To take a break from the long work days running around on foot at the Sea Otter Classic, I signed up to ride the MTB Gran Fondo at the event. Having never been to Sea Otter, I took a leap of faith and assumed I could “demo” a bike from any number of manufacturers for the recreational 20-miler. It was a bit of a gamble because there was a chance I would end up without a bike. But the other risk was getting a bike in my size.
Trek was thoughtful when designing its women’s specific 26-inch-wheel Lush Carbon, and knowing that the company had just introduced the Lush 29er, I bee-lined for that booth to check out a rare item on today’s market: a women’s dual-suspension 29er.
And I was in luck; the Trek team set me up with the higher-model Lush 29 SL with the Fox Evolution Series DRCV fork and shock (120mm front/110mm rear); Shimano SLX front derailleur, shifters, and brakes; Shimano Deore XT rear derailleur; and Bontrager Duster Tubeless Ready rims. (The less expensive Lush 29, for $2,420, does not have these upgrades.)
Although Trek produced a 26-inch-wheel Lush in carbon, the company’s top-end 29er for women is made of Trek’s Alpha Platinum aluminum alloy and features a tapered head tube and press-fit bottom bracket. Trek’s ABP (Active Braking Pivot) Convert 142x12 rear dropout design can accept 135x5mm should you need to change out wheels.
Internal front derailleur cable routing lets the sleek, curvy lines of the little frame shine. There is also routing for a dropper post (but that’s a separate purchase, unfortunately).
Trek did not simply base the 29er off of its Lush 26-inch model, but dialed in the geometry by building the new rig ground-up to ensure better handling with the larger wheels. On the trail, the Lush 29er was stable on climbs and had a neutral (read: good) feel at speed. Sometimes the larger wheels on a small frame can create a sleepy feel up front, but the Trek handled the twisty singletrack of the Sea Otter gran fondo, which overlapped the cross-country course. The stand-over height on the Lush 29er provided more than enough clearance and lended to increased maneuverability.
Trek Lush 29er SL
Weight: 28.4 lbs (appx)
The bikes come in four sizes: 14 inch, 15.5 inch, 17 inch and 18.5.