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Trek Procaliber 9.8 SL

BloggingFitBloggingFit Posts: 919
edited January 2016 in Your mountain bikes
This Carbon beast caught my eye earlier in the year when it's release was announced and after toying with the idea of road bikes and CX bikes I decided the Procaliber would be my choice for Winter riding between road and more hardy trails as well as a commuter once the weather picks up next year. My criteria were essentially for the frame to be Carbon and the wheel size 29".

I looked into Canyon as the quality of spec for the money is hard to ignore but the frames are mediocre and the shipping times unpredictable at best. The Superfly was the other main contender and would have been my choice if the wait on the Procaliber was too long. The attraction of the Procaliber is in the frame with a flexible internal cable routing system and the Iso Speed decoupled taken from the Domaine road bike which gives 11mm of give or cushioning in the frame to help eliminate trail buzz, aiding comfort and reducing fatigue. For the type of riding I am looking to do wi the bike this seemed like a good investment but it doesn't come cheap. Fortunately I got mine at a cost similar to the Canyon option I had looked at so it was a no brainer.

I was also fortunate enough to get the 9.8 version in Matt Black which isn't openly advertised for the UK market as an option to the Trek Baby Blue racing colours.

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Spec wise is fairly decent off the shelf. SRAM X1 Drive train which shifts very well and runs very quietly. Brakes are the M8000 XT versions which are fantastic from my experience on the Aeris and I was pleased these got put on rather than last years XT brakes which some of the first 2016 bikes ended up with. Wheels are DTSwiss 1700 with Bontrager XR1 Team Issue Tyres which are truly an XC tyre and had me worried about riding on anything other than hardpack. The Fork is a Rockshox SID RL which is completely new to me with the remote lever being something I wasn't overly keen on having. Everything else is from Bontrager and the only change form stock is fitting a Reverb Stealth Dropper and running one of my Bontrager Carbon saddles.

Weight wise these come in just over 10kg stock so I imagine with pedals and Reverb it's closer to 11kg.

After getting the Reverb installed, doing a tubeless conversion and having to straighten up a bent mech hangar (thanks goes to Ben at Bird for some workshop and vice usage), I got out for a first ride on it today. Rather than taking it over Swinley, which would be fairly obvious as to how it would perform, I figured the mud and slop of Deepcut and Tunnel Hill MoD would be a far better option to suss the bike out.

So let's get the obvious stuff performance wise out of the way first. This bike is fast. Show it anything smooth and flat and it goes with instant drive forwards with each pedal stroke. There is no wasted energy here. Climbing is excellent.

The less obvious stuff let me with three big things that surprised me; this bike can descend pretty well, the XC tyres grip very well, even in mud and loose conditions, and this bike is really fun to ride. Technical single track is fun with the bike very precise to riding input and no cumbersome feeling that 29ers are meant to exhibit. Going downhill it really picks up speed. The SID fork may only run 100mm travel but it it felt like there was more travel available and running out was not something I constantly worrying about.

So what of the Iso Speed Decoupler? Does it work? Yes, it does but not in an obvious way. These is a subtle reduction of trail buzz certainly and you may notice a slight soft sensation in the rear if you stamp down hard on the pedals while seated. It will probably bed in a little more after a few more rides so will so it I notice it more.

Overall I'm really impressed and slightly surprised with how capable this bike is for an XC racer as well as being fun to ride rather than being a bit surgical and boring.
Bird Aeris : Trek Remedy 9.9 29er : Trek Procaliber 9.8 SL

Posts

  • Looks expensive.

    And fast.

    Like.
  • njee20njee20 Posts: 9,613
    Interesting choice for a commuter... I was playing with a 9.9 the other day. Nice bikes (RS-1 aside on that one), contemplated swapping my Superfly, but not sure it brings anything truly revolutionary.
  • Interesting choice for a commuter... I was playing with a 9.9 the other day. Nice bikes (RS-1 aside on that one), contemplated swapping my Superfly, but not sure it brings anything truly revolutionary.
    My commute includes 10miles off road if I want it so that's my excuse. No, not that revolutionary but meant to be a fair improvement in terms of ride over the superfly and the internal cabling is good to have - the under BB routing always annoyed me. Did you have a look at the Top Fuel yet?
    Bird Aeris : Trek Remedy 9.9 29er : Trek Procaliber 9.8 SL
  • mrtnmrtn Posts: 24
    Nice bike and thanks for the write-up. Can you specify what do you mean when you say that Canyon frames are mediocre? I'm looking for a first HT, so this is of genuine interest to me. For example, why is this Trek frame better than a carbon HT from Canyon (aside the iso speed decoupler, which may be a matter of personal taste)? Is it because of geometry, material or something else? What is your criteria to assess a goodness of a HT frame?
    Thanks in advance.
  • njee20njee20 Posts: 9,613
    Interesting choice for a commuter... I was playing with a 9.9 the other day. Nice bikes (RS-1 aside on that one), contemplated swapping my Superfly, but not sure it brings anything truly revolutionary.
    My commute includes 10miles off road if I want it so that's my excuse. No, not that revolutionary but meant to be a fair improvement in terms of ride over the superfly and the internal cabling is good to have - the under BB routing always annoyed me. Did you have a look at the Top Fuel yet?

    The lighter Superflys had internal routing anyway, but yes, cleaner for sure. Not seen a Top Fuel, be interested to look at one though.

    Yours looks good anyway, be interested to hear how you get on with it.
  • Nice bike and thanks for the write-up. Can you specify what do you mean when you say that Canyon frames are mediocre? I'm looking for a first HT, so this is of genuine interest to me. For example, why is this Trek frame better than a carbon HT from Canyon (aside the iso speed decoupler, which may be a matter of personal taste)? Is it because of geometry, material or something else? What is your criteria to assess a goodness of a HT frame?
    Thanks in advance.
    Pretty generic Carbon HT frame that's using a cheaper Carbon. There's nothing wrong with them as such and they are good value as a complete package but you could no doubt source an almost identical Chinese Carbon frame and build yourself at a similar cost. The sizing and geometry doesn't work as well for me while the build and finish on the trek is very good but then it comes at a greater cost so to be expected and while they are made in Taiwan the material and manufacturing would be the same quality as if it were US as per a few years ago. If anything that's probably improved.
    Bird Aeris : Trek Remedy 9.9 29er : Trek Procaliber 9.8 SL
  • Interesting choice for a commuter... I was playing with a 9.9 the other day. Nice bikes (RS-1 aside on that one), contemplated swapping my Superfly, but not sure it brings anything truly revolutionary.
    My commute includes 10miles off road if I want it so that's my excuse. No, not that revolutionary but meant to be a fair improvement in terms of ride over the superfly and the internal cabling is good to have - the under BB routing always annoyed me. Did you have a look at the Top Fuel yet?

    The lighter Superflys had internal routing anyway, but yes, cleaner for sure. Not seen a Top Fuel, be interested to look at one though.

    Yours looks good anyway, be interested to hear how you get on with it.

    Not seen an SL models released this year which is a shame. Was tempted by a Top Fuel as could have got one for a few £100 extra but stuck to getting a Hardtail and so far happy with the choice.
    Bird Aeris : Trek Remedy 9.9 29er : Trek Procaliber 9.8 SL
  • A few rides on the bike now and still enjoying it. Noticing the decoupler more now taking some of the trail buzz away giving some extra comfort to the ride quality.

    Popped a 50mm Spank Oozy stem to try out over winter to sharpen the front end up even more which has worked out pretty well and cosmetically is a big improvement over the stock Bontrager stem. I find on very steep climbs the pat my hands could do with being a little further towards so I have to pull myself a touch more forwards to balance body weight but it's not a hinderance just more of a conscious effort to do so. When I start commuting and conditions get faster again I shall probably put the 80mm stem back on.

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    Bird Aeris : Trek Remedy 9.9 29er : Trek Procaliber 9.8 SL
  • njee20njee20 Posts: 9,613
    I'd have thought it would feel downright odd with a 50mm stem.

    Doing the Brass Monkeys race over that way next weekend?
  • I'd have thought it would feel downright odd with a 50mm stem.

    Doing the Brass Monkeys race over that way next weekend?
    Strangely not and as offerings from Trek go, this one seems to ebb more on the playful side. It is a zero ride compared to the stock 7 degree so weight is still over the front plus I tend to sit more on the nose of the saddle through a ride, regardless of reach, so may be factors as to why I'm getting away with it. Seems to work so...

    Frith Hill next weekend, yes, so I will avoid the area as my favourite trails will be ruined for the next few weeks after where Gorrick always decide to turn them into uphill sections of their courses. Photo was over the canal past Tunnel Hill and near the bomb hole if you're familiar but all looks the same terrain.
    Bird Aeris : Trek Remedy 9.9 29er : Trek Procaliber 9.8 SL
  • Played around with stem length a little more and have settled on a 75mm Spank Oozy. Moved the saddle forwards by 10mm which has given me a better pedal position now. Minor adjustments but the bike feels bang on.
    Bird Aeris : Trek Remedy 9.9 29er : Trek Procaliber 9.8 SL
  • mikeyj28mikeyj28 Posts: 991
    Played around with stem length a little more and have settled on a 75mm Spank Oozy. Moved the saddle forwards by 10mm which has given me a better pedal position now. Minor adjustments but the bike feels bang on.
    How have you found the bike since the adjustments? I'm guessing you have put some miles on since you last posted. Would you change anything further or you're happy?
    Great bike by the way. I like it and also like how there is at least 1 XC hardtail up on the pics section.
    Constantly trying to upgrade my parts.It is a long road ahead as things are so expensive for little gain. n+1 is always the principle in my mind.
  • Played around with stem length a little more and have settled on a 75mm Spank Oozy. Moved the saddle forwards by 10mm which has given me a better pedal position now. Minor adjustments but the bike feels bang on.
    How have you found the bike since the adjustments? I'm guessing you have put some miles on since you last posted. Would you change anything further or you're happy?
    Great bike by the way. I like it and also like how there is at least 1 XC hardtail up on the pics section.
    Find it spot on now. Done a mix of 40 mile road ride and some off road night rides in the slop and have found it comfortable in both sets of circumstances.

    The only change I might make is to build up a lighter set of wheels for the summer with some lighter, faster rolling tyres and keep the stock set for winter rides. Happy enough with the stock setup as it is though. Had thoughts about making this bike super light by swapping out some other components but to be honest the bike is pretty light as it is and I can't see much performance gain to be had past ta wheel upgrade.

    I was concerned the 32t chainring up front would be a little small but with the 10t cog on the rear, I've only spun it out on the road a couple of times now.
    Bird Aeris : Trek Remedy 9.9 29er : Trek Procaliber 9.8 SL
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