With all the world’s bike companies claiming to have a perfect 29er trail bike, there are plenty of options. However, definitions of what makes a trail bike vary greatly between companies, so creating a short list can get complicated. For Trek, the Rumblefish is the bike that is designed to do it all. Rather than the simple term “trail bike”, Trek expands on the category calling it, instead, “singletrack trail.“ Here is a description of what the genre is to them.
“Trek singletrack trail bikes are your do-more ride. They’re versatile, light, and exceedingly capable, climbing as well as they descend, conquering trails from the Dolomites to Durango. They’re the right bikes from a quick stint in the park to a brutal day of racing. No other bikes offer this level of no-compromise performance, any situation versatility. “
Less poetic, Trek provides some guidelines for what the Rumblefish can handle in their owner’s manual under Category 3. This includes drops and moderate jumps as well as rough technical trails. This covers a broad range and is well within the terrain and skill level of most riders.
If you can only own one bike, and are not race focused, this type of bike is a good bike to look at. While this bike can be raced, there are better tools for the job. This bike is for riding wherever the trail takes you, and it is designed to tackle most anything. I strongly believe this is the type of bike that will serve most people the best, as it should be able to do almost anything most enthusiast mountain bikers without an orthopedic and dental surgeon on speed dial will require of their bikes.
During our test, we will be looking to see if, in fact, it does everything well. To do this we will be putting the Rumblefish through as wide variety of types of riding and terrain as we can in order to find out what circumstances cause the bike to start showing its limits or, conversely, the types of terrain where it feels like too much bike.
The Trek Rumblefish has 120mm of travel, or about 4.7 inches of travel front and rear. The travel is controlled by Fox Suspension using Trek’s proprietary DRCV system. The acronym stands for Dual Rate Control Valve. According to Trek, this is the equivalent of having a small volume shock in the beginning of the stroke and a high volume shock at the end of the stroke - effectively combining the best attributes of both shock volumes into one package. This is, by far, the most exciting feature of this bike to me. Better suspension means more control without sacrificing efficiency or comfort, which will allow you to enjoy the trail more during all types of riding. DRCV is also utilized in the Fox Factory 32 fork (pro model). The goal here is to allow for less brake dive and an efficient use of the fork’s travel to balance small bump performance with big hit ability.
Another feature that stands out on the Trek Rumblefish DRCV shocks is the ABP pivot. This is the rear pivot at the axle that goes around the rear axle, allowing the suspension to be isolated from braking forces. ABP stands for Active Braking Pivot. An active rear end while braking is important because it allows your wheel to keep traction and absorb bumps when many suspension designs would stiffen up. This is a feature we will be paying particular attention to because, in truth, most manufacturers claim some sort of feature or pivot location that eliminates issues while braking.
The Rumblefish frame is aluminium, comes with a tapered steer tube (1 ⅛- 1.5), has a press fit bottom bracket, direct mount front derailleur, and a 51mm rear disc mount. It has a 31.6 mm diameter seatpost, so it should be compatible with the majority, if not every brand of dropper post. The rear axle is 12x142. This is a stiff through axle type system and it is compatible with any 12x142 hub. This is not as proprietary system, which gets a big thumbs up from me. Basically, all the latest and greatest technology is used on the Trek Rumblefish.
The Gary Fisher name may have largely disappeared since Trek purchased that company several years ago ( 1993, thanks Jay), but remnants remain in the G2 geometry, which Trek says features “a custom-offset fork and advanced frame geometry for precise handling at low speed without compromising high-speed stability” Other companies have tried for similar results by playing with bottom bracket heights, chainstays, and short top tubes, while still utilizing a slack head angle. I am interested to see if Trek’s G2 geometry achieves a noticeably better combination.
The Rumblefish we have for review is the Pro model. It has a solid mix of great, reliable components. The drive train is a 3x10 Shimano XT setup. It is across the board XT components. No downgrades in favor of a nicer rear derailleur. This is exactly what I like to see. XT components have been a benchmark for reliable, high performance mountain bike parts and this level of performance is all that is needed for trail riding.
The seatpost is a RockShox Reverb model with 5 inches of drop and hydraulic remote control. Unfortunately, there is a little side to side movement, but just the fact that the bike includes this practical component, is a big plus for me. I feel a dropper post is really a must-have for a new bike used for trail riding. Even the crew of testers here at 29erOnline, despite initial scepticism, is slowly seeing the light, with the overwhelming majority now praising them. The dropper post allow you to move around, while still staying low in the bike, which, in turn, allows you to ride much more dynamically. Confidence is a huge added bonus as well. The Reverb is a unit that allows you to set your saddle anywhere within its travel, in comparison to some which have pre-set heights. The more I use this type the more I like it.
Trek appropriately spec’d Shimano XT disc brakes. With real one finger braking and gobs of power, it is hard to find fault with Shimano’s brakes. This is an excellent spec.
The stem and handlebars are Bontrager units. The stem is the Rhythm Pro model. Our 19” Large bike has an 80mm stem with a 7 degree rise. Combined with Bontrager’s Race Lite low riser handlebar at 720 mm wide, 5mm rise, 9 degree sweep back and 4 degree flair, the combination looks like exactly what I like. Width of bars is largely preference. Since you have the option to cut down the bars if desired, we like seeing a wider bar speced. I personally won’t be changing anything here. Trek is current with the industry trend and it is appreciated on this end.
The Rumblefish is spec'd with Bontrager Rhythm Elite tubeless ready wheels. To run them tubeless it is recommended you use Bontrager rim strips. We will be using Bontrager’s tubeless conversion kit. Keep an eye out for a future post with regards to this set up - it is the first time we have used it. The rims are 28 mm wide. They are 28 hole front and rear and use DT spokes, sealed bearings, 3 pawls and a 24 tooth drive mechanism, if you are into that level of detail. Claimed weight is 2,010 grams a set. Remember the intent of this bike. It needs to climb well but also needs to be able to descend equally well. The wheels may be heavier than some, but should hold up and be reliable at a small expense in weight and acceleration.
The Rumblefish Pro comes with Bontrager tubeless ready 29-3 tires. They are 2.3 inches wide (claimed) and they are designed for a wide range of trail conditions from wet to dry.
They are appropriate for this bike as a trail bike. Realistically, as long as they can perform decently in most conditions, we won’t criticize this choice. Some may want more, some less, but, from a manufacturer’s standpoint, they can't possibly cover every kind of condition perfectly. These should get you going at the very least. We plan on reporting on what they do best and where they leave off.
Please follow us as we test the 2013 Trek Rumblefish. We will, as always, focus on strengths, weaknesses and any durability issues that you need to know about. In the end we’ll be able to give our opinion on who we think should ride the bike.
All pictures can be seen larger in the gallery below