Trek Slash vs. a downhill bike

It had been about 15 years since I had gotten a new Mountain Bike.  I had purchased a series of cheap beat up downhill bikes.  I loved them and beat them up more.  It was time for me to get into this new age of bike tech.  Downhilling, hitting big burm turns, and finding rocks and rollers to grab air is what I am most into.  I don’t really care much for going uphill.  A downhill bike is what I would truly want but my lifestyle as a dad of young kids does not really allow me the free time to get my moneys worth out of a downhill bike or bike park pass.  I needed something that would let me blast out the back door for 45min to an hour before I needed to return, and I wanted something that could handle some hard charging downhill runs and 3-5ft. drops.  I settled on the Trek Slash.

The Slash has 160mm of travel and rock shox suspension.  I did quickly learn that if you plan to charge hard you need to put about 30psi more air in the rear shock than is recommended.  The suspension is soft even when locked out but that is to be expected with a bike like this.  Soft suspension in the climbs is not really something I care too much about.  It will slow you down a bit in the climb but the bike will climb just fine with the 36/22 rings in front and 10 speed 11-36 rings in the rear.  For what I was looking to accomplish the bike climbs just fine.

mtn bike trail.jpg

With the extra 30 psi in the rear shock the suspension is great for my level of downhill, which I would call moderate.  3-5ft drops and going fast through technical sections is what I am into.   This bike can handle those just fine.   the suspension, ABP (active breaking pivot), and full floater frame are great.  The biggest thing I noticed about this bike versus a downhill bike is the geometry.  The head tube angle on the slash is 65 degrees.  Which is less than a cross country and some enduro bikes.  Most down hill rigs are around 61-63 degrees.  A lower head tube angle gives you a longer wheel base, making it easier to fly through technical sections.  All this really means for this bike is that you have to get your butt a little further behind the seat.  The Seat tube angle on this bike is at 66.5 degrees which actually does not effect the climbing too much.  A serious climber will have a seat tube angle in the low 70’s, but at 66.5 this still climbs just fine and helps widen the wheel base a bit.  The bottom bracket height also feels just fine and has great clearance.  The BB can be adjusted up to 10mm with trek’s mino link tech.  (don’t know what Head Tube angle, Seat tube angle or Bottom Bracket mean click here)

For the performance that I was looking for in the riding time frames that I have,  the trek slash is a great bike.  The big difference that I noticed between this bike and a DH is the head tube angle, which is very managable.  If I had more free time to get to ride some chairlifts I would still go with a DH, but until my kids get bigger this bike will let me get out and do what I want to do.

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