• Procaliber 9.5

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10/10 Editor's choice

"Faster with less fatigue than any other XC hardtail in test...Procaliber was still the smoothest bike here."

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"What an XC race bike should be"

"Procaliber offers a more comfortable ride than a traditional hardtail. It's noticeable right away. Ready to go uphill and down with no regard for anything except stopping to get on the podium."

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Trek Procaliber 9.7

High Performance and High Value Meet in the Trek Procaliber 9.7

This hardtail is a lightweight and dependable mountain bike with a carbon frame and wheels.

The Takeaway: The Procaliber 9.7 is one of the best hardtail mountain bikes you can buy for less than four grand.

  • OCLV Carbon frame
  • Tubeless-ready carbon wheels
  • Incredibly light

Trek Procaliber 9.7

The tradeoff for a killer carbon frame and carbon wheels on a sub-4K bike is the drivetrain. The SRAM NX Eagle is reliable but doesn’t offer the crisp shifting of pricier component groups like Shimano XT or X01 Eagle. It’s also notably heavier than those groupsets, with most of that weight in the cassette and crankset.

trek procaliber 97

IsoSpeed Decoupler

The IsoSpeed decoupler, unique to Trek, is an interesting feature. It adds vertical compliance by creating a hinge of sorts between the seat tube and the top tube, allowing the former to move independently of the latter. If you’ve never ridden a bike with this decoupler, you might be inclined to think it’s snake oil. Given that we live i n a world flush with companies touting frames with vertical compliance and lateral stiffness (with varying levels of success), I’ll forgive you that assumption. But make no mistake, this is no snake oil. The IsoSpeed adds so much compliance you can actually see the seat tube moving under you if you bounce on the saddle. To be fair, some of that flex comes from the carbon seat post, which further adds to the vertical compliance. Together they make a bike that’s surprisingly comfortable for long, hard hours of trail riding .

Trek Procaliber 9.7

Fast Wheels

Tubeless-ready carbon wheels are a rare find at this price.

Trek Procaliber 9.7

Remote Lockout

The RockShox Reba RL fork has a handlebar-mounted remote lockout.

Trek Procaliber 9.7

XR2 Team Issue Tires

These tires are wicked fast on dry trails and hold their own in the mud.

Trek Procaliber 9.7

NX Eagle Drivetrain

An 11-50 cassette and 30t chainring provide all the gearing you need.

Trek Procaliber 9.7

Vertical Compliance

The IsoSpeed decoupler makes this bike comfortable over long, rough trail rides.

Initially I was put off by that soft feeling. I tested the Procaliber right on the heels of the very lively Specialized Epic Hardtail Pro . By comparison the Procaliber 9.7 felt subdued, almost boring. In early test rides, I misdiagnosed this bike as dead and lifeless. However, once I became more familiar with the Procaliber 9.7, I realized I was feeling the effect of the decoupler. The claims of vertical compliance were real. The more time I spent banging around the rough and rocky trails of my test track, the more I realized this bike was still just as lively as other hardtails, but the rough edges I was accustomed to were gone.

trek procaliber 97

Procaliber Family

The Procaliber line consists of three bikes, and the 9.7 resides at the top of the list. At $2,600, the 9.6 is laced with the nicer but more expensive Shimano XT drivetrain, but the cost is balanced by cheaper alloy wheels and a RockShox Recon Gold fork (noticeable steps down from the 9.7). This bike is a super deal for anyone who already has a nice set of wheels they really like. If aluminum frames are your jam, the Procaliber 6 warrants consideration.

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Style XC Material Carbon Wheel Size 29-inch Fork 100mm RockShox Reba RL Drivetrain SRAM NX Eagle Cranks Truvativ Stylo 6k Eagle Dub Chainring 30t Cassette 11-50 Brakes Shimano MT500 hydraulic disc Wheels Bontrager Kovee Elite 23 Carbon Tires 2.2-inch Tubeless-ready Bontrager XR2 Team Issue Saddle Bontrager Montrose Comp Seatpost Bontrager Pro OCLV Carbon Handlebar 720mm Bontrager Race Lite Alloy Stem Bontrager Elite

Geometry That Bucks The Trend

On paper, the Procaliber 9.7 thumbs its nose at the current trend of long, low, and slack mountain bikes. A 69.5-degree head angle is as steep as you’ll find on an XC bike, half a degree steeper than the already aggressive Cannondale F-Si and a full degree steeper than Specialized’s Epic Hardtail. A slack 72-degree seat angle also runs against the grain, especially next to the aggressive 74 degrees of the Specialized. It stands in stark contrast to modern XC bikes that are trending towards slacker head angles and steeper seat angles. The reach is short (457mm), stack is low (628mm), and the bottom bracket is high (311mm).

Trek Procaliber 9.7

However, it would be foolish to pass this bike over because it doesn’t conform to a trend. The slack seat angle was apparent before I even looked at the geometry because I had to slide my saddle farther forward than I’m accustomed to, as was the short reach, amplified by the narrow 720mm handlebar. After a few hours, I was comfortable on the bike, accustomed to the sharp steering that required a light touch, and riding as hard and fast around my test track as I’ve done on any other bike.

Trek Procaliber 9.7

Smooth, Steady, And Fast

As I alluded to earlier, I was slow to warm up to this bike. My last tester was the Specialized Epic Hardtail Pro, which I described as lively, wild, and exciting. Compared to the Specialized , this Trek initially appeared dull and uninspiring. Like a fine wine, it took its time to open up to me. Still, there was no spark.

If the Epic Hardtail Pro is the wild affair, the Procaliber 9.7 is the safe bet, the one you invite to Thanksgiving. And costing just under two thousand dollars less, it's also a cheaper date .

Trek Procaliber 9.7

It’s hard to find a fault with this bike. It’s shockingly light—my XL test sample weighed in at only 21.6 pounds. Considering the Epic Hardtail Pro tipped the scales at 21.3 pounds, benefitting from lighter SRAM X01 groupset, carbon cranks, and a carbon handlebar, you’ll see it’s very easy to drop major weight off the Trek if you're a weight weenie. Of course, the NX Eagle drivetrain doesn’t shift as smoothly as SRAM’s higher-level groupsets, but it’s a fair tradeoff for the top-flight frame and carbon hoops. This bike is everything you could ask for from a cross country hardtail: light, fast, responsive, and compliant. At $3,780, it’s not cheap, but it offers incredible value.

procaliber Procaliber 9.7

Procaliber 9.7

.css-1t6om3g:before{width:1.75rem;height:1.75rem;margin:0 0.625rem -0.125rem 0;content:'';display:inline-block;-webkit-background-size:1.25rem;background-size:1.25rem;background-color:#F8D811;color:#000;background-repeat:no-repeat;-webkit-background-position:center;background-position:center;}.loaded .css-1t6om3g:before{background-image:url(/_assets/design-tokens/bicycling/static/images/chevron-design-element.c42d609.svg);} Bike Reviews

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Trek Procaliber 9.6

Trek Procaliber 9.6 Review

by Ben Haworth June 11, 2023 0

Sure, you can ride the Trek Procaliber 9.6 whenever and wherever you like but the raison d’être of the Trek Procaliber is to perform between the race tape.

  • Brand : Trek
  • Product : Procaliber 9.6
  • Price : £2,550.00
  • From : trekbikes.com
  • Tested by : Benji for Singletrackworld Magazine Issue 149

procaliber trek bike

The other two hardtails in our ‘ Double Yer Money Hardtails ‘ test are all-rounder Traily McTrailface mountain bikes. This Trek Procaliber is decidedly not an all-rounder.

Rather than include a £2,400+ all-rounder trail hardtail, of which there are legion, we think it’s more illuminating and useful to go niche. To highlight the option of buying a very specific tool-for-the-job type of mountain bike.

The job for this Procaliber tool is cross-country racing. This is the sort of machine where the rides that aren’t actual races are called ‘training rides’.

procaliber trek bike

The USP of the Trek Procaliber 9.6 is Trek’s IsoSpeed feature. First seen on Trek’s road racing bikes designed for the cobbled ways of Flanders, IsoSpeed basically detaches the seat tube from the top tube, allowing it to flex fore-aft. It’s a very modern take on ye olde soft-tail designs that did the rounds in the nineties and noughties.

Whereas those older designs typically had some sort of spring placed inside a wishbone seat stay arrangement, the Trek Procaliber has a fixing placed just in front of the seat tube and below the top tube and a wedge of elastomery material in the join. I’ll get into how it feels on the trail shortly.

The frame is made from Trek’s OCLV Mountain grade of carbon and, quite frankly, it looks really rad. The waspish black and yellow colourway is particularly pleasing. The aesthetic helps offset the relatively unexciting build kit. The own-brand finishing kit, mid-tier Shimano stuff and fairly nondescript RockShox Recon fork are all fine but hardly set the pulse racing.

In some ways all these rather uninspiring black bits actually help the bike (frame) look as great as it does. The bars are suitably cross-country narrow. The stem is similarly cross-country-tastically lengthy (80mm). The Bontrager XR2 Team Issue tyres are thrillingly bald. The MT410 brakes and the Recon fork are the two main disappointing spec choices. It just looks a bit too cost-cutting on a bike that otherwise looks so fine.

Looking at the rest of the Procaliber range you’d have to spend £3,775 to get a spec that looks suitably snazzy (Procaliber 9.8 with Fox fork, carbon wheelset, Shimano XT and so on).

The geometry of the Procaliber is on the less progressive side of things, even for a cross-country bike: steep 68.8° head angle, short 450mm reach (Large), dinky 90mm head tube length (Large). Oh and no, there is no dropper seatpost.

procaliber trek bike

It can be hard to explain what makes a bike good at cross-country. It’s not just about being light and stiff. For trail riders, the geometry of cross-country race bikes is often entirely baffling. Steep head angles? Long stems? Narrow bars? Haven’t we left all that sort of stuff behind us?

The thing is, such geometry is not meant to be all-round effective. Cross-country geometry is principally meant to feel fast on climbs (the key word there being ‘feel’; racing is almost as much a mental exercise as physical). The narrow bars are arguably mainly there for aerodynamic reasons as much as anything. And if you have narrow bars (with a steep head angle) you need a lengthy stem to keep the front end from flailing madly when you’re redline drooling.

Why not put a slacker head angle on to cure everything? It’s hard to explain. The best explanation I can say is that it’s about pumping the terrain for even more speed. Cross-country races are won on anything that isn’t a descent. Descending speed is very much not important. Being fast downhill doesn’t win you races really. You can certainly lose races by being poor downhill, but you can’t win ’em. As such, the steep head angle is there to keep the front tyre contact patch nearer to you (usually a Really Bad Idea for Normal MTBing) so you can work the terrain underneath it for increased momentum.

Cross-country races are won primarily on the climbs, but the flatter and contouring stuff also matters a lot. Cross-country race geometry is a very specific system and the Trek Procaliber is more specific than most. And the Trek Procaliber is fast AF where and when it has to be. Sure, the downhills are more an exercise of holding-on rather than grinning-through, but the Procaliber’s grins can be found on race day podiums or (whisper it) Strava leaderboards.

All the boring black bits bolted to the Trek Procaliber 9.6 work fine. The fork is surprisingly active and combined with the IsoSpeed ‘rear suspension’ (when seated) actually makes for a remarkably un-punishing ride feel. There’s a reason the Procaliber is used by a lot of marathon endurance racers instead of a full-suspension bike. Also, by judicious use of the fork lockout, the Procaliber does the whole stood-up stamp-attack mode thing very well too.

I did think overall it would be even better with a dropper seatpost. Just a little one. The IsoSpeed system seems serendipitously perfect for dropper posts; droppers have zero fore-aft flex to them (unlike static seatposts) so IsoSpeed means you can run a dropper and still have a flexy perch experience.

procaliber trek bike

This Trek Procaliber 9.6 is a great example of how an increase in budget can gain you access to a world of specificity. I wouldn’t recommend the Procaliber for everyone. It’s not a bike I personally would have. But if anyone is looking for an effective weapon for cross-country racing (whether real world racing or imaginary online Strava racing) then this is very probably one of the best bikes for going as hard as possible for as long as possible on the tracks and terrain that the stopwatch unsparingly demands.

It is a bike that can attack tracks with the best of them, yet it is perfectly capable of having a recovery breather on when you need one. The active fork, supple tyres and undoubtedly the IsoSpeed ‘soft-tail’ feature afford you a pleasing respite from the sheer brutality of the bike’s out-of-the-saddle efficiency of propulsion. It’s something of a Lycra-clad Jekyll and Hyde creation. Sat down, it’s comfy and polite. Stood up, it’s a freaking monster.

procaliber trek bike

  • Frame // OCLV Mountain Carbon
  • Fork // RockShox Recon Gold RL LockOut, 100mm
  • Wheels // Bontrager Kovee Comp 23
  • Front tyre // Bontrager XR2 Team Issue 29×2.2
  • Rear tyre // Bontrager XR2 Team Issue 29×2.2
  • Chainset // Shimano MT611, 30T, 175mm
  • Drivetrain // Shimano SLX/XT, 12-speed, 10–51T
  • Brakes // Shimano MT410, 180/160mm
  • Stem // Bontrager Rhythm Comp, 80mm, 31.8mm
  • Bars // Bontrager Rhythm Comp, 750 x 15mm, 31.8mm
  • Grips // Bontrager XR Trail Comp Lock-on
  • Seatpost // Bontrager Comp, 31.6mm
  • Saddle // Bontrager Arvada
  • BB // Shimano MT500 PF92
  • Size tested // L
  • Sizes available // S, M, ML, L, XL, XXL
  • Head angle // 68.8°
  • Effective seat angle // 73.8°
  • Seat tube length // 470mm
  • Head tube length // 90mm
  • Effective top tube // 625mm
  • BB height // 60mm BB drop
  • Reach // 450mm
  • Chainstay // 432mm
  • Wheelbase // 1,133mm
  • Weight // 11.7kg

procaliber trek bike

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Orange Switch 6er. Stif Squatcher. Schwalbe Magic Mary Purple Addix front. Maxxis DHR II 3C MaxxTerra rear. Coil fan. Ebikes are not evil. I have been a writer for nigh on 20 years, a photographer for 25 years and a mountain biker for 30 years. I have written countless magazine and website features and route guides for the UK mountain bike press, most notably for the esteemed and highly regarded Singletrackworld. Although I am a Lancastrian, I freely admit that West Yorkshire is my favourite place to ride. Rarely a week goes by without me riding and exploring the South Pennines.

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procaliber trek bike

Trek Procaliber 9.8 in review

Trek procaliber 9.8 in review – pimped to the max.

Trek Procaliber 2023 Test

The Trek Isospeed System – the cushioning of the Procaliber

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Frame details and style: the aces up Trek Procaliber’s sleeve

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procaliber trek bike

The standards on the Trek Procaliber 2023

  • Frame weight: 1.4 kg (carbon)
  • Bottom bracket: Pressfit
  • Wheel size: 29 inches
  • Rear wheel installation dimensions: 12×148
  • Seatpost: 31.6mm
  • Cable routing: through the down tube with internal routing
  • Bottle holder: space for two bottles
  • Special feature: Isospeed damping on the rear triangle
  • Derailleur hanger: UDH (SRAM Eagle Transmission compatible)

The Procaliber’s competitors in starting block A

Orbea alma m10 vs trek procaliber 9.8 vs cannondale scalpel ht carbon 2.

procaliber trek bike

All current Trek Procaliber models at a glance, including prices and availability:

All current trek procaliber models at a glance.

Trek Procaliber 9.5Trek Procaliber 9.5 Review

Conclusion on the Trek Procaliber 9.8

About the author.

procaliber trek bike

... has spent more than 100,000 kilometers in the saddle of over 1000 different mountain bikes. The essence of many hours on the trail: Mountain bikes are awesome when they match your personal preferences! With this realization, he founded bike-test.com to assist cyclists in finding their very own dream bike.

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COMMENTS

  1. Get hardtail XC MTB speed with Procaliber – Trek Bikes

    Procaliber is a game changing cross-country race machine that pairs classic hardtail efficiency with capable geometry for a ride that’s chomping at the bit to attack off the starting line and sprint up climbs.

  2. Procaliber delivers hardtail XC mtb race performance - Trek Bikes

    Procaliber delivers hardtail MTB efficiency for soaring up climbs while keeping control on descents a priority, thanks to modern XC geometry. Plus, carbon models get extra trail-smoothing performance with IsoSpeed tech that proves faster really is smoother.

  3. Procaliber 9.5 - Trek Bikes

    Procaliber 9.5 is a lightweight carbon hardtail with the unique advantage of our trail-smoothing IsoSpeed decoupler. It's the most affordable carbon model in the Procaliber mountain bike family, and it's built for speed and efficiency on singletrack with a wide-range Shimano Deore 1x12 drivetrain, RockShox Judy SL fork, and speedy 29er wheels.

  4. Trek Procaliber 9.7 Review | Best Hardtail Mountain Bikes 2020

    The Procaliber 9.7 makes a very strong case to be one of the best value high-end hardtail mountain bikes currently available. Trek used the same OCLV carbon for the frame that you’ll find on...

  5. Trek Procaliber 9.6 Review – Singletrack World Magazine

    The Bike. The USP of the Trek Procaliber 9.6 is Trek’s IsoSpeed feature. First seen on Trek’s road racing bikes designed for the cobbled ways of Flanders, IsoSpeed basically detaches the seat...

  6. Review: Trek Procaliber 9.8 - bike Test

    Trek Procaliber 9.8 in review – pimped to the max God knows, the Procaliber is not a newcomer to the market. A good geometry, well thought-out details and the attempt to equip the rear end with more comfort make the Procaliber a super exciting bike even in its third season.