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all photos from Trek.com

Trek just updated the X-Caliber, the brand’s aluminum, mid-level XC race hardtail for 2020. With prices starting at just over $1,000 for a complete bike, Trek points out this bike is a good choice for “new riders” and NICA athletes.

The frame

The aluminum frame features internal cable routing and is compatible with an internal dropper post, though none of the builds actually include one. Rack mounts on the rear stays are a nice touch, offering the option to convert the X-Caliber into a commuter or even a bikepacking rig. There are also mounts for a kickstand, but it’s hard to imagine that will be of interest to many buyers.

Rack and kickstand not included.

Trek offers the X-Caliber in up to seven frame sizes depending on the build, ranging from extra small to extra, extra large. In theory this means riders from 4’6″ to 6’8″ tall should find an X-Caliber that fits. The mid-level X-Caliber 8 build ($1,199.99) offers the widest choice of sizes.

Like many other bikes in the Trek lineup, the X-Caliber features “smart” wheel sizing. Size extra small and small bikes are designed around 27.5-inch wheels, while sizes medium and larger utilize 29er wheels.

Geometry-wise, the X-Caliber is clearly an XC bike. Depending on wheel size, the head tube angle is either 69.3° or 69.5° which promises to make it a capable climber.

The rear end features Boost 141 spacing, which appears to be a typo, but it’s not. The Trek website says, “wider Boost141 hubs increased wheel strength and better tire clearance. This hub size is standard for higher-end wheelsets, making it easy to upgrade your wheels if you’re looking for a fast way to increase performance.”

A quick Google search reveals just one Boost 141 rear wheel available for purchase, and it’s a Bontrager (Trek’s in-house component brand). The rear dropout is QR and doesn’t appear to be a thru axle. All of this is to say, wheel upgrades may be a challenge down the road.

The builds

The most affordable build features a 2×9 drivetrain. The other builds are one-by.

All three builds feature 100mm, air-sprung RockShox forks and Shimano hydraulic disc brakes.

The X-Caliber 7, which is the cheapest build priced at $1,019.99, comes with a 2×9 Shimano Alivio drivetrain, but for just $180 more buyers can get the X-Caliber 8 with a SRAM SX Eagle, 1×12 drivetrain.

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The Blendr stem.

The stem is Blendr-compatible, which makes it easy to mount a light or camera to the stem using various accessory mounts available from Trek.

Stock 720mm alloy bars and 2.2-inch tires show this bike’s true XC intentions. The X-Caliber 7 features 20mm-wide rims which are not listed as tubeless ready, while the two pricier builds have 23mm-wide, tubeless-ready rims.

Trek says the X-Caliber 7 (size medium) weighs 30.4 pounds with tubes. The more expensive X-Caliber 8 and 9 builds weigh 29.6 and 29.4 pounds, respectively.

According to the Trek website, 2020 X-Caliber bikes should be available at local dealers now.

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# Comments

  • vapidoscar

    Boost 141 isn’t new it is the QR equivalent of the thru axle 148 (parallel to 135QR to 142 thru). Breezer and Marin were using it in 2018. That being said, I have never seen a wheel set for sale. If this catches on problem solvers or MTB tools will develop a thru axle conversion for any 148 wheel set.

  • Plusbike Nerd

    This is the worst sort of mountain bike. It’s heavy. It has twitchy short and steep geometry which descends poorly. It has narrow XC tires and rims which are mostly only good for XC racing.

    For competetive XC racers, it is just too heavy. Nobody stands a chance of doing well on this bike. My son raced NICA for 4 years and used a 24 pound aluminum hardtail and placed in the top 25%. The kids in the top 10% and those who were on the podiums were all riding 20 pound carbon fiber bikes. If you’re going to do well in XC races, your bike has got be light. Even at the High School level, NICA is very competetive. You’re just not going to do well on a $1000 30 pound bike. And if your kid gets the racing bug, you’re going to be buying a better bike in short order.

    However a lot of the kids just race for the fun of it. For the recreational XC racer, they would probably have more fun riding a budget Trail Hardtail like the Salsa Timberjack, Specialized Fuze, or Marin Pine Mountain which all come with 29×2.6 tires. For the race season, 2.2 XC-Race tires would be installed. When the race season is over, out come the wider Trail tires. I think the Trail Hardtail makes much more sense as you get a much more versatile bike and it’s going to be so much more fun and capable to ride when you’re not racing.

    If your kid is truly competetive, buy a lighter XC-Race bike. If you kid races for fun, put some XC-Race tires on a more capable Trailbike.

    • JoeLee

      This. So much this. As a NICA head coach and parent of a 3rd-year racer I couldn’t agree more.

      As far a Boost141 – if it’s the same as the Marin system all you need to upgrade to Boost148 is a new wheel and an axle.

    • CullenH

      There is nothing correct about this. I currently lead the overall varisty standings in Virginia NICA. My bike has an alloy frame, weighs 27lbs, and I’ve been known to race with DH tires. The bike doesn’t make the rider and you can save more time by taking a shit before the race than by buying 200g lighter carbon wheels. Stop belittling attempts at making bikes less expensive and more financially accessible to riders because the bike is “just too heavy”. I repeat, the bike does NOT make the rider. I guarantee I’d wipe the floor with any of your spoiled kids on their 10000 dollar carbon fiber bikes because I simply train harder and race better than them. No bike in the world could make up that difference.

  • bikesmart

    I’m the team Director and a Coach for a 90+ student athlete NICA team in Utah. Here are the options we typically suggest that our Junior High and High School riders consider when looking for bikes to ride in the Utah NCIA series (all 1x front derailleurs and 29 inch wheels). Hardtail: Cannondale F-Si, Specialized Epic, Scott Scale RC, or Trek Procaliber. Full Suspension: Scott Spark RC, Specialized Epic, Cannondale Scalpel, or Trek Top Fuel/Supercaliber. The nice thing about a base level carbon hardtail like the Cannondale F-Si is that it’s super light, competitive right out of the gate, our local bike shop sells them (at a great discount) to our riders for not much more than a good aluminum hardtail, it’s easy to resell if your rider has a growth spurt and you need to get a larger size, and it’s easy to upgrade/replace broken components if you’re looking save grams. We have riders that podium on base level Cannondale F-Si’s who are riding against kids with much higher spec and expensive XC bikes. Having said all this – we encourage our riders to visit as many local bike shops as possible and to ride as many options as available. For some reason our local bike shops that carry Trek don’t express the same amount of interest in our riders as our local Cannondale, Scott, and Specialized shops, so we don’t see a ton of Trek bikes on the team. We have a single rider on our team with aluminum Trek hardtail and she seems to be happy with it/hasn’t had any problems.

  • Kyle Gulya

    We purchased a 2020 Xcal 9 for my son for NICA racing. He is new to the sport. He absolutely loves the bike. He does everything he wants with it, from trails to jumps to rock gardens. He sees other kids with more expensive bikes that are carbon and lighter. He just says he needs to extra weight to help himself train harder. Some day if he sticks with the sport and needs to grow into a new bike then he may work toward an upgraded carbon frame, but for now he is really happy and loves how fast this bike is for him. We love watching him race.

  • daddyfinger

    > The more expensive X-Caliber 8 and 9 builds weigh 29.6 and 2.94 pounds, respectively.

    That’s a heck of a difference! Get the 9!

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