Is The Trek X-Caliber 8 Worth Buying? [Trek X-Caliber 8 Review]

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Trek X-Caliber 8

  • Price: $1,599.99-$1,699.99
  • Suspension: 100mm (front)(XS,80mm)
  • Tires: 27.5 or 29x 2.35 in.
  • Gears: 1 x 12.
  • What we like: Lightweight, fast mountain bikes for singletrack, with the right components, and outstanding performance on both climbs and descents.
  • What we don’t: The climb is slow.
Trek X-Caliber 8
Trek X Caliber 8

Trek X-Caliber has always had a good reputation. When you want to get a mountain bike that can be off-road for a long time, or even ready to pack and travel, you may wish to consider the Trek X-Caliber 8.

It shares a lot of similarities with its sibling, the Trek X-Caliber 9, with some downgraded components, but when you need something other than a pure fast cross-country race bike, the X-Caliber 8 seems to be the best choice. It’s built with special attention to value and the parts that make the biggest difference in performance.

Below we break down the Trek X-Caliber 8’s descending and climbing performance, key features, components, and specs, along with other versions in the series for comparison.

For more mountain bikes in the same price range, check out our Best mountain bikes under $1,500.

Related Reading: Is The Trek X-Caliber 7 Worth Buying? [Trek X-Caliber 7 Review]


Trek X-Caliber 8

Although the Trek X-Caliber 8 is one of the representatives of comfortable off-road, their descending performance has also been questioned.

Riders who live in mid-altitude areas will really appreciate the Trek X-Caliber 8, the fast-descent 27.5/29-inch tires. And a 100mm RockShox Judy SL Air fork.

Relatively flat single-track or double-gauge descents, including the occasional tree roots and rock blocks, can descend smoothly.

When it doesn’t mean it can withstand steep gravel descents, the suspension travel constantly bottoms out, which makes the testers uncomfortable.

And in muddy or soft sand, the 2.35-inch Bontrager Kovee loses grip quickly. The texture of the tire is soft, and it is a vacuum low-pressure tire, which has a certain effect on rolling resistance.

The steep head tube angle forced me to descend from an upright riding position, and it also didn’t have a dropper post, which required adjusting the seatpost height in the face of difficult descending terrain.

All of the above is relatively difficult mountain trails, and if you are more inclined towards moderate technical difficulty or easy trail descents, the Trek X-Caliber 8 is the most logical choice.


If you were worried about the climbing performance of the Trek X-Caliber 8, the X-Caliber 8 will surprise you with its climbing performance.

As a mountain bike with a competitive pedigree, Trek X-Caliber 8’s geometric design of the body, as well as details such as the grip of the tires, can ensure fast off-road and long-term off-road.

Outdoor adventures, not always in difficult terrain, and steep gravel hills, it is easy to show the power of the X-Caliber 8.

Thanks to it having a Shimano 1×12 drivetrain, the incomplete Shimano Deore M6100 drivetrain has some upgrades at the Rear derailleur. The Shimano XT M8100 is used to ensure smooth shifting during fast riding off-road.

RockShox Judy SL can also be manually locked when climbing, so you can climb to the top of the slope more easily.

As you know, the Trek X-Caliber 8 is very light, which makes it easier for long-distance off-road riders to climb.

Even though its climbs are so good, the only complaint about it is its drivetrain, which is set a bit low, which is a bit of a minus for the steeper climbs.

All in all, we still like the Trek X-Caliber 8’s ability to climb fast, which is hard to find in the same price range of mountain bikes.

General Terrain

Trek has designed their mid-range models with the commuter or recreational rider in mind.

So it’s important to be able to install the rear rack and fender mounts, both to meet the needs of your daily ride, and to bring more supplies when you want to backpack. Let you ride farther.

That’s why the Trek X-Caliber 8 is an all-rounder bike for off-road and commuting.

Long-distance off-roading requires the cooperation of different gears, and we will not feel that the gear range is not enough when climbing, and the 1×12 transmission system is already one of the standard attributes of mid-to-high-end bicycles.

The more upright riding position makes a huge difference on flatter singletrack terrain, allowing you to ride 20 miles all the way without getting too tired.

Perfect for small areas of gravel on the block, it’s easy to get addicted to the performance of components like a high-performance fork and fast-rolling tires.

Main Features

Frame (4.8/5)

Trek X-Caliber 8 frame

The Trek X-Caliber 8 and 9 use the same Alpha Gold Aluminum frame.
It’s not specifically subdivided into men’s and women’s frames, so it’s a unisex frame.

Alpha Gold Aluminum provides riders with more precise, confident handling and has been approved by quite a few riders.

Although the frame of the Trek X-Caliber 8 looks very flimsy, it is actually made of alloy material that is good enough for riders to ride for more than 10 years.

Clean interior wiring, and simple gray or white paint, minimalist style.

In addition, it is the weight of its frame. The heavy frame often makes your climbing more difficult. The X-Caliber 8 with racing genes is not only on the frame, which occupies most of the weight of the body. Do enough optimization.

There are other components that are lightweight directional stacks.

The versatility of the frame is also a nice touch, with two water bottle holders for long trail rides.

It can also be transformed into a commuter bicycle, a rear bracket that is easy to install, and a tripod, so that your car can accompany you more.


The steep header Angle is suitable for steep climbing, and it is maintained at a low speed when climbing, so the flexible handling is also worth considering.

So its conical head tube provides more precise and confident control for the ride, and the shorter rear and lower fork also enhances the maneuverability.

Of course, if you’re worried about whether a long ride can get tired, then a 73.8-degree seat tube Angle gives you a comfortable ride.

This also has the disadvantage that it is not suitable for very steep downhill road rides.In a moderate downhill road, a very comfortable transition to a flat single track or bike path.

Thanks to its frame and Trek X-Caliber 9, we can give it some upgrades when the budget is more adequate to make it more off-road.

Up to seven frame size options, which also allow riders of different heights to find the right size, the XS and S frames have 27.5-inch tires installed, which are more flexible. The M and above frames, with 29-inch tires, are suitable for fast off-road racing.

Components and Specifications

Shimano Deore 1X12 drivetrain (4.7/5)

The transmission system has not shrunk, using the more mature Shimano Deore 1X12 transmission system.

The gear range is adequate, and such a drivetrain is adequate for use in non-competition models. The popular 1X12 drivetrain is also available on many mountain bikes for under $2000.

Therefore, in the components that need to be upgraded, we have not considered doing some upgrades.

Trek in the chain easy to noises after the fork parts, also do the protection device, detailed install protective device in the position of not easy to detect. This does not affect beautiful, can also be a quiet ride in the gravel path.

Shimano MT200 hydraulic disc Brake(4.5/5)

Trek X-Caliber 8 is equipped with Shimano MT200 hydraulic disc brake

Long-term off-roading requires a more sensitive braking system.

The Shimano MT200 brakes on the Trek X-Caliber 8 are relatively low-end products in Shimano hydraulic brakes.

Of course, considering the price of Trek X-Caliber 8, we can understand that this brake system is installed on it.

The front rotor has been enhanced with a 180mm rotor, so it can withstand the braking test of long downhill roads.

Of course, you want to use it better in more intense mountains, and the Shimano MT200 will be insufficient.

Of course, the riding performance of the Trek X-Caliber 8 is far from reaching the shortcomings of the Shimano MT200. So this is a more appropriate component in the X-Caliber 8, not an excellent, excellent accessory.

RockShox Judy SL Fork(4.5/5)

RockShox Judy SL Fork

With the exception of the smallest XS-sized Trek X-Caliber 8, which has 80mm of travel, the other frames use a 100mm RockShox Judy SL Fork.

As a rider who likes to ride in difficult mountains, I don’t particularly like mountain bikes with only 100mm travel forks.

Of course, when we tested it, we were also surprised by the outstanding performance of the RockShox Judy SL.

The air suspension can well absorb the impact of small shocks on the bicycle, and in the middle of the shock absorption, it can also provide more cushioning without violent rebound, which affects the handling.

The shock absorption at the rear distance from the bottom can also provide more shock absorption. I even think this is comparable to a 120mm spring fork.

Even if 100mm isn’t a big deal, the Trek X-Caliber 8 can support forks up to 120mm of travel.

Maxxis Ardent Race Tires

Trek X-Caliber 8 features Maxxis Ardent Race Tires on both front and rear wheels

Vacuum tires are also one of the frequently upgraded components of many high-end mountain bikes due to their light weight, low tire pressure, and puncture resistance.

The Maxxis Ardent Race tubeless tires on the Trek X-Caliber 8 are also high-quality tires for off-road use.

It is light in weight, suitable for climbing, and can provide strong traction. The pattern of the tire also has a certain self-cleaning function. When riding on a muddy road, it is easy to get rid of the mud stuck to the tire.

The 2.35″ inch width is suitable for fast off-road riding, allowing you to ride faster with less power.

Trek X-Caliber 8 Specs

FrameAlpha Gold Aluminum, tapered head tube, internal derailleur &trek x caliber 8 dropper post routing, rack & kickstand mount, Boost141, 5mm QR
ForkSize: XS
RockShox Judy SL, Solo Air spring, TurnKey lockout, tapered steerer, 42mm offset, Boost110, 15mm Maxle Lite, 80mm travel
Size: S
RockShox Judy SL, Solo Air spring, TurnKey lockout, tapered steerer, Boost110, 15mm Maxle Lite, 100mm travel
Size: M, M/L, L, XL, XXL
RockShox Judy SL, Solo Air spring, TurnKey lockout, tapered steerer, Boost110, 15mm Maxle Stealth, 100mm travel
Max compatible fork travel120mm (XS: 100mm)


Hub frontBontrager alloy, sealed bearing, alloy axle, 6-bolt, Boost110, 15mm thru-axle
Hub rearBontrager alloy, sealed bearing, 6-bolt, Shimano MicroSpline freehub, Boost141, 5mm QR
RimSize: XS, S, M, M/L, L, XL, XXL
Bontrager Kovee, double-wall, Tubeless Ready, 28-hole, 23mm width, Presta valve
Size: XS, S, M, M/L, L, XL, XXL
Bontrager Kovee, double-wall, Tubeless Ready, 32-hole, 23mm width, Presta valve
Spokes14g stainless steel
TireSize: XS, S
Maxxis Ardent Race, tubeless, EXO casing, folding bead, 60tpi, 27.5×2.35”
Size: M, M/L, L, XL, XXL
Maxxis Ardent Race, tubeless, EXO casing, folding bead, 60tpi, 29×2.35”
Tire partBontrager TLR sealant, 6oz
Rim stripBontrager TLR
Max tire sizeFrame: 27.5×2.80″ or 29×2.40″ Fork: See manufacturer


ShifterShimano Deore M6100, 12 speed
Rear derailleurShimano XT M8100, long cage
CrankSize: XS, S, M
Shimano MT511, 30T steel ring, 52mm chainline, 170mm length
Size: M/L, L, XL, XXL
Shimano MT511, 30T steel ring, 52mm chainline, 175mm length
Bottom bracketShimano SM-BB52, 73mm, threaded external bearing
CassetteShimano Deore M6100, 10-51, 12 speed
ChainShimano Deore M6100, 12 speed
PedalVP-536 nylon platform
Max chainring size32T


SaddleBontrager Arvada, steel rails, 138mm width
SeatpostSize: XS, S
Bontrager alloy, 31.6mm, 12mm offset, 330mm length.
Size: M
Bontrager alloy, 31.6mm, 12mm offset, 360mm length
Size: M/L, L, XL, XXL
Bontrager alloy, 31.6mm, 12mm offset, 400mm length
HandlebarSize: XS
Bontrager alloy, 31.8mm, 5mm rise, 690mm width
Size: S, M
Bontrager alloy, 31.8mm, 5mm rise, 720mm width
Size: M/L, L, XL, XXL
Bontrager alloy, 31.8mm, 15mm rise, 750mm width
GripsBontrager XR Trail Comp, nylon lock-on
StemSize: XS, S
Bontrager Elite, 31.8mm, Blendr compatible, 7 degree, 60mm length
Size: M, M/L
Bontrager Elite, 31.8mm, Blendr compatible, 7 degree, 70mm length
Size: L
Bontrager Elite, 31.8mm, Blendr compatible, 7 degree, 80mm length
Size: XL, XXL
Bontrager Elite, 31.8mm, Blendr compatible, 7 degree, 90mm length
HeadsetSemi-integrated, loose ball bearing, 1-1/8” top, 1.5” bottom
BrakeShimano MT200 hydraulic disc
Brake rotorSize: XS, S, M, M/L, L, XL, XXL
Shimano RT26, 6-bolt,160mm
Size: L, XL, XXL
Shimano RT26, 6-bolt,180mm


WeightM – 13.05 kg / 28.78 lbs
Weight limitThis bike has a maximum total weight limit (combined weight of bicycle, rider, and cargo) of 300 pounds (136 kg).


  • Can I run 27.5+ wheels & tires?

Yes! X-Caliber features mounts for a rear rack and 20mm chainstay-mount kickstand.

  • What is the max chain ring size?


Comparison Table

Trek Marlin 880-100mm26×2.40”/27.5×2.35”
SRAM SX,12 speed$1330CLICK
Giant Fathom 2130mm27.5 x 2.6”/29×2.50”Shimano Deore, 1×10 speed$1499CLICK
120mm[front] 29 x 2.3in, [rear] 29 x 2.25inShimano Deore,1×11 speed$1499CLICK
SANTA CRUZ Chameleon130mm[front] 29 x 2.5in, [rear] 27.5 x 2.5inSRAM NX Eagle, 1×12-speed$2949CLICK


Trek Marlin 8 vs Trek X-Caliber 8

Trek Marlin 8
Trek Marlin 8

In fact, in my opinion, the accessories of these two mountain bikes are very similar.

The Marlin 8, which also belongs to Trek, is also a mountain bike with racing blood.

Because of its lower price, it is also sought after by some riders who love racing mountain bikes.

In terms of frame geometry, there is not much difference in the angle, but the rear chainstays of the Marlin 8 are longer, reaching 438mm, which is suitable for riding on relatively flat off-road terrain. Overall handling will be slightly worse than the Trek X-Caliber 8.

With the SRAM SX Eagle, the 1×12 transmission system is more suitable for racing use, so the Marlin 8 transmission system is stronger and lighter.

In terms of riding comfort, I prefer the comfort of Trek X-Caliber 8, which is suitable for long-distance off-road cycling.

The Trek Marlin 8 is a mountain bike that can compete in short-distance cross-country races, and it has a beautiful pink color scheme, and more female riders will choose it.

Trek X-Caliber 8 vs Giant Fathom 2

The cost-effective Giant Fathom 2 has a very prominent feature, that is, it uses a Giant Crest 34 RCL front fork with 130mm travel.

For more aggressive off-roading, there’s a $30 price difference.

Compared to the Trek X-Caliber 8, which can only choose 27.5 or 29-inch tires through the frame, the Fathom 2 gives users more options. It is available in two wheel sizes, 27.5 x 2.6″ or 29×2.50″.

And the Giant Fathom 2 pays more attention to balance, and the looser 66-degree head tube angle enhances confidence and control on technical descents.

It is an efficient off-road machine that can climb fast and descend fast.

The wide tires also give it a performance comparable to mountain bikes in the $2,000 range.

Even so, I feel that the Giant Fathom 2 uses a Shimano Deore 1×10 drivetrain, which is a bit under geared compared to the Trek X-Caliber 8’s Shimano Deore 1×12.

In general, the Trek X-Caliber 8 is suitable for hills and mountains with little rolling, while the Fathom 2 is suitable for the middle or eastern woodland off-road.

CANNONDALE TRAIL SE 3 vs Trek X-Caliber 8


In our previous reviews, the CANNONDALE TRAIL series, we have always mentioned that the mountain bike components of this series or the terrain suitable for riding are relatively balanced.

So CANNONDALE TRAIL SE 3 is the most powerful competitor of Trek X-Caliber 8, what are the same or differences between them.

From the frame geometry comparison, CANNONDALE TRAIL SE 3 and Giant Fathom share some similarities. The head tube angle is not as steep as the X-Caliber 8.

In addition, the CANNONDALE TRAIL SE 3 is equipped with a 120mm RockShox Judy Silver TK, which has 20mm more travel, although it is more expensive, it can be suitable for more aggressive off-road or woodland riding.

The CANNONDALE TRAIL SE 3 also comes with a TranzX Dropper with 120mm of travel (100mm for the S frame), something the Trek X-Caliber 8 doesn’t have. So you can rush down the ramp of the gravel trail more smoothly.

Of course, the Shimano Deore 1×11-speed transmission system used in CANNONDALE TRAIL SE 3, a slight compromise on this component is also acceptable.

Considering the price/performance ratio alone, the value of CANNONDALE TRAIL SE 3 will be higher. Finally, we found that the Trek X-Caliber 8 has better climbing performance after riding comparison, which is a weaker terrain than the CANNONDALE TRAIL SE 3.

SANTA CRUZ Chameleon vs Trek X-Caliber 8

SANTA CRUZ Chameleon R
SANTA CRUZ Chameleon R

At almost twice the price of the Trek X-Caliber 8, the SANTA CRUZ Chameleon is for the trail rider on a bigger budget. It has more off-road handling and climbing ability than the Trek X-Caliber 8.

Whether it’s handling flexibility or the pursuit of fun off-road travel, the SANTA CRUZ Chameleon seems to be a very good choice.

The SANTA CRUZ Chameleon is equipped with a FOX Rhythm 34 with 130mm of travel, which is more efficient in shock absorption, and can also adjust the appropriate front travel according to its own weight and the required riding terrain.

The efficient and robust SRAM NX Eagle 1×12-speed drivetrain has always been a component many riders wish to upgrade to, and the SANTA CRUZ Chameleon comes with it.

In addition, the high-quality SRAM Guide T braking system, 4-piston caliper, sufficient clamping force and front and rear wear-resistant 180mm rotors can ensure that you stop precisely on the fast off-road road.

Is it just that? NO

Its biggest feature is its front and rear tires of different sizes, 29-inch front wheels and 27.5-inch rear wheels, which can not only ensure the flexibility of riding, but also achieve fast off-road ability.

Such a performance monster, and one of our ten-minute favorite models.

Final Evaluation (4.6/5)

The Trek X-Caliber 8 is a stripped-down version of the X-Caliber 9, but retains most of the same components. And in the same price mountain bike, its climbing performance and fast off-road ability are worthy of recognition.

Of course the Trek X-Caliber 8 is a great mountain bike for trail or rough trail riding. It also has a relatively high cost performance, so it is a very worthwhile mountain bike to buy.

We ended up giving the Trek X-Caliber 8 a 4.6.

Learn more: Is Trek X-Caliber 9 Worth Buying? [Trek X-Caliber 9]

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