I have written about old Treks before, but I didn’t go into any depth on their early full suspension bikes – apart from the 9000 that I used to own that is. The Y-bike was their second attempt at a suspension bike, and it made a splash due to it’s futuristic design. But, much like their first attempt, it was not particularly good.
Replacing the 9000 series with something better should have been an easy task. “How do we improve on the completely uncontrolled travel, and horrific chain growth on this bike?” Well… let’s put a proper shock on it, and we’ll go with a URT frame.
No wait! Not that second thing! Dammit…
In a URT, or Unified Rear Triangle design, the frame is essentially split in half. The bottom bracket is part of the rear end, which means the chain is unaffected by the action of the suspension. No chain growth when it’s compressed – you should get the same pedaling performance as you would on a hardtail.
When you are sitting down that is.
When standing on a URT bike, the rider is working against the suspension. So that super plush and long travel barely exists when you might need it most, like rolling down a super steep hill. Other bikes of this type – the Klein Mantra specifically – also would “stinkbug” when you stood on it. The suspension would tighten up so much that it traveled negatively, shortening the wheelbase and steepening the effective headtube angle.
I don’t think the Trek was known for the stinkbug effect, at least no where near as much as the Klein was. And that was probably because it’s pivot point was down low on the frame, whereas the Klein’s was level with the fork crown, but it was certainly known for not working when you stood on it.
Trek just milked the nuts out of this concept too. They made XC versions, freeride versions, carbon versions, and even a DH variant, which is one of the ugliest bikes ever made.
I would think that Trek made plenty of money on this bike, given that you can’t tell a ’95 from a ’00. Sure they did some R&D to develop different front ends, but the rear triangle looks the same through all five years. People bought it though, so why wouldn’t you do this?
The reason I was inspired to write up these bikes is a post in the Vintage group I subscribe to on Facebook. A guy had bought a ’97 Y Five-0 (pictured above) with the intent of stripping the parts off of it. The Five-0 was the top of range XC racing version with a full set of XTR M950 parts, which are highly sought after amongst us retro guys. However, this poster found that the bike was in really nice shape and he couldn’t break it up.
I wouldn’t have hesitated, because it’s just a Trek. And even beyond my personal feelings about Trek, it’s just a bike. There are special bikes, like the Cannondale Omega, or the Bridgestone MB-0, that came from the factory with very special component groups. You’d be an idiot to break up and sell either of these bikes if you found one with the original parts.
But there’s also tons of bikes that were just a complete Shimano group hung on a frame. The Y-Five-0 is one of those bikes. The only things on it that are unusual are the Ibis Ti stem and bar. There’s way more work involved, but I’d bet you could make more money selling this Trek part by part then you could selling it complete.
Strip the parts and crush the frame cuz it’s EVIL.