Review: Trek Stache 9

29+ hardtail delivers versatility over a wide range of terrain

29er Cross Country Plus
For the last few months, the Stache has been constant companion of The Angry Singlespeeder.

For the last few months, the Stache has been constant companion of The Angry Singlespeeder (click to enlarge).

The Lowdown: Trek Stache 9

Despite the sighs and guffaws at yet another wheel size, the whole plus-size segment is gaining a lot of traction (lame pun intended). Although the Surly Krampus started this trend a few years back, the most recent addition to the 29+ segment is the 2015 Trek Stache.

After seeing the Stache for the first time at Sea Otter, I took both the 27.5+ and 29+ models for a spin in the hills above Laguna Seca and was quite impressed. The ride was so good that I wanted to log more saddle time to see if this bike could be a simpler, less expensive alternative to a full-suspension trail bike.

For the last two months I’ve been logging some big miles on the Stache 9 in a variety of terrain. Most of it has been in the ultra steep, rocky, technical and primitive trails around Downieville, California and the Lakes Basin — a region that pushes every mountain bike to its limits. Typically, places such as the Lakes Basin is no place for a hardtail, but I wanted to see how the monster truck 29×3.0 Bontrager Chupacabra tires would fare on trails better suited for a capable mid-travel full-suspension bike.

Fork spec is the Manitou Magnum 34 Pro with 110mm of travel.

Fork spec is the Manitou Magnum 34 Pro with 110mm of travel (click to enlarge).

So with its big, meaty Bontrager tires, nimble hardtail design with stubby 420mm chainstays, and attractive $3700 price tag, is the Stache 9 an affordable alternative to a full-suspension trail bike?

Stat Box
Drivetrain: SRAM X1 1×11 speed Frame Material: Aluminum
Suspension: Manitou Magnum 34 Pro (110mm) Weight: 27 pounds (as tested)
Wheel Size: 29+ MSRP: $3,700
Hubs: DT Swiss 350 Boost compatible Rating: 5 Flamin' Chili Peppers 5 Chilis-out-of-5
Rims: SunRingle Mulefüt 50mm

Pluses
Minuses
  • A true point-and-shoot rock crawler
  • Bigger wheels require bigger quadriceps
  • Incredible traction
  • Annoying chain slap
  • Stable in loose, rocky terrain and sand
  • Limited tire and fork options for 29+
  • Versatile and simple hardtail design
  • Would benefit from bigger brake rotors
  • Capable across a huge range of terrain
  • Not a replacement for a mid-travel trail bike
  • Short chainstays deliver quick handling
  • Horizontal dropouts enable singlespeed capability
  • Elevated drive side chainstay allows belt drive
  • Compatibility with a variety of wheel sizes

Full Review: Trek Stache 9

The Lakes Basin region near Downieville is one of the rockiest and most technical places I’ve ever ridden. Around the Lakes Basin, riders measure distance in “dog miles” — for every mile you ride, it feels like seven. In the Lakes Basin, hike-a-bike is common, even with a capable full-suspension trail bike like an Ibis Ripley or a Pivot Mach 429.

Weight: 27 pounds. MSRP: $3,700.

Weight: 27 pounds. MSRP: $3,700 (click to enlarge).

So you could imagine my surprise when I suddenly found myself climbing up rockier stair-step features on the Stache than I’ve been able to clean on my Ibis Ripley. Even more surprised were the riders behind me pushing their full-suspension rigs while snacking on my dust.

Continue to page 2 for more on the Trek Stache 9 and full photo gallery »
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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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  • Mike says:

    Kurt, did you have the opportunity to run the bike with “normal” 29er wheels and tires? I know this is a plus bike, but the fact the chainstays are so short and it can be run single speed makes it appealing to me as a non-plus 29er bike. I’m curious to how it rides in that configuration, as well as what the bb height would be without the 29+ tires.

  • Doug says:

    Hi Kurt. How do you think it will do as a single speed rig?

  • The Angry Singlespeeder says:

    Hi Guys,

    Haven’t ridden it yet with normal wheels, but planning on it later this fall. I will report back when I discover more.

    ASS

  • tb says:

    Only $3700? Where can I get one? Make that 2, they’re so cheap!!!

  • bob says:

    Be interesting to see how well a $3700 aluminum hardtail sells. Moot point in socal where the terrain is too forgiving (IMO).

  • Jeff says:

    Schwalbe’s ProCore system in the rear wheel would alleviate the problems you experienced. I wish the Stache came in a lighter Carbon version. I want a light weight, fast rolling hardtail 29er that can still take some abuse.

  • Josh S. says:

    Been riding a Krampus in Grand Junction, western CO since it came out 2+ years ago. With Maxxis Chronicle tires mounted tubeless on 45mm wide Velocity Duallys and an MRP Loop set at 140mm on front. On all but the steepest, gnarliest trails this set-up easily outruns ANY suspended 26er out there and most 29ers. 29+ absolutely eats up rocky trails while reeling 26″, 27.5″, and 29″ in with its larger diameter tires with more rolling momentum. IMO this is the perfect bike for the rocky trails here in western CO and Utah (Moab) and I would never even consider using a suspended 26″ again!

    there’s not a 26er out there that can outrun it, up or down, steep and rocky or flat and smooth.

  • Scott says:

    I have the 7 version ($2500). Completely agree with strengths and weaknesses. I live in an area where the trails have turned really sandy and loose due to drought, and the Stache has turned some of these trails from a slog to a joy again.

  • James says:

    Another request for insight into the Single Speed capability of this bike. I would love to know if this frame and heavy tires are viable as a single speed with normal or plus size wheels.

  • chris says:

    I threw a leg over that bike for a couple of rides and was amazed how well it did everything.

  • eslam says:

    ihope buy this bike but i live in egypt

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