Field Test: 2020 Trek Supercaliber - Short On Travel, Not on Traction

Jul 27, 2020 at 13:52
by Sarah Moore  


PINKBIKE FIELD TEST

Trek Supercaliber 9.9 XX1



Words by Sarah Moore, photography by Margus Riga



When the Trek Supercaliber launched right after the World Championships in September of 2019, it was hardly a surprise as Trek Factory Racing's high-profile athletes had spent the entire season on the bike, riding with the top tube covered so photographers wouldn’t get shots of the frame-integrated shock.

Once unveiled, we found a pure cross-country race bike designed with the Olympics in mind, featuring 60mm of rear travel, 100mm of front travel, and 29-inch wheels. This is the bike that Jolanda Neff rode to victory at the Tokyo test event last year.

The Supercaliber 9.9 XX1 we tested is available in five sizes, from 15.5" through to 21.5", although there is also a 23” version available in some models.

Trek Supercaliber 9.9 XX1 Details

• Travel: 60mm rear / 100mm fork
• Carbon frame
• Wheel size: 29"
• Head Angle: 69°
• Seat Tube Angle: 74° (effective)
• Reach: 440mm (size ML/18.5)
• Chainstay length: 430mm
• Sizes: S, M, ML (tested), L, XL
• Weight: 21.5 lb / 9.75 kg
• Price: $9,499 USD
www.trekbikes.com

Key geometry numbers include a 69-degree head angle, a 74-degree effective seat tube angle, a 440mm reach for a size 18.5 (medium-large), and 430mm chainstays.

For those who are familiar with Trek’s line-up from years’ past, the Supercaliber replaces the Top Fuel as Trek’s flagship cross-country bike, while the Top Fuel that we rode at the last Field Test in Pemberton has been repositioned as a down-country bike with a bit more squish.




Trek Supercaliber - Margus Riga photo
Trek Supercaliber - Margus Riga photo

Climbing

It feels like you’re sitting right above the pedals in a super-efficient position on the Trek Supercaliber, and it’s easy to get your weight over the front-end for technical climbs. The compact position and steeper 69-degree headtube angle make it easy to maneuver the bike when you’re looking to take sneaky inside lines or stand quickly to add a bit more power. The slow speed handling was especially good on the Trek, making it incredibly easy to weave through tight sections and up tricky climbs.

Despite the short 60mm of travel, there is still a ton of traction when you’re trying to get up tricky sections, and it's a rare occasion when you have to put a foot down on a technical climb. The Supercaliber's 60mm of suspension keeps calm in challenging situations and doesn't bounce you off-line when climbs get rough. In a mass start race scenario when you're looking for every opportunity to pass your opponents on the climb before the course heads downhill, you'd do well to have the Supercaliber on your side.


Trek Supercaliber - Margus Riga photo

Trek Supercaliber - Margus Riga photo
Trek Supercaliber - Margus Riga photo

Descending


The descending position is a bit forward biased with that 69-degree head tube angle, which makes things a little spicier when you take it into steeper sections of trail. As a result, I found myself coming into those sections a little more cautiously. While the steep headtube angle makes techy slow speed handling on climbs a breeze, the tradeoff is that it is more nervous on the steeps and you have to be vigilant descending.

That being said, traversing, and on descents that aren't steep, the Trek feels fast and lively and is actually really fun to pump along the trail. Compared to a hardtail, it cuts down on vibrations and impacts being transmitted to the rider much more and is definitely a smoother and faster descender.

As compared to a 100mm bike? While it's really neat what Trek has been able to do with 60mm and they've done a good job of balancing out small bump compliance and bottom-out resistance, it does make you appreciate the extra 40mm of travel that other cross-country bikes have. And especially so if you’re looking for a more forgiving ride. The short travel makes it harder to recover on rough descents and you'll definitely be working harder to stay on-line and upright when the trail is challenging, relatively speaking.


Timed Testing


Our timed lap for the trail bikes was just shy of 20 minutes long and split into three sections. First, we powered up a smooth section of switchbacks before starting up a more technical, twisty section of trail that tested the bike's slow-speed handling and traction with tired legs. After that, we evaluated how the bikes maintained speed on a short bumpy traverse before the main descent, comprising of a small rock roll before a series of rough, suspension-testing corners and straightaways. Nothing too rowdy, but representative of the terrain the trails these modern cross-country bikes were intended to see.

Don't forget that timing is just one of many ways to judge a bike, and fast doesn't always mean it's the best for everyone.


Sarah Moore: "The Trek tied for second-fastest overall, 5% back from my fastest bike. Where things get interesting is when we break the lap up into the three parts: climb, technical climb, and descent. The Supercaliber was slowest on the descent, but only by 2% over 5 minutes. It was second fastest on the whole climb at 5.75% back. When we pull out the technical section of that climb, it's still second fastest, but only 3.4% back."





Trek Supercaliber - Margus Riga photo


Pros

+ Efficient body position pedals like a rocket ship
+ Great slow-speed handling and technical climbing traction
+ Impressive performance from just 60mm of travel

Cons

- Geometry gets less confident as descents get steeper and rougher
- Less travel means less recovery on rough terrain






The 2020 Pinkbike Field Test was made possible with clothing, protection, and support from Giro. Control tires provided by Schwalbe, and power meters provided by SRM. Filming took place at The Backyard pub in Squamish.




Photos: Margus Riga
Video: Jason Lucas, Cole Nelson, Max Barron



182 Comments

  • 318 5
 That fact that I'm reading and enjoying these XC reviews (when I'm likely to never own one) is testament to the great work you are doing. Looking forward to gobbling up what's to come.
  • 104 1
 High praise, thank you! Lots more to come. Pretty sure we filmed 963 XC/DC videos!
  • 23 0
 @sarahmoore: you really nail these field test. I can't even imagine the work it represents before during and after but it really is a major leap and my favorite new feature on Pinkbike!!
The latest field test from your sister-website Cycling Tips was awesome too, I don't know how you could do it but crossover and mixed content would be so rad!
  • 14 0
 It helps that Mike's rocking the lycra.
  • 7 8
 @freebikeur: Mountain Biker reviews a gravel and road race bike... Roadie reviews enduro and xc rig... With neither of them getting to research the product XD
  • 94 1
 We're stoked that PB readers are enjoying the cross-country content. There won't be any less enduro stuff, just more of this Smile
  • 22 4
 Enduro is dead
  • 8 0
 THIS! I rode enduro trail for the last 7-8 years and never even considered an XC bike. Then a couple months ago I bought an XC race bike to try out. A hardtail at that! Its a blast! Much more fun then I thought and a nice change of pace to my 6" enduro bike. This is great content for sure!
  • 7 0
 I love reading about all bikes (except e-bikes), would love to give one of these bikes a whirl and see how quick they are, haven't ridden an xc bike since I rode an old xtr, sid equipped zaskar about 20+ years ago
  • 3 0
 cons of uphill bike is they dont downhill as good as a downhill bike.
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: this field test may help me for my next bike. But not the 12k version for me so I'd like a non axs components biased version of your feeling about the only part in common I can buy: the frame.
  • 1 0
 @sarahmoore: Salut Sarah. Bel article. Tu écris si bien en anglais. Ta vie semble très agréable vu d'ici, loin loin dans l'Est. A plus tard
  • 4 0
 @mikelevy: have you still got a guy doing DH bike tests and reviews? another segment of bike ill probably never own again, but it would be really cool to know which world cup rider is actually riding the best bike, or best suited bike for a particular track... so mostly i just want to know if Loic's Demo is as good as a supreme 29, and surely giant is due a new glory imminently?
  • 3 0
 @GumptionZA: It's been awhile since we've reviewed DH bikes even semi-regularly, but we're looking into a DH bike Field Test soon.
  • 1 0
 @Francois-L: Merci Francois! C'est beaucoup plus facile qu'écrire en français! C'est une vie très agréable dans l'ouest bien sur, tu viendras visiter!
  • 61 2
 Am I crazy to think this would be a killer bikepacking rig? Big front triangle, correct angles, light and just enough travel to give your back a break?

Love Sarah's commentary on this. The interview format with Levy is great!
  • 20 1
 I think this bike makes so much more sense for bikepacking than a gravel bike (or even a plus). Almost the same efficiency but more comfortable on the long run.
  • 24 1
 @nhlevi: This bike, with a hybrid drop/flat handlebar, is exactly what gravel bikes will look like in a couple years.
  • 2 0
 I think something like the Lux, with a big front triangle but a standard shock type and that 40-60mm more travel, makes more sense.
  • 12 0
 Downside is $$$. If you have enough to throw $10k at a dedicated bikepacking rig, or you're primary bike focus is bikepacking, then sure this bike is probably one of the best for it. I think most people are buying a bikepacking rig as their fourth+ bike and not looking to break the bank, which is why you see a lot of Surley type steel hardtails. They are never going to be the best from a performance standpoint, but the price and durability hit the spot of what most bikepackers are looking for.
  • 5 0
 @nhlevi: Yeah but this is 10 grand, whereas a $2k gravel bike would still be quite nice.

I just built up a weird Crockett (cross frame) as a flat bar, 1x gravel bike for that exact reason. I wanted something fast, MTB-esque, and XC capable, while still not breaking the bank.
  • 1 0
 @tgent: there are options into the 4,800 range, but yeah it's $$$. But, looking at the bikepacking rigs, lots of titanium and carbon, such as Salsa's line, so clearly people don't mind shelling out good $$$ for a comfortable ride.
  • 6 0
 @tgent: Yeah, I haven't bike packed but I kinda want to try it. From just biking on trails that only existed on a map, not in reality, aka carrying my bike across bolder field on the side of a mountain. I can say that having a steel or Al bike that one doesn't mind accidentally dropping it or mashing it on a rock (because you're tired and it's heavy with gear) must be a big plus. Also think about how to attach gear bags/strap things onto to the bike. It's not something most people would want to do on a crazy expensive and light carbon bike. A relatively inexpensive, sturdy metal hardtail with a dropper/suspension seat post would probably be the best option for bike packing.
  • 10 3
 I am not so sure that this bike is great for bike packing... for starters, how do you attach bags and panniers to moving parts?

Also, if you are going to weigh down a bike with all the back packing gear, why would you spend so much money on a bike designed to be light as possible?

And finally, Great review of a race bike that is an excellent choice for an XC racer who is tweener with hardtails and full suspension.
  • 2 1
 @Saidrick: Apologies, I downvoted by accident and think you make a good point.

Is there enough “range” in the rear suspension to accept an additional 20-30lbs of stuff and still have everything work right?
  • 2 1
 @actonca: a frame pack wouldn't effect the suspension at all. The only added weight to the suspension movement would be a saddle bag, which is usually sub 10lbs anyhow. Given the range of rider weight, I can't imagine any of this to be a problem.
  • 4 4
 Yeah, take a super light awesome XC race machine and pile a bunch of crap on it to defeat the very purpose of it's existence. Like buying a Porsche with a towing package.
  • 1 0
 I agree. The dialogue component was excellent and sometimes that means a great support role with little, but considered input. The Oscar for best actress goes to Sarah. The Oscar for best supporting actor goes to Levy. Well done PB!
  • 6 0
 @Saidrick: No a real bikepack racer would have the lightest weight and minimalist everything. Such as no tent, just a bivy bag, and no stove, no dangling coffee mug and minimal repair kit, etc. The fastest bikepack racers usually have less than 15lb of kit.
So ideal for a bikepack racer and maybe not a bikepack tourer.
  • 1 1
 @waxman: There is nothing wrong with having a Porsche that CAN tow! All the fun, and utilitarian if you need it to be. I guess this bike could work for bikepacking, but heavy bags would render this impressive bike impotent unless you intend to take the bags off and use the bike like it was intended more often than you bikepack with it.
  • 2 1
 @waxman: you need a trailer to tow your race tires, kit and tools to the track
  • 2 1
 If I were bikepacking.. Sleeping in tents or hammocks along the way, I wouldn't want an expensive bike sitting outside waiting to be stolen
  • 1 0
 I think it would mainly be a solid choice for the bike packing style races where everything is ultralight and you sleep on a pile of rocks under a tarp that fits in your pocket. It would certainly work better with a frame bag than many other suspension designs.
  • 43 9
 Who doesn't love a proprietary rear shock.......
  • 11 8
 It’s proprietary but I feel like a ton of bikes now have shocks tuned for that bike. So it’s not that big of a deal to me. I mean my rear shock is “tuned” for that bike so I don’t think I’ll throw a coil shock on so it might as well be proprietary
  • 1 3
 LOL. Right?
  • 10 1
 my understanding is the rebuild and maintenance is off the shelf fox parts.
  • 5 1
 LOL Cannondale's ears must be burning
  • 20 0
 @MillerReid: Shocks tuned for bikes does not equal proprietary shock. Generally it's easy to find an aftermarket shock that is the same or similar tune or even buy a generic tune shock and have it professionally tuned is relatively cheap. Try finding a Fox float for a 2012 Specialized Stumpjumper with Brain...
  • 2 1
 @tgent: exactly...people are crazy to buy this kind of stuff unless they just swap bikes out. Often its not actually the best tech either and a year later you are wanting something different. Add my 2012 Cannondale Jekyll to the list lol.
  • 5 0
 @Svinyard: lol ya, threw out 2012 Stumpjumper because I had one, it was a super popular bike, and when my shock blew itself up in about 2015, I literally could not buy a replacement, 1 with the brain and 2 with the proprietary mount.
  • 5 2
 @MillerReid: I think that's not a very good comparison... Yes shocks are tuned for bikes, but you can replace them and re-tune a new one. Easy to remove and service, etc. This looks like a nightmare to service, and difficult to be replaced. You'd need someone experienced in this specific type of shock in order to service it, which is hard to come by considering it's new and most shops probably won't touch it.So you likely won't be able to bring this to your local LBS...

I am sure you can remove the shock somehow but it looks like a nightmare to do that... So even if you wanna send it in for servicing you'll likely have a hard time unless you send your entire bike in.

After dealing with Specialized "brain" shock, i refuse to buy a bike with proprietary shocks ever again...
  • 12 3
 @stumphumper92: Here is the service manual trek.scene7.com/is/content/TrekBicycleProducts/Asset%20Library/documents/Manuals/pdf/TK19_2020_Supercaliber_Service_Manual_USEN_WEB.pdf

It services like a fox shock. And if you buy a 10k bike that you can only buy from a brick and mortar store, you'll probably either get it serviced at the LBS or do it yourself.

I understand you've been burned before, but you're making assumptions that aren't born out.
  • 7 1
 @ICKYBOD: still not buying anything proprietary. Not worth it and you'll usually end up spending more in the long run.
  • 6 4
 @stumphumper92: whatever, I dont care what you buy. just pointing out it doesnt appear shock is that much of a problem to service. no unique tools or special knowledge, etc.
  • 2 2
 @ICKYBOD: service=/= replace
  • 4 2
 @clink83: going through that manual, if you are replacing the iso struct with a new iso strut, I think my very amateur mechanic ass could handle to page 10 and the carriage wiper and seals because I don't have those tools. But it looks like I could handle standard servicing and volume reducers with tools at hand.

Kind of funny getting downvoted for posting the manual and pointing out it isn't a "nightmare to service". Replacing like for like really doesn't look all that hard either.

The bike is interesting to me, if I cared about XC I think this would be high on my list. The xc races near here seem like they'd be a great match for it. No emotional investment here so I'm done.
  • 3 0
 @tgent: just paid for a complete rebuild of my 2012 stumpjumper, the mechanic did not have any problems getting the rebuild parts at all. There were even upgrades on some seals, my bike feels right now better than ever, so i dont know what you guys are talking about.
Now I accept it did cost a little bit more than i wish it would've, but paying that much spared me from getting into the interwebs rabbit hole looking for "obsolete" parts.
If your LBS cannot get the parts you need you are going to the wrong shop.
  • 1 1
 @Narro2: "If your LBS..." or you bought something that was made by a manufacturer that does not want it's customers to keep riding the same bike for many years. But that never happens in this industry.
  • 1 0
 I hear your breathing man, but at only 60mm travel, I doubt the performance could be changed enough with some new fancy shock to really matter. It’s more for the time you might need to replace a broken shock that proprietary becomes an issue.
  • 2 1
 @ICKYBOD: poopoo peepee caca
  • 23 0
 Sarah and Levy are killing it. Good video and editing obviously helps, but this is beyond what I had come to expect from the bicycle world. Enjoyed watching Sarah ride as well. Very deliberate, controlled, and is clearly making that bike work.
  • 14 0
 I still think you only did this field test because Levy came up with the XC DC joke and wanted to rub it in our faces over and over
  • 1 0
 Levy rubbing lycra pants in our faces
  • 13 0
 Pros: freaking kick-ass review!!!

Cons: my trails aren’t nearly as beautiful as yours...

Verdict: YAY XC! Great job everyone!!!!
  • 11 2
 Can you please put the actual lap time numbers? The brief paragraph on timing doesn’t give us very much. Also no discussion of how it compared to the other bikes, at least in the article. Isn’t that the point. I know you are holding back the (drum roll) winner article for last but honestly this article reads just like a very short first look review.
  • 12 2
 We thought the percentages were a better representation of the differences and easier to digest when compared to the other bikes, but if you pause the video at 8:52 you can see the times as well and how this bike compared on each segment.
  • 1 0
 @sarahmoore: thank you
  • 2 1
 @sarahmoore: Times are a better indicator of speed than percentages. If a bike is 2% faster on the climb, but 5% slower on the descent, then it seems like this would be slower overall. But since we spend more time climbing than descending, it wouldn't be.

The times should not be compared to the fastest bike on the descent and the fastest bike on the climb, unless that was the same bike. Comparisons should either be made against a benchmark bike, or against an average (I'd use the mean considering there would be normal distribution) that comes from the entire set of section times and lap times.

If all the data is available (all bikes, all section times), then someone will crunch the numbers. There's plenty of data analysts and scientists on this site.
  • 1 0
 I was expecting to see the power readings, then comparing the power in (from the rider to the cranks) to the actual times. It would allow sorting the efficiency of the different models. Sprinting is also not addressed in this test, which is an area that those bikes attempt to be better at, and drive the cost up. Maybe a very short track test of high power, like at close race to the finish line?
  • 14 4
 Most of y'all are XC riders wearing baggy clothes, TLD jerseys, and tailgate pads to look like enduro riders. Plse get over it and accept it. Thank you.
  • 4 0
 This describes 80% of the riders on the Front Range.
  • 7 0
 Nice review... Thank you. Someone has to talk to Trek about sizing as the reach numbers are not accurate as the numbers suggest longer than they are. (And why the 18.5 actually fits. The reach numbers are wacky) Effective seat tube as a good pedal position @ 74 eff but notice the seat slammed forward in the pics. I suspect specialized will win the speed test overall and yeti will win the fun test.
  • 6 0
 Nice review... Thank you. Someone has to talk to Trek about sizing as the reach numbers are not accurate as the numbers suggest longer than they are. (And why the 18.5 actually fits. The reach numbers are wacky) Effective seat tube as a good pedal position @ 74 eff but notice the seat slammed forward in the pics. I suspect specialized will win the speed test overall and yeti will win the fun test.
  • 5 0
 @sarahmoore given that you have raced BCBR is this a bike that you could ever see using there? It would be cool to mention the type of race that you think this would really excel at vs when the terrain/distance starts to dictate the use of a bigger (DC) bike.
  • 21 2
 The Supercaliber is best suited to Olympic distance cross-country and Short Track races. I think you could do some marathon races on it as well, but a technical marathon stage race like the BCBR where you're blind racing every day for a week is better suited to a bike that's more forgiving when you take the wrong line and that you can recover a bit on the downhills with!
  • 3 0
 @sarahmoore: I own a Supercaliber 9.9 and I use it exclusively for Marathon races. I do 6hr, 12hr, 24hr and 50-100 mile races in mine. I will admit it took me several days to come up with exact suspension settings and stem/ handlebar position and width measurements. But, once I did I realized just how fast and efficient this bike is over marathon length races. I was eager to test it at Marathon Nationals (But, COVID and a herniated disc got in the way) to see just how well it worked beyond the FLE Endurance races (6hr, 60 mile, or 12hr).

I figured out how to let the shock bottom out consistently to use the rebound of the seat stays to maximum effect without damaging the longevity of the frame. Once incorporated this bike has become a total long distance rocket ship that’s both comfy and super fast. It’s also (strangely) super stable in the air, like trek designed a part of it to be a BMX too. LOL. Great race bike. Thanks for an awesome article. ????????
  • 2 0
 @sarahmoore: I’m curious what your setup was for the Supercaliber. Suspension and fit numbers? (I’m a full time fitter and racing geek)
  • 5 0
 Trek XC sizing is tricky, I've had a few of their XC bikes in the last 5 years and currently on a 2019 Top Fuel 9.9 in 21.5". Despite being an XL frame, it's got enough standover for someone who's 5'1" (which is why my first 19.5" frame snapped just below the min insertion point). I know alot of people who end up between sizes and doing weird things with stems and slammed seatposts forward/backward to make it work. My setup feels good but looks odd, with a -17 deg stem slammed and seatpost slammed fully forward.

If/when my Top Fuel dies, I'll be riding a Supercaliber for long days in the saddle, I think alot of pinkbikers could stand to spend some time on a modern XC bike. Great job with the series I'm enjoying it as a lycra clad, power meter using, high post riding XC dork.
  • 4 0
 @sarahmoore The Trek SC and Canyon Lux are really closely matched in everything but price and dropper. I cant wait to hear your opinion on the difference the dropper post makes, especially between these 2! I bet its a pretty big deal. Thanks for the hard work and dedication. My wife loves your content and thinks @mikelevy is obnoxious
  • 1 0
 Not riding with a dropper post was less of a big deal than I thought it would be on these bikes. Stay tuned for the Canyon Lux review tomorrow!
  • 5 0
 Great article. I was hopimg there would already be some info on efficiency numbers, but I guess none of the individual pieces are standalone reviews.
  • 11 1
 Yeah we’ve done a separate video for the efficiency test so we didn’t want to give everything away ahead of that!
  • 4 0
 @sarahmoore: Great review, and looks like such a great trail. But comparing times in % so confusing..... So, if the SC was 5% slower over a 20 minute lap, it was a whole minute slower than the fastest bike? That's a huge gap over such a short loop.
  • 1 0
 @expatrider: and easier for you to extrapolate into your real world situation.
  • 3 0
 Wasn't the whole point of the (overly complicated) slider rear shock to make it feel as laterally stiff as a hardtail? Like when out of the saddle sprinting? Any comment on if it actually sprints better or feels like it does, than a traditional full suspension xc bike.
  • 16 1
 It does feel remarkably like a hardtail when you’re standing up and sprinting. But then it’s better overall on the climbs since you have much more traction than a hardtail! Compared to the 100mm bikes, I would say yes - it does feel sportier, more responsive and quicker when you stand up to pedal uphill and sprint!
  • 5 1
 @sarahmoore: as much as I want to bad mouth this bike, most XC races can and are still are won on hardtails. This bike may be pure genius...
  • 2 0
 Coming off multiple Epics and now on a SC, my feeling is it is laterally more stiff (and I feel stiffer in the cockpit as well). It feels faster on sprints to me. I do miss the extra 40mm on descending though.
  • 3 0
 It's nice to see a review that is fun with creative testing. Nice work! For your consideration, I think it would be a good idea to show a POV run of your test track as an additional video. That would give the reader some sense of the trail type that you are using as the basis of comparison for these bikes.
  • 3 0
 What is the advantage of XC bikes running slacker seat tube angles relative to current gen trail bikes?

I find the new steeper seat tube angles of current generation bikes far more comfortable and am wondering why XC bikes haven't made similar moves.
  • 7 1
 Because bike fit matters in XC, and a 72-74sta put you in the proper relationship to the bottom bracket/cranks
  • 9 0
 Because a longer travel bike settles into the travel more than a shorter travel bike that runs less sag.

That, and XC bikes are designed to be fast uphill, not chase trends. Believe it or not, an 80 degree STA doesn’t work for every application.
  • 7 0
 These super steep STA are only helpful on super steep climbs or when your upper body is more or less horizontal like on TT bikes. For everything else STA of 73-74° are the most efficient. If steeper STA would generally be beneficial for the power output road bikes would have them.

I think this topic got big because former trail and enduro bike designs neglected the fact that the sag slackens the STA during the ride. When you ride uphil, your weight is shifted to the rear end, the sag of the shock increses and the STA slackens. In my opinion this has caused 73°STAs on paper becomming ~71°STAs on the trail. The problem is pronounced at longer travel bikes, thus it makes total sense to have steeper seat angles on those.
  • 2 0
 @elmaar: that's really interesting.

My comment wasn't meant to be facetious, I am genuinely interested in getting an XC bike and have found that back pain (at my old age) has gone on a new transition scout (with steep ST angle) after being fairly excruciating on an older scout and other bikes with slacker ST angles.

Even my road bike is less comfortable than the scout and I'm guessing that is because of the slacker ST angle.
  • 3 0
 @snax001: The reduced back pain could also be due to a higher front end on the new bike. Higher stacks and raiser bars have lead to more upright (read comfortable) sitting positions wich are also good for descenst. The riding position on xc-bikes is usually more streched and with a lower front end, probably due to aerodynamics.
  • 1 0
 @elmaar: The lower front end gives you more front tire grip on climbs. If your body position on flat ground is pointing downwards, it will become flat on climbs. Conversely, having higher bars like those on non-XC bikes makes your body position flatter on the descents.
  • 3 0
 With a max of 130mm travel in my garage, I'm super excited about this series. Excellent work Pinkbike crew! I really love climbing but feel like a total slacker after seeing the way that Sarah Moore attacks those climbs!
  • 2 0
 I'm in the market for a new xc race-worthy bike. This one interests me. I had a Spark RC and in the traction mode it had 60 mm of rear travel. I kept it there except for rougher descents. I can see the advantage of the Supercaliber. Interested to see how it goes versus the rest. I may actually plonk down cash based on this set of reviews. I appreciate the work, Sarah, Mike and Margus.
  • 1 0
 Cool to highlight this new crop of XC bikes! 60mm of travel / 69 degree head angle just doesn't sound super applicable to riding anywhere besides closed course, or super smooth trails. I like to take my XC bike down scary stuff, but that's a touch too far for me!
  • 3 0
 No wonder they use slow mo shot of Sarah on the donwhills. I had to follow her a few times back then in QC, she's fast and she's able to lock in the fast line. Amazing rider.
  • 1 0
 Def better steeze than the other reviewer.
  • 1 0
 This is awesome! I typically brush past most enduro and downhill bike reviews however I know zip about XC bikes so thought I would check it out... learnt a tonne! Very well produced too, plus Mike and Sarah bounce off each other really well
  • 1 0
 i am a squamisher local ... actually a vancity local who is in squamish every every day.

when you guys did the hot lap. we did the same trail to hot lap (actually tepid warm lap) on the trails you did.

Claire B is now one of our local celebrities.... at least when she beats us up 50 shades.

on your laps, could you publish the trails and the times.

I need goals and casper and others i already want to strava beat :-)
  • 1 0
 Help! Money goes out of my account for an Epic Evo ( no I'm not a dentist) on Thursday this week....any chance it's review is out before then? The shop only let me ride around the block not on my local trails, so would love to see the comparisons!!
  • 1 0
 So, I might be crazy, but i would love to try something like this but then as a hardcore hardtail with a little squish in the back ( so big fork, enduro geometry and parts). Then you would have a traction-rich beast for the uphills that would make downhills terrifyingly fun.
It would not make sense in terms of enduro racing, but it is the kind of bike i daydream about.
  • 1 0
 Really enjoyed the series of XC reviews and props to PB for taking this on. Really cool to see the different bikes and the subtle differences noted between them all. Would love to this this type of series again in the future. While the majority of these bikes don't come stock with a power meter, incorporating PM data in the reviews would add another really helpful element. There are a lot of ways to tweak and tune these bikes to suit individual riders and terrain. Changing to a 760mm bar on the Supercaliber is an easy way to help with control on the descents, as is adding a dropper. While pricey, the AXS dropper is a great option for this bike as it makes it super easy to switch between dropper and no dropper depending on the terrain.
  • 3 0
 Seriously though, how much fun do you at Pinkbike have when you get to ride and review these bikes in BC.. I'm so envious.
  • 5 0
 Great content as usual
  • 2 2
 "steeper 69-degree headtube angle make it easy to maneuver the bike when you’re looking to take sneaky inside lines"

Pretty sure the wheelbase has more impact on that kind of maneuverability. You even said it: slacker than the Canyon, but shorter wheelbase, and feels more maneuverable. And said the same on the descent, slacker but shorter, so felt twitchier than the Lux.
  • 7 1
 You're correct that the bike's handling is a combination of things, but compared to the Canyon Lux, the Trek Supercaliber feels very similar handling-wise on the climbs and is actually less twitchy on the descents. The traction on the Supercaliber is what I'm referring to in the video - it's really good for 60mm especially compared to the Lux's 100mm!
  • 6 0
 Jolanda doesn't seem to have an issue going faster than any other rider downhill...
  • 1 0
 Most of a bike’s handling characteristics come from front end geometry. Certainly a longer wheelbase is a factor too but far less so. I relate this to skis. What is going to be more turny.? A Skicross ski at 185 with a 23 metre turn radius or a 180 gs ski with a 30 metre turn radius? A bike that’s a couple cm shorter really isn’t that much of a difference. If that were the case, only short riders on small bikes could turn quick. But that’s not the case.
  • 1 0
 @Someoldfart: Steering and turning are different. Steep head tubes _steer_ more quickly (front wheel changes direction more for a given input), but shorter wheelbases _turn_ more quickly (whole bike changes direction quicker for a given input).

Ski turn radius is closer to wheelbase. To complete the analogy you'd want to compare a "normal" skinny ski to a new-skool fat ski. The fat ski (slack head angle) takes a bit more input to get it up on the edge and initiate that turn through the radius. Skinny ski (steep head angle) takes less input to get on edge. But a fat ski and a skinny ski with the same radius (wheelbase) are both going to turn about the same once they're up on edge.

"If that were the case, only short riders on small bikes could turn quick." Well, yeah, smaller bikes do change direction quicker (hence slalom bikes usually being quite short and many riders downsizing on slalom and slope bikes), but his doesn't mean longer bikes can't "turn quick". For the same rider on a smaller bike, the smaller one will turn quicker given a smaller input.

But, there are so many other factors here... small bikes usually only are only shorter in the front-end, so the relatively long chainstays which place the rear wheel relatively further away from the bike+rider's CG. Which means more input is needed to get the whole system to change direction.

I'm just saying, look at the statements from the article:

* steep head angle made it feel "maneuverable", because the front wheel could be pointed where you want it with less input.
* short wheelbase made it feel "twitchier" on downhills even with a slacker head-tube angle, because the shorter wheelbase lets the whole bike change direction with less input.
  • 1 0
 @Someoldfart: "Most of a bike’s handling characteristics come from front end geometry." Just to address that directly: most of the bike's _steering_ characteristics come from front end geo. "Handling" is _much much much_ more than just how much bar input is needed to make the front wheel turn a certain amount
  • 2 0
 Hmmm...what if: 110mm SC34 or SID? A bit slacker and a touch more travel, but not so much as to change its character. @sarahmoore: whatchu think?
  • 1 0
 Added: I see that SID is an option on P1.
  • 1 0
 Damn, those photos are gorgeous! Especially that last static product photo above the pros/cons list. Nice job Margus, and great review Sarah! Can't wait to see the rest of them!
  • 1 0
 Nice review. To echo a fellow commenter...I would love to see a mash-up review. Take some of the lighter 130mm sleds up the XC trails, take those XC/DC whips down some gnarlier runs...see where the times shake out.
  • 2 0
 As a north Texas rider, I feel that the media usually ignore the riders of the flats but for riders like us, this type of field test is spot on!
  • 2 0
 It’s all about the Spur...even if it’s not the best for a pure racer, just look at her...what a beauty! Must be so much fun...can’t wait to hear your thoughts!?
  • 2 0
 I hope you guys crossed over to review DC vs XC bikes as that's the question most of us probably have - What do we give up and gain between the two categories?
  • 1 0
 If I was to buy a gravel bike, I’d get something like this. Far more versatile. This would have been a great bike for my ride today. Jake, Jane Lake rough XC. I even wore my Lycra today.
  • 1 0
 I am an XC/marathon racer, but I also like to look at your gravity related stuff... sometimes it's good to look over the edge of the own plate, one could finde somthing usefull. Big thanks for the widespred content!
  • 1 0
 Great reading. Looking forward to the entire series.

I'm a bigger (190 pound) ex-marathon racer. I'd replace my current HT with one of these in a second, then replace the 100 mm fork with a Fox SC 34 @ 110 travel.
  • 4 0
 XC/DC!!!
  • 5 6
 XC bikes reviews apart form Climbing, Descending they should be testing in a category like "Fast Rolling" where you are going on a quite flat fire road about 20Km/h or more and then you have slightly short uphills where you almost sprint... Is there when you really feel the difference on HeadAngle, rolling resistance and so on... Also applies for enduro racing bikes cause you probably will have transitions like this inside long stage... and is where you feel if the HeadAngle is kinda slightly stopping you... This is what I felt when I went from 67ºHA to 65ºHA it was like the front wheel didn´t allow the same inhertia moving forward... and I appreciated really well cause I felt it from my sprint trainnings always on the same track... Surprised I haven´t read this issue yet anywere...
  • 5 1
 The most notable differences I found with the steeper head tube angles on the Trek and Canyon were how they handled tricky slow speed climbs and performed on steeper descents. We did have traversing on rough sections as another thing that we evaluated since that’s something you’ll encounter in every race course and you can lose more time on that than a faster rolling section.
  • 4 0
 Please ignore my comment, fat fingers
  • 6 0
 Is there any chance that you also changed tires when going from 67 to 65? Cause rolling resistance generally comes from the tires.

Suspension also has something to do with it if it’s bumpy, but I don’t think head angle adds rolling resistance in most situations
  • 1 0
 @PauRexs I don't know if it's what you are experiencing but when the seasons change and I switch from my winter bike (Gary Fisher Wahoo no suspension) to my summer bike (Rize hardtail with 140 MM which is overforked from 100 MM) it feels like the Rize is just harder to keep the same speed on the same commute. It's almost like it's not the same muscles pushing me forward because of the bike differences. But after a few weeks it's like my legs get used to it, build up and I can get the same speeds. Funny thing is when I switch to the winter bike I just fly. No getting used to it.
  • 4 1
 "Trek goes great with only 60mm" Same here!
  • 1 0
 if I had a little extra cash, for a 3rd (4th?) bike, this would be my XC pick, very nice looking bike and without riding it i can tell is a Climbs killing machine.
  • 1 0
 Love how it looks and all, but I really wish Trek offered better value propositions. Never gonna happen without a D2C business model I guess though.
  • 1 0
 www.trekbikes.com/us/en_US/bikes/mountain-bikes/trail-mountain-bikes/fuel-ex/fuel-ex-5/p/33073/?colorCode=grey_orangelight

The fuel ex 5 is gonna be damn good as a value bike. This particular bike doesn't make much sense scaled down, but trek is making big strides toward making better value bikes.
  • 1 2
 I noticed some WC XC tracks have a bit of pumptrack in them and obviously any trail has some sections where pumping can help you gain speed. Would be nice to see these bikes being tested on the pumptrack. They'd probably do better than the big travel bikes (provided you'd drop the saddle low, of course).
  • 2 0
 I must have missed it, when in the video do they ride A-Line on these bad boys?!
  • 6 1
 The Whistler Bike Park was closed during testing Wink
  • 2 0
 Cycling tips/PB bikepacking field test mash up. Give the people what they want.
  • 3 0
 $9.5K? oof...I just need $9499 more.
  • 4 1
 I'd like one of these with a 66 degree head angle.
  • 1 0
 I'd have probably already bought one of these if they werent so damn expensive. IMO theres something cool about having just enough suspension and no more
  • 1 0
 Ended up choosing the top fuel over this for this season just for the added comfort but might have to switch up in a yr or two
  • 1 0
 I thought this model was to come with Kashima coated rear shock but doesn't appear to have that. Does it matter, minor but just curious as for 10k one would expect it.
  • 8 6
 I can't find the huck to flat.
  • 4 0
 I think they are rolling all this out over the coming days. Looking forward to seeing how 60mm of travel on this Trek copes.
  • 6 0
 4:18 Wink
  • 4 0
 It's in the video.
  • 1 2
 @mafflin: yeah I watched the video after I made the comment.
  • 4 1
 more cons: "Price"
  • 2 0
 XC bikes don't use XS/S/M/L/XL etc sizing?
  • 4 0
 Trek doesn’t.
  • 2 1
 Trek has an extra Medium/Large size in there instead of an XS -- 15.5 (S), 17.5 (M), 18.5 (M/L), 19.5 (L), 21.5 (XL), 23 (XXL)
  • 1 0
 Trek sizes based on both frame length (e.g. 18.5") and size (M/L). In this case, they also have a M, which is 17.5", and a L, which is 19.5".
  • 1 0
 I know a couple people on these and they’ve all gotten really noisy (suspension creaks) pretty quickly.
  • 1 0
 Where? There's only one pivot. Now BB I could believe since it's PF
  • 5 7
 Oh my gods ... here we go again reporting track times in % ... really: nobody does that! it does not make any sense, report absolute times and their variation across laps and riders (if you have more than one rider). Saying that you go 3% faster means nothing if you do not know the length of the section, how many times it was done, and the variation associated with the repeats ...
  • 2 0
 @sarahmoore Gettin' after it at 5:40, yew!
  • 3 1
 These bikes are so fun to climb that sometimes you turn around at the bottom of a descent and tackle it in the other direction!
  • 2 0
 @sarahmoore: love it!
  • 2 1
 Perfect for my terrain as is. But a 110mm fork would slacken it a bit and improve those down hill times for sure.
  • 2 0
 I own one and it's a face XC bike. Really happy with it.
  • 2 0
 Waiting for the Ticket SS variant...
  • 1 0
 Is there a reason why the photo's are that dark? Or is my monitor badly calibrated?
  • 1 0
 Awesome review Sarah and Mike, look forward to learning as out the other bikes !
  • 2 1
 Those Cons are just _facts_ about steeper & shorter geometry.
  • 2 1
 Throw a bigger fork on there and give us a party soft tail!
  • 1 1
 60mm/100mm is little harsh on the body. Motocross suspension sounds more easy on the body.
  • 1 0
 Great writing. Silly bike.
  • 2 5
 Great review ! Suggestion next time do a minimum of 5 test laps in similar conditions ie time of day similar temp outside etc then average your times would have greater accuracy but overall great information
  • 1 2
 Would this be the right bike for Dirt Merchant? s/
  • 5 1
 Yes. This would be perfect for dirt merchant and A-line. It even has the same head tube angle as the Kona shonky! It should be great for those massive jumps. If you wanted I bet you could even do Dwayne Jonson on it! People might look at you weird in the lift line, but know this bike is going to send way better than their chunky bikes.
  • 1 4
 @dualcrownscottspark: I think you missed the s/ (sarcasm) thing.
  • 10 0
 @HB208: Are you sure it wasn’t you?
  • 2 4
 you know covid is causing havoc when pinkbike starts doing XC bike reviews
  • 4 0
 Seriously, but at least it’s a bike without a motor.
  • 2 4
 scalpel is better
  • 5 2
 Hmmm
  • 1 1
 @mikelevy:think about it while the test is not published yet))
  • 4 2
 Yo ilyamasksimov, I'm really happy for you, Imma let you finish but the Epic is one of the best bikes of all time.
  • 1 0
 @Counsel: nonono! scalpel is better
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