First Ride Review: 2015 Trek Stache 9

Whatever you do, don’t call it a fat bike

27.5 29er Cross Country Plus
Original Stache prototypes and the final production model.

Original Stache prototypes and the final production model (click to enlarge).

In any given year, there are only a handful (or fewer) of new cycling products that truly catch my attention. While on the search for something unique at the Sea Otter Classic, I walked by a bike lying on the ground that immediately drew my eyes because of its elevated drive side chainstay. Thinking maybe it was a vintage Alpinestars, I did a double take and found myself staring at a Trek, but not a vintage one. It was a 2015 Trek Stache.

Trek showcases the playfulness of their Stache 9 in this video. Riders have great traction and maneuverability at around 14 psi of tire pressure.

The elevated drive side chainstay was just the beginning of what made the fully redesigned Stache by far the most interesting bike I saw at Sea Otter (which has essentially become a trade show for the cycling industry).

The next observation was its three-inch wide Bontrager Chupacabra tires mounted on 50mm wide rims, making this rig a “mid-fat trail hardtail,” according to Trek. Then I noticed Trek’s new Stranglehold horizontal sliding dropouts. I stopped staring and marched straight over to the Trek booth to find out what the deal was with this curious contraption.

The Stache is built with Trek’s top-of-the-line alpha platinum aluminum hydroformed tubeset, an extremely short and adjustable chainstay length of 405-420mm (shorter than most 26-inch hardtails), a slack 68.4-degree head tube angle, the ability to run 27.5+, 29+ or traditional 29-inch wheels, and thanks to the Stranglehold sliding dropouts, the option of setting the bike up as a 1x or singlespeed drivetrain.

The elevated drive-side midstay allows the rear wheel to be tucked in nice and tight.

The elevated drive-side midstay allows the rear wheel to be tucked in nice and tight (click to enlarge).

According to Trek, the elevated drive-side “midstay” is essential in sucking the rear wheel in, the only drawback being that this design only allows for a single front chainring. But considering Stache can be built-up in the 25-pound range, 1x should suffice for most riders.

Without the new Boost 148 standard, the Stache wouldn’t have the ability for crank and rear wheel to overlap for short chainstays.

Without the new Boost 148 standard, the Stache wouldn’t have the ability for crank and rear wheel to overlap for short chainstays (click to enlarge).

The Stache is also the first bike to feature the new Boost 148/110 hub spacing standard. Now before people get all worked up and angry about this seemingly unnecessary new “standard”, consider this: Without Boost, the Stache would not be possible. Because the Stache’s chainstays are so short and the tires are so big, the rear tire and front chainring actually overlap each other. And without the 3mm offset Boost crankset, a traditional crankset would hit the tire. And thanks to Boost, the Q-factor and bottom bracket shell width on Stache is the same as a traditional mountain bike, as opposed to the more awkward 100mm-wide crank spindle of most fat bikes.

Why should you even care about any of this? Because after going for a “Free Stache Ride” (especially relevant to those Super Troopers fans), I can say with all confidence that this bike absolutely hauls the mail. The Stache is one of the most fun and fastest rides I’ve ever had on a hardtail mountain bike, especially in 29+ guise.

Continue to page 2 for first ride impressions and a photo gallery »

About the author: Kurt Gensheimer

Kurt Gensheimer thinks the bicycle is man’s most perfect invention. He firmly believes ‘singlespeed’ is a compound word. He sometimes wears a disco ball helmet. He is also known as Genshammer. He is a Gemini and sleeps outside in a hammock.


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  • Kim says:

    thx for an interesting review. You sort of allude to it, but is this faster than the current 29r trail bikes like the Chromag Surface/Rootdown or similar designs? My current bikes are on the heavy duty end of things (Chromag Stylus and Knolly Chilicotin) and thinking some sort of 29r might be more appropriate for the trails in town which are more xc and have lots of short, punchy climbs and plenty of roots. Dont care about the “bike packing” thing…

  • DrRocker says:

    MMM… More marketing for the masses.

  • Izzy says:

    What size frame did you ride and what length stem did it have?

  • Don says:

    Any of the models come with 29+, or are they all 27.5+ stock? I’d be looking at a 29+ SS model if they had one.

  • FJ says:

    Plus one for the Alpinestar E-stay frame reference.

  • Adam M says:

    I’ll just go ahead and say, it’s not just marketing for the masses. I ordered the bike the first day it was available. I was in the market for a new hardtail to race and I had a heads up this bike was coming out. I raced it 5 days later, with only one ride on it before then. I won the Cat 2 TT and got 3rd in the Cat 2 XC race, of no fault of the bikes, I clipped a pedal and wrecked. I raced it at Syllamo’s Revenge in Arkansas last weekend. While the result may not look great, 41 out of 177, that’s more a testament to my fitness level and never having ridden there before.

    Before buying this bike I had never ridden a rigid bike. This bike has more suspension than my Superfly had. This bike is faster than my Superfly. This bike corners a million times better than my Superfly. This bike also covers my ass in a lot of spots my Superfly wouldn’t. You can call it what you want, but this bike isn’t just marketing. This bike is awesome.

    • John S says:

      Thanks for the post Adam. Glad someone commented that ACTUALLY RODE THE BIKE.

    • mike says:

      Adam, i’d like to discuss more in detail on your feel of the Stache. Please email me.

    • Chris C says:

      Adam, would you share which model Stache your’re riding? I’m divided between the 7 and the 5. A couple guys here around STL have the 5 and RAVE about it, but these guys are normally full-rigid SS guys. I’m thinking I could benefit from a suspension fork but would like to hear more. Thanks

  • Gambit says:

    You know, I hate it when I read an article and I see bunch of idiotic posts slagging it. I don’t want to be that guy. It was a good review. Well written for the most part. Just one problem “slow, lazy and lethargic feel of the traditional fat bike” – the author apparently hasn’t spent much time on Fatbikes. They are quite different from one another and many of them don’t’ match this description, in fact some are quite nimble.
    Seems a bit irresponsible to me. Great review otherwise – there’s always something though. rolls eyes.

  • Vato says:

    I like the 29+ concept but how is it pushing the heavy tires uphill or across the flat?

  • Stopokingme says:

    I’ve been riding with a buddy who works at Trek and has ridden the prototype frame throughout the winter setup as a singlespeed with Nokian Extreame 29er studded tires. He never stopped smiling either and has a lot of experience with a host of bikes. Later this spring he changed the setup to a belt drive (another Trek prototype) which worked well from a config standpoint (not having to loop thru the chainstay thanks to tier elevation.) He loved his so much that I got myself a frame, but have yet to build it out though – frankly, I intend to set it up as a 1×10 as my summer mnt bike and as a studded singlespeed thru the winter. Very psyched.

  • tb says:

    So it sounds like the 27.5+ tires and tubes were a letdown, and therefore ruined that wheel format for this review. I would like to see an apples to apples comparison with some better tires, run tubeless.

    • d money says:

      for your information TB, the bontrager Chupacabras are the best 29+ tire on the market there is no doubt about it

  • Neil says:

    I’ve seen Adam’s bike get built. Ive ridden the same bike another friend got. And yes, I will attest to the fact that I love this bike more that my all Niner Air 9 Carbon with all XTR and 2.4 ardents! I love my bike but the smaller triangle on the stache is just soo much fun. Especially for the capable light weight riders with decent bike handling skills. You can man handle this beast and it will always respond with a shit eating grin that says ” Is that all you got?”

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