Review: Trek Stache 8 – Rally 29er Hardtail

29er All Mountain Trail

There was a good vision for this bike but it’s always won and lost in the details. All the Bontrager parts are dialed. The two-bolt seatpost, the wide 9-degree sweep bars are dialed for this rig. The 90 mm stem is a bit long for this kind of bike but that’s usually swappable between the buyer and local bike shop. The SLX brakes and shifters are awesome!!! These are probably the best value components available today as we cannot really detect the difference between these and their XTR counterparts in a blind usage test. The Race Face cranks are stiff and shift well. And finally, the contact points of the saddle and the grips work well. The grips are lock-on type but only locked on in the inside so they don’t interfere with your hands. And the saddle may look flat and wide but they roll down the sides just soon enough to make them comfortable for short and long hauls.

The Bontrager 29-3s are again remarkable. These are the latest Frank Stacey designed tires following the success of the beefier 29-4 tire. What they wanted to achieve is a faster tire with lower knobs for a better all-around riding and pedal efficiency. With the long footprint of the 29er tires, these tires are very confident in cornering and descending. In loose and slippery conditions, we might opt for the 29-4 in the front to complement the speed of the rear 29-3 in the rear.

This system is tubeless ready and the build comes with tubeless strips and valves. Since this is a hardtail, tubeless can really add to the formula since the rear tire pressure can be dropped 3-5 psi without pinching a tube. This lower pressure can deliver some extra relief to the rider’s tail. It’s a 29er of course but it’s still an aluminum hardtail so optimizing or running the lowest pressure you can get away with is key. Bontrager has the best tubeless in the business since the rim tape is molded just for this rim profile and the valve hole area is reinforced to prevent leaks and valve problems. Finally, Bontrager has a new sealant that seems less damaging than Stans. It also has more particles in the solution and it was able to seal tire leaks that Stans could not.

And let’s call out the chainstay guard since it is a nice piece of engineering. Chainstay guards are often overlooked as it is often a piece of padded tape on top of the drive side chainstay. Our local bike shop will artfully wrap an inner tube around the stay to achieve good padding with a good fit. Bontrager trumps everyone by putting in a molded rubber piece that actually routes and hides the rear derailleur cable.

This is a great package but a discussion on possible improvements is always healthy. Here’s a few:

- It would be great to have a singlespeed option for this bike. Folks will be curious as we are how this would perform as a singlespeed.

- Color options would be good. The lime-green color for the Stache 8 is dialed but what if green is not your thing? What if three other guys in your group already have this bike?

- The chainstays could be shorter! 17.5 inches is good but is not on par with the shortest in this category of playful hardtail 29ers. They should have pushed that rear tire forward as there seems to be a ton of room available between the downtube and the big 29-3 tire.

- Finally, this is still a beefy aluminum bike with a stiff rear end. It is not ‘Banshee Paradox’ stiff so it can be controlled by a big tubeless rear tire. But what if it was carbon with thin stays? What if it was steel with a lively rear end?

Bottom Line
The bottom line is this is a fun, capable and agile bike. We expect to see this bike in all sorts of applications and cofigurations from jump bike to race bike to slalom or endurance bike. But we think its most fitting use is the one bike a rider with a limited budget to rally on. But hey, we think it’s good enough that even the person with $5k to spend might covet this one too.

Buy the Stache 8, set it up tubeless, put a Reverb Stealth or KS Lev on it and get ready to rally.

About the author: Francis Cebedo

The founder of mtbr and roadbikereview, Francis Cebedo believes that every cyclist has a lot to teach and a lot to learn. "Our websites are communal hubs for sharing cycling experiences, trading adventure stories, and passing along product information and opinions." Francis' favorite bike is the last bike he rode, whether it's a dirt jumper, singlespeed, trail bike, lugged commuter or ultralight carbon road steed. Indeed, Francis loves cycling in all its forms and is happiest when infecting others with that same passion. Francis also believes that IPA will save America.

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  • Matt says:

    It may be a great bike but it has NOT got short chainstays!! At 17.5″ they are nowhere near true trail/am 29ers like KOna Honzo, Canfield Yelli Screamy/Nimble 9 etc.

  • Tom says:

    Great review. Thank goodness it has normal, or slightly short chainstays for balanced handling!

  • John says:

    Page 2 Sentences 1&2
    The Ride
    The bike has a stiff bottom bracket area and the wheel is tucked underneath the rider with shortish stays of 17.5 inches. While not leading edge short for a hardtail, this translates to an agile and responsive climber.

  • Bill Duke says:

    Actually, the article very clearly states the stays are 17.5 inches on page 2. Some people just didn’t read the article.

  • stamps says:

    I have an 8 with a stealth reverb lefty remote, RF atlas bar that matches crank, tubeless setup and saint pedals mated to 5-10s….never thought I’d ride a hardtail again but DAMN….what a fun bike. And those new clutch derailleurs are the bees knees! So quiet thru the rough w/ no chainslap… don’t get a crappy spec entry level full sus bike til you ride this sled or something similar….too much fun on the downs and climbs with authority!

  • Stamps says:

    I’ve got an 8 spec’d w/ a stealth reverb, 50mm stem, RF atlas bar, tubeless and some saint pedals mated to some 5-10s…the bike is crazy fun.

    I’ve got a stable with a bike for just about every sub genre of mtb and the stache has been getting the most love lately for my local trails in the piedmont region of north carolina. Definitely worth a test ride if you’re in the market for high end hardtail or entry level full sus and like to shred hard…

  • Larry says:

    Trying to decide, purpose-wise, which bike would be better for me…Superfly AL Elite hardtail or Stache 8. I see some of the differences on paper, but both bikes are at a similar price point and look to appeal to a similar audience. Anyone care to offer some clarity?

  • Patrick says:

    If I had a 26er that had that long of chainstays and that much bb drop (yes I know 29ers are just going to have more…) I would say it handled lazily and the front end was hard to get up BUT because it’s a 29er it now has magic powers to defy its geo and is suddenly “playful”. Like others have said, no thanks… I’ll look towards a honzo or nimle nine for this category of bike.

  • pepelepau says:

    Dropper on a hardtail, is like putting road tires on a spesh DEMO. Makes no sense.

  • Marvin Gaye says:

    Two words: el mariachi.
    I generally like FC’s reviews, but this isn’t one of them.

  • roofus says:

    I have owned A Lot of bikes and ridden even more. I got a Stache 8 frameset prior to release and wasn’t going to put ANY $ into the build because I was a bit “unsure” of the claims With old worn out parts THIS BIKE RIPS! Nimble, fast, and begs to be pushed. Climbing, check, jumping, wait I hate to jump, to bad this bike floats. No one has ever ridden this bike and not come back smiling. And isn’t THAT what its all about.

  • Dontcoast says:

    This bike is super fun and way different than other g2 29erz.
    I was sceptical at first too but it won me over.

  • Eric says:

    Bike looks like a nice addition to the AM 29er HT lineup, but sounds like it’s missing a little compared to the others (Banshee Paradox, Canfield Yelli, Kona Honzo). Nobody is talking about the Titus Fireline Evo here. Sad they aren’t in AZ anymore but I just got a frame for 700 bucks (special edition). On a 120 mm fork h/t is 67.7. I put a 100 mm on and used a zero stack bottom headset cup to steepen the h/t angle. Maybe it’s 68.5 now? Either way, it’s a ti hardtail with slack h/t and shorter (17.1?) chainstays. For a sick, sick price. Fastest and most fun bike I’ve ridden. That said, the Stache or other more AM designed 29er HTs are a great place to be these days. Went from three bikes to one. If you’re thinking about getting a bike in this class please do. You’ll love it.

  • stamps says:

    Man, lotta people drinkin the hater-aid in the comments talkin bout geo and chainstay length. Im guessing most of these armchair commenters haven’t even test rode the bike.
    Full disclosure, I work at a trek dealer and I own a stache 8. The bike is one you should put on list for a test ride if you’re in the market for a quality hardtail. The bike has all the latest tech such as thru axles, tapered headtube, routing for a dropper, tubeless ready wheelset, shadow plus der. Etc…its good value for the $. I’ve got many bikes in the stable…a sc tallboy, intense ss, sc heckler, spech demo….and i’m going to this bike a lot.

    All this talk about xcal similarities is rubbish…the bikes are completely different rides designed for different uses. They feel completely differnt out on the trail. Sure there are great options out there like the honzo, canfield etc but let a bunch of spec numbers make the call for you. Test ride the bikes and get an informed opinion.

  • daniel owen aka dusty dan says:

    this reply is coming from someone that has been totally anti-29er’s…. this is because I have ridden a few,,, HT and FS and never really had the thrash feel that I like…… however, after riding one that was lent to me I totally fell in love with it, the accelaration is immense, then it goes like a train,,,,, My local haunt is Harleston Firs, Northants and Woburn in Bucks, they have some really really tight tecky single track, but it turns through the trees and eats the trail up with such a speed that my 26″ wheel friends now having to try seriously hard to keep with me.
    Great frame, breaks, float forks,,, and even the finishing kit is good… 26.4lbs too….
    Bought mine from Ian at Leisura Lakes Daventry……
    Ian, if you read this mate, get out from infront of me mate, your slowing me down ;-)

  • Hampton says:

    Since picking up my new Stache 8 last weekend, I’ve put 24 miles of single track on it. Coming from a 26er, I didn’t entirely know what to expect. The build quality and components are very good, and the bike looks awesome – but that never provides the whole story to a prospective buyer. So, as promised, I’m providing you some notes from my first couple of rides. Feel free to share.

    Setting off, I quickly noticed the difference in wheel/tire size, finding myself steering the bike more than I would my Cannondale. Some of this I attribute to the wider handlebars but there is a purposeful style in the bike’s geometry. What it may lack in ‘twitchy’ (a trait I came to love on my 26er), the Stache makes up for by stabilizing the trail. Meaning, you can keep more momentum going in, through and over things. It’s fast and deceivingly maneuverable. In fact, by the second ride, I was making checkpoints in shorter time than I have on my 26er. The Fox fork does a fantastic job to further smooth things out; I used all three settings but kept it on ‘trail’ for 90% of the rides. The clutch on the rear derailleur is brilliant, taking chain slap out of the rider’s experience. The Stach 8 is confidence-inspiring on the downhills, which brings me to introduce my new best friends, the SLX brakes. As a 6’1″, 200 lb proponent of going fast, I’m grateful for good brakes and found myself literally riding with an index finger on each lever.

    I didn’t demo a Stache 7 but I’d imagine the ride is very similar. I choose the Stache 8 because of the upgraded brakes and fork. Those items may not be worth the additional funds to everyone but they are to me. We’re still getting to know one-another but I’m pretty sure I’m going to love this bike. In my opinion, it’s perfect for the single-track fan who continues to embrace a hard-tail MTB.

  • Steve says:

    Hi, how is this bike on casual roads. Since I will be riding a lot around my subarbun neighborhood and small parks? Does it hold up well, too tiring?

    • Eddie Campbell says:

      Rides great on road,kind of feels big on the road compared to off road. Loads of fun,gets me over my head a little but then I’m a little hold backish(can’t work if I crash,factory worker)

    • don says:

      A road bike is better for roads. A mountain bike is better for mountains. Hopefully this makes sense.

  • d.peper says:

    This is a nice bike however I’d be more inclined to go Transition TransAm 29er. It has everything mentioned in the review in spades. At the mid $2k mark you got slack, steel, 120mm Fox, reverb, and the DOG! Plus very few components are house branded POS. Just a thought….

  • tom says:

    I purchased the Trek Stache 8 in 2013 made some minor changes graphite bars and seat post replaced Bontrager wheels with a set of Mavic SLR 29er wheelset with Mavic crossmax tires and this is a pretty quick bike with attitude.

  • MTB Mikey says:

    WOW! hateville is alive. I read every review and magazine and article I can find on my hobby because I love it. Read and do the math all you want couch engineers. I bought the Stache…it is f…… amazing to ride. That’s all, see you on the trails if you can catch me.

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