On August 2 and 3, Trek Bikes South Africa held it’s 2018 launch at the Avianto sports complex at Muldersdrift, just north of Joburg. Dubbed as ‘#MyTrek18’ the launch showcased a range of Trek bikes for test-riding on a 5.5km test loop in the Avianto trail network. Two models captured our attention like no others. We just HAD to ride them…
There was obviously variety of road and gravel/CX style bikes too, but we were there for the mountain bikes. There was also a showroom displaying a big range of Bontrager products, Trek’s gear and apparel division. We noticed a key focus on trail/MTB gear such as shoes, helmets, saddles and lighting systems. – FB gallery
By Dino Lloyd
So what made this launch significant? Well, Trek has been in and out of SA under various importers over the last two decades. In the last year though, Trek took a more committed approach by setting up a direct subsidiary with Trek SA. In light of this Trek, had two of their head office staff in attendance, Ana Lloyd from international marketing and Matthew Yerke, a design engineer with Trek Bikes.
We have already tested three Trek models this year – the Procaliber hardtail, the Top Fuel XC/Marathon machine and the Fuel EX trail bike, all very SA-relevant models in the South African market. We spent many weeks on those models and really got to know them and the Trek brand well from the saddle. What else was there?
Well, there were two bikes that break the typical South African mold, for two different reasons. Bearing in mind this wasn’t an in-depth review, the test loop at Avianto provided enough terrain variety to give us an overview of each bike’s capability and nuances on the trail. The 5.5km loop was cross-country in style with some rock sections, steep climbs and forested singletrack.
First up was Trek’s e-bike offering, the Trek Powerfly. There are four models in the range, three of which are full suspension. The FS7 test bike we rode slots squarely in the middle of the suspension models.
E-bikes are a contentious topic in mountain biking as a whole. We’re still not convinced that they’re a pure cycling solution, but they certainly aren’t motorcycles either (the motor only kicks in when you pedal). Yes the concept can feed into a superficial aspect of the sport. Equally though, they do provide accessibility to the sport that previously excluded a lot of people.
Just about every manufacturer is looking at or offers an e-bike in their range, so they are here to stay. Where they fit in is going to be up for debate for some time. It’s an ongoing topic with good arguments for and against, something we’re working on for an upcoming feature.
Riding the Powerfly it quickly became apparent that it takes some getting used to. Those newer to mountain biking would probably need some orientation on gravel roads getting used to the pedal assist kicking in as well as the five levels of assist. As with other e-bikes coming into SA, the Powerfly is limited to a top speed of 26kph, which is apparently in line with legal requirements.
We did take a lap to get used to the bike, but then it was all about the fun as we charged around a few more times racing each other like kids, mostly on full Turbo mode because, well, its full Turbo mode… It should be noted that our female rider was on the hardtail version and was quite happy to just complete one lap and switch to a more traditional bike.
Secondly, the Stache 9.6. There are four models in the range, with the 9.6 second from the top.
The Stache is a bit of an unwieldly looking beast at first, an OCLV carbon frame with elevated stays and 29+ tyres are the first things to catch the eye. Throw in a dropper seatpost and 120mm travel fork and you have the makings of a very clean and simple bike for all-day trail fun.
Thanks to the boost and 29+ you also have the option to fit any variety of wheel/tyre combos to suit a particular style of riding or event you’re doing. With the horizontal ‘Stranglehold’ dropouts to adjust chainstay length you could even run a straight single speed setup, if you’re that way inclined.
The Stache may not be a medium to big travel trail bike, but it makes rock gardens, thick sand (oh especially thick sand) and drops a load of fun, offering a little confidence boost pretty much everywhere… Even acceleration with the bigger tyres was surprisingly good and the extra traction on climbs is noticeable. The front end felt a little resistant at first due to the plus size rubber; but after a lap and a bit we were used to it and happily hitting lines we’d normally avoid on a regular 29er. ‘Point and shoot’ seems to be the mantra of the Stache. We’re better off for having ridden this under-rated beast of bike, even if it was just a brief encounter.
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