Any bike with a snack trough in the downtube is worth a look in my book. The Trek Fuel EX 9.8 has space for a jacket, spares, and whatever snacks you want to cram inside. Over the next several weeks It will be stuffed long before any hip belt or backpack.
While the Fuel EX floats on fairly neutral trail travel, with a 130mm rear axle path and 140mm at the fork, the bike’s geometry looks primed for a lot hotter party. With a 66° headtube angle in the low position, a 455mm reach on the size medium/large, and 437mm chainstays, the wheelbase is only 11mm shorter than the 160mm Megatower I am currently testing. That’s a lot of fun in a light package, and I look forward to sharing how it rips.
A 140mm Fox 36 fork seems almost overkill for a bike in this travel category, but Trek clearly knew that the geometry would entice riders to push it harder than their typical mid-travel trail bike. The frame will happily play with up to a 150mm fork. The rear damper is a Fox Performance Float EVOL, built around Trek’s RE:aktiv suspension specifications. When asked about shock selection, Trek frame designer Dylan Howes mentioned that “on the Fuel EX, we chose the 210mm size standard as it allowed us to design a shock that could fit the Thru-Shaft packaging we wanted, but also allowed the shock to be swapped out for almost any other 210mm shock to give both us and the customer options on shock spec or choice.”
The Fuel EX 9.8 build that I’m currently testing has a SRAM GX-Eagle 12-speed drivetrain, Shimano SLX 4-piston brakes, a carbon Bontrager handlebar, and a 150mm Bontrager Line Elite Dropper. The Bontrager Line Carbon 30 wheelset keeps the bike’s weight down, with the Fuel EX 9.8 hitting the scale at under 30lbs for the size medium/large.
After the initial descent, the only element of this bike that seems a little off is the tire selection. I prefer tires no wider than 2.4″, and these trail hugging balloons feel a little sluggish. I’ll leave them on for the first few weeks and see how it plays out. Maybe I just snacked too much before pedaling.
⭐️ Find the Trek Fuel EX 9.8 at Trek Bikes.