Trail Test: Trek Procaliber 9.9 SL, for more comfort and traction on cross country routes
Trek has brought its seat tube-flexing IsoSpeed decoupler to its new hardtail, the Procaliber. The Wateroo, Wis.based company outfitted its XC race machine with technology that has worked on its road and cyclocross bikes.
Trek has brought its seat tube-flexing IsoSpeed decoupler to its new hardtail, the Procaliber. The Wateroo, Wis.based company outfitted its XC race machine with technology that has worked on its road and cyclocross bikes. IsoSpeed can mellow vibrations on the road and CX course, but how would it perform on the trail?
The Procaliber’s frames are labelled with two sizes, virtual and actual. After testing the 19.5″ virtual/18.5″ actual, I found the size just big enough for my 5-10 height and longish reach. Trek interestingly makes the smallest size available solely with 27.5″ wheels – albeit with a slightly wider 2.2″ tire – to help shorter riders achieve a better fit. To find my preferred XC race fit, I rotated the XXX carbon seatpost 180 degrees and slid the Bontrager Montrose Pro carbon-rail saddle all the way forward. Combined with a slightly slack 72-degree seat-tube angle in this frame size, this procedure got me closer to the fit that works best for me, especially when climbing. Slamming and flipping the carbon stem into its lowest position over the minimal, 100-mmlong head tube resulted in about 1 cm of drop below my saddle. The difference in saddle and handlebar height was a little less than I would like for racing, but was good for general trail riding.
All Procaliber models come equipped with a single chainring up front. You can outfit each with a front derailleur if you’d like. Without this feature, they likely could have shortened the chainstays even more. Trek’s OClv (optimum compaction low void) Mountain Carbon frame routes the rear derailleur and brake line internally through a tidy port on the left side of the frame. Designers have created almostunnoticeable slits for cable ties in the tubing for a quick emergency rear brake install, as well as an external routing that would work great for a temporary dropper post should you need to install one. To achieve the sub-20-lb. weight on the 9.9, Trek chose the lightest parts available, such as the Race Face Next SL cranks with a direct-mount 32-tooth chainring, Rock Shox RS-1 inverted fork and DT Swiss XMC1200 Carbon wheels. Topped off with XTR brakes, rear shifter and derailleur, this bike wants for nothing. The wheel stiffness provided by Boost thru-axles (110 mm in the front and 148 mm in the rear) and grip from the 2″-wide Bontrager XR1 team issue tires gave me far more confidence in the technical stuff than I would have expected from such a light bike. The IsoSpeed definitely takes some harshness away, but still supplies some feedback on what the trail is doing beneath you. I found being able to remain seated on all but the roughest climbs gave me in all the traction I could need. I only stood up when the 40-tooth rear cog wasn’t quite enough. The bike makes fine line corrections effortlessly, which really helped in slow- to medium-speed rocky sections.
After the initial break-in period, the only issue that came up was a little play in the bottom bracket, which was easily fixed with the bearing preload ring. After that, it was ready to race. And going fast is what it’s meant to do.
Trek Procaliber 9.9 SL
Components: Shimano XTR
Suspension: RockShox RS-1 100-mm travel
Wheels: DT Swiss XMC1200 Carbon
Sizes (in): 15.5, (27.5″ wheels) 27.5, 17.5, 18.5, 19.5, 21.5 (29″ wheels)