Pro Bike Check: René Wildhaber’s Trek SLASH 9.8 Carbon
6th place overall in the 2013 and 2014 Enduro World Series, uncountable victories in the Trek Bike Attack and other international enduro races and downhill marathons – René Wildhaber is without doubt a legend of our sport. Whilst he is currently spending his off season as a ski instructor and ski tour guide his objectives for the next biking season are ambitious: top ten in the overall EWS ranking and “If possible a podium place” – we took a close look at his work horse the Trek Slash 9.8 carbon.
To be perfectly prepared for the 2015 EWS series René is currently experimenting with different components. When possible he takes plenty of time to test each individual variable in order to know exactly understand each change. With FOX and Shimano as new sponsors there are plenty of factors to play with from suspension to shifting. But frame size and wheel/tyre combinations are also not finally decided on. Even though the frame is a standard series model René presented a host of interesting and partially improvised details, some of which are only available to the best.
The heart: the frame is a standard production Trek SLASH 8.9 carbon unit. Only when all of the components have been adjusted will René make a final decision on frame size. Using the “Minolink”-Insert between the seat stay and rocker arm the geometry can be fine-tuned. The head angle can be made 0.5 degrees slacker and the bottom bracket dropped 10mm. René rides in the slacker position. The FOX Float X shock is somewhat longer than the Rockshox Monarch Plus fitted on the production bike which is why the head angle finishes off back at 65.5 degrees.
Pioneer spirit: as the Slash frame still doesn’t have mounting hardware for the Shimano Di2- battery so René had to think up a solution: external mounting on the frame wasn’t an option for him for him so without further ado he took off the fork and fitted it inside the steerer tube. The battery is secured with foam and bolts.
Full Floater: on the Slash frame the rear shock is mounted floating – that means it isn’t fixed to the main triangle of the frame at the lower end but ‘swims’ between two moving mounting points.
More efficiency at the touch of a button: the remote lever fitted on the right of the bars allows René to choose between the rear suspension modes. The rapid adjustment is intended to save energy on climbs. The FOX Float X offers 160mm travel./p>
Axle = pivot point: Active Braking Pivot (ABP) is the name of Trek’s suspension system, whereby the rear wheel axle is also the pivot point of the rear suspension system. This ensures that the rear suspension remains active instead of becoming firmer even during the hardest braking moves.
The FOX 36 Float with 160mm travel: The internals are different to the production version – René’s won’t give away more
Now it’s getting electric! The Shimano XTR Di2 groupset isn’t just revolutionary because of its electric servo motor, the shift lever has also been completely re-engineered. As an actuated cable is replaced by an electrical signal completely new shift lever designs become possible – the result is ergonomically optimised shift feeling.
A new era: the XTR Di2-shifting is still a rarity. Even René has only been riding it for a short time. His impression – shifting is rapid and reliable. Shift speed and lever functions can be adjusted using a diagnostic device. The battery needs recharging after 300 km.
Spoilt for choice: the bike is currently set up with a 1×11 drivetrain, René uses a 11-40 t cassette combined with a 32 t chainring. But a 2×11 version will also be extensively tested before René makes a final decision. Of course the front shifting would also be electric.
Fine tuning: René still hasn’t made a final choice of wheel and tyres and is currently testing different combinations. One thing is certain: the Trek house brand Bontrager will supply the tyres and depending on weather and trail conditions different models will be used. For wheels René has a choice of Spank or American Classic – currently he’s running an American Classic Wide Lightning at the front and a Spank Oozy rear wheel.
For more comfort: a 60mm stem and 760 mm wide bars with 15mm rise. The Spank Oozy bars feature the Vibrocore technology. A special foam inside the bars adds stiffness whilst absorbing small, high-frequency vibrations.
Brakes: René rides with Shimano XTR Trail brakes with a 200 mm ICE-Tec brake rotor at the front and 180mm at the rear.
Text:Hannah Röther Photos: Victor Lucas