The New E-Caliber 9.6 XC MTB from Trek Is an Electric Carbon Monstrosity

2021 E-Caliber 9.6 e-MTB 11 photos
Photo: Trek Bicycle Corporation
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Bike design is just getting lighter, stronger, and faster. So fast in fact that it’s hard to keep up with all makes and models out there. But it’s good to know what the majors are doing.
One of those majors of the bicycle world is Trek. Recently they’ve just announced the newest lineup of e-bikes, the E-Caliber Series. Now, there are five bikes in total in this new lineup, ranging anywhere from $6,499.99 to $12,999.99, so for the sake of money, no other reason really, you’ll be getting to know the least expensive of the new terrors, the E-Caliber 9.6 with its $6,499.99 price tag. I've also found that analyzing the least expensive bike in a family lineup is a decent way to get to know the base ideas of new design. Don’t worry, in time you’ll get to know the other family members as well.

The E-Caliber series does something a bit different for the e-MTB scene and it has a lot to do with that down tube. What, you though that giant down tube is just there to make the bike look menacing? No no no, there’s plenty of purpose to what you see, just keep reading to find out.

The first thing you should know is the frame construction. Trek went all out with the new frames and included OCLV Mountain Carbon in the construction, but also added a few features they’ve been fine-tuning for some time now. One of those features is the Knock Block, making sure you don’t damage that frame in the eventuality you want to sample the local soil.

2021 E\-Caliber 9\.6 e\-MTB
Photo: Trek Bicycle Corporation
Up next, you need to know that this bike is an e-MTB designed to ride like a traditional XC bike. P.S. Remember when XC bikes were hardtails? Few still do. I personally feel like Trek might be trying to rekindle a nearly forgotten trend. The reason I say this is because you’ll find an IsoStrut using a Fox Performance shock with air spring and DPS 2-position remote damper offering you only 60 mm (2.36 in) of rear travel.

If you feel it’s not enough, the front fork is there to compensate for most of the drops, rocks and roots you’ll encounter with a RockShox 35 Gold RL that offers 120 mm (4,72 in) of travel.

Being the e-bike that it is, be sure to find a battery and motor. But I bet you never thought you’d find them all in the same place., unless of course you’re familiar with the Fazua Evation Drive Pack. That’s what you’ll find on the new E-Caliber. For the 9.6, a Fazua Evation 1.0 that runs under 250Wh and offers an assist up to 20 mph (32 kph) will be moving you along.

2021 E\-Caliber 9\.6 e\-MTB
Photo: Trek Bicycle Corporation
The beauty behind this system is that the battery and motor are housed together in the same place, the Drive Pack, which is hidden in the down tube as any battery pack would be. However, if you don’t feel like taking an assisted ride, remove the pack and ride away with just an XC bike, no ‘E’ anywhere.

The rest of the drivetrain is controlled by a Shimano Deore 12-speed setup with an XT M8100 derailleur, and M6100 shifter, cassette, and chain. This is a setup you’ve probably ridden before if you’re a bicycle fan, so it’s a nice way to get a feel for the new frame. For everything else, Bontrager is found branded into the saddle, wheels, hubs, tires, get the idea. Overall, the bike comes in with 40.75 lb (18.48 kg) of weight.

As for myself, a fan of hardtail XC bikes, I'm literally sitting here and drooling at the screen. But then I see the price tag and decide to just whip out next year's Christmas list. Going to have to be a real good kid to get this.

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About the author: Cristian Curmei
Cristian Curmei profile photo

A bit of a nomad at heart (being born in Europe and raised in several places in the USA), Cristian is enamored with travel trailers, campers and bikes. He also tests and writes about urban means of transportation like scooters, mopeds and e-bikes (when he's not busy hosting our video stories and guides).
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