Trek's 69er: First Impressions

Today was a big day at the Trek/ Fisher product launch because we actually got to swing a leg over a couple of top level bikes. We were driven up to the Nisene Marks State Park area and ride some really challenging and fun trails. These trails were single track, fairly smooth, and muddy in places due to a few early morning showers. There were rutted out sections, some log jumps, and some extremely fast downhill parts. All things that would test bikes and riders quite nicely.

The first bike up for me was the 69er single speed. I had a chance to chat with Travis Brown and get his take on the ideas behind the concept that he felt were important for me to consider. Obviously, the talk centered mainly around the rear wheel, but some very cool things about the frame bear mentioning.

First and foremost are the shaped tubes that make up the front triangle. These are readily noticed when first laying eyes on the machine. These aluminum tubes are multi shaped and butted hydro formed structures that were designed to give Travis a race platform that had no compromises due to unwarranted frame flex. The head tube and bottom bracket area were notable for shining in that area.

The other highly refined feature of the bike was the rear sliding drop outs that are each held onto the frame by two 6mm bolts. The disc brake mount slides with the non driveside drop out, and has a post mount for added rigidity in the brake system. The drop out also sports a screw type tensioner on the drive side as added security against slippage. It all is done in a nice, beefy looking polished aluminum that looks like it is rock solid.

Now for the ride: The painted to match Maverick fork seemed rather stiff laterally and was super smooth in it’s travel. There was also a lock out which I used to great effect on the fire road climbs. I can see why alot of 29″er guys seem to like this fork as it gobbled up all the abuse I could throw it’s way today while never getting me out of control.

The frame was super stiff. Both in the bottom bracket area and torsionally at the head tube. Lot’s of 29″ers I have ridden seem to flex a lot in the front triangle, so riding this bike was a lot different in that respect. It probably helped keep the bike on it’s line better without causing me to have to horse it into shape on my own.

The rear wheel was…..well, a 26″er. What can I say? Having the big front wheel and that nice fork on there certainly helped keep the handling sorted, but when experiencing quicker acceleration, one must also keep in mind that there is a quicker loss of momentum as well. This hurt the bike in my eyes when trying to clean rollers at higher speeds, or when trying to roll up a shorter steep section. I’ve no doubt that if Trek had decided to do this frame/ fork combination as a full on 29″er single speed bike, it would be one of the best 29″er single speeds available, even without the rest of the outstanding spec on the bike.

As it stands, it is a race level single speed weapon with a very unique personality. I am still not sold on the 69er concept as a whole. Certainly, more than one ride would need to be done to determine anymore, but the bike does what it is designed to do at a very, very high level. The execution of Travis Browns ideal is certainly spot on. Is it for you? Possibly, but I’m not quite convinced from where I stand, not yet anyway.

Guitar Ted on a 69er

I’ll write about a 26″er full suspension bike tomorrow. Yes, I said 26 inch wheels. stop back and see why this might be of importance to 29″er fans out there!

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No Responses to “Trek's 69er: First Impressions”

  1. Cloxxki Says:

    So, what IS the idea with the smaller rear wheel?
    Trek is doing a whole line-up of these bikes, WHY?

    So, they sold fifty+ 69ers. How many would that have been in 29″? Twelve? Twelve hundred?

  2. trev Says:

    why do you always give this concept the sh*ts! not every one likes 29ers, not everyone likes this idea, but give it a rest, your getting boring now. i like 96ers, but im getting another 29er, i know it wont accelerate as quick as the 96er but it will have some other benefits of a bigger wheel, just like it will have some negatives compared to a small wheel, but no doubt im gonna enjoy riding BOTH of them. everyone knows you love 29ers, please stop slagging any new ideas off……………its starting to get annoying.

  3. name:este Says:

    69ers are hardly a new idea. The 29″ Nano mould was hardly cooled off before they were being tried out because it was the only way to retro a 29″ wheel on to the current crop of bikes at the time. I know I tried it 7 years ago and it felt like a turd compared to a bike with the same size wheels, 26 or 29. But that is just my experience and others obviously vary. At the end of the day it is a bike, not much unlike any other in that it has two wheels, a frame, some brakes, a drivetrain a seat and handlebars. If Trek thinks it has potential I am for sure not going to tell them not to do it.

  4. Guitar Ted Says:

    For those reading this that are curious, look for a few enlightening comments from Brendan Collier, his wife Mary, and Heather Irminger cocerning the 69er platform, women in mountain biking, and racing. Good stuff that will be posted up in a few days from now, with all luck. Thanks!

  5. name:este Says:

    Nice legs, they even match your shorts.

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