When looking through the upcoming crop of 2016 model bikes, we are hearing all the usual claims of lighter, stiffer, faster and now more than ever, more compliant. Across the many disciplines of bicycle riding, compliance or ride quality seems to be at the forefront of many engineers’ minds.
Through their factory mountain bike team, Trek have developed a new platform from the ground up, using some ideas we saw many years ago, but rehashed with modern technology.
The Procaliber SL is not quite a hardtail, but it’s not far from it either. The clever IsoSpeed decoupler has been transported from their road and cyclocross bikes and adjusted for the rigors of mountain bike riding. In our opinion, it makes total sense for this technology to make its way across to mountain bike racing and riding in general. At the higher end of cross-country racing, Trek is using their claimed 30% increase in vertical compliance to reduce fatigue on their star racers.
As far as we can tell, the bike will ride almost identically to a hardtail in all scenarios other than seated pedalling, which is where you might lose out to a dual suspension platform. It appears the bike is being adopted whole-heartedly amongst their elite riders and 30% is definitely not a minor figure. For general riding purposes, a bike like the Procaliber may well be the difference between someone riding two times a week and three.
If you’ve ridden a hardtail mountain bike extensively, you’ll know they are the type of beast that requires a little bit of extra effort to ride fast. Everything from keeping momentum through rougher sections or absorbing the big hits requires additional energy as opposed to a dual suspension bike, however this bike may well bridge the gap ever so slightly.
With a minor 100 gram weight penalty over the current model Superfly SL, the bike is still going to be light, efficient and fast, but maybe you’ll feel that little bit fresher towards the end of your ride. This has been clearly evident through the successful integration on the Boone CX bike and Domane road bike.
Further enhancing the Procaliber SL’s appeal, Trek have adopted the ‘Boost’ hub spacing. The trend to wider wheels is here to stay and the Boost hubs allow wheels to be built stiffer for maximum efficiency. There are gains to be made in acceleration with stiffer wheels, but cornering becomes more direct and also far more predictable.
The chainstay length can also shorten to liven up the ride and handling. If you are concerned about after market support for your Boost equipped bike, the list of early adaptors is growing daily. DT Swiss, Shimano, FSA, Rockshox, Sram, Race Face, E-Thirteen, Easton, Hope and Industry Nine are all backing this standard.
Like the Top Fuel, this bike has been designed with the future in mind.
Trek’s ‘Control Freak’ system allows seamless internal routing for hoses and cables, as well as Di2 battery mounting for those who are technologically inclined. There is also the option to run a dropper post with internal routing, which is a big plus on any bike. The top level of racers would rarely consider a dropper post, but most regular riders will at least embrace the option.
Trek has maintained their commitment to the Smart Wheel Size, which adapts wheels to best fit the frame size of the rider. This is something we certainly agree with. Squeezing small riders onto larger 29” wheels just for the sake of it is ridiculous.
The smaller framed bikes feature 27.5” wheels to allow better handling and proportions, while the larger frames come with 29” wheels for the very same reasons. The new bikes still employ the famous G2 Geometry at the front end, so you’ll still enjoy that famous handling you’ve come to love.
While elite riders are the only ones lucky enough to ride one at this stage, we feel like there is definitely something to be said for a bike with a little extra compliance. I’m confident there are plenty of riders who are screaming out for a smoother ride, without the weight penalty of a dual suspension bike. Witnessing the advances in technology that each year brings is exciting and this may well be a bike that leads the way in years to come.