Words: S. Jones Images: Jones/Lorence/Riga
Shape and Purpose
Stiffer, tighter, lower are the thoughts on the new Trek Fuel in comparison to the Remedy 29 of last year the bike which it errr…kind of replaces. Ok its a 130mm bike, not quite the 140mm Remedy 29 in travel or ‘the other’ 29 Trek which…ahem...might be in the pipeline. Anyway, one spin and you realise the angles, weight and tightness means it’s very much a trail hammering speed machine, lightweight, incredibly well built and so beautifully constructed.
Featuring High and Low geometry settings given the choice we’d never go for the option that offers a not quite so good cornering dynamic. At 335mm the bottom bracket is a great setting in the low position, the 480mm reach and 67 head angle making it a perfect shape bike for a rider around six foot. You have to wonder that this is the largest size but relative to many other brands this bike isn’t far off for a six footer.
In terms of features, and this bike has many, Trek will particularly want the integrated bump stop or “knock block" mentioned along with most notably the 1x specific stays, carbon armor, ABP, EVO….. and damper which is …wait for it….. a “Fox Factory Float Evol, Re:aktiv 3 position damper, Kashima coat" …and of course tuned by Trek Suspension Lab. It’s a Trek/Fox collaboration on this bike as indeed most of the Fuel range whilst on the Remedy it’s a Rockshox/RE:aktiv set up for much of the range. If you visited the Remedy story you’ll know we are major fans of this technology.
An abundance of Bontrager, notably the impressive new Dropline 125mm seat post, Evoke saddle although a forgettable bar. Rubber side down its laced with 2.4 Bontrager XR3 team issue in 2.4 and the DT Swiss XMC1200 wheels are a great balance of flex and stiffness, and pretty damn rapid. Boost 148 by the way.
It’s a bike with fire in its belly this one, and it delivers in heaps in terms of quick drive through the crank, a superb poise in corners and a good balance on descents and faster steeper terrain. The bike has an excellent feel to it, arguably on the stiffer end of spectrum but it needs it, for it’s a bike of high tempo. The rear Re:aktiv damper feels slightly more of a dry weather damper than its early Remedy 29 predecessor which began the trend with Penske style damping. On this particular bike it’s certainly one that can get drive out of the terrain, and initial thoughts are that it’s quite different to the RE:aktiv damper on its stable mate the new 2017 Remedy, which feels more like the Re:aktiv of old. A pure grip unit.
As we thought the DT wheels are speed merchants, and whilst the 2.4 rubber gives a bit more cushioning we’d like to take them elsewhere to get a complete verdict. Great resistance in the Fox can allows for easy climbing aided by that new kid in the woods, the Sram Eagle. Crisp and silent, oh and twelve speed if you haven’t already heard.
Limitations. Shorter stem needed, but that’s getting personal.
With relatively high prices compared to direct sales there increasingly has to be performance advantage. The Trek offers an impressive carbon built quality and excellent chassis feedback and although this highest specification bike is pricey it's very precise.The finish and build quality on this and indeed all bikes is second to none. More than this though, they’ve build a genuinely quick and balanced trail bike here that’s bang up to date in angles and ride dynamic.
2017 Fuel EX - From £1550 - £6200
New to trail bikes? Check out our buyer's guide HERE