An ideal cross-country mountain bike can take both the long distance and some rugged trails. Many mountain bikes claim to do so, but not all are genuinely up to the task.
Judging mountain bikes goes far beyond riding from point A to point B; it has to be more than that.
It has to have that excellent road performance and can give you the speed, stability, and comfort in taking smooth roads or rugged terrain. That bike must be durable to handle all the stress and pressure, whatever the road and weather conditions may be.
Trek X Caliber 8 seems to hold that promise. Could it be the best mountain bike in the Trek X Caliber series?
Released in 2014, the Trek X Caliber 8 is an upgraded version of the earlier Trek X Caliber 7 and the predecessor of Trek X Caliber 9. It may not be the newest version, but it has a lot of qualities that make it stand out on its own.
The feel of this one is similar to the earlier version and, at times, better. It has nearly identical specs and employs the same suspension and drivetrain components.
This one is a 12-speed instead of the 1×10 of Trek X Caliber 7.
They also employed new tires for Trek Caliber 8, replacing the reliable Bontrager with Maxxis.
Sporting a combination of colors lithium and gray, Trek X Caliber 8 promises to make a significant difference in performance for anyone engaging in either cross country or trail riding. The features of this bike seem to live up to that expectation.
The Specs of Trek X Caliber 8
Speed and excitement that is what Trek Bicycle Corp promises the riders regarding this one. That is a bold one, considering mountain bikes usually do not have much speed and can travel only at a certain pace on challenging terrain and uneven road surfaces, especially singletrack ones.
This one has an alpha gold aluminum frame and has an excellent geometry quite ideal for mountain biking, whether XC or trail. It has an internal cable routing system that protects other components and has mounts for racks and fenders.
It sports Shimano Deore groupset: Shimano Deore M6100, 12 speed for shifters, cassette, and chain; Shimano XT M8100, long cage for the rear derailleur, Shimano MT511 for the crank, Shimano SM BB52, 73mm, threaded external bearing for the bottom bracket.
Wheels and Tires
The wheels are Bontrager Kovee, double wall, tubeless ready 32 holes, spokes are stainless steel, 14g. The front and rear hub are also of Bontrager, sealed bearing.
From Bontrager tires in Trek X Caliber 7, this one switched to Maxxis Ardent Race, tubeless, 60 TPI. They are available in sizes 27.5″ x2.35 and 27.9×2.35″.
It has a RockShox air fork, with suspension travel of 100 mm for all sizes, except for XS, which sports an 80mm suspension travel. All the other components, like seat post, saddle, handlebar, and stem, are Bontrager alloy, while the grips are Bontrager XR Trail Comp.
Trek X Caliber 8 sports Shimano MT200 hydraulic disc brakes, while the brake rotor is Shimano RT26, six-bolt, 180mm.
What Do The Specs Tell Us?
At first glance, the specs do not tell much difference between the Trek X Caliber 8 and its immediate predecessor, except for tires and the speed. But the grips are far better than the earlier ones.
Bontrager must have improved on their quality and parts in such a short period.
Pound for pound, the suspension is also better, and the rider’s grip and hold of the bike are excellent. Whether this is due to the improvement in the parts or simple alterations in geometry, Trek X Caliber 8 is a much better version of the other.
An aluminum frame is significantly lighter than steel but heavier than carbon frames. A mountain bike would benefit more from having an aluminum frame than a carbon frame because it deals with a wide range of terrain and could be under extreme road and weather conditions.
The aluminum frame for this one is just right and suits its purpose. It gives enough stability too for the rider.
It is not that heavy to provide difficulties for the rider, nor too light to be much hard to control.
The Shimano groupset can handle any rugged terrain and give this mountain bike the power it needs. With a 12-speed drivetrain, two speeds more than the earlier version, it can deal with a broader range of terrain.
And with those quick, easy shifts, one can deal with any terrain more easily. It can provide the needed agility for the rider without losing speed as he moves from one trail to another.
This one sports a hardtail suspension, making it faster on the climb and some trails. The suspension travel of 100mm is just enough to take on some bumps and grinds along the way.
It has durable, lightweight alloy rims, but instead of Bontrager, Trek X Caliber 8 also used Maxxis Ardent Race for much thicker tires. The need to be more efficient in handling terrains and trails necessitates the move towards Maxxis Ardent Tires tires.
You can bring many items anytime, anywhere, with mounts for the fender and pannier rack. Mountain backpacking may be easier on this bike than on others.
The Pros and Cons of Trek X Caliber 8
Some things make this mountain bike genuinely outstanding. Among these are:
Efficient in Singletrack
This bike is light, easy to maneuver, stable, has more shifts, and is relatively fast. All those things make Trek X Caliber 8 genuinely efficient and effective in conquering singletrack.
Can Take the Climbs and Handle the Descent
A mountain bike has to handle both. This Trek bike, however, can handle it better than most mountain bikes.
With excellent specs that provide enough power and speed and fantastic suspension, taking an uphill climb and speeding downhill should never be a problem for experts and beginners alike.
Quality Parts and Components
It has a Shimano groupset that provides power and Bontrager alloy components that offer comfort and stability. It also sports a RockShox air fork that provides the needed suspension with the proper suspension travel.
They all make for excellent road performance and give the rider the ultimate riding experience.
In itself, they would be enough. But even more, those parts are like musical instruments in an orchestra that produces beautiful melodies.
Overall, the “performance parts” make for a fast mountain bike that does not sacrifice speed.
Like everything else, this mountain bike has its downsides. Among these are:
Not for Highly Challenging Terrains
For those who want to take on steep, rugged trails, like those with lots of gravel or mud, Trek X Caliber 8 has some trouble handling it. Rolling resistance is not that excellent, and the wheels have trouble handling muddy terrain.
The tires are more suited for riding very fast off-road; they can handle less rugged terrains much easier.
The geometry is also not ideal for handling steep descent. Some adjustments may be necessary to take the proper position as one rides downhill, especially if the rider wants to ride fast.
However, the word “extreme” is relative in this context. Some riders can handle challenging terrains with ease, even with those issues.
The Brake Set
However, the use or quality of specific components is not relative.
Shimano MT200 is a decent brake set but might not be suitable for mountain bikers, especially when one is blazing fast downhill or engaging under challenging trails and singletracks.
The Ideal Riders For Trek X Caliber 8
Among those riders who may enjoy biking in Trek X Caliber 8 are:
The Moderate Ones
Those who are not into extreme trails and terrains, and instead going for the trails and paths posing minor difficulties, will enjoy having this bike.
The specs and features are more than enough to handle even some of the more extreme road conditions. But those issues we mentioned earlier might affect the rider’s comfort and overall riding experience.
Those who are adventurous enough to go far can enjoy this bike, but those who go for the simple trek and ride along the woods and some climb and descent will enjoy it even better.
And as a rule, entry-level riders do not take extreme trails and tracks immediately. They start with relatively easy ones that can give them a feel and taste of what is to come.
Having this bike would be perfect for those riders, especially those engaged in competitive group rides. With the excellent performance on a wide range of terrains, more agility it affords riders, and enough mobility and speed to take on certain tracks, entry-level riders will quickly learn the ropes.
If you are one of the riders mentioned above, you will undoubtedly enjoy this bike. It has the right components to deal with different, changing terrains and rugged trails.
Those are optimized for all-terrain riding, with the aluminum frame sturdy enough to give stability and the gears providing smooth shifts for changing terrain. The bikes make for an enjoyable ride, even at the hands of beginners and entry-level riders.
That is not to say that experts can not enjoy Trek X Caliber 8. With excellent features, road performance, and comfort, this one is worth having by anyone.
Those deeply engaged in mountain biking would not feel shortchanged having this bike.
At $1,700, we can say that it is a reasonable price for the specs Trek X Caliber 8 has. Some may want more for this price, but you must consider the Trek brand.
Trek bikes have an excellent reputation for excellence, the company being the winner of many international competitions. Many may think you can have a good quality for much less, but Trek X Caliber 8 is a Trek bike.