Trek Stache 9

The Plus Wars are heating up to be a pitched battle, and the two sides are choosing between a 27.5″ based Plus tire or a 29″ based Plus tire. How all that will turn out is yet to be determined, although I have some thoughts about it here, but in the mean time we have been recently riding around on a Trek Stache 9, one of the bikes that is being built around the 29″ x 3.0″ tire.  It’s a big thing, that wheel/tire combo, ending up at around 31″ tall and looks fairly impressive when seen from the saddle.

You remember how it was when manufacturers struggled to make 29ers not feel like river barges when they were ridden on tight trails? The tweaking and packaging, especially on full suspension bikes, took a bit to refine things to where now a modern 29er is a pretty well rounded, agile bike.

But there were some real challenges for anyone who wanted to push that envelope a bit farther, such as bringing 150mms of front and rear travel to a 29er.  Lenzsport did it, BMC did it, and Specialized did it even better, in that you could buy an Enduro 29er right off the showroom floor without dealing with the niche brand or custom builder scene.  But getting that big wheel to work in a tight handling, long travel combo took some real nose wiggling and out-of-the-box thinking.  However, the results were worth it and the Specialized Enduro won accolades across media and customers alike.  The Lenzsport bikes also have a very loyal following, especially for technical, all day riding.

So when 29+, that being a mid-fat sized 3.0″ tire on a 29er wheel…when that happened with the Surly Krampus, a steel, rigid platform, many folks were pretty stoked.  Near fat bike tire width and volume but with less weight…rollability that is off the hook and only bested by the 36er guys (all 6 of them), a normal Q factor…well it looked like an adventurer’s dream bike choice and it was embraced mainly by bikepackers and folks who admired what the big wheels did for a rigid hardtail bike.  Tire and rim choices sucked and there were no suspension forks that were just a bolt on, made for 29+ deal. But despite that, many riders found they could ride it at near FS bike speeds on technical trails.

But many folks who bought those early 29+ bikes also found them to be slow-ish overall,  less than nimble, and heavy.  They found out that there are some things about the entire 29+ package that was not for everyone.  Think a 29er is hard to fit to a smaller person?  Just wait till they try a 29+.  Bring a ladder.

The Trek Stache 9 is a unique bike and looks the part.

The Trek Stache 9 is a unique bike and looks the part.

So when Trek announced that the Stache 29er, a bike that still is my favorite hardtail we have ever tested, was morphing into a 29+ bike that would also run standard 29er wheels or 27.5+, it was a surprise, but how they pulled it all together is remarkable.

Let’s take a look.

“Stache is an all-new species of 29+ mountain bike performance. The wide 3″ tires grip relentlessly, amplifying all the benefits of 29ers, while remarkably short chainstays deliver a fun, lively ride.”

What began as an in-house project to see what the limits were for big wheels and short chainstays ended up as the bike you see here and it is a remarkable example of finding workable solutions to thorny problems.

  • Midstay – The Stache uses a drive side only elevated chainstay that leaves room for chainrings and big tires to play well together.  To get back the frame stiffness that might be lost from this Midstay approach, a wide PF92 BB shell is used, a forged piece or artwork that has to be seen to be appreciated.  It even is milled flat on the tire side to eek out a bit more room for the tire.

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  • Stranglehold – The robust sliding dropouts allow for a range of chainstay length…420mm to 405mm, depending on the wheel/tire combo.  Remember you can run wheels other than 29″ on here. 420mm’s is 16.5″ and that is with a 29+ tire!

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  • 1X only –  It is a dedicated 1x drivetrain bike.  I guess even Trek could not figure out how to accomdate 2x or maybe they just did not care to and more than likely most buyers will not mind.
  • Boost – Yes, Boost is here big time and that is another requirement to get a practical Plus bike to happen.  Thru axles at each end of course.  In case you are new to this Boost deal, it is the new hub width standard that gives you a 148mm rear width and a 110mm front width, providing a chainline that sits, IIRC, 3mm further out.
  • Alpha frame –  Trek uses their Alpha aluminum technology to shape the striking looking Stache 9 frame.

There are three 29+ Stache models and one frameset.  There is the top of the line Stache 9 we have here with a good, solid spec.

Colors – Matte Trek Black

Frame – Alpha Platinum Aluminum, E2 tapered head tube, internal derailleur & dropper post routing, PF 92, Midstay, Boost148, Stranglehold dropouts, G2 Geometry

Front suspension – Manitou Magnum 34 Pro, air spring, E2 tapered steerer, Boost110, G2 Geometry w/51mm offset, 110mm travel

Sizes – 15.5, 17.5, 18.5, 19.5, 21.5″

Front Hub – DT Swiss 350 centerlock disc, Boost110

Rear Hub – DT Swiss 350 centerlock disc, Boost148

Rims – SUNringlé Mulefüt 50mm 32-hole w/cutouts

Tires – Bontrager Chupacabra, Tubeless Ready, aramid bead, 29×3.0″

Shifters – SRAM X1, 11 speed

Rear derailleur – SRAM X1, Type 2

Crank – SRAM X1 1400, 30T X-Sync

Cassette – SRAM XG-1175, 10-42, 11 speed

Chain – SRAM PC 1130

Saddle – Bontrager Evoke RXL, hollow Ti rails

Seatpost – KS eThirty Integra, remote lever, 2-bolt head, 31.6mm, zero offset, internal routing

Handlebar – Bontrager Rhythm Pro, OCLV Carbon, 31.8mm, 15mm rise

Stem – Bontrager Rhythm Pro, 31.8mm, 7 degree

Headset – FSA IS-2, E2, sealed alloy cartridge

Brakeset – Shimano Deore XT hydraulic disc

Grips – Bontrager Race Lite, lock-on

Beyond that is the Stache 7 with no dropper post and a bit simpler Manitou fork (but the frame is a sweet purple color) and the Stache 5 with a rigid carbon fork and an odd Shimano 1×10 spec with an 11-36 rear cassette.  That gives you no 10T cog AND no 42T cog.

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We have the 21″ frame size which feels roomy for my 6’2″ frame and should fit big JeffJ if we use a 29+ shoehorn!  I weighed it stock at 27.5lbs, more or less, so that is quite good.  Pedaling it around showed a surprisingly agile bike, very un-Fat Bike like, and getting the front wheel up is dead simple.  It rolls out well too, not feeling too sluggish at all.

We are on trail with it now, so stay tuned as we see what is what with this bike.

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Note: The Trek bicycle shown here was sent for test/review at no charge to Twenty Nine Inches. We are not being paid nor bribed for this review and we will strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.