Trek releases Plus sized version of Fuel EX trail bike with metric shock

... and a boost in travel

TREK has expanded its FUEL EX range with a line of Plus bikes that sport new frames and the first METRIC SHOCK we’ve seen on a production bike.

Photos: Matt Delorme

The first thing you’ll notice is the new frame shape. Most strikingly, the curved downtube of the Fuel Ex has been straightened and the toptube has a slight hunchback, which Trek claims adds stiffness without extra weight, but it did cause a design problem.

The wider fork of the bike was hitting the downtube if the bars were turned too far. As a compromise, Trek has introduced Knock Block that combines spacers, a keyed headset top cover and a chip in the steerer tube to stop you turning the bars past a certain point. This protects the downtube in the event of a crash and even if it fails there’s a protective bumper to prevent too much damage.

The Fuel EX Plus frame will also get a boost of travel up to 130mm to be complemented by a 140mm fork (up from 120/120), to produce a bike that seems more focussed on fun than its skinny-wheeled, mile-munching predecessor. We were interested by the metric shock that has been fitted as we think it’s the first we’ve seen on a production bike. The shock is slightly longer than the one used on the current Fuel models at 210 x 52.5, whether it performs better is something we’ll be keen to find out as soon as possible.

On top of this the frame gets some geometry adjustments including, you guessed it, lower and slacker. But this isn’t just a token effort for a press release, the head angle of the Fuel EX Plus is a devilish 66.6°, compare that to 68.8° for the Fuel EX 29 and you can see this is a significant redesign.

Trek Fuel EX 9.8 27.5 Plus Geometry in Low Setting

Size Actual Frame Size Bottom bracket drop Bottom bracket height Chainstay length Effective seat tube angle Effective top tube Frame reach Frame stack Head angle Head tube length Offset Seat tube Seat tube angle Standover Trail Wheelbase
15.5 15.5in 3.85 32.9 43.2 73.6 56.6 39.1 61.3 66.6 10 5.1 39.4 65.1 76 10.6 112.2
17.5 16.5in 3.85 32.9 43.2 73.6 60.1 42.6 61.2 66.6 10 5.1 41.9 65.1 74 10.6 115.7
18.5 17.5in 3.85 32.9 43.2 73.6 61.8 44.3 61.2 66.6 10 5.1 44 65.1 73.5 10.6 117.4
19.5 18.5in 3.85 32.9 43.2 73.6 63.3 45.8 61.2 66.6 10 5.1 47 65.1 73 10.6 118.9
21.5 20.5in 3.85 32.9 43.2 73.6 65.7 48 62.1 66.6 11 5.1 51 65.1 74 10.6 121.5

Trek has plumped for 27.5 x 2.8 Bontrager Chubacabra tyres on its 40mm rims, measurements that seem to be a settling point for most of the industry now, but of course can also be fitted with 29 inch tyres up to a width of 2.4 inches. As it stands there are no plans to introduce a new Fuel EX 29er, so if you want a more playful version of that bike this could be the way to go.

To square off the circle, the new Fuel will be equipped with Boost hubs front and rear and internal cable routing throughout the range. Interestingly it does look like you can fit a front derailleur for a 2x drivetrain, something that comes as a surprise on trail bikes nowadays.

There will be three models in the range with the 9.8 and the 8 available now and the budget 5 coming in June. There’s no word on UK pricing yet but the US prices start at $2,399.99 (£1,600) up to $5,399.99 (£3,600) however it’s worth remembering these will be without sales tax so will not be too accurate for the UK equivalent.

New to trail bikes? Check out our buyer’s guide HERE.


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