Tuesday, May 12, 2015

2016 Trek Top Fuel Bike SPOTTED - Crossing the Finish Line First

Photo Credit: Lachlan Ryan

Pro Cyclist Dan McConnell Won the Oceana Championship on a 2016 Trek Prototype

(article and photos from bikeradar)

What we know

Trek’s flagship cross-country full suspension, the Superfly FS 9.9 SL, uses a carbon swing link mounted to the junction of the seat and top tube to drive the rear shock, a feature clearly absent from this new bike. McConnell’s race rig sports a rocker link similar to the EVO link Trek uses on its longer travel Fuel EX and Remedy trail bikes.

In fact, this yet-to-be-named-machine appears to employ many of the same technologies as Trek’s longer-travel mountain bikes in a race-ready package. In addition to using a rocker link, this new bike uses Trek’s Full Floater suspension arrangement, which attaches the lower shock mount to the chainstays, just forward of the main pivot. Trek claims attaching the shock to two moving linkage points creates a more bottomless suspension feel.

In line with the Superfly FS and Trek’s other full suspension models, this new bike uses Trek’s ABP suspension design, which features a rear pivot concentric to the rear axle to improve suspension performance under braking.

Di2 compatible

McConnell was one of the first racers in the world to use Shimano’s XTR Di2 9050 group. This bike is equipped with Shimano’s electronic XTR Di2 group, and with a unused cable port on the left of the head tube, it’s safe to assume that the frame is optimized for electronic as well as mechanical drivetrains.

BikeRadar guesses:

Trek declined to comment on McConnell’s bike, other than to trot out the line that the company is always testing new things. As we’ve seen in the past, once a bike makes it to carbon, it is very near to production.

From the photos, recent advancements in the rest of Trek’s line, and general industry trends we can speculate on possible features that may be included in production versions.

Adjustable geometry?

The Mino Link is currently used on the Session and Remedy; it allows the rider to adjust the head tube angle and bottom bracket height

The rocker link appears to incorporate an offset mount where it joins the seatstay. It’s possible that Trek is using its geometry-changing Mino Link developed for longer travel bikes like the Session and Remedy. If this is indeed the case, it could allow racers to fine-tune the handling of the bike to suit the course.

Boosted rear end?

Trek partnered with SRAM to develop the 148x12 rear axle standard. It is likely this new bike makes use of it. For the 2015 model year Trek rolled out the Boost 148 axle standard for its long-travel 29ers. This 148x12mm axle spacing allows hubs to be built with a wider bracing angle, thereby increasing wheel stiffness. It is very possible Trek plans to incorporating this technology into its latest cross-country race bike.

RE:aktiv ready?

The new bike uses Trek's Full Floater suspension arrangement, production versions may also use Trek's regressive RE:aktiv damper technology (used on the Fuel EX shown here)

While McConnell was running the Fox iCD rear shock, it’s very possible that production versions of the bike will incorporate some version of Trek’s RE:aktiv suspension technology, given the investment Trek has made in its partnership with the Formula One suspension experts at Penske Racing Shocks.

Trek’s RE:aktiv suspension technology is firm under pedaling but uses regressive valving that allows the shock to open up when it encounters high velocity impacts. On paper, this technology seems well-suited to the rigors of cross-country racing.

Pick your wheelsize?

To date, Trek has taken two different approaches to the development of 27.5in and 29in mountain bikes.

Trek has used the “two riders, one trail” slogan to describe the use of comparable 27.5 and 29in models in the Fuel EX and Remedy trail bikes. Riders can select bikes that are nearly identical, save for wheelsize, to suit their riding style.

Trek adjusts wheelsize to suit frame size from some of its hardtails

When it comes to cross-country hardtails, Trek has put forward its Smart Wheelsize philosophy, asserting that riders should use “the biggest wheel that fits.” Bikes such as Trek’s aluminum Superfly hardtail use 29in wheels for the larger sizes, downsizing to 27.5in hoops for small and extra small frames.

While McConnell is clearly riding a 29er, Trek also has several petite female racers who appear hard pressed to fit comfortably on big wheels. We’re not sure which route Trek will take: offering this new bike in both 27.5in and 29in models across all frame sizes, or using 27.5in-wheeled versions for the smaller sizes, but we’re confident we will see some use of 27.5in wheels.

Stay tuned

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