We got our first look at Trek’s innovative Pro Caliber cross-country bike at a grand launch event back in early July. Since then our ace XC race bike tester has spent some intimate time aboard the bike and been equally impressed with this race-ready rocket.
With dual suspension XC racing rigs becoming lighter, it seemed the need for a traditional cross-country hardtail would fade the way of V brakes and tubed tires. Even on the ultra-competitive World Cup circuit, races are being won on full squish bikes. But Trek isn’t giving up on the rigid rear category just yet. Earlier this year it launched the Stache, a hardtail with plus-size wheels. Now comes the Pro Caliber, which has all the bells and whistles to eek out every possible speed advantage.
Our $8000 size medium Pro Caliber 9.9 29er test bike weighed just 19.8 pounds out of the box, and came draped with top-of-the-line Shimano XTR components. But what really impressed was the Isospeed decoupler, which allows the seat tube to move independently of the connection between the seatstay and the top tube, adding a small but detectable amount of ride smoothing compliance, traction and control, without weight penalty or loss of pedal efficiency.
Isospeed technology is a natural fit for mountain bikes, allowing riders to deliver pedaling power on rough, choppy trail. Here’s an explanation of how it works on the Domane road bike.