Trek Supercaliber Review — Podium-Winning XC Race Bike
The Trek Supercaliber is an XC race bike designed to bridge the gap between hardtails and full-suspension MTBs.
The Supercaliber utilizes innovative Trek Bikes’ IsoStrut suspension technology and industry-leading components to maximize performance and gain an advantage over the competition.
Snappy XC geometry, fast-rolling tires, premium carbon fiber, and low-travel suspension make this bike lightning fast and efficient.
With seven builds in the series, XC riders with big ambitions can choose the Supercaliber that fits their needs and budget.
This Trek Supercaliber review will outline the series’ standout characteristics, discuss each model in detail, and finish with our verdict on who should choose this bike.
A race-ready cross-country mountain bike designed for speed and efficiency.
- Exceptionally efficient
- Agile and snappy handling
- Ultra-lightweight for a full-suspension bike
- Plenty of small bump sensitivity
- No dropper post
- Narrow handlebars
Main Trek Supercaliber Specs
- Frame: Carbon OCLV
- Wheel size: 29″
- Tires: 2.2″
- Front travel: 100mm (120mm compatibility)
- Rear travel: 60mm
- Drivetrain: 12-speed
- Brake rotors: 180mm (f), 160mm (r)
- Weight: 21.6 – 27lbs
Trek Supercaliber Overview
The Trek Supercaliber is a specialist cross-country bike for riders who want to maximize speed and climbing efficiency. This bike will help you break all your personal bests on your local XC trail but won’t provide much comfort on rough terrain with its narrow tires, rigid seatpost, and 60mm of rear suspension.
Carbon OCLV Frame
Trek’s frames are renowned for their innovative design features and world-class ride characteristics fit for champions. Each Supercaliber uses the same patented OCLV Mountain carbon frame.
Trek utilizes techniques borrowed from the aerospace industry to deliver one of the world’s strongest and most durable carbon bike frames, even after impact.
The Supercaliber has a Straight Shot down tube to enhance the responsiveness of the frame and reduce weight. Another unique feature is the Knock Block headset design that prevents the fork crown and handlebars from spinning too far in a fall, which often damages the frame.
Trek also designed the Supercaliber frame with enough space to carry two water bottles, a non-negotiable for demanding XC racing. Finally, Trek backs each frame with a limited lifetime warranty.
The Trek Supercaliber geometry plays a big role in its ride characteristics. Its straightforward, compact design delivers a sharp and efficient ride quality.
It has a steep 69-degree head angle and a relatively slack seat angle of 74 degrees. A short stem (70mm), a tight rear center of 430mm, and a compact wheelbase of 1079 to 1172mm keep the Supercaliber as agile as possible.
This geometry means the Supercaliber can change direction quickly and with minimal effort, allowing easy navigation of tight switchbacks and picking the fastest line. The low bottom bracket drop of 53mm also helps balance the sharp steering with extra stability.
Trek IsoStrut Suspension
Trek’s IsoStrut frame-integrated rear suspension is a bespoke system designed in partnership with Fox. The Supercaliber comes with a Float Factory or Float Performance shock integrated into the IsoStrut, depending on the build.
Each Supercaliber has just 60mm of rear travel, which aligns with Trek’s minimalist thinking. The IsoStrut is a structural element of the bike, eliminating the need for extra parts and unnecessary weight. The shock is enclosed in a stanchion that protects it from damage and reduces lateral frame flex.
The IsoStrut contributes to a more efficient, durable, and sleek bike. In addition, by utilizing the remote lockout, you essentially turn the Supercaliber into a hardtail.
You can tune the spring rate and adjust the rebound as you would on a standard shock. The only downside is that it requires more effort to maintain as you must disassemble the bike to service it.
Trek Supercaliber Builds
There are four models available in 2023. The new 9.6 and 9.7 Trek Supercaliber 2023 builds and the 2023 versions of the 9.9 and 9.8.
All four models have a carbon fiber frame and components from leading manufacturers like Shimano, SRAM, Maxxis, Fox, RockShox, and Trek’s Bontrager. The Trek Supercaliber price varies from mid-range to elite-level.
Trek Supercaliber 9.6 2023
The Trek Supercaliber 2023 9.6 is the most affordable model. Of course, this version isn’t cheap but gives ambitious cross-country racers a more achievable price.
The 9.6 comes with the same premium OCLV Carbon frame and IsoStrut suspension as the top models. However, it has a Fox Float Performance DPS shock paired with a RockShox Recon Gold RL fork.
This version is the only one with alloy wheels; Bontrager’s Comp 23s. These come wrapped in XR2 Team Issue tires. The rest of the build kit on the Supercaliber 9.6 is aluminum alloy, excluding the steel-rail Bontrager Arvada saddle.
Finally, this build has a Shimano Deore/SLX groupset with a 10-51t cassette and MT4100 brakes.
Trek Supercaliber 9.7 2023
The Trek Supercaliber 9.7 is another 2023 edition of the bike. It’s built with mid-range components for more accessibility to the general market but gets a few notable upgrades from the entry-level 9.6.
The most significant improvement is the step up to SLX/XT drivetrain components with MT501 brakes. Additionally, the 9.7 gets Bontrager Kovee Elite 30 carbon fiber wheels.
Other notable changes include an E*thirteen alloy crankset, a Bontrager P3 Verse Elite stainless steel saddle, and vibration-absorbing ESI chunky grips. All of these changes reduce weight by 1.6lbs to 25.41lbs.
Trek Supercaliber 9.8
MRSP: from $6.550
The Trek Supercaliber 9.8 is the more affordable of the two pro-level models. The 9.8 is available in three builds, SRAM GX, GX AXS, and Shimano XT, with $1,000 separating them.
The 9.8 gets several upgrades on the 9.7, including Kovee Pro 30 wheels and a carbon seatpost, stem, and handlebars. Additionally, the fork steps up to a Fox Performance 32 Step-Cast or a RockShox SID SL on the electronic SRAM build.
The other major change is the improved groupset. Each 9.8 has a carbon crankset, and the SRAM models come with 10-52t cassettes. The 9.8 models are roughly 2.5lbs lighter than the 9.7.
Trek Supercaliber 9.9
MRSP: $9,550 – $11,500
The Trek Supercaliber 9.9 is the most advanced model and comes from their latest lineup. It comes in two builds, SRAM XX1 AXS and Shimano XTR, with almost $2,000 separating them.
Both Supercaliber 9.9s get Fox Float Factory shocks. In addition, the XTR has a Factory 32 Step-Cast Float fork, and the top model gets a RockShox SID SL Ultimate.
The wheels are Bontrager’s highest grade Kovee XXX carbon wrapped in XR1 Team Issue tires. Unusually, the XTR is the only version with a dropper post, a Fox Transfer SL 100mm.
Finally, the Trek Supercaliber 9.8 XX1 AXS has SRAM Level Ultimate brakes. Both weigh approximately 21.5lbs.
How Does the Trek Supercaliber Perform on the Trails?
The Trek Supercaliber is a high-performance machine built for speed. So it’s no surprise that this bike is used by world-class cross-country athletes, including Jolanda Neff, in her 2021 Olympic XCO win.
Where Does the Trek Supercaliber Thrive?
Trek Supercaliber weight and pedaling efficiency are its two standout characteristics. With an unusually light build for one of the best full-suspension bikes, you will have a distinct advantage over your competitors in a race environment.
This efficiency comes from the stiff and lightweight OCLV carbon fiber frame with IsoStrut suspension. IsoStrut ensures you get maximum power from each pedal stroke for an incredibly snappy feel when you put the power down.
This bike is so efficient that the remote suspension lockout is only really beneficial for sprint efforts. The racey geometry of the Supercaliber means it is agile and responsive for cross-country-style trails, allowing you to maneuver tight situations and pick the smoothest line.
Although it doesn’t ride like traditional 100mm XC bikes, it’s not far off. The 60mm travel in the rear provides just enough extra traction and comfort when you need it.
To get the best out of this bike, it helps to ride aggressively, attacking chunkier sections to avoid getting hung up.
What Can Be Better?
There’s not much we would change about this bike. For the casual rider, the 60mm rear travel means this bike will quickly bottom out on big hits, meaning you’ve got to be more conservative on chunkier terrain. That said, this isn’t a bike for your typical rider.
The one component that may be worth changing for some riders is the narrow 720mm handlebars. In addition, we’d like to see a dropper post to improve the bike’s overall capability.
Trek Supercaliber Sizing
The Trek Supercaliber frameset is available in six sizes, S to XXL, with a rider height range from 5′ to 6’8″.
- S – 5′ to 5’6″
- M – 5’3″ to 5’8″
- M/L – 5’5″ to 5’10”
- L – 5’10” to 6’2″
- XL – 6′ 1″ to 6’5″
- XXL – 6’5″ to 6’8″
This bike is a significant investment, so you’ll want to ensure it fits perfectly. If you fall between two frame sizes, visit a Trek dealer near you to test-ride the two models that might work. Alternatively, you can compare the Trek Supercaliber size chart and geometry to an XC bike you’ve ridden before.
Bottom Line: Should You Buy a Trek Supercaliber
As we’ve seen, the Trek Supercaliber is a highly-specialized XC mountain bike, limiting its appeal to the broader market.
Incredibly efficient suspension, a stiff, lightweight frame, agile geometry, and industry-leading components give this bike its ability on cross-country trails.
This ability makes the Supercaliber an excellent choice for ambitious XC riders who want a bike to help them smash their PRs and win races. However, if you’re not obsessed with speed and just want a bike to handle a variety of trails and climb well, the Supercaliber mightn’t be for you.
Add this premium race bike to your shortlist if you want pro-level performance and have the budget to match.