The brand new Trek Rail replaces the Powerfly. With the flagship Rail 9.9, Trek have finally put more focus on trail performance than long-distance comfort. Does it ride as if it’s on rails?
Click here for an overview of the best eMTB 2020 group test.
The Rail 9.9 is distinctly recognisable as a Trek. The beautiful, high-quality carbon frame with 29″ wheels is very similar to the non-motorised Slash, also offering 160 mm travel up front and 150 mm at the rear. Trek have integrated the current Bosch Performance Line CX motor, which can generate 75 Nm torque, nicely into the frame, and it is powered by an equally well integrated 625 Wh battery. The battery can be removed from the side of the down tube within seconds and is easy to carry thanks to the convenient handle. The Kiox display is elegantly mounted on the top tube of the Rail 9.9, though unfortunately, the lower end models have to make do without it. Only the cable routing along the frame to the display disrupts the very clean look.
Components, weight and technical details of the Trek Rail 9.9
In addition to the in-house Bontrager carbon cockpit, the € 10,999 flagship Trek Rail 9.9 comes with SE5 Team Issue tires and Bontrager Line Pro carbon wheels. Unfortunately, the rear rim broke during our tests, but thanks to the Bontrager Carbon Care program, you’ll get replacements for up to two years after your purchase. Apart from the Shimano XT 4-piston brake, Trek rely on the know-how of SRAM and RockShox. Neither the wireless X01 AXS drivetrain or the Reverb AXS dropper post are the real highlight here. Instead, it’s the RockShox Deluxe RT3 RE:aktiv Thru Shaft shock. Specially designed for Trek Bikes, the shock has fewer seals and makes for super responsive rear suspension on the Rail 9.9.
Trek Rail 9.9
Motor Bosch Performance Line CX 75Nm
Battery Bosch PowerTube 625Wh
Display Bosch Kiox
Fork RockShox Lyrik Ultimate 160 mm
Rear Shock RockShox Deluxe RT3 RE:aktiv Thru Shaft 150 mm
Seatpost RockShox Reverb AXS 150 mm
Brakes Shimano XT 4-piston 200/200 mm
Drivetrain SRAM X01 Eagle AXS 1x12
Stem Bontrager Line Pro 50 mm
Handlebar Bontrager Line Pro Carbon 780 mm
Wheelset Bontrager Line Carbon 30 29"
Size S M L XL
Weight 22 kg
Perm. total weight 136 kg
Max. payload (rider/equipment) 114 kg
Trailer approval no
Kickstand mount yes
individual Project One paintwork available for additional charge
Geometry and size of the Trek
Although the Rail looks similar to Trek’s old enduro bike, the Slash, its geometry is much more modern. With a reach of 465 mm, the Rail is positioned in the middle of the test field. The bottom bracket, on the other hand, is very low with a 35 mm drop.
|Seat tube||410 mm||420 mm||450 mm||500 mm|
|Top tube||587 mm||611 mm||633 mm||665 mm|
|Head tube||105 mm||105 mm||110 mm||120 mm|
|Chainstays||447 mm||447 mm||447 mm||447 mm|
|BB Height||344 mm||344 mm||344 mm||344 mm|
|BB Drop||29 mm||29 mm||29 mm||29 mm|
|Wheelbase||1,195 mm||1,220 mm||1,243 mm||1,277 mm|
|Reach||425 mm||450 mm||470 mm||499 mm|
|Stack||623 mm||622 mm||627 mm||636 mm|
The Trek Rail 9.9 on the trail
The striking kink in the seat tube is another typical Trek design feature. Because of it, the effective seat tube angle of the Rail gets slacker the more you extend the seat post. If you’ve got long legs, this will place you further over the rear wheel than smaller riders. On steep climbs, taller riders, in particular, have to actively weight the front wheel to keep it on the ground. Keep the front down and you’ll benefit from the Rail 9.9’s low weight of just 22 kg and easily get up the climbs. Because of the low bottom bracket, you have to time your pedal strokes as you traverse obstacles to avoid clipping your pedals.
The Trek Rail 9.9 can take on any trail: Smooth and flowing, with jumps, through roots and rocks or steep and fast. Choose anything!
Thanks to the flip-chip, the geometry of the Rail 9.9 can be adjusted to suit your preference. Since, like us, the Rail is all about the descents, we kept it in the “low” setting throughout our test. In that setting, the rider’s centre of gravity is positioned nice and low on the Trek Rail and thanks to the long front triangle, you still have plenty of room to move around. Besides the low weight, we were especially impressed by the suspension performance of the Trek Rail 9.9. It simply swallows up holes, rocks and roots whether you’re riding fast or slow without ever giving up too much of its travel. As a result, the handling feels direct even on flowing sections of track, you can get it airborne without much effort and it invites you to pull manuals – though it requires speed to do so. On very flat terrain, the weight distribution on the Rail 9.9 is less well-balanced and you have to actively shift your weight forward to have enough precision and grip in the corners. In summary, active and experienced riders will benefit most from the bike’s direct handling and its high-speed capabilities. The only thing you might not like are the wide and undefined 2.6″ Bontrager SE5 tires.
The Trek Rail 9.9 is composed, yet playful – as long as you’re carrying speed!
Tuning tip: narrower tires for even more direct handling | aluminium rims
At high speed, the Trek Rail 9.9 does indeed glide over super rough terrain as if on rails. Active and fast riders can push their limits on any trail without the Rail 9.9 nearing its own. The design is beautiful and Trek have done a great job of integrating the Bosch system into the bike.
- almost limitless capabilities on the trail
- it looks great
- integration of the Bosch system
- bored at slower speeds
- flimsy carbon wheelset
- slack seat tube angle when the seat post is extended
You can find out more about the Trek Rail 9.9 at trekbikes.com.
The test field
You can find everything you need to know about our test for the best eMTB of 2020 right here!
All bikes in test: BULLS SONIC EVO AM 6 | Cannondale Moterra 1 | Canyon Spectral:ON 9.0 | COMMENCAL META POWER 29 TEAM 2020 | CONWAY XYRON 927 Carbon | CUBE Stereo Hybrid 160 HPC | FANTIC XF1 180 Race | FOCUS JAM² 9.9 DRIFTER | Giant Reign E+ 0 Pro | Haibike XDURO Nduro 10.0 | Liteville 301 CE MK1 | MERIDA eONE-SIXTY 10K | Moustache Samedi 27 Trail | Norco Range VLT C1 | NOX Hybrid Enduro 7.1 | Orbea WILD FS M-LTD | Pivot Shuttle 29 | Rocky Mountain Altitude Powerplay Carbon 90 Rally Edition | ROTWILD R.X750 ULTRA | SIMPLON Rapcon Pmax | Specialized Turbo Kenevo Expert | Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo | Trek Rail 9.9 | Whyte E-180 RS V1 | YT DECOY CF Pro Race
Relaxed and comfortable riding on surfaced roads, both uphill and downhill.↩
Easy climbs up trails with few obstacles, wide turns and a moderate incline.↩
Active and playful descents on easy trails with few obstacles, wide turns and a moderate slope.↩
Single-track climbs on challenging terrain. Loose ground, steps, roots, tight corners and occasionally extreme inclines.↩
Singletrack descents on challenging terrain. Loose ground, steps, roots, tight corners and small jumps as well as some very steep descents.↩
High speed descents on sometimes very rough trails with large jumps and obstacles that you can’t roll over.↩
The rating used for riding characteristics refers to the bikes in the group test and the current state of development of eMTBs. The best bikes managed to blend supposedly opposite riding characteristics, feeling both lively and stable at the same time. The handling describes the balance of the bike on downhill sections. The information regarding motor-power refers to the ride-feeling in the overall context of the bike and not exclusively to the motor – that’s why the same motor can present different values.↩
Words: Felix Stix, Robin Schmitt, Jonas Müssig Photos: Finlay Anderson, Robin Schmitt, Felix Stix, Markus Frühmann