Trek's 2023 Supercaliber 9.6 Is an XC Machine Built for Crazy Lap Times and Gold Medals

Let's face it, as technology advances, so do the trinkets humans manage to design and build. One such creation is Trek's Supercaliber 9.6, a cross-country bicycle like very few others around.
2023 Supercaliber 9.6 MTB 12 photos
Photo: Trek Bicycle Corporation
2023 Supercaliber 9.6 MTBIsoStrutCassetteCranksetKnock BlockFrameIsoStrut Shock2023 Supercaliber 9.6 MTBControlsFrameRear Triangle
Folks, Trek is a designer and manufacturer of bicycles and e-bikes that's been around since 1975. Over the years, their approach to cycling has often yielded gold medal-winning machines that have carried some of the world's top cyclists across numerous finish lines. Today, they continue their legacy with the same gusto they've always displayed.

One bicycle that yields all that Trek has come to learn over the ages is the Supercaliber 9.6, this here 2023 version. I know we're still in 2022, but like automotive manufacturers, cycle builders also release next year's models in advance. After all, it's one way to stay ahead of the pack and be declared a true trendsetter.

Now, if you're up to date with the sort of machines to come out from under the Trek umbrella, you know dang well how they like to roll. That said, if you've read about the Supercaliber bikes before, you're aware that they're a bit different from other XC cycles, mainly because of how Trek integrates that rear suspension into your riding experience.

2023 Supercaliber 9\.6 MTB
Photo: Trek Bicycle Corporation
Technically, the IsoStrut you see integrated into the Supercaliber's top tube is a suspension system, but since XC bikes shine best with a solid rear triangle, the level of dampening that the Supercaliber's rear takes up is just enough to smoothen out your off-road ride without affecting how much power you direct into the rear wheel. I'm not saying there's no loss of power, but it should be minimal, as much as the frame's 60 mm (2.4 in) of travel will allow.

This system is also developed hand in hand with the crew over at Fox, resulting in a full-suspension bike that doesn't feel like one. But how does this benefit the rider? First, the lack of linkage means a lighter than average full-suspension MTB. Secondly, because this system offers an adjustable level of stiffness and response, riders can tune their experience to their liking and needs. Oh, and don't worry about twisting, flexing, or any shock damage to your frame because the IsoStrut is protected by a "structural stanchion."

Diving further into the Supercaliber, the fact that the 9.6 is built out of carbon fiber also plays a part in the bike's abilities and dynamics. Part of which is directly tied to the IsoStrut; the seat stays have been designed to bow or bend vertically, keeping the rear stiff and constantly looking for contact with the surface you're on.

Photo: Trek Bicycle Corporation
And that's not all the attention that this bike receives. As you're riding along on this $4,300 (€4,280 at current exchange rates) piece of carbon hardware, the RockShox Recon Gold RL fork with 100 mm (4 in) of travel will be completing the full-suspension feel that this bike offers. Best of all, control is in the hands of the rider yet again with remote lockout and Motion Control damper. Sounds like a solid full-suspension hardtail. I know that the last statement doesn't sound right, but it describes this machine perfectly.

As is customary of most two-wheelers that leave Trek assembly lines, the remainder of the bike is tattered with Bontrager components, but the drivetrain you hear will be furnished by none other than Shimano. A Deore cassette with 10-51T tuned to 12 speeds keeps things simple and offers plenty of climbing ability, even some extra speed on descents. With brakes and a few other components, you'll be rocking a bike that weighs no more than 27 lbs (12.2 kg).

At the end of the day, you're being asked to drop a bit more than you would consider for an MTB, but it's a machine designed to be race-ready. This means that you should be able to make your money back with gold medals, assuming your legs are up to the job. Have fun out there and wear a helmet.
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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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