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While we only had the pleasure of playing on this bike for three days, some of the Trek's personality had a chance to come out. And it definitely made its mark on me, especially what I thought 29ers were all about.

As it's nice and close by, we decided Tokai would be the best place to try out the Remedy. We are most familiar with the trails and, for a bike we have a very limited time on, it's best to go where you know.

Specifications:

Frame: 19" Alpha Platinum Aluminium, Full Floater, Fox Performance Series Float CTD w/DRCV, 140mm

Fork: Fox Factory Series 34 Float 29 140 FIT CTD, Kashima coating, 15QR thru axle, custom G2 Geometry w/51mm offset

Drivetrain: XT Shifters, Crank w/38/24 chainrings and 11-36, 10 speed 10-speed cassette.

Brakes: XT Hydraulic discs w/180mm rotors front and back

Wheels: Bontrager Rhythm Elite Tubeless Ready 28-hole disc wheel system, 15mm front hub, 142x12mm rear hub

Price: R53 999

Some standard components need little mentioning - like the XT drivetrain and brakes - because they performed almost flawlessly. The Shadow Plus XT derailleur had a chance to show it was working, because on one of my runs down Vasbyt I forgot to turn the clutch on, resulting in the chain dropping to the small ring. Turn it back on, and viola, no dropped chains.

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Incidentally, Thomas Rood raced this bike at the Simonsberg Enduro last month, and if it weren't for a crash on one of the stages, might have won it. He swapped out some components to make it more comfortable for him. The 80mm Bontrager Rhythm Pro stem was replaced with same stem in 50mm length, the Bontrager Evoke 2 saddle with chromoly rails was replaced with a Bontrager RXL with carbon rails and the Bontrager XR3 Team Issue 29x2.35 tyre on the back was replaced with a Bontrager XR2 Team Issue 29x2.20. Some of the front XR3 Team Issue tyre's knobblies were also cut for faster rolling. The shorter stem was particularly suitable for me, as the bike was a size too big and it reduced the reach to a manageable length.

The Ride

Somewhat surprisingly, technical climbing was a highlight for the Remedy 29. It never once balked at rooted or rutted inclines and just plodded along nicely. Long arduous climbs on fire roads was where the extra weight was most evident.

Concerning the suspension setup, I ran the rear end a bit stiffer than Trek's charts indicated and the front a lot stiffer. I also tend to run rebound a bit slower than manufacturers recommend and did so with the Remedy, both front and back. It settled the back end and reduced the feeling of an overly active rear suspension. Instead of it going into each and every hole and rut, it floated over them. While it indicated that it bottomed out, the DRCV shock that was specially designed with Trek seemed to work its magic as it never felt as if I ever ran out of suspension.

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The big wheels certainly did make themselves apparent, especially showing how they can alter the whole bike's weight upwards. I love skidding about, locking the rear and sliding. And it was this that caught me out. The weight is quite so high up, when you throw it a few playful manoeuvres it can quickly turn to a high-side and buck you. It's the same with low speed tight moves, a simple manoeuvre can easily turn into a jack-knife. It didn't help that this frame was a size too big for me, though the reach was almost spot with the shorter stem fitted. Taking that into account, I'm sure all these feelings were a bit exaggerated.

Also, having the weight situated more towards the front caused steep declines to be a bit hairier than they needed to be. But with the Fox Float 34 up front, all worries were taken care of. They are plenty plush enough to rely on should the trail take you on an unexpected route, and stiff enough for you to change the course if you want.

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Biggest thing about 29ers (besides the wheels) is the difficulty lifting the front end or jumping it at all. Your weight is so far forward that to unweight the front takes a lot of premeditated thought and it is particularly difficult to hop over mid-trail objects in short notice.

It's a point and shoot sort of bike. Its weight, long wheelbase and solid Fox suspension let it plough through anything I threw at it. And while this is a great aspect about the Remedy, it does lack a bit of a playful character and agile is not something I would refer to it as. I rarely felt like I could change my line - once I was set, that was it, just hold on for the ride.

Initial Impression

What they say is true, 29ers roll over objects better, and generally roll faster, but you sacrifice agility and playfulness. It's an extremely capable bike, as far as I could tell in the short time and is specced rather well. What I would really like to test next is the 650b version of the Remedy to see if it offers some more small wheel character.