The Next best thing: The Next SL cranks
have become some of the nicest and
lightest available. Not only are the Next SL
worthy cranks, they add a lot to the bling
factor of the build.
The heart of a machine: Trek puts a lot
of time and energy into their suspension
designs. The RE:aktiv technology built into
the Fox shock gives the Fuel EX a plush
feel and gives riders plenty of room to
make their own adjustments.
A history of quality: Shimano’s XTR has
been one of the best-shifting drivetrains on
mountain bikes, and the M9000 gave us
plenty of crisp shifting. The Fuel EX uses
Trek’s staple ABP axle on the rear triangle,
along with the new Boost148 hub spacing.
HOW DOES IT PERFORM?
The word “capable” was always on our minds as we tackled
a variety of terrain and pushed the Fuel EX to its limits. Whether
bottoming out the suspension, shooting down a steep rocky
singletrack, or racing an enduro course in pursuit of a national
championship, the Fuel redefines what a trailbike can handle. At
120 millimeters of travel, we set the sag at 30 percent, which took
some trial and error, given the generous stroke of the shock. Once
we had the rebound and compression dialed in, we were amazed
at how well the suspension handled a variety of terrain without
requiring any further adjustments.
Moving out: Sitting in the saddle, the reach is compact and
comfortable. The bars initially felt a little narrow but still gave us
the leverage we needed on technical sections and climbs. Looking
down from the saddle, the shapeliness of the top tube and down
tube were impressive.
Cornering: There are a lot of benefits to having a bike with
shorter chainstays, and better cornering is one of them. The tight
chainstays allowed us to throw the bike through corners with
ease, making us feel like we were riding with 27.5-inch wheels.
We could feel the modern geometry allowing us to distribute our
weight well in turns, giving us more confidence than usual.
Through the thick of it: We have ridden
few trailbikes that are as capable as this
Fuel EX 29. Every bit of this bike begs
riders to take the big line and eat up
every rocky section of the trail.