Review: The New Trek Rail 7 | Big on brawn & range

An eminently likeable eTrail bike with all of the technology from Trek’s analog mountain range. But what of that Bosch system and how entertaining is the base-level model?

CAPE TOWN - riding the Trek Rail 7 with Myles Kelsey for Bike Network in Contermanskloof. Photo by Gary Perkin
The Trek Rail is a 150mm rear, 160mm fork, eTrail bike which rolls on 29er wheels. It features all the technology of the Top Fuel, Fuel EX and Slash models from Trek, plus the new Bosch Performance Line CX support system.
CAPE TOWN - riding the Trek Rail 7 with Myles Kelsey for Bike Network in Contermanskloof. Photo by Gary Perkin
The ‘intelligent’ eMTB mode within the Bosch system is one of the more progressive and intuitive systems.


THE BIKE

THE BOSCH SYSTEM

It is a popular system that is used by more than 80 bike brands. The spec sheet for this new Bosch Performance Line CX system certainly ticks all the boxes required for a versatile, full support eTrail bike. It is light, compact in design and optimized for trail riding in that it is designed to handle quick changes in cadence and deliver plenty of brawn when it is needed. Crucially, for this region, it is set to provide assistance up to the 32kmh point. The system puts out 75Nm, up to 340% support and features a 625Wh battery. It is not necessary to remove the battery for charging and Bosch says the expected range of this system on a typical ride using all four modes, in favorable conditions, is a little over 80km.

THE BUILD

FRAME| 150mm travel, Trek’s Alpha Aluminium, magnesium rocker link, flip chip, Active Brake Pivot
BATTERY| Bosch PowerTube 625Wh
CONTROLLER| Bosch Purion
MOTOR| New Bosch Performance Line CX, 250 watt, 75 Nm, 32km/h assist
FORK| 160mm travel RockShox Yari RC, Debonair spring with RC damper, short offset, eMTB optimized
SHOCK| RockShox Deluxe RL
BARS| 780mm wide, 15mm rise, Bontragrer Rhythm Comp
STEM| 50mm Bontrager Rhythm Comp
SEAT| Bontrager Arvada
SEATPOST| TranzX 130mm Dropper post
WHEELS| Bontrager Line Comp 30
TYRES| Bontrager XR5 Team Issue, 120 TPI, 29 x 2.6″
CASSETTE| Shimano SLX 12 speed, 10-51t
MECH| Shimano XT
SHIFTER| Shimano SLX 12 speed
CRANKS| eThirteen, 165mm
CHAIN| Shimano SLX 12 speed
BRAKES| Shimano MT520, 4-piston
WEIGHT| 23.65kg
RRP| R99 999
CAPE TOWN - riding the Trek Rail 7 with Myles Kelsey for Bike Network in Contermanskloof. Photo by Gary Perkin


GEOMETRY

All the models of the Rail feature the same geometry, travel and ship with the Mino Link (flip-chip) in the low position. The Rail enjoys all the modernized geometry that a 150mm travel bike should have, plus one crucial change that not all of them do – short seat tubes. This means the Rail easily accommodates longer dropper posts which improve the handling dynamics significantly. The size medium test bike I rode has a stubby little 420mm seat tube which marries well with the 450mm reach. The rear end of the bike is shorter, the front end a little longer and the head angle is on point at 64.9°.

LOW SETTING

  • REACH: 425mm (SM), 450mm (M), 470mm (L), 499mm (XL)
  • SEAT TUBE LENGTH: 410mm (SM), 420mm (M), 450mm (L), 500mm (XL)
  • WHEELBASE: 1195mm (SM), 1220mm (M), 1243mm (L), 1277mm (XL)
  • CHAINSTAY: 447mm
  • HEAD ANGLE: 64.9° degrees
  • SEAT TUBE ANGLE: 75°
  • BOTTOM BRACKET: 339mm

ABOUT CHOOSING THE RIGHT SIZE eTRAIL BIKE: The weight of eTrail bikes improves stability and creates a ‘planted’ feel on the trail. For this reason, if I am unsure about which size bike to ride, I tend to go for the smaller option which boosts agility and playfulness. Lastly, the two most important numbers to consider when choosing the right size eTrail bike is reach and seat tube length.



TECH TALK



THE RIDE

CAPE TOWN - riding the Trek Rail 7 with Myles Kelsey for Bike Network in Contermanskloof. Photo by Gary Perkin
For an all-alloy, 29er with a monster 625Wh battery the Rail 7 is impressively light. I found that weight is manageable and if you line things up nicely and ride with intention, the Rail is unflappable and does everything it is asked. The mid-air composure on small or bigger booters is brilliant.
CAPE TOWN - riding the Trek Rail 7 with Myles Kelsey for Bike Network in Contermanskloof. Photo by Gary Perkin
This bike has all the brawn one would expect from a full-power eBike. The Rail is a very powerful climber, with a smooth punch of power. 75Nm and 340% support numbers are more than sufficient.
CAPE TOWN - riding the Trek Rail 7 with Myles Kelsey for Bike Network in Contermanskloof. Photo by Gary Perkin
The star performer on the build kit is most certainly these Bontrager XR5 tyres. A 2.6″ weighing in at 970grams they offer a combination of corner grip, bite under power and protection that is on a level I have not experienced before. It is a big deal because this reduction in rotational weight has a massive impact on the bike’s dynamic agility.
CAPE TOWN - riding the Trek Rail 7 with Myles Kelsey for Bike Network in Contermanskloof. Photo by Gary Perkin
The Rail 7 is the base level option from the range and whilst the damping is not on the same level as you will find on the Rail 9.8, it is still very good. Gone are the days when base level suspension had nasty top-out and bottom-out issues with very little control or support in the mid-stroke. As a result, through sketchy rock gardens and odd sections of trail, the Rail 7 is composed and easy to ride. I ran 4 tokens in the fork and 95psi to produce the ride feel I prefer.
CAPE TOWN - riding the Trek Rail 7 with Myles Kelsey for Bike Network in Contermanskloof. Photo by Gary Perkin
Exceeding the 32kmh limit the decoupling of this new Bosch system is vastly improved over the previous motor. The power eases off very gently, it is noticeable but it is not a massive occasion.
CAPE TOWN - riding the Trek Rail 7 with Myles Kelsey for Bike Network in Contermanskloof. Photo by Gary Perkin
This Rail is a comfortable ride and whilst it is a great option for shredding or running laps at your local bike park, I think it is just as good an option for those long days when you want to get away from it all, explore new trails and take yourself on an adventure. I rode the bike on some really hot days – 37°C to be precise – and the system never flinched. The big 625Wh battery dissipates a lot of ‘range anxiety’ that can occur on eBikes.
CAPE TOWN - riding the Trek Rail 7 with Myles Kelsey for Bike Network in Contermanskloof. Photo by Gary Perkin
In eMTB mode the Bosch system delivers ‘progressive’ support based on what the sensors detect you need. I am thinking: “yea whatever – I have been railing bikes for 40 years ain’t no software gonna tell me how much power is right…” but it does, and it does it well. The real upside of this new eMTB mode is you tend to just leave the bike in it and concentrate on having fun. It is a ‘set and forget’ mode.


THE TAKEOUT

CAPE TOWN - riding the Trek Rail 7 with Myles Kelsey for Bike Network in Contermanskloof. Photo by Gary Perkin

If the base level model rides this well, I can only imagine what the range-topping version rides like. Overall, I think this Rail heralds a new era of success for Trek’s eMTB range.

| IMAGES: Gary Perkin – flipper.co.za | LOCATION: Contermanskloof MTB Trails |


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