Trek’s Rail was introduced with the Bosch Performance CX Gen 4 engine for the 2020 season. This allowed for a more modern and aggressive geometry (compared with Powerfly LT), and eliminated the annoying front chainring that could have impacted full suspension. It is lighter, more responsive, and — at least to my ears — quieter. The Rail is a huge success. It has received a lot of praise from reviewers, which was not possible when they all went for the Specialized Levo.
The 2021 entry-level Rail 5 ($500Wh or 625Wh batteries) and Rail 7 ($8999, with 625Wh), are virtually unchanged. With the Kiox display, Rock Shox Zeb fork and Rail 9, the Rail 9 ($10999), is the main mover. The Re:Aktiv rear shock, which was great but difficult to service, has been replaced by the Super Deluxe Ultimate. Although we haven’t yet seen a 9.8 in NZ, it will be similar to the 9.8 with carbon frame, Shimano XT racing gear, and other carbon bits. It will cost $1000 more. This might be the right one for you if you hate SRAM but love Shimano.
You’ll be able to purchase an ebike or eMTB if you have read my posts. It is important to test before you purchase. What did I do? I moved to Central Otago, and bought a bike that I had never rode before. I did watch all the videos and read all of the reviews. And I know what to expect fitness-wise since I own a Trek Fuel EX.
It’s a short story. I bought it from Evo Cycles Frankton, fell in love with it, and my first ride was around Gibbston. This bike is meant to be ridden hard. I was unable to feel the stability and speed on bumpy surfaces. The second ride was longer on the Roxburgh Gorge trail. Although the ride was a little soft, I was happy that it wasn’t feeling too heavy for this type of ride. This is exactly what ElectricMeg loves and I would love to share rides with her. The battery was nearly dead after it had been charged, but Evo quickly swapped it for another one. There were a few posts on the forum about similar issues with other Bosch Powertubes. The responsiveness of the Bosch CX motor was amazing. It used 20% for 21km. I was mostly using Eco mode which amazed me. The Bosch smartphone app informed me that my bike had done the same work as mine. I tried all the modes and was impressed by how EMTB mode turned out. It responds very well to your input and feels natural.
My third ride was up the Coalpit Rd technical 4wd. I was impressed by the power and modulation of eMTB mode. Also, it was very easy to start up steep slopes with zero rpm. Although the front end was a little light at times, it is easy to position it exactly where you want. It was great to go downhill. My maximum speed was 65kph. I felt secure at all times with those 220mm discs in front ready to set anchor whenever needed. Although my suspension setup isn’t perfect for me, it was very confidence-inspiring. I also didn’t experience any arm-pump.
It is cleverly hidden behind the stem of the toptube. Kiox can be removed magnetically, so it’s easy to attach. Garmin includes a tether so it doesn’t fall in a crash. Without it, the bike is inoperable. It is annoying that Bosch charges $16.99 for full immobilization. Why would I pay more for full immobilization when I already paid the Kings Ransom? Bosch’s ride recording system is extremely simple. You don’t have to remember when to stop or begin a ride. You will need to go to ebike-connect.com to sync with Strava and other services. This is not the case for Garmin Connect, which automatically uploads. Both have the ability to plan routes for uploading to the device. However, Bosch’s system is more complicated. My Android phone has also been having problems when its battery gets low. It records the ride fine until the battery is about 60%, after which it struggles to use GPS and the plot becomes a bit erratic.
The Mino-Link was set to Low out of the box. The ride felt sharper and more agile, especially when I turned it up to High. If I am going downhills, I will probably leave it that way. Because I am not an aggressive Enduro rider, I have also reduced the pressure on my Zeb forks. For my weight, the recommended pressure was 89psi. I run 71.
A few notes on Rail 9:
- Its paintwork is stunning. It glows orange and shines like a Mitre 10 sign
- It is incredible. It felt great to be able to bomb down Coalpit Rd, over rocks and through ruts. As I only used about 2/3 of my travel, I have more to set up.
- The front can feel a little lighter on technical uphills, but not in a bad way. This is the price you have to pay for shorter chainstays, and the ability of popping the front wheel. This was a benefit that I used to my advantage.
- The battery life is excellent. I was able to ride Eco for over 100km according to the Bosch range estimate (which isn’t a joke like some systems). After 10km of riding, it was at 150km on a section the Otago Central Rail Trail.
- The motor noise is OK. Not quite Levo quiet but quiet enough.
- The brakes (Code R with 220/200mm disks) are amazing
- This is the best way to remove the battery from the frame. To make the battery lighter and easier to carry, I prefer it to be easy to remove. It requires a key to remove and replace the battery. This will protect it from thefts who bring their own batteries.
- The Kiox display is a nice, simple to read, customizable, and easily removable. It’s a worthwhile upgrade to the Purion display. It is a bit annoying that the locking feature requires a $16.99 fee.
- Although it doesn’t come tubeless, the Evo team was able to do that in minutes. Ask for it.
- You can climb up the seat tube because it is steep. It is extremely comfortable.
- The manuals are horrible. Specialized has a great manual. This was especially noticeable when trying to troubleshoot a dead battery. Even a generic Trek manual was available on CD (dated 2017).
Here are some photos of the Roxburgh Gorge Trail. Both sections are beautiful and easy to ride. I am so happy I moved south…