Trek Stache Rob Williams NSMB Andrew Major (12)
MIN MAX

Min-Max: Rob's 2018 Trek Stache 29+

Words Andrew Major
Photos Rob Williams (Unless Noted)
Date Jul 3, 2022
Reading time

Stached

Trek makes some great mountain bicycles. And they have for years. Know your terrain and buy the right size of Slash, Remedy, or Fuel EX and I think you're going to be a happy camper out on the trails. On the used market, the bikes with proprietary DRCV shocks are even a reasonable buy. The shocks are still supported and Trek sells hardware kits to swap them out for current double-eyelet shocks as well.

But, even though they manage some awesome paint jobs, and while the geometry is current, all of their rigs are what you'd expect from a great big bicycle company. They're safe. They look the same. They're not offending anyone with crazy slack head tube angles (HTA) on the short travel bikes or triathlon steep seat tube angles (STA) on the big bikes. Jokes about Session-like-appearances aside, all the trail bikes look the same.

The Stache is different. The aesthetic genuinely offends some folks. The elevated drive side chain stay. The massive, unique, sliding drop out system. The 29+ tires. The giant smiles and genuine love the crazy conveyance invokes from its pilot. If Trek has ever made a bike worthy of having its own fan club it's either this beast or the timeless 520*. Between having reviewed the bike and being a nerd for any rig with sliders, I've corresponded with many Stache owners since 2017 and Rob and his rig are a great stand-in for all of them. I love the bike and I wish Trek had continued to develop the platform and update the geometry.

*Yes, I'm giving them a pass for swapping the bar-con shifters for STI a few years back.


I also wish Trek had been able to continue investing in the platform. A more modern/progressive version would be rad." - Rob
Trek Stache Rob Williams NSMB Andrew Major (11)

The Stache almost looks like a regular bike in black-on-black with Rob's 2.6" rubber. A 9point8 Slack-R IS angleset pushes the HTA out an extra 1.4°.

Trek may have cancelled the good Plus tires they made - the 29x3" SE4 and SE2 - but you can still buy a brand new Stache frame in aluminum or carbon. Sadly, in my opinion, the platform never received the geometry it deserved. These aren't zippy and whippy pump-track hardtails, and they'd be so great with longer rear centers for improved weight distribution and climbing performance and slacker head angles for the speed and terrain they're capable of hitting. A straighter seat tube, thanks to the longer stays, would make room for a second set of bottle bosses, and they might as well make it a bit shorter on each size while they're at it.

I can't help but wonder if the carbon fibre version was this bike's undoing. Having to sell enough units of fantastic-plastic to amortize the molds while the aluminum version stagnates. It's certainly happened to plenty of smaller companies that tried to get into the carbon game. Actually, the first time I saw the 29+ Stache in person I couldn't help but wonder if the whole platform was conceived by a couple of former Gary Fisher Bikes employees long-forgotten in some windowless converted basement storage room Waterloo, Wisconsin. Sort of like Robert Redford and Brad Pitt doing Operation Dinner Out, only they had snappier suits and cool hats.

The frames aren't particularly stiff in the back end, but the elevated stay looks unique and it's damn quiet. Plus, I really felt with big tires run low and the Pike and Mattoc Pro that I ran on the front, that the overall stiffness of the bike was very balanced in every direction. These bikes like to be climbed out of the saddle and they get moving fairly quickly on the way down as well. I can't understate how much of an inspiration my time on the Stache was in terms of my own custom rigs, and my love of 27+ and 29+ setups, especially on hardtails.

Trek Stache Rob Williams NSMB Andrew Major (8)

Rob is running a 130mm RockShox Pike. Technically it's max clearance is 2.8" - and I can confirm it clears my favourite 29x2.8" WTB Vigilante. Rob has run both the 29x3.0" WTB Ranger and 29x3.0" Bontrager XR2/Chupacabra with plenty of room to spare.

Trek Stache Rob Williams NSMB Andrew Major (9)

The current setup here is a pair of 2.6" Rekons, with Rob bought due to the challenge of finding good rubber in larger sizes. He's downsized the rims to i35, from the stock i45, and figures he'll settle on 2.8" rubber in the long run, assuming good tires come back into stock.

Slack-R & Longer

Rob has a 9Point8 SLACK-R angleset installed in his Stache. This pushes the HTA out an extra -1.4° which winds up around 67° static. It doesn't sound like a big change, and the bike is still steep by current hardtail standards, but Rob noticed an immediate difference in performance. Rob says:

"I would say that during the first couple rides I noticed the front wheel wandering a bit more when climbing. However, slight modifications to riding style and weight balance and I don’t notice it at all anymore. My friend’s bike with a 68 degree HTA feels twitchy now."

I'm surprised, based on my experience and other folks that I've talked to, that Rob isn't running the chainstays all the way long. The Stache is a product of a time when every bike manufacturer was trying their best to tuck tires under the saddles of bikes - even when they wanted to clear 3" tires with room - and even with the stays extended the bikes trades some monster-truck potential for a more pump-track experience that is never going to be optimized with Plus-sized tires.


For the Angleset, I ordered it directly from 9point8... The simplicity of the design is very cool, though it’s pretty tricky to get it aligned and tightened. It’s a 1.4 angle, so it took the Stache from 68.4 to 67." - Rob
Trek Stache Rob Williams NSMB Andrew Major (10)

A little different terrain then we're typically showcasing on NSMB. Photo: Corey Robinson

Based on my own experimentations with Plus hardtails and seeking a nice neutral weight balance, I'd like to see size-specific chainstays with the short settings changing 5mm per size with the M/L size hitting at 450mm. That should make for straight seat tubes on all the sizes meaning longer dropper posts can be accommodated as well as a second water bottle boss set low on the seat tube. A corresponding HTA of 64-65° static with a 130mm fork gives folks room for adjustment steeper or slacker using a SLACK-R angleset as well as by varying fork travel shorter or longer by a centimeter.

Even a lover of relatively slack STAs like myself would agree that the STA on an updated Stache would need to be steeper. Again, I think the answer to accommodating the most riders is to vary the effective STA by size with it being slacker for smaller sizes and much steeper for giants. Trek also needs to add at least one size and significantly redistribute the reach numbers. I'd make an XS and small size in 27+ and then go with 29+ from size medium up. I think combined with a steeper STA that the M/L size would hit around a 480mm Reach.

I know that for most folks, even hardtail riders, that Plus tires were an acquired taste to begin with and certainly haven't become more palatable since then. But the same things that make this generation of Stache very fun would hit another level with a next generation bike. Trek clearly believed in the bike to begin with and has the ability to manufacture everything they need including good tires. If anyone is going to make a go of a next generation Plus hardtail... Actually it's probably going to Surly or Salsa if anyone from QBP ever saddles up a Stooge and takes it for a rip. But, it would be really cool if it was Trek.

Stache Geo

This is the geo chart for Rob's Stache and the one that I reviewed. I've seen it pointed out that the current geo chart at Trek shows a slacker HTA but note also the slacker STA (effective and actual). Looking at other numbers it clear that it isn't just a case of Trek having increased the fork axle-to-crown height (BB drop increased, Reach increased) but I still think it's fair to say the geometry has been tweaked slightly versus the progressive reimaging this machine deserved.

Build Highlights

So Rob and I, and I assume every other Stache owner, share the dream of a next-generation rig but this is a conversation about Rob's bike which is already min-maxed to the gills. It's a premium version of min-maxing I suppose. He has a lot of Gucci components but you can tell he's invested in getting the best performance with a focus on price. For example, I have extensive experience with Magura's MT Trail Sport and MT 5 brakes* and the performance they deliver relative to the higher end systems, which actually use the exact same brake calipers, is fantastic. I've actually been called out a few times lately because I've been focusing on writing about brakes that are fully serviceable, which the Magura units are not, and in that way this is a timely piece. The MT Trail brakes that I previously tested in 2016, and rode on the Stache when I re-reviewed it in 2017, are still going strong to this day with just a yearly bleed.

I think Rob also killed it, value and performance wise, with his wheelset. Industry Nine's 1/1 hubs show up on a lot of high performance wheels like We Are One and Crankbrothers builds and combine solid quality with good engagement. At 4° between contact points and only available in black they're clearly not as Gucci as the Industry Nine Hydra. But, they're made in house in the USA, 4° engagement is quick by almost anyone's' standard, and I9 does a great job supporting the product.

The rims are laced to Spank Oozy rims which are a solid aluminum option. They're an i35 rim which is perfect for running anywhere from a 2.4/2.5 tire designed for wide rims up to a 2.8" tire. If Rob wanted to run 3" rubber then an i40 would have been a better option, that still works great with 2.6" rubber, but good Plus rubber is becoming like hen's teeth so an i35 does keep the most options open. It's also the most future proof if Rob wanted to later transfer the wheels to a non-Plus hardtail or suspension bike.

Trek Stache Rob Williams NSMB Andrew Major (4)

Race Face Aeffect and Aeffect R cranks are always a top min-max pick in my book. Additionally so here since the 24mm steel spindle allows for much bigger bearings in a PF92 bottom bracket than a 30mm spindle would.

Trek Stache Rob Williams NSMB Andrew Major (6)

I'm surprised that Rob isn't running his chainstays in the longest position but the true beauty of sliding drop-outs is being able to experiment and make those setup decisions for yourself. Trek's Stranglehold dropouts are fantastically secure.

Rob's 11-speed Shimano drivetrain mixes a top-end XTR shifter with an XT rear derailleur. It's been my experience that combining an XTR shifter with any level of Shimano derailleur from the most budget-friendly Deore on up makes for top-quality shifting. Once you properly clonk the derailleur a few times, the difference in performance between XTR, XT, SLX, and Deore is basically indiscernible so the shifter is certainly where to invest your upgrade money if you have it.

The Pike replaced the stock Yari and Rob calls it a "great upgrade" because of how much more supple it is comparatively. There's a lot of math contained in any min-max focussed response to that. How would the Pike compare to a Yari with a full service, or a full service and the upgrade to a matching damper, or a full service and a premium damper from Avalanche Racing? Both in terms of total cost and performance. In part it comes down to what Rob could get for the stock Yari and what he paid for the new Pike. It's worth noting that Rob gets an extra 1cm of travel out of his Pike for the same axle-to-crown height as the 120mm Yari that came spec on the 2018 Stache.

Trek Stache Rob Williams NSMB Andrew Major (3)

PNW grips, Magura Trail Sport brakes, and an XTR shifter. All fantastic components. The 11-speed shifter will probably outlast everything else on the bike so at some point it will be amortized into proper min-max status!

Re-embracing PLUS Rubber

Trek didn't do the Stache any favours by making the tire spec fast rolling, superlight-sidewall, rubber that was actually neither that fast rolling or particularly lightweight thanks to the fact it was 29x3". The crazy thing is that Trek did manufacture some excellent less-fat tires in the form of their SE4 and SE2 rubber which had reasonable sidewall support - very close to the version of WTB's 'Light' casing that comes on the 2.8" Vigilante. I think the perfect spec choice for the Stache would have been an SE2 rear with an SE4 front.

The stock rubber - nee Chupacabra, later called XR2 - was not at all confidence-inspiring any time the front brake was applied and couldn't be reliably run with the lower pressures that make the Plus tires great (27+ or 29+) because the sidewalls were made of Kleenex. With the SE2/SE4 combination Trek would have delivered real options since riders in more aggressive locales can happily run that combo with inserts in their rims and they're not that much heavier or slower rolling than the XR2 that anyone riding a Plus bike is really going to care.

Sadly it's a non-starter at this point and why I assume we'll not see a next generation Stache worth getting excited about. Trek is no longer making the SE4 or SE2 tires and now the Bontrager options available to Stache and Full Stache (the dual suspension version) are just the XR2 and XR4. In the wide world of aggressive Plus tires there are decreasing numbers of options. Surly still makes the Dirt Wizard, though inventory issues have been notable, and my favourite, the 2.8" WTB Vigilante has been on and off the chopping block so many times lately I'm a bit nauseous from trying to ride that roller coaster. Schwalbe has fantastic, aggressive, options in good sidewalls for 27+ bikes but that's not getting Rob or any other Stache owners anywhere.

Rob has been running fast 2.6" rubber that's readily available and honestly, I switched to a 2.6" with a CushCore Pro insert on the back of my Plus hardtail as well. I'm running a Bontrager SE4 2.6" and it's a great rear tire but I'd trade it in a heartbeat for a 2.8" or 3.0" SE2 that would add volume, roll faster, and provide surprisingly good braking traction. Actually, I'm right on board with Rob, when it comes to tires on this rig he says "probably a 2.8 is the right place for me."

Trek Stache AndrewM

I loved the Stache once I'd added the longest dropper that would fit, a better front tire, and big brakes. I can't overstate its influence on my love of Plus-sized rubber. Photo: Andrew Major

I've talked to a few riders over the last couple years that picked up used Stache bikes, in good condition, for what seemed like incredibly small sums. And if you're not chasing a modern hardtail geometry experience I think they're very fun bikes. I'd immediately add the cost of a 9point8 SLACK-R angleset, like Rob has installed, and keep in mind that the stock i45 rims are really only going to be happy with Plus-sized rubber which has been a bit tricky to find. For a faster rolling tire with a sidewall that won't split at a moment's notice, Teravail does their Coronado in a 29x2.8" in their 'Durable' casing and the 29x3" Surly Knard is a 60tpi casing with a good reputation for holding up. Neither is particularly light, but you're making the choice to ride 29+ tires. For a more aggressive tire with great braking traction, the folks I know running 29x3" have lately gravitated towards the Surly Dirt Wizard, also in a 60tpi casing, often with something faster-rolling out back. This largely comes down to availability with Surly actually being able to supply their dealers with inventory.

I'm not holding my breath for Trek to bring back some good Bontrager Plus-rubber or to look to their Slash and Remedy, never mind other brands' modern hardtails, for meaningful updates to the Stache that would play to the best parts of riding big rubber. But, it would be awesome if they did. Maybe that ship has sailed aside from however many frames Trek has left in inventory, and the Stache bikes out there being enjoyed right now, but I think if Trek had the will to lead in the category they would find the demand is there to support the product.

Regardless of how dumb that daydream may be, thank you very much to Rob for sharing it. And for sharing his Stache build that was such an excellent locus for writing about one of the most fun, for the sake of fun, bikes that Trek has ever made and certainly one of the most interesting.

Related Stories

Trending on NSMB

Comments

craw
Cr4w
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+6 Vik Banerjee finbarr Tjaard Breeuwer Glenn Bergevin firevsh2o silverbansheebike

Wow the Stache's original geometry really is a snapshot of another time. Incredible that it was just 5 years ago. How much things have changed. It's an interesting reminder that not every bike has to be crazily progressive, that there is room for a range of options. Trek's new bikes are hardly pushing the limit of what's possible and that's great. 

456mm of reach in XL with 420mm chainstays and a 73' STA sound pretty extreme to me now!

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+1 Lu Kz

No doubt. Hence the wish they’d updated the platform (which I’m quite enjoying that other folks share - thanks again Rob!). 

Imagine if they’d just kept selling their other bikes from five years ago with the same geo? They weren’t exactly out in front with their FS bikes either.

Reply

Rlwilliams12
Robert Williams
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+3 Andrew Major Pete Roggeman Velocipedestrian

Thanks Andrew for the excellent write-up and for including my bike in this series! I've been enjoying all the min-max articles and ensuing comments. Good stuff. 

Judging from the comments, it seems Trek (or someone else) would do well to introduce an updated descendent of the Stache. The bike is a bit of an anomaly for a big MFG (sliding drop-outs?!?) There was a moment when they introduced the Stache and the Full Stache that I thought 29+ would really take off - pretty sure I read somewhere that Rockshox made the Yari and other forks 29+ compatible largely because of Trek's commitment to 29+. Alas...

I've also been surprised that Surly and/or Salsa hasn't introduced a modern version of the plus bike. They were both pushing the envelope on plus sized bikes for a while, but the geo of the current Krampus and others is pretty conservative. I had a current generation Krampus right before the Stache. I'm not sure what aspect of the geometry made the difference, but I found the Stache way more fun than the Krampus. 

+1 to the value of the XTR shifter. I actually bought this used from a friend 4-5 years ago! Maybe the only part that has lasted that long. 

Thanks!

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+1 Velocipedestrian

Great detail on the XTR shifter. I do think they actually improve with use.

Thank you for participating Rob! I remain so stoked on the interest in this series. From folks reading and commenting but also people putting their bikes in. 

Here’s hoping for a 29+ comeback. Stooge has a new aggressive 29+ rig coming next year, maybe Surly-Salsa will get inspired to update their take on the bikes a bit? I’d love to believe Trek will, but that’s going to start with tire SKUs if it happens at all.

Reply

Jotegir
Lu Kz
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+2 Andrew Major Pete Roggeman

Ah, the Stache remains one of my all-time favourites. I had two, both in XL. One the same frame/year as above, and the year after in carbon. If it weren't for the elevated stay I'd still have it - but I've discussed that before in the comment section of this website literally every time the bike has since come up - which I gotta be honest Andrew, I think it might be up there on your "most mentioned frames of all time" list excluding bikes you own(ed) - a serious compliment, I think.

I too dreamed of an updated frame. Slightly longer front and rear, slightly shorter seat tube, a bit slacker, and a  bit steeper seat tube angle. And no elevated stay if the back is a bit longer - but nothing huge, you don't want to lose the fun.

I ran mine all over the place. 3.0's front and rear, 2.6's front and rear, 2.6 front, 3.0 rear w/ a longer fork, 2.35/2.4s front and rear, and all kinds of rubber from aggressive to semi slicks. It worked in its own way in every setup. Some descended better, some climbed better, some were well-rounded, but most were absolute clown fiestas in their own way (except the small tires - those were far too serious for a bike like this). 

Maybe one day when I want to add another bike to my burgeoning fleet I'll have to jump down the custom bike route. There really isn't a hardtail descendent from this that captures the spirit of the stache. There's deadly serious XC weapons, seriously aggressive hardtails like the Growler or many a Chromag, or entry-level trail  hardtails that leave a bit to be desired and generally lack build options.  The stache working with a variety of forks, sliding rear dropouts, a huge range of acceptable tire sizes, and even Trek's approval to run it as 27.5+ , 29, or 29+ means that something entirely competent like  a Fluid HT or the updated Roscoe isn't really a worthy successor.  My last custom frame was 5 years ago, so maybe we'll be due in the next couple, right?

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+1 Lu Kz

I really wondered for a while there if Chromag would sell enough Arcturians to warrant doing a Taiwan version. STA a bit steep for my tastes and size specific stays (and their need sliders) would have been rad but I think most folks would have been happy with geometry

No doubt Stache was a special experience. 29+, yes. But more so the re-trial has really informed my Adult-Lego approach to bike reviews. It’s also a fascinating example of how big (boring) companies can make interesting products/experiences if they want to.

Reply

Jotegir
Lu Kz
1 month, 2 weeks ago
0

Somebody important must still really like the project or they woudn't offer it even as a frame only in 2022. Somewhat shocking it's still kicking.

I wonder if there's room for a company like Chromag to come out with a trailish hardtail that just happens to fit 3.0 tires, even if they leave it down in the fine print. Let us nerds have our fun after we deep-dive the spec sheet, but sell completes with something that makes the thing sell in feasible numbers.

Edit: I can't afford an arcturian because I need to budget in the cost of losing water bottles nearly every time I go really quick down a real tech trail on a hardtail into the total cost of the bike.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 2 weeks ago
0

Or they just have that many frames left? The geo is so similar I assume it was tweaked a while back? Just leave them raw at the factory and paint them as model years?

Given the number of current & previous owners - from various places - who say they wish Trek had updated the bike and how much everyone who threw a leg over my tester loved it, I imagine a parallel universe where Trek’s 29x3” tire line includes an SE6 (oh my!) and their Big Stache is a 7” full suspension rig that runs them stock. I think there was an opportunity to really drive big tires forward.

Reply

Jotegir
Lu Kz
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+2 Andrew Major Pete Roggeman

> Or they just have that many frames left? The geo is so similar I assume it was tweaked a while back? Just leave them raw at the factory and paint them as model years?

I think the geometry was changed slightly when the carbon version came out, which followed the alloy after a year or two. I don't recall exactly when the alloy model was tweaked, but it was some time ago. Not sure which you tested. If you're seeing a different geo since then on Trek's website, that's entirely possible too because they changed the way they report bike geometry on their site a little while ago - you got to watch bikes that did not change year over year from like 2019 to 2020 geometry tables get tweaked.

I was curious as I hadn't looked in a while, so I hopped on the dealer site. Turns out they have decent stock of Full Stache as well as carbon and alloy Stache hardtail models, all in quite low numbers. But more interesting, there's dates as far ahead as February 2023 for some that were low/no stock. I can't imagine a company with such a strong forecasting and analytics department would over produce all three of those models, especially after every single one they had sold out for a few (much larger) runs over the main panic of COVID. They've also all stayed the same colour for at least 3 model years at this point.

Maybe you're right, maybe they're overproduced, and maybe they're trickling in because they just warehouse in Asia and paint and send them as needed. But you'd think they would have run out of ONE of the three frame options, at least in a size or two! But no, every single frame style and every single size either has North American stock or frames incoming. Extremely weird behaviour for a big company, especially when I've seen truly discontinued frames that they have lots of go up for some truly obscene dealer pricing. These have had their MSRP reduced, but aren't specifically on sale.

Maybe when the industry is done with its current fad and the next two, people will have forgotten enough of the bad press about plus tires that the big bike companies will give plus tires another kick at the can with a big, big marketing push. It wouldn't be surprising in the slightest.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+1 Lu Kz

One can hope! I think WTB is on the cusp of saving the 2.8" Vigilante (again) and Surly seems to have Dirt Wizards again (again)... RaceFace has i40 ARC rims. There's maybe enough of us Plus-freaks out there to at least keep the niche market going until the MTB industry needs to recycle another fad. 

Maybe I'll get my 3" SE6 after all?!

HAHAHA

craw
Cr4w
1 month, 2 weeks ago
0

Was the Acturian a good seller? Or just a curious experiment?

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 2 weeks ago
0

The fact it’s retired and there was never a Taiwan version probably answers that question.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+3 Lu Kz cheapondirt Tremeer023

That said, @Cr4W It's pretty clear that in addition to Plus tires suffering from some really shitty early examples of compatible rigs (like the narrow-rimmed, Kleenex sidewall, equipped bikes that Specialized had all the sites reviewing) there's also the fact that most folks (including folks with some very strong opinions anyway) never got a chance to ride them, or at least to ride them beyond an over-inflated parking lot test.

I'm positive that ChrisK is/was running CushCore or a similar insert in this setup to hit 15psi with the EXO sidewalls (having ridden the same tire on the Stache and my own rigs) but his Intense bike shot (Pinkbike, 2021) is a case in point I always come back to. Never mind what's winning races (Enduro, DH, XCO, etc), tell me again how Plus tires are only for Joeys?

Back to my Trek SE6 / Full Stache. I really think the potential was there to own this concept.

And even if it only is for Joeys (which I guess makes Karver an ultra f***ing fast World Cup-winning Super-Joey?), that probably covers the vast majority of folks mountain biking. Personally love my full suspension setup with a 2.8" front and 2.6" rear, wish more folks would give it a try while i40 rims, CushCore Plus, and rubber options still exist - your fork probably has enough clearance.

Reply

alex-hoinville
Alex Hoinville
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+1 Velocipedestrian

Oh man, I love the stache. I worked for several summers at a bike shop in the upper Midwest, and basically all of the employees there had a stache in their quiver. The Miami green rigid stache 5 was a particular favorite for the usually low gradient, fast, smooth and often sandy trails we had around. For that kind of xc riding the chupacabra/xr2 in 29x3 was perfect! By the time I got there the rigid stache 5 was no more and I made my own rigid singlespeed stache adjacent bike out of a Kona big unit frame, a Bowie fork, a stache front wheel, and a bunch of my and my friend's spare parts. I could maybe send some pictures and info about that bike in to see if you're interested in min-maxing it, but it is very unapologetically a Midwest bike and I kinda want to keep it that way.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 2 weeks ago
0

That sounds rad! My favourite thing about this min-max series is that it has included a lot of bikes that aren’t ‘typical’ NSMB fair. I love how something about this place - je ne sais quoi - attracts a much broader audience than what one might expect? 

(Probably those Dave Smith, Deniz, and AJ photos of the Shore-to-Sky experience!) 

I still think for the tiny weight hit you folks could have got on board with killing those Xtra Really-Feeble sidewalls in favour of the Super-Excellent versions though. Blame the Midwest for Trek’s choice?!?! Hahaha

Reply

Tjaardbreeuwer
Tjaard Breeuwer
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+3 Pete Roggeman Velocipedestrian Spencer Nelson

As far as attracting readers from other areas:

I first landed here after internet searching for “mtb” and Northshore. Seeing as how I moved to the North Shore of Lake Superior

I stayed for the great photos, in depth articles that are well written and well considered, and the fact that you guys are willing to consider ideas and gear that is current trend, but instead look at it on its own merits.

And for the commenters, who are experienced, and (mostly) polite, offering ideas and experiences without turning negative.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+2 Velocipedestrian Tjaard Breeuwer

I wonder how many other folks found their way here from ‘The North Shore’ of somewhere other than Vancouver?

———

Cheers!

Maybe I’m too much of an insider now to say this objectively, but I also think  community here is great and I think we hold each other to a high enough standard of accountability - both personally and information wise - while honouring differences of opinion to keep it that way. 

At least I hope so. NSMB as an open (not invite only) forum seems to be a bit of an internet rarity in that regard?

Reply

shenzhe
shenzhe
1 month, 1 week ago
+1 Andrew Major

I am definitely not from a "North Shore" (the specific one that's the namesake of this website or otherwise) since I'm from the desert southwest of the US, but I come here for a couple of reasons.

1. I appreciate your (Andrew Major) outlook on bicycles. The idea that a new bike is neat, fancy  bikes are good, but that there's a certain value (monetary and otherwise) in a repairable, lasting bikes, and the new hotness isn't always better than what you're already riding. You tend to focus on that a lot, but the other writers seem to have a some of that view as well.

2. The reviews you all do tend to be for a longer time, and line up better with my view on what makes sense for bike reviews. Specifically, Company A sent us a bike with this build kit. Build kit is neat and cost is reasonable/not for what you get. Now let me change it to suit my riding style, location and part preferences; let's now review the qualities of the frame not the build kit.

3. The community. I appreciate that the authors engage in the article comments. I appreciate that the commenters tend to be polite with each other despite some being much more gravity focused and some, like Alex, living in places where a gravity focus would be a challenging itch to scratch.

4. I also appreciate the (seeming) age of many of the people around here. I'm getting towards 40 and don't recover like I once did, but I still enjoy being dumb in ways consistent with my abilities and non-bicycle commitments (work, family, etc.) and I definitely see some of that reflected around here and not pooh-poohed.

Reply

mikesee
mikesee
1 month, 1 week ago
+1 Spencer Nelson

Respectfully, what made/makes the Stache the cult classic that it is are the short chainstays.  Plow bikes with long rear centers are a dime a dozen, but short, playful, poppy bikes like the Stache really stand apart.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 1 week ago
0

"Plow bikes with long rear centers are a dime a dozen"

It seems to me that the vast majority of hardcore hardtails still have very short stays, especially relative to their very long front centers. Also, 29+ bikes are a rarity. All the examples I see aside from Chromag's (retired) Arcturian are decidedly similar to the Stache. 

Anyway, I can only write about bikes based on my experience where I ride. I spend a lot of time on the Stache and loved the bike - which I think is clear - and it influenced my own experimentations going forward, but I have a lot more fun on my Walt and I think long-and-slack compliments big rubber very well. 

Maybe we could agree that Trek should due two versions of the bike. A Stache and a Stache EX.

Reply

mikesee
mikesee
1 month, 1 week ago
+1 Andrew Major

Maaaaaaan -- I wish that there were enough demand for that to happen.

Reply

SpencerN
Spencer Nelson
1 month, 1 week ago
+1 Andrew Major

Regarding the "second set of bottle bosses on the seat tube" line in the article, mentioned twice... from what I'm seeing in the photos, are there not bosses on the seat tube already?

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 1 week ago
+1 Spencer Nelson

Yes, I should have been more clear / edited that better to say a usable pair of bottle mounts - though for Rob's setup they are clearly usable. 

Because of the way the seat tube bends and where they had to put the bosses if you want to run full-on dropper the bosses actually interfere with dropper post-insertion. I actually found that out the hardway when I broke one of the bosses (which ended up being for the win). 

With a straighter seat tube it would be possible to mount the bosses much lower. 

Here's a photo of my setup with SKS Anywhere Mounts that shows what I'm talking about. The tape is covering where the boss was. 

Reply

SpencerN
Spencer Nelson
1 month, 1 week ago
0

Thanks for the clarification, your above photo does a good job of highlighting it. Point taken regarding the usefulness, I see an inch or so of exposed post on Rob's bike, so I assume even his frame size has still limited his dropper length. I've always been surprised with the advent of droppers that some sort of "external" boss wasn't developed for use on seat tubes.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 1 week ago
+1 Spencer Nelson

I guess so many frames have vertically mounted shocks, or seat tube mounted linkages, that would interfere with a bottle anyway it probably isn't a priority. 

I've been thinking a lot about how small of a frame could fit two water bottles on the downtube if the positioning was really optimized. Maybe using side loading cages, or maybe even going Fidlock specific. I'm working on a piece on it using Wolf Tooth B-Rad mounts that I hope will be interesting. 

For example, I think with my frame even if I had a vertically mounted shock/walking beam setup I could bump the bottles forward enough to clear an inline shock (if not a piggyback) and this is an M/L. 

I'm using a couple of FS bikes for my piece to better illustrate the idea.

Reply

SpencerN
Spencer Nelson
1 month, 1 week ago
+1 Andrew Major

Can't wait to see that piece, I love nerding out with bottle setups. My FS is an XL frame so it fits two 600mL bottles using Lyne Components' Holy Rail angle mount adapter thing. I don't have a photo with bottles loaded, but they're about a cm from any point of contact.

Optic with 2 Bottle Cages

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 1 week ago
+1 Spencer Nelson

That's a neat system! Haven't seen that before. 

Can you use any bottle cages? I guess it has to be side-loading?

SpencerN
Spencer Nelson
1 month, 1 week ago
+1 Andrew Major

It comes with regular plastic cages, but they really should be side load cages . These are the Spec Zee cage, no complaints.

SpencerN
Spencer Nelson
1 month, 1 week ago
+1 Andrew Major

Yup, the base rail is similar to a wolftooth B rad Rail, with slotted nuts you can adjust placement of the Cage / fidlock base. The angled piece has holes only, no slotted adjustment for the bottle that sits closer to vertical.

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 1 week ago
0

Cool, so you could run anything including Fidlock then? 

I only have a Fidlock bottle on my daughter’s bike but it’s been awesome for easy in/out of tight spots.

Bondseye
Kevin Bond
1 month, 2 weeks ago
0

I had a Stache for a season. it was great on the right trail, but could feel a bit vague on some terrain. I ran the sliders all the way back, and looked everywhere for a way to slacken the front end. This was before nine point eight.

No other bike navigated root beds better then a stache. The thing just floats over them. It wouldn’t be my first choice for flow trails, or for anyone who rides to their trails.

Steve over at Hardtail Party in Sedona shares our love of the 29+ platform and designed a Ti version of the frame you just pined for minus the longer chain stays. https://binarybicycles.com/product/maniak-titanium-mtb-frame/

Maybe he’ll send you guys one to review? I was seriously considering a Maniak, but the lack of tire options, and 2023 delivery gave me cold feet.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+1 Kevin Bond

It’s interesting where Steve ended up. Different preferences and sports surfaces I suppose. Nice to see he abandoned T47 for a BSA BB and I agree that 120mm fork travel is perfect for aggressive hardtails.

Geo-wise the bike is very conservative. In terms of achieving a balanced ride ‘between the wheels’ I was particularly surprised by the short chain stays (nice that they’re size specific though) and there is a range with the sliders too. Frankly the static (no sag) 65* HTA is steep. But I’ve only ridden the Sedona area once, so I’m not trying to tell anyone my geo ideas work there.

I think a rider looking at buying one could probably draw a lot of parallels from riding the current Chameleon. That’s not a bad thing  at all - it’s a great all around rig - but not the experience I’m looking for. 

———

If you’re interested, my Stache experience was a kicking off point for me to experiment with 29+, made riding rigid bikes fun again, added capability with huge inserts, and I ended up with my ideal version a couple of years back with my Waltworks V2

Sagged HTA is around 63.5 with a 120mm suspension fork (static at 64 with a rigid) and the stays are 450-470mm for a M/L size. It also satisfies my goal to stay MNA for discretionary purchases when there’s a viable option.

As I mentioned above. The Stache (and indeed no 29+ bike) is going to rail like an XC race bike on float trails or like a Pump/Jump bike at the local park so I say (my opinion) embrace the monster truck factor. Climbs awesome (even on tight trails). And that floating effect you talk about - the more balanced and much longer wheelbase just eventuates it.

The problem is there’s not currently a stock rig that you can evaluate those ideas on. Stooge has a (rigid-specific) 29+ coming that gets closer. But it’s really up to an individual or company to step out a bit.

Reply

Bondseye
Kevin Bond
1 month, 2 weeks ago
0

I agree. The short chain stays on Steve’s Maniak was another reason I didn’t buy one. I think short chain stays probably work on a medium or small frame, but for large and xl frames it just messes up the balance. 

I too chose to go custom. Should have my frame this fall. I didn’t go as slack or long as your Walt Works, but like you said allot of geo preference is terrain dependent.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 2 weeks ago
0

I think there’s a combination of terrain, technique (need to ride a proper long bike a bit to figure it out - no different than buddies in the past who would trail ride their DH bikes really), and temperament (we can adapt to most anything right?) that need to come together.

That said, if I had money I’d love to get a size run on V2’s done (mine is a M/L) and browbeat some folks I know into riding them for a month. Some rigid, some with 120mm forks, some geared, some single-speed but my choice tailored to the individual. I really think it would change some minds. 

———

Who’s doing your build?

Reply

Bondseye
Kevin Bond
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

Manzanita Cycles. Basically a guy in Reno. He uses a blend of tubes which made allot of sense to me. Plus at 6’1” I’m always between Large and XL so off the shelf frames always felt like a compromise.

I had an XL Stache even though Trek suggested I was top end of a Large for example.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 2 weeks ago
0

The work quality looks great in general. Sliders or fixed drops on yours? Colour?

Would be eager to see some photos of your bike when it’s rolling.

Bondseye
Kevin Bond
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

Mine will be fixed at 435mm in the back. It has a tall stack, lowish bb, and 64 degree head angle. Was looking for a trail bike with a 130mm fork. This isn’t intended to replace my Full Suspension rig. 

I went misty copper with fox orange graphics to match my grip 2 34. He’ll do any color you want. Thought about disco moss, but got cold feet.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 2 weeks ago
0

What is ‘Disco Moss’ dare I ask?

As a lover of ‘Cosmic Lilac’ I usually say go bold!

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 2 weeks ago
0

That's a sweet metal-green colour. Thanks!

flattire2
Brian Tuulos
1 month, 2 weeks ago
0

120mm fork perfect for an aggressive hardtail?  Wut?

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 2 weeks ago
0

I’ve had a lot of fun on all my modern hardtails, right up to a dual 29” rig with a 170mm fork - which I loved.

But in terms of maximizing the traction and absorption benefits of suspension AND maintaining aggressive geometry through the travel (a hardtail sags a lot if you’re on the brakes in steep tech terrain) I don’t think you can beat the combination of a slack HTA and a 5”-ish fork setup fairly progressively. You aren’t going any slower and there’s less change in Reach, HTA, and bar height to manage.

Say a 64-63 HTA (sagged 20%) with a 120-140mm fork, and I’d err to the shorter on a 29’er and the longer on a 27” rig.

As with good Plus tire setups (that most folks have sadly never experienced), I think most riders make a lot of assumptions based on what’s available to ride. ‘All’ the proper aggressive off the shelf hardtails are based on 150mm+ forks.

Again, not that those longer travel hard tails aren’t lots of fun. But I think if you took two identically specced rigs with the same sagged geometry, one 160mm forked and one 120mm forked, and had folks ride them both on aggressive terrain (or any terrain, but steep gnar would better illustrate the point) a lot of people would be shocked at the % of riders who’d choose the shorter travel rig after A:B testing.

———

It’s really an impossible thing to explain without test riding. Usually when I try to have the conversation folks bring up the last 120mm bike they rode as proof against concept. E.G.:

my old Honzo was way better way when I bumped it from a 120mm to 140mm+ fork.

Yeah, mine too. It had a static 68 HTA. Imagine it’s a 120mm bike with a sagged 64 HTA. At full bottom out it has the same head angle as your Honzo does unsagged. They’re not comparables geometry wise. 

Anyway, it’s a conversation I’ve had almost as many times as people telling me about how much better their full suspension bike is over my rigid rig because they remember riding trails on their Ritchey in ‘88. At some point I know I’m just tilting at windmills but I’m still tilting anyway.

Reply

velocipedestrian
Velocipedestrian
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

Some of us are listening. I was getting spooked on steeps with 160mm ~65° static on my Moxie. Only a short test ride back since rebuilding it but I don't think I'll regret dropping it to 140mm and swapping King for Works - 2°.

Reply

velocipedestrian
Velocipedestrian
1 month, 1 week ago
+1 Andrew Major

Run out of replies below Andrew, so it goes here.

----------

I suspect the place I'm going to want more travel will actually be more A-C height, with the 27 rear wheel and the Works headset the BB is now 300mm off the floor. I'm feeling cautious about clearance.

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 2 weeks ago
0

I’d be very interested to know if / when you find yourself in a situation where you wish you had more travel back on the HT. 

The recognized sweet spot for aggressive hardtail travel is something I can see changing (along with slacker-yet HTA, relaxing the STA slightly, and longer stays) but always nice to consider counter points.

kos
Kos
1 month, 2 weeks ago
0

I too mourn the passing of the SE2. Fantastic rough course race and dry trail tire. Just the right blend of all traits. I tried to replace them with XR2s but as noted, Kleenex casings.

That Binary Maniak looks spot on, but.......sold out.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+1 Kos

Yeah, when they were deciding to cut SKUs I’m not sure why they decided on the Kleenex casing. The SE casing is fairly similar to the version of the Light casing that WTB uses on Vigilante. I think it’s perfect. Run it empty for weight savings, or for more aggressive riding add a big insert and min-max support, damping, rolling speed, and durability.

Reply

kos
Kos
1 month, 2 weeks ago
0

After poking a stick through one and who knows what through a second, I got a third and final double-puncture on a rock. Two plugs and cartridges later I limped back to the TH on about 12 psi.

Currently rocking a Mezcal, and so far, so good, with a RaRa and Ikon in reserve.

Reply

Vikb
Vik Banerjee
1 month, 2 weeks ago
0

The Stache was one of those bikes I frequently considered, but never quite percolated to the top spot when I was buying a new rig during its heyday. The short CS were one of the features that I liked about that frame. I appreciated Trek packing everything so efficiently to make that happen.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+1 Vik Banerjee

Hahahaha. You and your short chainstays. 

Credit to Trek, their solution for short CS and 29+ is excellent packaging if that’s your thing.

One thing I will say about bikes with sliders is that it would be so easy for companies to offer multiple setups. For example, there are thousands and thousands of Kona frames using the same sliders (Honzo, Unit, etc). Kona could offer a long dropout kit and certainly sell a few units, even just to folks curious to try them.

Reply

snorris
snorris
1 month, 2 weeks ago
0

Hey - that's my bike! 

I was close to selling but put on a higher wider bar and was reminded how much fun it can be.  

I also mostly use 2.6 tires, but still have the stock wheels with 3.0 XR4s for winter. It would be fun to try a 9point8 angleset but the steer tube on the stock Yari is cut too short. The Yari has been great so investing in a new fork hasn't been a priority. 

I'm looking forward to getting far more use out of the bike once the new local pump track opens... but your comments make me think downsizing the tires even more might be a good idea.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 2 weeks ago
0

Versatility of a hardtail! Slack it out, over-fork it and monster truck OR throw on a rigid fork and slicks and repurpose it as a commuter!

Geo aside, it’s crazy how much more fun pump-tracks are with super-fast tires pumped up hard. As much as I’m always trying to own less bikes, if I had a pump track in my neighbourhood I’d have a specific rig for sure. 

Slam those stays, drop that bar, and pump up the Yari! Enjoy.

Reply

snorris
snorris
1 month, 2 weeks ago
0

I have a 2.35 Rekon in the bin that should do the trick, my rear rim is only 30mm inner.  I'll just have to keep an eye out for a cheap front wheel. 3 sets of wheels for my backup/winter bike is entirely reasonable, I do not have a wheel hoarding problem.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 2 weeks ago
0

Hahahaha. Me too! I’m getting better though. Less need to plan for redundancy when you run huge CC inserts and high-end hubs.

Reply

morgan-heater
Morgan Heater
1 month, 1 week ago
0

Hardtails are slow, so they should at least be fun. Therefore, short chainstays are required. 417mm on mine, feels like a DJ bike. Also, 140mm fork is great, with a sagged HTA of 65. Feels amazing! 120mm. Pssshh.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 1 week ago
0

A couple of things.

If not all then most riders I know who've tried their Honzos set up long have preferred them that way - climbing traction, weight balance, cornering. If Kona made a longer dropout option then I'm certain they'd all own a set if only to know how a longer setup feels. 

If you've tried a bunch of different geometry and settled on 417mm stays that's great. The idea that it's more fun is definitely situation-specific. My hardtail is a blast on local trails and has 450-470mm stays. 

As to hardtails being slow, I think optimizing sub-optimal stuff is one of life's simple pleasures. Some folks will say "who cares about whether above or below the bar friction thumb-shifting works better? Just buy an indexed trigger setup!" but I'm going to do me, thanks.

Reply

morgan-heater
Morgan Heater
1 month, 1 week ago
0

I was being facetious, you should of course enjoy your own particular variety of hardtail.

I haven't tried a long chainstay hardtail, but my squishy bike has 455 chainstays and it is much more difficult to manual and mess around on. I really like my significantly less stable hardtail because it makes mellower trails a blast, and riding harder trails with slow friends more social. It also makes it feel like I have some skills on a bike as opposed to just plowing through everything. I really like that my hardtail and my squishy bike are very different.

Reply

mzro
mzro
1 month ago
0

Stache is legendary but it has its quirks. Last winter I was able to buy a M size 2022 frame, which is a tad short but I got used it. I wanted a L size but it wasn't available and M/L has the highest standover of all sizes that doesn't clear for me (my balls are sitting on top tube). Trek seem to have updated geometry a little bit because newer (2021+) frames have 67.8 HTA. Would like to try 9point8 SLACK-R. I'm using 140mm fork and run 29x2.8 Maxxis Reckon tires. For me it's mostly an adventure-oriented trail-worthy hardtail and I use it just to roam in the woods and also for downcountry backpacking. I had a Full Stache previously which I sold and bought updated Fuel Ex instead. Fuel Ex can take 29x2.8 in the rear and with 29x3.0 upfront it feels rather similar to the Full Stache but has improved geometry though chainstays aren't that short and you can feel it - Full Stache is more poppy but Fuel Ex is more stable on downhill, also better climber. For some reason, 29+ Full Stache didn't work that good for me as I trail bike.

Reply

Please log in to leave a comment.