How Different Do They Ride?

Well folks, ask (or complain) and ye shall receive. After dozens and dozens of comments proclaiming, “What a shock, the $10,000 bike rides better than the cheaper ones,” while other astounding commenters wrote, “It’s a placebo, no way the more expensive bike rides any better,” (yes people really said that), we decided to pit two Trek Rail eMTBs against each other to see if we could quantify the difference in performance, and if it was $4,000 different. In one corner, we have the 2021 eMTB Shootout award-winning  Trek Rail 9.9 pricing in at $10,499. The challenger is the $6,499 Trek Rail 7, featuring many of the same qualities of the 9.9, but with a more affordable (read downgraded) spec selection. Would these mid-tier parts hold their own against top of the line components, or would our testers realize that they’d been drinking sugar pills like our YouTube commenters say, and  realize a Zeb is no better than a Yari RC?

While our years of testing tell us we’ll certainly notice a difference between some of the key components, what we don’t know is, will those differences warrant the jump in price, or would we personally pick the more affordable Trek Rail 7 and upgrade individual components as needed?

Since this test came about and was inspired by your comments, we’d love to hear what you’d like to know most? What elements of this head to head eMTB challenge are most important to you? What do you need to know when making a purchasing decision and what would make you spend the extra cash on a higher end model? Since much of the bikes is the same, like the Bosch Performance Line CX drive unit, battery and frame technologies, it pretty much boils down to alloy vs carbon frame materials and differences in suspension and drivetrain components. Do you want to know how much faster one bike is than the other? How much longer the components last without needing service? Let us know with a comment down below or on our YouTube channel and we’ll add those elements to our clipboard for the final weeks of testing.

Trek Rail 7

TREK RAIL 7 (Aluminum)

MSRP: $6,499


Fork:  RockShox Yari RC, DebonAir spring
Motion Control RC damper,
e-MTB optimized, tapered steerer,
42mm offset

Shock: RockShox Deluxe Select+

Display: Bosch Purion

Brakes: Shimano M6120 – 4 piston | 203mm
Derailleur: Shimano XT M100
Shifter: Shimano SLX M7100
Shimano SLX M7100, 10-51, 12 speed
Chain: Shimano SLX M7100
Cranks: E*thirteen E*spec Plus, 34T, 165mm

Wheels: Bontrager Line Comp 30
Tires: Bontrager XR5 Team Issue 29×2.6”

Stem: Bontrager Rhythm Comp 31.8mm
Handlebar: Bontrager Rhythm Comp | Alloy
Saddle: Bontrager Arvada, steel rails
Seatpost: TranzX JD-YSP18 | 130mm

Trek Rail 9.9

TREK RAIL 9.9 (Carbon)

MSRP: $10,499


Fork:  RockShox ZEB Ultimate,
DebonAir spring, Charger 2.1 RC2 damper,
e-MTB optimzed crown
44mm offset

Shock: RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate RT3

Display: Bosch Kiox

Brakes: SRAM Code RSC | 200/180mm
Derailleur: SRAM X01 Eagle
Shifter: SRAM X01 Eagle
SRAM Eagle XG-1275, 10-52, 12 speed
Chain: SRAM XX1 Eagle
Cranks: E*thirteen E*spec Race, 34T, 165mm

Wheels: Bontrager Line Elite 30 OCLV Carbon
Tires: Bontrager SE5 Team Issue | 29×2.6”

Stem: Bontrager Line Pro 35mm
Handlebar: Bontrager Line Pro | OCLV Carbon
Saddle: Bontrager Arvada, Austenite Rails
Seatpost: Bontrager Line Elite | 170mm

First Impressions

The Trek Rail 7 has made quite a showing thus far and honestly, we really like it. So far our testers have agreed that the tire spec and fork selection are the two weakest links in the chain. However fresh rubber and a fork upgrade are certainly less than $4,000 so we look forward to hearing your feedback on what other elements are most interesting to you so we can focus on them further as we continue testing. We’re going to be doing some more timed laps, some technical challenges and generally gauging the amount of fun we have on rides and seeing if the fun-meter is any lower on the Trek Rail 7 compared to the Rail 9.9. We’ve got a feeling it’s going to be a close battle and one we look forward to.