Trek X-Caliber 9
- Price: $1,929.99
- Suspension: 100mm (front)
- Tires: 29 x 2.35 in(S,M 27.5 x 2.35 in.)
- Gears: 1 x 12
What we like: X-Caliber 9 is a classic XC hardtail with quick-handling geometry, weight-conscious parts, and just enough suspension to take the edge off bumps.
What we don’t: The 100mm travel fork seems a bit low, even though it can fit up to 120mm forks
Trek is one of my all-time favorite brands. And the vehicle under review today is also one of the Trek X-Caliber series of high-end hardtail mountain bikes: the Trek X-Caliber 9.
Is it really high quality? Is it worth buying?
Our testers have been riding the Trek X-Caliber 9 extensively over the past few months and have come up with a review report that shows its fast and comfortable trail style and race-ready configuration is one of our favorite mountain bikes.
Below we break down the Trek X-Caliber 9’s descending and climbing performance, key features, components, and specs, and how it compares to other mountain bikes.
If you’d like more models in the same price range, see our Best Mountain Bikes Under $2000.
If you are hesitant about the Trek X Caliber 9 price,see our Top 8 Best Hardtail Mountain Bikes Under $1000
Does the descent perform well?
The Trek X-Caliber 9 is inherently suited to most descending terrain, but also due to its fork travel, it doesn’t descend as quickly on steep downhill trails as the Salsa Timberjack SLX or Canyon Stoic 4.
We really enjoyed letting it descend on long, but relatively gentle trails. It was a very comfortable descent, and with the relatively steep 69.5° head tube angle, 100mm shock suspension, and fast-rolling 2.35-inch tires, it made the whole thing very fast and relatively soft to hit, roots or gravel, without veering off course.
The large 29-inch (the smaller frame is 27.5-inch tires) tires keep you from being stuck with the slow pass that is associated with its mid-range RockShox Recon Gold RL, and the presence of TranzX’s elevated Seatpost makes for a fast descent that isn’t as bumpy as mountain bikes under $1500.
There’s also the fact that you don’t have to stop and adjust until you’re ready to descend with more confidence.
Smooth trails are what the Trek X-Caliber 9 does best on descending terrain, without too many obstacles, with fast-rolling tires, and a steep seatpost angle with a flexible and snug handlebar length for a more confident descent.
Is the Trek X-Caliber 9 an excellent climber?
The Trek X-Caliber 9 is near the top of the line hardtail mountain bike, and that’s with a cross-country mountain bike that’s designed according to a cross-country race frame. So it’s made in the climbing terrain that hardtails are best at, with some corresponding enhancements, but also with some shortcomings.
The Trek X-Caliber 9’s frame material is sturdy aluminum, which doesn’t add too much weight to the body, but the head tube angle and seat post angle are both relatively steep. There is also a Shimano SLX M7100 12-speed drivetrain. The wheels are on low-pressure vacuum tires to reduce weight.
It was a breeze when we climbed steep trails with hard ground, and the 12-speed drivetrain provides plenty of gear range with a locking shock fork that doesn’t compress pedaling efficiency either. The light body weight enables fast climbs up steep trails.
But climbing this way is not easy in soft ground or leaf-filled woodlands, and because it uses 2.35-inch tires, it provides plenty of traction in soft ground without being as fast as a 2.6- or 2.8-inch wide tire.
So the Trek X-Caliber 9 is a decent climber that doesn’t reach excellent climbing with its stock components.
Long-distance off-road seems to be the terrain where the Trek X-Caliber 9 excels the most. As a comfortable mountain bike for off-road riding, it surprised us on hilly off-road or flatter and rougher trail terrain.
With a 12-speed drivetrain and efficient transmission, we were able to get through rough terrain quickly, passing shallow creeks and gravel roads without much hindrance.
With a RockShox air fork to reduce ground impact and an elevated seat post to reduce impact from the rear wheel, the Trek X-Caliber 9 is comparable to a full-suspension mountain bike in these terrains.
In addition to this, it’s versatility is commendable, with 2 water bottle holders and equipped with a rear luggage rack that allows you to carry your backpack, put in your camping gear and be ready to go for long trips with efficient gear.
The trail that dances off to the side has a flexible, quick-change multifunctional handlebar. Even when you’re off duty and just want to ride fast for an hour in the middle of nowhere, all you need is an adapted searchlight. And all of this is possible with the Trek X-Caliber 9.
Fast and comfortable are the words we use to rate the Trek X-Caliber 9 for general terrain riding.
Versatile Alpha Gold Aluminum frame (4.8/5)
Trek seems to have a fanatical love for the versatility of cross-country mountain bikes. Allowing you to perform almost all of the functions of a bike on a single cross-country mountain bike.
The Alpha Gold Aluminum frame, which is very light weight and, as mentioned above, is derived from a race trail frame, makes the Trek X-Caliber 9 a perfectly suitable cross-country race presence.
The Trek X-Caliber 9 2022 comes in one paint color, without the two paint colors of the Trek X-Caliber 9 2021.
Alpine Blue is not everyone’s favorite color, but I personally have some love for this youthful color that is not too over the top and more on the introspective side.
The Trek X-Caliber 9 frame design is on the traditional side, which will make it less prone to mistakes. Clean internal alignment, no fussy look or minimalist feel.
The rear lower fork is not shortened, leaning more towards comfort, and a very long protector has been added to eliminate the annoying sound of the chain slapping against the body, making it a quiet cross-country mountain bike. Easier to let loose with a friend on a gentle ride without having to repeat over and over what you just said.
The weight-conscious, fast trail-friendly, and versatile frame design are one of the key features of the entire Trek X-Caliber lineup, and it’s a little more apparent on the Trek X-Caliber 9 2022.
The trail-oriented Trek X-Caliber 9 has a relatively steep head tube angle and seat tube angle, which puzzled me, but after our testing, we understand the need for this design.
The 69.5° head tube angle (the S and M frames are 69.3°) is some improvement for climbing performance, considering its suspension travel and the inevitable steep mountain climbs the rider will make while riding.
It would be very unwise to completely adopt a loose head tube angle and give up steep climbing performance altogether. It would also make it a lazy climber.
And it also has the potential to compete off-road, which requires consideration of off-road all-terrain riding requirements. Staying comfortable off-road also requires a balance of steep climbs and descents.
Very short forward reach and top tube lengths of 385-480mm and 555-672mm respectively. very easy access to the handlebars and a more upright riding position for increased maneuverability.
This is very friendly to smaller riders, so it’s often easy to choose a frame size that is a bit larger than previous bikes when it comes to size charts. So this makes it a very important thing to choose a mountain bike that fits your height as well as the inner seam.
Components and Specifications
Shimano SLX drivetrain (4.7/5)
Shimano SLX is one of Shimano’s mid-range and high-end products, and is known for its ease of adjustment and efficient transmission efficiency.
It is on the same level as the SRAM SX Eagle and has a maximum 51-tooth flywheel, which makes it easy to complete steep mountain climbs.
And is based on the Shimano Deore to do some upgrades, lighter weight, performance remains the same, reducing the impact on the flywheel when pedaling fast in extreme off-road conditions.
For riders accustomed to long-distance off-road, Shimano SLX will be more popular.
Shimano MT4100 hydraulic disc(4.6/5)
The Trek X-Caliber 9 uses Shimano MT4100 hydraulic brakes. This is not a top of the line brake, but cares to be suitable for use and riding frequency a trail rider with only a few times would prefer such a component.
The MT410 caliper brakes require little maintenance and only a few miles of riding to complete the pre-break-in work. The crisp braking sound and clean braking efficiency only need to be coupled with a shorter puller to come to a complete stop.
The Shimano MT4100 front Brake rotor is 180mm and plays a very big role in steep downhill roads with no lack of clamping power.
That said, I would like to see the rear brake rotor upgraded to 180mm as well, as I prefer to use the rear brake.
RockShox Recon Gold RL Fork (4.2/5)
Although the Trek X-Caliber 9 comes with the RockShox Recon Gold RL with only 100mm of travel. But I don’t let it ride in terrain beyond its working range.
That’s why we didn’t test it consistently in steep climbs and descents on terrain that doesn’t make sense for trail riding.
The RockShox Recon Gold RL has the lockout features to navigate flat or rough trails, and with the Trek X-Caliber 9 available with up to a 120mm shock fork, 100mm isn’t its limit.
Maxxis Ardent Race Tires (4.3/5)
In the Trek X-Caliber 9’s standard configuration, it has a 2.35-inch tire width, which is prepared for fast trails.
Its frame is designed to accommodate 27.5×2.80″ or 29×2.40″. This is another indication of its versatility. It’s also the reason I didn’t complain too much about it upfront on muddy climbs, and it doesn’t reach its limits.
The double-walled alloy rims are sturdy enough and are vacuum tires with low tire pressure that are very hard to blow out. This is the reason why many riders who pack and travel have been very fond of vacuum tires in their choice of mountain bikes.
TransX Seatpost (4.8/5)
The TransX lift Seatpost is one of the highlights of the Trek X-Caliber 9, and it’s a component that’s hard to find on mountain bikes under $1500.
Some older hardtail mountain bike frames were not designed with internal dropper compatibility in mind.
The durable and comfort-enhancing TransX Seatpost has 130mm of travel, which is a large-travel Seatpost not found on mountain bikes in the same price range.
If you’re not an aggressive trail rider, this won’t make you feel like it’s too short. An internal cable controls the lift and can be readily adjusted to be a fast ride.
Benefits of the Trek X-Caliber 9
- Race-grade frame design
- XC, cross-country, and commuter compatible use scenarios
- Quick handling geometry
- Equipped with TransX seatpost
- Shimano SLX 12-speed drivetrain offers massive gear range
- Maxxis Ardent Race vacuum tires
What’s not to like about it
- Short rear dropouts and top tube length make the Trek X-Caliber 9 a size to watch when buying
- Only one paint color, making it less selectable
- RockShox Recon fork with only 100mm of travel, aggressive trail riders will feel inadequate
- What is the weight of the Trek X-Caliber 9 body?
The body weight of the Trek X-Caliber 9 M-size frame is 27.60 lbs / 12.52 kg.
- Is the Trek X-Caliber 9 suitable for long distance off-roading? What is the weight limit?
The Trek X-Caliber 9 is one of the best long-distance off-road mountain bikes. This bike has a maximum total weight limit (combined weight of bicycle, rider, and cargo) of 300 pounds (136 kg).
2022 Trek X-Caliber 9 Specs
|Frame||Alpha Gold Aluminum, tapered head tube, internal derailleur & dropper post routing, rack & kickstand mount, Boost141, 5mm QR|
RockShox Recon Gold RL, DebonAir spring, Motion Control damper, lockout, tapered steerer, 37mm offset, Boost110, 15mm Maxle Stealth, 100mm travel
Size: M , ML , L , XL , XXL
RockShox Recon Gold RL, DebonAir spring, Motion Control damper, lockout, tapered steerer, 42mm offset, Boost110, 15mm Maxle Stealth, 100mm travel
|Max compatible fork travel||120mm (XS: 100mm)|
|Hub front||Bontrager alloy, sealed bearing, alloy axle, 6-bolt, Boost110, 15mm thru axle|
|Hub rear||Bontrager alloy, sealed bearing, 6-bolt, Shimano MicroSpline freehub, Boost141, 5mm QR|
|*Rim||Size: S , M , ML , L , XL , XXL|
Bontrager Kovee, double-wall, Tubeless Ready, 28-hole, 23mm width, presta valve
Size: S , M , ML , L , XL , XXL
Bontrager Kovee, double-wall, Tubeless Ready, 32-hole, 23mm width, presta valve
Maxxis Ardent Race, tubeless, EXO casing, folding bead, 60tpi, 27.5×2.35”
Size: M , ML , L , XL , XXL
Maxxis Ardent Race, tubeless, EXO casing, folding bead, 60tpi, 29×2.35”
|Tire part||Bontrager TLR sealant, 6oz|
|Rim strip||Bontrager TLR|
|Max tire size||Frame: 27.5×2.80″ or 29×2.40″ Fork: See manufacturer|
|Shifter||Shimano SLX M7100, 12 speed|
|Rear derailleur||Shimano XT M8100, long cage|
|*Crank||Size: S , M|
Shimano MT611, 30T steel ring, alloy spider, 52mm chainline, 170mm length
Size: ML , L , XL , XXL
Shimano MT611, 30T steel ring, alloy spider, 52mm chainline, 175mm length
|Bottom bracket||Shimano SM-BB52, 73mm, threaded external bearing|
|Cassette||Shimano SLX M7100, 10-51, 12 speed|
|Chain||Shimano SLX M7100, 12 speed|
|Pedal||VP-536 nylon platform|
|Max chainring size||32T|
|Saddle||Bontrager Arvada, steel rails, 138mm width|
|*Seatpost||Size: S , M|
TranzX JD-YSP18, 100mm travel, internal routing, 31.6mm, 361mm length
Size: ML , L , XL , XXL
TranzX JD-YSP18, 130mm travel, internal routing, 31.6mm, 425mm length
|*Handlebar||Size: S , M|
Bontrager alloy, 31.8mm, 5mm rise, 720mm width
Size: ML , L , XL , XXL
Bontrager alloy, 31.8mm, 15mm rise, 750mm width
|Grips||Bontrager XR Trail Comp, nylon lock-on|
Bontrager Elite, 31.8mm, Blendr compatible, 7 degree, 60mm length
Size: M , ML
Bontrager Elite, 31.8mm, Blendr compatible, 7 degree, 70mm length
Bontrager Elite, 31.8mm, Blendr compatible, 7 degree, 80mm length
Size: XL , XXL
Bontrager Elite, 31.8mm, Blendr compatible, 7 degree, 90mm length
|Headset||Semi-integrated, sealed cartridge bearing, alloy cups, 1-1/8” top, 1.5” bottom|
|Brake||Shimano hydraulic disc, MT4100 lever, MT410 caliper|
|*Brake rotor||Size: S , M , ML , L , XL , XXL|
Shimano RT56, 6-bolt, 180mm
Size: S , M , ML , L , XL , XXL
Shimano RT56, 6-bolt, 160mm
|Weight||M – 12.75 kg / 28.11 lbs|
|Weight limit||This bike has a maximum total weight limit (combined weight of bicycle, rider, and cargo) of 300 pounds (136 kg).|
|BIKE||TRAVEL||WHEEL SIZE||DRIVETRAIN||PRICE||Sales Page|
|DIAMONDBACK ATROZ 3||130mm (front) 100mm (rear)||27.5×2.3″||SRAM SX Eagle,12 speed||$1950||CLICK VIEW|
|Trek Roscoe 7||140mm||29×2.60″ (XS – 27.5×2.60″)||Shimano Deore, 12 speed||$1729.99||CLICK VIEW|
|Canyon Stoic 4||140mm||29×2.35”||SRAM NX Eagle, 12 speed||£1799.99||CLICK VIEW|
|SANTA CRUZ Chameleon MX R||130mm||29×2.6”||SRAM NX Eagle, 12 speed||$2949||CLICK VIEW|
DIAMONDBACK ATROZ 3 vs Trek X-Caliber 9
The DIAMONDBACK ATROZ 3 is a full-suspension cross-country mountain bike.
It costs just $20 more compared to the Trek X-Caliber 9. But its descending performance is a big leap forward from the Trek X-Caliber 9. It is equipped with the same level of SRAM SX Eagle 12 speed drivetrain as the Trek X-Caliber 9.
Although the maximum flywheel of this drivetrain is only 50 teeth, compared with Shimano SLX is one toothless, there is not much difference.
It is also worth noting that the DIAMONDBACK ATROZ 3 has a rear shock, although the travel is only 100 mm, which can reduce the impact in the steep downhill roads, the fork has 130 mm of travel, which makes us more comfortable in the downhill rush down.
But the components that give the Trek X-Caliber 9 an edge over it are its vacuum tires, lighter frame, and TransX dropper. And these components stack up well enough to counteract the DIAMONDBACK ATROZ 3’s advantage in just descending.
Of course, the Trek X-Caliber 9 is more focused on maneuverability and agility, which the DIAMONDBACK ATROZ 3 cannot match.
If you’re more into aggressive off-roading, and the Trek X-Caliber 9 is as budget-friendly as the DIAMONDBACK ATROZ 3 can surprise you with a full-suspension mountain bike.
Learn more: DIAMONDBACK ATROZ 3 Review 
Trek Roscoe 7 vs Trek X-Caliber 9
Prefer the challenge of more adventurous terrain, or the comfort of a holiday trail trip?
That’s the important question in choosing between the Trek Roscoe 7 and the Trek X-Caliber 9.
The Trek Roscoe 7 is for riders who prefer more intense off-road. That’s why it comes with a 140mm shock fork.
Hardtail mountain bikes are known to ride more efficiently, and the Trek Roscoe 7 maintains this advantage and features a very maneuverable progressive trail geometry in its frame design.
On top of that, the Trek Roscoe 7 has a 2.6-inch tire width, making it an excellent climber.
The Trek Roscoe 7 is more affordable, but it still has some components made to downgrade, a Shimano Deore 12-speed drivetrain that is a bit lower than the Trek X-Caliber 9, and Shimano MT200 brakes.
The Trek Roscoe 7 is not as comfortable as the Trek X-Caliber 9 on long trails, and is more suited to aggressive trail riders, making rolls, jumps, and other moves not done before.
Learn more: Trek Roscoe 7 Review
Canyon Stoic 4 vs Trek X-Caliber 9
The upcoming Canyon Stoic 4 has me looking forward to it because it is more affordable and basically features high-performance components.
The Canyon Stoic 4 is also as good as the Trek Roscoe 7 for the aggressive off-road rider. But it also does a pretty good job of being a pure off-road mountain bike in comfort.
The Canyon Stoic 4 features a 140mm Rock Shox Pike Select fork with even better sensitivity and performance, lots of performance and good performance on off-road terrain, making it one of the favorite shock forks for trail riding enthusiasts.
The SRAM NX Eagle 12-speed drivetrain, which is a notch above the Shimano SLX that the Trek X-Caliber 9 comes with, but the gap will only manifest itself in aggressive off-road terrain when used specifically.
Geometrically, the Canyon Stoic 4 features a more modern, loosehead tube angle, longer forward reach, and is not as compact, but of course, the Canyon Stoic 4 is designed in such a way that it becomes very comfortable on steep climbs.
The Iridium lift Seatpost offers 170 mm of instant seat height adjustability. This in turn crushes the Trek X-Caliber 9 in terms of components.
Of course, I can understand the brand premium of the Trek X-Caliber 9, but in technical terrain I would prefer the Canyon Stoic 4.
Last but not least, can the Canyon Stoic 4 be released soon, and don’t raise the price!
Learn more: Canyon Stoic 4 Review
SANTA CRUZ Chameleon MX R vs Trek X-Caliber 9
The more expensive SANTA CRUZ Chameleon MX R is not cost-effective, but in terms of performance, it has more advantages than the Trek X-Caliber 9.
The SANTA CRUZ Chameleon, which has a very bold design, has different sizes of front and rear tires. In the past, the most we saw was different widths!
Its front Tire Size: 29 x 2.5in, while the rear Tire Size: 27.5 x 2.5in. combines fast off-road and fast climbing off-road, as well as agile handling into one monster.
Despite this assessment of the SANTA CRUZ Chameleon MX R, it does a good job of helping us perform some of the stunts that other bikes don’t do so well.
On top of that, it has some higher-end components than the Trek X-Caliber 9, such as the SRAM NX Eagle, 12-speed drivetrain, 130mm travel FOX Rhythm 34, SRAM Guide T brakes, and SDG Tellis Dropper, which makes it more adaptable to aggressive off-road riding.
The SANTA CRUZ Chameleon MX R is a bike that allows you to try off-road moves you haven’t done before, and choosing it was a very bold decision, as bold as the bike’s designer.
Final Verdict (4.7/5)
The Trek X-Caliber 9’s nice stack of components, along with its flat terrain, and optimal comfortable trail riding performance make it more suitable for long-distance trail riders who aren’t aggressive trail riders or racers who obsess over efficiency. A quality mountain bike that will allow you to refresh your trail performance in less time.
Perhaps I personally lean more towards aggressive trail for the sake of choosing 4 aggressive trail mountain bikes, sorry to say. We can’t deny that the Trek X-Caliber 9 is the most comfortable cross-country mountain bike we’ve ever ridden.
In the end, we give the Trek X-Caliber 9 a rating of 4.7/5.