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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Pliant and responsive suspension
Dropper post included
Comes in any colour as long as it’s green
Factory fit tyres not up to UK winters
Mud clearance could be better
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!
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