First Impressions On The New 2022 Trek Rail 9.8 & 9.9

NEW BOSCH SMART SYSTEM, BIGGER BATTERY, MORE CONFIDENCE

Words by Drew Rohde | Photos & Video by Eric Winkler

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If you’ve been following the site for a while, you’ll know we’ve been quite the fans of the Trek’s Rail 9.8 and 9.9 eBike since its launch a couple years back, with it taking the top spot for all-round Trail eMTB in our last two shootouts. But the world of power-assisted mountain bikes moves very quickly, and so it’s not possible to rest on a good bike if you want to stay at the top of the game. For 2022, Trek Bicycles looked to boost the capabilities of their flagship Trek Rail 9.8 and 9.9 eBikes further, adding some Slash-inspired, enduro race geometry changes as well as throwing in a host of high-tech upgrades which they hope will “push the high-end Rail into the future.” As you may expect, the new Trek Rail sports the upgraded Bosch Smart System, the most cutting-edge tech currently available that allows over the air updates and easy customization through the Bosch eBike Flow App, but they didn’t stop there. Teaming up with SRAM/Rock Shox, the new Trek Rail 9.9 features some unique “Wiz” air technologies in the suspension and tires, giving riders the ultimate in automated and integrated eMTB status monitoring and ensuring maximum attention can go to shredding the descents and grinding out big miles at max speed.

DISSECTED DISCLAIMER – As with all our Dissected Features, this is not intended to be a long-term review or test, but an in-depth release feature to share product information and features as well as share our initial ride impressions from the short time we’ve spent aboard this product prior to release.

2022 Trek Rail 9.9 Dissected
Specialized Levo Gen 3 Dissected

THE BOSCH SMART SYSTEM
The 2022 Trek Rail 9.8 and 9.9 come equipped with the new and highly sophisticated Bosch Smart System, complimenting the stellar Performance Line CX motor with 85Nm max torque. The fully networked LED-lit control center connects to the Bosch eBike Flow App via Bluetooth and ties everything together: automatically updating the software over-the-air; allowing the user to access a whole host of functions and customize the settings for the assist modes from their phone; tracking activities automatically and even offering theft protection capabilities. This app will integrate with third party apps such as Apple Health and Strava to provide them with data from your rides, as well as offering navigation to avoid the need to add an external cycle computer. Forgot to turn on your Strava? Not an issue anymore as the Bosch Flow app instantly begins tracking activity once you’re on the bike. Integration with the Trek app will provide Trek-specific service interval reminders, inform you of your closest Trek dealer and make diagnostics for any issue simple.

2022 Trek Rail 9.9 DissectedOn the bar is an LED remote that gives more control from the bar letting you focus on the ride. Easily visible LEDs allow for a simplified outlook of the current status of the bike, while multiple buttons allow for various functions to be controlled without your hand leaving the grip including the useful walk assist function. The connected Kiox 300 display is nested neatly on the top tube where it’s safe from harm and easy to see, with a color display that’s visible day or night, and relays visual guidance to help you get the most from your ride. You can toggle between several different data fields on the screen to see what matters most to you, a neat feature that techies and number crunchers will love while those who just care about how fast they’re going will enjoy a full-size speedo.

The Bosch Powertube battery sees a 20%-watt hour increase over outgoing models and gives the new Trek Rail a 750Wh unit to maximize range and let you ride harder and further. Trek Bicycles continue to use their RIB (removable integrated battery) system, which lets the battery easily slide out of the downtube but remains secure in use. A new 4A charger will charge this battery to 50% in just two hours, with a six-hour total charge time to max juice. Sophisticated battery management protects the cells from overloading, keeping battery health high. This Powertube battery powers the Performance Line CX motor, delivering 85Nm of Torque to the rear wheel in an efficient and controllable manner, with the high-cadence power delivery that we loved carried over from the previous generations. The eMTB mode adapts to the situation and helps to manage power delivery in a natural way that lets the rider focus on enjoying the ride, aided by multiple sensors to deliver the system with all the information it needs.

THE FRAME
The new frame for the Trek Rail 9.8 & 9.9 models continues to use their cutting edge OCLV Mountain Carbon fiber for the main frame, with their classic rocker-driven single pivot suspension controlling the 150mm rear travel and featuring ABP (Active Braking Pivot) to control braking characteristics. The F1 inspired thru-shaft rear shock tech is maintained to offer consistent damping.

Knock Block 2.0 is going to be a welcome addition and greatly improves the turning radius of the Rail while still giving the Kiox 300 display and your top tube some crash-protection. Boost 148 axle spacing with a 12mm axle, which has remained tight after our first two abusive and muddy first rides. We also like the effective aluminum motor armor on the downtube. While the Rail may look like its predecessor at first glance, the astute eye will quickly pick up on plenty of new things on Trek’s all mountain eMTB.

To accompany the beefier aesthetics of the thicker diameter fork stanchions and crowns whilst giving stiffness a boost, the lower headtube bearing area grows to the new eMTB 1.8” standard. A 34.9mm seat tube accompanies this growth, giving more real estate for seatpost internals that should help to improve their durability. A mino link allows for some geometry adjustment as in many other Trek bikes but serves the dual-purpose of providing compatibility with both standard 29” wheels on both ends, as well as the “mullet” setup with 29” up front and 27.5” out back, without compromising the bike geometry.

Speaking of which, the Rail’s geometry is another key area Trek looked to add capability to, taking inspiration from their Slash enduro bike to make some changes that promise to bolster both the climbing and descending prowess of their flagship eMTB. A longer reach, by 19mm on average (stretching to 487/490mm on our Large), adds stability to high-speed stability and comes with the bonus of increasing the space available in the downtube, allowing for the medium size upwards to fit the larger 750Wh battery. A slacker 64.2° head angle further boosts stability and control, especially on the steeper descents. The climbing prowess is aided by a steepened seat tube angle, which at 76.7° ensures the rider is well centered between the wheels, avoiding the need to stretch the chainstay length beyond the 448 mm length selected for all sizes. A slammed 32mm BB drop gives “In the bike” stability for ripping corners hard, and combines with the lengthy 1,277mm wheelbase to produce a rig that’s ready to attack modern, high-speed trails with confidence. During our initial rides we quickly opted to put the bike in the High position to raise the bottom bracket as we struck the pedals quite a few times on our rocky trails. Also quickly noted was the much longer reach, and more than 30mm longer wheelbase, but more on this later.

2022 Trek Rail 9.9 Dissected

THE BUILDS
At the lower levels, the Trek Rail eBike frame remains unchanged from the model that won our eMTB shootout here at The Loam Wolf last year. Trek knows that the Rail is a crowd favorite and made this decision in hopes of keeping the price points competitive for more riders. Starting with the $5,599/£4,500 the Alpha Platinum Aluminum Rail 5, the line moves to the $6,599/£5,700 Rail 7 and EU-Only £6,500 Rail 9. Trek’s last-generation Rail Carbon frame is featured from the also EU-Only £5,600 Rail 9.5, through to the $7,499/£6,950 Rail 9.7.

The Trek Rail 9.8 is the lowest-priced model featuring the new updated frame and larger battery. It is available in SRAM GX and GX AXS builds, or a Shimano XT build for $8,999/£8,800. These builds share the RockShox ZEB Select+ fork with Charger RC damper paired to a Super Deluxe Ultimate RT3 thru shaft rear shock. Also shared are the Bontrager Line Comp 30 wheelset with Rapid Drive 54T hub, Line Elite Dropper, Line Pro Carbon bar, and Line Pro stem with knock block. This is then topped off with the respective groupset – a SRAM GX Eagle or GX Eagle AXS 12spd drivetrain with Code R Brakes; or XT 12spd drivetrain with XT 4-piston stoppers.

The top spec Trek Rail 9.9 is available in a $13,499/£12,500 SRAM XX1 AXS build or $12,499/£10,550 Shimano XTR build. All 9.9 models feature SRAM’s “Wiz” technology on the suspension and wheels, bringing a uniquely integrated system to give the rider peace of mind that their Rail is set up correctly and ready to drop in. Cleanly into the Bontrager Line Pro carbon wheels, the TyreWiz measures the tire pressures, letting you know immediately when the pressure falls below a value selected using the SRAM AXS app. A simple look at the indicator LED lets you know if you’re green for go or a red LED lets you know to inflate the tire.

2022 Trek Rail 9.9 Dissected

Something brand new and exclusive to Trek however, is the RockShox AirWiz units on the fork and shock used to measure suspension pressures and give the same “Green means go” indication to keep peace of mind that the bike is set up and ready to ride. Like TireWiz, the RockShox AirWiz can be set on your smartphone to give the system your weight and air pressure range. Simply pump up your suspension products and look for the green light. If you travel a lot or let your bike sit for long periods of time between rides, you’ll enjoy the ease of simply looking for that little flashing light.

Shared between these are the RockShox ZEB Ultimate fork with Charger RC2 damper, paired to a Super Deluxe Ultimate RT3 Thru Shaft shock. Bontrager’s Line Pro 30 carbon wheelset with Rapid Drive 108 hub, Line Elite dropper, Line Pro Carbon Bar, Line Pro stem with knock block, and E*thirteen E*spec carbon crank are also consistent between the two build kits. These are finished off with either an XX1 Eagle AXS 12spd drivetrain and Code RSC brakes, or XTR 12psd drivetrain and 4-piston brakes, to produce a lust-worthy ride that should keep any rider satisfied out on the trails.

2022 Trek Rail 9.9 Dissected

THE WOLF’S FIRST IMPRESSION

To be totally honest, we have been huge fans of the Trek Rail 9.8 & 9.9, as you likely already know. After listening to the official product launch presentation, the revelation of a 490mm reach on the size large had us moaning quite a bit as we thought back to other bikes we used to love that went too long and lost much of the fun, playful feel we loved about them. We rode the bike in the factory-shipped Low position, which shortens the reach a touch, to 487mm. Not a ton but it does bring us closer to our preferred 475mm (480max) reach for our 5’11-6’0” test riders. Seeing as the Medium is a 455mm reach, it was really our only option.

Once on the trail things started to look up a bit. The steeper seat tube angle made sure the reach didn’t feel too stretched out as we climbed one of the steeper and more technical climbs in the Santa Monica Mountain Range of Southern California. It’s a climb I quite literally grew up on and have pedaled and pushed more bikes up than I can count. Despite the horrible weather and trail conditions, the powerful Bosch Performance Line CX drive unit kept that rear tire rolling as we crawled over wet slabs of sandy rock. I quite enjoy how Bosch systems climb in technical terrain. They really let you tackle just about anything as long as you can keep your front tire on the ground and pointed in the right direction.

Before the ride I connected my bike to the Bosch eBike Flow app, familiarized myself with it, saw what my estimated range would be and quickly felt like I understood the app and what it could do. There were no updates needed at the time but hopefully before we conduct our long-term review, we’ll have the chance to do an over the air update. One thing I will say about the visually impressive new Smart System LED controller on the bar is that the buttons are very sensitive and I found that I was going to need some more practice shifting power modes while bouncing through rock gardens as it was easy to double shift through power modes when I was only trying to shift one. I think moving the controller further inboard and a bit more time behind the saddle will quickly recalibrate my thumb from the older, less sensitive controllers we’ve grown used to.

2022 Trek Rail 9.9 Dissected

Once at the top I began to check everything over, making sure the bolts all stayed tight on the first couple miles in and prepared for the descent. The initial descent was fast and flowy with some steep, chunky rock chutes so tight corners or slow turns would have to wait. My concerns about the longer reach would still have to wait as I appreciated the stability and very planted nature of the bike. The RockShox Zeb and Super Deluxe rear shock felt very good on this bike and required very little setup beyond air pressure and rebound adjustment. Firm, nice stable platform yet lively and playful would be my descriptors for the suspension on the new Trek Rail thus far.

Next up was a very steep, narrow, technical goat trail that I knew would be a challenge in the current conditions with such a long bike. While I did have a couple “I told you so,” moments, the Trek Rail actually did better than I thought in the slower, technical bits of trail. I did have some more pedal strikes, both up and down, than I remember on previous generation Rails, but that’s because we ran them both in the High position, something I’ll likely do here as we find ourselves riding in lots of rocky terrain and less on groomed flow trails.

So, where did I notice the long reach as a negative? When speeds are low, corners are tight and drops are short and awkward, the long front end requires more effort and a change in technique. With the long front end being so far in front, steep awkward corners meant I was leaning back and really turning the bars a lot instead of coming in faster and just laying a shorter bike, that I have more power and control of, over. Similarly, manuals or trying to lift the front end off drops at slow speeds required a lot more effort as the center of gravity is further forward and more weight is out in front of the rider. Still, even though I (kind of) wanted to be more right than I was, the Trek Rail did better than anticipated in the tighter stuff. Would I still like it better if it was shorter? Absolutely.

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After some time spent getting techy it was time to hit one of my all-time favorite downhill test trails. Tires spend more time on rock than dirt and it drops roughly 1,000 feet in 1.2 miles with a typical average speed in the 19.5mph range. It has long been a favorite for testing wheels, tire casings and suspension products. Within a hundred feet of dropping into this descent I knew the 2022 Trek Rail was going to be a rocket ship! It absolutely ate up the rocks, had me gapping small natural rock lips into chunderous rock gardens and thanks to that Bosch Turbo mode, was able to turn back around and repeat my favorite rock gardens multiple times. All I could think about was how fast, stable and smooth the bike was as I pushed the bike faster and harder through the rocks.

For every technical trail riding old school grump like me, there’s probably two new school riders who spent their days riding a majority of purpose-built mountain bike trails that are high-speed and more direct. After spending just a couple days riding the 2022 Trek Rail so far, I can say this bike is definitely geared more towards the faster, more open terrain but isn’t as polarizing as other bikes we’ve recently ridden. It can still handle some of the slower, jankier trails and while the longer reach does require some more effort and a slightly different technique, we look forward to learning this bike more, swapping the Mino Link geometry position and seeing how our riding evolves on this bike.

While our Dissected Series features are not intended to be reviews or endorsements of products in any way, we can say that Trek have done a very good job updating the trusty Rail for those who love having the latest in technology and advancements. The exclusive Rock Shox AirWhiz integration, Bosch’s new Smart System paired with a 750Wh battery and updated geometry take an impressively capable bike and bump it to the next level. We appreciate that Trek has also kept more affordable options available for consumers while those who live for the bleeding edge can enjoy the latest the bike industry has to offer, and hopefully this means eventually these tech bits and features trickle down to more affordable models in the years to come.

VISIT TREK’S WEBSITE TO LEARN MORE

TREK RAIL 9.9 XX1 AXS

Price: $13,499.99

2022 Trek Rail 9.9 XX1 AXS

Frame: NEW OCLV Mountain Carbon main frame | 150mm
Fork: RockShox ZEB Ultimate with AirWiz, DebonAir spring, Charger 2.1 RC2 damper | 160mm
Shock: RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate RT3 with AirWiz, DebonAir spring

Drive Unit: Bosch Performance Line CX | smart system, 250 watt, 85 Nm
Battery: Bosch PowerTube 750
Display: Bosch Kiox 300 | Bosch smart system LED remote

Handlebar: Bontrager Line Pro, OCLV Carbon, 35mm, 27.5mm rise, 780mm width
Stem: Bontrager Line Pro, Knock Block, Blendr compatible, 0 degree, 45mm length
Headset: Knock Block 2.0 Integrated, 72-degree radius, cartridge bearing, 1-1/8” top, 1.5” bottom
Shifters: SRAM Eagle AXS, wireless, 12 speed
Brakes: SRAM Code RSC
Saddle: Bontrager Arvada, austenite rails, 138mm width
Seatpost: RockShox Reverb AXS | 34.9mm, S – 100mm, M – 150mm, L – 170mm, XL – 200mm

Wheels: Bontrager Line Pro 30 | TyreWiz
Front Tire: Bontrager SE6 Team Issue, Tubeless Ready, Core Strength sidewalls, aramid bead, 120 tpi, 29×2.50″
Rear Tire: Bontrager SE5 Team Issue, Tubeless Ready, Core Strength sidewalls, aramid bead, 120 tpi, 29×2.50″

Derailleur: SRAM XX1 Eagle AXS
Crankset: E*thirteen E*spec Race carbon, 34T, 165mm length
Cassette: SRAM Eagle XG-1299, 10-52, 12 speed
Chain: SRAM XX1 Eagle, 12 speed

TREK RAIL 9.9 XTR

Price: $12,499.99

2022 Trek Rail 9.9 XTR

Frame: NEW OCLV Mountain Carbon main frame | 150mm
Fork: RockShox ZEB Ultimate with AirWiz, DebonAir spring, Charger 2.1 RC2 damper | 160mm
Shock: RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate RT3 with AirWiz, DebonAir spring

Drive Unit: Bosch Performance Line CX | smart system, 250 watt, 85 Nm
Battery: Bosch PowerTube 750
Display: Bosch Kiox 300 | Bosch smart system LED remote

Handlebar: Bontrager Line Pro, OCLV Carbon, 35mm, 27.5mm rise, 780mm width
Stem: Bontrager Line Pro, Knock Block, Blendr compatible, 0 degree, 45mm length
Headset: Knock Block 2.0 Integrated, 72-degree radius, cartridge bearing, 1-1/8” top, 1.5” bottom
Shifters: Shimano XTR M9100, 12 speed
Brakes: Shimano XTR M9120 4-piston hydraulic disc
Saddle: Bontrager Arvada, austenite rails, 138mm width
Seatpost: Bontrager Line Elite Dropper, MaxFlow | 34.9mm, S – 100mm, M – 150mm, L – 170mm, XL – 200mm

Wheels: Bontrager Line Pro 30 | TyreWiz
Front Tire: Bontrager SE6 Team Issue, Tubeless Ready, Core Strength sidewalls, aramid bead, 120 tpi, 29×2.50″
Rear Tire: Bontrager SE5 Team Issue, Tubeless Ready, Core Strength sidewalls, aramid bead, 120 tpi, 29×2.50″

Derailleur: Shimano XTR M9100
Crankset: E*thirteen E*spec Race carbon, 34T, 165mm length
Cassette: Shimano XTR M9101, 10-51, 12 speed
Chain: Shimano XTR M9100, 12 speed

TREK RAIL 9.8 GX AXS

Price: $9,999.99

2022 Trek Rail 9.8 GX AXS

Frame: NEW OCLV Mountain Carbon main frame | 150mm
Fork: RockShox ZEB Select+, DebonAir spring, Charger 2.1 RC damper | 160mm travel
Shock: RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate RT3, DebonAir spring

Drive Unit: Bosch Performance Line CX | smart system, 250 watt, 85 Nm
Battery: Bosch PowerTube 750
Display: Bosch Kiox 300 | Bosch smart system LED remote

Handlebar: Bontrager Line Pro, OCLV Carbon, 35mm, 27.5mm rise, 780mm width
Stem: Bontrager Line Pro, Knock Block, Blendr compatible, 0 degree, 45mm length
Headset: Knock Block 2.0 Integrated, 72-degree radius, cartridge bearing, 1-1/8” top, 1.5” bottom
Shifters: SRAM GX Eagle AXS, 12 speed
Brakes: SRAM Code R
Saddle: Bontrager Arvada, austenite rails, 138mm width
Seatpost: Bontrager Line Elite Dropper, MaxFlow | 34.9mm, S – 100mm, M – 150mm, L – 170mm, XL – 200mm

Wheels: Bontrager Line Comp 30
Front Tire: Bontrager SE6 Team Issue, Tubeless Ready, Core Strength sidewalls, aramid bead, 120 tpi, 29×2.50″
Rear Tire: Bontrager SE5 Team Issue, Tubeless Ready, Core Strength sidewalls, aramid bead, 120 tpi, 29×2.50″

Derailleur: SRAM GX Eagle AXS
Crankset: SRAM X1 1000, 34T, 165mm length
Cassette: SRAM Eagle XG-1275, 10-52, 12 speed
Chain: SRAM GX Eagle, 12 speed

TREK RAIL 9.8 XT

Price: $8,999.99

2022 Trek Rail 9.8 XT

Frame: NEW OCLV Mountain Carbon main frame | 150mm
Fork: RockShox ZEB Select+, DebonAir spring, Charger 2.1 RC damper | 160mm travel
Shock: RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate RT3, DebonAir spring

Drive Unit: Bosch Performance Line CX | smart system, 250 watt, 85 Nm
Battery: Bosch PowerTube 750
Display: Bosch Kiox 300 | Bosch smart system LED remote

Handlebar: Bontrager Line Pro, OCLV Carbon, 35mm, 27.5mm rise, 780mm width
Stem: Bontrager Line Pro, Knock Block, Blendr compatible, 0 degree, 45mm length
Headset: Knock Block 2.0 Integrated, 72-degree radius, cartridge bearing, 1-1/8” top, 1.5” bottom
Shifters: Shimano XT M8100, 12 speed
Brakes: Shimano XT M8120
Saddle: Bontrager Arvada, austenite rails, 138mm width
Seatpost: Bontrager Line Elite Dropper, MaxFlow | 34.9mm, S – 100mm, M – 150mm, L – 170mm, XL – 200mm

Wheels: Bontrager Line Comp 30
Front Tire: Bontrager SE6 Team Issue, Tubeless Ready, Core Strength sidewalls, aramid bead, 120 tpi, 29×2.50″
Rear Tire: Bontrager SE5 Team Issue, Tubeless Ready, Core Strength sidewalls, aramid bead, 120 tpi, 29×2.50″

Derailleur: Shimano XT M8100
Crankset: E*thirteen E*spec Plus, 34T, 165mm length
Cassette: Shimano XT M8100, 10-51, 12 speed
Chain: Shimano XT M8100, 12 speed

TREK RAIL 9.8 GX

Price: $8,999.99

2022 Trek Rail 9.8 GX

Frame: NEW OCLV Mountain Carbon main frame | 150mm
Fork: RockShox ZEB Select+, DebonAir spring, Charger 2.1 RC damper | 160mm travel
Shock: RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate RT3, DebonAir spring

Drive Unit: Bosch Performance Line CX | smart system, 250 watt, 85 Nm
Battery: Bosch PowerTube 750
Display: Bosch Kiox 300 | Bosch smart system LED remote

Handlebar: Bontrager Line Pro, OCLV Carbon, 35mm, 27.5mm rise, 780mm width
Stem: Bontrager Line Pro, Knock Block, Blendr compatible, 0 degree, 45mm length
Headset: Knock Block 2.0 Integrated, 72-degree radius, cartridge bearing, 1-1/8” top, 1.5” bottom
Shifters: SRAM GX Eagle, 12 speed
Brakes: SRAM Code R
Saddle: Bontrager Arvada, austenite rails, 138mm width
Seatpost: Bontrager Line Elite Dropper, MaxFlow | 34.9mm, S – 100mm, M – 150mm, L – 170mm, XL – 200mm

Wheels: Bontrager Line Comp 30
Front Tire: Bontrager SE6 Team Issue, Tubeless Ready, Core Strength sidewalls, aramid bead, 120 tpi, 29×2.50″
Rear Tire: Bontrager SE5 Team Issue, Tubeless Ready, Core Strength sidewalls, aramid bead, 120 tpi, 29×2.50″

Derailleur: SRAM GX Eagle
Crankset: SRAM X1 1000, 34T, 165mm length
Cassette: SRAM Eagle XG-1275, 10-52, 12 speed
Chain: SRAM GX Eagle, 12 speed

2022 Trek Rail 9.9 Dissected