full-27.5" only
• Progression flip chip
• 170mm travel, frame & fork
• 63.5° head angle
• 77° seat angle
• 488mm reach, size L
• Size-specific chainstay length
• Measured weight: 36.4lbs w/ pedals
• $4,400-$11,500 USD
Behold, the final boss of geometry charts. The cells highlighted in yellow are the geometries you'll get with a fully-stock complete bike. Hopefully Trek will have their geometry calculator done fairly soon, as that's a better way to play with all the options.
Given the various adjustments you can make to the new Slash, the geometry can take a few different forms depending on where you end up in the array. Stock geo - as the complete bikes ship - is a good starting point, as it's the mode in which most people will first experience the bike.
In that stock setup, the Slash is carefully progressive, with reaches ranging from 430mm on a Small to 513mm on an Extra Large. My size Large features a 488mm reach, paired with a nice and tall 641mm stack height. 27mm of bottom bracket drop (measured below a virtual plane at the front axle, I presume) means the bike has a very upright feel to it. The chainstays grow with each size increment, landing at 434mm on the Large. It's important to remember that due to the high pivot suspension layout, that rear-center length will grow as the suspension compresses.
The wheel size adjustments do change the geometry slightly, mostly in the lengths between various points, but the key adjustment comes in the form of the press-in headset cups. Like the Fuel EX before it, the new Trek Slash now allows the end user to change the head angle of the frame by 1°, be it steeper or slacker than the stock 63.5°. Doing so creates a whole host of other small geometry changes, but the primary and most noticeable will be that steering angle.Frame Features
The Slash has no shortage of clever features, but there are a few core points worth focusing on. The first is the headset cups mentioned above, as they're a completely new addition to the Slash model range. Also in the adjustability realm are the lower shock mounts, which can be swapped out to accommodate a 29" rear wheel. Nestled in those shock mounts is the suspension progression flip chip, allowing you to tune how linear your shock progression is with one simple bolt.
Of course, there's Trek's take on the in-frame storage system, adorably named BITS. Their latch is one of the most secure I've tried, and has a fairly large opening for tools and spares to slide through. This is available on both the carbon and aluminum models.
The carbon frame features an extra protective layer of composite on the underside of the downtube, specifically engineered to keep that area safe from rock strikes and other impact damage. In addition to that, there's a dual-density rubber protector underneath the bottom bracket and downtube, as well as in a smaller area above to protect from shuttle pad damage.
The elevated chainstay is wrapped in a molded rubber creation meant to protect from chainslap noise, while also keeping the chain in line in rough descents. That piece, in tandem with the lower chain roller, should be able to tame the drivetrain as you huck your meat down the hill.
Lastly, most of the complete builds come with a little multitool that stashes away in your steer tube, and includes most of the things you might need to get out of trouble trailside. From a 3mm to a chain breaker, there's a good amount packed into that handy little gadget.Suspension Design
Trek is sticking with their tried and true Active Braking Pivot for the new Slash, but adding the high-pivot twist they developed for the new Session downhill bike. The high main pivot location allows for a rearward wheel path, which should make for a smoother feel over trail chatter and square edge hits, as well as adding a longer balance point to the back of the bike as you get deeper in travel. To mitigate the pedal kickback that comes along with that higher pivot, they've added a 19-tooth idler wheel to the mix, which tempers that chain elongation. Trek also decided to spec a lower roller, as the chain would otherwise only contact a few teeth on the chainring at a time, increasing wear and decreasing the stability of the drivetrain.
Pedaling forces are kept as consistent as possible on the Slash, with anti-squat hovering just above 100% throughout the travel. This even-keel should make for a bike that pedals smoothly and comfortably over rough and smooth terrain alike, striking a nice balance between bump absorption and efficiency.Build Kits
As a large player in the bike market, Trek isn't afraid to drop a whole bunch of spec options, and that's very much their approach with the Slash. With seven different build kits, and prices ranging from $4,400 to $11,500 USD, there should be something for most people out there. You can also buy the Slash as a frame-only kit, with the shock, idler, and other accoutrement included with the carbon or aluminum chassis. Pricing on that will be available later, but the full-build price breakdown is below.Ride Impressions
I've been riding a Slash with the 9.9 X0 build for a bit over a month now, and have been mighty comfortable on the bike pretty much from the get-go. The geometry is pretty close to what I'd choose if I were slated with drawing up a bike with this application, with a nice and balanced feel in an overall aggressive package. Handling feels intuitive and easy, both on steep descents and when you're pedaling and pumping through more technical terrain.
The rear suspension works nicely, allowing the bike to move through square edge hits, and sticking to the ground when you drop the anchor and lock up the brakes. That combo makes for a very confidant-feeling ride, one that I've come to enjoy on some of the most serious trails in the area.
Climbing is a pleasant but moderately-paced activity aboard the Slash, as the bike hovers nicely between supportive and active as you spin your way up the hill. While not feeling like the peppiest thing out there, it does get up the hill fairly easily, and feels especially well-suited to more technical climbs.
The drivetrain makes more noise than a standard chainring-cassette-derailleur layout, but remains smooth and silent if you stay on top of your lubrication duties. I haven't noticed a discernible amount of drag, but according to Seb's calculations
there is probably a little bit there.
On the descents, the Slash is mostly silent, save for two noises I have yet to pinpoint. One is just some run-of the mill chain slap, which bikes of this layout seem more prone to, given the chain path; the other is only noticeable occasionally, and will take some doing to hunt down. Suffice to say, the bike has mostly been excellent, and I'm looking forward to giving it a lot more use.
Stay tuned for the long term review on the Trek Slash, as well as a multi-bike relative comparison coming in the near future.
For more photos of the Slash, head on over to the album here