The Trek Slash is a perennial favourite in the enduro market. It was released in 2016 but it still looks up to date today. We were very excited to find out if the bike with its top-end spec could still keep up with the competition.
For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best enduro bike 2020
The Trek Slash was one of the first purpose-built enduro bikes with 29″ wheels and it’s got a lot of fans. The frame has remained unchanged since it was first launched in 2016 but last year Trek updated the rear shock with their Thru-Shaft technology, developed in cooperation with Penske Racing. Trek have paired this with a RockShox Lyrik Ultimate fork on their € 8,999 flagship model. Braking is taken care of by a set of powerful Shimano XT four-piston brakes. You also get a wireless SRAM X01 Eagle AXS drivetrain and RockShox Reverb AXS dropper post for minimal cable clutter, keeping the bike looking even cleaner than before – both components perform flawlessly by the way. Weighing in at 13,58 kg, the Slash is the second lightest bike in the test field, thanks in part to the light Bontrager Line Carbon 30 wheelset and the thin-walled Bontrager SE5 Team Issue tires. Trek also rely on in-house Bontrager components for the cockpit, speccing the bike with a 50 mm stem and 800 mm wide handlebar. The Slash is now also included in Trek’s Project One customisation programme, allowing you to modify the paint job however you want, or select one of the preconfigured custom designs – our favourite design is the fiery red ICON Molten Marble.
Trek Slash 9.9 X01 AXS
Fork RockShox Lyrik Ultimate 160 mm
Rear Shock RockShox Deluxe RT3 Thru Shaft 150 mm
Seatpost RockShox Reverb AXS 170 mm
Brakes Shimano XT 4-Kolben 200/180 mm
Drivetrain SRAM XX1 Eagle AXS 32 - 10/50
Stem Bontrager Line Pro 50 mm
Handlebar Bontrager Line Pro OCLV Carbon 800 mm
Wheelset Bontrager Line Carbon 30 29
Size S, M, L, XL
Weight 13.58 kg
Geometry and size of the Trek
On paper, the geometry figures of the Slash look outdated. The reach is short and the seat tube angle is too slack. Due to the long seat tube, upsizing isn’t an option for most riders. The geometry can be adjusted via a flip chip, but we recommend you keep it in the slack setting.
|Seat tube||394 mm||419 mm||470 mm||521 mm|
|Top tube||589 mm||604 mm||635 mm||661 mm|
|Head tube||100 mm||100 mm||110 mm||125 mm|
|Chainstays||433 mm||433 mm||433 mm||433 mm|
|BB Drop||21 mm||21 mm||21 mm||21 mm|
|Wheelbase||1,171 mm||1,186 mm||1,219 mm||1,247 mm|
|Reach||416 mm||431 mm||459 mm||481 mm|
|Stack||608 mm||608 mm||618 mm||631 mm|
The Trek Slash 9.9 X01 AXS on the trail
In times of ever longer bikes, the Slash almost seems old-school with it’s 453 mm reach. However, the moment you ride it you’ll notice how well balanced it feels. Your weight is evenly distributed between the wheels despite the short reach. The bike steers very directly and precisely, immediately responding to any input from the rider. On tight trails, the Slash is easy to manoeuvre and navigate around obstacles and turns. However, as soon as things start getting faster and rougher, it takes a lot of effort to keep the bike on course.
With its firm and direct setup, the Slash rewards an active riding style, which in turn becomes very taxing on the rider in rough terrain.
The suspension isn’t very sensitive and generally quite firm. This means that if you have an active riding style and pump the bike, you’ll be able to generate a lot of speed. However, if you’re a less fit rider, it will quickly wear you out. Out of the gate and coming out of corners, the Slash accelerates quickly. The bike isn’t phased by steep terrain, but as short as it is, you’ll have to stay composed and position your centre of gravity carefully. Despite its low weight, the Slash doesn’t climb as well as you’d think since the slack seat tube angle puts you in an awkward pedalling position. Even with the saddle pushed forward, your weight stays too far over the rear wheel and you have to lean your upper body forward to counteract this.
It’s obvious the Slash is a bit long in the tooth – the geometry, suspension and frame details are all outdated.
How does the Trek Slash compare to the competition?
For a long time, the Trek Slash was synonymous with 29″ enduro bikes. However, the competition has caught up when tackling rough terrain or technical climbs where the Slash has started falling behind. The biggest strength of the Slash is its precision and direct handling, which only the Orbea Rallon comes close to matching.
Tuning tip: push the saddle all the way forward | fit more robust tires
The Trek Slash is by no means a bad bike, but it can no longer keep up with the competition. The handling is very agile and direct, but the compact geometry and the firmly tuned suspension lack stability and composure. As it is, the handling demands a fit and strong rider to get the most from the bike on fast descents.
- direct, spritely handling
- still looks the part
- easy to ride actively
- demanding on the rider
- uncomfortable on the climbs
- the frame details can not justify the price
You can find out more about the Trek Slash 9.9 X01 AXS at trekbikes.com
The test field
For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best enduro bike 2020
All bikes in test: Canyon Strive CFR 9.0 LTD | CUBE Stereo 170 SL 29 | Giant Reign Advanced 29 0 | Ibis Mojo HD5 | Norco Sight C1 29 | Nukeproof Mega 275C RS | Nukeproof Mega 290C Pro | Orbea Rallon M-LTD | Pole Stamina 180 LE | RAAW Madonna V2 FOX Factory Built | Rocky Mountain Slayer Carbon 90 29 | Santa Cruz Megatower CC X01 Reserve | SCOTT Ransom 900 Tuned | Specialized S-Works Enduro 2020 | Specialized Turbo Kenevo Expert | Trek Slash 9.9 X01 AXS | Yeti SB150 T2 | YT CAPRA 29 CF Pro Race
This scale indicates how efficiently the bike climbs. It refers to both simple and technical climbs. Along with the suspension, the riding position and the weight of the bike all play a crucial role.↩
How does the bike ride and descend? How spritely is the bike, how agile is it through corners, how much fun is it in tight sections and how quickly can it change direction?↩
Is the bike stable at high speeds? Is it easy to stay in control in demanding terrain? How composed is it on rough trails? Stability is a combination of balanced geometry, good suspension and the right spec.↩
This is all about how balanced the bike is and particularly about how well it corners. Balanced bikes require little physical effort from the rider and are very predictable. If a bike is unbalanced, the rider has to work hard to weight the front wheel to generate enough grip. However, experienced riders can have a lot of fun even with unbalanced bikes.↩
How sensitive is the suspension over small bumps? Can it absorb hard impacts and does it soak up repeated hits? Plush suspension not only provides comfort and makes a bike more capable, but it also generates traction. The rating includes the fork and the rear suspension.↩
This aspect mainly comes down to the suspension. How much pop does it have, does it suck up the rider’s input or is it supportive, and how agile and direct is the bike?↩
We don’t calculate value for money in an excel spreadsheet or based on how high-end a bike is specced. We are more concerned with how a bike performs on the trail and how the bike benefits the rider. What good are the best components if the bike doesn’t perform well on the trail? Expensive bikes with a lower-end spec can offer very good value for money – provided they excel where it matters. Just as supposedly cheap bikes with good components can get a bad rating if they don’t deliver on the trail.↩
No, it’s not about racing, it’s about efficiency. Fast, fleet-footed and efficient – those who want to speed along flowy singletrack and gravel roads need a defined and spritely bike that accelerates with ease and efficiency. Nevertheless, reliable components are important too. We interpret XC more like the Americans do: big back-country rides instead of a marathon or XC World Cup with the ultimate in lightweight construction! Uphill-downhill ratio: 80:30 (not everything has to be 100%!)↩
...also known as mountain biking. Classic singletrack with roots, rocks and ledges – sometimes flowy, sometimes rough. For this, you need a bike with good all-round qualities, whether climbing or descending. Uphill-downhill ratio: 50:50↩
Even more extreme and challenging compared to Trail riding, riddled with every kind of obstacle: jumps, gaps, nasty rock gardens, ruts and roots. For this, you need (race)proven equipment that forgives mistakes and wouldn’t look out of place on a stage of the Enduro World Series. Climbing is just a means to an end. Uphill-downhill ratio: 30:70↩
Strictly speaking, a 200 mm travel downhill bike is the best choice for merciless tracks with big jumps, drops and the roughest terrain. Those would be the black or double-black-diamond tracks in a bike park. But as some of the EWS pros (including Sam Hill) have proven, it’s the riding skills and not the bike that define what you can ride with it. Climbing? On foot or with a shuttle, please! Uphill-downhill ratio: 10:90↩
Words: Christoph Bayer Photos: Christoph Bayer / Finlay Anderson / Markus Frühmann