Bike: 2014 Trek Superfly 8
Intended Use: Cross-country hardtail
Size Tested: Medium (17.5”)
Geometry: Check it out here
- Trek Alpha Platinum Aluminum Frame with G2 Geometry
- Fox Evolution 32 CTD Fork w/ 15mm thru axle, tapered steer tube
- Bontrager 29” Mustang hoops – 15mm front, 142x12mm rear
- Shimano SLX 10spd shifters
- Shimano XT Shadow Plus rear derailleur
- Shimano SLX brakes
- Shimano SLX crank, 38/24 tooth
- Shimano Deore Cassette, 11-36 tooth, 10spd
Rider Info: 5’10” 165 lbs, does not shave legs.
Days Tested: 6
Test Location: The wide-open singletrack of Boise, Idaho
Last year, Trek’s engineers completely redesigned the Superfly line with updated standards (such as a thru-axel and press-fit bottom bracket) and more modern geometry. Our test model, the Superfly 8, is the highest level aluminum bike in the line-up, and it was bred with racing in mind. Features from Trek’s Apollo Project have trickled down to the aluminum bikes, and Trek claims the Superfly is more vertically compliant—while still being laterally rigid—than ever before.
That said, the Superfly 8 is still a very different machine than its uber high-end carbon cousins with its additional stand over and its shorter chainstays.
I had a chance to put the bike through its paces this fall, so stay tuned for the full review where I’ll flesh out more comparisons to other XC bikes I’ve ridden, as well as expound on the Superfly’s riding characteristics. With that in mind, here are my first impressions of this bike.
The 17.5” frame is a bit small for me. I typically prefer smaller bikes, mainly because they tend to have better downhill performance, but I had to max out the stock seatpost and move the seat back on its rails to get the Superfly’s cockpit to feel right. This could easily be solved by going up one size.
The new Superfly has a fairly long top tube (23.7”) and low hand position, which puts the rider in an attack position. For me, things are comfortable reach-wise and so far, I’ve been content with my climbing position.
So what do you get for a little over $2,300? A machine spec’d with trustworthy components that work well on all-day alpine rides as well as on a race course. The Shimano 10spd XT/SLX drivetrain is crisp and quiet, and the redesigned SLX stoppers are quickly becoming my favorite brake lever to squeeze.
Here’s a list of a few key features Trek included in the new Superfly 8 frame:
- Hydroformed aluminum tubing shaped to provide more vertical compliance, which equals better bump absorption and thus a smoother ride.
- Internal shift cable routing.
- G2 Geometry — 61mm off-set fork combined with tapered steer tube and 69-degree head angle makes the bike more responsive at slow speeds. (More on this to come in the full review.)
- Press-fit bottom bracket, which Trek claims increases lateral stiffness.
- 142x12mm closed convert thru axle rear drop outs. Again, Trek claims this makes for a 35% increase in stiffness.
- Balanced brake post where the rear brake caliper is integrated into the chain/seat stays. Again, this is intended to increase stiffness.
The Ride[Author’s Note—I spend a lot of time riding longer travel trail bikes with DH parts and geometry. That said, I owned a 2004 Specialized M2 Comp, and I’ve ridden a fair number of XC hardtails (including the Santa Cruz Highball and Devinci Wookie). I now own a Canfield Yelli Screamy that acts as my XC hardtail. I’ll include these comparisons in the full review.]
The Superfly arrived just in time for the fall riding season to kick off in Boise. I had no issues building up the bike, and it was simple to set sag with the Fox fork.
The foothill trails around Boise are a mix of sand and clay and there aren’t any trees to prevent you from hauling ass. The first ride I took the Trek on was a stand-and-hammer death-march up a sustained, windy climb with a fast, flowy descent.
Right away, I noticed the lateral rigidity of the press-fit bottom bracket and the thru-axle rear end. The power transfer was very impressive, something that’s especially noticeable when I’m standing for long periods of time or during short, punchy climbs when I drop a gear and mash.
My position while climbing is low, and I lean forward over the front wheel, which helps me power up steep grades. This bike likes to spin, and if you’ve got the lungs, you can cover some serious ground in the hills.
On descents, the Trek is predictable, stable, and fast, but I found it to be a bit slow around the corners. Even with G2 geometry and an offset fork, I struggled to get the Trek around tight corners at high speed. This could be because I don’t trust the Bontrager tires in the sand (I intend to swap these out before I write the full review), or because, like most 29ers, it’s difficult to get those wagon wheels to whip around quickly.
Let me be clear—the Superfly isn’t a bad descender. Rollers, swoopy turns and point-and-shoot sections will have you grinning, and the bike is designed to go fast while staying rooted to the ground, rather than to be readily tossed in the air. Think of the Superfly as a GS ski with a long turning radius that I found will rip down Boise’s wide-open trails.
I’m confident making techy moves and lifting the front end thanks to the bike’s relatively short chainstays, and overall I’ve appreciated its snappiness and solid power transfer.
So far, I’ve found the Superfly 8 to be a good all-purpose hardtail especially well suited for long, fast cross-country rides.
I’ll continue to think about cornering as I keep riding this bike, and I intend to swap the stock tires out to see how that affects handling.
I also plan to swap out the stock 27” Bontrager bars for a 30” option. I’m also tempted to add a dropper post, only because in my opinion, it’s a great addition to any bike—regardless of genre.
You can now read Eric’s Update on the Superfly 8.