Words by #TeamRutland member Lee Hopkinson
It's been a few months since I was lucky enough to be selected as an Ambassador for #TeamRutland. As part of this I have been given the opportunity to ride a Trek Procaliber 9.8; this has allowed me to ride a different brand for the first time in over 20 years, having always ridden Scott bikes. I have also stepped up to a 29� wheel (previously 27.5�).
With over 400 miles ridden on the new bike, including a couple of midweek XC races and a 100-mile off-road Enduro event, I feel that I have had enough bike time to provide some meaningful feedback.
Where Do I Start...
Weight: Considering that this is 29er, the first thing you cannot not help but notice is how the light it is (this has also been commented on by others, especially when lifting over gates!). At only 10kg, this is down to all the major components being Carbon as standard, frame, stem, handlebars and even the wheels, which I will come to in a bit.
Even with the incredible weight there is no compromise on the stiffness or strength which allows for a very responsive feel.
The Wheelset: Kovee Elite 30
These are carbon as standard with a width of 30mm, wider than my normal rims, which has allowed for lower tyre pressure, giving more tyre spread when more grip has been required on roots or corners. In other words it is like riding on rails!
The wheels/tyres are tubeless ready as standard (a valve set will need to be purchased), which was one of the first things that I set up. With the rim strip that is already in place, this meant that no additional rim tape was required and both tyres sealed first time with no fuss, which is first for me!
These provide a solid lockout when out on the road or on flat off-road sections and the 100 mm travel has coped equally as well on the rough sections that I have encountered. Additionally, the remote lockout makes it easy to alternate between the two whilst staying in control.
The Isopeed Decoupler
This is a mechanism that allows for slight movement of the rear end without losing any rigidity but makes any trail riding smoother with less impact on the body. Having ridden both hard-tails & full suspension XC bikes, this was the one feature I was most curious and sceptical about! Having now ridden the Summer Solstice 100+ miles Enduro event, which meant that I was in the saddle for 8.5 hrs last weekend, I can safely say its works! Even on the shorter rides or XC events that I have raced it just smooths out any rough sections without compromising on speed through excessive movement on the bike.
The Eagle 12 speed with 32T chainring - having ridden a variety of chain rings (30T-36T), I didn't think this setting would offer the range I needed for my rides, but I have been able to get up 30+ mph on the road and hold a around 25mph quite comfortably when needed. When off-roading the range is there for anything from tight twisty single track to both long or short hills.
So whether you want to chase XC podiums, King of the Mountains with your friends on Strava or just get out and ride, this is the bike that will do it all straight out of the box! I can honestly say that this is the best bike I have ever ridden in over 26yrs of XC Racing!See the full Trek Procaliber range here