Bank Holidays Are For Riding
So with a long August Bank Holiday weekend, and looking for a new full suspension, I decided that the Demo wagon wheeled Trek Full Stache was worthy of taking on an Innerleithen and Golfie weekend, followed by a day riding the tyre and spleen puncturing pointy rocks of death in Swaledale.
Having the hardtail Stache since May, and being the most fun and capable bike I have ever ridden, I was unsure how the Full Stache could actually put a bigger grin on my face.
It’s a Full Suspension 130mm travel 29er plus (that’s 3 inch tyres!) I ran the pressures at 13psi and 11 front. Tyre pressures are very specific to get the best grip, without an undamped rebound to the tyres.
Be Brave, Don’t Brake and Laugh Like a Maniac
You might look at this bike, and think it’s a weird ungainly freak of a bike. You may well be right. You may think that this thing will have draggy tyres, be a horror to get uphill and be a handful to haul round steep downhill technical trails, and there you are definitely wrong.
It attracted loads of attention when it wouldn’t fit on the trailer at Innerleithen uplift, not due a long wheelbase, but due to those massive 3 inch tyres.
I decided to wear a full face and body armour, as I was concerned that the bike would barrel me into sections at warp factor 9, then leave me floundering deep in the poop and out of my depth. I had chatted to Guy Kesteven about it, and he told me “be brave, don’t brake and laugh like a maniac”
So by poor navigation, the first drop of the day, wasn’t one of the mellow downhill tracks, it was one of the Tweedlove / Enduro World Series trails, one that I have never dared tackle before, even on a 150mm enduro bike.
With a gentle start fooling you, the trapdoor opened into Date Night, a steep horror show gully of rocks and roots, with vertical even uglier corners and trees wrapped in mattresses, but once the realisation of where I was had sunk in, and I had to ride it out, I thought about nothing except picking a line, I whipped the bike around those tight turns without it needing any more than thought and looking where I wanted to place it
Some trails like this, have so much sensory input, you end up a frazzled mess, losing focus and end up face first in the dirt……..however, the Full Stache, just speaks to you in a calm voice, it rolls over rocks, grips on the roots, the tyres are made out of Velcro. Change line halfway down a vertical drop as you think the exit is a bit ugly, yep, it will do that, or as you get braver, don’t change line, and the bike just rolls over whatever you thought would spit you off.
You don’t have to worry about which tyre is likely to break free if you brake at the wrong place, or if the front wheel is going to wash out, it just takes that extra layer of thought away, when you right on the edge of panic that all hell is about to break loose, you can concentrate on just riding the bike, and let the bike take just a little bit of worry away. This doesn’t mean that it’s not an engaging ride, it’s a very forgiving yet lively and entertaining ride, carrying speed through sections that you would normally pinball through. You pick the ugliest lines just because you can.
So after flying out onto the lower fire roads, in one piece, and grinning like an idiot, you realise that this bike is something special.
Hit The Downhill
Taking it on the downhill runs, which are normally a handful in themselves, was an absolute hoot. Don’t brake, and just laugh at the noise that the tyres make as they dig into the hard packed trail, and you lean the bike further and further over in the berms. On a mellow trail called Make or Brake, I was railing the berms that hard, I could feel my body pulling more than 1G, the tyres had that much grip, the back tyre was tearing marble size rocks out of the trail, and bouncing them off the back of my helmet, by which point I was screaming like a loon.
Onto Swaledale, and big country, big miles, big ugly rocks and steep climbs.
Straight out of the gate, and up Fremington Edge, now those that know this, it’s a pretty tough one, steep with a good covering of loose babies heads and kitty litter, its usually a hit and miss to clear it without a dab, however, the Full Stache, just dug in gripped, and just kept going, I didn’t even have to use the 50 tooth sprocket, and didn’t rely on good line choice to do it.
Heading for Gunnerside Ghyll, and dropping into ‘The Valley of Death’, I just let the bike go, picking a none existent line through 500m of quarried rocks from tennis ball size all the way up to wheelie bins, nothing stopped this bike.
Out of interest, I decided to see how hard these big grippy tyres were to pedal, so off the Stache went to Dalby, on 2 separate days, with 2 sets of wheels and tyres, the standard XR4, and then some standard 29er wheels with XC race tyres, so a massive difference.
What did I discover?
Even with smaller tyres, the bike is almost as much fun, still playful and confident.
That the full lap of Dalby Red took me 2hrs10 with the big tyres, and 1hr59 with the XC whippet tyres.
Ok, so you are not gonna win any XC racers on it, or uphill sprints, but when the ups or downs get rowdy, you will be thrashing your mates, with a big dumb smiley face.
So who would love this bike?
People who want to make the unrideable look easy, either up or down
Beginners due to the confidence that it inspires
Enduro Racers, as you can throw it down anything faster and faster and will not find a lack of grip or control
You can take it into the mountains for big days, and come back with the biggest grin.
And me……..Ordering one for KInlochleven Enduro at the end of the year.
Get yourself a test ride booked, and be prepared for your face to hurt from smiling, which after all, is why we ride bikes.