Trek Remedy 9 Review

While it may not be the only bike that excels both up and down the hill, at a shade over £3K, the Trek Remedy 9 is one of the best value ones. Its well sorted frame and suspension package is nicely finished in XT and Bontrager parts, adding up to a big value package that is incredibly capable. 

I'll miss the Remedy. It's a lot of bike for the money, and a ton of fun to ride.
I’ll miss the Remedy. It’s a lot of bike for the money, and a ton of fun to ride.

After few months in the saddle of Trek’s Remedy 9, few of my first impressions have changed. I’m not going to repeat what I said in December, so you might want to read that if you’re interested in the Remedy. This bike offers an almost ideal ride for the average British MTB enthusiast. Not so porky that it can’t handle fast flowing XC and tight trails, but with 150mm of extremely useful travel that means it can handle even the most extreme trail centres. This is a bike that loves rocky Peak District downhills, but goes up them with as much aplomb as it descends. Although I’m something of a Carbon whore, I’m still smarting that this compares well in every respect with my Ibis Mojo HD160 while costing a whole £2K less. In fairness to Ibis (and to make me feel a bit better), a full carbon Remedy is over £6K. And if you are planning to spend that kind of money, you probably won’t be looking at the Remedy 9 anyway.

Getting your suspension tuned on the trail has never been easier. Fox's CTD has three positions, and an clearly labelled adjustment dial. Kashima coated Fox Floats have Trek's proprietary DRCV system to increase volume as the terrain gets bumpier.
Getting your suspension tuned on the trail has never been easier. Fox’s CTD has three positions, and an clearly labelled adjustment dial. Kashima coated Fox Floats have Trek’s proprietary DRCV system to increase volume as the terrain gets bumpier.

In the “first look” article I wrote when I took delivery of this bike back before Christmas, I made much of the DRCV (Dual Rate Control Valve) fork and shock. This proprietary Trek technology, developed in conjunction with Fox, progressively turns the small chamber shock into a high volume shock as the hits get bigger. This means that you get fast acting small oscillation response when you need it, and plush long travel when you need that too.

As someone who often feels that I’m not getting the best from my suspension, no matter how I tune it – this has been a revelation. The Remedy seems to have the right amount of bounce in any terrain. It’s taut on rough, but basically even surfaces, enabling you to turn and brake with confidence, yet when you head downhill, or on technical climbs, it offers the full 150mm of travel without ever seeming vague or saggy. If I set my other bikes to get the maximum travel, they seem to nose dive under braking – but the Remedy stays firm and true. I love it!

The RockShox Reverb dropper is a welcome addition.
The RockShox Reverb dropper is a welcome addition although there are a lot of cables flapping around!

A feature that is not unique to Trek, but is new to this year’s Fox suspension is CTD, which makes setting and using your suspension much easier. There are three platform settings: The firmest is marked C (Climb), the middle T (Trail) and the fully open setting D (Descend) – and while you may not always use them for the activity they are labelled for – they do act as a useful mnemonic – I personally can never remember which is which of the 1, 2 and 3 options on my old RP-23s.

In C mode, the equivalent of lock-out, you can stomp on the pedals without compressing the suspension much. So little of your power is lost, and you can speed along the flat, and power up smooth climbs. T lets you progress along rough ground without the suspension going into full sag, though if the going gets rough, then you have the bounce you need, and D mode puts you into full travel suspension – and it’s here you reap the full benefits of the DRCV system. In reality, technical climbs are better in descend mode too – you lose some power due to compressing the springs – but you more than make up for any lost climbing ability in increased control and traction as the bike keeps the rear wheel firmly planted over every rock and root. I’ve managed technical climbs more successfully on this bike than any other.

Bontrager XR3 tyres are excellent in dry conditions, but can't handle the very wet nearly as well.
Bontrager XR3 tyres are excellent in dry conditions, but can’t handle the very wet nearly as well.

Trek has kitted the Remedy out with a nice selection of Bontrager finishing gear: Rhythm Elite wheels, Race Lite Low Rise handlebars, and the Evoke saddle. Parts that don’t look out of place on a £3K bike. XT drivetrain and brakes and a RockShox Reverb dropper post complete the desirable package, and leave you in no doubt that you’re getting good bang for your buck. But no amount of tasty gear makes up for a lacklustre ride. No fear though! The Remedy’s Aluminium frame combines with their Full Floater suspension to deliver a ride that inspires confidence at every turn.

Early weeks with the Remedy were blissful. We’d spend times rolling around in the countryside, laughing and looking so fine. Then the rain came, and the Remedy’s demeanour changed. From a bike that could handle anything to a bike that could be unnerved by the slight depression you get in the middle of a well trodden dirt path. Seriously. You had to plan and de-weight to be able to get the front wheel out of what was basically a muddy inch-deep rut. Failing to do so could see me canting to turn, and the front wheel ploughing straight on as I tipped over and slammed. The simple yet ruinous problem: clearly the XR3 tyres which had inspired so much confidence on drier days.

I’m not criticising Trek specifically for this. Every bike manufacturer faces the same problem. How to spec a tyre that will work in arid Arizona as well as wet Wetherby. And clearly they can’t. As a result, most off-the-peg bikes sport a tyre that is OK in all conditions, but doesn’t excel in any. This is more of a problem for us Brits, where factory fits are often woefully incapable of dealing with the mud and wet roots that we have to deal with, though they’ll handle dry slickrock perfectly well.

But if you are dropping £3K on a bike, it’s galling that you have to put your hand in your pocket to the tune of another £60 to make it ride-able. Galling, but an inescapable fact of life. The only thing that disappoints me is that Bontrager (part of the Trek Empire) has the XR4 tyre in its stable, and it’s a far more capable beast for Britain’s soggy and boggy trails, arguably a better tyre for this bike in the UK market.

Tyres aside it’s very difficult to find anything to dislike about the Remedy. I’m not saying it’s perfect – what is after all? It could be lighter – but then it could (and would) cost more too. But it’s far from heavy. It could be stiffer – but you’d not really want it to be, and certainly not need it to be. In fact its only real failing is mud clearance… and that’s not a failing that is unique to this bike. Giving good mud clearance means changing the geometry in a way that is not kind to either handling, stiffness or cost – and it’s very rarely at the forefront of Californian bike designers’ minds, after all they get 350 good days a year, and don’t bother riding on the other fortnight.

But although the mud clearance is not good, it was never a problem either, and the build-up never caused any problems with the gear changes, or with wheel rotation. And despite being ridden hard in punishing peat bogs and covered repeatedly in grinding abrasive gritstone sand, the Remedy never displayed the slightest bit of chain suck – which plagues both my Mojo and my Tallboy.

A few months with the Remedy 9 has taught me one thing – I want a Remedy 9.9 bad! Look out for a Mojo HD-160 on the Bike Magic Classifieds.

Pros

Handling
Pliant and responsive suspension
Dropper post included
Tuneable geometry

Cons

Comes in any colour as long as it’s green
Factory fit tyres not up to UK winters
Mud clearance could be better

Verdict

If you want to ride a wide variety of terrain, you’d be hard pressed to find a better bike on which to do it. Stiff and sure-footed, the Remedy is light and responsive enough to put through XC paces, and burly enough for the bigger hits and landings of trail centres. Despite the fairly light weight it’s rigid enough to put the power down, and spectacular suspension makes it effective on the ascents and fast and fluid on the descents. One bike to ride them all!

Price: £3100
More Information: Trek Remedy 9

What Trek says about the Remedy 

Remedy is the ultimate trail ride. Light frame, plush 150mm suspension, and precise handling all add up to a stellar technical trail bike that goes up, goes down, goes everywhere.

All photos in this article © Ben Winder

  1. Butch

    Great review.

    Give me metal at a decent price point over carbon bollocks any day…….

  2. Carbon Junkie

    What do they weigh for 3k?

  3. Looker

    What awful choice of colours!I know it shouldnt matter but if I were to pay £3K for a bike I’d want one that didn’t make me puke everytime I got it out of the shed!
    Are the designers colour blind at Trek? They should force them to do tests except that’d be discrimination…

  4. serge the seal of death

    Its very European, in my eyes if you know what i mean,.

    And yes that green is terrible, glow stick anyone?

  5. paulhaysom

    A lovely view there Marcus, I do prefer when people talk about the feeling of the bike rather than endlessly list the spec!

    However chain suck….is a bit of a gripe of mine. Google any brand and chain suck and you will find someone reportedly experiencing it! As far as I understand it, you can only get chain suck from worn drivetrain.

    1. Marcus Dyson

      I’d love it if that were true Paul. I have no doubt that drivetrain wear exacerbates chain suck. But I replace my cassette, rings and chain frequently and suck comes back far sooner than I’d like. I rode the Remedy to death through a horrible winter, and on some horrible rides, and if it had been one of my bikes, I’d have been looking at new drivetrain components about the time I handed it back.

      Certainly my Mojo (XT) and Tallboy (X0) display suck with far less wear than the Remedy had racked up.

  6. Izzy

    Wow, you’d really give up the Mojo for the Remedy? How would you say they compare in terms of pedaling efficiency and climbing? I would think the dw-link on the Mojo would perform better.

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