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  1. #1
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    Good job! Review: Trek Stache 8ish.

    Here's my 2nd ride review. I'll add an update after a bit more time on the bike.

    Full disclosure, I repair bikes for a living and currently work for a Trek dealer. That being said, I've worked at dealers that sell pretty much all of the major brands and try to remain as unbiased as possible when having interactions on message boards. Yes, I typically buy what I can get a deal on, but have payed retail while working at a shop (a cardinal sin for us shop folk) to get a bike if my shop didn't carry a brand that offered what I was looking for at the time. So, even though I do work for a Trek dealer, please trust that when I review a bike, I'm doing if from the standpoint of someone who's been riding mountain bikes for 20 years and has been wrenching on them professionally for 15 years. I bring all of that history to a review, and try to keep the fact that I work for a dealer that sells the brand I'm reviewing out of my mind while writing a review.

    Some background:

    I tend to have one favorite bike that I keep for many years while cycling through a bunch of others, trying to find the next favorite. My last 3 primary bikes were a 2005 Santa Cruz Chameleon that I bought in 2005 and rode through 2011 (it was my backup bike for 2011), a 2011 Xcal that I bought and rode for the 2011 season and a 2012 rumblefish elite bought this year and rode till August. During that time I also had 7 other mountain bikes pass through the quiver. Even though I hadnít found a suitable replacement for the Chameleon, I sold it at the end of the 2011 season because I felt Iíd been on it long enough.

    There's something about hardtails that keep me going back to them. Every couple years I buy a new full suspension bike and try it out. I can totally see the benefits, and for going downhill, they're the best. I've raced downhill in the past and if I had better access to lift/shuttle riding, I'd have another dh bike. I've just not found a full suspension bike that I have as much fun riding on my day to day trails. My latest full suspension bike was the 2012 Trek Rumblefish elite. If I lived somewhere with more descending I think I would like that bike a whole lot more, but as it is I ride the flat lands and occasionally make the drive to lift or shuttle served riding. It was a great bike, it just made my local trails too easy but it wasn't burly enough for those dedicated downhill days. So I sold it in August and was planning on riding my rigid single speed for the remainder of the season.

    I've owned 17 mountain bikes in 20 years of riding and ridden many more. My most favorite bike so far was my Santa Cruz Chameleon. It was also one of only a handful of bikes that stayed in my quiver longer than a season. That is a hardtail that makes you feel like you can do anything.

    After 17 years on 26" wheels only, and a couple years going back and forth between 26" and 29" wheels I've become very sold on the idea of 29' wheels for my all-around trail bike. I do have some time on 650b wheels as well. I won't go into detail, but right now, they're not for me. The Xcal felt like a race bike. It was fast and agile, and it handled more technical stuff than I expected, but I never found it to be confidence inspiring and it didn't put as big a grin on my face as the Chameleon. In fact no 29er that I've ridden prior to the Stache came close to the playfulness of the Chameleon. Granted, I haven't gotten on a Canfield, Banshee or Transition. If you want to read my whole write up on the Xcal, you can refer back to here First Impressions of the 2011 Trek/GF X Caliber So, I knew I wanted a 29" wheeled hardtail with a burly build, slacker angles and a longer fork than a typical XC 29er. What I wanted was the 29" version of my SC Chameleon.

    When the Stache was leaked prior to the full release of Trekís 2013 line, it piqued my interest. I was going to buy a Banshee or Transition next spring. But the Stache seemed to be the same concept, plus I can get in through my shop . I got to make the trip from my shop in NE Wisconsin down to Trek for Trek World, the unveiling of the new model year to their dealers. The former service manager from my shop works at Trek so he arranged for a couple of us to take out some demo bikes after the official demos were over, meaning we got to spend more time on them. I opted for the Stache of course. The short version is, I liked it soo much I ordered one the next day. Dealer employees were offered a frame/fork only deal that would be shipping much earlier than complete bikes so I went with that. I only mention it so I donít have to answer as many questions as to why my built isnít stock.

    Before I get on with the build, thereís just a bit more you need to know. Iím what I like to refer to as ďfestively plump,Ē and I like and seek out technical riding. Those two traits mean I need a burlier build than typical or Iím constantly breaking and replacing stuff.

    The build:
    - 2013 Stache 8 Frame/Fork - 120mm Fox Evolution 32mm, G2, 15mm thru axle
    - Bontrager Rhythm Elite bars 820mm cut down to 740mm
    - Bontrager Rhythm Pro Stem 80mm 7 degree flipped down
    - SLX Shifters
    - SLX Shadow Plus rear derailleur
    - XT direct mount front derailleur
    - Raceface Evolve DH crank. 22-36-Bash.
    - Sram Elixir XX brakes 185mm front 160mm rear rotors
    - Wheels - Azonic recoil hubs, 36 hole, 142x12 rear, 15mm front, Eighthinch Bueller rims. My shop has a house brand called Eighthinch (more info at eighthinch.com). Itís a fixie brand. These rims are sold for Fixie Freestyle, but they are an off the shelf all-mountain 29er rim. Since we buy them at OEM pricing, they were a screaming deal for me.
    - Tires, Bontrager 29.4 up front, 29.2 in the back.
    - Crank Bros Joplin post.
    - Bontrager evoke saddle

    First Take:
    When I got on the Stache I instantly felt at home. It's exactly what they say it is, a trail bike. The difference in ride between the Xcal and Stache is far greater than the sum of the geometry tweaks. The front and rear thru axles, wider rims, meatier tires, longer fork, stiffer bottom bracket and frame all add up to a very different ride from the race bikes. With the Xcal, I always felt awkward getting it off the ground and noticed flex in the frame and fork when ripping corners. 5 minutes after getting on the Stache I was wheelie dropping stairs. 20 minutes into the ride I was hitting doubles and casing some, following my guide off unknown-to-me drops and over skinnies while pinning it through corners. This bike taunts you into doing stupid things then uses the longer travel and big wheels to make up for any shortcomings. This thing loves to carve corners. Itís forgiving of mistakes. Itís far more playful than the race bikes.

    Thoughts on the build:
    My build is a bit heavier than stock. Most of it is in the wheels. The stock wheels (rhytm elite 29er) are strong and decently light given their intended use. I can feel the extra weight in my wheels, mostly on the climbs. I prefer the SLX brakes that the stock bike comes with over the XX brakes Iím running. Shadow plus derailleurs are one of the most substantial new technologies to come along in the last several years. I canít see ever buying a rear derailleur that doesnít have this technology. Between the new brakes and the shadow plus derailleurs, Iím firmly back on the Shimano bandwagon.

    I like the new 29.3 tires that come on the stock bike. The 29.4 I have on the front now is much like a kenda nevegal. It sticks like glue to the trail, but also rolls like itís stuck to the trail with glue. Slow. Iíll probably swap it for a 29.3 and keep the 29.2 in the back. The 29.3 fits in with Kenda Slant 6 tires. Its a great compromise between rolling resistance and traction.

    The last several times Iíve bought bars Iíve gone longer. They always feel weird at first, but I end up liking them. Iíve been through 680mm, 710mm, 725mm and now 740mm. Iím very happy with this width.

    For most of my riding, a dropper post is unnecessary. But I have really liked having it on more technical rides. The joplin functions as itís intended, but Iím lusting after a Rock Shox Reverb with stealth routing.

    I just had my AC joint reconstructed this morning and Iím off the bike for 3 months. When I get some more time on the bike in the spring Iíll add to this review.
    Disclaimer: I no longer fix bikes for a living.
    National Ski Patroller to feed my winter habit.

  2. #2
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  3. #3
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    dave!

    good to see your interweb review and that your still rippin bikes out in the mid western woods. recently broke my collarbone as well on my road bike of all things so i share your pain not riding.

    i am wondering how my rigid singlespeed will feel with a newly mended collarbone. might temporarily end my rigid ride if i can find a cheap squishie as i get used to riding again.

    anyhow i don't want to steer this completely off topic but i must say that must be an impressive ride to finally get you off that chameleon. glad you finally found a big wheel equivelant of your favorite bike! keep the rubber side down and heal up well!

  4. #4
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    Great review. I demo'ed a stock Stache 8 up at Cheq. Fat Tire last month, and thought a lot of the same things you do about the bike. The two hesitations I had were that it's a little slack for most of the trails that I ride (steering seemed slow on the single track around Telemark, front end wanted to push a little too much) and it is VERY stiff. I think I need a little more compliance in the rear, which is why I am now looking at FS 29ers instead of HTs. Maybe I'm just spoiled from having only ridden FS for the past few years...

  5. #5
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    Great write up, really got me everything to understand the idea of a Stache

    Now I'm reading the X cal review

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by max-a-mill View Post
    dave!

    good to see your interweb review and that your still rippin bikes out in the mid western woods. recently broke my collarbone as well on my road bike of all things so i share your pain not riding.

    i am wondering how my rigid singlespeed will feel with a newly mended collarbone. might temporarily end my rigid ride if i can find a cheap squishie as i get used to riding again.

    anyhow i don't want to steer this completely off topic but i must say that must be an impressive ride to finally get you off that chameleon. glad you finally found a big wheel equivelant of your favorite bike! keep the rubber side down and heal up well!
    Hey Max! Bummer about the collar bone. You're going to have to get a Facebook account so you can join the rest of the bike mag peeps.
    .
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by dwnhlldav View Post
    Hey Max! Bummer about the collar bone. You're going to have to get a Facebook account so you can join the rest of the bike mag peeps.
    .
    yeah my continued resistance to facebook isn't really working out so well... i am loosing track of most people slowly but surely as they disappear into the "faceworld"...

    one of these days!

  8. #8
    Schipperkes are cool.
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    There is something about a 120mm travel 29" wheel'd hardtail that just hauls everywhere; I have had my Eriksen with a custom Maverick DUC for 3+ years now and it's the bee knees at Hartman Rocks, Rainbow, Crest, Silver Creek, Starvation trails out my door.
    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee
    Better suited to non-aggressive 125# gals named Russell.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by max-a-mill View Post
    yeah my continued resistance to facebook isn't really working out so well... i am loosing track of most people slowly but surely as they disappear into the "faceworld"...

    one of these days!
    Might as well do it while you're laid up Facebook is way more interesting when you're popping percocet every 4 hours.
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    National Ski Patroller to feed my winter habit.

  10. #10
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    Thanks for the write up it is very well written and thought out. I demoed a stash 8 and thought I may throw in my 2cent

    Like yourself I saw the leaky photos of this bike and have been considering it for myself. Last week I had the opportunity to demo one at the 18rd trails in Fruita Co. When I first saw this bike I thought of the fun it might be on just these trails which are fast and buff with banked turns and some steep rollers, the new trail I rode in the spring is called PBR (pumps, berms, rollers) perfect for a slack HA hardtail.

    I an 240 pounds so I appreciated the stiffness of the frame, accept on the washboarded road climbs. When I got to the PBR trail I was ready to give it my best, I can clean all the doubles on my superfly 100 so I was pumped to do it with the stacher. I rode the trail twice and cased it on most of the doubles, the bike did not lean into berms very well, and I found it rather difficult to wheelie or manual.

    Im no expert of frame geometry but the rear wheel felt too far behind me and perhaps the wheelbase felt a bit long. It has been a few years since I have owned a hardtail so my riding style may also be to blame. Now dont get me wrong it was still a fast descender and a very good climber. I was hoping it would be more playful. I am now considering this bike for use as a loaded bikepacking rig for some trips on the colorado trail as it is easy to ride quickly.

  11. #11
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    It seems by looking at the geo chart that they didn't make the chain stays short like the nimble 9, Banshee and Chromag bikes. Maybe that is why it was harder to manual and not as playful as you'd hoped.

  12. #12
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    Whereas I have only owned 1 MTB a 2012 Specialized Rockhopper Comp 29 which I am very pleased with ($1,100), looking around I'd have to say the best bike you could own is probably one you build from the frame up. However this is not the cheapest way to do it. Although in general I am very impressed with Specialized overall design and "branding" of components, accessories and apparel and certainly would love to own one of their F/S bikes,(maybe a Camber Comp 29er) what I don't like about Specialized is their mix and match gruppo approach. Shimano this, Avid that etc. just doesn't fly well with me.

    Unless you buy their top of the line It seems you can do better with a company like Santa Cruz, Kona, Niner to mention a few. I'm not sure if Specialized has, or would consider "A build your Bike" program. That way instead of tossing the stock wheels it came with like a bad set of pedals (which we all know will get removed/replaced on day one or after your first ride) and upgrading your brakes to XT's and probably changing the seat.

    I guess what I'm saying is I don't like bikes designed to get the user to constantly upgrade. My preference would be to buy a bike with the level of componentry that matches my budget and moves my skill level up to the next level, if that makes any sense.

    My $.02 worth,

    Hank

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by DirtyHank View Post
    Whereas I have only owned 1 MTB a 2012 Specialized Rockhopper Comp 29 which I am very pleased with ($1,100), looking around I'd have to say the best bike you could own is probably one you build from the frame up. However this is not the cheapest way to do it. Although in general I am very impressed with Specialized overall design and "branding" of components, accessories and apparel and certainly would love to own one of their F/S bikes,(maybe a Camber Comp 29er) what I don't like about Specialized is their mix and match gruppo approach. Shimano this, Avid that etc. just doesn't fly well with me.

    Unless you buy their top of the line It seems you can do better with a company like Santa Cruz, Kona, Niner to mention a few. I'm not sure if Specialized has, or would consider "A build your Bike" program. That way instead of tossing the stock wheels it came with like a bad set of pedals (which we all know will get removed/replaced on day one or after your first ride) and upgrading your brakes to XT's and probably changing the seat.

    I guess what I'm saying is I don't like bikes designed to get the user to constantly upgrade. My preference would be to buy a bike with the level of componentry that matches my budget and moves my skill level up to the next level, if that makes any sense.

    My $.02 worth,

    Hank
    Not really sure if this has anything to do with my Stache review?

    You either spend the money up front and buy exactly what you want, or spend it later by purchasing a cheaper bike and upgrading parts along the way. I don't think companies design bikes to require upgrades, They design bikes to fall into a price point and spec the best parts they can to fall into that price point while meeting their profit goals and hope it beats out the competition's offerings at the same price point. If you don't want to have to upgrade, be happy with the bikes that falls into your budget or increase your budget. I don't think it's a conspiracy to force me into upgrading that my $2400 bike doesn't come with XTR brakes even though, those are the brakes I really want. That's my issue. I can either accept the limitations of my budget. Increase my budget to buy a bike with XTR brakes, or upgrade down the road.

    I'm also very specific about my bikes. I can't expect every company to spec their bikes with exactly the stem length and handle bar width I prefer, or my favorite saddle. I haven't purchased a single complete bike in the last decade that I didn't swap at least one item from the bars, stem, saddle or seat post before the bike even leaves the stand from the initial build. I give tires at least a half dozen rides before deciding if they will get swapped. I haven't purchased a bike since 1992 that came with pedals. Bikes in the high end market don't come with pedals. Is that a conspiracy to make us buy more, or a function of people being very specific about their pedals?

    But back to my first sentence? How is any of this related to a review of a specific bike?
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  14. #14
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    Made some changes already. The Race Face crank has creaked for as long as I've owned it. My old bike was creaky all over so it just blended in. On the Stache it stood out. So I swapped it for an XO DH crank with a 32t ring. Lost the front derailleur and shifter and installed an E13 LG1 chain guide. Also got rid of the XX brakes. They sucked. Right now I put a set of BB7 mechanicals on because STX brakes have been out of stock. Hoping to get a pair in the spring. Can't ride it for another couple of weeks anyway so I'm not in a huge rush. First ride post shoulder surgery recovery will probably be at Ray's in Milwaukee.

    Also added a new head tube badge...
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Review: Trek Stache 8ish.-460622_10151155039257742_2131120317_o.jpg  

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  15. #15
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    Love the headtube badge!

    Was it the cranks that creaked or possibly the BB? Those stock green RF cranks were awesome looking and complimented the frame well.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by eurospek View Post
    Love the headtube badge!

    Was it the cranks that creaked or possibly the BB? Those stock green RF cranks were awesome looking and complimented the frame well.
    It wasn't the Raceface crank that comes on the Stache 8. I bought a frame and fork and built it up similar to the 8. My RF crank was about 4 years old and I've used it on 3 different frames with different bottom brackets, different chain ring configurations and different pedals. I'v pretty much tried everything to get rid of the creak. I think it was the fixed interface between the crank arm and spindle. Regardless, the crank is gone and so is the creak.
    Disclaimer: I no longer fix bikes for a living.
    National Ski Patroller to feed my winter habit.

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