2017 Trek Slash 9.9 First Impressions

Big-Wheeled Bruiser

Words by Perry Schebel. Photos by Dave Smith.
November 9th, 2016

Pete presented the new Trek Slash at the press introduction here with a bit of detail; to avoid too much redundancy I’m going to make this relatively snappy. Quick recap on the 2017 Trek Slash 9.9: previously shod with mid-size wheels, the latest iteration of Trek’s longest travel aggressive trail / enduro bike now wears 29″ hoops. Sporting 160mm travel front & 150mm rear, and a 65° head angle, this is one of the most aggressive 29’ers on the market. The model 9.9 that we have is the top tier spec, retailing at $9,000 USD even ($10,999 CAD). I’m giddy to check it out.

2017 Trek Slash 9.9 - Perry Schebel, Mount Seymour, BC - manual

Brapping about Dave’s backyard.

2017 Trek Slash 9.9 - 3/4 rear

Looks like a… Sporting a classic silhouette, with emphasis on stoutness. The downtube has been straightened out, and is suitably fat. Praise baby Cthulu, there’s room for a large waterbottle within that burly front triangle. Weight on my scale (with pedals) is 30.2 lbs for this 19.5” (actual BB to top of seat tube is 18.5”) frame.

For handy reference, here’s the numbers again (squint furiously or click to embiggen):

2017 Trek Slash 9.9

A stout Fox Factory Talus 36 up front (130 / 160mm travel). You don’t see travel adjust used a lot these days, but as a tool to reign in a lazy front end on steep climbs it makes sense. Other twiddly knobs include high & low speed compression with plenty of clicks, and rebound at the bottom of the fork – hidden inside a nifty protective cap.

Tires and wheels are all Bontrager – Trek’s house brand: an aluminum-rimmed (28mm internal width) Bontrager Line Elite 30 wheelset, shod with SE4 Team Issue tires in a 2.4 width. All are tubeless ready, though the bike ships with tubes.

The Knock Block: an internal steering stop devised to keep the fork top caps from smashing holes in the straight down tube. No X-ups for you! Cockpit is full Bontrager: Knock Block Line Pro 50mm stem grips a OCLV carbon Line Pro 35mm bar sporting a 27.5mm rise and 780mm width. All this spins on an FSA Knock Block sealed cartridge bearing headset. Cable routing and ports are tidy.

Bontrager Drop Line remote is ergo and low effort. I’m beginning to like my Reverb a little less.

This is how you make use of the real estate afforded by deleting front derailleur compatibility. That’s a stout pivot. Cranks spin on a PF92 pressfit BB.

SRAM X01 Eagle carbon cranks spin a 32T chainring. ISCG05 mounts peek out from behind. Nicely integrated carbon protection on chainstay and downtube. Well-bashed pedals not included.

A tweaker’s dream: Fox X2 shock is packed with adjustability: high & low-speed rebound, high & low-speed compression, and a two position open/climb lever, which adds a good bit of mid-stroke support, yielding a firm pedaling platform on otherwise plush suspension. Yes, this is a recalled X2, sans 250 max psi sticker, that has since been replaced. Also of note: the Full Floater linkage design has been jettisoned in favour of a fixed bottom shock mount.

The MINO link flip chip tweaks head angle by about a half degree and BB height by 10mm.

More Bontrager bits in the sitting department. A Ti-railed Evoke 3 saddle and a Drop Line 125mm dropper post.

The Eagle has landed. Sram’s monster 10-50T cassette and dangly derailleur are employed here, providing a gear range well into wall climbing territory. Check out the sweet chain link!

SRAM Guide Ultimate stoppers with 180mm rotor rear / 200mm front. Interesting addition of a rear internal brake line exit hole; can’t think of a brake that would require this routing (Shimano – Ed.). Note the refreshingly subtle acronym.

I’ve had a handful of rides on the red shreddy beast so far. First day out – coming off a 650B bike of similar numbers – I thought: this thing is big. Perhaps too big for the relatively tight North Shore trails I was riding. A couple sessions later my perspective began to shift as I acclimatized to the geometry and larger hoops. Push the front more aggressively, and it can be made to work in tighter terrain; when things get steeper, chunkier, and faster, it flat out hauls. Plush and confidence inspiring for sure. On the plough-ier end of the spectrum – definitely.

More tweakable than anticipated, it’s good fun for a bruiser bike.

Active long travel suspension and a slack head angle do not make this beast climb with xc efficiency and precision, but the wide range gearing, shock compression tweaking lever, and fork travel adjust all collude to help the Slash ascend much better than expected. Despite a slack actual seat angle, the effective position at full extension was spot on (for my somewhat average bodily proportions) for steep climbing. A surprisingly capable billy goat given bike’s primary focus, which is going down rapidly.

So – I’m continuing to dial in settings and get more attuned to the handling. I’ll flog it for a while longer on a variety of trails and return with a more detailed analysis. So far, so good.  

Do you like big wheels and big travel?

  • Tim Coleman

    Nice. I love the pictures, that bike sure is pretty.

    • Dave got really photo-nerdy on the photos for this one.

      • Dave Smith

        You say photo-nerdy, I say horse power.

  • Vik Banerjee

    Can you comment on the BB height? The geo chart says 13.85″ which I like for our chunky local riding, but that seems so high in today’s world of limo long and limbo low bikes that I’m concerned that it must be a typo! 😉

    If it’s really 13.85″ I’m thinking a 150mm single position fork might make this a nice AM bike that’s fine for slow speed tight tech.

    It’s an expensive experiment so I’d love to hear your thoughts on this bike for Coastal BC riding. Thanks. 🙂

    • Tehllama42

      Yeah, that was my principal worry for the Shremedy, and is also the worst thing about my long-shocked Instinct (which basically is a budget knockoff of the Shremedy)… really curious about that, or if running a bit more sag with the X2 can mitigate a lot of that.

      • I don’t know if you’d want to run extra sag and give up mid-stroke performance just to drop your bb…

      • Tehllama42

        That already is what I’m running (35% sage on a Monarch), but with the upside-down U leverage ratio curve (regressive-progressive) with a lot of ramp-up the mid-stroke performance tradeoff doesn’t seem terrible, and having better grip in that negative travel range is nice.

    • Perry Schebel

      I’m currently running in low mode. it’s listed at 13.5ish, which feels to be in the ballpark (seat of pants guestimation). I don’t have the bike with me atm, will break out the tape later to verify numbers. Cheers.

      • Perry Schebel

        I confirmed that the listed BB heights are accurate. For a long-legged bruiser of a bike, it’s spot on (for my tastes) in the low setting. As a point of comparison, the Yeti 5.5c, with 10mm less rear travel, shares the same BB height as the Slash in low setting. The Specialized Enduro 29 sports the same height as the Trek in the high setting. The Wreckoning in the xtra low setting goes 6mm lower than the slammed Slash.

        Your idea of a 150mm forked Slash might work; 150×150 w/ a 66*ish h/a, and 13 3/4ish BB… a burly Bronson of sorts.

  • Cr4w

    It’s a bit surprising that for that price it doesn’t come with carbon rims.

    • grambo

      My first thought as well… $11k CAD for a bicycle with aluminum rims and a lot of house brand (high quality, but still) parts. Lulz.

      • Cr4w

        I have no real issue with an $11k bike, but it has to be pimp in every possible way i.e. it would have to be comparable to what I would choose for myself if I were building it up from scratch.

      • Tehllama42

        My thoughts exactly – getting a frame at cost and building it up, for $8kUSD I should end up with a bike that looks at least as rad as this one (belonging to Alex Lupato):

      • cheetamike

        even that build uses alloy rims . damn $4799.00 for the frame

      • That frame pricing should be thought of as an indication that Trek wants to sell the bike as a complete package.

      • cheetamike

        that maybe the case , if so don,t offer it as a frame than .

      • Poo Stance

        Not so fawst there Petey Pied Piper. With the low CDN Peso the Slash RSL frame cost is inline with the Yeti SB5.5 or an Evil Wreckoning with a non-SRAM rear shock.

        Just why oh why did Trek have to offer the RSL frame only in le rouge? 🙁

      • I didn’t say Trek are the only one pursuing that strategy…I’m not getting into an alliterative call-out with a guy with Poo in his name. Anyway, it’s your fault for not liking red. This is one of the nicest red bikes I’ve ever seen. They can’t all be black – that would be so damn boring.

      • Poo Stance

        It’s true. A stunning red frame colour. Red bikes are the least favourite of my bike colours.
        Trek needs to offer Project One on the Slash and for frame only. Go look at the Fuel EX 9.9 Vapour Coat Colour in “Carrera Blue,” “Waterloo Blue,” or “Purple Lotus.” Me gusto!

      • ZOOM goes the price!

      • silent ninja

        The 9.8 and RSL share the same frame, just different shock. Dnister black I believe is the color name.

      • Poo Stance

        Nope. RSL gets a carbon CS. 9.8 is alloy. Plus the shock change. But I’m also not buying a frameset and switching out to a different shock right off the bat. I’m a cyclist but I’m not THAT stupid.

      • silent ninja

        Yet my carbon CS is sitting right in front of me on my 9.8….. you might be THAT stupid. You really should go look for welds before you make carbon or alloy claims. Do a scratch test if you dare… I did. It’s carbon all around.

      • silent ninja

        Wanna know why I work where I work??
        Don’t even ask what I know… Trek won’t even tell you.

      • Tehllama42

        Totally true, but that isn’t a no-expense-spared build, just on where suspension performance and getting to the end of timed stages after a mishap is heavily weighted.

  • slyfink

    that chainstay hole… could it be for a internally-geared hub rather than a brake? something like a rohloff? I don’t really know how they work, and I’m too lazy to look it up. it’s easier to speculate!

  • Raymond Epstein

    I am sure it’s a swell bike, but for that kind of dough it better be. Furthermore, you can go and build a Wreckoning (likely a better bike, yet similar) custom for significantly less and support the little guys.

    • There are lower-priced builds available, of course. We’re also starting to hear rumblings about Wreckoning durability…any mention of that amongst anyone you know, Raymond?

      • Raymond Epstein

        I know a couple of people out here that have them and love them. One in particular is very tough on his bikes (shredding through tires, cracking frames, breaking cranks, etc.) and so far no issues, beyond having Avalanche do a custom valving for him for his size. I’m a more of Banshee fan though with their sub stratospheric pricing, great suspension and simple, no bs, durability.

    • Tehllama42

      I almost shudder to think what Alex Lupato’s Slash cost to set up (Ohlins TTX/RXF36, X01/GuideUltimate), but OMG is that bike gorgeous.
      To me, for the kind of cost the top end models come with they really should be kitted out like that (also looking at why the Line-XXX wheelset didn’t make it into the $8k MSRP build).

    • Poo Stance

      Haven’t ridden a Wreckoning so can’t say if it’s “better” or not. What constitutes a “better” bike? More stiffness, more carbon, more value, more better’er, more feels? Frame-only retail pricing in Canada is pretty close between the two frames, except one frame doesn’t need an upgraded $900 shock right off the bat…

  • Sanesh Iyer

    Is the chainstay hole for Shimano M8000 & M9000 Brakes (and other ones coming out most likely)? Shimano placed the lines outboard of the caliper, in literally the most annoying place ever, so you can’t run them inside the stay without mad cable rub.

    • Perry Schebel

      It appears this may be the case. Thanks!

  • zukiwskin

    Any way to track down the reviewers dimensions? I am struggling to determine if I need a L or XL, at 6’1″. I’m coming off a L 29″ Remedy.

    • Perry Schebel

      Hi. I’m 6′-0″ even, 33″ inseam, and the fit is spot on for my tastes. I’d probably even run a shorter 40mm stem if the bike was mine. I feel a longer reach might hamper the ability to keep on top of the slack front; as is its nicely balanced. Also – If you like to run a dropper with longer than 125mm stroke, this frame size would give you a bit of room (that you may not have on the XL. Of course, fit is subjective; opinions may vary. Cheers!

      • Nick Zukiwski


      • Poo Stance

        Stock stem is 35mm…

      • Perry Schebel

        That’s the bar diameter, not the length (which is 50mm). Trek didn’t list the length in the specs, only the diameter, so easy enough to misconstrue.

      • Poo Stance

        This. Changes. Everything.

  • Bob Bobbs

    The fork hits the downtube! So stupid.

    • No Bob, the fork does not hit the down tube.

    • silent ninja

      Knock block prevents that. And if you’re running your fork crown into your down tube, you’ve got more to worry about than steering limiters.
      That being said, here is my next bit. The straight shot downturn increases frame stiffness immensely and with no weight penalty. I owned a 2014 Remedy 29er just before my 2017 Remedy RSL. The detectable differences in wheel and frame stiffness give the bike some much more atttitude in so many feelable circumstances. Not being able to turn my bars a far enough to impact my down tube with my fork crown hasn’t even crossed my mind on the mountain… except for when I crashed a few weeks ago. I’m which case, I’m glad it was there, because it saved my top tube and hbar/controls from getting all crunched up into each other!
      In my opinion, it’s already saved one bike… my 2017 9.8 slash will go down at some point as well, and when it does, I will be glad it’s there to save the frame in at least a few probable crash scenarios.

  • mtnfriend

    How about that long term Hightower review?

    • Not comparable bikes! But once I get a bit more time on one (had to give it back before long term review was ready) I’ll have more to say.

      • mtnfriend

        But they’re both red big wheelers… 😉 While there are folks running over-forked Hightowers, I totally understand that this bike is really more akin to a “29er Nomad.” I do appreciate your in-depth reviews, hopefully you’ll get some more time on the Hightower down the road. Cheers!

      • Good to know, and thanks for the kind words. You are correct that the Slash compares more to a Nomad 29er than to the Hightower. And, having just jumped back on the Nomad after a bit of an absence (when I almost exclusively rode ‘smaller’ bikes – 135-150mm travel), the Nomad still descends like a flaming weasel but climbs like hyperactive sloth. The Slash, by all accounts (I haven’t ridden the new one), climbs similarly to the Remedy 29er – one of the best all-rounders I’ve ridden.

        The Hightower is a terrific pedaler and climber and descends very capably. The only question is whether its 135mm is ‘enough’ for your intended purpose. It’s good at high speed and nimble for a 29er, but when it gets rough and fast, that’s where that bike (predictably) gets a little in over its head. Which is not surprising for a 135mm bike. That said, as an all-rounder in almost all parts of the world, I’d be as happy with it as any other.

      • Tehllama42

        Dunno, a long-shocked Hightower on some similar kit is going to be pretty close… not that it’s the kind of thing that’s realistic to do with a fleet bike.

      • Comparing those two bikes is barking up the wrong tree. They do not have the same design intentions. Trying to fit the Hightower into the Slash mold (for what reason I can’t tell? b/c it’s SC’s longest travel 29er for now?) would be bastardizing its pedigree. Yes, you will see SC-sponsored riders racing on Hightowers from time to time, but when they need outright juice, they’ll go Bronson or Nomad. It won’t be long before SC releases a larger 29er, I wouldn’t think.

      • Tehllama42

        Comparing design intent is one thing, but capability is still another. Putting a 57mm stroke shock on the Hightower alongside a bigger fork, and it’s right on top of the Slash 29 numerically, and among the guys who have tried that and happen to own Nomads, to a rider they’ve chosen to add to the availability on the second-hand market of the Nomad… To be fair, this has been with Float X2 shocks or custom tuned Push 11/6 options which will always tip that scale, but if we’re talking silly budgets for 150mm wagon wheel bikes, I can’t help but consider the ridiculous options like the Hightower w/ 200×57 FloatX2 and Fox36.

      • Poo Stance

        Easier/better to take a Scott Genius LT Plus Tuned bike and swap out the 27.5+ wheelset for a set of 29ers. Although from a numbers game at 175cm I’d be looking at their largest frame offering…

  • Andrew Drennan

    lol you can never change stems since it is part of the knock block

    • dutchct

      Trek sells a collar that works in place of the stem. You can run your own spacers and stem after installing that.

      • Exactly. You can run any stem you like.

      • silent ninja


  • Brian

    11 grand? F off. I’ll go buy a dirt bike and take a European vacation instead.

    • silent ninja

      Lulz….. get to know someone in the industry, man…. Just bought my 9.8 and upgraded to xt di2 for around 4500. The bike industry is built on connections. Go find one! Happy riding!

  • Poo Stance

    This bike was so fun to rip at WBP.

    I’d do frame only for a build but I’m not really a fan of red bikes regardless of how nice the finish is on the 9.9