The winding, technical rockiness of Halo Trail on Peavine Mountain above Reno is a perfect testing ground for how a bike handles.

The winding and technical Halo Trail on Peavine Mountain above Reno is a perfect testing ground to see how a bike handles (click to enlarge).​

The Lowdown: Trek Superfly SS Singlespeed

In a world of increasing complexity, the stripped-down simplicity of the new Trek Superfly SS is refreshing. With zero suspension, one gear, the ability to run a three-inch wide front tire and a stock weight of 20.5 pounds, the Superfly SS an ideal bike for those who want a fun, fast, versatile and low-maintenance bike. For riders who've never owned a singlespeed before, Superfly SS will open up a whole new spectrum of riding. Feeling as comfortable at the occasional race as it does exploring rugged terrain or just getting out on a quick after work spin, the minimalist nature of Superfly SS will make you a fitter, stronger and more skilled rider. And thanks to its approachable $1,600 retail price with an outstanding spec list, Superfly SS is a terrific value.

Frame: Alpha Platinum aluminum Seatpost: Bontrager alloy 27.2mm
Fork: Bontrager Double Bevel carbon Handlebar: Bontrager Race Lite Low Riser
Tire clearance: 3.0 front, 2.4 rearGrips: Bontrager Race Lite lock-on
Drivetrain: SinglespeedStem: Bontrager Race Lite, 7-degree rise
Cranks: Race Face Ride 32t narrow-wide chainringHeadset: FSA IS-2
Cassette: 18t cogBrakes: Shimano Deore/Alivio hydraulic
Chain: KMC Z7Sizes: 15.5, 17.5, 18.5, 19.5, 21.5, 23
Wheels: Bontrager Mustang Elite Color: Matte Black/Gloss Grape
Tires: Bontrager XR2 Expert, Aramid bead, 29x2.2Weight: 20.5 pounds
Saddle: Bontrager Evoke 2 chromoly railsMSRP: $1,600
5 Flamin' Chili Peppers
5 Chilis-out-of-5
Stat Box


  • Hydroformed aluminum frame doesn't beat you up
  • Stranglehold dropouts hard to adjust
  • Excellent value with quality parts spec
  • Stock Bontrager tubeless system suffered from
  • Superb mud clearance front and rear
leakdown issues
  • Carbon fork accommodates 29+ tire
  • Narrow 690mm bars
  • Front and rear thru-axles
  • Well-designed Stranglehold dropouts don't slip

Full Review: Trek Superfly SS Singlespeed

In the last five years the bike industry seems to have gone mental with new standards, non-compatible components, and proprietary technologies that make swapping parts between bikes virtually impossible. For some enthusiasts (like myself), it's enough of a frustration to drive us backwards in technology, opting for a bike with minimal excess. Take for instance the 2015 Trek Superfly SS, a bike that greatly benefits from modern innovation without any added complexity.

Clean lines and graphics with hydroformed tubes make Superfly SS a real eye-catcher.

Clean lines and graphics with hydroformed tubes make Superfly SS an eye-catcher (click to enlarge).​

The new Trek Superfly SS is analogous to the 1993 Porsche 911 RS America - a budget-minded 911 that was stripped of everything that didn't help it go faster; no air conditioning, no rear seats, no stereo, fabric pull tabs for door handles. RS America cost $10,000 less than a base 911, yet had as much or more performance.

Similarly, the Trek Superfly SS does without shifters, derailleurs and suspension for a svelte 20.5-pound weight, and at a $1,600 retail price, Superfly SS is an outstanding value, especially when you consider its spec list. Featuring front and rear thru-axles (15mm and 142x12mm), a Bontrager Double Bevel carbon fiber fork with tapered aluminum steerer, hydraulic Shimano Deore disc brakes, Race Face cranks with narrow/wide chainring, and a lightweight Alpha Platinum aluminum butted and hydroformed frame with press-fit bottom bracket, Superfly SS is a blend of modern innovation and minimalist functionality.

The new Stranglehold dropout design had zero slip issues throughout the test period.

The new Stranglehold dropout design had zero slip issues throughout the test period (click to enlarge).​

In charge of chain tensioning is a new Stranglehold dropout design, a rather genius blend of modern 142x12mm thru-axle capability and old school functionality via tensioner screws found on most vintage road bikes with semi-horizontal dropouts. True to its name, the Stranglehold layout never slipped a chain across a range of rocky, punchy terrain. The only issue I encountered was not realizing that three bolts must be loosened before chain tension can be adjusted via the tensioner screws, resulting in a broken end cap. Trek immediately sent out a replacement end cap and all was good again.

The only potential issue is that the Stranglehold thru-axle nuts require a 22mm socket to loosen - a total pain for any trail adjustments. But unless you're planning on swapping gears in the middle of a ride, I don't see this being a huge issue. And because the revised Stranglehold design on Superfly SS is so stout, so long as it's properly torqued, it won't slip.

Continue to page 2 for more on the Trek Superfly SS »

Superfly SS features beautifully shaped tubes, including this attractive top tube/seat tube junction.

Superfly SS features beautifully shaped tubes, including this attractive top tube/seat tube junction (click to enlarge).​

My biggest initial concern when swinging a leg over the Superfly SS was trail harshness. Considering this bike has no suspension and sports an aluminum frame, my mind immediately hearkened back to the days of chattering teeth, fatigued forearms, and fingers seized permanently around the handlebars. But from the very first ride on Halo Trail above Reno, I was surprised to finish the two-hour slugfest of rock and tight, punchy corners relatively fresh. My triceps were definitely sore from the extra work required to handle Superfly SS over rocks, but two days later, I had bigger triceps. Guess I can cancel that gym membership.

The Double Bevel carbon fork did a respectable job of soaking up trail chatter, but the real story was how well the Superfly SS aluminum frame rode. Forget the harshness associated with aluminum frames of old; whatever Trek engineers did with the Superfly SS frame material and design, it worked. When an aluminum frame rides as nice as the Superfly SS does, springing an extra thousand bucks for carbon fiber seems excessive, especially if you're a rider that's hard on equipment. Thanks to a 51mm fork offset and G2 Geometry with a 69.6-degree head angle, Superfly SS steers with scalpel precision. Bottom bracket height is respectable at 12.2 inches, as is a relatively short chainstay length of 17.13 inches make the Superfly SS a quick handling 29er.

Trek Superfly SS Fork Trek Superfly SS Mud Clearance

The Double Bevel carbon fork (left) has enough clearance to accommodate a 3-inch Bontrager Chupacabra tire. The fork easily fits the Chupacabra with ample mud clearance (click to enlarge).

In addition to weighing in at only 569 grams with a front thru-axle, another benefit of the Double Bevel carbon fork is the ability to run a 29+ size front tire. Trek sent over their new Bontrager Chupacabra 29x3.0-inch tire, which easily fits the fork and has plenty of extra room for mud clearance. Throwing a Chupacabra on the front took the capability of Superfly SS to a level higher, with more bump absorption and greater cornering traction thanks to a fast-rolling design with widely spaced knobs. And weighing in just below 900 grams, the Chupacabra is no heavier than most rugged 2.3-inch trail tires.

Tires as wide as 2.4-inches can be run out back, and thanks to no seatstay or chainstay tube bridges, there's plenty of mud clearance.

Tires as wide as 2.4-inches can be run out back, and thanks to no seatstay or chainstay tube bridges, there's plenty of mud clearance (click to enlarge).​

Frame clearance out back isn't wide enough to accommodate a Chupacabra, but I was able to fit a 2.35-inch wide Maxxis High Roller II, making the Superfly SS a capable rigid bike in rugged terrain. And thanks to chainstays and seatstays with no bridge tubes in front of the tire, mud clearance is outstanding. Across heavy mud and even several inches of packed snow, the big-tire capability of Superfly SS makes it a versatile machine for year-round riding.

Running tires as wide as the Chupacabra will require rims wider than the stock Bontrager Mustang Elites with 24mm width. To better match the Chupacabra and beef out the High Roller II to a 2.4, I ran a set of Ibis 941 carbon wheels with an internal width of 35mm, making Superfly SS even more comfortable over rocky terrain. Throw a 27.2mm dropper post on, and Superfly SS instantly becomes a rigid singlespeed trail-eating monster.

3.0 up front and 2.4 out back - Superfly SS can be built to handle chunky terrain.

With a 3.0 tire up front and 2.4 out back - the Superfly SS can handle chunky terrain (click to enlarge).​

As for complaints, there are very few. The aforementioned Stranglehold dropouts aren't trail-adjustment friendly, the stock 690mm handlebars are too narrow for a singlespeed 29er with no suspension, and the stock Bontrager tubeless kit had leakdown issues.

Bottom line, for those in search of a simple, fun, capable, versatile and race-worthy singlespeed rig, there are few bikes that can touch the performance-per-dollar the Superfly SS delivers. And if you're a Luddite who's grown tired of high maintenance modern suspension bikes, the Superfly SS is a dream. Literally the only maintenance this bike needs is an occasional lube of the chain and check for tire sealant.

Those who own and ride singlespeeds know their magical qualities; a bike with only one gear makes you a fitter and faster rider. And a bike with no suspension teaches you how to pick clean, efficient lines. Put these two together and you have Superfly SS, a bike that will make you a fitter, faster and more skilled mountain biker without putting a gaping hole in your bank account.

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