Which Bike Should I Buy? Trek Procaliber 9.7 SL or Superfly SS?

It’s been several years since I’ve bought a new bike, but this year I’m ready to pull the trigger.  I’ve been badgering Dan and Kate at Breakaway Cycling in Delaware for more details about their line-up and I have it narrowed down to two mountain bikes that I like for very different reasons.

  1. Trek Procaliber 9.7 SL (carbon frame, 1×11,  front suspension)
  2. Trek Superfly SS (aluminum, singlespeed, no suspension)

Each bike has plusses or minuses depending on what my main goals are for the season.

The Trek Procaliber 9.7, with it’s front suspension and 1×11 set-up, would be an upgraded version of my current race bike.  This would be great for trying to set a PR at the Mohican 100 and improving my standing in the OMBC or Tri-state 6-Hour Series.  I believe that this bike would be the perfect fit for the type of riding and racing I’m currently doing.  This bike is slick, light and fast.  It would be an improvement for me in every way.  Plus, I love the bright yellow paint job!

Trek Procaliber 9.7 SL

The Trek Procaliber 9.7 SL is a sweet race bike. This would be a huge upgrade from my current bike.

On the other hand, I love the simplicity of the Trek Superfly SS.  It’s basic and uncomplicated.  There are no extra parts to break and maintain.  No extra gears to adjust.  No suspension that has to be rebuilt from time-to-time.  When I switched from 2×10 to 1×10 and full-suspension to hard-tail I was completely happy with having less – less maintenance and more time to ride.  Why not go even simpler?  Let’s lose everything that is unnecessary from the bike.

Trek Superfly SS

Trek Superfly SS would challenge me and make me a better rider. I love the simplicity of this bike.

This would change my focus though, because now I would probably be racing singlespeed at most events.  I’ve never really thought of myself as a singlespeeder.  It wasn’t ever on my goals list.  But, maybe it should be.  After 8 years of racing, maybe I need a new twist to freshen things up?  For example, instead of focusing on my time at the Mohican 100, I could focus on finishing it with a singlespeed.  I can’t even imagine doing all of those hills with no gears to shift into.  I had to walk a bunch of the hills even with my gears.

In an ideal world, I would buy both bikes and do a little bit of both the old and the new.  But, as a stay-at-home dad, I need to stick to a budget, and thus, I’m forced to make a decision.  Two completely different bikes that I want for entirely different reasons.

Both bikes have downsides for me as well.  The Procaliber 9.7 is twice as expensive as the Superfly SS.  (It’s twice as awesome too!)  I definitely think it’s worth the price, but I am trying to stay on a budget.  The other thing that is a downside for me is the “Iso-Speed Decoupler” which is supposed to add some flex to the frame and soften the hard-tail experience.  I believe this is a good selling point, especially for those that are trying to justify giving up their full-suspension rigs.  However, I’m more interested in getting a true hard-tail with no moving parts in the frame.  (Back to that simplicity thing that I strive for.)

For the Superfly SS, the biggest downside is fear.  Will I miss having the front-suspension?  I’ve never spent that much time riding a fully-rigid bike in the woods.  Will it be too fatiguing to ride for 5 or 6 hours straight?  Until I actually try it, I will never know.  I’m taking a chance by going in this direction.  Will I like singlespeeding at all?  I have very limited experience doing it.  (Another potential downside…  I’m not 100% in love with the paint job. …but I do love the price.  …ahhh…  …trade-offs.)

I do think this bike will make me a better rider though and that’s one of the big reasons I want to try it.  Maybe I could ride singlespeed for a season or two, THEN get a Procaliber 9.7 next year and return to my regular racing as a stronger rider.

There are so many ways to think about it.

What would you do?  Which bike do you think is best for me at this point in my riding “career”?  Have you ever made a change like this?  Don’t be afraid to give me some advice.  And, don’t be afraid to like Quickdirt on Facebook.

  1. I suggest the procaliber. Switching to a fully rigid singlespeed would be a big adjustment. Totally possible but could be a fail. My fully rigid 29er is fun but having no suspension beats my neck and upper back. A few years ago I switched to a hardtail (I’m a full suspension guy) and it was fun but I wasn’t as fast on it for racing and couldn’t bomb the downhills as much so I went back to what worked for me. Either way its a win win because you are on a bike!

  2. Hi James, I bought a “cheap” single speed last year and upgraded most of the components. I did not find single speeding to be all that much fun. In fact, after racing a couple events on my single speed, I returned to my geared hard tail. For me, the single speed is just a novelty like a fat bike. It is something to mix in to keep things interesting, but not the primary ride. Happy trails, Christopher

  3. Not having ridden either… The Procaliber is prolly lighter, has slight rear end cush & front end suspension you know has helped in tough or tiring conditions. You like the training & racing of competition so why limit yourself? A fork & gears lets you rip & adjust to the slog. Either way you’ll have fun based on your spirit.