Product Review Trek Slash 9.9 RSL

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.



Frame:
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)



Setup
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!



Ride:

Climbing
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.



Descending
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!
 

Comments

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.
I've cracked a mino link bolt on my Fuel Ex before (whilst checking the tension) - didn't over torque it either. Thankfully the LBS hooked me up quickly for $10.

I was initially surprised at how light some of the linkage bolts were. But all have held up since.
 
do you have the part number? my slash is creaking and changing the bottom bracket hasnt helped. Mybe the same issue
 
do you have the part number? my slash is creaking and changing the bottom bracket hasnt helped. Mybe the same issue
Hey man, you should find this link helpful.
http://www.byka.info/sites/default/files/schematics/frames/2017_slash.pdf

The parts kit is #543606 and will include the bolt, nut, bearings and spacers for that joint.

That being said, I'd inspect the pivot first before buying anything. With mine it was plainly obvious something was up the moment I put a tool onto it, as the bolt didn't feel anything like 34Nm. There are also a lot of creak points that can occur in that area of the bike; shock bushings, Mino-Link pivots, the flip chip hardware, the chainring/crank interface, etc. etc. even on my Stumpy for a while I was noticing a creak under pedal load that ended up being the pawls on the rear hub needed a touch more grease on them. In fact the lower shock mount has the 50mm offset reducer, and then two little spacers that sit in the frame well against the bearings, and then the frame bolt through all of it.

With a new bike I do it on initial setup and every couple of days for about a fortnight (usually gives you a good idea if anything is rattling loose), then just check it every couple of months after that. Grab your tech/torque sheet, get torque wrench and then go over every bolt and check they're holding correct tension. I usually go from the rear forward, but whatever works for you, also good to have some grease and loctite (wondering if that thread came over in the site transfer now!) to help with any problems you come across during.
 
So the spare parts arrived last night.

Firstly, they've revised the bolt! They've machined a lot less out of the centre of it, in fact it's gone from a 34Nm 10mm Hex bolt head to a 30Nm 8mm Hex bolt, the threads in particular have a lot more metal underneath them and the nut, side by side with the old, is a few mm wider with greater thread contact!



The e*thirteen dropper install is ridiculously easy, and such a lovely feeling dropper. There are similarities to the Specialized Command Post in actuation, but it is so much lighter in the force required to drop the saddle out of the way from anything I've used previously. It also was a close fit length wise, I've got it about 5mm above it's bottom out point in the frame there, if I were using my flat pedals I don't think I'd reach the pedals properly/comfortably.



I took it for a quick ride this morning though my test loop, still dialing it in a little bit, but after a few solid runs I have currently have the following base settings for the bike. I'm 89kg±2kg with kit on (varies with kits I'm wearing, but gunning in that range).

Tyres
Maxxis Minion DHF EXO TR 3C 2.5: 24PSI
Maxxis Aggressor EXO TR 2.3: 27PSI

*Note that both have Cushcore's installed. In general I found my pressures didn't change, but they changed in not changing, in that I'm running the same PSI in a reduced volume.


SR Suntour Durolux
PSI: 83PSI, 1x Volume Reducer Token
HSC: 3 clicks
LSC: 11 clicks
HSR: 1 click
LSR: 12 clicks

To be honest, I learned a lot the first time around with the Durolux on the Yeti, in which it took a massive amount of fiddling and adjusting to get it to start performing nicely. So this time I hit the mark pretty quickly!! :D Fork shouldn't need much adjustment from here, was tracking beautifully this morning and just wanting to be driven.


Cane Creek DB Air CS
PSI:
210PSI, 1.5xLarge volume bands
HSC: 1.5 turns
LSC:
10 clicks
HSR: 0.5 turns
LSR: 12 clicks

Still working on the rear. I had started at a lower spring pressure and more damping on the compression circuits, but found it too be too soft on (sagged nicely though!). Essentially I shouldn't be bottoming a shock on anything out here, certainly not with volume reducers in it, and it was using full travel. No harsh bottom outs, it's not like I was smashing the bumper and noticing it, but pressures had to come up a bit in the rear.
Does lift the bike a little more as well, so might end up raising pressures in the front a little as well.

All compression settings are taken from a fully open position and then turned IN.
 
Tyres
Maxxis Minion DHF EXO TR 3C 2.5: 24PSI
Maxxis Aggressor EXO TR 2.3: 27PSI

*Note that both have Cushcore's installed. In general I found my pressures didn't change, but they changed in not changing, in that I'm running the same PSI in a reduced volume.
What pressure were you running in your Bontrager SE5? I am currently running 21-22 psi in mine (front only) on 30mm wide rims. Curious to know as my Minion DHF 2.5 arrived yesterday and based on previous experience EXO casings are not as stiff as the Bontrager SE casings.
 
What pressure were you running in your Bontrager SE5? I am currently running 21-22 psi in mine (front only) on 30mm wide rims. Curious to know as my Minion DHF 2.5 arrived yesterday and based on previous experience EXO casings are not as stiff as the Bontrager SE casings.
Sorry for the slow reply, I had to dig up my keep note history. Same pressures as the Maxxis setup front and rear (27/24PSI) on the same 30mm ID rims. When I had the Bontrager Line 40 Pro's on, pressures came down a little bit, they're off the bike for now until I can get some Cushcores for the wide rims, then I'll give them another go with some 2.6's.
 
Bit of an update.

I've been having a few issues with the Bontrager freehub and rear wheel, minor to begin with, last night I had a critical failure which thankfully happened on the first climb of the ride, and not when I was as far away as I could possibly be from anything.

So the minor issue occured on the freehub body. If you look at the picture below, you'll notice a small plate that is secured to the body with three, small Philips head screws. Something in the hub (that I've been unable to identify) has led torque applying to this plate and shearing the screws. These little medal bits then float around in the hub and get caught in weird places causing the hub to catch.
In any case, the ring isn't required to hold the pawls in place within the hub, it's more so they come out with the freehub and don't fall into the shell during the removal process (if they're not engaged, there's a smaller catch ring inside the hub shell which holds them in place).


Now this is where I had the full failure of the hub!!


That ring of teeth within the hub shell, that now floats freely inside the hub. If I freewheel, you can hear the freehub ratcheting along nicely, as it's always done. The moment I load the pedals it engages onto the ring and that just spins inside the hub shell, and no spinning of the wheel occurs.


Now the good news. When I got sold the bike, it came with another identical wheel, but it had a bent axle in it which would cause the freehub to catch, the hub shell is still very much intact though. As this axle is in good condition, this weekend I'll likely just drift out the axles of both wheels, and put the working parts back together. I'll probably replace the freehub body while I'm at it, as the small screws floating around in there have caused some gouging, and apparantly on the newer designs they have five ratchets, instead of the three. Another option would be to throw the Eagle stuff on another bike and put an XT kit on this for sale (when the Nicolai arrives).

This is the first hub I've ever killed in my years of riding. So was exciting to pop that cherry, also got to do a "chainless" run down a downhill after it all went to shit.

Credit to Bikerumour for the photos of the hub assembly. I'll try get some pics of mine and the damage later.
 
Thats an annoying and weird failure. How many kms or hours on that hub?

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Thats an annoying and weird failure. How many kms or hours on that hub?
Relatively low mileage on that wheelset. I was running the one with the bent axle for a while before realising that it was "catching" a little during rotation and switching over to this. Then there was a little while on the Bontrager Line 40 Carbon wheels before this one go thrown back on. I'd say it's seen 600km or thereabouts.

I have some watts to throw around when I feel the need to get going. But I wasn't even in my dinner plate when I caused this failure, was about three cogs down from it and powerfully spinning up a climb when I started to feel it slip. None of the teeth sheared or anything like that, just the entire ring pulled lose from within the shell. I could even potentially fix it by pulling the bearing that the freehub sits against and tagging some welds back onto the ring and hub shell (or even soldering it back into place).

Very unusual failure.
 
Relatively low mileage on that wheelset. I was running the one with the bent axle for a while before realising that it was "catching" a little during rotation and switching over to this. Then there was a little while on the Bontrager Line 40 Carbon wheels before this one go thrown back on. I'd say it's seen 600km or thereabouts.

I have some watts to throw around when I feel the need to get going. But I wasn't even in my dinner plate when I caused this failure, was about three cogs down from it and powerfully spinning up a climb when I started to feel it slip. None of the teeth sheared or anything like that, just the entire ring pulled lose from within the shell. I could even potentially fix it by pulling the bearing that the freehub sits against and tagging some welds back onto the ring and hub shell (or even soldering it back into place).

Very unusual failure.
Sounds like a crappy design. They should have threaded the ring into the hub shell. I'm assuming they bonded it in if it spins smoothly now.

I personally would not be looking to repair.

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Sounds like a crappy design. They should have threaded the ring into the hub shell. I'm assuming they bonded it in if it spins smoothly now.
That's what I suspect also. They're are advantages to this design, if you manage to strip out the ring you wont be required to replace the entire hub shell, could potentially replace the part and re-bond it. It doesn't appear to be a commonplace problem with the hub, still ruined the ride.
Hoping to pull it all down on the weekend and have a proper look, I'll just get back on the Stumpy in the mean time.
 
Interesting that you're having that issue with the freehub. I've the same one on a Bontrager hub and it's been fine for me. 100kgs suited up and reasonable power.

Then, two of three grub screws failed on me but the heads stayed in so I removed the plate. It was fine for some time but I expected a failed freehub at some point so bought a new freehub. Would that thing spin freely? Nope, the LBS is onto the 3rd now and hopefully that works.
The axle isn't bent according to them and it runs fine without the plate.
 
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Interesting that you're having that issue with the freehub. I've the same one on a Bontrager hub and it's been fine for me. 100kgs suited up and reasonable power.

Two of three grub screws failed on me but the heads stayed in so I removed the plate. It was fine for some time but I expected a failed freehub at some point so bought a new freehub. Would that thing spin freely? Nope, the LBS is onto the 3rd now and hopefully that works.
The axle isn't bent according to them and it runs fine without the plate.
I can't for the life of me see what's applying pressure to that ring to cause the screws to break; it's clear from the axle and any surrounding parts of the hub shell. I'm certain the plate is only to hold the pawls in place when removing the freehub body, they stay in place during use without it, but when you pull the freehub off they're prone to staying in place, so you need to tap them out of the hub shell and then re-insert them into the freehub.

Is yours a Shimano or XD Freehub body that youre shearing the bolts with? I am tempted to try a Shimano one that I have for this, because the DTSwiss hubs I have are a bit more bombproof, and if it's the Eagle drive forces doing it, it might be worth building it on a different drive train.

Hard choices, this has happened RIGHT at a time when the new bike that's replacing this is due to arrive. Still not sure what I want to do with all my bikes at the moment anyway. Part of me wants to put the Slash on a diet, slap a shorter stroke shock on it and use it as my trail bike so I can sell the Stumpy. Another part of me wants to go to a single bike setup with the Nicolai, another part of me (the one that just spent the long weekend in Melrose) is in love with the Stumpy again and reminded that I'm original owner and could potentially send it until it breaks and get a crash replacement to one of the new ones.
 
Mine's the Shimano driver. The pawls do like staying in the hub, you're right.

The wheel is at the LBS and means I will wait until tomorrow for the new freehub to arrive.

Annoyingly it means more waiting to ride the Prime.. and I was making progress dialling in the X2.
 
Annoyingly it means more waiting to ride the Prime.. and I was making progress dialling in the X2.
In a similar boat. Been trying to dial in the CRConception Damper and coil kit on the fork, and just can't get a clean ride in with the wheels at the moment.
 
Does the pinion run pawls or star ratchet? I'm surprised you didn't nerd out for an Onyx sprag clutch.

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The Onyx was on the table more for the fact they produce a Boost Single Speed wheel. But the weight is just NUTS on that sprag clutch, and half of what everyone says about going to the gearbox is that it does great thing to unsprung/sprung ratios...so I took issue with stealing all the weight of a cassette, derailleur etc, from the swing arm just to feed it back on with a brick of a hub.

The Pinion uses a ratchet system of sorts, but the springs aren't angled engagement. There are three "pawls" that each have about 20teeth to them, that all jump out at once from coil springs mounted behind their assemblies. The teeth on the inside of the hub are also extremely fine because of this, but the hub engages with about 2/3 of its surface area when they lock forward.

It is a beautifully machined hub, still on the heavier side of things but still half the weight of the Onyx and even dished, symetrical flanges. She's a stunner!
 
The Onyx was on the table more for the fact they produce a Boost Single Speed wheel. But the weight is just NUTS on that sprag clutch, and half of what everyone says about going to the gearbox is that it does great thing to unsprung/sprung ratios...so I took issue with stealing all the weight of a cassette, derailleur etc, from the swing arm just to feed it back on with a brick of a hub.

The Pinion uses a ratchet system of sorts, but the springs aren't angled engagement. There are three "pawls" that each have about 20teeth to them, that all jump out at once from coil springs mounted behind their assemblies. The teeth on the inside of the hub are also extremely fine because of this, but the hub engages with about 2/3 of its surface area when they lock forward.

It is a beautifully machined hub, still on the heavier side of things but still half the weight of the Onyx and even dished, symetrical flanges. She's a stunner!
Fair nuff. Did you look at the i9 torch single speed?

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