- The Trek X-Caliber 7 is optimized for fast cross country riding and long days on the trail.
- This bike is great value with hydraulic disc brakes,
- This lightweight hardtail feels nimble, fast, and fun on flowy trails.
- The durable alloy frame is light and stiff for responsive handling.
- The X-Caliber 7 is the perfect entry point for someone wanting to get into serious XC riding.
There’s a lot to consider when shopping for a hardtail. In this Trek X-Caliber 7 review, I dig into the details to help you choose if this is the bike for you.
The Trek X-Caliber 7 is a fantastic entry-level bike for someone wanting to get into racing or long cross country singletrack rides. For only $1,099, this bike gives you a full range of modern features including an advanced aluminum frame, hydraulic disc brakes, and a wide-range 1x10 drivetrain.
While I’m no racer, I love going fast and far on capable cross-country bikes. I’ve ridden most of the best entry-level XC bikes, and for this review I dug into the specs and performance of the Trek X-Caliber 7 to see how it measures up to some of my favorite hardtail speed machines.
Trek X-Caliber 7 Performance
This is definitely a cross country machine that emphasizes speed and light weight over aggressive downhill riding. The X-Caliber 7 feels awesomely light and nimble and is easy to steer around obstacles.
With a lower-than average reach and a steep 69.5-degree head tube angle, this bike is definitely designed more for efficiency than charging down technical descents. This bike feels fun and fast on moderate flowy singletrack, but as trails get steeper, the forward riding position will start to be pretty sketchy.
The 100mm Solo air spring fork works great for smoothing out trail vibration, but it definitely isn’t enough for really rocky, rough hills. If you want a hardore hardtail for ripping down technical descents, this is definitely not the bike for you.
The X-Caliber 7 really excels while climbing. The stiff aluminum frame does a great job of sending all your power straight to the rear wheel. At 29.5 lbs, this bike definitely won’t feel like it’s weighing you down.
If you like crushing up long climbs, you’ll feel right at home on the X-Caliber 7.
The main shortcoming of this build is in the drivetrain gear range. The 10-speed Shimano drivetrain is a common one on bikes in this price range, but the rear derailleur is limited to a11-46 cassette. This is a descent range, but it may leave you wanting a lower gear on really steep climbs.
Trek X-Caliber 7 Frame and Geometry
The X-Caliber 7 is built around a lightweight and durable alloy frame. Trek is at the top of the game when it comes to aluminum frame manufacturing, and it really shows in this bike. This frame feels exceptionally light and responsive on the trail.
The frame has decent tire clearance for cross country tires, though you won’t be able to fit big 2.6” knobby tires on here.
The tapered head tube and internal dropper post routing make this frame future-proofed and upgrade-ready.
Specs and Components
For just $1,099, the Trek X-Caliber 7 comes with a solid and capable build kit. There are a few compromises that Trek made to hit the price point. Here is a breakdown of the key components and what to expect in terms of performance.
The Trek X-Caliber 7 comes with a Shimano Deore 10-speed drivetrain. This drivetrain is used on a lot of bikes around this price range, and it offers very reliable shifting performance with a sturdy rear derailleur that will hold up to abuse.
The downside with this drivetrain is that it has a limited 11-46 cassette size. Top end drivetrains typically have 11-51 or even 10-51 cassette range. With a 46-tooth big gear, you have a limit to low-end gears for climbing.
If you get this bike, the drivetrain may be the first thing you want to upgrade.
The X-Caliber 7 is fitted with the RockShox Judy SL Solo Air Spring Fork. This fork only has 100mm of travel, so it won’t soak up big hits, but it is smooth and responsive and works great for smoothing out the smaller vibrations of cross country trails and keeping your front tire in contact with the ground.
This fork is great for fast cross country riding, but will bottom out on rockier trails.
The Shimano MT200 hydraulic disc brakes included on the Trek X-Caliber 7 aren’t the most high-performance brakes available, but they are great for this price point.
With a 180mm front rotor and 160mm rear rotor, you’ll get plenty of braking power for cross country riding.
The X-Caliber 7 is fitted with Bontrager Kovee double-wall aluminum wheels with Formula hubs. These rims are tubeless-ready out of the box, which is great so you can upgrade to tubeless easily without needing to buy new wheels.
The rims are fairly lightweight for aluminum, and they’re durable and will last you a long time.
The Bontrager XR2 Comp MTB Tires that come on the X-Caliber 7 are heavily focused toward speed and low rolling resistance. They have very low-profile knobs and don’t have great cornering traction.
For cruising on easy singletrack, these tires are fast and won’t slow you down. If you ride on loose trails, you’ll probably find yourself wanting more grip.
Competition for the Trek X-Caliber 7
The market for mountain bikes around the $1,000 price range has tons of options to choose from. The X-Caliber 7 measures up pretty well with the competition and offers great value for what you pay. If you are looking for the lightest, raciest cross country hardtail in this pricepoint, the X-Caliber is a great choice.
Here are a few of the top competitors for the X-Caliber 7 and how they compare.
Trek X-Caliber 7 vs Cannondale Trail SE 4
The Cannondale Trail SE 4 is a direct competitor with the X-Caliber 7. At $1,175, it’s a tad more expensive, but it’s easy to find on sales.
The Trail SE 4 has a pretty similar design to the X-Caliber. They have the exact same Shimano 10-speed drivetrain, and a fork that has 20mm more suspension, but is coil sprung.
If you’re looking for a more capable all-around bike, the Trail SE 4 is probably a better choice. It has more aggressive geometry with a 66.5-degree head tube angle, and the frame has more advanced modern features like flex zones in the rear triangle to mute trail buzz. The Trail SE 4 also has thru-axles, which are a better design and more compatible with modern wheels if you want to upgrade.
The X-Caliber is almost two-pounds lighter, and is better for a race-focused cross country rider.
Trek X-Caliber 7 vs Specialized Rockhopper 29 Expert
The Specialized Rockhopper 29 Expert is one of the most popular entry-level hardtails on the market. It has the same Judy air fork as the X-Caliber, and there really isn’t much difference between the frames: they both have quick-release axles, .
The Sram SX Eagle 12-speed drivetrain on the Rockhopper offers better gear range than the 10-speed on the X-Caliber, though it may be a bit more difficult to get dialed in just right.
There really isn’t much differentiating these bikes other than the drivetrain. Your choice will probably depend on what is available at the bike shop and what color you like more.
Trek X-Caliber 7 vs Canyon Grand Canyon 5
The Grand Canyon 5 is a fantastic aluminum hardtail that comes at a shocking price because of Canyon Bicycle’s direct-to-consumer business model. At $899 plus $100 shipping, it’s still $100 less than buying the X-Caliber at a bike shop.
The Grand Canyon 5 has a lot going for it. It has more aggressive geometry, longer fork travel, and a significantly better Shimano 12-speed drivetrain.
If you are really focused on weight and pure speed, the X-Caliber makes sense, but for a more fun all-around bike at a lower price, it’s hard to argue against the Grand Canyon 5.
Where to Buy the Trek X-Caliber 7
For 2022-2023, Trek has phased out the X-Caliber 7 to leave room for other models, so you can’t purchase it directly from Trek. It may still be in stock at your local bike shop.
The bike that’s replacing the X-Caliber 7 in Trek’s entry-level cross country hardtail lineup is the Trek Marlin 7 Gen 2. It is almost identical to the X-Caliber in terms of frame, geometry, and components. Here are a few places you can shop for the Marlin 7:
About THE AUTHOR
I love mountain biking and live in Salt Lake City: a central hub for the MTB community. I started biking four years ago when a series of injuries put me out of commission for trail running. While biking started as cross-training, I fell in love with the sport. I mainly enjoy using my bike as a tool for exploration, I've done 50-mile all-day epic rides in the mountains and have been to some amazing places on my bike.Read More About Jakob Thygerson