I first rode the Trek Stache 9 at the Trek Factory Demo that took place at Lebanon Hills on May 24th, 2015. I was not expecting much from this bike; I rode it out of professional curiosity (it's kinda my job).
As you can see it's a really hard job. Some days are harder than others. After about seven hours of setting up bikes for customers to ride we shut down the public demo and had a shop employee-only demo. I was pretty tired from adjusting air pressure on suspension forks and talking about bikes all day but Ken, the demo truck driver, insisted that I go ride a Stache. And since everyone that had ridden one came back raving about it, I knew it was my duty to check it out for myself.
The 18.5" Stache 9 at the demo had Trek's new HiLine 29er+ wheels on it, which are not stock. These wheels are reportedly much lighter than the stock wheels and of course they have Bontrager's legendary tubeless system. These were an early-release wheel set, and are not available for purchase at this time.
After riding the bike for one lap at Lebanon Hills during the demo, I was convinced that this was the right bike for me. This bike is fun! I quickly ordered one up while they were still in stock. The initial assembly of the bike was a breeze. With the 1x11 drive-train there was only one derailleur to adjust, the wheels were true, and the brakes set up quickly and easily.
After the first ride I swapped the dropper post for a Cane Creek Thudbuster because I'm an old guy with a bad back. I found that with the suspension seat post and the plus-sized tires I was able to keep weight on the saddle through bumpy corners, which allowed me to keep rear-wheel traction (kinda like a full suspension bike--do ya see where I'm going here?). It also allowed me to stay seated over bumpy terrain and not lose my pedaling rhythm. Yes, I am still a hard-tail rider because it suits my style, which is to say that long sustained climbs are my weakness. This is one of the reasons that the plus-sized tires appealed to me. Some people have talked about hitting their feet on the stays. I do not have this problem when I am clipped in, but when goofing around on it in street shoes I do occasionally feel my heels hit the stays, but it's no big deal.
One of the things that I first noticed is that the Mule Fut rims were heavier, thus the bike was not quite as quick on the climbs. But as a clydesdale rider, I noticed more flex than on the Bontrager HiLine wheels that were on the demo bike I rode. I also had difficulty getting the rear wheel to set up tubeless. The wheels came stock with the Sun Ringle rim strip to cover the cutouts but they put Stan's rim tape over the stock rim strip to seal things up. The Stan's tape was just a little bit wider than the stock rim strip, so it kinda stuck to the rim. I ended up replacing the Stan's tape with duct tape, which is the perfect width at 48mm. This seems to have done the trick for now.
One quirk to be aware of is the Manitou Hex Lock through-axle.
It uses a hex shape to align it so that a "T" shaped tab can engage a slot in the cap on the rotor side.
It's a bit clumsy to use and seems overly complicated. But it works.
The Manitou Magnum fork has 110mm of travel, but with the quality of the suspension feel and the big tires I don't need any more. I haven't taken the time to learn about all the adjustments or do much tuning which is a testament to the fork because it feels good. The red knob is a lock out/firming adjustment and it works well. There's a high-speed compression and a bottom-out adjustment knob. I fiddled with them on my first ride but didn't notice much difference. One important note: to adjust the air pressure in the fork you DO NOT take off the black top-cap on the rotor/non-drive side; instead, you remove the blue bottom-cap on the rotor side. I will say that from setting up the bike at the Trek demo and from my experience I found that I preferred a much lower air pressure than what the sticker on the fork recommends.
So why did I choose to get one of these bikes? This bike is what I have needed for the last 15 years. It soaks up the trail. It loves to lean. It is the perfect wheelie machine. It goes over rock gardens better than any other bike I've ridden. The positioning/fit is very comfortable yet I would still be happy to race on it. The bottom line is that it is a ton of fun and it's fast. If you want to give one a try, stop in to our West Bank or Eden Prairie location or join me on my Sunday Night Theo MTB Ride.