The SRAM Guide Ultimate brakes had plenty of adjustment and
stopping power. Bontrager included a set of its new Line Pro 30
carbon wheels that were lightweight, sturdy and durable.
HOW DOES IT PERFORM?
Moving out: Our test bike came with a set of 750-millimeter
carbon Bontrager bars that gave our test riders a comfortable
position. More aggressive riders may want to opt for something
slightly wider. We dropped the stack height almost all the way
down for a lower position and dialed in the saddle tilt. Once we
had these minor tweaks done, the Fuel rewarded us with a somewhat neutral feel that wasn’t too low and stretched out nor too
upright and rear-wheel biased.
Setting the Mino Link: The Mino Link allows riders to adjust
the geometry, varying the bottom bracket height and the head
angle. Our test bike was delivered in the high setting, putting the
head angle at 67. 7 degrees. We did our first bit of testing with it
in the high position, but once we flipped the chips into the low
setting, our test riders never looked back. The low position put
the front end at 67 degrees and inspired more confidence at high
speeds and in steep descents.
Suspension setup: Trek offers detailed instructions on its
website on how to set up the Fuel. We followed the tips and
started at 28-percent sag in the shock. This felt comfortable,
but after a few rides we increased the air pressure and settled
on around 25-percent sag for the duration of our testing. In the
fork, we ran 20 percent with two volume reducers for a very
Climbing: There are plenty of trailbikes out there that claim
to be good climbers, but the Fuel EX proved that it is way ahead
of the pack in this department. The extra oil volume in the shock
provided more pedaling support than the previous RE:aktiv shock
and didn’t require our test riders to use the third position on the
shock. Out of the saddle the Straight Shot downtube was stiff
and responsive, with the rear triangle holding its own. The bike
is lightweight, the frame is stiff and the suspension is supportive.
Because of those attributes, this bike handles long grinder climbs
as well as it does short and technical climbs
Descending: There is very little the Fuel EX can’t do with a talented descender at the controls. It will also make a beginner more
confident, thanks to the dialed suspension and very natural and
BIKE TEST / TREK FUEL EX 9. 9
So smooth: Fox’s EVOL air spring has been a game changer
when it comes to small bump compliance for some of our test
riders and helped give the Fuel EX a balanced feel on the trail.
For the long climbs: Out
of the saddle the Fuel EX
was stiff and responsive
with plenty of acceleration.