Trek Fuel EX 9 Review
The Trek Fuel EX 9 is a bit of an all rounder when it comes to the trail. It is light and nimble enough to navigate tricky terrain and improve the rider’s confidence, whilst having the kind of frame and suspension setup that lends itself to darting both uphill and downhill. This is the final Fuel EX model to utilise an alloy frame before you make the leap to carbon, so it is a good crossover bike for those who want high end performance but a budget that is kept in check.
Of course, the Alpha Platinum Aluminium frame of the Trek Fuel EX 9 is hardly a hindrance, since it has various benefits such as internal front derailleur cable routing and a magnesium EVO Link. It also has geometry that is adaptive depending on the travel mode, which you activate in the dual suspension setup. The core construction of the frame features tubing that is formed to be lighter than typical alloy bikes whilst still maintaining that essential strength and stiffness that defines this material. The E2 tapered head tube adds to this stiffness, whilst the press-fit bottom bracket follows suit, enhancing frame robustness and also making it possible to pedal efficiently irrespective of what faces you.
The front suspension comes in the form of the Fox 32 Float FIT RLC fork with a Trek DRCV air spring shock and the premium grade Kashima coat which lets it take the hits more smoothly for a longer period. The rear suspension, which works in partnership with this fork, is the Fox Performance Series Float RP-3, featuring a boost valve and a three position ProPedal setting that lets you choose from various travel types. Climb gives you extra stiffness when you need to get uphill at speed, whilst Ride is a good all-rounder for fast rolling over the flats. Descend is all about opening up the full 120mm of frame travel and absorbing big hits as you take on a downhill part of the trail.
The suspension has been custom tuned by the manufacturer so that the Trek Fuel EX 9 is not just your typical dual shock bike. This level of attention to detail is present throughout, resulting in a ride that feels purpose designed and cohesive rather than slapdash and arbitrary.
You get a good quality drive train thanks to components from the Shimano Deore XT and XTR ranges. The brakeset is also from the Shimano Deore XT family, with M785 hydraulic disc brakes giving you that power and control over the bike’s speed that will allow you to be far more accurate whilst out on a single track course. Racing can come down to which rider is most confident, not just which has the most power or skill, so getting the right brakes to back up speed and agility goes a long way to ensuring that this is the case.
The Bontrager Rhythm Elite TLR Disc wheelset matched with XR4 Team tyres from the same manufacturer gives the Trek Fuel EX 9 a stable, tough grounding. There are many other Bontrager components, from the Evoke 2 saddle and Rhythm Elite seat post to the Race Lite Low Riser handlebar. It is always good to look at a bike’s spec sheet and see the same brand utilised for various components, as this helps bring the Trek Fuel EX 9 together and add ride consistency that might otherwise be lacking.
If you want a full suspension mountain bike that can head uphill with the best of the hardtails and come back down with specialist big hitters, this model is more than suited to the task.
Trek Fuel EX 9 Specifications
- Front Fork: Fox 32 Float FIT RLC, Trek DRCV air spring, compression, lockout, rebound, E2
- Rear Shock: Fox Performance Series Float RP-3
- Front Derailleur: Shimano Deore XT
- Rear Derailleur: Shimano XTR
- Gears: 30
- Chainring: Shimano Deore XT M780, 42/32/24T
- Cassette: Shimano Deore XT M771-10 11-36T 10 speed
- Shifters: Shimano Deore XT
- Brakes: Shimano Deore XT M785 hydraulic disc brakes
- Wheels: Bontrager Rhythm Elite TLR Disc
- Tyres: Bontrager XR4 Team, 26×2.2″