Product Review Trek Slash 9.9 RSL

Discussion in 'Rotorburn reviews' started by Zaf, Jan 3, 2018.

By Zaf on Jan 3, 2018 at 6:58 AM
  1. Zaf

    Zaf Gearbox Frother

    So I received delivery of a Trek Slash in July last year in anticipation for my journey to New Zealand in November, and been putting it through its paces for a little while now. It's currently out of action because of snapped main pivot bolt awaiting spare parts before it's back up and running. A few of the parts have yet to be ridden, awaiting that final change, mainly the new suspension package and the dropper.


    2017 Trek Slash 9.9 RSL
    Rear shock: Fox Float X2 (230x57.5) / Cane Creek CCDBAir CS (230x60)
    Fork: Fox HSC/LSC TALAS 36 160/130mm / SR Suntour Werx Durolux 160mm
    Handlebars: Chromag OSX 35 (800mm/25mm)
    Stem: Bontrager Line Pro 40mm
    Headset: Knock Block
    Grips: Chromag Squareweave XL
    Saddle: Bontrager Line Elite / Fabric Scoop
    Seatpost: Bontrager Drop Line 125mm / e*thirteen TRS+ 150mm
    Front brake: Magura MT7
    Rear brake: Magura MT7
    Cranks: SRAM X01 Eagle 175mm, GXP
    Chainguide: OneUp Components
    Chain: SRAM X01 Eagle
    Pedals: Shimano XT M785 Trail
    Rear derailleur: SRAM X01 Eagle
    Rear shifter: SRAM X01 Eagle
    Cassette: SRAM X01 Eagle
    Wheels: Bontrager Line 30 Pro / Bontrager Line 40 Carbon (wCushcore front and rear)
    Tyres: Maxxis Minion DHF EXO TR 2.5 / Maxxis Aggressor EXO TR 2.3
    Bontrager SE5 Team Issue 2.4 / Bontrager SE4 Team Issue 2.4
    Total weight - 14kg-14.5kg (with pedals, bottle and spares attached per pictures)


    First thing's first, the Guide Ultimate's had to go!
    Although I am the only person in my immediate group of riding buddies to have no issue with Guide's "Sticky levering" them, I was going to be travelling with the bike, and didn't want to have to deal with that kind of crap overseas. On went the Magura Mt7's and haven't looked back (I've talked about my Magura's in other spots on the forum, so wont go into it here to keep this less wordy).

    At the same time the brake lines got switched I also changed over the outers for the shifter and dropper and cleaned up the cable routing (came to me as a bit of a rats nest). The routing in the front triangle is amazing to work with!! Big ports that are really easy to feed through, with great securing methods once the cables are in, just intuitive, effective, and adaptable to whatever brake setup suits you.
    The rear triangle however, is a fucking mess. The derailleur cable port is positioned in such a way that if you actually mount an ISCG Guide to the bike, the cable gets crushed between the mounting plate and the frame. This was originally resolved by putting a stand off onto the cable to stop it dropping down into the crush zone, but this puts a rather decent bend in the cable in order to clear the area safely. I later just routed it externally to save the hassle. The rear brake ports are extremely fiddly also, there's also a whole other brake line feed hold that makes NO sense to have at all.

    I picked up a set of Bontrager Line 40 Carbon's for quite cheap in brand new condition. Same problem as always for running that kind of width on the rear, exposes sidewalls a bit and I immediately noted rear punctures and slashes, the front gives an amazing bag with a WT 2.5. They're a little outside the range of what the Cushcore can adequately protect against as well, so waiting for the wide rim version of those to come out and then might ride them more with some 2.6's. However for the NZ trip I kept the Line 40 up front and ran my alloy Line 30 on the rear.

    Truth be told, I'm inclined to just grab a pair of the Bontrager Line 30 Pro Carbon's for it, or some DT Swiss EX1501's to round it out. The Bontrager stuff is seriously good though!



    The bike is not the snappiest accelerator, especially noticeable when switching between the Slash and my Stumpy or (when I had it) the Sb5c. Where those bikes jump forward when you stomp the pedals, the Slash sits into its travel a bit and then spools its speed up. It's a very active suspension system, and even with the climb lever switched on the X2 and some decent LSC on the circuit, it would still bob a bit when putting any power through the pedals, in or out of the saddle.
    It's much more a seated climber on the fireroad transfers and such. The payoff is that when things get rougher, it has unbelievable levels of traction, even on roots and fine dust covered and polished rocks. It just gets up and out of the way and keeps tracking.

    The TALAS actually really made sense when I got to NZ, on some of those long and steep climbs it made an appreciable and welcome difference to the riding position, control and comfort levels. The climbs are manageable in both fork lengths, but definitely notice more front end wandering on the longer steep pinches and just having to sit more forward on the bike instead of more neutral and spinning.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    It's a 150/160mm 29er with aggressive rubber, long and slack numbers, active rear end and factory suspension; it descends exactly like you think it does. It's the most comfortable I've felt on a bike. Did I mention that it's red?!

    I will note that I have yet to ride it with the Durolux, the e*thirteen dropper and Cane Creek DBAir CS on account of snapping the main pivot bolt on the threads right before christmas. So I can update later with what it's like, but I have had an extremely positive experience with the Durolux previously on my Yeti, to the point where I wanted to buy it again and switch out a Fox 36 for it (honestly, that good!).

    With any luck, spare parts should arrive this week and I can get it tuned and ridden. Also have some cancelled flights that need using, so I might book another riding holiday to some larger hills for those purposes.

    Also, Alice Springs action shots taken by Soul_Rider! Cheers buddy!


Discussion in 'Rotorburn reviews' started by Zaf, Jan 3, 2018.

    1. johnny
      Great post, mate. Would you mind if I moved it into the product review section?
      Zaf likes this.
    2. Zaf
      Go for gold.
    3. born-again-biker
      Nice write-up Zaf. Red Treks always look good!

      Forgive my ignorance - are you a regular punter like me (with an unrelated day job & ride bikes for fun/hobby?)
      ....or are you in the industry in some way?
      Zaf likes this.
    4. Zaf
      Regular punter with an avid interest and, probably more noted, the time dedicated to it. Sort of a professional uni student with a medical background; no kids and can't hold onto a girlfriend, so I drown my sorrows in purchasing bikes, and parts and riding them a lot.
      Mechanically I also do next to all of my own bike servicing, right up to bladder based dampers and nitrogen charging.

      Actually a big part of the rationale behind the parts I'm changing over on this bike are because I'm heading back to study in the near future and it's a seriously good way of saving money when you don't need to swallow a $200 service fee every 100hrs (which clock up quickly with my usage).
      mtb1611 likes this.
    5. born-again-biker
      OK cool - I wasn't sure. Doesn't really make a difference but humans being humans, we derive biases etc when we know the review is coming from certain interests or not.

      I also do nearly all my own maintenance / repairs / upgrades. (haven't tackled the nitrogen stuff yet!)
      I find it extremely satisfying to service or adjust your bike & then hit the trail & notice the improvement. It also means you're not reliant on the LBS all the time.

      I want to dislike Trek mountain bikes (dunno why), but they look so damn burly and well finished & solid y'know.

      So is the Slash a "keeper" ?....or just another short-term fling ?
    6. johnny
      My trek rides beautifully although I would like a stiffer rear setup and the trunion mounting system on my bike is a horror - wouldn't have bought it if I knew what I was getting into.

      The Slash looks like a top bike for the long descents of NZ that also require a bit of peddle. I've found the Bonty stuff surprisingly durable after having an inherent suspicion for OEM kit. The rear rim on my Remedy lasted me 4 years and I wasn't gentle.
    7. Zaf
      I should have said that better "up to but not including bladder based dampers and nitrogen charging"! Poorly phrased there, I knew what I meant in my head.

      I will say that it took riding in Christchurch, during lambing season, to FULLY appreciate why I like bottles in the front triangle, not underneath it. I'd have not been happy on the Yeti over there at ALL!!

      The Trek is a bike worth keeping, I love living with it, even on tamer trails I love how it rides!!!
      I say that, but I am terrible with my upgrade cycle, and it's not usually anything to do with one bike being undesirable, just chasing something new for the sake of it. I will admit in the past month I have been looking at Guerrilla Gravity The Smash, Raww Madonna, and Pole EVOLINK 140 (hell even a custom Specialized Enduro) recently. I think I'm past the idea of changing the Slash though. I think i'm onto a seriously good thing with it, I love how it rides, so it would be a stupid move to change anything.

      Also, completely with Johnny on the Bontrager stuff. People would be stupid to overlook it, it's super high quality kit and resilient.
    8. hifiandmtb
      Absolutely love your contributions, Zaf. Champion [emoji106]

      And the fact that I’d never heard of the Raww Madonna & am now looking at what it is...
    9. SDA
      How do you rate the Bontrager tyres compared to Maxxis? I am currently running a Bontrager SE5 / SE3 combo... but planning to get a Minion DHF 2.5 for the front and use an existing Bontager SE4 2.4 on the rear for more gravity orientated days.

      It's been a while since I have used Maxxis as the Bontager tyres have been good.
    10. Zaf
      The SE5 and SE4 Combo hooks up as confidently as a Minion DHF/Agressor combo, and have a robust and durable casing (Alice Springs takes NO prisoners with that, really rare you run a tyre to tread death as they more commonly die by critical failure). I would happily buy them again, but can't find them for a competitive price. Specialized GRID casing tyres are $75/tyre at full price, and Maxxis for a Dual Compound EXO are clocking in around $45/tyre, even the 3C's can be grabbed for about $60/tyre; the Bontrager's are all $90/tyre, and they are fantastic, but not by a factor of +50-100% as their cost would imply.

      See the frame bag it integrates with it? And the way it seals its bearings?!
    11. hifiandmtb
      Yes. Why can’t all frame manufacturers go to this much detail???

      Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
      Zaf likes this.
    12. Zaf
      I know right!
      Actually, the Stumpy has double bearings on ALL the pivot points, and that bike is now two years old (about 3500km of riding logged on it) and still on same bearings. Admittedly, desert riding isn't a huge killer of bearings, but it's still impressive how well they've lasted. My Yeti SB66 bearings were FARKED after half that riding, and the two switch pivot bearings alone are about $150 to replace.

      Now just to go over the issues I've had with the Trek quickly before the new parts arrive. I notice a creaking when pedalling on a Monday night shop ride mid December. I naturally blamed the Bottom Bracket, and got the bike home, pulled the cranks off and greased it all up again, cleaned the chainring fittings, greased the direct mount contact area etc.
      I then went over all my suspension pivots with the torque wrench, and when I got to the main pivot bolt (supposed to be at 34Nm) i found it to be spinning in its joint, no tension on it at all. I pulled it out to find it looking like this!

      If you take a look at the second shot with the CCDBAir CS mounted to the bike, you'll also see where the internal cable port is in relation to the ISCG tabs, and how the nut is countersunk into the frame, and how it doesn't have full thread contact (and my little diagram of how I would have preferred Trek to have designed it. It seems odd not to get full thread contact and just more material around such a large pivot point. That said, I'll see how it holds up, it might be fine, but if it fails again I'll go to a machine shop and get a more solid bolt and nut assembly made to fit the frame.

      Also, I actually have to desaturate those photos, the frame is THAT red that it just looks ridiculous in photos, like a halo is on it.

      As for running the 230x60 shock, instead of the standard 230x57.5 length, at full compression, even with the larger reservoir the frame doesn't linkage bind or contact at any point. The reservoir kisses the cables on the down tube there, but we're talking just touches, no pressure is placed on them at that compression level.
    13. Oddjob
      That original setup is a dumb design for that bolt. The best setups I've seen always have a bolt inside a full length threaded sleeve. This give lots of strength, thread contact and ensures correct preload on bearings. Why the hell Trek would cheap out on this is weird.

      Sent from my SM-G900I using Tapatalk
      redbruce likes this.
    14. link1896
      Disappointing from Trek.

      What's the dealer/warranty experience been like? A mate has a Trek, some of the stores down here in Melbourne are staffed by fuxking morons, but he's found one that seems good.
    15. Zaf
      I don't know what they were doing when they designed those chainstays, but someone was drunk. Credit where it's due, it's the same part number used on Session as well as the Powerfly+, and that's the kit, bearings, bolt, nut spacers etc. I'm guessing it was a freak failure and not a common occurance, time will tell. In the end, it was a $50 kit and readily available.

      Now that think of it, the only failures I have had on my bikes occur at the frame pivot hardware. I was able to crack two Yeti SB66c dogbones in my time on that bike, and the only frame I have ever broken (2014 S-Works Stumpy) cracked at seat tube from the main pivot.

      Anyway, back on topic. The bike was purchased second hand, nailed an amazing deal with it (entire spare wheel, spare chainstay, etc.), and from a guy who is "in the business". The guy who stocks Trek in Alice (Shane at Smith St Velo) is actually the best bike store in town, so from a dealer perspective it's good here. However, because I didn't buy the bike from him, and he was going to be heading away for holidays around the time period anything would arrive, I just sourced my own solution from the internet.
      I don't really use LBS's as a general rule; a chain of poor past experiences and just prefering to do things myself. I make efforts to ensure I am not one of those complete dickheads (the type tries on shoes for sizing and then buys online), and I have been trying to support them a little more lately, but I'm moving towns in the next six months, so I might be a little late in the game to be fostering relationships now.
      Last edited: Jan 4, 2018
    16. link1896
      Looking at the bolt a second time, it's a super light grade ally? Possibly someone before you over torqued?. Quite respectable spare parts pricing, the likes of spesh and SC should be ashamed.

      The Machiavellian intricacies of LBS relationships, that's a whole other 40 page thread :)
    17. Zaf
      It's not a steel bolt, that's for sure!! The nut as well, you can see that's cracked perpendicular to the threads. Not sure if it's overtorqued, the guy I bought it off was pretty switched on, and I've only ever hit with a torque wrench as well. For the sake of a few grams, it'dd be nice if they made it out of steel at the very least, or just leave a bit more material on it rather than machine it back so much.

      But for $50 it's not bad at all!! Still, would be interested to get one machined up as a replacement anyway, just as a side project.
    18. hifiandmtb
      Moving towns Zaf - must be at least a 1000km+ move?

      Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
      Zaf likes this.
    19. Zaf
      I'm not moving to Tennant Creek, that's for sure!!!
      East Coast, QLD is most likely at the moment, still sorting a few details...and knowing my luck with plans will end up somewhere completely different. :eek:

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