Tuesday, April 7, 2015

2015 Trek Remedy 7 First Impressions from a Fat Guy

So, I have been away from everything for a long time. This is true. I had a pretty bad car accident, a long recovery, then a flood that did major damage to our city. One of the things that was severely damaged in the 2014 flood in Metro Detroit was my 2009 Soul Dillinger 29er. I really liked that bike. It was a nice cross country rig that made me want to ride. That being said, I am older, more damaged, and fatter than I was. I am also a rider that likes more to incorporate all styles of riding on every ride I do, so a 29er cross country race bike doesn't always lend to that.

Over the last year I have been riding trials to regain my balance. I have two trials bikes that I really enjoy. One is a stock GU, and the other is a Because Street Trial. They are really fun rides, but they have very low gearing and don't lend themselves to long rides... What without a seat and all...

About 11 years ago I bought a 2004 Specialized Enduro Pro. This was literally the standard that I have judged all bikes by. It was a perfect blend of bike riding styles. I rode it hard and rode it often. I almost always left the trail with a smile on my face.

For my birthday this year my family pitched in and let me get a new bike.The Enduro was the type of bike I wanted to go back to. After a lot of internet investigation I settled on the Trek Remedy 7. As a fat guy, parts selection is just as much about durability as it is about the prestige of "top of the line" names. I had Sram XO/X9 on my Dillinger, but that was from great negotiation skills with running a race team. This parts kit is Shimano Deore/SLX, and it does the job well.

Yesterday was the first chance I have had to get the Remedy on the dirt. DISCLAIMER: I am nowhere near as fast or in shape as I used to be. What does that mean? It means I don't ride like I used to. I don't climb well. I am currently very cautious on descents. I have no lungs. I'm kind of like Beymax from Big Hero 6 riding a bike. "I am not fast."

So, as I was saying, I got the Remedy out in the woods. It was my first time on singletrack in two years! I rode a pretty mixed bag of trail. A few fast descents, a few big climbs, a few rocky and technical descents, a bit of rolling terrain, and a pump track.  What were my impressions?

650b. I thought it might be a gimmick. In my mind the order was going to be 29" for xc, 26" for trials, 24" for street trials. Then I put the tires to the dirt. One of my fears was that I would lose the ability to throw the bike around... Fear WRONG! My other fear was that there wouldn't be a noticeable difference in rocks and ruts to a 26". Fear WRONG! 650b, or 27.5" wheels are amazing! They truly combine the best features I like about 29" and 26" wheels. They roll over things while still being small enough to give the bike the "play in the woods" feel I was looking for.

Trek. If you know me, I have had a long "love affair" with Specialized. How I even looked at a Trek is still a little beyond me. I have owned at least 10 Specialized bikes over my mountain bike career. Trek used to be a four letter word. Let's just say this. I have mellowed out in my old age, and the multiple concussions must have made me forget the past, and I am glad I did! The finish on the bike is very nice. The fit is literally the best "out of the box" fit I have had in years. This is the first time I actually rode a bike right out of the box without modifications or changing something other than suspension settings to my weight and the brake levers and shifters to my preferences. As a 6'1" guy, I got an 18.5" frame. It fit well right out of the box. I was centered over the bike right where I wanted to be.

Climbing. As I said, I am not tall and fast like a gazelle. I am tall and fat like Rodney Dangerfield. When the trail turned upward I noticed that the bike climbed much better than I did. Whether I was seated or standing the bike was getting the power in the right places and propelling me forward. I am not using clipless pedals anymore, so I have to be careful about how I climb. The suspension didn't get in the way or detract from climbing. Fox has come a long way in the last 11 years when I had a DHX 5.0 rear shock. The Evolution Float DCRV didn't take input from above when mashing pedals. It just kept moving forward and soaking up bumps. Oh. Having a 2*10 drive train was a real plus as well. When you are a big guy, you find yourself needing the extra versatility, and I appreciated having them.

Descending. The rear suspension is so smooth. I kept wondering if I was riding over bumps or on a bike path. I am not sure if it is the design, the location of the pivots, the shock, the 650b tires, or the combination of them all, but I instantly felt at home on this thing. The memories I had of my Enduro were that it had points where it felt a little flexy and points where it felt a little choppy. Over the same trails I have ridden for decades I never found a moment where I felt that way on the Remedy. I felt stable. I felt in control. I felt smooth. I felt like I wanted to play. The RockShox Revelation RL was very smooth as well. I never felt like I wanted more suspension. Manuals, jumps, hard corners, and nose wheelies were all easily performed as well.

Technical. Like I said in previous parts of the post, I felt very much at home on this bike. The position I was in was comfortable and I felt like I could throw the bike around at any point. I never found myself riding outside edges of any trail feeling like I was about to lose control. I am sure a good part of that has to do with my own personal caution since the accident, but it was more than that. I felt much more in control and able to pick lines easier. I felt like I could point the bike easier. I didn't seem to have to make corrections from two years of rust. The bike went where I wanted to go and didn't make mistakes.

Pump Track. I rolled a little on a pump track just to see if a 650b full suspension bike would allow me to do a lap. To my surprise I was able to keep the bike rolling easily over everything without the need to pedal. I was able to maneuver the bike around the rollers with ease. I feel like I will be doing a lot of laps on pump tracks with this thing and smiling all the way.

I hope that gives a decent first impression of what the Trek Remedy is like.