2016 Trek Shremedy 29 – Long Term Review

Words Cam McRae
Photos Dave Smith (unless noted)
Date May 31, 2016

I was an unlikely candidate for the Shremedy; the custom-build Carbon Remedy 29er Trek sent us to test. Before this I haven’t had warm feelings about a single 29 inch-wheeled bicycle. Even some of the best-loved big wheelers – like the Specialized Enduro 29. I wouldn’t say I disliked them but I generally didn’t find riding them as much fun. I also didn’t feel like I could make them descend with the same kind of confidence and speed (a relative term in my case) as their smaller-wheeled brethren.

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The Shremedy has been my companion on rides on all three North Shore mountains and in Talent and Ashland Oregon as you can see here – and it has excelled in every situation.

That’s not the only issue. I didn’t make friends with the Trek Slash we tested last year and I have even had issues with the current Fox 36 (an early version that turned out to have non-production damping). As promising as Kanye reviewing Taylor Swift’s latest. But Imma let you finish…

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If you see a Remedy this colour you can be sure it was purchased frame only. Complete Remedys ship with a 140mm fork but ours has a 150mm Fox 36, Line XXX carbon wheels and Bontrager SE5 Team Issue TLR tires. For more on the spec and where this veers from the stock Remedy 29 models – click here…  Photo – Kaz Yamamura

As noted in the first impressions, this is not a stock Remedy. It’s a Remedy built for the Shore from a frame that isn’t available in complete form. If you missed the first impressions article with details on the build click here. This is a bike that, since its inception, has played on both sides of the border between trail bike and the enduro AM/category, and this build pushes it towards the latter. The first Remedy, released in 2008, had 150mm of rear travel and 160 up front. The release of the Scratch for 2010 forced Trek to reposition the Remedy and it lost weight with spec choices like a Fox 32 (in the days before the Pike) while dropping to 150mm travel up front.

I didn’t expect the Shremedy to be completely game for steep and challenging terrain.

Now the Remedy has settled at 140mm travel front and rear for both 27.5 and 29er models. On paper this had me wondering why. Around here many of us ride everything on 160mm travel bikes put on a diet. North Shore XC involves descents that are worthy of a DH bike and I wasn’t sure anything under 6” of travel would be up to the task. But I had reason for optimism. Unlike some other teams, it seems that Trek’s Enduro athletes, Justin Leov in 2015 and Tracy Moseley, Casey Brown and Dan Atherton in 2016, are able to choose whatever bike they think is fastest – and they keep choosing the Remedy 29 with a burlier fork.

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This bike is charmed. I can’t remember a tester that worked so flawlessly. The Fox 36 has been perfect ever since it came out of the box and the Guide brakes (aside from two overheating issues) and X1 drivetrain haven’t had a single hiccup.

I assumed I’d be choosing my rides to suit the bike. At first, when I knew I was going to be riding something steep and rough, I grabbed my Giant Reign. Most rides in our region involve at least a few rowdy sections though and I began to notice that the Shremedy was good to go. Soon I parked the Reign for the duration of the test.

Freeridable | Cam Mcrae - Mount Seymour, BC

The Shremedy encouraged me to get off the ground on occasion.

Some of the qualities I appreciate about the Shremedy are big wheel attributes. It rolls over obstacles well, both up and down, and carries speed admirably. In singletrack climbing situations the Remedy has renewed my confidence. Short pitches I normally bat about .500 on have become almost automatic. Traction is excellent and support from the Fox Float EVOL RE:aktiv is remarkable. I sometimes enabled the climb switch but I never felt it necessary. Low speed compression does the job when grinding up a fireroad or battling up some angry rootfest. This bike is a world class climber.

There are times when I’m reaching for another gear but realizing I’m already bottomed out at 32×42. That’s happening less as my fitness slowly takes shape but I’d still think I’d opt for a 30 to turn these big wheels if this was my personal machine – or bounce up to an e13 9-44.

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With our slightly heavier build (28.92 lbs with pedals) this was an excellent climber. Some lighter wheels and tires would make it a rocket.

Going down the Shremedy loves undulating terrain. The suspension gives you just enough compliance to preserve speed while providing excellent support so you can pump and accelerate. A bigger surprise was how well the bike handled some of the very nastiest trails on the North Shore. I rode the Shremedy on Cypress on full Dh lines and on most of the rowdiest trails on Fromme and Seymour and never felt undergunned. In fact I had days when I felt invincible.

The Fox Float EVOL RE:aktiv is a remarkable piece of engineering. Engaging the climb switch was entirely optional because of the low speed compression damping. The RE:aktiv was co-developed with Penske Racing.

Some of the credit for the excellent performance of this bike goes to the spec. The tires in particular saved my bacon more than a few times. Once I got my front wheel above a berm without any downforce. I was already prepared to hit the dirt when it miraculously hooked up. Such was my predicament that the shock of remaining upright almost caused me to crash. These skins are traction monsters. They seem to roll pretty well to me but I’m always more concerned about good bite braking, climbing and cornering and the SE5 Team Issue TLR tires deliver as well as my other favourites (E13’s new rubber has a little more bite and Maxxis’ DHR IIs are very similar).

SE5 Team Issue TLR tires serve up an aggressive tread and they are apparently nice and light. We haven't peeled them off to weigh them yet. MSRP = US $74.99/ Canada $92.99 / AUS $110.00 / £44.99 / €52.99." src="/media/original_images/TrekShremedy_NSMB_KazYamamura-16.jpgw1600" alt="TrekShremedy_NSMB_KazYamamura-16" data-recalc-dims="1" />

The SE5 Team Issue TLR tires were a highlight and they weigh in at about 1000g in a 29 x 2.3 size. MSRP = US $74.99/ Canada $92.99 / AUS $110.00 / £44.99 / €52.99. Photo – Kaz Yamamura

The 35mm diameter bar and stem come from Bontrager’s Line Pro range, and the nice short 50mm stem mated to the monstrous 820mm bar were perfectly to my liking. I kept thinking I’d cut down the bars, having never ridden anything wider than 800 before, but I loved these apehangers. It seems that the huge bars helped make the bike feel manageable in tight terrain.

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I’m not a broad shouldered specimen but, aside from clipping a few trees, I really liked these bars uncut at 820mm. The Line Pro Carbon is a new 35mm bar from Bontrager. This is the 15mm rise version. Photo – Cam McRae

I’ve heard other reviewers complain about wheel flex on the Remedy 29 but I was on a new set of Bontrager Line XXX wheels and they were great. I’m not the sort of rider who tears the rubber off tires cornering but our terrain tests flex in other ways – like when you need to tip into a steep section while turning – and I had no issues at all. Strong, light (relatively) and fast. And expensive. The Line XXX rims are made in Wisconsin (with DT spokes and hubs) and they will set you back US$2500. I can only speak to a few months of durability but I bottomed out hard enough to flat the rear tire without blemishing the carbonium. Re-setting the tubeless was also trouble free.

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The Line Pro 50mm stem with a 35mm clamp diameter. The short stem/wide bar combo felt bang on. Photo – Cam McRae

I was surprised at how agile the Shremedy felt. Slow speed trails with tight switchbacks were no issue despite the big hoops and not-terribly-short 445 mm chainstays. The bike was happy to get off the ground and up on the rear wheel and was generally accommodating in most situations. One thing I found was that it was difficult to suck up drops or lips for some reason. I often found myself going a little bigger than I’d hoped but without calamity.

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The Fox Float EVOL RE:aktiv is one element that makes this bike ride so well.

Cornering has always been a complaint for me with 29ers. It’s much more difficult to angle the bike lower than your body to get that jet fighter feeling. I don’t feel like the Shremedy is slower in the corners – it’s just a different feel; less bike angle and the feeling that you are riding within the bike rather than hovering above it. I’m used to it now but changing from one line to another seemed to take a little more effort than on a 27.5, but now that I’m up to speed it’s not a problem in the least.

It’s tough to lean a 29er over as far as smaller-wheeled bikes – but the Shremedy tracks beautifully when things get curvy.

Subtle inputs are not the key to unlocking this bike. It appreciates being handled roughly and responds to clear body english. Throw your hips into the corner, get your elbows out and press your chin to the stem; the Shremedy likes to play rough. Unlike other 29ers I’ve ridden the Remedy can get playful, wheelie, bunny hop, transfer and manual with a little more effort (for short distances – I’m not Wyn Masters). It feels planted without feeling glued to the ground.

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The Line XXX Carbon wheelset is new from Bontrager. The made-in-Wisconsin rims are paired with DT Swiss 240 hubs and spokes and Alpina locking head nipples. The wheels will set you back US$2500 or so. The Remedy has Boost 110/148 spacing and the wheels weigh a claimed 1625 a pair without rim strips or valves and internal width measures 29mm.

I found that the Shremedy allowed me to get lazy about set up. I rode a few times with less than ideal pressure in the suspension and/or tires and it still rode just fine. Many high performance bikes are correspondingly high maintenance and the fine tuning takes some time. Unquestionably the bike performed better when I hit the sweet spot, but it suffered surprisingly little when I didn’t.

A little old school on my last ride before publishing this review. I hadn’t ridden this trail in years and it was amazing. Video – Mike Wallace.

Not all the numbers on this bike would lead you to believe it performs as well as it does. With the slightly longer fork the BB height measures 358mm in the low setting, the only setting I used. The head angle measures 67 degrees with the 150mm fork and the chainstays are 443mm.  In contrast, the very-well-received Evil Wreckoning has a 65.5 degree head angle, 430mm chainstays and a 339mm bottom bracket. But the numbers don’t always tell the whole story and with rubber on the dirt there was little to argue about. I occasionally found the bike a little tall and tippy in some particular circumstances, like riding an old school skinny (this is the Shore after all) or creeping into steep line. Lower would be nice but otherwise the BB height wasn’t an issue.

It's friday somewhere - 1/15 & F20 | Cam Mcrae, Mount Seymour, BC

The Shremedy is fast. And fast is fun.

To build a bike like this you could start by buying it frame only. You can select it in 27.5 or 29, for US $3299, CAN $4099, £2,400, or €3,199 and add the wheels for US$2500 but things are getting pricy. A more frugal approach would be to buy the bike as a complete. The Remedy 9.8, retails for US$5499 and you could swap for a 150mm travel fork and be in business. Other Remedys start at US$3499 – and, now that Trek is selling direct to consumer, you can buy one for yourself online.

This is a bike that calls me to ride. And it calls me to ride everything. Dh trails? Bike park? Long XC? Bermy flow? Yup. A long road ride to get back to civilization doesn’t even deter me because the Remedy 29 pedals and rolls so well – even with meaty rubber. Clearly there are riding areas where this bike with this spec would be overkill, but for the Pacific Northwest this bike is a fantastic all-rounder. If someone invited me on a riding trip to an undisclosed location somewhere on the globe, the Shremedy would be my pick. I’d pack a lighter set of tires just in case and zip up my travel case without reservation. I’m going to throw down and call the Shremedy the best do anything bike (with burly capabilities) I’ve ever saddled up.

If you missed our first impressions piece -with more details of the bike spec – click here… To check out all the Remedy models and compare spec and geometry click here…


Do you think Trek should spec a bike like this?

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Comments

lfk
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LFK  - June 6, 2016, 6:07 p.m.

Just a heads up to everyone looking to get in on this bike, the Fox 36 on the Remedy 9.8 can be raised to either 150mm or 160mm without any extra parts.

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gade
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Gade  - June 2, 2016, 10:05 p.m.

Good review - is that BB measurement accurate? " With the slightly longer fork the BB height measures 358mm in the low setting" ? That is really, really high, and a deal breaker for a lot of riders.

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cam@nsmb.com
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Cam McRae  - June 6, 2016, 7:53 a.m.

That was as measured Gade. Unloaded obviously and static geo numbers are only good for so much. For the most part this was never an issue for me - and recall that the bike wasn't designed around a 150mm fork. With a 140mm fork the high position measures 359 and the low is 350 (Trek's numbers). Would I like to see the bike get lower in the future, and be designed around a 150mm fork? I would. There are likely some bikes on the horizon from Trek so perhaps one of them would move the bb in the direction you and I would like to see. I'd recommend riding the bike to see what you think either way. Cheers!

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steve-low
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steve low  - June 1, 2016, 4:33 p.m.

Hey Cam great review. Thankyou. My current bikes are a cotic 27.5 bFe hardtail to get rowdy on and i also ride an Avanti competitor team 29er carbon hardtail with race geo, full xtr and dt wheels. The 29er constantly amazes me as to how fast it is not only in xc mode but mild trail mode too. The bigger wheels roll over stuff so much more than the cotics 27.5 do. Only when it gets really steep does the cotic have an advantage and thats only down to the geo. Now both bikes are hardtails so it is a subjective comparison of the wheel size and geo. As a result im quite sold on the idea of a 29er full sus with rowdy geo. Cam you seem to be a convert to the bigger wheel also. Im now looking at one of three bikes. Transition smuggler. Evil following. YT jeffsy. Any feedback from readers on these bikes to help me make my decision would be appreciated! ? Many thanks all ☺

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cam@nsmb.com
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Cam McRae  - June 6, 2016, 7:53 a.m.

I haven't ridden any of those yet Steve. Not sure I'm a convert completely. More research is needed!

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morgan-taylor
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Morgan Taylor  - June 1, 2016, 6:41 a.m.

Do you feel like your switch to clipless helped make riding this bike a more positive experience?

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cam@nsmb.com
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Cam McRae  - June 1, 2016, 10:26 a.m.

Interesting question Morgan. It honestly feels like so long since I made the switch that it's hard to evaluate that. Would larger wheels be tougher to handle without being clipped in? Perhaps but I can't say for sure. I don't feel like flats would impede my enjoyment of the bike now that I'm up to speed on it but I can't say for sure.

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jonas-dodd
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Jonas Dodd  - June 1, 2016, 6:07 a.m.

I was surprised to see the seat tube angle at 68º. Considering that many companies are currently using STAs somewhere between 73º and 75º, it would seem that Trek's choice would result in a poor climber. Interesting that you found it to be the opposite! Any thoughts as to how it avoids this?

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Vikb
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Vik Banerjee  - June 1, 2016, 8 a.m.

Personally I climb and pedal better on slack STA bikes. I'm looking for a setback dropper to help me fit onto the steep STA bikes that are becoming all the rage. That steep STA just doesn't work for me unless the climbing is super duper steep and seated…in those cases I slide forward on my saddle for 10 or 20 seconds that seems to last for and then go back to my normal riding position.

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boomforeal
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boomforeal  - June 1, 2016, 9:09 a.m.

effective STA's listed in geometry charts (which is what "many other companies" list/you are referring to) for everything but rigid bikes with straight seat tubes that extend directly from the bottom bracket, are all made up numbers

kudos to trek for acknowledging this and posting what i imagine is a real STA figure. the effective STA will be steeper than 68*. how much steeper? depends on the size of the frame, how high you run your saddle, how much sag you are running, how much offset their is on your post/clamp, etc.

just like on every other bike, regardless of the fantasy number listed in their geo charts

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drewm
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DrewM  - June 1, 2016, 10:29 a.m.

Great explanation Omar.

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cam@nsmb.com
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Cam McRae  - June 1, 2016, 10:29 a.m.

No issue for me - and I have a lot of post showing as you can see by the photos. It feels very balanced and traction is excellent. Last night I rallied up a section that I have always found challenging. I actually had momentum at the top for the first time ever. And that was at the end of a long ride.

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tehllama42
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Tehllama42  - June 2, 2016, 12:13 p.m.

Sometimes those brutally tough climbs are higher success rate when I'm knackered - because I don't have the energy to apply poor technique so I wind up confused at just how I found myself at the top, but it's really just that I haven't overthought it or focused on a deceptive easy-looking line, and I just pedal up letting the bike actually do its job - but I have zero doubt that the bike is as helpful as any two-wheeled object can be for that type of thing.
I really am convinced that a 5.5″ rear travel and 150-160mm forked 29er is probably the closest thing to an ideal all-around bike for riders taller than 5'8″ if kept reasonably light, suspended on quality stuff, and shod with the right wheels/tires.

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cam@nsmb.com
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Cam McRae  - June 6, 2016, 7:54 a.m.

Good points!

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