Trek 69er 3x9 review$1,979.99

Smooth and speedy ride

BikeRadar score4/5

The Trek 69er concept takes some getting used to – a 26in rear wheel matched with a 29in hoop up front – but it’s got some real advantages for riders after smoothness and speed. The 69er 3X9 loves fast, open trails.

Ride & handling: Fast rolling penny farthing is a bike of two halves

As you’d expect, the twin wheel sizes dominate the ride, with all emphasis on the front end. Stamp on the pedals and you can feel the back wheel scrabbling – and often spinning – as it forces the slower accelerating front wheel down the trail. The light, less anchored rear wheel steps out sideways in corners or under power more frequently than a matched-wheel bike too.

It accelerates quicker than a 29er, though, and once up to speed it flies along noticeably faster than a 26er. The big front wheel soaks up rocks, roots, steps and stutter bumps smoothly too. This makes it a fast and secure descender as long as you get your bum off the saddle to avoid the kick of the firm and less cushioned rear end.

The firm feel of the narrow bar and stability of the front wheel mean you always feel in control. The big wheel and easy front end pop-up also make it a smooth and rapid climber as long as you keep momentum up. 

Once you’re used to its dynamics you can skid steer the bike through tighter stuff well. It was still relatively slow through the singletrack, though, and its talents obviously lie on faster, more open trails.

Trek 69er 3x9: trek 69er 3x9
Trek 69er 3x9: trek 69er 3x9

Frame: Stiff and shapely chassis with good-looking split wishbone seatstay

The 69er frame is a lot more than just a conventional chassis with a long fork plugged in. The short, integrated head tube keeps the front end as low as possible, while internal and external shaping gives it a resolute grip on the Fox fork. 

Down tube, top tube and chainstays are all hydroformed, although the front mech means no repeat of the brutally stiff flared seat tube used on the 69er singlespeed we reviewed recently. It’s still a rigid frame overall, though. 

You get the same good looking and mud-friendly split wishbone seatstay, as well as a quality seat quick-release.

Equipment: Impressive fork, capable wheels, quality drivetrain and powerful brakes

While it’s only got 100mm (4in) of travel, the long-legged Fox F29 fork is impressively controlled. Broad Bontrager Duster rims wrapped in Bontrager’s new XDX tyres create a comfortable, capable wheelset too. 

The Shimano XT/SLX transmission drives well, while a 185mm front rotor helps the Avid Juicy 5 brakes eat the extra momentum of the big front wheel. The droopy, backswept Bontrager flat bar helps keep hand height low despite the big front wheel.

A shimano xt/slx transmission mix is a sensible choice: a shimano xt/slx transmission mix is a sensible choice
A shimano xt/slx transmission mix is a sensible choice: a shimano xt/slx transmission mix is a sensible choice

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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