Review: Trek Remedy 9.8| Bible of Bike Tests 2019
The Up Side
Thanks to the Trek's proprietary shock technology, the Remedy climbs very well. Its smaller wheels got hung up in technical bits more than larger ones, but those 2.6-inch tires provide traction in spades.
Trek refrained from making the updated Remedy overly long and slack, allowing it to remain nimble and playful. With 150 millimeters of rear travel and 160 up front, the Remedy has plenty of suspension to eat up the chunder, but it likes to have fun doing so.
Dollar for Dollar
The Remedy 9.8 is a lot of bike for $5,500. You'll find better deals online, but the Remedy packs technology and versatility that's tough to beat.
We talk a lot these days about frame reach, a number we hardly discussed five years ago. The reason we're constantly dragging on about it now is because reach has changed drastically over that timespan. For example, a 19.5-inch (Trek's second largest size) Trek Remedy 27.5 from 2014 has a reach of 432 millimeters. That's about the same as a current size small Yeti SB130.
It's gotten almost out of hand—literally. Are we reaching the point of diminishing returns? That was perhaps the biggest question facing testers at this year's Bible. Several size-large bikes in this year's fleet have a whopping 480 millimeters of reach. When you mix that with an oh-so-trendy super-slack head angle and reduced-offset fork, you get these bikes that require an entirely different way of riding in order to have any semblance of cornering aptitude. But what if you don't want to shift your entire body weight over the bars just to make your bike change directions? What if you don't want a giant toboggan of a bike?
That's where the Trek Remedy comes in. For 2019, the 19.5-inch Remedy has 461 millimeters of reach in its high position, which decreases a few millimeters when you stick it in its low position—which is where we settled. That's not short by 2017, or maybe even 2018 standards. God forbid we call it short, right?
Geometry: Trek Remedy
Next to some of these other bikes, though, it really is. And as it turned out, testers found this rather refreshing. The Remedy is the opposite of a sled, and its not-crazy-longness plays to the bike's strengths. It has this incredibly exuberant, twinkle-toed and responsive demeanor that would be lost if Trek had given the Remedy the full-fad treatment. The Remedy isn't supposed to be a monster truck, that's the Slash's job. The Remedy is supposed to be whippy. That's why it has little wheels, and the Slash has big ones.
Testers remarked how light underfoot the Remedy was—how easy it was to get in the air to pop over things, how it felt like a big BMX bike. All the cliché words were used. All of them.
The Remedy has this incredibly exuberant, twinkle-toed and responsive demeanor that would be lost if Trek had given the Remedy the full-fad treatment.
We agreed that what makes the Remedy fast is its ability to dance on the trail and boost over obstacles, instead of simply smashing through junk. Not that the bike's 160 and 150 millimeters of front and rear travel couldn't handle it. Trek's proprietary Re:Aktiv valving and Thru Shaft architecture inside the RockShox Deluxe RT3 is down for whatever. So is the Lyrik RCT3 fork. And those 2.6-inch-wide Bontrager tires do enjoy a good smashing. It really comes back to geometry that gives the Remedy its spirited nature.
So, let's go through the rest: In the low setting, the head and seat tube angle sit at 65.5 and 74.5 degrees, respectively—they become a half-degree steeper in high. Chainstay length is a stubby 433 millimeters and the bottom bracket sits about 350 millimeters off the ground—high enough to reduce the number of pedal strikes we suffered, but also high enough for one tester to feel more on top of the bike than in it. This, coupled with the relatively short reach, led him to the decision that he'd feel more comfortable on a 21.5-inch Remedy. That sentiment wasn't shared throughout, but we did all feel as though the bike's geometry settings were on the conservative side, which left us wishing the low numbers were actually the high mode, and more aggressive riders could go lower from there. Nobody found the high mode particularly amazing. At least the Remedy now ships in the low position—the default used to be high.
Let's boil it down, shall we? The Remedy has contemporary geometry without pushing any extremes, is extraordinarily nimble and easy to ride, has ridiculously good suspension that gives it both climbing prowess and descending confidence. At $5,500, it's a good buy, too.
Q&A With Travis Ott, MTB brand manager, Trek Bicycles
The updates to the new Remedy's geometry were relatively conservative. Why did you decide not to jump to the fringes of longness/lowness/slackness with this iteration of the Remedy?
Overall, we liked the geometry of the previous Remedy. The Remedy didn't need to set the outer limits of trail-bike geometry. It was already low/long/slack enough for most riders. We steepened the seat tube to help with climbing a bit and kept things appropriate for the vast majority of aggressive trail riders.
The 2.6-inch Bontrager SE4 tires on the Remedy aren't the half-step we see from some tires labeled 2.6. They're big. Was it a conscious choice from the beginning to leave room in the frame for this still relatively new tire size?
Two topics there. 1) Yes, it was a design parameter to create clearance for 2.8-inch tires for riders who fully embrace mid-fat tires. 2) The Bontrager tires are true 2.6-inch tires. There are a lot of undersized tires out there and there will always be variability within tires, but Bontrager tires are really good about measuring out to their stated width.
What about the Remedy lends itself to complementing the ride quality of 2.6-inch tires? And vice versa?
The 2.6-inch tires are that sweet spot of tire width for aggressive trail riding the Remedy was built for. There are loads of traction without the vague sensation. That said, the rider and the terrain will really dictate what works best. Some riders may prefer going up to 2.8-inch tires in loose kitty litter while others may want 2.4-inch tires for more precise handling. It's good to have options.
It was pretty impressive to see carbon wheels on a bike at this price point. Especially wheels made in-house. What about wheel production makes it ideal, or even possible for Trek to construct rims and lace wheels in Wisconsin?
The Bontrager Line Carbon 30 wheels on the Remedy 9.8 are made in Asia. The Bontrager Line XXX wheel is made here in Waterloo. I think the remarkable story around the wheels on this bike is the new-ish Bontrager Carbon Care Wheel Loyalty Program. If you damage a Bontrager carbon wheel while riding within the first two years of ownership, we will replace or repair it for free. It's that simple. This coverage applies to Bontrager carbon wheels that come stock on bikes as well as aftermarket wheel purchases. https://www.trekbikes.com/us/en_US/carbon_care_wheels/