Forget the clichés and preconceived ideas about wheel sizes, because that mentality would lead you to presume that a 29+ like the Trek Stache 9.8 must be completely unrideable, nothing but a wallowing fat bike. But jump on this Trek with an open mind and you’ll be blown away by the broadened horizons that it presents.
Trek launched the 29+ Stache last year to a plethora of noise from the industry. While it was a first for Trek in terms of wheel size, 29+ isn’t actually a first for the industry, as it’s already a favoured choice for bike packers who choose these oversized wheels for the comfort gains, generous handling, and great roll-over characteristics. However, think again before presuming that the 29+ Stache is made for loading down with panniers and being ridden like a loaded pack horse
It’s all about the fun!
At the other end of the spectrum entirely, we’ll warn you not to let the initial lashings of carbon fibre and the hardtail frame make you think it’s a racing weapon. Look a little further and you’ll find the oversized 3.0″ Bontrager Chupacabra tires, a 120 mm RockShox PIKE fork, a Bontrager dropper post, and a nice 65 mm stem matched with wide 750 mm bars. All of these elements are obviously added to make sure you’re grinning on the trails and not grimacing with the effort of racing hard. The whole bike weighs in at 11.63 kg on the scales.
Appearances can be deceptive
With a closer look at the frame’s design, it’s obvious that Trek have worked to make sure this bike doesn’t handle like a lumbering truck. Significant details, such as the absence of a front mech, the wide Boost rear axle standard, higher asymmetrical chainstay on the drivetrain side, and the short rear end are all small but inherently crucial design elements that affect the ride of the 29+ Trek Stache. It’s got super-short 420 mm chainstays that can even be shortened to a radical 405 mm thanks to the horizontal dropouts. However, the Stache’s real superpower comes from the 29+ wheels, as they dish out massive traction and roll effortlessly over bumps on technical ground.
On mellow trails, the Stache’s lack of rear suspension and its carbon wheels lend themselves to super-quick acceleration, and it rolls along the flat like a racecar. It’s in its element when popping off lips and drops, so start hitting some turns, tight corners, manuals, and whips, and you soon understand why Trek made such a short rear end on this bike. For a hardtail the Stache is surprisingly comfortable, seeing it roll over roots and rocks with ease, though we did notice that the tread was out of its depth when it got really muddy – and of course, if you’re hitting some serious gnar you’d be wishing it was a fully.
The geometry of the Trek Stache
The Trek Stache 9.8 in detail
Fork: RockShox Pike RC
Brakes: SRAM Guide RS
Drivetrain: SRAM X01/X1
Seatpost: Bontrager Drop Line 125 mm
Stem: Bontrager Line Pro 65 mm
Bars: Bontrager Line Pro 750 mm
Wheels: Bontrager Line Pro 40 OCLV Carbon
Tires: Bontrager Chupacabra 3,0″
Weight: 11.63 kg
Pice: € 4,499
Rarely has a bike left us grinning as much as this Trek Stache 9.8! Its agile handling, direct nature, and comfort all make for a super-fun ride. The combination of the 29er wheels and the plus-size tire really allows you to play. However, for us to fully recommend this bike, we’d have to think about how much money you want to invest in your smiles. After all, the retail price of this bike could see you grab yourself a nicely kitted-out fully.
- Masses of traction and comfort thanks to the oversized tires
- Super-fun handling
- Great look
- Wallowy tires in the mud
For more information on the Stache 9.8 visit the Trek website
Words & Photos: Christoph Bayer