Trek YSL 300 & VRX - Beauty and the Beast|
Thursday, April 01, 1999
I met Santo on a typical November day in Seattle to check out Trek's new rigs for '99. Yep, rainy and cold, gotta love it and gotta ride in it. Trek had rolled into town and was showing off some of next year's line-up and we thought you deserved to know what to expect. Shhh...let's keep this between you and me, but I'd never hit the trail with a full suspension bike before! So far I've been pretty committed to my trusty old aluminum hardtail.
After rapping with the Trek guys a bit I walked over to the tent and picked out the Trek YSL 300 to hop on. I've heard the "SL" stands for "super light." Believe it! Full suspension under 24 lbs., SIDs front & back, Rolf wheels, XTR sprinkled about - it's a beautiful thing! Even better, it just screams to be hammered on! You can't help yourself. Hell, I wasn't even warmed up and I had to relent. Hammertime! While I'm paying now with aching knees and a sore back, I just couldn't help it.
I must admit, coming from 3 years of riding an aluminum hardtail, the carbon and FS set up felt strange at first. After a couple of oversteers, it was a snap to get the handling down. Straight out, this bike screams up climbs in the saddle or out. It rolls over slick wet Northwest roots with amazing grace. Bontrager Super X tires certainly helped but the ride was agile and true. What I liked most was the feeling that there was always more performance to get out of the bike.
Only concern which I didn't get to test. Because it is so light, I think it might get a bit scetchy doing bombing runs down rock/gravel fire roads. I'd say the ideal rider would be the cross-country racer who wants the extra forgiveness provided by full suspension. But anyone who enjoys those long rides that mix climbs and technical descents would make a wise choice with the YSL. A beauty indeed
Grrrrr...the beast is known as VRX. I'll make no bones about it, this is not a cross country race bike. Regardless of what the company says, this a bike for those who like to go downhill fast! The VRX excels at sucking up the bumps and hits, but climbing out of the saddle was an energy sucker. It could have been the set-up, but there was an awful lot of bobbing going on. Find a place that lets you take this rig up a chair lift and descend with an ear to ear grin.
The bike uses some radical new frame work from Trek. It's a solid build with nice finishing welds and is a definite eye catcher. The entire line of VRXs uses Trek Alpha FS aluminum framing. It's solid and tough. Trek says the new Fully Independent Linkage shock compression system enables a "supple, plush feel at the beginning of travel and a quick ramp-up during big hits." I won't argue at all. The frame offers three positions for the rear shock (XC, AC & DH) to fit your choice of riding style
Bottom line, the bike is solid and a blast to ride. I only wish we could have taken it through the downhill run used for this summer's World Cup at Snoqualmie Pass, WA. Only suggestions I'd have would be for those riders looking to dial in the bike to their riding style. If you're into DH racing or do serious "freeriding," get a shorter stem and fork more appropriate for such riding. For those who want to use this as cross-country race bike, throw on a rear shock with lock-out capability.
So there you have it, beauty and the beast. I'm starting to dig this full suspension thing maybe it'll be around for a while. Hey Trek guys, I'll trade my old bike for either the VRX or YSL and throw in a Dirt Northwest team jersey (slightly used), sound good?