by Rosie Bowker
It all started with me wondering “What would my ideal full suspension mountain bike look like?” I’ve been riding various mountain bikes on the 7 Stanes trails for over 12 years and over the last 4 years ridden several Trek Women Specific Design (WSD) trail bikes. So I was interested to see what the guys at Criterium Cycles could come up with. And this is what they built for me – the new 2017 Trek Remedy 8 WSD Criterium Special Edition.
First, I’m sure you’ll agree, it looks fantastic. I admit to choosing the saddle primarily on aesthetics. Notwithstanding that, it is a comfortable women’s specific MTB saddle and works well. The green bar grips finish the bike’s look off and are an excellent addition. I was really keen to get out and ride as soon as possible and test it on the well-known trails in Scotland, our home area.
The technical description of the Remedy is ‘A modern trail bike, with geometry that is lower, slacker and longer. Responsive suspension incorporates Trek’s Active Brake Pivot (ABP) and Re:Aktiv suspension technology. This translates for me out on the trail as the fastest most confidence inspiring bike I’ve ever ridden. With an abundance of ‘get out of jail free cards’ It really is an amazing frame; light, stiff and strong. The lower bottom bracket and slacker head angle means I constantly feel ‘in the bike’ and grounded, rather than perched on the bike.
The 150mm of plush suspension is all I’m ever going to need. The option of having three modes on the rear shock ensures the bike can cope with any terrain. There’s a firm platform to climb, a compliant platform for undulating terrain, and a fully open mode that is super plush on the technical descents. This is great to have and utilise for a huge variety of trail and natural riding. If you fancy a blue trail and a bit of red, then stick it in the middle mode and forget about it.
I do have a tendency to be overly cautious and am often on the brakes a little more than needed. However, the Re:Aktiv suspension technology and ABP frame technology compensates for this. It gives me effective suspension even under braking. The combination of great brakes and the upgraded rotors and pads mean I can feather the brakes more intuitively and am less likely to pull them right on and lose my momentum.
The reason for changing the brake rotors (or discs) and the pads is because this is an often overlooked but very cost effective method of upgrading brakes. In this case I have retained the standard brake levers and calipers but installed Shimano XT Ice Tech rotors and replaced the standard resin brake pads for sintered ones. The result is incredible. Not only is the outright stopping power improved, but so is the overall feel from the initial bite right through to a full on stop.
For the gears, I’m now completely sold on 1 x 11. Having just one shifter for the entire range of gears is so straightforward. When on an unfamiliar section and caught out by a cheeky steep bit, you can click through the gears very quickly. The bar is uncluttered, so on my left is the dropper seat control, and on the right is the gears – simple.
Incidentally, this is not the first bike I have had with a 1 x 11. I used this system on a Trek Remedy 8 2016 last year. My initial fear was how I could possibly have enough gears to go uphill yet still have enough gears when coming back down. The answer is that years ago, one had to have multiple chainrings on the front due the to the limited range and number of cogs on the rear cassette. Plus riding styles and formats have changed over the years. Many of us now ride Trail centres that tend to have shorter, sharp climbs with steeper, more technical descents.
A 1 x 11 drivetrain has a small single chainring on the front (usually a 30t or 32t) which gives much better ground clearance for rock steps and drop offs. The massive range of the 10t – 42t, 11 speed rear cassette gives all the range needed to climb the toughest challenges a red route can throw at me. Still nervous about a 1 x 11? Don’t be – give it a try and you will be amazed (and delighted!).
The new Trek Remedy climbed excellently on the smooth switchbacks and also the more technical rocky climbs. The combination of the great platform and the upgrade on the Continental tyres makes it so grippy. These tyres have strong side walls, and are so supple as I can run them at lower pressure and the grip was incredible. This was really obvious in the fast berms and the slow technical sections that require a lot of control. The tyres are running tubeless so no hassle with punctures – just keep on riding.
Having ridden ‘clipped in’ on a mountain bike for ages I wasn’t sure about putting on flats for my full sus. I’ve been pleasantly surprised though. The new Bontrager Line Pro pedals are great and my feet have stayed pressed into pedal over the roughest terrain. Not surprising really, as they were developed by Trek’s very own C3 team, which includes Brandon Seminuk, winner of the 2016 Red Bull rampage (his second win). If they are good enough for Brandon, they are definitely good enough for me!
To finish the look, the Bontrager Rally helmet (available in green or blue) is great. Or you could go for the Purple and green Bontrager Lithos helmet if you are planning some night riding. Bontragers new Blendr clip for the head light is so simple to use. You can’t beat the Endura MT500 Spray baggy short for all year round Scottish riding. I love to ride in the Bontrager RXL 180 softshell jacket for road or mountain. Windproof on the front with a highly breathable back – really comfortable with the Camelbak Spark Womens specific trail pack.
Upgrades over the standard Trek Remedy 8 WSD specification:
- Tyres: Continental Trail King 2.2 Rear and Der Baron 2.4 Front Tyre combo
- Brakes: Shimano Ice Tech Brake rotors and Aztec sintered brake pads
- Grips: SDG Hansolo lock-on grips
- Saddle: SDG Allure Ti rail Limited edition saddle
- Pedals: Choice of either Bontrager Line Pro Flat or Shimano XT Trail clipless pedals
- Full tubeless installation with valve cores, rim strips and sealant
- Gear and dropper post cables replaced with low friction cables for easier actuation
£2,749 – Remedy 8 WSD Criterium Special Edition
(includes standard bike worth £2,500 plus £500 of upgrades and building / fitting by Criterium Cycles)