Trek Introduces 2019 Remedy 9.9
You may have to squint to see how Trek updated the Remedy for 2019, because it's mostly the same. It still has 27.5-inch wheels,150 millimeters of rear suspension and 160 millimeters up front. It has the same reach, same head angle, same chainstay length, same wheelbase, and so on. Because of its little wheels and the way the numbers add up, it's still an exceedingly frisky and spirited little whip.
Considering Trek completely redesigned most of its high-end mountain bikes--including the Remedy, Slash, and Fuel EX--just a couple seasons ago, it's too soon for a full-fledged overhaul, so this year the Remedy gets more of a version release than an entirely new operating system. Bug fixes, security updates, deleting excess code for faster performance--that sort of stuff.
The most noticeable change, is the move to a fixed lower shock mount, away from Trek's 'Full Floater' design. Shock technology, including the stuff Trek has been doing in partnership with Penske Racing, like RE:aktiv and Thru Shaft, has improved so much that having a moving lower shock mount just isn't necessary anymore, especially on longer travel models. Trek got rid of it on the Slash when it was redesigned in 2017, so it makes sense for that update to trickle down to Remedy. Eliminating the excess code that is Full Floater simplifies the chassis, saves around 100 grams, increases stiffness, and creates more room for potentially shorter chainstays or improved tire clearance. Ditching the moving lower shock mount has also improved mid-stroke support and small bump compliance, according to Trek.
Speaking of small bump compliance, this bike is off the charts. The vast majority of the Remedy's minutia-hoovering abilities stem from its proprietary RockShox Deluxe RT3 RE:aktiv Thru Shaft shock. I've probably said it before, but it deserves to be said again: Trek, through its own suspension lab, and its partnerships, has the most advanced stock suspension in the bike industry.
It's astounding how fast and effortless pedaling through rough terrain is on this bike. Most of the trails where I live are soft and loamy, but there are some sections of singletrack that have been rebuilt through timber clearcuts, that instead of being covered by the canopy, bake in the sun and harden like concrete. These sections are potholed, rough, and frankly tediously annoying to ride. I'm not one to skip a singletrack option, but I find myself riding past these areas of clearcut mess on the logging road, and hopping back on trail once it ducks back into the trees. Not so much on the Remedy, though. This bike smooths that junk out better than anything I've ridden there before. And the Fox Factory 36 Grip 2 fork does an excellent job of keeping up with the bike's ultra supple shock.
The bike somehow makes all that little trail noise disappear, but without having pedal bob or feedback, or exuding any other efficiency-robbing tendencies. There's plenty of support to pedal on, which makes the Remedy behave fast and lively. If there's something on the trail you want to hop over, you can preload the suspension and get good pop out of the bike, instead of it just sucking your energy. Bikes with as much noise canceling affect are typically much more lethargic, but the Remedy is pure fun.
As if the Remedy wasn't already good enough at smoothing stuff out, it now comes stock with some beefcake 2.6-inch tires, thanks to extra frame clearance. There's actually now enough room, according to Trek, to fit 2.8-inch tires.
While we're back on the topic of updates, let's rapid-fire through the rest of them, shall we? There's 10 millimeters more seat post insertion on the biggest three sizes to support longer dropper posts. The underside of the toptube has some threaded holes, because for some reason it's become popular to clutter up and weigh down beautiful, lightweight bikes by lashing spare tubes and tools all over them.
Trek also steepened the seat tube by a degree, making the effective seat angle 74.5 and 75 degrees in low and high, respectively. Yes, the Remedy still has two geometry positions, even though you can't see those Mino Link flip chips from the outside anymore. Trek relocated them to the inside of the link, which further refines and simplifies the look of the bike. And that pretty much covers the updates.
It probably won't come as a surprise to read that I prefer the Remedy in the low setting. That's what everyone says, but this is actually a new development for me, thanks to the steeper seat angle. Now, in low, it climbs like it used to in high, without sacrificing capability on the downs. When the shock is in pedaling mode--which, because of the RE:aktiv valve, it's sort of designed to be in all the time--the bike has a nearly perfect balance of suspension movement for traction and tracking, and support for pedaling.If you want to take advantage of the best sensitivity and and responsiveness the shock has to offer on descents, run it in its open position. On fast, steep and rough descents, this is the way to get the ultimate grip and control out of the suspension. But if you prefer a no fuss, set-and-forget situation, leaving it in pedal mode all the time lets the special RE:aktiv valve shine, which essentially lets the shock automatically switch back and forth between pedal and descend modes. I sometimes prefer the feeling of descending in pedal mode, because instead of the bike feeling like a fully-open squishfest, the shock will provide these extra little hints of low speed compression support when it can. Although, with the extra bit of mid-stroke support, leaving the shock in pedal mode is now more of a preference than the necessity it was on the first RE:aktiv shock.
There's really not a lot to complain about on the new Remedy, but I'll give it a go anyway. First off, wonder if Trek could have added another 10 millimeters of reach and raised the seat angle another degree, to 470, and 75.5. I got used to it just fine, but my very first thought when I got on the bike was that it felt a bit short. Spec-wise, I'd like to see a longer-travel dropper post, and an X01 cassette instead of the much heavier GX one. I hate saying this because I had such high hopes, but the new Shimano XT four-piston brakes didn't amaze me. They are super grabby at low speeds and the finned pads rattle loudly, making an expensive bike feel not so expensive.
Seven grand is still spendy as hell, but Trek has dropped the price of the top-level 9.9 significantly. Recent 9.9-level models have run upwards of $8,400, so this is a steal, right? There might be better priced, similarly spec'd bikes out there, but Trek's suspension is worth paying for. And if paying this much isn't in the cards, the Remedy 9.8 comes equipped with the same exact shock and functionally similar spec for $5,500.