Bike Check: Florian Nicolai's Trek Slash Component by Component

Sep 3, 2020 at 10:04
by Ross Bell  



Florian Nicolai has been at the sharp end of the EWS field since the very beginning, and after stints onboard Rocky Mountain and Canyon he then joined Trek Factory Racing for the 2020 season, which finally got underway in Zermatt last weekend. His new weapon to tackle the stages of the Enduro World Series is the revamped Trek Slash, which he has been sneakily riding for just over a month, and although he is still fine tuning his setup he says it's been a noticeable step forward from the old model, particularly when it comes to the rear suspension, which has given him a lot of confidence.

As you'd expect from Trek the bike is heavily spec'd with Bontrager parts, and like the rest of their mountain bike race programs features a smattering of SRAM and RockShox components, including the new Zeb fork which Flo has been riding since February. Standing at 183cm tall he is running a large frame; he doesn't seem overly fussy when it comes to setup, and doesn't tend to chop and change settings very often aside from pressures and a few clicks here or there.

Florian Nicolai has made the move to Trek will the move make Flo fly faster
Details
Height 183cm / 6'
Weight 75kg / 165 lb
Model Trek Slash
Frame Size Large
Wheel Size 29"
Suspension RockShox Zeb and SuperDeluxe Ultimate
Drivetrain & Brakes SRAM XX1 AXS & Code brakes
Cockpit Bontrager
Wheels & Rubber Bontrager


Photo Credit Matt DeLorme
The birth of Florian Nicolai's new race bike. At the centre is the latest incarnation of the Trek Slash in a size large frame, onto that goes a smattering of SRAM / RockShox and Bontrager components.

Photo Credit Matt DeLorme
Photo Credit Matt DeLorme
The new Trek Slash in the TFR team colourway made its race rebut last weekend in Zermatt.

Photo Credit Matt DeLorme
The rear triangle yet to be assembled, fresh out the paintshop.
Photo Credit Matt DeLorme
The linkage awaiting bearings.

Photo Credit Matt DeLorme
Photo Credit Matt DeLorme
The addition of a snack / storage compartment will surely come in handy during EWS racing.

bigquotesI notice a lot of difference on the rear shock, we have more travel which is important for me as 150mm on the old one was not enough. It’s more like a downhill bike so you can go faster when it’s high speed and straight. It pedals better, we have a steeper seat angle which you can notice a lot when pedalling up steep climbs.

Fork
Pressure 70PSI
LSC 12
HSC 4
Rebound 9
Tokens 1

Shock
Pressure 185PSI
Compression Open
Rebound 5-6
Tokens 1 token & band in negative side



bigquotesI’m still testing, I haven’t found a setting for here [Zermatt]. I only change 1 or 2 clicks at different events, not a big difference. I like when the bike is sitting more into the rear travel.

Photo Credit Matt DeLorme
The new RockShox Zeb is at the front of Nicolai's build and he has been running the fork since winter.

Photo Credit Matt DeLorme
He runs 70 psi, 9 clicks of rebound and a single token...
Photo Credit Matt DeLorme
...while the compression clicks sit at 12 (LSC) and 4 (HSC).

Photo Credit Matt DeLorme
At the heart of the frame is a Super Deluxe Thru Shaft shock which has 185 psi, 5-6 clicks of rebound, the compression switch is open, there's 1 token and a band in the negative air spring portion of the air can.

bigquotesI prefer aluminum bars as I’ve seen some other riders break the carbon bars… I’m not really confident riding with a carbon bar. It feels better too, it’s less stiff and helps with the vibrations. I run a pretty flat brake lever position because it’s better for my wrists, I have more stability and it’s better when I’m tired.

Photo Credit Matt DeLorme
The Bontrager bars are 785mm in width and have a 27.5mm rise, they are attached to a 35mm stem which usually has 20mm of spacers below it. Florian is adamant about running alloy bars, no carbon to be seen here.

Photo Credit Matt DeLorme
Photo Credit Matt DeLorme
SRAM Code brakes are paired to 200mm rotors. Flo says he runs his lever position very flat as it helps with comfort on long stages.

Photo Credit Matt DeLorme
Crankbrothers' Mallet E are the pedal of choice although Florian runs the longer axle in them.

bigquotesAluminum wheels are already pretty stiff for me so it’s okay… We don’t run an insert and the pressures will depend on each weekend, for this week [Zermatt] we’ve been running between 1.6 and 1.75bar. I always run the G5, DH tire and the LineDH30 alloy wheel.

Photo Credit Matt DeLorme
Bontrager LineDH30 are the wheels of choice, once again he opts for alloy over carbon.

Photo Credit Matt DeLorme
Photo Credit Matt DeLorme
Tire choice is easy for Florian: "I always run the G5"

Photo Credit Matt DeLorme
170mm SRAM XX1 cranks complete with a Quarq power meter and a 34T chainring.
Photo Credit Matt DeLorme
Not a wire to be found on this build. A SRAM AXS drivetrain takes care of shifting duties with a 10-50T cassette. An MRP top guide is there for a little extra security.

Photo Credit Matt DeLorme
Getting acquainted with the new bike in Zermatt, Switzerland.



113 Comments

  • 84 4
 I absolutely love that the narrative has now suddenly changed that alloy bars are better for your hands. After 10 years if us being sold that carbon was the way to go. Coming next spring, $300 alloy bars.
  • 45 14
 Carbon is a waste of time in general, I think people are working it out
  • 32 0
 @zyoungson: If I raced XC or road bikes I would probably go carbon. Since I do neither, I'll take alloy.
  • 14 3
 @zyoungson: yea lol just get renthal alloy bars and stem and never look back
  • 5 1
 Like a solid set of alloy hoops and good hubs on the road bike. Magic, less the cost!
  • 4 0
 I broke a Renthal carbon bar at whistler when landed after a big step up, nothing major happened but I got super scared. Thats when I said "no more carbon bars ever!"
  • 6 8
 @Jabbatan: Spank Vibracore Bars FTW, Renthals give me arm pump.
  • 32 1
 Carbon is better for the manufacturers hands...
  • 5 0
 @enduroNZ: Underrated comment!!
  • 6 2
 I think it depends. 31.8 carbon bars seems to be better than alloy of the same diameter...35 is a different story
  • 5 2
 @PabloMoll: Agreed. Alloy in 35 is too stiff.
  • 8 0
 Tested 4 different bars on the same black diamond braking bumps with lift access to get a lot of repetitions. I think the manufacturer makes a bigger difference than material. Carbon can just be manipulated in more ways to be significantly harsher or more compliant.
  • 1 0
 But now the trend is 35mm alloy bars which makes them really harsh.
  • 7 1
 @zyoungson: Some people act superior because they run carbon. Some people act superior because they run aluminum. The rest of us are rational and know that each has its use.
  • 1 3
 @PabloMoll: Because they weaken the 35mm carbon bars to add "compliance".
  • 1 0
 @jcaraiza: I rode some 35mm carbon Renthals and found them too flexy, moved to some nice 31.8mm aluminum answer bars. I think Renthal made them too flexy, at least for heavier riders, which apparently made them more fragile too. Florian would surely not move to aluminium for extra compliance if he rode Renthals!
  • 1 0
 @DavidGuerra: I've had a completely different experience. For some reason, I've felt that 35mm carbon bars are way to stiff compared with alloy bars of the same diameter (Renthal). In fact, I went back to alloy and now I ver less hands/arm fatigue.
  • 1 0
 @PabloMoll: You mean 35mm carbon Renthal vs. 35mm aluminum Renthal?
  • 2 0
 I’m not sure this constitutes a narrative. I do find the differing opinions interesting. I will say my OneUp is the first carbon bar I have found to be comfy. Not sure how anyone can use a SixC for example.
  • 1 0
 I found the SixC sufficiently stiff, other might find them too stiff. But it's not about the material. I have used aluminum bars both more and less flexible than the SixC. Or similar. For me that's the right spot. Easton made some pretty hard aluminum bars, stiffer than desirable for me. Haven't tried their carbon ones.
  • 2 0
 Anyone have experience on the one-up oval bars?
  • 1 0
 @DavidGuerra: I used to run 35mm carbon renthals but found them harsh. snapped them in a crash & went to alu renthals and havnt looked back.
  • 1 0
 it depends, i have raceface 35mm and they hurt on braking bumps, on my old bike i had 31.8 mm bontrager bars and they felt way nicer on bumps, 35mm is unnecessary unless you're over a certain weight, i'm pretty light so i definitely don't need it. The oneup bars seem good tho
  • 2 0
 @hamncheez: about 6 months on them and recommend to anyone looking to reduce vibration. I’ve paired them with Deity Supracush grips for a well damped combo.
  • 3 0
 @Bikerdude137: The thing is, in the world of carbon 35mm doesn't mean stiffer. My current 31.8mm Answer carbon bar is stiffer than the 35mm carbon renthal for instance, and maybe even slighly stiffer than the 35mm SixC. And in 35mm aluminum it also varies.
  • 1 0
 @DavidGuerra: i've noticed that aluminum bars vary a lot less, i've only had 2 carbon bars in my life but they were massively different (both 35, one renthal and the other was oneup so it's not very surprising they're different...)
  • 2 0
 @DavidGuerra: haha the 35mm SixC I had was like riding with concrete poured inside your bars
  • 2 0
 @Bikerdude137: The weight can be a giveaway. I had a 35mm aluminum Kore OCD that was light and had a nice rigidity (not excessive). I wouldn't expect a sub-300 gr. 800mm aluminum bar to be too stiff. The 35mm Easton Havoc was definitely too stiff.
  • 1 0
 @Oxnard: The Vibracores are my favourite bars as well. They do seem to work as intended.
  • 36 0
 I'm not really a Trek fan, but I feel like I'm looking at porn on Pinkbike. How about you take that air can off the Super Deluxe so I can see the damper.
  • 3 0
 Great set of photos! I got a real dirty feeling from seeing those rotors just laying on the ground like that.
  • 19 2
 I had a 2017 session and I was surprised how badly pitted the frame recesses were that housed the bearings. This frame was made in the USA. I believe now since trek frames are no longer made in USA, they may be made better. Any comments or similar experiences.
  • 8 0
 Pretty sure the Session 9.9 frames were made in the USA along with a few other high end and Trek Project One frames. My experience has been similar in that the Taiwanese frames seemed better quality!
  • 3 5
 @dugcarch: Project One frames are only painted in the USA... Would be nice if Trek started making bikes in the USA again...
  • 9 0
 @lumpy873: It's great they're made by experts. You go to Taiwan to get quality, full stop.
  • 2 0
 @tempest3070: Taiwan is definitely the place to go to currently... No reason it has to stay that way other wages to pay someone hourly to do the layup work...
  • 18 4
 I dont understand why people are complaining about new Slash geo and bike overall. Bike looks awesome, it is available in alu, and everyone who tested it mentioned its pedal great for what is made for, climbs fine and going down awesome. Also it is very playful bike for that much travel.
What sudenly STA less than 76 are not ridable anymore?? Bulls&@t
  • 9 0
 I guess people were not really complaining about the effective 76° seat angle, more about the actual seat angle which seems to be very slack
  • 4 0
 @Brdjanin There's just better options nowadays is all.. Also, people are tired of the proprietary bits on Trek.
  • 1 0
 @Arierep: vital did a great actual seat angle demo on several bikes. Look it up. Surprising is all I can say.
  • 1 0
 @bohns1: ya, esp. the stupid rear shock. Why does it need a full size piggyback if it's a pass through?
  • 15 0
 What a great way to present a bike check.
  • 13 0
 Seems like there are two types of bike checks. The one with a few pictures and no specifications or this type.
  • 3 0
 I speculate trek did all the work on this one and sent PB images to post.
  • 9 0
 @twhart20: While Ross Bell and I are contracted for Trek as photographers, we are also contracted PB photographers. This one was our idea and we had the opportunity to try and do something a little different because of the access we have.
  • 1 0
 @mdelorme: very cool. Part of my speculation was based around on photographers not having the opportunity to disassemble and photograph pro bikes and their individual parts. Most bike checks come from a photo journalistic standpoint, documenting pits at a race. This photo opportunity appeared to have a slightly different precedent. Great job either way - I don’t really care who it came from! I just didn’t think PB would necessarily have the internal resource for this opportunity.
  • 6 1
 The part that matters here is "no inserts, just DH tires" I'm with Flo on this one. I disagree with his carbon bar statement though. Without knowing what bars he has ran in the past his statement is a little too broad for me.
  • 1 0
 Especially as he's running 35mm bars.
  • 1 0
 @juanny: correct
  • 5 1
 I’m surprised they run those hubs at that level, I’m a recreational rider but I rode pretty hard four or five times a week and I’ve gone through two of those hubs in a year. The ratchet strips away front eh inside of the hub body. My buddy did one the same last week.
  • 1 1
 Mud catcher and no drainage on lower shock mount as well. Old model still fast as fcuk for average to pro rider. Endless supply of hubs for the pros!!
  • 2 0
 @curendero: mud catchers under shock mount seem to be the trend. Look at the latest Transition bikes for instance. Design fail.
  • 1 0
 @curendero: I don't know why people complain about this, it doesn't cause any problems and isn't an issue.
  • 1 0
 I’m missing out on riding this Labor Day weekend waiting on a warranty hub from that same hub issue!
  • 2 0
 I use to work at a Trek retailer, my friend had a Farley 5, and the rear hub exploded (the ratchets broke apart on the freehub body, which then ground the teeth inside the hub. Trek gave him a brand new carbon rear wheel, sent him an XD body by accident, then sent him an HG body. He now has a $1000 carbon rear wheel on his $2000 fatbike LOL.

All this because they didn't have any of the aluminum wheels in stock at the time.
  • 2 0
 Wait hold up, so the Carbon bar vibration damping argument was bs all along?
If yes, I'm glad I never got around to switch out my alu bar, because I'm super terrified of the way a carbon bar would break in a crash. I don't want to stab myself with a piece of handlebar in a crash, thank you very much.
  • 3 0
 Don't worry bar breaks you face plant the stem it stops you, or bar breaks you punch through the front wheel it stops you. Carbon splinters will be the last or your problems.
  • 2 0
 No, it's not bullshit. Carbon really absorbs vibrations better than aluminum. However, as a spring it's less damped than aluminum. It recovers from impacts faster. It's this sudden recovery from flex that's less pleasant.
  • 2 0
 @DavidGuerra: to say it’s not bullshit is technically correct. However, we all know that the carbon vibration damping OP was talking about refers to the way the characteristics of the bar or material fatigues the rider, which potentially is being exposed to be bullshit...
  • 2 0
 @VwHarman: Ok! Some might still appreciate the damping properties of a carbon bar. I've been happy with aluminum bars, currently all my bikes have carbon bars and I'm happy too. But obviously it depends on which carbon or aluminum bar it is, the preferences of the rider, and how it matches the intended use. Either way, the reduced weight is certainly an incentive for carbon. Other than that, I'm fine with either material, provided that it's the right carbon or aluminum bar.
  • 2 0
 @VwHarman: But yes, I'm not using carbon for the damping properties, just the weight. Not for rigidity either, because that also varies within bars of both materials.
  • 3 0
 In case you haven't seen it, this is what Flo is referring to m.pinkbike.com/photo/12266545 Alex Cure has broken his bars and finished the stage on more than one occasion...
  • 4 0
 With how many broken carbon bontrager parts I see come through the shop for warranty I completely understand why he is running alloy everything lol.
  • 2 0
 I really enjoy reading bike checks but think I prefer the ones from top privateers and non/semi-sponsored Riders where they’ve had the freedom to choose any brand/product (and why) compared to riders who have to ride what they’re told. These just seem to be I chose SRAM because they said so
  • 4 0
 You're not going to take the pedals and fork apart... why am i even looking at this? JK- sick bike/build.
  • 5 3
 That's a sweet looking paint-job!
P.S. can you guys please, please test the aluminum Giant Reign 29? Preferably versus the Trance X29, muchos thank you's!!!
  • 1 0
 If you have a pointed question about the aluminum reign 29 2, I may be able to assist?
  • 1 0
 @JellyForSale:
How does the deluxe rear shock perform? Does it feel firmer and faster rebound on long descents? How does the bike feel on technical climbs?
  • 2 0
 @Glory831Guy: the stock suspension is very, very good(I did upgrade front and rear to fox factory but it wasn’t a required thing, I just had an opportunity arise so I jumped on it). Everything feels right on this bike out of the box and setup properly the shock feels bottomless in a good way. I’m a lighter/smaller rider if that matters compared to you. Not sure exactly what you mean by firmer and faster but I never felt that I couldn’t tune the Rockshox suspension on it to my liking(you can make the rebound full open and it returns like a spring). On technical climbs, if you activate the firm switch to stiffen up the rear it climbs incredibly well. The small amount of compliance actually makes me retain traction better than on my actual hardtail. Overall I’d say it feels like you’re climbing with a heavy hardtail-like bike.
  • 1 0
 @JellyForSale:
That's good to hear that the stock suspension works well. I've ridden some rear shocks with no piggyback and they start to feel harsh and bouncy on long descents.
  • 3 0
 I personally found less vibration coming through the carbon bars.....perhaps not all bars are created equal?
  • 3 0
 Of course there is no question what tires he runs when he's only got 1 choice...
  • 1 0
 Theres also the G4, or SE4/5
  • 1 0
 Did he really race the mudfest of Zermatt on G5 tyres? I would have expected some blacked out Wetscreams/Shorties/Dirty Dans.
  • 1 0
 Other than the paint, these types of bike checks are pretty dull. Bontrager house brand parts, sponsored athlete rides full spec of Sram components. It’s not terribly enlightening.
  • 2 0
 Will a build like that be available for Normal buyers ?

I want that Groupset!!! :O
  • 2 0
 Guysc do you think the Zeb configuration of conpresion are clock from closed to open?
  • 1 0
 Looks like clicks from closed - could be wrong but if it was from open this would be a super stiff setup
  • 2 0
 Please, give the fork/shock settings with a hint if it is from fully closed or fully open.
  • 2 0
 Quick question, are Bontrager tires any good? Like in comparison to Maxxis, Michelin or Schwalbe?
  • 2 0
 I was running the Bontrager SE5 front and SE4 back for two years and I liked it a lot. Rolls a bit faster than my current DHF and aggressor setup and sheds mud a bit better.
  • 2 0
 Good tires, just like Specialized. Being house brands, they are typically manufactured private label by companies like Maxxis or Kenda. Personally I've actually had better luck with them, as they seem highly focused based on their race teams and development riders. You'll notice these brands update and change much quicker than the big Taiwan brands, despite ironically being manufactured by them.
  • 1 0
 @SvenNorske: Thanks a lot mate, I'm keen to try then out one day!
  • 4 1
 Man that is so very sexy
  • 2 0
 thru shaft and piggy back?? How does that work?
  • 1 0
 you still need pressure on the oil
  • 3 0
 @zyoungson: tobyalvarellos has a good point. The original idea of thru shaft was, that you wouldn't need extra hydrostatic pressure. Moving shaft would see on both rebound and compression side "chamber end" to push the oil against and this would eliminate IFP completely.

In youtube video "RE:aktiv with Thru Shaft ft. Cam McCaul" he says "sometimes simpler really is better" 2:20, which IMO in this case refers to IFP version :-O
  • 2 0
 The oil expands with heat, it's more of a compensation bladder.
  • 2 0
 His race bike has XO Cranks not XX1....
  • 3 0
 XO1 is the the trail/gravity crank, XX1 is hollow carbon, designed for XC racing
  • 1 0
 The Quarq power meter seems out of place as well. Is he using it to measure watts on the Enduro race segments?
  • 1 0
 @Snowytrail: Probably primarily for training and between stages.
  • 2 0
 Ooh he's done a before and after in a single picture xD
  • 1 0
 Down to the frame build with no complete bike weight? Get out of my ass pinkbike
  • 1 0
 Does Bontrager sell the line dh wheels or hoops aftermarket?
  • 1 0
 Yeah they do but they only come with 157 hub as far as I know. Be interesting to know what hub they are using as rim is 32 spoke and from what I can all their trail wheels, etc are 28 spoke.
  • 1 0
 *can tell
  • 1 0
 CARBON handlebars can be cut and its structure is not weakened?
  • 5 1
 Not in any way that is relevant to the overall integrity of the bar. Wrap a layer of tape around the cut area, use a fine tooth hacksaw blade, seal the cut end with some clear nail polish.
  • 2 11
flag Jabbatan (Sep 5, 2020 at 2:26) (Below Threshold)
 carbon is for people who think their stuff is better just coz it is more expensive
  • 4 0
 @Jabbatan: Jabbatan is this you from discord??? done larping yet?

mans really riding kashima

kashima** is for people who think their stuff is better just coz it is more expensive
  • 2 0
 Gorgeous paint
  • 2 0
 nipples! ?
  • 1 0
 What is his knock block setup like?
  • 2 2
 Trek must be paying a hefty price for all these Pinkbike ads.
  • 1 0
 Spokes?
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