To describe the climbing performance of the Trek Rail 9.9, simply insert any positive descriptor you can think of and press go. Thanks to the torque of the Bosch system, geometry and Trek’s supple suspension design, we were all reaching for the Rail on challenging climbs. The motor seems to churn out endless power at even the lowest cadence, but not enough to constantly raise the front tire or break traction. The long wheelbase is balanced out by the chainstay length and 64.5-degree head tube keep it from being too cumbersome on the super tight stuff.
Seating position feels neutral and standing efforts have enough room, although we wouldn’t mind a couple more milimeters of reach to get us closer to 475mm. But if you’re looking to impress your friends or win a free burrito from the crew, simply put it in Turbo and your only limits are skill and gravity. After several battery draining days on the rest of the bikes, the Trek Rail still managed to have a battery bar remaining. The Kiox display screen is the best in the Bosch lineup, and is tucked neatly behind the stem on the top tube.
The charging port is well covered with a flip down door that is paint matched to the body and we never had any issues with the battery or cable rattle we experienced with several other eMTBs this year. A big benefit of the Rail is an integrated aluminum skid plate covering the bottom bracket and motor. We are finding that skid plates are an essential item with low hanging motors, and the Rail’s is definitely a very stout version and resisted breaking, unlike several other bikes we tested. The motor casing does have a few deep gouges in it from sharp rock impacts, but it’s still working just fine.
The Trek Rail 9.9’s total package is pretty dialed. The new rear shock tune with RT3 technology is just about perfect, with enough support in the mid travel to always allow for a big drop or jump, while still maintaining ground tracing sensitivity off the top. We’ve had a bit of trouble with RockShox rear shocks spitting oil after some time and it seems that this one is keeping oil inside rather than making our bike dirty, which we appreciate. Overall we really liked how the shock blended sensitivity with the ability to keep up with big, harsh hits at speed.
Many of our testers noticed the Trek Rail kept up with many bikes in the Enduro category of our eMTB Shootout. It’s a bike that really likes going fast and the Zeb up front makes a huge difference in confidence. While we did knock the travel ring off the rear shock several times, none of us could tell we were bottoming as the ramp up is both supportive and progressive. The stiff frame and fork allow for laser-like accuracy in line choice and the Bontrager wheels are flexible enough to hold side hill options with ease.
Off big, slow speed drops, the Trek Rail needs a little extra effort to get the long wheelbase balanced. The front end feels a tad heavy when trying to keep it up off those slow drops out of corners. The low bottom bracket and taller stack give the feeling of riding in the bike rather than on it, and provide the confidence to tackle whatever. We rarely find bikes that flick through switchbacks just as well as they hold tight inside turns, but the Rail does exactly that. Whether you like to scandi turn into big berms or just get off the brakes and rail the corner, the snappy rear end, supple suspension and capable geometry make it happen.
We cannot end without discussing the dark matte grey and gloss candy red carbon. It is both understated and refined at the same time. In darker light, the carbon weave pops through the paint, but in full sun, the red pops and impressed us all. This is one good looking machine, but sadly after a ride in the mud with our knee pads rubbing against the frame, some serious haze has developed. While the bike looks like a masterpiece new, and we love it, the clear coat needs to be a little more durable.