First Ride Review: Trek Pro Caliber 9.9 29er XC bike

Sub-20 pounds right out of the box, this race-ready bike needs no upgrades

27.5 29er Cross Country
On descents, the bike soaked up small chop well, but big hits still felt like big hits.

On descents, the bike soaked up small chop well, but big hits still felt like big hits (click to enlarge).

Does the Pro Caliber still ride like a hardtail? The short answer, according to our tester, is yes. “You still have to pick cleaner lines than you would on a full suspension bike,” he said. “But the Isospeed decoupler does take some of the edge off, especially on small bumps. Bigger bumps quickly remind you you’re still on a hardtail, though.”

The rest of the package is equally alluring. The DT Swiss XMC1200 Carbon wheels are wrapped with Bontrager XR1 Team Issue tubeless ready 29×2.0 tires, and take advantage of the new Boost 148/110 hub standard. The 100mm RockShox RS1 fork is buttery smooth. And the full Shimano XTR 1x drivetrain is crisp and precise, with a 32t chainring combined with an 11-40 cassette to give most racers ample gear choice. Shimano XTR brakes and various other carbon bling, including Bontrager XXX OCLV Carbon stem and bars, will make any weight weenie drool. There’s really nothing to upgrade here — as should be the case when you drop eight large on a bike.

Bontrager XXX OCLV Carbon stem and bars will make any weight weenie drool.

Bontrager XXX OCLV Carbon stem and bars will make any weight weenie drool (click to enlarge).

First Ride Impressions

Everything about this bike screams speed and that was proven out on the trail, according to our tester. “Small bumps weren’t as sharp as on a traditional hardtail, meaning I was able to sit and spin more than on other hardtails,” he reported. “Clearly this would be a great bike for cross-country courses that aren’t super technical. Think Leadville 100 and you’re on the right track. On more burly courses, big bumps will still beat you up.”

Bottom line, if you spend most of your time on rough trails, the Trek Pro Caliber 9.9 is not the ideal one-bike quiver. But if your backyard trails are smooth and fast, this bike will likely make you faster. And if you’re looking for a hardtail XC race bike, you’d be hard pressed to find a better option, no upgrades required.

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Photo Thumbnails (click to enlarge)

About the author: Mtbr is a site by mountain bikers for mountain bikers. We are the best online resource for information for mountain bikers of all abilities, ages and interests.

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