The Trek ProCaliber 8 features a Decoupler and Isospeed and those make this hardtail a ‘fully’. Riddles? Read the review and watch the video!
- Price: € 1799,00
- Weight: 11,98 kg
- Sizes 13,5″ t/m 23″
The Netherlands is a truly hardtail mountain bike country. Not so strange because until recently the mountain bike trails weren’t really a challenge for a fully. But that changes quickly: trails become more technical and certainly on the hard routes of, for example, the Utrechtse Heuvelrug is a little damping behind quite comfortable. The Trek ProCaliber 8 plays on it: it is a hardtail with a little suspension at the rear. How is possible?
The Trek ProCaliber series came in late 2016 for the first time on the market, but the technique behind the ‘ springy ‘ hardtail is already somewhat older. The idea – conceived by the engineers of trek in collaboration with the now retired cyclist Fabian Cancellara – dates from 2012 and came in that year for the first time on race bikes of trek. But what is the idea behind that ‘ sprung ‘ back?
Isopeed Decoupler Part I
The Isopeed Decoupler ‘ disconnects ‘ – hence the word Decoupler-the seat of the rest of the frame. Thanks to a piece of ‘ plastic ‘ the seat can move slightly and the vibrations are muted from the back of the frame. Now the seat of course is not completely loose; With a bolt the two are still connected because otherwise the stiffness would be compromised. The operation of the system is difficult to portray while cycling and also still the flex of the seat is barely visible. Trek has stopped the Isospeed decoupler a nice animation in a video on the ProCaliber. The video is at the bottom of this story. The animation starts at 33 seconds.
Frame: Three Flavors
The frame of the Trek ProCaliber series is made in Korea – Frame Bouwland by Excellence! -and there is in three flavors. The ProCaliber 6 and the 8 (which I test here) have an aluminum frame. The bare frame weighs in the 17.5 “inch size 2 kg. The tensile ProCaliber 8, which I test, does not bring just 12 kg on the scale. The more expensive 9-series has a carbon frame and is about 500 grams lighter. From that carbon frame there is also another SL-variant: The superlight whose frame weighs a skinny 1.13 kg. of the 6 and 9 is also another ladies model with a frame with a lower entry level. A pity is that the real Middenmoter – the 8 – is not available as a ladies variant.
Draw ProCaliber 8 Cable guidance
The bulk of the cables on the pull ProCaliber 8 runs neatly through the frame to the spot of destination. The rear derailleur cable comes out below the bottom frame tube and runs under the rear bridge to the derailleur. The cable of the rear brake is the only one that runs completely reachable from. Or I like that mix nicely? It will be a result of not wanting to make too many holes in a frame because that could have consequences for the firmness. Well, however, there is still a hole in the seat to conduct a cable for a hydraulic seatpost. The frame has two places to screw a bottle cage.
The tensile ProCaliber 8 has a RockShox Reba RL fork. The fork has 100 mm of travel and underneath on the right fork leg is a large rotary knob with which you can set the rebound. The rebound controls the speed at which the fork responds to unevenness as it were. Too fast and you get a bouncy bike, too slow and you get a rocking fork that always responds too late to bumps. On top of the left fork is a valve with which you control the pressure in the fork. This pressure depends on your weight and your personal preference whether you prefer to have a slightly harder or softer fork.
On the right fork is the mechanism of the Lockout; The system that allows you to lock the fork, so that it drives as a bike without a suspension fork. This is pleasant when climbing or long stretches over tight terrain because you can deliver a lot of power without getting a ‘ heaving ‘ fork and thus wasting energy. About the operation of the fork nothing but praise. If properly adjusted, it smoothes unevenness. The control of the lockout is easily accessible on the handlebar next to the left handle. The lockout is not 100% lockout; You always have something damping when you unexpectedly go into the lockout booth against a hard tree root.
Wheel Size: 27 ‘ 5 “or 29-er?
The Trek Pro caliber 8, which I test here, is a 29-er. Trek makes depending on the frame size the choice for you whether you get a 29-er or the smaller 27.5 “(650B) wheels. The frame sizes Ladies 13.5 “and men’s 15.5” have these “small” wheels. The frame sizes 17.5 “through 23”-have the big wheels. This choice is logical. As you get smaller, big wheels are a disadvantage rather than an advantage. The bike is not only disproportionately much heavier, but large wheels in a small frame make a mountain bike less manoeuvrable as well.
Rims and hubs
The rims and hubs come from Treks house brand Bontrager. The rims are Duster Elite 23 and they are tubeless Ready. For you can find a Bontrager boost 110 hub and behind a boost 148. And those numbers stand for the width of the hub. With the advent of 29-ers it was important that naven became wider to achieve a similar stiffness as with a 26 inch wheel. But that’s on the side. The axle for is of course of Rockshox and is 15 mm and behind sits a 12 mm copy of Bontrager.
Pull always mounts tires from own home and with the tensile ProCaliber 8 that is no different: front and rear you will find Bontrager XR2 Team Issue tires in size 29 x 2.20. Also these are tubless Ready so you can drive without inner tubes and that saves weight again. Now I’m not always a fan of Bontrager’s ties. I often find them heavy and do not have enough grip on Dutch paths. With the XR2 Team Issue ties that is different. The weight is along (about 630 grams) and the tyres generally offer good grip. Also when I make a mistake, the front band is again biting into the sides of the trail. I do have the idea that the dots in the middle wear out reasonably quickly.
The House brand Bontrager does not only find you back at the wheels. The saddle – a Bontrager Montrose Comp-, the carbon seatpost, the Bontrager Race Lite handlebar and the Elite stem are all from Bontrager. The stem has a length of 70 mm and makes an angle of 7 degrees. In my case, he stands down what a sportier is giving. If you want something more upright then you can turn it over. The stem is also suitable for the Trek blender: a holder on which you can attach a cycling computer, your mobile, a headlight or a Garmin GPS.
Seating position and comfort
The seat on the pull ProCaliber 8 is without a sport and that fits the type of bike. On the stem I already had it: may be higher if you want. The saddle I find comfortable but that is very personal. The handlebar lies nicely in the hand and with its width of 720 mm He gives a lot of control on meandering paths. However on very close paths are wide send sometimes a disadvantage. Everyone knows the handlebar-height damaged trees of the MTB route near Zeist. Judge for yourself and saw a part of the handlebars when you ride a lot of this kind of trails. Uphill is a wide handlebar also not always tasty; At the sidewalks you pull the handlebars and you automatically go some swabbing. So I just grab the handlebars in the middle.
Behind is an 11 speed cassette where the smallest sprocket has 11 teeth and the largest 42 teeth. Now you might wonder why that big tooth blade is black and the rest pretty shiny steel. To save weight is that large sprocket made of aluminum. Yes, that is more wear-resistant but that large leaf use – if it is good – relatively little. The crankset comes from race face: The race face Next R. It is made of carbon and that gives the Trek something extra. The sheets for have 26 and 36 teeth. The combination of cover pages and cassette produces a resistance that is of course very useful in the Netherlands and in the mountains of the Ardennes and the hills of the Sauerland. Now you come with a 1 x 11-Speed also a very end. With the 2 x 11-speed of the Trek ProCaliber 8 You will also come a long way in the Alps.
Shimano Switching system
The complete switching system comes from Shimano. For has a Shimano SLX derailleur mounted and behind a Shimano XT with Shadow Plus technique. On the arm of the derailleur there is a lever. Get it over and the derailleur is locked. As a result, it moves less during cycling and the chain tension is more constant. This prevents the chain from riding over bumps to go too much back and forth and flies off (and between your front blades and the frame comes). Loosening is really only necessary if you want to take the wheel out.
The shifters are Shimano SLX-en. They are mounted on the fastening of the brake levers which gives you a nice clean handlebar. The shifters are equipped with a set knob to change the cable tension, should there be some adjustment on the road. It is also good that the position of the shifters relative to the handles can be adjusted. It is a matter of a inbusboutje loosening and you can steer the whole shifter direction or move the directional handles correctly. In short: good for small and large hands. The operation of the Shimano group is flawless.
The tensile ProCaliber 8 features Shimano Deore MT500 hydraulic disc brakes and levers. The front disc has a diameter of 180 mm and behind it you find a disc with a diameter of 160 mm. The calipers have a single piston and are mounted directly onto the frame and the front fork. Something we call in jargon. If you want to tinker with the brakes and pull the claws loose, turn them on with a torque wrench. If you do not do this then you have a chance of damaging the thread in frame and fork and then you are far from home.
The brake levers have short grips that are very good in the fingers. The distance from the lever to the handlebar is with a inbusboutje to adjust. Handy, but not as handy as a rotary knob that you can just adjust with your fingers. And that Inbusboutje is size 2.5 and it doesn’t sit on every bike tool. Something to bear in mind.
The brakes are nice on average and in this case this is a pre. They intervene well, brake nicely and the delay is good to dispense. They are never too toxic so you suddenly get lost with a blocking front wheel.
Isopeed Decoupler Part II
Back to the right of the draw ProCaliber 8 and the whole series: the Isospeed decoupler story. Last year I tested all the ProCaliber 9.7 SL. A great bike that I couldn’t tell if the Isospeed system works. With the Trek ProCaliber 8 I have that feeling for sure. After two weeks of frolic – of which the necessary times on the hard route of Amer eyes – I feel I have less bounced off the bike step. Also the back feels ‘ quieter ‘ about washboards in my ‘ backside ‘. I also tried the system with hard-pumped tyres on cobblestones and that experiment confirms what I feel on the trails. Incidentally, I realize that I have now tested a totally different bike; Aluminium frame versus carbon, 17.7 “versus 15.5” then and so also 29-er versus 27.5 “.
With the ProCaliber 8 does pull in my eyes something very handsome. The bike performs well on Dutch singles rails and is fast enough to compete with them. The Isospeed comes right into the aluminium 17.5 “frame with its large 29” wheels. Although it is very difficult to measure, I feel that washboards and tree roots are really less hard to get through. Also the installation with a fine RockShox Reba RL Fork and the mix of Bontrager and Shimano parts fits the price of the ProCaliber 8. What does it cost? €1799.00 euro and that is a very neat price for an XC-mountain bike that, like a Korean Kia, drives a class richer. 9.6/10 points!