TREK SLASH 9.8 REVIEW

Is the move to high-pivot a backward step or a forward leap?

Words: Simon Crook

Images: Boston Bright

The Trek Slash has been a mainstay in the enduro scene for more than a decade, known for its prowess on technical terrain and ability to inspire confidence. 

The 2024 Slash 9.8 GX AXS T-Type Gen 6 is great looking bike. It’s got great components and the high pivot suspension platform, which is the feature of the new 2024 revamped design, looks well executed.

Trek hasn’t strayed far from the Slash’s iconic silhouette, other than the elevated chainstay and idler-routed chain line of its new high-pivot design.  

The full carbon frame along with Trek’s in-house carbon wheelset and cockpit make for a sleek-looking package. 

The integrated storage in the downtube is huge, providing plenty of volume for snacks and tools. The provided tool pouch is a nice touch, keeping everything secure and quiet. 

The real eye-catcher is the new high-pivot suspension design, a bold departure from Trek’s traditional four-bar, split-pivot platform. The new layout promises to gobble up square-edge hits while keeping some of the characteristics of the model’s earlier iterations. 

The geometry is definitely gravity-focused, with a slack 63.3-degree head angle, a 488mm reach and a 1277mm wheelbase (size large). This translates to a planted, stable feel on steep descents, while the steeper 77-degree virtual (73.8-degrees actual) seat tube angle promises a comfortable climbing position.  

The Slash 9.8 Gen 6 we tested came equipped with a solid mix of high-end and reliable options, including a SRAM GX AXS T-Type drivetrain and a RockShox ZEB Select+ fork and Vivid Select+ shock. Brakes are SRAM Code Bronze paired with 200mm SRAM CentreLine rotors. The recommended New Zealand retail price for this mid-range model is $10,999.

There’s a Shimano version of the 9.8, if you prefer that flavour, which gets an XT groupset and costs about $1000 more.

The dropper post has a 200mm drop as you’d expect on an enduro bike designed to tackle the steepest descents. Anything shorter is unacceptable.

The weight on my home scales was 16.6kg, including pedals. 

Climbing 

Frist impressions riding the Slash uphill were surprising—it’s a better climber than you’d expect. I felt immediately comfortable scrambling up single track and pedalling the 4WD road at Makara Peak. There was little noticeable drag or noise from the idler or the lower chain-tensioner, although this increased slightly as the chain became more gummed up with dirt on longer, muddy rides.  

Descending 

Dropping in is where the Slash shows its true colours. The slack geometry translates to incredible stability on steep chutes. It’s playful but planted and predictable, letting you focus on shredding, not surviving.  

The new 170mm-travel high-pivot suspension eats up bumps and roots with ease, offering a bottomless feel. 

The Slash also feels stable in the air—whether jumping large tabletops or sending drops, the suspension platform soaks it all up. 

Conditions were wet on the trails around the Wellington region during my test period, which wasn’t ideal for throwing the Slash down the trails it deserves, but I did manage to get a good run at the grade 5s around town.

‘It’s playful but planted and predictable, letting you focus on shredding, not surviving.’

I struggled with the wooden feel of the stock Bontrager SE5 Team Issue tyres, particularly in the wet. Changing to softer rubber made a big difference to handling and confidence.  

The stiffness of the full carbon frame, wheels and bars also took a bit of getting used to—some of the rougher tracks sent a lot of feedback through the bike. 

The Sram Code Bronze brakes were the other weak point for me—the lever feel was heavy, and they seemed either on or off, which is not ideal on wet roots. 

By the end of the test period, however, I had ironed out all the quirks and was really enjoying the Slash.

The high pivot suspension ate up small and medium square-edged hits while providing good support, and—get this—the chain stayed on. I was surprised, considering the online furore.  

Overall, the new Slash is a much more capable machine than its predecessors, although far more focused on trails at the gnarlier end of the spectrum.

Who’s the Slash For? 

This isn’t a bike for casual riders or weight weenies. The Slash is for aggressive riders who love the steeps and demand a bike that can handle anything they throw at it. If you live for steep descents, technical climbs, and demanding singletrack, the Slash will be your loyal companion on your shredding expeditions. 

2024 Trek Slash 9.8 GX AXS T-Type Gen 6 RRP NZ$10,999