Long term: the 2016 DMR Trailstar review

The new-look 2016 DMR bikes Trailstar

Review: Jamie Edwards, photos by Jacob Gibbins
Learn more: http://www.dmrbikes.com



2016 DMR Trailstar features:

  • 27.5” specific and 27+ compatible (2.8” tyre clearance)
  • 140/150mm Fork geometry
  • Stealth dropper routing
  • Tapered Head Tube
  • Heat Treated 4130 Cro.mo Steel
  • ISCG05 Mounts
  • Available in S,M and L sizes
  • 2.8kgs
  • Comes in Stealth Black or Throwback Blue
  • £499 frame only

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When DMR Bikes announced they were revamping the legendary Trailstar they knew they were up for a challenge. A bike with that massive a fan base and pedigree … You don’t want to mess that one up now do you?!

We’ve had a stealth black DMR Trailstar here at Wideopen for most of 2016 and with plenty of miles and plenty of smiles in the tank it’s time to gather some thoughts.




Get with the times

First up, a bit of history. The Trailstar started life way back in 1996 as a dirt jumper come trails hacker. It gathered a massive following and was one of the original low, slack and tough hardtails at a time when most people were trying to up-rad their old, shonky XC frames… with mostly poor results.

Fast forward 20 years and the game has changed – there’s less of a flavour for dirt jumps and the DMR fans are more likely to be hacking singletrack, racing enduro or bashing down DH tracks than sending dirt jumps.

The bike we once thought was low and slack is now a bit out of date and the new Trailstar sees a remodel to fit better with today’s riders and the terrain they’re riding. Along with it, we see DMR move with the times to be much more about big climbs and big descents than lips and landings.

The new DMR Trailstar obviously looks different – it has a pretty unique bend in the top tube that gets a lot of attention. More importantly, it’s got bigger wheels, it’s slacker and it’s longer. A very modern take on the old classic.

Not the Trailstar we’ve grown up with. Longer, lower, slacker.

Modern numbers

The DMR Trailstar is available as a frame only – though you can, of course, get your local bike shop to build you a custom bike.  Our test bike is kitted out very nicely with kit from XFusion, DMR, VeeTireCo and TRP from DMR distributor Upgrade’s list of in-house brands.

Trailstars are available frame-only for £499 online or through your local bike shop.

Aside from the aesthetic twists, the Trailstar has some modern numbers. The head angle clocks in at somewhere around 66d with a 160mm Xfusion Metric fork. The wheel base and cockpit length on the Trailstar are interesting. The DMR isn’t huge (719mm front centre on the medium) but feels “just right” for hacking around the woods and leans more towards being playful than canal-boat-long and tough to chuck about. That fits the sort of riding I’d take the Trailstar for – tight and twisty woods, flowing single track and fun stuff. For big, tough, gnarly terrain I’d take the full suss. If I only had the DMR, I’d cope just fine. As always, have a sit on a bike if you can before you buy to check sizing.


From Cwm Carn to the Chippy

In the lengthy time she’s been with us, I’ve taken the Trailstar down pretty much every type of terrain I can find. I’ve ridden it at trail centers (Forest of Dean, Cwm Carn, Afan, Brechfa), I’ve lapped South Wales’ finest rooty secret trails and I’ve taken it on some big, cold, wet and wild XC rides round Exmoor – some of my favourite riding in the UK.  Oh, and a few trips to the pump track, dirt jumps or just down the chippy.

It’s definitely one of those bikes that earns itself a place throughout your life and you’ll find yourself grabbing way more often than you initially thought you might.


Big days and unknown trails

The Trailstar certainly isn’t light but on those big days out in muddy, draggy conditions I had absolutely no trouble at all.

The 2.8kgs 4130 chromo frame won’t win at Weight Watchers but who cares, it’s not meant to be a feather weight. It’ll climb fine (even with a 160mm fork it felt good on the ups), offers tonnes of fun when you hit the descents and still won’t be any more hassle than your carbon full suss. It’ll certainly cost you less in bearings and trips to your local bike shop.

I’ve deliberately picked the DMR for a few big days out on unknown trails. It’s a bike that you can jump on and know that it’ll have your back whatever you come across in the UK. Sure, Bike Parks and downhill tracks will warrant the long travel bike … but for those adventures out into the hills, it’s a great bike to be on board.

Since we’ve had the Trailstar we’ve run the bike in standard 27.5″ mode and 27+ – using VeeTireCo 2.8″ rubber. The conversion was as easy as dropping the wheels in the frame and the bike instantly transformed into a totally different beast. You’ll know for yourself if you’re a plus sizer or not … either way it’s good to know that the bike offers you options. I’m not completely sold yet but it was a fun experience trying it out.


Up front

I’ll mention the XFusion Metric fork quickly also. It never skipped a beat the whole time. It felt plush, pushed my confidence when riding steeper, more technical trails and was genuinely a joy to ride. The DMR will take a 1600mm fork up front and my advice would be to do it justice with a decent fork – the Metric did that job very nicely.


Any problems?

Have we had any problems with the Trailstar? The bendy top tube attracts plenty of upturned noses from other riders. You’ll get over that or you won’t. It’s built like that to help keep the frame low and slack whilst running 27.5″ wheels according to DMR. We did manage to dent the top tube in a crash and that sucked but isn’t the bike’s fault.

Otherwise, nope, no problems at all.

Final thoughts.

The Trailstar is a blast to ride, it isn’t crazy expensive, it offers loads of options with wheel size and it’ll chew up everything from all-day slogs to BMX and pumptracks to sessions hacking up your local woods. If that sounds like your thing, you’ll love it.

You can read more about the DMR Trailstar on DMR’s website.