Trek's new Elite 9.9 hardtail: A new era in hardtail performance

Trek's new hardtail,

Trek's new hardtail, (Image credit: Steve Medcroft)

One notable absence from this year's Interbike exhibition is Trek. The company took the opportunity to gather industry journalists at the 2005 US National Mountain Bike Championships in Mammoth Mountain, California and unveil an evolution in their hardtail mountain bike line. Cyclingnews' Steve Medcroft was there to see the new 9.9, which replaces Trek's OCLV carbon honeycomb-based 9.8.

Trek's Brand Manager Zapata Espinoza said that the initiatives that led to the enhancements in the 9.9 came from the top of the company. "We wanted to bring something new to our hardtail line," he said at the meeting. "The goals were to build a frame at least 300 grams lighter than the 9.8 (the 17.5" version of the new frame weighs 1,250g) that rode a little less harsh, to improve wheel clearance for larger-width tyres and make use of some of the things we learned in the Madone project."

The most significant thing Trek learned with the Madone was to use OCLV 110 Carbon and build the frame around molded lugs. The one-piece head tube/top tube lug, the bottom bracket lug and a seat tube/down tube lug make up the major joints in the frame. By hand-laying these lugs in one piece, Trek design engineer Scott Neilson said, Trek gains "greater control over the properties of the front end of the bike".

The 9.9 is an evolution of Trek's original all-carbon hardtail, the 9.8, which debuted in 1999 and hadn't changed significantly in six years. "The 9.8 was used by championship-calibre riders like Travis Brown, Ruthie Matthes, Allison Sydor and Roland Green to win everything from World Cup, world championship and national championship titles," explained Espinoza.

Read the entire Trek 9.9 carbon hardtail roll-out here.

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