A thing, but not the most important thing, that I like about my new bike is that the colors and graphics remind me of the 80s, when I was young and had flowing locks of hair. I know. Hard to believe.
When I was a young corporate stooge (not that there’s anything wrong with that. In fact, there is a lot good with that.) I took a class called “Consulting Skills,” the main thrust of which concerned hidden agendas, the situation in which normal people say they want one (typically business-oriented) thing but have other goals, typically of a more personal nature. The idea was that if you could spot your client’s hidden agenda, it might make negotiations quite a bit easier. Or at least make your client seem less crazy.
I went on my dealer trips with a small hidden agenda: find out what dual-suspension mountain bike I would purchase. When all the dust and jet lag cleared, I bought a Trek Stache because I had more fun on it than any other bike I rode. Faster? I dunno. Funner? Yes. We’ll talk about what that means.
My bike arrived on Wednesday, and I had it built in time to ride it all over my yard and make my dog crazy. Here, where I live, the bike seemed like it might be as much fun as I remembered, but it’s hard to be sure when you’re just riding it around the yard, aggravating the dog.
Last Sunday I went to Custer and tried it out. Fun. Fun on a sesame seed bun. This is what I liked:
- Traction like crazy. Unreal traction. Traction going uphill over roots and rocks. Traction when you need to Stop Right Now. Traction in the corners to the extent that I need to rethink how I use the brakes.
- Speaking of brakes, XT brakes and rotors. Dang.
- Frisky. I jumped things I cannot normally jump. I laughed and laughed and one time scared myself pretty thoroughly. Then I laughed again.
- The sand factor. This is different from traction. This is floating over the sand. This is actually being able to steer in deep sand. The good news is that it’s very confidence inspiring. The bad news is that it does not help me prepare to ride a cyclocross bike through sand.
- Neat fork. I set the fork up based on the supplied information (which, hey!, how often does a fork company actually include some thoughts about how to set the dang thing up? Not often enough, in this man’s opinion.). I didn’t quite use all the travel, so I probably need to make some small changes, but it has a very nice balance of plushness when you smack something, without too much squish when going uphill. I cannot understand why Manitou went against the red=rebound/blue=compression standard for their knobs. Maybe I’ll make some calls and find out and maybe someone will be interested.
- Tubeless. The shop experienced great success with Sun Ringle’s Mule Fut fat bike rim, and these are the same but narrower. They seem pretty light, and the stock Chupacabra tires were easy to set up.
The dropper post is cool, but for me, around here, it’s a pretty meh feature. I totally impressed my wife, child and dog by demonstrating it in the garage. At Custer, well, I never used it. It’s plenty easy to get your butt behind the saddle if needed, and I just don’t think we have crazy downhills that merit a dropper post. I’ll probably swap it out.
At an advertised price of $3700, this is not an inexpensive hard tail. Oh it has nice things: a v. nice 1×11 drivetrain, the aforementioned XT brakes, DT Swiss 350 hubs, dropper post and more, but that’s still a lot of money. The Stache 7 looses the dropper post and goes down a click on drivetrain, brakes and fork, but knocks $1200 off the price tag in the process. That might be a better answer for some folks. Or if you prefer your bike without suspension (something not unpleasant with these big tires), the rigid Stache 5 looks like a really good deal.
I confess that I experienced a small bout of buyer’s remorse immediately after I signed on the dotted line. What if I was just having my best day ever at the demo and this bike isn’t all that? What if I don’t find this appreciably different from my 29er? What if I burned up my dual-suspension bike fund on a lark? Those thoughts are now distant in the rear-view mirror. This bike is fun. Fun, fun, fun.