The legend lives to see another season as Trek bring out an all-new Top Fuel for 2016! Can this revamped bike still keep its grasp on its diehard fans, or are they going to be asking for a rewind? If we’re talking looks, then the Trek Top Fuel 9.8 SL a definite keeper! But what about on the trails?

Trek Top Fuel 9.8 SL Review Bike Shot
Trek Top Fuel 9.8 SL | € 4,999 | 11.14 kg | Travel (front/rear) 100/100 mm
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Unlike its predecessor, the Top Fuel now slots seamlessly into Trek’s line-up, both visually and in terms of the rear suspension design. The updated Top Fuel now features the Full Floater shock mounting, which sees the shock go unconnected to the seat post or downtube. The rear pivot point rotates concentric to the rear wheel axle, helping to isolate braking forces so the suspension keeps working as you brake. The stock RockShox suspension, made up of an SID fork and a Monarch rear shock, gives 100 mm of travel each, and can be stiffened up using the Full Sprint remote lever. It won’t see much action off-road, but for asphalt sections between trails this feature will be really useful. However, seeing as the suspension is so efficient even without additional damping, we’d prefer to swap the remote lever in favour of a dropper post. There was virtually no suspension bob, and the Trek gave such a snappy ride we could do little but pedal hard and grin.

Trek Top Fuel 9.8 SL Review Action Shot 1

For our test, Trek upgraded the stem to a shorter 60 mm model, which lends a more comfortable riding position for climbs and more composure when the bike is pointed downhill. The Top Fuel knows how to use its suspension, cleanly filtering away all sizes of hits and taking consecutive ones in its stride. But should you reach some large, unavoidable gnar, then you’ll be reminded of how little travel you’ve got. Not all doom though, as those big wheels dish up great stability on technical trails. The bars, measuring just 700 mm across, are on the narrow side, leading to a lack of control.

Trek Top Fuel 9.8 SL Review Action Shot 2

The spec meets all the standards, as Trek kitted it out with a SRAM X01 groupset, Shimano XT brakes, and DT Swiss wheels. The indefinite bite point of the brakes was a constant pain in the ass, but the low-profile Bontrager tyres offer great traction and a predictable threshold between grip and slide.

Trek Top Fuel 9.8 SL Review Action Shot 3

Details of the Trek Top Fuel 9.8 SL

Trek Top Fuel 9.8 SL Review Detail Shot 1
Turbo Boost: Essentially a nitro button in a tuned racecar, the remote lever simultaneously locks out the fork and rear shock. Press it and get ready to sprint – brutally quick!
Trek Top Fuel 9.8 SL Review Detail Shot 2
Extra stiffness: The Trek Top Fuel features the new Boost 148 mm rear hub standard, which should lend more stiffness to the wheels. This didn’t go unnoticed during our tests!
Trek Top Fuel 9.8 SL Review Detail Shot 3
Stylish: The high-quality carbon frame boasts a stunning finish and stylish frame profile. Could it be the embodiment of our dream bike?
Trek Top Fuel 9.8 SL Review Detail Shot 4
Solid: The RockShox SID at the front is responsive and predictable, soaking up small and mid-size hits well, but Big Bertha hits will see it struggle – a brutal reminder that 100 mm of travel is only 100 mm..

Specification of the Trek Top Fuel 9.8 SL

  • Fork: RockShox SID XX 100 mm
  • Shock: RockShox Monarch XX
  • Drivetrain: SRAM X1
  • Brakes: Shimano XT
  • Seatpost: Bontrager Rhythm Elite
  • Stem: Bontrager Race X Lite
  • Handlebar: Bontrager Race X Lite
  • Tyres: Bontrager XR1 Team Issue 2,2″
  • Wheelsize: 29″
  • Wheels: DT Swiss X1700
  • Weight: 11.14 kg
  • Price: € 4,999
Geometry of the Trek Top Fuel 9.8 SL
Geometry of the Trek Top Fuel 9.8 SL


Trek have kept on track and created a seriously efficient bike for 2016. Not only does it shoot off like a rocket, but it’s also going turn some heads on the trails. It’ll need wider handlebars if you want to really bruise it down the descents.


  • Super-comfy
  • Quick and efficient
  • Stylish


  • Bars too narrow
  • Head angle too steep

More information can be found on the Trek Website.


About the XC Bike Group Test 2016

Just outside the sprawl of Barcelona, we took out the test fleet onto the varied trails, confronting them with everything from frighteningly steep climbs to challenging descents. All of this occurred with the backdrop and climate of the Mediterranean Sea – and despite it being February, the conditions couldn’t have been better. The test team consisted of four riders, each with their own nuances when it comes to mountain biking, but all with years of experience when it comes to testing bikes.

For an overview of the test fleet head to the main article: XC Bikes Group Test 2016

All bikes in test: Canyon Lux CF 9.9 Race | Giant Anthem SX Advanced | Pivot Mach 4 Carbon | ROSE THRILL HILL 3 27,5″ 2016 | ROTWILD R.R2 FS 29 Evo | SCOTT Spark 710 | Specialized Epic Elite Carbon 29 World Cup | Trek Top Fuel 9.8 SL

Words: Christoph Bayer Photos: Christoph Bayer / Klaus Kneist

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