When it comes to mountain bikes, it’s no secret that a lot of people are on the overbiked end of the spectrum, or perhaps relying on their suspension to get them down a trail instead of their technical ability. Hardcore hardtails offer a solution to this, maintaining the stability required to go fast but giving a little less forgiveness that allows riders to separate out their skills from the ability of the bike and improve their riding. It shaves off the cost of a more complex frame plus a rear shock in the process, bringing this capability to a more budget-conscious demographic. The all-new Roscoe is Trek’s most recent answer to an affordable all-around mountain bike, specifically designed to get more people having fun on the trails. The Roscoe is simplicity driven, featuring dependable components, aggressive geo, and of course, no rear shock. Make no mistakes though; with 29” wheels, 2.6” tires, and 140mm of fork travel, the Roscoe is no slouch when it comes to rugged terrain. We were excited to find out how exactly how capable it was out on the trails around Bend, OR.
• 29 x 2.6″ Tires
• HTA: 65°
• STA: 73.1°
• REACH: 470 (Large)
Like most modern bikes, the Trek Roscoe follows the trend of long and slack with a relatively steep seat tube. This allows for better handling in the rough and better positioning on the climb. Roscoe’s sizing ranges from XS to XL to suit riders from 137cm to 196cm (4’5”-6’2”), with the XS size equipped with 27.5 wheels to better fit shorter riders. Quite a unique and very welcome addition to the size range is the “ML”, which forms a middle ground between the medium and large that should help to avoid quite so much deliberation between the two for riders who sit awkwardly in that size range. The reach on our Large was 470mm and pairs to a generous 644mm stack. The angles are shared across the size range, with a 65° head angle and a 74.7° effective seat tube angle. These numbers don’t take into account the fact that it’s a hardtail and therefore the angles steepen when on the bike, giving a slightly more upright climbing position but quicker steering than you may expect. A 6.1mm static BB drop (4.5mm on XS) and 430mm chainstays round out the numbers, giving a suitably all-rounded mentality.
Helping to keep the retail price down, the Trek Roscoe is only offered in their Alpha Gold Aluminum. The frame features a tapered head tube, internal cable routing with guides within the frame, ISCG 05 tabs, a threaded BB, and Boost 148 spacing. Trek paid attention to the frame protection, with good coverage on the chainstay and a generous downtube guard. Within the front triangle you can run two bottles thanks to the provided mounts. The Roscoe is offered in 4 different build kits ranging from $1149.99 to $2699.99. Trek says the Roscoe is the perfect choice for the rider who wants to get out and enjoy some gnarly terrain, without the maintenance and cost of a full suspension bike and backs it with their Lifetime frame warranty.
The Roscoe 9 we tested came equipped with some of the industry’s most reliable, robust, and affordable parts. The Fox Rhythm 36 comes equipped with the easy-to-tune GRIP damper, as well as the tried-and-true EVOL air spring. The XT derailleur and SLX shifter provide seamless shifting across the SLX 10-51t 12-speed cassette. E*Thirteen supplies a Helix crank with 30t steel chainring and a discrete upper chainguide to keep the chain firmly in place. The Roscoe 9 features quad piston Shimano M6120 Brakes, which should provide plenty of power, especially when matched with a 203mm rotor up front and a 180mm in the rear. Trek chose the TranzX Dropper post, which ranges from 100-150mm, depending on frame size – a 150mm length for sizes ML and above. The rest of our Roscoe 9 came outfitted with Trek’s own Bontrager components, most notably the grippy XR4 tires and Line 30 wheels.
As a staunch downhill and enduro rider, I was very skeptical of the way an aggressive hardtail would handle the trail. After spending a few weeks on board, the Roscoe, all I can say is, “wow”. The Roscoe’s reasonably slack head angle, healthy reach and 140mm fork make this bike extremely capable of tackling everything from flow trails to rock shoots. There were times when I completely forgot I was riding a hardtail because of how comfortable the body positioning is on this bike. The cornering ability is next level, thanks to the balanced geometry and aggressive 2.6” tires. I never found myself washing around in a turn, even in the dry, dusty conditions here in Bend. In the air, the Roscoe is balanced and predictable, even at high speeds.
It was obvious to me that the Roscoe was much more capable downhill than I would have ever imagined; then, when I finished a lap and turned around to pedal back up, I was pleasantly surprised by the comfort and efficiency of the Roscoe’s climbing position. The 74.7-degree effective seat tube angle makes the Roscoe a joy to pedal, and with the large size build weighing in at just under 30lbs, it gets up the hill without any issues. The XR4’s does a good job at clawing their way up terrain that seems impossibly loose, finding unexpected traction on a number of occasions.
The spec sheet on the Roscoe 9 was also impeccable. The shifting was perfect throughout, the brakes suitably powerful, the tires offered incredible traction, and the price seems pretty spot on given the quality components all round. For an experienced rider, based on Trek’s build sheet, I probably wouldn’t shoot for the Roscoe 6 (which is designed for beginner riders anyways); however, the 7 level and above offer parts more suited for an experienced rider and are available at extremely reasonable prices.
The only real qualms I had with the Roscoe were the grips and the bars – items riders will often look to swap out anyway to get that customised fit. The angles on the bars put a strain on my wrists, causing them to hurt after a good bit of saddle time. The back-sweep, combined with notoriously stiff 35mm aluminum construction, made a bit of discomfort on my first ride. The grips weren’t a significant complaint for me, but I don’t like to wear gloves when I ride, and the Roscoe grips aren’t necessarily suited for sweaty palms. That said, these are minor details on an otherwise dialled ride.
The Wolf’s Last Word
The Trek Roscoe 9 is a killer offering for riders looking for an all-round hardtail ripper, with balanced geometry that’s equally happy on the way up and down the hill. The sturdy spec choice allows the Roscoe to charge surprisingly hard through rough terrain without issue and is dialed for its reasonable price.
Price: – $2,699/£2,200
Weight: 29.6 lbs
Frame: Alpha Gold Aluminum
Fork: Fox Rhythm 36, Float EVOL, GRIP | 140mm
Brakes: Shimano M6120 4-piston
Handlebar: Bontrager Line, 35mm, 27.5mm rise, 780mm
Stem: Bontrager Elite, 35mm, 0 degree, 45mm length
Headset: FSA IS-2
Saddle: Bontrager Arvada
Seatpost: TranzX JD-YSP18 | 150mm
Rims: Bontrager Line Comp 30
Hubs: Bontrager alloy
Tires: Bontrager XR4 Team Issue | 29×2.6″
Bottom Bracket: Shimano SM-BB52
Cassette: Shimano SLX M7100, 10-51, 12 speed
Cranks: E*thirteen Helix, 30T | 170mm
Shifter: Shimano SLX M7100, 12 speed
Derailleur: Shimano XT M8100, long cage
Comfortable climbing position
Minor spec niggles
LEAVE A COMMENT | WIN FREE STUFF
Want to win some free schwag? Leave a comment and vote up the most thoughtful comments and each month we’ll pick a winner. The person with the smartest and most helpful replies will earn some sweet new gear. Join the Pack and get the latest news and read the latest reviews on the top mountain and electric mountain bikes.