From February 23rd, issue #015 of ENDURO Mountainbike Magazine will be available for you to download. Along with our big brakes group test and exciting travel stories we will also be presenting our XC bikes group test. We we made a special trip to the USA in order to test the bikes under sunny California skies. Here’s a look at one of the bikes in the group test – the Trek Fuel EX 9.8.

The volt green and black paint of the Trek Fuel EX 9.8 calls attention to its slick carbon frame. The cables are neatly integrated and the familiar Full Floater suspension looks clean and classy as usual. It has been left stock and it isn’t a special “heavy duty” version like some others in this test although it seems appropriate enough for the task at hand. 120mm of travel and 27.5″ wheels is normal in this test but we are comparing it with some 29ers and bikes of lesser travel so the result should be interesting!

IMG_2532-Trek Fuel EX Enduro Mountainbike Magazine

The 68 degree head angle was typical on an all-mountain bike only a few years ago. Combined with the 120mm Fox 32 Float fork with a 15mm QR axle, the bike should have a good balance of agility and confidence.

One of the only bikes in the test with a front derailleur.
One of the only bikes in the test with a front derailleur.

Trek has opted to maintain the 2 chainring Shimano XT drivetrain typical of XC bikes. Hopefully with the low, asymmetrical chainstay and clutch-equipped derailleur it won’t make too much noise. It is 10 speed, so those interested in a 1by drivetrain will need a range extending adaptor and chainring.

Well integrated technology in the rear end of the Fuel EX.
Well integrated technology in the rear end of the Fuel EX.

Packed into the seemingly simple frame is a multitude of well thought out technology. The Fox Float DRCV shock floats between two active links for a more sensitive ride. The F1 racing developed, RE:aktiv shock tuning impressed us on the Trek Remedy we tested last year and is seen here too. We have a feeling the CTD lever might not get much use with the efficient linkage and DRCV valve, which is always nice.

The contrast between the matte green and gloss black is eye-catching and classy.
The contrast between the matte green and gloss black is eye-catching and classy.

The Fuel EX is fitted with tires and rims expected in a class above in terms of intended use. The Bontrager XR3s should be fast rolling and have the width and air volume to take a beating too! Up front, the 80mm stem is matched to a 720mm wide carbon handlebar which is a bit on the XC side of the bikes we tested.

A 2" Bontrager XR3 on the rear for speedy riding.
A 2″ Bontrager XR3 on the rear for speedy riding.
The front tire is 2.35" for more cornering traction.
The front tire is 2.35″ for more cornering traction.
Reliable Shimano XT brakes match the drivetrain.
Reliable Shimano XT brakes match the drivetrain.

The Trek Fuel EX doesn’t stand out in one particular way, especially with the parts and familiar design. However, the understated technology and careful evolution Trek is known for may just produce a winning bike here. Check out issue #015 next week to find out!

Check out all the specs on Trek’s website

IMG_2537-Trek Fuel EX Enduro Mountainbike Magazine

About the test

Our request to the manufacturers was simple: send us a fast, light and potent XC bike for maximum fun on the fast, flowing southern California trails.

We let the manufacturers decide for themselves which exact models, wheel sizes and suspension-travel range this actually meant. The only fixed criteria was the price limit of
€ 5.500.

The test field: BMC Four Stroke FS02 | Cannondale Scalpel Carbon 2 | Felt Edict 1 | Giant Anthem Advanced SX 27.5 | Ibis Ripley | Marin Rift Zone 8 | Trek Fuel EX 9.8 27.5 | Yeti ASRc

The bike makers were also allowed to improve the downhill performance of their bikes by making small spec changes, just like bike shops often do. This includes changes to the cockpit, tyres and retrofitting a dropper seatpost.

The test team, made up of ENDURO editors Robin Schmitt, Joe Parkin and several other experienced test riders carefully examined the bikes over multiple days. The team established the strengths and weaknesses of each model, and discussed in depth the verdict of every bike.

Neben anspruchsvollen Uphills bot der Testtrack auch knackige Abfahrten und eine traumhafte Kulisse
Along with demanding trails the test track rewarded with breathtaking views
Unterstützt wurde das Testteam von Bike-Legende und California Local Duncan Riffle
The test team were supported by bike legend and Santa Barbara local Duncan Riffle
Bis zum Sonnenuntergang wurde getestet, analysiert und diskutiert
The team tested, analysed and discussed until sunset

Words: Tyler Malcomson Photos: Robin Schmitt

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