Trek have brought the Stache back to Australia - but the Full Stache is not just Plus, it's a full-suspension trail and adventure beast!
The Stache name from Trek is something we have seen before but never a Full Stache. Gone are the days of the 29 Plus Stache hardtail here in the land down under. Last season the original Stache was pulled from production due to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) requirement that all bikes imported into Australia require some form of chain guide. Due to the elevated chain stay design Trek was unable to mount a front derailleur or chain guide to the original Stache. This imposed requirement could be seen as perhaps an odd move by the ACCC, one that perhaps should be based upon the spec of a bike, and not its ability to run any form of chain guide or front derailleur. We loved the original Stache thanks to its burly build with trail handling and adventure capability.
That was then, and this is now… Which brings us to the Full Stache we have today, and we must say that other than sharing tyre size and part of a name, the Full Stache is not just another hardtail and full suspension version of its predecessor but in our eyes, it is a completely different bike. We did notice though that on paper the Full Stache appears to tick most of the modern boxes for geometry and spec… but most noteworthy, it has those big a$$ tyres on it!
These big tyres, or plus tyres, have been the butt of rider’s jokes for some time with names like mid fat, half fat, and semi chubby just to name a few, meaning that many riders steer away from the plus-sized bikes without even trying them. Let’s just quickly pause as we all think back and remember what happened when 29ers came out and everyone joked about them... We are not saying that you will see plus tyres on a Downhill World Cup podium (although, that day could very well occur) but we are saying they do have a place in the mountain biking world, and not just for your entry level or e-MTB rider.
When going through the listed specs the Full Stache brings the spiked punch to the party, with its frame further featuring the full range of proven Trek technologies – Active Baking Pivot, Mino Link adjustable geometry, Control Freak internal routing, and Straight Shot downtube with Knock Block Frame Protection. There also appears to be a switchback to the Full Floater shock mounting design of Treks gone by. Mix all of this with some handsomely short chainstay’s coming in at 430mm long it’s very easy to look past the stigma some plus bikes have received in the past. You can shorten the back to 427mm by putting the Mino Link in the high setting. This also moves the head angle from 67 to 67.4 degrees.
Trek has really put a lot of effort into designing the Full Stache’s suspension system and this certainly shows out on the trails. However, to start, it did take some time to dial in our suspension setup, both front and rear, as using our standard go to setting for this 130mm travel 29er was achieving nothing except continued grief for the first two runs, even when using a Quarq Shock Wiz to help us with our setup.
While riding back up one of the rocky test tracks for our third run of the morning it suddenly dawned on us: tyre pressure! We started off our first two runs with 25psi in the rear and 22psi in the front. While for a smaller, and let’s say normal size tyre, this could be considered “normal”, these pressure settings were way WAY too high for the plus sized tyres on the Full Stache. Before entering the same trail we had been riding all morning, we dropped the pressure to 22psi in the rear and 18psi in the front and WOW! What a difference that made. The Full Stache was like a totally different bike, commanding your attention and wanting you to absolutely push through to the limits like its big meaty enduro brother - Slash. The stock Bontrager tyres aren't your only choice, as major brands like Maxxis and WTB also have models available in 29x3.00". Trek do say you can slim things up with a 29x2.6" set of tyres - but you need to be aware that this will drop the bottom bracket height.
Now, if dropping the psi changed the ride so significantly and in such a positive way, perhaps we could firm up the suspension to eliminate the harsh bottoming we had experienced on a few sections of trail earlier, thus being able to push the Full Stache as hard as it was telling us it wanted to be ridden.
Sure enough these changes again made the Full Stache faster and by now the plus sized tyre look was totally normal. With our rider brimming with confidence and sporting a big grin on his face we started chasing more performance and gains from the Full Stache. By about the 10th run on our set of test trails we had settled on a sweet spot for suspension – running the fork slightly firmer than the rear suspension as it was taking the brunt of the hits and at 130mm travel, the fork was starting to feel a little under sized for what the Full Stache was capable of delivering when you put your mind to it. Trek have confirmed the Full Stache has been designed to take a 140mm fork if needed - so go right ahead and extend if you need to.
So why go 29 Plus full-supension?
One of the big selling points across 29ers is rolling speed over rocks, and mixing that with the Full Stache’s plus size tyre, which delivers grip and speed, and holy cow you have a trail bike that is super fast and gives you a mini Downhill bike feel when entering a rock garden. Even with our tyre pressures dropping as low as 20psi in the rear and remaining at 18psi in the front we did not notice any tyre roll from these big 29x3” plus size tyres. During the testing period we also ran the Full Stache with tubes, however, there is still the option to gain more performance by going tubeless (both valves and rim tape are included).
The Full Stache is not pretending to be anything it’s not and Trek have done an outstanding job developing a plus sized trail bike that all levels of rider can enjoy equally, and it's aimed right at people who want to shred primitive trails on all-day (or multie-day adventures) or those who just want to find the limits of what is possible with absolute bucket loads of traction. The Full Stache is really all about how you ride it and what you are going to use it for. Explore, find new lines, ride bikes, have fun.
Some have commented that the original Stache design didn't quite suit bikepacking due to the dropped top tube, but BedRock Bags do create bags that work perfectly with the Full Stache.
The Full Stache 8 sells for $4499 and has a GX Eagle 12-speed setup with a RockShox Pike RL Solo Air fork, Fox Float EVOL shock, SRAM GX Eagle and Bontrager finishing gear on it's aluminium frame. The bike comes in 17.5" (tested), 19.5" and 21.5" sizes. Need smaller? Trek suggest you look at the Fuel EX 29 if you need a 15.5" frame.
Trek’s new Full Stache is a Sherman Tank with disco flair. Take it from us, go ride one before you say it’s not the bike for you. You won’t regret it.
Words: Ben Morrison
Photos: Nick Waygood