2024 Trek Slash Review
I'm late, I know. The plan here was for this review to be out a while ago but a combination of injury, holidays, travel, weather, and family visits really set things back. Somehow the first month of 2024 is gone and while my confidence isn't back to 100%, my shoulder is feeling good, and I'm looking forward to more time in the dark, wet, slippery woods this winter on knobby tires.
After knocking the dust off it, I've been logging miles on the Gen 6 Trek Slash; we got off to a slightly rocky start but we get along well now. The bike is most of the bruiser I expected, but has been pleasantly surprising in a few facets.
Frame, geometry, and components
As usual, we covered a lot of the changes, details, and spec choices on the new Slash in the First Look – if you need a bit of a refresher and high level overview on how it differs from the Gen 5 Slash and what’s bolted on this high-pivot idler equipped Gen 6 version refer back to here.
As you'd hope and expect on a 12,000 CAD build, the component choices have left little to desire and have been nearly faultless. The only real exception is I’ve had more flat tires on the Slash over the past couple of months than I think I’ve had in the previous 12 months. Some of these were probably my fault (I owe Deniz several tubes and beers…). I enjoyed the riding characteristics of the SE6/SE5 combo but I didn’t enjoy repeatedly pumping them up. Your mileage may vary. Underlying those, the Bontrager Line Pro 30 OCLV* carbon wheels held up flawlessly. I added my standard ESI silicone grips to the uber-expensive one-piece RSL cockpit after narrowing them up to my preferred 780mm.
I was never able to fully silence the BITS tool that hides in the steerer tube. It’s a really well-designed tool, installation is dead simple, but it rattles. Putting some foam at the bottom of the offending orifice helped, but I could never find a good balance of “enough foam to make it silent” but not “so much I was worried the tool wouldn’t say put”.
*for more on Bontrager and OCLV, read past the pizza content here.
On the suspension front, this was my first stint on the new RockShox Vivid Air and it was a standout. Buttery smooth and with good support, it matched the kinematics of the Slash very well and takes a real beating without breaking a sweat. A lot of superlatives get thrown around in marketing materials, but it is remarkably coil-like in feel (I say that having not tried this bike with an actual coil shock, mind you).
The drivetrain has also been trouble-free – there’s been some chatter on the internet about dropped chains and SNAFUs happening in the idler/tensioner setup, but I haven’t experienced this or talked to anyone I know who’s actually had issues. T-Type takes a bit of adapting – but adapt you will. Just push the buttons to shift whenever. Disregard decades of muscle memory, push the button. While downshifting isn’t lightyears different, velvety upshifts under all the [meagre] watts my muscles can generate are impressive and going backwards to older drivetrains suddenly feels very jarring. As I mentioned in the first look, the combination of 27.5" rear wheel, 30t front ring, and 165mm cranks isn’t my favorite; I’d be putting at least a 32t ring on here to help get a little more top end for all the paved bits between home and the trails.
We’ll talk some more about geometry when we talk about riding the Slash, but one of the most notable features is the low bottom bracket. Like, it seems really low. I’d be tempted to pull the stock bashring off and add a SRAM integrated ¼ bashguard to gain any precious millimeters I could. I’ve also kept it in the stock geometry – there’s provisions to add or subtract a full degree from the head tube angle with cups from Trek. I’d argue these cups should be included with purchase, instead of 52 CAD.
I'd also ditch the in-frame storage. Clearly brands keep adding 'features' like this because customers buy it and it's an arms race on the floor of your LBS, but it's not a feature I care for.
Everything else worked as advertised, and the squeaking noise I reported in the First Look never occurred again; my only possible explanation is some funny mold release compound or something on the chainstay guard that wore off quickly.
I really expected this to be where the Slash fell short. And, while it's certainly no Top Fuel, it was significantly less bad at going uphill than I anticipated. There’s no way to completely hide that it’s a nearly 35-pound mullet with a 63-degree head tube angle and a chain that winds its way through not one but two extra pulley wheels. There’s a moderately annoying level of extra drivetrain noise when things are clean that intensifies in mud, but it really doesn’t feel much slower than a lot of other bikes in its class. It’s not going to be my pick for all day backcountry missions, it’s a bit floppy on tight steeps, and it's sluggish on techy undulating “cross mountain” style connector trails, but overall it gets the job done. These things are a double-edged sword, and the active suspension means there’s gobs of traction on rough climbs if you can keep the front end down and winch away with the 30x52x27.5 stump-puller.
I know the comments section will probably sound off about how many watts are or aren't lost in a complex drivetrain setup like this, but maybe we can just skip that part? Either it's something you're worried about or not. I'm here to say - as someone who pedals up most of the hills I want to ride down - that barring awful mud or race situations it was fine so long as the noise doesn't gnaw at you. If you're desperate to debate this, I'm happy to put a power meter on the Slash and compare with my Arrival up the road on Seymour as many times as you like - just let me know where to submit my hourly invoice.
Let’s be honest – this is what the Slash is for and what you probably want to read about. In the first look, I said I expected to ride this bike a fair bit in a full face, and that’s absolutely what happened. The Slash comes into its own when you point downhill; once I got the suspension sorted out and balanced and you’re not in the wrong terrain, anyway.
The wrong terrain is klunking along on slow speed jank with big breakover moves – it’s a big bike with a low bottom bracket that wants you to find a trail (or the fortitude) to open your brake pads, gain some speed, and hit things hard. This also often is a remedy (hey, Trek puns!) for hitting the bash guard: go faster and pull, you weenie. This low bottom bracket also means the Slash likes a fast corner; lean the bike over, load it up, and around it goes.
The Slash is a bit of a plow - and I mean that as a compliment. It feels very at home on the DH tracks on Cypress Mountain where it's fast and rough. On a couple back to back laps between the Slash and my We Are One Arrival 170, one particular section stood out. There's a fairly high speed step down, big right hander, left hander into a tabletop, and a big rough straightaway. While the Arrival handles this section with zero issue, on the final high speed straight the Slash feels more planted and stable. Feel free to chalk this up to high pivot witchcraft, Vivid Air, or placebo.
The Gen 6 Slash had big shoes to fill – and fill them it does. While a bike festooned with extra pulley wheels may not be for everyone and may be a bit of a cleaning/noise/maintenance headache for a lot of folks it’s going to be a worthwhile trade-off for the ability to descend with aplomb.
The idler/tensioner setup proved trouble-free for me during the review period, and it wasn't as annoying as I was initially concerned about.
I always try and figure out who a bike might be for - if you're out shopping, should the Slash be on your list? Sometimes there's nuance here; a bike that excels in certain ways that might not be evident, or to a specific niche user. The Slash is more a case of "it does what it says on the tin". It's a big, burly, aggressive bike that goes up against the likes of the Megatower, Enduro, or Arrival 170, and goes up against them well. Its stock mullet configuration may woo some customers, as will the allure of high pivots. They're unlikely to be disappointed.
Elder millennial, size medium.
Reformed downhiller, now rides all the bikes.