Review: Trek Superfly SS singlespeed 29er

Perfect for those adverse to the complexity of modern mountain bikes

29er Cross Country
The winding, technical rockiness of Halo Trail on Peavine Mountain above Reno is a perfect testing ground for how a bike handles.

The winding and technical Halo Trail on Peavine Mountain above Reno is a perfect testing ground to see how a bike handles (click to enlarge).

The Lowdown: Trek Superfly SS Singlespeed

In a world of increasing complexity, the stripped-down simplicity of the new Trek Superfly SS is refreshing. With zero suspension, one gear, the ability to run a three-inch wide front tire and a stock weight of 20.5 pounds, the Superfly SS an ideal bike for those who want a fun, fast, versatile and low-maintenance bike. For riders who’ve never owned a singlespeed before, Superfly SS will open up a whole new spectrum of riding. Feeling as comfortable at the occasional race as it does exploring rugged terrain or just getting out on a quick after work spin, the minimalist nature of Superfly SS will make you a fitter, stronger and more skilled rider. And thanks to its approachable $1,600 retail price with an outstanding spec list, Superfly SS is a terrific value.

Stat Box
Frame: Alpha Platinum aluminum Seatpost: Bontrager alloy 27.2mm
Fork: Bontrager Double Bevel carbon Handlebar: Bontrager Race Lite Low Riser
Tire clearance: 3.0 front, 2.4 rear Grips: Bontrager Race Lite lock-on
Drivetrain: Singlespeed Stem: Bontrager Race Lite, 7-degree rise
Cranks: Race Face Ride 32t narrow-wide chainring Headset: FSA IS-2
Cassette: 18t cog Brakes: Shimano Deore/Alivio hydraulic
Chain: KMC Z7 Sizes: 15.5, 17.5, 18.5, 19.5, 21.5, 23
Wheels: Bontrager Mustang Elite Color: Matte Black/Gloss Grape
Tires: Bontrager XR2 Expert, Aramid bead, 29×2.2 Weight: 20.5 pounds
Saddle: Bontrager Evoke 2 chromoly rails MSRP: $1,600
Rating: 5 Flamin' Chili Peppers 5 Chilis-out-of-5

  • Hydroformed aluminum frame doesn’t beat you up
  • Stranglehold dropouts hard to adjust
  • Excellent value with quality parts spec
  • Stock Bontrager tubeless system suffered from
  • Superb mud clearance front and rear
    leakdown issues
  • Carbon fork accommodates 29+ tire
  • Narrow 690mm bars
  • Front and rear thru-axles
  • Well-designed Stranglehold dropouts don’t slip

Full Review: Trek Superfly SS Singlespeed

In the last five years the bike industry seems to have gone mental with new standards, non-compatible components, and proprietary technologies that make swapping parts between bikes virtually impossible. For some enthusiasts (like myself), it’s enough of a frustration to drive us backwards in technology, opting for a bike with minimal excess. Take for instance the 2015 Trek Superfly SS, a bike that greatly benefits from modern innovation without any added complexity.

Clean lines and graphics with hydroformed tubes make Superfly SS a real eye-catcher.

Clean lines and graphics with hydroformed tubes make Superfly SS an eye-catcher (click to enlarge).

The new Trek Superfly SS is analogous to the 1993 Porsche 911 RS America – a budget-minded 911 that was stripped of everything that didn’t help it go faster; no air conditioning, no rear seats, no stereo, fabric pull tabs for door handles. RS America cost $10,000 less than a base 911, yet had as much or more performance.

Similarly, the Trek Superfly SS does without shifters, derailleurs and suspension for a svelte 20.5-pound weight, and at a $1,600 retail price, Superfly SS is an outstanding value, especially when you consider its spec list. Featuring front and rear thru-axles (15mm and 142x12mm), a Bontrager Double Bevel carbon fiber fork with tapered aluminum steerer, hydraulic Shimano Deore disc brakes, Race Face cranks with narrow/wide chainring, and a lightweight Alpha Platinum aluminum butted and hydroformed frame with press-fit bottom bracket, Superfly SS is a blend of modern innovation and minimalist functionality.

The new Stranglehold dropout design had zero slip issues throughout the test period.

The new Stranglehold dropout design had zero slip issues throughout the test period (click to enlarge).

In charge of chain tensioning is a new Stranglehold dropout design, a rather genius blend of modern 142x12mm thru-axle capability and old school functionality via tensioner screws found on most vintage road bikes with semi-horizontal dropouts. True to its name, the Stranglehold layout never slipped a chain across a range of rocky, punchy terrain. The only issue I encountered was not realizing that three bolts must be loosened before chain tension can be adjusted via the tensioner screws, resulting in a broken end cap. Trek immediately sent out a replacement end cap and all was good again.

The only potential issue is that the Stranglehold thru-axle nuts require a 22mm socket to loosen – a total pain for any trail adjustments. But unless you’re planning on swapping gears in the middle of a ride, I don’t see this being a huge issue. And because the revised Stranglehold design on Superfly SS is so stout, so long as it’s properly torqued, it won’t slip.

Continue to page 2 for more on the Trek Superfly SS »

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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  • Ted says:

    I’m with Bryce Moore from the FB comments. This might be the lightest bike available for $1600, but at that price you would think they’d throw buyers a bone and spec decent brakes.

  • Rob says:

    Braking is overrated, however, the rest of the spec is nice, intriguing bike for the dough

  • Chicken_Rider says:

    Seems to expensive for the list unless the frame is made of platinum or this is some uber rare fork.

  • OldTimer says:

    I think that all of the haters complaining about the price don’t understand the economies of scale here. This is their top end aluminum frame. Trek makes a bike with the same frame (Superfly 5) with an inexpensive RS XC32 fork and mixed Shimano/SRAM drivetrain for the same money, true, but they will sell thousands and thousands of those. This bike has unique dropouts, a carbon fork, through axles front and rear, and some low volume SS specific parts. They will sell only a few hundred of this bike, which makes it way more expensive to manufacture. And it weighs 20 lbs. Sounds like a value to me. Nice review Kurt.

  • Brandon says:

    I own this bike and consider it a great value. I am just as fast on this bike as I am on my $5,000 anthem advanced 1. This bike will make you a stronger and better rider. There is no price for that.

  • Zachariah says:

    I say $1600 for a new, 20lb bike is simply unheard-of, in today’s MTB circles. I’m curious to demo one now!

  • jeff says:

    you need to get Rich Dillen to test this out… he’s one of the oldest SS around…

  • eb211 says:

    I would just buy a Nashbar 29er single speed for $350, and be done with it… hehehehe. Oh Oh…. let me brace myself for the firing squad. Honestly, I have mine down to 23 pounds, along with a Salsa fork at an XL size, and the geometry is amazing for a bike at this price. I could maybe go down a little more in weight, but why? I find any bike less than 23 pounds twitchy, and unbalanced. I sold almost all my expensive bikes after realizing that most bikes are just over priced. This Trek is just ridiculous at $1600. Not even Richie Rich would pay $1600 for this bike with single speed.

  • bc says:

    if the tensioning system is a bitch on the trail then fixing tyres must be fun

    • stopokingme says:

      Actually no, fixing tires is a breeze. The QR 12 thru axles just unclamp and unscrew – pull the wheel right off. Its adjusting the chain length that is a hassle due to the 22mm bolt thats the issue – but the really isn’t a normal kind of field repair someone has to do. the only reason you’ld normally have to deal with that is if you didn’t torque it down hard enought before you went out. I’ve never had mine slip, either on this bike or on my Trek Stache 29+ that uses the same system.

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