Just last year Trek injected a serious dose of testosterone into the Trek Fuel EX, treating it to more travel and making it longer and slacker. Their aim was to lend it more potency on the downs, but did they end up overlooking its versatility? Can it still climb as impressively as its forerunner?
Whenever a new bike is launched – regardless of the brand behind it – you’re always likely to hear someone muttering, “Looks like a Trek.” And if there’s any design cue that the American brand have been channeling for years, then it’s a clean, stripped-back image with a rear shock set parallel to the seat tube. The Fuel EX has borrowed the same design cues, and it now features Trek’s Straight Shot downtube that’s reputed to add more stiffness to the bike. Retailing at € 7,999, the build spec of the top-of-the-line Fuel EX basically reflects an express delivery from the bike fairy with a SRAM X01 Eagle drivetrain, DT Swiss XMC 1200 carbon wheels, and FOX Factory suspension. The Bontrager parts that top off the spec list all give a convincing performance, but there was a general chorus that the dropper post was too limiting, and it should have been a model with at least 150 mm of travel.
Just a few revolutions of the pedals will see the Fuel EX gain serious speed, with its lightweight wheels acting as a bit of a turbo boost. For the rear shock, the Fuel EX relies on the RE:aktiv platform suspension technology that Trek created alongside Penske Racing Shocks and FOX, which is designed to react to whatever the terrain throws at it – and it works. The test riders spent most of the testing period pedaling efficiently in trail mode, and the Fuel was still able to ascend with tons of traction. It descends like a pro, with plenty of feedback and the appetite to chunder over burly trails with aplomb despite only having 130 mm of travel. Now that the bike has been optimized for descents with a longer and slacker layout, the Fuel EX dishes out confidence on a plate, and still proves easy and responsive to handle. There’s geometry adjustment available via Trek’s Mino Link flipchip on the seatstays, but we never found ourselves reaching for it, as the slacker setting was more than suited in every riding situation.
Trek Fuel EX 9.9 29 in Detail
Fork: FOX 34 Float Factory
Shock: FOX Float Factory Re:aktiv
Brakes: SRAM Guide Ultimate
Drivetrain: SRAM X01 Eagle
Seatpost: Bontrager Drop Line 125 mm
Stem: Bontrager Drop Line
Handlebar: Bontrager Line Pro OCLV Carbon 750
Tires: Bontrager XR3 Team Issue
Wheels: DT Swiss XMC 1200 Carbon 29″
A veritable rocket, the Trek Fuel EX 9.9 29 takes on the ups and downs with headiness! Superior in terms of efficiency, it handles like a true hero and delivers a superb suspension performance. For anyone looking for an unassailable all-round trail missile that’s equally as capable of long rides as well as quick post-work blasts without any compromises when it comes to its beastly downhill nature, then the Trek Fuel EX is where your search ends. A well-deserved test win!
- Comfortable Climber
- Unstoppable on descents!
- Hottest-looking bike around
- Missing a 150 mm dropper post
For more information head to trekbikes.com!
For an overview of the test fleet head to the main article: A Bike for All Situations – 9 of the most exciting trail bikes of 2017
All bikes in test: FOCUS JAM C Factory | Giant Trance Advanced 0 | Lapierre Zesty AM 927 Ultimate | ROSE ROOT MILLER 3 | SCOTT Spark Plus 700 Tuned | Specialized Stumpjumper Expert Carbon 29 | Yeti SB5 TURQ X01 Eagle | YT JEFFSY 29 CF Pro
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