Trek Elite 9.8 Review

The Trek Elite 9.8 is a high-end hardtail mountain bike, which is aimed at riders who want to put themselves ahead of the pack in competitive situations. Its frame is constructed from tough, light carbon and the components with which it is equipped are all from respected manufacturers and race-oriented ranges.

The OCLV Mountain Carbon frame of the Trek Elite 9.8, with its BB90 bottom bracket, is surprisingly stiff and durable. Some carbon frames can end up feeling a little saggy and vague when compared with alloy alternatives, but the advanced techniques used to produce the material of this example make sure that there are no lax areas to worry about. The result is you get great power transfer thanks to the rigidity, whilst the vertical compliance is sensitive enough to keep you comfortable during the rough stuff.

The hardtail back end of the bike is contrasted by the adaptive Fox Evolution Series 32 Float RL shock at the front, with remote lockout available if you want to tighten up its 100mm of travel and gain even more traction. If you have been using lower level mountain bikes with basic shocks in the past, you will definitely notice the difference when switching to a model like the Trek Elite 9.8. Cheaper suspension cannot match it when it comes to the smoothness with which the absorption is delivered or the progression of the fork as a whole.

The full Shimano Deore XT groupset is on hand to give the Trek Elite 9.8 a reliable and quick shifting drive train. You even get Deore XT M785 hydraulic disc brakes added to the package, which is necessary if you want to feel the added control and precision that comes with such a setup.

Bontrager Race Lite Pro TLR Disc rims and hubs get the grippy, chunky XR1 Team tyres, also from Bontrager. The wheelset is therefore definitely tough enough to keep pace with the rest of the bike’s components. Meanwhile, this added lightness means that you won’t feel like you need to lug around any more weight than is necessary. This could give you the competitive edge when the time comes to really put the power down and race for a podium position.

The titanium rails of the Bontrager Evoke 3 saddle make sure that this makes very little difference to the total weight of the bike, as does the Race X Lite seat post and the Race X Lite Carbon Low Riser handlebar setup. Thankfully, all the light elements do not detract from the planted, stable feel of the Trek Elite 9.8, so you can confidently tackle a variety of terrain types without feeling like the bike is too fragile to get you from A to B in one piece.

The overall feel of the bike is relatively relaxed, which is not to say that it will not allow you to dig deep and perform well in a race. It just means that the handling is improved thanks to the slacker head angle. The long reach results in a less frantic or aggressive stance than other mountain bikes that lend themselves to being raced across countryside courses.

Whilst serious race riders will get a lot out of the Trek Elite 9.8, it is important to note that this is not a bike with purely professional appeal. If you want to head out for an uncomplicated weekend jaunt with it in tow, taking on steep climbs and larking about on tracks and trails, it will be just as well suited to your needs.This bike addresses a lot of different kinds of riders.

Trek Elite 9.8 Specifications

  • Front Fork: Fox Evolution Series 32 Float RL, lockout, rebound, 100mm travel
  • Rear Shock: N/A
  • Front Derailleur: Shimano Deore XT
  • Rear Derailleur: Shimano Deore XT
  • Gears: 20
  • Chainring: Shimano Deore XT M785, 40/28T
  • Cassette: Shimano Deore XT M771-10 11-36T 10 speed
  • Shifters: Shimano Deore XT M780
  • Brakes: Shimano Deore XT M785 hydraulic disc brakes
  • Wheels: Bontrager Race Lite Pro TLR Disc
  • Tyres: Bontrager XR1 Team, 26×2.2″