I have owned a 2002 Mongoose Sommet Pro, 2009 Gary Fisher Tassajara(beautiful bike), and a Motobecane Fantom DS. By far I am faster on this X-cal than I have been on any other bike. I'm sold on 29er's. It's fast and with some upgraded wheels, post and bars it will be really fast. The bars that come with it may have a little too much sweep for some. I just changed mine out. I love mine.
Weaknesses: Very squeaky brakes. Kept reading about this thinking it cant really be that bad. It gets annoying.
Only been on 2 rides with the bike but it handles great. I'm coming off an old hardtail 26-er and really notice how much quicker this bike seems to be. Also read alot about bad tires - havent had any issues - was actually surprised at how well they gripped. Not a very aggressive pattern but they handled good enough.
Strengths: relaxed ride, fast on trails, suspension is good,
Weaknesses: seat could be more comfortable, mismatched front derailler, brakes and tires can be improved
I got the 2012 Trek X-Cal after testing what's available in the market for three (3) months. After riding a number of bikes, I chose the x-cal because I felt more comfortable riding it. I was very conscious not be picky of the other parts because I knew that they can be upgraded in the future.
It's hard to put my finger on it but there's really something about the geometry which won me over. The ride is relaxed but you know that you can also go fast with it if you want to. This is my first 29er and this is to confirm that everything you read about the advantages of going big wheels are pretty accurate.
Even with some of the weaknesses I pointed out, I just love my x-cal and I suggest that you give it a test ride before finalizing any purchase at this price point.
I bought 2012 version of this bike. Before I did so, I tried many other bikes, including Stumpjumper Alu, Zaskar, Merida etc. I also rode 29ers for one whole season before buying this bike. But this one definitely won. I am 193 cm tall, so I bought 21" version.
I will make the long story short. I consider this bike to be the best XC I have ever ridden, no kidding. All components are very well known so there is no need to introduce them. They work flawlessly.
Avid Elixir 1 brakes - big surprise ! They can really throw you over your handlebars just by using one or two fingers. For the price, they perform very well, for XC riding I never needed more braking power, they can always provide more than you actually need. They really perform well.
Bontrager Mustang disc - New Tubeless Ready Assymetric rims came with 2012 version. They are better than 2011 when weight and stiffness is considered, not to say they are TR. One big upgrade. But during winter, I will ride this bike with original tires and with tube. I was used to ride Maxxis Crossmark, which are heavier tires, but they roll better on road, slightly. But everywhere else, those Bontrager tires held like nothing else. Wet roots, wet rocks, hard climbs, they just hold and never let go.
I personaly conside this to be no problem, but for some riders may be the lack of shift gear indicator very disappointng. I got used to it in ten minutes. Also it IS true that you need to get used to X7 shifters to shift accurately. But it's really not a big problem.
This bike offers so much fo it's value. But the most important thing is the geometry, it really works, you have to try it. Every bike has it's weakness and this bike has almost none and offers so much !
I love the bike so far, I am a clyde and a big one at that 6'4' 300 pounds and the bike seems to handle me fine to this point, I ride 50 to 100 miles per week mostly rail trails hopping off of the trail here and there to explore and I love the way the bike feels. I will likely upgrade some parts if they break but so far its been good to me, bottom line I would recommend the bike to someone looking for a good solid 29er hardtail.
Similar Products Used: Specialized Rockhopper Comp, K2 Zed
Bike Setup: Stock besides grips, seat clamp and some Ti bolts here and there.
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: October 2, 2011
Strengths: Quality frame to build up with future components; GFisher geometry; quick up the hilly singletrack.
Weaknesses: Quality of components for the price - stock tires on the 2012 X-Cal are disappointing, and the derailleurs stressed a little bit on the first hard run but shouldn't disappoint. I can't believe this bike had a "Made in China" decal on the front - quickly removed and destroyed. Trek should know better.
This is a great bike and it will handle the wear better than this old boy but hey, let's go find a trail and bang it!
Weaknesses: Narrow bars - need to be replaced pronto
I absolutely love this bike. It's my first 29er and I couldn't be happier. It climbs like a mountain goat, rolls forever and is very light weight for it's price. If you're looking for good value, solid components, all with great shape and graphics... look no further.