Review: Trek Fuel EX9

Nick's Trek Fuel EX9

One of the brightonmtb crew has been nagging me for months to write a review of my Trek Fuel. When that person is obviously incredibly technically-minded, whereas I can only change my pads and mend a puncture but little else, that is quite a daunting task. However, a promise is a promise so I will do my best.

The Trek is my first full suss, after happily riding a Rockhopper for 3 years. I loved the Rockhopper (and still do), as it was my first ‘proper’ mountain bike and introduced me to the joys of off road riding. I explored miles and miles of bridleway on and off the South Downs Way on the Rockhopper every weekend as soon as the sun rose on a Saturday morning. However, it wasn’t till I went to the Brecon Beacons and rode up and down the Gap that I realised that hardtails and slabs of granite are not the best combination!

I started the inevitable months of research for a full suss so I could revisit South Wales, and narrowed my choices down to a Scott Scale, Stumpjumper, Giant Trance or the Fuel. On the way to Whiteways is Southdowns Bikes in Storrington, owned by the very helpful and friendly Martin. At the time they stocked 3 of my options so I was able to test all three easily and cost effectively. While I was drawn to the Stumpie, the Fuel just felt right as soon as I started to ride it and the white and black finish of EX9 08 version looked brilliant.

So how have the first 18 months been? It took a while to get used to the Fuel and I tended to alternate between the two bikes each weekend. However, a trip to Cwn Carn really showed the benefits of the Fuel. While it is not the lightest bike(at 28 plus lbs), it stills climbs well but it was the bike’s descending capabilities that really made the difference giving me far more confidence as it soaked up nearly everything thrown at it. This is where I believe the ABP system, which places the pivot on the rear axle to remove brake influence on suspension movement plus the Full Floater, where the rear shock is placed on the extended chainstays, moving down as the rocker compresses the unit from the top, really come into their own smoothing out the trails.

The bike is well specced with 130mm travel up front (Fox Talas) and 120mm at the rear (Fox Float RP2), Juicy 7 brakes and a Shimano Deore/Sram combi drivetrain. I have made very few changes to the bike, apart from replacing the uncomfortable Bontrager saddle a with a Fizik Gobi (a popular saddle amongst the brightonmtb group). Despite the tubeless ready Bontrager Race Lite wheels I have still not converted to tubeless preferring to replace the Bontrager tyres with Panaracers (Trailrakers, Cinders and Razers depending on the conditions) as I have found these to be the best for puncture resistannce.

So would I recommend the Trek Fuel?

I love it and I would highly recommend that any first time buyer of a full suss who wants to build their confidence, tackle more challenging terrain but still enjoy a mixture of xc plus singletrack riding should really consider this an option.

As What Mountain Bike said in a recent review ‘What really elevates it above some strong competition is its ability to flatter pretty much everyone’s riding style’. It certainly flatters mine.

 

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