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The all new Trek Full Stache was announced just before Sea Otter California, leaving many of us curious to know what it feels like to ride a 130mm, full suspension mountain bike with massive 29+ tires. Well, after traveling across the Atlantic to Sea Otter Spain, I had a chance to find out.

The frame

Trek rolled out the Full Stache with just a single frame option made from aluminum. Not only that, there’s only one build available, dubbed the Full Stache 8, though buyers can opt to buy the frameset by itself. These days it’s a bit unusual for a large company like Trek to launch a new bike in aluminum without a carbon option, so perhaps the company is still feeling out the market for full suspension 29+ bikes. After all, carbon molds are expensive, and high sales volumes are necessary to recoup those costs.

The Full Stache makes use of Trek’s ABP suspension design, which seeks to minimize the braking force impact on suspension. A Straight Shot downtube with Knock Block promises to make the frame stiff and efficient. The rear end features Boost 148 spacing.

The aluminum frame sports angular, hydroformed tubing painted army green with a matte finish, along with high-vis yellow highlights on the stays. Internal cable routing lends a clean look to the bike.

Trek went with a 67.4 degree head tube angle, adjustable down to 67 degrees with the Minolink, which is a nice compromise for a trail bike designed to handle a variety of unexpected conditions. Bikepackers seem to have embraced the 29+ wheel size more than any other group, thanks to its ability to roll efficiently mile after mile, while offering the ability to get up and over almost any obstacle. With that in mind, Trek positions the Full Stache as a bike that can not only survive deep forays into the wild, but also allows riders to shred along the way.

The Full Stache features wicked short 427mm chainstays. This is not only short for a 29er trail bike where the average chainstay length is 437mm, but it’s even shorter than the average 27.5 trail bike as well. The short chainstay length promises improved maneuverability, which is crucial for a bike with such a massive tire diameter.

The build

Right off the bat, Trek includes a 130mm RockShox Pike RL fork, just to let buyers know this bike isn’t messing around. Trek pairs the RockShox fork with a Fox Performance shock in the rear, tuned with Trek’s exclusive RE:activ tech. (Mixing suspension brands is a little unusual for a Trek build, but is perhaps driven by the fact that there is no 29+ Fox 34 fork available. )

 

Naturally the Full Stache comes with a dropper post — the Bontrager Line, internally routed — with travel up to 150mm depending on the frame size. I don’t have a lot of experience with the Line dropper post, but in my brief test it worked great, and I love the remote Trek uses. Trek chose a SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain for the build, with a 30T chainring up front. To me, this suggests the Full Stache is expected to roll through some serious slogs that require a lower gear ratio than a typical trail bike running a 32T (or even a 34T) chainring.

Trek utilizes various Bontrager-branded parts on the Full Stache, including the 35mm diameter, 750mm wide handlebars and the 60mm stem. While the wheelset features Bontrager hubs, the 40mm rims are Sunringlé.

Clearly the tire size is a big distinguishing feature for the Full Stache, and in this department Trek provides 29×3.0 Bontrager XR4 Team Issue, tubeless-ready tires. Billed as an aggressive yet fast-rolling tire, the XR4 seems like a great fit for the bike’s intended use: clicking off mile after mile through rugged terrain.

SRAM Guide R brakes and a Bontrager Evoke 2 saddle with chromoly rails round out the build.

On the trail

I tested the Trek Full Stache in a size 19.5 frame, which in retrospect is a probably too small for me. I’m on the line between a 19.5 and a 21.5 according to the Trek sizing chart, and while I was able to get the seat post set to the correct height, a 21.5 would have been a better fit.

Reading the marketing materials for the Full Stache on the Trek website, it’s clear this is a bike designed for very specific riders and conditions. According to Trek, this bike is right for you if:

You believe mountain biking isn’t about racing or showing off. It’s about the experience of being out there in the rough, wonderful wild. For you, every ride is both a battle against nature and an appreciation of it. There’s a whole lot of beauty in dirt, rocks, and roots. Trails don’t need to be perfectly sculpted to be enjoyed.

(Emphasis mine.)

To me, this paints the picture of a loner masochist who just wants to grind out mile after mile of Type-2 fun. So it was with a little trepidation that I set out on the mostly tame, suburban trails outside Girona, Spain to take the Full Stache for a spin.

The Full Stache is a heavy bike — nearly 34lbs. for the smallest size — and yet out of the five bikes I tested, I notched my fastest time up the main climb aboard the Stache. (Yep, I’m surprised too, but I double- and triple-checked.) The 30T chainring up front takes some of the sting out of all that weight, and once those massive 29+ wheels were rolling, the momentum seemed to keep me trucking uphill at a good pace.

Pointing the Full Stache downhill, I was slightly less impressed. For starters — and no surprise here — the big tires don’t handle as well as tires with a smaller outside diameter. Not only that, the high-ish, 343mm-tall bottom bracket, no doubt necessitated by the tall tires, made the descents feel a little awkward. Perhaps the big wheels just take some getting used to, but for my brief test they just made the bike feet a little clunky.

Honestly I’m not sure what to make of the Trek Full Stache. I suppose compared to the alternative — a hardtail 29+ bike or a trail bike with standard tires — the Full Stache offers some advantages to intrepid backcountry explorers. But few of us are lucky enough to regularly go for these types of rides, so the Full Stache basically upends the idea of a do-all trail bike. Instead, the Full Stache seems suited as a decent role player in a quiver of bikes, but not as an everyday rider.

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# Comments

  • vapidoscar562

    Seems like it will take a very specific customer to buy this bike. If someone is a serious bikepacker, they are going to be giving up a lot of storage options in the front triangle to account for the shock and the low top tube.

  • TitusTiger

    I read somewhere, maybe Adventure Cycling, that the original Stash is often used by Continental Divide riders

    might be good to hear how this bike performs as a ‘camping’ vehicle

  • Plusbike Nerd

    I found your review somewhat disingenuous. The Trek Full Stache is a rock-crawling, log-bashing bruiser. This bike is not intended for flat, smooth, easy singletrack. To test this bike in those conditions just isn’t fair. Would you test an enduro bike without bombing some very technical downhills?

    First, let’s get clear on why someone would choose a Plusbike. These riders are willing to trade some speed for increased sure-footedness. We accept inceased weight, higher rolling resistance and decreased steering precision, which slows the bike down some, for increased traction, flotation, and roll-over, which makes the bike more capable. If your just trying to be fast downhill, a Plusbike probably isn’t right for you. However, If you want to handle the most technical trail conditions with confidence and ease, a Plusbike is valid choice. I’m wondering if you have a bias against Plusbikes?

    Second, your concerns about weight are also unfounded. Compare the Trek Full Stache 8 to other 5+ inch full-suspension aluminum $3700 29er Narrowbikes. It is maybe only a pound heavier, which can be attributed to the wide tires and rims. The $3600 27.5 aluminum Santa Cruz Nomad weighs 33 pounds. Comparing the Full Stache to an expensive carbon fiber bikes just isn’t fair.
    .
    I’ve been riding my Trek Full Stache for 3 months in places like Durango, Sedona, Moab, Fruita, and Crested Butte. Most of my riding involves long technical climbs followed by long technical descents with lots of rocks, roots, and loose trail surfaces. On this bike, I handle with ease trail conditions that would previously have pushed the limits of other bikes I have owned. The Full Stache is the most capable bike I have ever ridden!

    Come take multiple rides on the Full Stache in the rugged Southwesten deserts and mountains (the kind of conditions this bike was built for) and then your opinion of the bike might be more valid. A single, short ride on flat, easy trails is not a valid test.

    • Jeff Barber

      All valid points. To be clear, this is a test ride review so it’s meant to give an overview of the bike. Like I said (and like you said too), this bike is designed to be a backcountry bruiser, not an everyday rider. Not everyone gets that from just looking at the specs or simply reading the press release so I hope this is helpful to those readers.

    • Plusbike Nerd

      I would like to add a bit more. I do not test mountain bikes for a living. However, I live in a town with 6 bike shops that carry most of the major brands. Since Plusbikes have come out, I have demo-ed about a dozen different Plusbikes in both 27.5+ and 29+, hardtail and full-suspension. I have also ridden a Plus hardtail for the last few years. In my opinion, the Full Stache is the best Plusbike I have ridden and I consider it the best Plusbike made. That’s why I bought it. If your looking to buy a new Plusbike, the Full Stache should be at the top of your list to test ride.

      Buy the way, if you ride where I live, a full-suspension 29 Plusbike like the Full Stache is an everyday rider!

    • WesternSLP

      Could you be a bit more specific vs vague….please describe this ultimate PLUS terrain, where?

  • Geniusbiker

    Hi Jeff,
    thanks for your words and your review; it´s nice to have a report about this outstanding bike.
    I completely agree with Plusbike Nerd: I´m on my Full Stache now for 2 months and it´s is also for me one of the most capable bikes I have ever ridden! Last year I was on a Trek Slash 9.9 29er and I ride the same crazy stuff with the Full Stache like I did with the Slash.
    I disagree with your downhill experiences with the Full Stache. I would say that the Full Stache is imperturbable when the trail goes down. Maybe your time to test the bike was way too short? I have to admit that it takes a little bit of time and experience to get used to the plus tires, but as soon as this has happened, the Full Stache offers new limits.
    The second thing I have to admit is that I made some upgrades to save weight. My 19.5 Full Stache weighs now just under 14 kg.
    Tell you something? The Full Stache is my “everyday rider”! I ride everything I like to with this bike. From my usual training ride on my home trail only the keep my shape, 4 to 5 hours rides and technical demanding enduro rides.
    In my opinion Trek made a big mistake to advertise the Full Stache as a backcountry and adventure bike. People now might have their focus too much on this – from my point of view – unlucky formulated marketing words.
    With this bike you can really ride everything. And you will do this mostly with a very bid smile on your face!

    • Jeff Barber

      Just to put this in context, I rode the Stache on the same test loop as 4 other bikes in the trail/enduro range in a roughly 24 hour period. I won’t directly compare those bikes with the Stache since they are all designed for slightly different use cases, but those experiences did play into my subjective evaluation of each bike.

  • Marco Gallina

    I always look forward to reading your reviews Jeff. I am currently riding a Stache 9 and have been doing so for the last 3 years. Absolutely love the 29+ format. I won’t go back I tell you. I am also glad to see input from @plusbike nerd and @geniusbiker. I am still trying to setup a test ride on a Full Stache so hopefully in a months time I’ll be able to formulate my own thoughts. Thanks again for the article Jeff and thank you to those who own a Full Stache for providing feedback.

  • Plusbike Nerd

    I remember when full-suspension 26er mountain bikes came out. And reviewers said, “It adds a lot of weight and it won’t win any races”. Then XC racers began winning on full-suspension bikes and full-suspension bikes became a large part of Trailbike sales.

    I remember when 29er bikes came out. And reviewers said, “It adds a lot of weight, it messes up the geometry, and it’s really only for tall people”. Then the 29er became the bike of choice for XC racers and 29ers became a large part of Trailbike sales.

    I remember when long-travel Enduro bikes came out. And reviewers said, ” It adds a lot of weight, who needs that much travel anyway, and it doesn’t climb very well”. Then Enduro bikes became a large part of Trailbike sales.

    I remember when 29er Enduro bikes came out. And reviewers said, “It adds a lot of weight and besides, 29er’s and long-travel don’t mix”. Then 29er Enduro bikes began winning races and became a large part of Trailbike sales.

    I remember when Plusbikes (mostly 27.5+) came out. And reviewers said, “It adds a lot of weight and Plus tires are too soft, floppy, and slow”. Then Plusbikes became a large part of Trailbikes sales and many Narrowbikes now come with 2.6 inch wide tires.

    I remember when full-suspension 29er Plusbikes (like the Trek Full Stache) came out. And reviewers said, “it adds a lot of weight, it doesn’t descend well, and it’s not an everyday rider”. Then ……………………………………..?

    • Jeff Barber

      You’re absolutely right. And the reviewers were too. 🙂

      The thing is, these bikes were refined over time; no one came out with a perfect 29er, or enduro bike, or whatever right out of the gate. The first ones weren’t great, but manufacturers continued to improve them until they were the best they could be.

      I absolutely believe 29+ is at that point right now. Same with eMTBs (but that’s a whole other can of worms).

    • Sethroski

      Here’s a question: Say you didn’t really jam with the 3″ wide tires…Could you drop down to 2.6’s and put a 140 mm fork on the bike and basically have a fuel ex but with a slightly shorter chain stay? You could even get a fox talas fork and have two wheelsets (one plus and one regular) and choose your tire based on terrain/weather…

  • kais01

    am on the second season to use 29/3.0 bombolonis on 40i rims on my cube xc full susser, and like it more and more. its shines in rocky terrain, but also dh. jeff should try a shorter stem on the full stache. likely get a livelier sensation downhill. trek should be able to shed weight, mine is just over 25 lbs with dropper. 163 lbs, 5’9″, so not the typical full grown 29+ user. 29+ is great fun!!

  • Louis Bellanca

    Can someone comment on that new rear – triangle and chain design? I do not think I have seen that before. Seems like a good idea for ease of maintenance.

  • Chism Henry

    “…with a 30T chainring up front. To me, this suggests the Full Stache is expected to roll through some serious slogs that require a lower gear ratio than a typical trail bike running a 32T (or even a 34T)…”

    Hmmm…seems like 30T would be about ideal with a 10-50T cassette and nearly the tallest tires money can buy. Anything more than a 32T chainring would result in the burliest gravel bike ever built. 34T? Pfffftttt…

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