Monday, 16 December 2013

All Terrain Cycle Staff attend Trek Dealer Demo Day at Coed y Brenin

5 AM, Wednesday Morning.
Stood on the Doorstep with a bag of Spare Clothes, Helmet, protective Gear, Shoes and riding Pack. Its dark, it’s cold and worst of all its raining sideways! Great..
 Tom rolls up a few minutes later, kit thrown in the back and off we go for a 3 1/2hr drive down to one of the best trail centres in Wales. This place is a mountain bikers idea of heaven (or as close as), with every trail offering something a bit different, from tough tech descents, tricky long winded climbs as well as plenty of silly stuff to keep me entertained as well!
Fast forward 3 ½ hrs later me and tom are running across the car park with riding kit in tow and into the room 5mins late! Oops!
The trek guys are all pretty cool about it, were not the last guys there so it’s ok! On the upside the weather seems to have broken, so it’s wet, but not throwing it down so things are looking up for the ride out. About 20mins of training on treks suspension platform and how to set it up, were told its time to go out and pick our weapons of choice!
Everyone heads straight for the remedy 650b bikes, and they are snapped up in seconds. So it looks like we’re stuck with the 29ers. I’ve never been a huge fan of 29ers for anything other than xc as I find they can be quite a handful on the tight, twisty trails and they normally handle like a blimp in the air, but hey, were here to test the range of 2014 bikes so why not try something we wouldn’t normally ride. We both settled on a remedy 9 29er apiece and went about setting up the suspension, seat height etc.
Eventually it was ride time, the group of 20 set out along the MBR trail from the centre and straight away we were met with a gentle gradient with some nice rocky sections and a few turns. Nothing too taxing, but a nice start to get to grips with the big wheel Remedy’s . I was expecting the usual feel, great over the rough stuff, but numb in the corners and useless in the air. As expected the big wheels ate up everything in the way, roots, rocks, ruts and general trail debris, the suspension was plush and controlled and thanks to the DRCV shock and treks full floater platform I could get the power down when I needed to, but it smoothed out everything from the bigger hits to the small undulations in the trail. The big surprise was when the trail took a bit of a downhill and it started getting a bit twisty. Now a 29er is never going to be as nimble as a 26” or a 27.5” bike, but the remedy was as close as it could get. It was responsive, lightning quick in the berms but best of all, it was easy to recover after taking a corner a bit wide or if you needed to change you line quickly. I was impressed as was Tom, but we weren’t totally sold as yet. The Next climb was a steep switch backed section which is normally a pain to get up on longer travel bikes. You can’t get out of the saddle all the time as it ends up feeling like your trying to pedal a sofa and you waste more energy compressing the suspension than actually pedalling the damn thing up the trail even with the CTD system on. In the saddle you are constantly fighting to keep the front wheel down, which wants to pop up on every root and rock as your weight is so far back due to a slack seat tube. The remedy did neither. I have got to give trek their dues; they have put together a long travel bike that actually climbs! Don’t get me wrong, it’s no mountain goat, but I didn’t feel I was constantly fighting to keep the front end down and when I did need to get out of the saddle, it didn’t wallow around like a beached whale. As we got the top me & and Tom had a chat about the bikes.  I couldn’t put my finger on but I still felt something was missing.  It handles & corners well, it climbs well and rocky trails are a breeze to ride so it was shaping up to be a great bike, but we both agreed it wasn’t quite there yet. This was the same story throughout the rest of the ride and as we rolled through the last section of trail we were both still in 2 minds about the bikes. We decided to have a quick ride through the skills area on them and try to make our minds up as it’s always fun to have a bit of a play on any bike and see how it handles the small tabletops and skinnys that make up 90% of all Trail Centre Skills Areas, but I wasn’t holding my breath. Now Tom has ridden Coed Y brenin before, but didn’t mention that the skills area was actually pretty good, and straight away I spotted a good sized 4x style track with some nice high berms and every type of jump under the sun! Now 4x and bmx tracks  where were I cut my teeth in when I first started riding, so I can never resist beating a bike up on the jumps to see how it handles! Suprisingly the Remedy did not disappoint! For a big wheeler, the bike was great through the jumps. I could place it wherever I wanted in the air, be it laying out flat table tops or whipping the back end about, I didn’t feel I was fighting the bike at all. I could corner Low on the berms and because your centre of gravity is lower on a 29er as you sit in the bike, rather than above it, I wasn’t losing the grip on the loose surface of the track and it was holding speed through every corner. As I rolled through the last jump I headed straight back up to the top for another go! Tom was riding a rocky, tight section with a few small jumps and a couple of fair sized drops and as he rolled out of the last drop we met up and headed back for dinner.
Riding along the road back to “base” we started talking about the Remedy’s. We both agreed that they were the best 29” trail bikes that we had ridden. They handle the corners well, they are nimble in the air, you can ride through rough stuff with ease and they climb well. All the boxes were ticked, the big question is would we have one as our personal ride. The answer: Maybe!
Tom said he’d rather have the 27.5” version of the remedy over the 29er as he wasn’t completely sold on the big wheelers handling characteristics through the tighter stuff, you do have to hit every corner a little wider than you would on a smaller wheel. Myself? Yes, But I wouldn’t have it as my only bike. I’d have to have something that I could go truly silly on for the bigger stuff, and that’s why my 27.5” is a better option for myself. As a specific bike designed for trail centre riding and a bit of back country stuff, i really do recommend the remedy 29er, it’s a bike you really want to dislike, but cant!
After a quick feed and drink, we were back in the training room. We went through all the usual stuff in regards to suspension systems. How the Rear end of the bike works, the benefit of the system trek use, why the DRCV shocks are better for treks suspension platform etc.... we didn’t really learn anything we didn’t already know, but it definitely sharpened and reinforced what we all ready knew about treks bikes and why they ride as they do. Then it was time for ride 2.
This time it was the turn of the slash 27.7”. Bigger hit bikes than the Remedy’s, these things are designed to take on almost everything. With 160mm of travel all round, dropper seatposts and a set of adjustable travel  Fox Talas forks they are in theory the perfect do everything bike. Also equipped on our 2 demo bikes was the new Sram xx1 Groupset.  Now I have the x01 11spd Groupset on my current bike and I am very happy with the performance. Its sharp, slick and the lower gearing on the 10-42t cassette is great for trail and enduro riding, But the best thing of all is the weight saving you gain by removing almost half of the drive train and chain device.
As we set off, the weather decided to do other things!  About 1k into the ride I started having some tech issues with the gears and the dropper post so I turned back and went to grab another bike. Tom continued on. As I rolled back into base, my mind was made up on the slash, I was not a fan. On the ride back, I noticed that when in the saddle, even on the fire road, the front wheel was lifting at every given opportunity even with the talas fork wound down to 120mm!!! I can imagine out on the tricky climbs, the slash would be a real headache. My suspicions were confirmed when tom rolled in 30mins later looking like a drowned rat!! The weather had got that bad, even the lads from trek had started packing up the Eazi-Up and most of the other shops had started to call it a day. It’s a shame as if the weather had held up for another hour, we could have given the fuel ex range a whirl, but hey there are other days we can play out on those!
On the way home the conversation turned to the bikes. We both agreed that treks range this year is probably the best looking for a long time and the fact that they have both 29 and 27.5” bikes in the range makes sure that pretty much everyone can find something they want. But for us this year their stand out bikes are by far the remedy’s. They will do pretty much everything you want them to do and with the option of both 29” and 27.7” wheels they will suit 99% of the people out there who are looking for a good, do everything trail bike, and due to their forgiving ride will be appealing to be novice or a seasoned veteran!
Thanks for the lads at Trek to putting on a great day and putting up with my awfully fitness, cheers for handing back on the climbs guys! Hopefully, we’ll be allowed back! No thanks to the British weather for once again just being plain rubbish, but it didn’t spoil all of our fun!