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Best Trail Mountain Bikes

Trek fuel ex 8 review.

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  • Fun Factor - 25% 8.0
  • Downhill Performance - 35% 8.0
  • Climbing Performance - 35% 7.0
  • Ease of Maintenance - 5% 6.0

Our Verdict

Our analysis and test results.

trek fuel ex 8 trail mountain bike review - the new fuel ex 8 is a well-rounded mid-travel trail bike with a...

Should I Buy This Bike?

Trek redesigned their popular range of mid-travel Fuel EX trail bikes for 2020 with major changes to the geometry and the ABP rear suspension design. The new Fuel EX models, including the EX 8 we tested, are in line with modern trail bike geometry trends, plus they've been given a bump in front suspension travel with 140mm travel forks paired with 130mm of rear-wheel travel. The ABP (Active Braking Pivot) suspension design provides a supportive pedaling platform, great small bump sensitivity, composed big hit performance, and is unaffected by braking forces. Trek makes bikes for the masses, and despite lengthening and slackening the Fuel EX the geometry remains relatively middle of the road by today's standards, though this isn't necessarily a bad thing. This bike has an easy-going demeanor with predictable handling that is comfortable and fun to ride at a range of speeds and nearly any type of terrain, yet is still capable of charging relatively hard. The EX 8 is the most expensive aluminum-framed model in their line, but we feel it is reasonably priced with a shred-ready component specification that includes quality suspension, a GX Eagle drivetrain, a 150mm dropper, and meaty 2.6" wide tires. We didn't feel there was a lot of wow-factor, but we also found it hard to complain about the versatile and well-rounded performance of this reasonably priced mid-travel ride.

trek fuel ex 8 trail mountain bike review - this bike does just about everything well and is comfortable and...

Interested in a bike that charges a little harder on the descents? The Norco Optic has similar travel numbers with 125mm of rear suspension paired with a 140mm fork. The Optic's aggressive geometry gives it a serious appetite for the descents, and it slays downhill like a bike with more travel. Its long wheelbase and slack head tube angle make it notably stable at speed and confident in steep, rough terrain. It feels similar to the Fuel EX on the climbs and in rolling terrain but blows it away on the descents. Carbon Optic builds range from $3,749 to $8,999.

Do you like smaller wheels and playful ride? The Santa Cruz 5010 rolls on fun-sized, 27.5-inch wheels and has 130mm of rear wheel travel and 140mm fork. It's got modern, but not extreme, geometry that makes it a versatile trail weapon that performs well on both the climbs and descents. A lively and playful demeanor is the hallmark of the 5010, and this bike likes to be flicked, slashed, and aired off every obstacle in the trail. The VPP suspension platform provides great pedaling support, efficiency, and a bit of pop. While the Fuel EX is impressively versatile and user-friendly, the 5010 will appeal to the rider who wants to turn the mountain into their playground. The 5010 comes in carbon frames only with complete builds ranging from $4,099 to $6,899.

trek fuel ex 8 trail mountain bike review - the frame has a look typical of recent trek full-suspension designs...

Frame Design

The 2020 Fuel EX 8 is built around Trek's Alpha Platinum Aluminum frame with 130mm of rear-wheel travel. Trek has used their Active Braking Pivot (ABP) rear suspension design for some time and that continues with the redesigned Fuel EX models. Unlike previous ABP designs, the new Fuel has a fixed lower shock mount as opposed to the floating shock mount of the past. ABP is basically a four-bar design where the main pivot is attached to the seat tube just above the bottom bracket, the shock attaches to a magnesium rocker link about halfway up the seat tube, and there is a pivot point around the rear axle. This rear axle pivot is intended to allow the suspension to move freely regardless of braking forces, hence the name Active Braking Pivot . Trek has included their Mino Link flip chip at the junction of the seat stays and the rocker link which adjusts the head and seat tube angles by 0.5-degrees and changes the bottom bracket height by 7mm. The frame has internal Control Freak cable routing, a knock block headset, a downtube guard, and chainstay protection. It comes in sizes XS-XXL with XS and Small frames getting 27.5-inch wheels and Medium to XXL frames coming with 29-inch hoops.

We found the frame sizing of the Fuel EX 8 to feel a little small, so our 6-foot tall testers rode a size XL for this test. We measured our test bike and found that it had a 654mm effective top tube and a 490mm reach. In the Low setting the head tube angle was 65.75-degrees and the effective seat tube angle was 75.25-degrees. The bottom bracket was 342mm off the ground with 438mm long chainstays and a 1240mm wheelbase. Both the reach and wheelbase measurements sound quite long, but this bike feels smaller than those numbers suggest. It tipped the scales at 31 lbs and 7 oz set up tubeless without pedals.

Design Highlights

  • Available in aluminum or carbon fiber frames
  • 130mm of ABP rear suspension
  • Designed around a 140mm fork
  • Mino Link adjustable geometry
  • Available in 7 frames sizes
  • XS and S frames get 27.5-inch wheels, all other sizes come with 29-inch
  • Three aluminum models starting at $2,100 up to $3,450 (tested)
  • Carbon models range in price from $4,100 to $9,000
  • Available as frame only in aluminum for $2,000, and carbon fiber for $3,300

trek fuel ex 8 trail mountain bike review - the new fuel is more capable on the descents than ever. the geometry...

Downhill Performance

The Fuel EX 8 is a rock-solid downhill performer. It didn't blow our testers away on the descents, but it never let them down either. This bike was comfortable and fun to ride on a huge range of terrain and is capable of tackling all but the gnarliest of steep and rough trails. The geometry strikes a nice middle ground that gives it its impressive versatility, and the new ABP suspension design delivers stunning sensitivity and small bump compliance and a deep feeling stroke that handles big hits with composure. For the price, the components on our test bike are solid and perform well on the descents.

trek fuel ex 8 trail mountain bike review - the updated geometry is the real story with the new fuel models. the...

The geometry of the Fuel EX 8 is a dramatic improvement over the previous version, and Trek has addressed most of the current trail bike trends. A longer reach and wheelbase, slacker head tube, steeper seat tube, and flip-chip adjustable geometry are a proven recipe for enhanced downhill performance and capability. Interestingly, our testers found the frame sizing to feel small. Our six-foot tall tester felt cramped on the Large frame while our 5'-10" tester felt just about right. If you're on the cusp of a frame size, we'd suggest taking a test ride and possibly sizing up. Once on the right size frame, testers felt the reach was adequate and the wheelbase was just about right for a modern mid-travel trail bike. It's long enough to feel stable and planted at high speeds, but not so long that it becomes unwieldy at low speeds or in tight terrain. The 65.75-degree head angle, in the low setting, is slack enough to tackle the majority of trails with confidence without being so slack that steering becomes sluggish or the bike feels awkward at low speeds. The geometry is also adjustable using the Mino-Link flip-chip. There is a 0.5-degree difference in the head and seat tube angles and the bottom bracket changes by 7mm between the High and Low settings. We spent the majority of our time testing the Fuel EX 8 in the Low setting which we found to be excellent for everyday trail riding. The High setting's steeper head angle provided marginally crisper handling and we feel it would be good for riders whose trails are smoother and moderate in difficulty.

trek fuel ex 8 trail mountain bike review - the ex 8 isn't the hardest charging bike we've tested recently but...

The ABP suspension design works well. Trek has moved away from the full-floater design on the previous Fuel models to a fixed lower shock mount. The Fuel EX 8 we tested comes with a Fox Float Performance rear shock with custom-tuned RE:aktiv damper technology. There's a lot of technical jargon associated with the RE:aktiv shocks, but the gist of it all is that it has regressive damping intended to give it a supportive pedal platform while remaining highly sensitive with excellent small bump compliance. Testers found it to soak up big hits with ease with a relatively bottomless feel, especially for a 130mm bike, with a supportive mid-stroke that you could push off of out of corners and get some pop when you're looking for it. It wasn't the most playful or lively bike we've ridden recently, but it wasn't glued to the ground either. The knock block headset is a necessity on this bike to prevent the fork from damaging the downtube, but our testers noted that it does limit your turning radius is super tight switchbacks.

For the price, we were quite pleased with the component specification of the Fuel EX 8 , and it works well on the descents. The Fox Rhythm 34 fork is nothing fancy but felt sturdy, impressively supple, and balanced with the rear suspension. The Shimano Deore brakes work well enough, with a very on/off feel that Shimano brakes are known for. The Bontrager Line Comp 30 wheels felt stiff and sturdy, and the 2.6" Bontrager XR4 tires worked surprisingly well in a huge range of conditions and were more durable than expected. We can't complain about the Bontrager Line dropper post, the 150mm was adequate and the 1x style remote lever felt good. The cockpit was well appointed with a properly wide 780mm handlebar and a short 50mm stem with a sturdy 35mm clamp.

trek fuel ex 8 trail mountain bike review - the fuel is a touch on the heavy side, but it's an efficient climber...

Climbing Performance

We were pleasantly surprised by the climbing performance of the Fuel EX 8 . We've read reviews that complain of this bike relying heavily on the compression damping switch of the rear shock, but we found it to be quite supportive with minimal pedal induced bobbing. Sure, it's a little heavy at over 31 lbs, but this bike felt efficient and responsive and capable of taking on any length of climb or ride. The geometry is comfortable and the component grouping won't hold you back.

trek fuel ex 8 trail mountain bike review - the 2.6" tires provide heaps of climbing traction, though the knock...

Assuming you're on the right size frame, the geometry of the Fuel EX 8 is comfortable on the climbs. Once again, on the Large frame, our six-foot tall testers felt cramped in the cockpit, after sizing up to an XL they felt far more comfortable. We measured the reach on the XL frame at 490mm, but it certainly didn't feel that long or stretched out. The 1240mm wheelbase also sounds lengthy, but again, it didn't feel that long and this bike was plenty maneuverable on the climbs. One limiting factor to this bike's maneuverability is the knock block, which we found came into play occasionally in super tight switchbacks and technical terrain. The 75.25-degree effective seat tube angle is a little bit slacker than you'll find on most bikes in 2020 but it still places you almost directly above the bottom bracket for pushing straight down on the pedals.

The RE:aktiv shock valving works very well with the ABP suspension design to create a supportive pedal platform on the Fuel EX 8 . It seems to us that there is something to the regressive damping technology, and we climbed with the shock in the open position the majority of the time. In the open position, there was very minimal pedal bob when seated and a relatively standard amount when out of the saddle. Despite the firm climbing feel of the rear suspension, it still felt sensitive and soaked up small bumps and helped to enhance traction. Flipping the compression damping switch to the middle position provided an even firmer pedal platform, though testers felt that was best saved for long fire road or paved climbs.

trek fuel ex 8 trail mountain bike review - the abp suspension with the re:aktiv shock works well to provide a...

Overall, the component grouping was generally fantastic on the climbs. The SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain is reliable with plenty of gear range and crisp shifting. The Bontrager XR4 rear tire in the 2.6" width has a huge contact patch and provided ample climbing traction on virtually all surfaces. Testers did find, however, that the Bontrager Arvada saddle wasn't the most comfortable and would likely be the first thing we'd upgrade. The overall weight of the Fuel EX 8 is also notable at 31 lbs and 7 oz. This bike is a bit on the heavy side, though we have to admit the weight went largely unnoticed while riding.

The Rhythm 34 fork is nothing to write home about, but the recent...

At a retail price of $3,450, the Fuel EX 8 qualifies as being reasonably priced these days. We feel that this represents an above-average value for a well spec'd trail bike from a major brand like Trek. This bike comes ready to rip and there's seriously nothing that needs to be upgraded to get out and get after it. If this is out of your price range, there are two less expensive models to choose from, and for those looking to go a bit higher end, there are 6 different carbon builds.

trek fuel ex 8 trail mountain bike review - the fuel ex 8 is a solid trail bike offered at a reasonable price...

Trek did a good job when they redesigned the Fuel EX , creating a more versatile and well-rounded mid-travel trail ripper. This bike has a very approachable and easy-going demeanor, with just enough travel and the angles to be a blast to ride in all but the most aggressive of terrain. There's nothing particularly exciting about it, but there's little we didn't like about it either. We feel this is a solid all-around trail bike and a reasonably priced and sensible option for a lot of riders and locations.

Other Versions

Trek makes nine different versions fo the new Fuel EX including the EX 8 model we tested which is the top of the line aluminum framed option. They no longer offer women's specific models, though they do make the bikes in 6 different sizes to fit a huge range of rider's body shapes and sizes.

They make 3 aluminum-framed models, all of which share the same Alpha Platinum Aluminum frame and geometry, starting with the budget-friendly Fuel EX 5 which retails for $2,100. The EX 5 comes with a RockShox Recon RL fork and a Deluxe Select+ rear shock, a Shimano Deore 10-speed drivetrain, wide tubeless-ready wheels and 2.6" tires, and a TranzX dropper seatpost.

The mid-range aluminum model is the Fuel EX 7 at $2,900. It comes with a RockShox Gold 35 fork, a Fox Float Performance DPS EVOL rear shock, a SRAM NX Eagle drivetrain, and a Bontrager Line Comp 30 wheelset.

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Trek Fuel EX 8.0 XT 2020 on test – Versatility for the Best Buy

trek fuel ex 8 2020

The Trek Fuel EX 8.0 XT is the most expensive bike in the group test and still gets our Best Buy. What have Trek done to justify this award?

Click here for an overview of the the best trail bike under € 3,200 € in review

trek fuel ex 8 2020

The Trek Fuel EX is an absolute classic in the mountain bike scene. The latest, completely revised model was released last year. As is so often the case, the super expensive carbon model attracted most of the attention during the launch. Unjustly so, because the more affordable aluminium version is also a real highlight in Trek’s portfolio. The Fuel EX 8.0 XT costs € 3,199, which still is a lot of money, especially since other bikes in this group test cost almost a third less. However, there is nothing to complain about with the spec and you’ll benefit from the extensive network of Trek dealers.

trek fuel ex 8 2020

The 29er features a complete Shimano XT groupset, FOX suspension providing 130 mm travel at the rear and 140 mm up front and a 150 mm dropper post (in size L). As usual, a lot of the components are supplied by Trek’s in-house brand Bontrager. The ergonomics of the cockpit and saddle are excellent while the wheels and tires offer good acceleration and grip. The 2.6″ wide tires are best ridden with a bit less pressure for added grip and comfort. Trek rely on budget Shimano brakes but thanks to the large rotors and single-finger levers, they deliver more stopping power than the four-piston calliper on the Canyon or SCOTT.

trek fuel ex 8 2020

Trek Fuel EX 8 XT


Fork FOX 34 Rhythm 140 mm Rear Shock FOX Float EVOL Performace 130 mm Seatpost Bontrager Line Dropper 150 mm Brakes Shimano M6000 203/180 mm Drivetrain Shimano XT 30 (10-51) Stem Bontrager Line 50 mm Handlebar Bontrager Line 780 mm Wheelset Bontrager Line Comp 30 29 Tires Bontrager XR4 Team Issue 2.6"

Technical Data

Size XS S M L XL XXL Weight 14.18 kg

Specific Features

trek fuel ex 8 2020

The geometry of the Trek Fuel EX 8.0

If you look at the geometry, you can see that the Fuel EX has been updated recently. The trail bike features modern geometry with a long reach (470 mm in size L), a slack 65° head angle and a bottom bracket drop of 34 mm. Our only concern is the slack seat tube angle of 75°. However, in comparison to the previous model, the kink in the seat tube is less pronounced, so that the effective angle doesn’t slacken as much when you extend the seat post.

trek fuel ex 8 2020

Once you get on the Fuel EX, everything feels very familiar. Trek manage to weave their unique DNA into their bikes better than most other brands. The riding position is upright and very comfortable, so it might be worth pushing the saddle forward slightly if you feel the need, but isn’t a must as with other bikes. This is also due to the very efficient rear suspension, which hardly bobs or wallows, ensuring that every pedal stroke propels you forward. Step on the pedals and the Fuel EX sprints forward despite the wide tires, allowing you to have fun even on flat trails. On technical climbs, the bike delivers plenty of traction. However, you’ll have to shift your weight forward ever so slightly so as not to lose control of the front wheel.

Ready for anything! With the Fuel EX you can rest assured that you’ve always got the right bike for the job!

Going downhill, you feel securely integrated with the Fuel EX thanks to the 780 mm wide riser handlebar, the low bottom bracket and the long reach. This instils you with the confidence to stay off the brakes and send it. The suspension underlines this feeling. It performs well and effectively absorbs all kinds of impacts without feeling undefined or spongy. The Fuel EX feels poppy and also easy to get airborne. Once in the air, it feels very stable and confident. Despite its capability in rough terrain, it never feels sluggish on flat trails or like you’re hauling around too much bike. Thanks to the supportive suspension, you can easily generate speed off rollers and dips and the weight distribution between the wheels is spot on. As such, the Trek is a lot of fun to ride, even through switchbacks and tight sections. Through open corners, the front wheel never feels like it’ll wash out. The handling of the Fuel EX makes it easy for anyone to have fun on simple trails but it doesn’t hold you back in demanding terrain either.

trek fuel ex 8 2020

How does the Fuel EX compare to the competition?

The Trek Fuel EX is the most versatile bike in this group test. It climbs well, but it doesn’t feel as efficient as the YT IZZO or MERIDA. Here, the focus is more on comfort than maximum propulsion. The Fuel Ex is a little less direct on the descents, though much more versatile. At a point where the IZZO would be nudging you to slow down, the Trek will happily send it. As a result, the Trek is also suitable for rougher or more demanding trails and is the most versatile bike on test.

trek fuel ex 8 2020

Tuning tips: narrower and more robust tires

trek fuel ex 8 2020

Riding Characteristics

Value for money, intended use.

For this group test, it’s the versatility of the Trek Fuel EX 8.0 that secures it our Best Buy. If you’re looking for a bike with which to have fun on flat, flowing trails, that climbs efficiently yet doesn’t mind veering off into rough terrain, this is the bike for you. In search of the elusive one-bike quiver? Then check out the Fuel EX!

trek fuel ex 8 2020

  • performs on every kind of trail
  • fantastic spec
  • a great balance of composure and agility

trek fuel ex 8 2020

  • seat tube angle could be steeper

You can find out more about at

The test field

All bikes in test: Canyon Neuron AL 7.0 (Click for review) | FOCUS JAM 6.8 NINE (Click for review) | GIANT Trance 29 1 (Click for review) | MERIDA ONE-TWENTY 9.700 (Click for review) | ROSE GROUND CONTROL 3 (Click for review) | SCOTT Genius 950 (Click for review) | Specialized Stumpjumper ST COMP (Click for review) | Trek Fuel EX 8 XT | YT IZZO COMP (Click for review)

This scale indicates how efficiently the bike climbs. It refers to both simple and technical climbs. Along with the suspension, the riding position and the weight of the bike all play a crucial role. ↩

How does the bike ride and descend? How spritely is the bike, how agile is it through corners, how much fun is it in tight sections and how quickly can it change direction? ↩

Is the bike stable at high speeds? Is it easy to stay in control in demanding terrain? How composed is it on rough trails? Stability is a combination of balanced geometry, good suspension and the right spec. ↩

This is all about how balanced the bike is and particularly about how well it corners. Balanced bikes require little physical effort from the rider and are very predictable. If a bike is unbalanced, the rider has to work hard to weight the front wheel to generate enough grip. However, experienced riders can have a lot of fun even with unbalanced bikes. ↩

How sensitive is the suspension over small bumps? Can it absorb hard impacts and does it soak up repeated hits? Plush suspension not only provides comfort and makes a bike more capable, but it also generates traction. The rating includes the fork and the rear suspension. ↩

This aspect mainly comes down to the suspension. How much pop does it have, does it suck up the rider’s input or is it supportive, and how agile and direct is the bike? ↩

We don’t calculate value for money in an excel spreadsheet or based on how high-end a bike is specced. We are more concerned with how a bike performs on the trail and how the bike benefits the rider. What good are the best components if the bike doesn’t perform well on the trail? Expensive bikes with a lower-end spec can offer very good value for money – provided they excel where it matters. Just as supposedly cheap bikes with good components can get a bad rating if they don’t deliver on the trail. ↩

No, it’s not about racing, it’s about efficiency. Fast, fleet-footed and efficient – those who want to speed along flowy singletrack and gravel roads need a defined and spritely bike that accelerates with ease and efficiency. Nevertheless, reliable components are important too. We interpret XC more like the Americans do: big back-country rides instead of a marathon or XC World Cup with the ultimate in lightweight construction! Uphill-downhill ratio: 80:30 (not everything has to be 100%!) ↩

...also known as mountain biking. Classic singletrack with roots, rocks and ledges – sometimes flowy, sometimes rough. For this, you need a bike with good all-round qualities, whether climbing or descending. Uphill-downhill ratio: 50:50 ↩

Even more extreme and challenging compared to Trail riding, riddled with every kind of obstacle: jumps, gaps, nasty rock gardens, ruts and roots. For this, you need (race)proven equipment that forgives mistakes and wouldn’t look out of place on a stage of the Enduro World Series. Climbing is just a means to an end. Uphill-downhill ratio: 30:70 ↩

Strictly speaking, a 200 mm travel downhill bike is the best choice for merciless tracks with big jumps, drops and the roughest terrain. Those would be the black or double-black-diamond tracks in a bike park. But as some of the EWS pros (including Sam Hill) have proven, it’s the riding skills and not the bike that define what you can ride with it. Climbing? On foot or with a shuttle, please! Uphill-downhill ratio: 10:90 ↩

You can find more info about our rating system in this article: Click here! ↩

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Trek Fuel EX 8 review – still one of the best trail MTBs?

Trek’s alloy fuel ex trail mountain bike lacks the latest features but is the overall package still a winner.

Trek Fuel EX 8

BikePerfect Verdict

Heavy frame that misses the latest features but still a great package for fast and precise all round mountain biking

Tight, precise frame

Sorted all round handling

Very efficient suspension feel

Durable Shimano kit

Excellent sizing options

Heavy frame

No internal storage

Press fit bottom bracket

Top Fuel is more playful

Why trust BikePerfect Our cycling experts have decades of testing experience. We'll always share our unbiased opinions on bikes and gear. Find out more about how we test.

Trek’s Fuel EX has been one of the best mountain bikes in the world for years, but the alloy-framed 8 is lacking some of the features the latest alloy and carbon Treks. High-durability component spec matches the vibe of a really well-balanced bike. One that plans ahead, hands its homework in early (having double checked it) and rarely puts a wheel wrong or goads you into being silly yourself. So how has Trek done that and is there a better option in the range if you want something short on travel but big on fun?

Design and aesthetics

Trek has been using a rocker link-driven, vertical shock suspension design on its bikes for so long that “Looks like a Trek Session” is a cliche on most MTB forums. No surprise then that the Fuel EX continues the clean looks which leave plenty of room for a big bottle on the down tube and strap-on storage. You don’t get the internal storage of the newer Top Fuel alloy frame though and this older frame still uses a press-fit bottom bracket rather than reverting to a more reliable threaded  format. There are ISCG chain keeper tabs on the BB though, a wider-angle Knock Block steering limiter to stop bars hitting the frame in a crash and rear axle concentric ABP rear suspension pivot. Cunning zip tie tabbed ‘Control Freak’ internal cable routing and rubber frame armor including molded chainstay sleeves keep things quiet. 

You also get the 0.5-degree geometry change ‘Mino Link’ flip chip at the seat stay/rocker pivot. That changes head angle from 65.5- to 65-degrees and effective seat angle from 75.5- to 75-degrees on the Large I tested. Reach also shifts from 475 to 470mm and BB height drops from 346 to 340mm. The big win with choosing a Trek though is the sheer range of sizes from XXS to XXL including a sweet spot ML in the centre. Smaller bikes also run 27.5in wheels for proportional balance, too, although the chainstays are the same length on all frame sizes. The Fuel EX 8 is also available in three different two-tone color options.


Trek acknowledges that the ‘priority is on the parts’ with the EX 8 and the highlight is an almost complete Shimano XT drivetrain (the chain is SLX). The Fox Float shock is a custom unit, too, using a Penske race car derived RE:aktiv damper setup for a pert-pedaling feel on top of the 130mm travel. The 140mm Fox 34 fork is the stock Rhythm spec though and the Shimano brakes are basic four-piston MT400s. Bontrager’s functional Line component range completes the bike in well-judged, size-specific cockpit options although dropper post strokes are short on the larger sizes. Big volume versions of Bontrager’s XR5 and XR4 tires on Bontrager Line Comp 30mm internal rims put plenty of air between bike and trail for protection, too.


While the EX8 isn’t light at just under 15kg (a full kilo heavier than Trek claims) it’s in the ballpark for a mid-travel, alloy-framed bike at this price. What really stands out is how well it hides that weight when it comes to pedaling. The big tires don’t drag nearly as much as they look like they might, while the RE:aktiv shock and overall kinematic give it a really clean, crisp and stable platform to put down power from. That means even with three potential low-compression settings to play with, we rarely felt compelled to flick it out of full open unless we were hoofing uphill out of the saddle. Add the clean shifting, top-quality Shimano XT drivetrain and the Fuel EX is a great choice for high-mileage rides and riders. The fast-engaging ‘Rapid Drive’ freehub and relatively high ground clearance are a bonus for anyone who likes to kick hard out of corners or attack rough technical climbs, too. The efficient suspension feel still gives enough sensitivity to track the ground under power and you can drop pressures in the big tires if you’re into a proper ‘crawler/swamper’ feel. 

The 140mm fork/130mm rear travel feels well balanced on the trail and the Grip damper Fox Rhythm repeatedly proved why its our favorite cost-effective fork. Trek’s suspension calculator is accurate enough to get most people sorted on set-up for most situations. The angles and proportions of the model we tested were confident at speed on jumps but still turned in promptly on woodland twisters. Even the basic Shimano brakes feel better than normal through the neutral suspension responses created by the ABP pivot and the 200mm rotor up front boosts power, too.

While you could speed up reactions with a shorter stem, the stock setup probably suits its overall character better. That’s because while it will pop and play off trailside opportunities if you’re in the mood, it does tend to sit on top of an already relatively high ride height rather than sucking down onto the trail and railing. Interestingly that’s a big - and counter intuitive - difference to the Top Fuel 8. With slightly steeper angles, less travel, significantly different suspension kinematic and top-spec RockShox rear shock, Trek’s pocket rocket has an addictively playful charisma that’s very much at odds with it’s ‘XC’ categorization. 

In fact, despite it being heavier we’d probably opt for the Fuel EX for long marathon-style or efficiency-based events, especially as it’s significantly cheaper than its little brother, leaving you more cash for race entries and energy products. Just make sure you keep an eye on the press-fit bottom bracket and get it replaced as soon as it shows any signs of wobble/creak as that can eventually creates frame issues.

Trek’s Fuel range might be a bit backwards when it comes to assigning categories based on travel but the main thing is that the Fuel EX is still a really efficient, enjoyable and fitness/skill flattering all rounder. While it misses out on the internal storage, threaded BB and super-plush playfulness of the Top Fuel, Shimano XT will always bring a lot of hard riding boys (and girls) to the yard. Those are exactly the riders who’ll appreciate just how well this extremely well balanced bike covers ground and keeps a fresh and sharp feel long into the day, and down tough technical sections, too. 

Tech Specs: Trek Fuel EX 8 XT

  • Price: $3,929.99 / £3,200
  • Discipline: Trail
  • Head angle: 66/66.5-degrees
  • Frame material: Trek Alpha Platinum Aluminum
  • Sizes: XS, S, M, M/L, L (tested) XL, XXL
  • Weight: 14.9kg
  • Wheel size: 29 x 2.3in
  • Suspension (front/rear): Fox Rhythm 34, Float EVOL 140mm travel, 44mm offset/Fox Performance Float EVOL, 3-position RE:aktiv 130mm travel
  • Components: Shimano XT 10-51T, 12-speed gearing, shifter, chainset and cassette. Shimano SLX chain. Shimano MT400 brakes with 200/180mm rotors. Bontrager XR4 Team Issue 29 x 2.6in front and Bontrager XR5 Team Issue 29 x 2.5in rear tires on Bontrager Line Comp 30 wheels. Bontrager Line 780 x 35mm bar and 50 x 35 mm stem, Bontrager Line Dropper 150mm dropper post, Bontrager Arvada saddle

Guy Kesteven

Guy has been working on Bike Perfect 's since we launched in 2019. Hatched in Yorkshire he's been hardened by riding round it in all weathers since he was a kid. He spent a few years working in bike shops and warehouses before starting writing and testing for bike mags in 1996. Since then he’s written several million words about several thousand test bikes and a ridiculous amount of riding gear. To make sure he rarely sleeps and to fund his custom tandem habit, he’s also penned a handful of bike-related books and talks to a GoPro for YouTube, too.

Current rides: Cervelo ZFS-5, Forbidden Druid V2, Specialized Chisel, custom Nicolai enduro tandem, Landescape/Swallow custom gravel tandem

Height: 180cm

Weight: 69kg

  • Guy Kesteven Technical-Editor-at-Large

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Trek Fuel EX

The 2020 Fuel EX 9.9 Is a World-Class Trail Bike

New geometry, more travel, and even better suspension improves Trek's mid-weight trail bike.

The Takeaway : Trek’s 2020 Fuel EX has more travel, is stiffer, and built with bigger parts. It’s a bit heavier and more capable in rowdy terrain, but still an excellent all-purpose trail bike

  • Expanded range of sizes and colors, but no more women’s models.
  • 140mm forks and 2.6-inch tires on all models
  • Fox 36 forks on top-of-the-line models
  • Lifetime frame warranty returns

Price: $2,100 to $7,500 Weight: 29.1 lb. (Fuel EX 9.9, size 17.5)

Trek’s Fuel EX was an excellent lightweight trail bike, with notes of XC race in its bouquet. For 2020 the EX effectively underwent a training montage worthy of an 80’s movie and emerged bigger and badder. It is up to 140mm travel in the front (still 130mm in the rear), longer, slacker, stiffer, and comes with bigger tires. The new EX is a trail bike with hints of enduro. Yep, it’s heavier: The top of the line model weighs about 29 pounds on our scale. But it also has a trap door and hidden storage in the downtube.

The 9.9 reviewed here, and the $5,500 9.8, have Trek’s premier shock technologies and hearty Fox 36 forks—features lower cost EX models don’t get, which is a shame, because the 9.9 is a beautifully balanced and capable trail bike. The rear suspension is superb, offering a blend of support, sensitivity, and control that might be unmatched. The suspension handles bumps like it has more travel, but pedals like it has less.

Trek Fuel EX

The Fox 36 with GRIP 2 damper is very stiff, which helps keep this bike on the line you want to ride—the 2020 EX’s improved rear end stiffness helps too—and the quality of the travel is lively yet controlled. Yes, I’m gushing, but this suspension deserves it. It’s too bad Trek didn’t see fit to fit this bike with a decent dropper though. The stock Bontrager post is sticky and sluggish.

The longer and slacker geometry provides a more centered feel when you’re working the trail with the saddle dropped. The bike’s steering is light, and the bike climbs technical singletrack very well—a nice suspension platform and crisp pedaling manners help. On downhills, it’s very sure-footed and even rides a little bigger than its travel and geometry might suggest.

There are a lot of great trail bikes you can buy right now. This EX makes a strong case that it’s one of the very best.

Trek Fuel EX

Hidden Storage

The new EX has a trap door that lets you store stuff in its downtube.

Trek Fuel EX

Easier Setup

A number rebound knob makes proper setup easier.

Trek Fuel EX

The Mino-Link flip chip adjusts head and seat angle 0.5 degrees.

Trek Fuel EX

High and Low

The GRIP2 damper offers 4-way external damping adjustment.

The 2020 Fuel EX 29er is more than just redesigned; it’s repositioned. Trek launched the new Top Fuel earlier this year, transforming it from an XC race bike to a longer-travel (115/120mm) and more trail-oriented bike. That narrowed—practically eliminated—the gap between it and the 2019 130/130mm Fuel EX. But the 2020 Fuel EX also bumps up in travel and gets a little burlier. It’s now a bigger trail bike tiptoeing toward the enduro category.

Rear travel remains 130mm, but on the front are 140mm forks, with higher-end carbon models using Fox’s 36. The frame is stiffer, and gets longer (10 to 20mm depending on size). Angles change too: the head tube is a degree slacker (66 in low, 66.5 in high), while the seat tube gets a degree steeper (75 in low, 75.5 in high). As you can tell, the frame still employs a geometry-changing flip-chip.

Frame: Carbon Wheel Size: 29 inch Travel: 130mm Shock: Fox Factory Float Reactiv ThruShaft Fork: Fox Factory Float 36 Grip 2, 140mm Drivetrain: 1x12 Crankset: SRAM X01 Eagle Rear Derailleur: SRAM X01 Eagle Dub Cassette: SRAM XG-1275 Eagle, 10-50 Brakes: Shimano XT 4-piston hydraulic disc, 200mm (f), 180mm (r) rotors Seatpost: Bontrager Drop Line Elite Rims: Bontrager Line Carbon 30, 30mm internal width, tubeless ready Tires: Bontrager XR4 2.6-inch

There’s also a new trap door in the downtube—carbon models only—that provides that sweet, sweet storage in the downtube. An organizer roll—included—has pockets for a tube, Co2 cartridge, inflator head, and tire lever and keeps it all from rattling around. A plastic side-load bottle cage is included with the bike. We’ve also heard rumors that a tool that fits in the headtube will arrive later this year.

The switch to longer and slacker frame geometry brings with it shorter offset forks. This isn’t shocking—almost every new mountain bike that rolls out with uses a shorter offset fork. But for Trek, it’s a more significant change because it means rolling back from a feature it heavily promoted for many years. Its Genesis/G2 29er geometry is based around longer (51mm) offset forks. But that geometry has its roots in the beginnings of the 29er movement, when brands were trying to make 29ers handle like 26-inch-wheeled bikes (that was a thing), and also the days of shorter and steeper geometry.

But that era is over, and Trek is moving on, “Modern geometry and its longer reach and slacker headtubes requires a smaller offset to put the front wheel in an appropriate spot under the rider,” said Travis Ott, Trek’s mountain bike brand manager .

Trek Fuel EX

Trek engineers in the past said that Full Floater let them achieve a better shock rate—for better suspension performance throughout the travel—than they could with a fixed lower mount.

But that was then. The new generation of shocks, Trek says, offer the performance that previously was only achievable by using Full Floater, making the floating shock mount redundant. As a secondary benefit, the fixed-lower shock mount also helps Trek improve frame stiffness.

Higher-end EX models get a custom Fox Float shock with a list of Trek-only features. There’s a mini-piggyback reservoir that dissipates more heat in demanding situations, a thru-shaft design to reduce friction , and Reaktiv regressive damping for a firm pedaling platform without compromising sensitivity.

Trek Fuel EX

There’s also a numbered rebound knob to make setup easier. Trek representatives told me that customers found rebound settings like “15 clicks in” or “seven clicks out” confusing, and as a result would ride improperly tuned suspension. Now, Trek’s setup information can provide an easily understandable setting like “6” that matches a number on the knob.

The 2020 Fuel EX fits up to 2.6-inch tires front and rear. And to ensure “all” 2.6 tires fit, the EX’s forks get a custom spacer that slightly increases its axle-to-crown length compared to a stock 140mm fork and provides more crown clearance.

2020 Fuel EX frames come in aluminum or carbon. And all carbon frames are all carbon—no more carbon front ends with aluminum rear ends on mid-tier models. All frames have a lifetime warranty. Carryover features include Trek’s Knock Block headset, which prevents the bars from swinging around and damaging the top tube, and anti-rattle hose and housing with internal routing.

Gender, Sizing, and Wheel Size

Text, Font, Line, Pattern, Parallel, Pattern, Monochrome,

The 2019 Fuel EX came in three women’s models and six unisex models. The 2020 EX line consists of six models with no women’s models. Instead, all 2020 EX models are available in a greater frame-size range and two colors. This, Trek argues, gives all riders more options to choose. None of the 2020 models get women’s saddles. Potential buyers will need to negotiate with a Trek dealer if an EX’s stock saddle doesn’t work for their anatomy.

The 2020 Fuel EX comes in eight sizes—extra small through double extra-large. The extra-small bike has 27.5 wheels, but the next size up comes with either size 27.5- or 29-inch wheels. All other sizes get 29-inch wheels only.

Trek Fuel EX

The Fuel EX Family

The new EX comes in six “mainline” models priced from $2,100 to $7,500. The EX is also customizable through Trek’s Project One program.

The three least-expensive models—$2,100, $2,900, $3,500—use an aluminum frame, and the three most expensive models—$4,100, $5,500, $7,500—use the full-carbon frame. Frame only is offered for both materials: $2,000 for aluminum and $3,300 for carbon.

All models use 140mm forks, however only the two most expensive bikes—the 9.8 and 9.9—get a Fox 36 fork. All other models use a Fox 34, RockShox 35, or RockShox Recon. On the other end, the least-expensive model uses a RockShox shock, but all other models use a Fox Float. You need to step up to the $3,500 EX 8 before you get the Reaktiv regressive damper in the shock, and it’s not until you hit the $5,500 EX 9.8 that you access the thru-shaft damper design.

Bicycle tire, Bicycle frame, Bicycle wheel, Tire, Wheel, Bicycle fork, Bicycle wheel rim, Bicycle part, Spoke, Bicycle stem,

So yeah, you don’t get *all* the good stuff—carbon frame with internal storage, 36 fork, thru-shaft shock, Reaktiv damping—until you spend $5,500.

All but the cheapest model come with 1x12 drivetrain and tubeless-ready rims. All models come with Bontrager 2.6” wide tires, dropper post, lock-on grips, and hydraulic disc brakes.

Ride Impressions

Not surprisingly, Trek sent me the top-of-the-line 2020 Fuel EX 9.9 X01 ($7,500). This model and the 9.8 have all the new features and all of Trek’s premier technologies.

But most EX models come with much different forks and shocks that will significantly affect how the EX performs— a bike with a 36 on the front rides much differently than a bike with a 34 on the nose, even if everything else is the same. So I’m only comfortable extending my impressions to two of the six 2020 EX models. I hope to ride one of the less expensive aluminum models to see how it rides and offer those impressions in a stand-alone review.

Trek Fuel EX

I hope they can come close to the performance of this bike because this 2020 EX 9.9 is excellent. It’s not the same bike it was before: the new EX is a little slower on the climbs than the old one, and a bit heavier, but a lot better everywhere else. It’s still a capable and versatile bike, but its window has shifted from marathon racing and trail bike, to trail and almost-enduro bike.

The rear suspension is beautiful; as close to ideal as any bike I’ve ridden. It’s sensitive where you want it to be, firm and crisp where it should be. It feels deep and controls big hits very well, and there’s a nice platform for pedaling, and to pump and pop off of when you’re playing.

The Fox 36’s GRIP2 damper continues to set the bar for performance. Once you get its settings right—and it may take some fiddlin’ with the four clickers to get there—no other fork matches its combination of traction, control, stiffness, and weight. Its performance pulls this bike’s capabilities to a new level, especially in demanding terrain.

Trek Fuel EX

The new geometry is well balanced: You can push this bike hard in pretty demanding terrain, and it still climbs tight and technical trails well, and without fighting the front wheel (too much). The EX’s seat tube angle isn’t crazy-steep for a modern mountain bike, but it doesn’t need to be: the Trek’s Reaktiv damper’s platform holds the bike up in its travel better than similar bikes, preventing the rider from being pushed into the back seat because of increased shock sag from weight transfer. So even though the seat tube is “only” 75/75.5, it rides a bit steeper.

The platform also assists the EX’s pedaling efficiency. When I think of a nearly 30-pound trail bike with 2.6 tires, I don’t think quick and crisp. But this EX feels firm when you’re on the pedals and climbs lighter than a 29-pound trail bike should.

And it’s about here where I need to address my one complaint about this bike: The Bontrager dropper post. If this was a $2,000 bike, I might—might—be able to excuse its sluggishness and stickiness. But on a $7,500 bike, its performance is shameful—it performs exactly like a product that was chosen to save a few bucks. Excellent options like the BikeYoke Revive, Fox Transfer, and RockShox Reverb (the latest one), exist: This bike’s performance and high-end price deserve one.

Trek Fuel EX

I’m a fan of the longer reach. I’m 5’8,” and in the previous generation EX I sized up to an 18.5 because the 17.5 felt short and squirrely. But the reach of the new generation in 17.5 is within a few millimeters of the 18.5 from the previous generation. In the saddle the cockpit does feel a touch short because of the steeper seat angle (I slammed the saddle back because the rear suspension rides high making the seat angle feel even steeper), but, saddle dropped, I felt perfectly centered in the bike and not hanging over the front wheel.

It’s a great time to be a mountain biker because there are so many great trail bikes you can buy. The Fuel EX 9.9 and 9.8 are pricey bikes but have a collection of performance and features that few other bikes can match right now.

Three Awesome Knee Pads for the Trail

G-form knee pads

Light and Thin

G-Form Pro-X Barely noticeable sleeve with light pads and a mesh back panel. $60 | Competitive Cyclist

Dakine Knee Pads

Dirt-Rash Defense

Dakine Slayer Thick padding in front with mesh behind the knees to keep you cool. $65 | Competitive Cyclist

Fox Knee Pads

A Padded Knee Warmer

Fox Launch Enduro Abrasion-resistant, soft, breathable, and easy to pedal in. $60 | Competitive Cyclist

Headshot of Matt Phillips

A gear editor for his entire career, Matt’s journey to becoming a leading cycling tech journalist started in 1995, and he’s been at it ever since; likely riding more cycling equipment than anyone on the planet along the way. Previous to his time with Bicycling , Matt worked in bike shops as a service manager, mechanic, and sales person. Based in Durango, Colorado, he enjoys riding and testing any and all kinds of bikes, so you’re just as likely to see him on a road bike dressed in Lycra at a Tuesday night worlds ride as you are to find him dressed in a full face helmet and pads riding a bike park on an enduro bike. He doesn’t race often, but he’s game for anything; having entered road races, criteriums, trials competitions, dual slalom, downhill races, enduros, stage races, short track, time trials, and gran fondos. Next up on his to-do list: a multi day bikepacking trip, and an e-bike race. 

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2020 Trek Fuel EX 8 Bike (discontinued)

s1600 2020 Trek Fuel EX 8 Matte Dnister Gloss Trek Black

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Sizes and geometry.

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trek fuel ex 8 2020

  • Rider Notes

2020 Trek Fuel EX 8

trek fuel ex 8 2020

A 27.5″ / 29″ aluminum frame full suspension trail bike with high-end components. Compare the full range

For This Bike

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Based on frame geometry and build specs.

A bike with lower gearing will be easier to ride up steep hills, while a higher top end means it will pedal faster down hills.

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Gran Fondo Magazine

Oct 2020 · Benjamin Topf

The Trek Fuel EX 9.9 is an absolute classic in the trail bike segment. Could it also be the perfect bike for the next bikepacking adventure with its modern geometry and spare parts compartment in the down tube? We put the Fuel EX to the test.

Maximum fun on the descents

Intuitive and good-natured handling

Storage compartment in the down tube for tools or snacks

Too sluggish on easy terrain

Too much bike for long straights

Read Review

Enduro Mountainbike Magazine

Aug 2020 · Christoph Bayer

The Trek Fuel EX is the most expensive bike in this group test, yet is still awarded our Best Buy – how is that possible? Read our review to find out what makes this bike so good.

Performs on every kind of trail

Fantastic spec

A great balance of composure and agility

Seat tube angle could be steeper

Outdoor Gear Lab

Nov 2019 · Jeremy Benson

The Fuel EX 8 is an impressively capable, versatile, and well-rounded trail bike that is ready for anything you are. Trek redesigned the Fuel EX models for...

Relatively affordable

Good component spec for the price

Great small bump compliance


Frame sizing feels a little small

Can be overwhelmed in super aggressive terrain


Nov 2019 · Alan Muldoon

The updated Trek Fuel EX now features storage in the downtube, 29er wheels, more travel and a gorgeous frame… oh and it’s rollicking fast too.

Punchy trail bike with great handling.

Low profile tyre tread lacks bite.

Flow Mountain Bike

Having spent a load of saddle time with the 2020 Trek Fuel EX 9.8 on home soil, we've been getting very familiar with this 130mm travel trail brawler. It hasn't all been smooth sailing though. Read on to see what the Fuel EX does well, what it's struggled with, and what changes we've made to our long term review rig.

Stupendously plush rear suspension

The Fox 36 has really stepped up the EX's appetite for gnar

New geometry brings masses of high-speed stability

Rattling from the downtube trapdoor

Knock Block system works but creates practical annoyances

The 35mm carbon bars are overly stiff


Aug 2019 · Mike Levy

Trek's trail bike gets an all-new frame with tweaked suspension and fresh geometry, but where does sit compared to the competition?

Forgiving, deep feeling suspension

It's a wizard on technical climbs

New geometry increases capabilities

It might be too forgiving for some riders

You'll be using the pedal assist lever often

Trek could have gone further with the geometry

Apr 2019 · Rob Mitchell

We've been testing two 2019 130mm travel 29er trail bikes; the GT Sensor Expert and the Trek Fuel EX 9.7. Here we review the Trek Fuel EX.


Oct 2018 · Joseph Delves

A great full-sus all-rounder with an innovative frame

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Trek Fuel EX 8 XT

  • AUS $ NZD $ USD $ CAD $ GBP £ EUR €

Size / 13.5" High, 13.5" Low, 15.5" High, 15.5" Low, 15.5" High, 15.5" Low, 17.5" High, 17.5" Low, 18.5" High, 18.5" Low, 19.5" High, 19.5" Low, 21.5" High, 21.5" Low, 23" High, 23" Low

Weight / 13.81

At a glance

Where to buy.

Trek Logo


  • Frame Alpha Platinum Aluminium, tapered head tube, Knock Block, Control Freak internal routing, downtube guard, ISCG 05, magnesium rocker link, Mino Link, ABP, Boost148, 130 mm travel
  • Fork Fox Rhythm Float 34, Fox Rhythm 34, Float EVOL air spring, GRIP damper, tapered steerer, 44 mm offset, Boost110, 15 mm Kabolt axle, 140 mm travel
  • Shock Fox Performance Float EVOL, 3-position RE:aktiv damper, tuned by Trek Suspension Lab, 210 mm x 55 mm
  • Hubs Bontrager alloy, sealed bearing, 6-bolt, Shimano MicroSpline freehub, Boost148, 12 mm thru axle
  • Wheels Bontrager Line Comp 30, Tubeless Ready, 6-bolt, Boost110, 15 mm thru axle
  • Wheel Size 29" 27.5"
  • Tires Size: ML, Bontrager XR4 Team Issue, Tubeless Ready, Inner Strength sidewalls, aramid bead, 120 tpi, 29x2.60"; Size: ML, Bontrager XR4 Team Issue, Tubeless Ready, Inner Strength sidewalls, aramid bead, 120 tpi, 29x2.60''
  • Chain Shimano SLX, Shimano SLX M7100, 12-speed
  • Crank Shimano XT, Shimano XT M8100, 32T alloy ring, Boost, 175 mm length
  • Bottom Bracket Shimano MT500, 92 mm, PressFit
  • Rear Derailleur Shimano XT, Shimano XT M8100, long cage, 51T max cog
  • Shifters Shimano XT, Shimano XT M8100, 12-speed
  • Brakeset Shimano Deore, Shimano Deore M6000 hydraulic disc
  • Handlebar Bontrager Line, alloy, 35 mm, 27.5 mm rise, 780 mm width
  • Saddle Bontrager Arvada, hollow chromoly rails, 138 mm width
  • Seatpost Bontrager Line Dropper, 150mm travel, internal routing, 31.6 mm, 440mm length
  • Stem Bontrager Line, 35 mm, Knock Block, 0-degree, 50 mm length
  • Grips Bontrager XR Trail Elite, alloy lock-on

Q: How much is a 2020 Trek Fuel EX 8 XT?

A 2020 Trek Fuel EX 8 XT is typically priced around €3,349 EUR when new. Be sure to shop around for the best price, and also look to the used market for a great deal.

Q: Where to buy a 2020 Trek Fuel EX 8 XT?

The 2020 Trek Fuel EX 8 XT may be purchased directly from Trek .

Q: How much does a 2020 Trek Fuel EX 8 XT weigh?

A 2020 Trek Fuel EX 8 XT weights 13.81.

Q: What size wheels does the 2020 Trek Fuel EX 8 XT have?

The 2020 Trek Fuel EX 8 XT has 29" and 27.5" wheels.

Q: What size 2020 Trek Fuel EX 8 XT should I get?

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2020 Trek Fuel EX ditches Full Floater suspension, gets progressive geometry and onboard storage

The trail-orientated Fuel EX gets a modern makeover to appeal to more riders with a broad range of build kits and new features

The new Trek 2020 Fuel EX has been designed from the ground up, ditching the brand's signature Full Floater suspension system, adopting more progressive geometry, gaining onboard storage and getting a more broad selection of build kits to suit all budgets.

First launched nearly 15 years ago, Trek’s Fuel EX has somehow managed to span the range of being an entry-level mountain bike while at the same time appealing to hardcore all-day epic trail riders.

  • Trek Domane SLR 9.9 Project One first ride review
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Since the bike first launched we’ve seen plenty of changes in the range including suspension technology and travel — initially the bike was offered with just 100mm of travel, growing over its lifespan and the bike’s seen the addition of Trek’s different suspension technologies such as the Full Floater, RE:aktiv, Mino Link and Thru Shaft.

Geometry trends have changed, too, and the Fuel range has reflected this. Starting out as an XC-orientated bike, the Fuel EX has morphed into something that’s likely to be more at home on a wider variety of trails. Trek even mention the ‘e’ word in its marketing spiel — yes, the Fuel EX even has enduro riders in its sights.

2020 Trek Fuel EX updates and changes

What has Trek changed on the new model, then?

2020 Trek Fuel EX geometry

Trek Fuel EX mountain bike frame improvements

In the same way riders chase the proverbial perfect trail, most bike companies are chasing the longer, lower and slacker mantra with their bikes. Trek’s new Fuel EX is no exception to that rule.

Aiming to appeal to more riders, and quite possibly more extreme riders, from the outgoing model the bike’s gained a 10 to 20mm reach increase (depending on size), a 1-degree slacker head angle taking the figure down to a respectable 66 degrees and, most impressively yet, a steeper seat tube angle that’s climbed to 75 degrees.

  • What’s the future of MTB geometry?

These figures should mean the bike’s more at home when you’re riding harder and faster — offering a more stable chassis. There’s no detrimental effect for beginners, either, who’ll reap the benefits of a bike that doesn’t feel like it’s jumping around like a cat on a hot tin roof.

Trek Fuel EX mountain bike down tube protector

There’s also a broad range of sizes that start at extra small, running through to extra-extra-large. In the range, there are two small sizes: one for 27.5-inch wheels and one for 29-inch wheels.

In a welcome move, a medium and a medium-large size also rear their head. This bridges the gap between the medium and large bikes for people who’d normally sit between the sizes. Top work, Trek!

Trek Fuel EX mountain bike Mino Link geometry adjustment

You also get a high and low setting thanks to Trek’s Mino Link flip-chip that’s located on the seatstay to rocker link. Changing from low to high adjusts the head angle from 66 to 66.5 degrees, the seat tube angle from 75 to 75.5 degrees and reduces the bottom bracket drop, shortens the chainstay and the wheelbase among other numbers.

  • Seat tube length: 450mm
  • Seat tube angle: 75/75.5 degrees (low/high)
  • Head tube length: 105mm
  • Head tube angle: 66/66.5 degrees (low/high)
  • Effective top tube: 634/633 mm (low/high)
  • Bottom bracket height: 346mm
  • Wheelbase: 1,211/1,210mm (low/high)
  • Standover: 748/754mm (low/high)
  • Reach: 470/754mm (low/high)
  • Stack: 613/609mm (low/high)
  • Notes: Measurements for size large bike, full measurements available on Trek's website .

2020 Trek Fuel EX frame details

Not only has the bike’s geometry been modernised — Trek has also worked hard to accommodate the modern, discerning mountain biker.

You can now fit a 29 x 2.6-inch tyre on the back of the bike and Bontrager XR4 2.6-inch wide rubber is standard on all models of the Fuel EX.

Bontrager XR4 Team Issue mountain bike tyres

Trek has also managed to increase the range of dropper travel possibilities on its bikes. The extra-small and small bikes get 100mm travel posts, while the medium and medium-large bikes have a 150mm travel post. The large, extra-large and extra-extra-large sizes are treated to a 170mm post.

Trek Fuel EX mountain bike frame internal storage

In another welcome move, the Fuel EX gets on-board storage in the bike’s down tube. The storage’s hatch doubles up as a bottle cage and every Fuel EX is supplied with a Bontrager tool roll that’s got handy compartments to store your bits and bobs — a similar system was adopted on the very recently released Trek Domane road bike .

The Fuel EX comes in two materials: a cheaper alloy version and a full carbon affair that has a carbon mainframe, seat and chainstays. The carbon model gets a dedicated down tube protector, too.

Trek mountain bike Knock Block system

You’re also treated to Trek’s Knock Block system, which physically stops the bars turning beyond a certain angle to stop the bars, shifters or brake levers and fork crowns damaging both the top or down tubes.

There’s Trek’s Control Freak internal cable routing throughout that’s also Di2 compatible, so if you’re looking to upgrade in the future you’ve got the option of doing away with antiquated analogue gear shifting.

Trek Fuel EX mountain bike internal cable routing

Trek also states that all of its Fuel EX bikes have a lifetime warranty.

2020 Trek Fuel EX suspension details

In a rather bold move Trek has done away with its signature Full Floater suspension system that has been seen on the Fuel for some years. This arangement mounted the shock to both the linkage and the chainstay in front of the main pivot, which meant that the shock didn’t have a fixed mounting point — as the suspension compresses, so did the shock’s relative position.

Now, though, the rear shock mounts to a fixed point on the down tube at the junction of the seat tube, like traditional suspension designs.

RE:aktiv Thru Shaft mountain bike shock

Trek claims that doing away with its Full Floater technology means that the frame can be stiffer, tyre clearance can be increased and there’s no loss in suspension performance.

It's worth noting that, at the time it was used on the bike, Trek claimed that its Full Floater system meant that the shock’s leverage ratios could be soft off the top, give plenty of mid-stroke support and help increase bottom-out resistance. It also claimed that a Full Floater bike felt like it had more travel than it actually does.

To then go on and claim that there’s no loss in suspension performance after doing away with this system begs the question of why it was implemented in the first place.

Trek’s Active Braking Pivot (or ABP for short), unlike the Full Floater, avoids the chop on the latest Fuel EX. And like previous iterations of Trek models with the system, it claims it helps to increase suspension performance under braking.

Trek Fuel EX mountain bike Active Breaking Pivot suspension

The Fuel EX 9.8 and 9.9 models are adorned with the stiffer, burlier Fox 36 fork that hints at the bike’s capabilities and intended use. The rest of the range gets a mix of Fox 34, RockShox 35 Gold and Recon forks so there’s a good balance of intended use in the range.

Except for the Fuel EX 5 and 7, you get Trek’s RE:aktiv suspension technology on the whole range. This, Trek claims, helps to be supple on small bumps and push deeper into the travel, but is firm while you’re pedalling without having to flick levers.

Trek Fuel EX mountain bike

From the 9.8 model upwards, you also get Thru Shaft technology. This is where Trek has got rid of the internal floating piston in the rear shock, creating a system where there’s no oil volume displacement as the suspension compresses and extends.

2020 Trek Fuel EX women’s specific models

Trek’s also launching a full range of women’s specific models that will feature two colourways on all models, a wide range of sizing options, including two small sizes with the choice of 27.5- and 29-inch wheels, and plenty of standover height.

2020 Trek Fuel EX pricing and availability

Trek Fuel EX mountain bike

The Fuel EX ranges from £1,850 / $2,099.99 / AU$3,000 / €2,099 for the bottom spec EX 5 up to £8,000 / €9,099 for the top of the range EX 9.9 X01 AXS model.

The bikes are available from October on Trek’s website and your local Trek retailer.

2020 Trek Fuel EX specifications

Trek fuel ex 5.

Trek Fuel EX 5

  • Frame : Aluminium, tapered head tube, Knock Block, Control Freak internal cable routing, ISCG05, Mino Link, ABP, Boost 148, 130mm travel
  • Shock : RockShox Deluxe Select Plus
  • Fork : RockShox Recon RL, Boost 110, 140mm travel
  • Wheels : Bontrager alloy, sealed bearing, alloy axle, Shimano freehub, 148 x 12 rear, 110 x 15 front, Alex MD35 rims
  • Tyres : Bontrager XR4 Team Issue, tubeless ready, Inner Strength sidewalls, aramid bead, 120TPI, 29 x 2.60in
  • Shifter : Shimano Deore M6000, 10-speed
  • Rear derailleur : Shimano Deore M6000
  • Cassette : SunRace, 11-42, 10-speed
  • Cranks : Race Face Ride, 30-tooth chainring
  • Saddle : Bontrager Arvada
  • Seatpost : TranzX JD-YSP18, 130mm travel
  • Bar, stem and grips : Bontrager alloy, Bontrager Rhythm Comp, Bontrager XR Trail Comp
  • Brakes : Shimano hydraulic disc, MT201 lever, MT200 caliper
  • Price : £1,850 / $2,099.99 / AU$3,000 / from €2,099

Trek Fuel EX 7

Trek Fuel EX 7

  • Shock : Fox Performance Float EVOL, 3-position DPS damper
  • Fork : RockShox 35 Gold, Boost 110, 140mm travel
  • Wheels : Bontrager Line Comp 30, tubeless ready, Boost 110 front, Boost 148 rear
  • Shifter : SRAM NX Eagle, 12-speed
  • Rear derailleur : SRAM NX Eagle, 12-speed
  • Cassette : SRAM PG-1230 Eagle, 11-50, 12-speed
  • Cranks : SRAM NX Eagle, DUB, 30-tooth chainring
  • Brakes : Shimano hydraulic disc, MT401 lever, MT400 caliper
  • Price : £2,350 / $2,899.99 / AU$3,700 / from €2,699

Trek Fuel EX 8

Trek Fuel EX 8

  • Shock : Fox Performance Float EVOL, RE:aktiv 3-position damper
  • Fork : Fox Rhythm 34, Float EVOL air spring, GRIP damper, Boost 110, 140mm travel
  • Shifter : SRAM GX Eagle, 12-speed
  • Rear derailleur : SRAM GX Eagle, 12-speed
  • Cassette : SRAM XG-1275 Eagle, 10-50, 12-speed
  • Cranks : Truvativ Descendant 6k Eagle, DUB, 30-tooth chainring
  • Seatpost : Bontrager Line Dropper, 150mm travel
  • Bar, stem and grips : Bontrager Line alloy, Bontrager Line, Bontrager XR Trail Elite
  • Brakes : Shimano Deore M6000 hydraulic disc
  • Price : £2,800 / $3,499.99 / AU$5,400 / from €3,199

Trek Fuel EX 8 XT

Trek Fuel EX 8 XT

  • Shifter : Shimano XT M8100, 12-speed
  • Rear derailleur : Shimano XT M8100, 12-speed
  • Cassette : Shimano XT M8100, 10-51, 12-speed
  • Cranks : Shimano XT M8100, 32-tooth chainring

Trek Fuel EX 9.7

Trek Fuel EX 9.7

  • Frame : OCLV Mountain Carbon main frame and stays, internal storage, tapered head tube, Knock Block, Control Freak internal cable routing, ISCG05, Mino Link, ABP, Boost 148, 130mm travel
  • Cranks : Truvativ Descendant 6k Eagle, DUB, 32-tooth chainring
  • Brakes : Shimano MT420 4-piston hydraulic disc
  • Price : £3,400 / $4,099.99 / AU$5,000 / from €3,899

Trek Fuel EX 9.8

Trek Fuel EX 9.8

  • Shock : Fox Performance Float EVOL, RE:aktiv with Thru Shaft 3-position damper
  • Fork : Fox Performance 36, Float EVOL air spring, GRIP damper, Boost 110, 140mm travel
  • Wheels : Bontrager Line Carbon 30, tubeless ready, Boost 110 front, Boost 148 rear
  • Cassette : SRAM XG-1275 Eagle, 11-50, 12-speed
  • Cranks : Truvativ Descendant 7k Eagle, DUB, 32-tooth chainring
  • Seatpost : Bontrager Line Elite Dropper, 170mm travel
  • Bar, stem and grips : Bontrager Line Pro, OCLV Carbon, Bontrager Line Pro, Bontrager XR Trail Elite
  • Brakes : Shimano SLX M7120 4-piston hydraulic disc
  • Price : £4,750 / $6,999.99 / AU$7,000 / €5,499

Trek Fuel EX 9.8 XT

  • Tyres : Bontrager XR4 Team Issue, tubeless ready, Inner Strength sidewalls, aramid bead, 120TPI 29 x 2.60in
  • Price : £5,300 / $N/A / AU$N/A / €N/A

Trek Fuel EX 9.9

Trek Fuel EX 9.9

  • Shock : Fox Factory Float EVOL, RE:aktiv with Thru Shaft 3-position damper, Kashima coating
  • Fork : Fox Performance 36, Float EVOL air spring, GRIP2 damper, Kashima coating, Boost 110, 140mm travel
  • Shifter : SRAM X01 Eagle, 12-speed
  • Rear derailleur : SRAM X01 Eagle, 12-speed
  • Cranks : SRAM X01 Eagle Carbon, DUB, 32-tooth chainring
  • Brakes : Shimano XT M8120 4-piston hydraulic disc
  • Price : £6,500 / $7,499.99 / AU$9,500 / €7,499

Trek Fuel EX 9.9 X01 AXS

Trek Fuel EX 9.9 X01 AXS

  • Shifter : SRAM Eagle AXS, 12-speed
  • Rear derailleur : SRAM X01 Eagle AXS, 12-speed
  • Cassette : SRAM XG-1295 Eagle, 11-50, 12-speed
  • Cranks : SRAM X01 Eagle AXS Carbon, DUB, 32-tooth chainring
  • Seatpost : RockShox Reverb AXS, 170mm travel
  • Price : £8,000 / $N/A / AU$N/A / €9,099

Trek Fuel EX 9.9 XTR

  • Shifter : Shimano XTR M9100, 12-speed
  • Rear derailleur : Shimano XTR M9100, 12-speed
  • Cassette : Shimano XTR M9100, 10-51, 12-speed
  • Cranks : e*thirteen TRS Race, carbon, 32-tooth chainring
  • Brakes : Shimano XTR M9120 4-piston hydraulic disc
  • Price : £7,050 / $N/A / AU$N/A / €N/A

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9 Lessons We’ve Learned About Our 2020 Trek Fuel EX Test Bike

The not-so-minor details.

2020 Trek Fuel EX 9.8

Trek Bicycles Australia

$6,999 AUD (stock build)

12.9kg (current build)

- Hugely capable for a 130mm travel trail bike - The stiff & responsive chassis - Supremely balanced & versatile handling - The suspension is so plush and well controlled - Improved pedal efficiency and support - Lifetime frame & carbon wheel warranty

- Poor-fitting downtube trapdoor - The stock Bontrager dropper post is sluggish and sloppy - Carbon wheels are quite harsh

Wil Bids Adieu To The 2020 Trek Fuel EX 9.8 Long-Term Test Bike

When I think of the archetypal trail bike, Trek’s Fuel EX is one of the first names that springs to mind. And it should do, since it’s been kicking up the dirt for more than a few years. Launched all the way back in 2005 as the trail-offshoot of the Top Fuel race bike, the original Fuel EX was equipped with a generous 100mm of suspension travel, 26in wheels (of course), and it had quick releases front and rear. Since it was born during a time where we wanted as many gears as possible, it also had a 3×9 drivetrain. After 15 laps around the sun though, things have changed just a little.

The 2020 Trek Fuel EX is now the 9th iteration of the platform. It’s still a trail bike through-and-through, but compared to the original it’s got a lot more muscle. Having hit its teenage years, the Fuel EX is bigger on travel, bigger on wheelsize, bigger on geometry, and it’s equipped with almost every conceivable mod-con there is available today. There are 15 less gears though.

2020 trek fuel ex 9.8 red

Flow’s Fearless Leader, the Marvellous Mick Ross, went to the launch for the Fuel EX last year, and came away thoroughly impressed . Shortly afterwards, we received a Fuel EX 9.8 test bike for a proper long-term review on Aussie soil. After the first six weeks together, I posted my initial thoughts and suspension setup notes in a mid-term review . I’ve been riding the heck out of it since, and I’ve also been using it to test a variety of other components, including Curve’s carbon Dirt Hoops , the Shimano SLX 1×12 drivetrain and Shimano SLX 4-piston disc brakes .

To say we’ve gotten to know each other over the past six months would be a hefty understatement. We’ve had our disagreements, which you’ll read about in more detail below, but I’ve also learned a lot. And so with Baby Blue due to head back to the mothership, I thought it would be an appropriate time to detail those learnings before we part ways. For now at least.

2020 trek fuel ex 9.8 wil harcourt

Before going any further, we’ll stipulate that this bike first started out as a stock Fuel EX 9.8. If you want a refresher on what that looked like and what parts come on it for the $6,999 sticker price, check out the first look story here . Otherwise, read on to see how it’s currently setup.

2020 Trek Fuel EX Current Build Specs

  • Frame |  OCLV Mountain Carbon Fibre, ABP Suspension Design, 130mm Travel
  • Fork |  Fox 36 Float, Performance Series, GRIP Damper, 44mm Offset, 140mm Travel
  • Shock |  Fox Float EVOL w/Thru-Shaft, Performance Series, RE:aktiv Damper, 210x55mm
  • Wheels | DT Swiss EXC 1200 Spline 30 Carbon, 30mm Inner Rim Width
  • Tyres | Bontrager XR4 Team Issue 2.6in Front & Maxxis Minon DHR II EXO 3C 2.3in Rear
  • Drivetrain |  Shimano SLX M7100 1×12 w/SLX 32T Cranks & 10-51T Cassette
  • Brakes |  Shimano SLX M7120 4-piston, 203mm Front & 180mm Rear Rotors
  • Bar | OneUp Carbon, 20mm Rise, 800mm Width
  • Stem | OneUp Alloy, 35mm Clamp Diameter, 50mm Length
  • Grips | DMR Deathgrips, Non-Flange, Thin Diameter, Soft Compound
  • Seatpost | Funn UpDown w/1X Lever, 150mm Travel
  • Saddle |  Bontrager Arvada, Austenite Rails
  • Confirmed Weight | 12.9kg (as shown, without pedals)

2020 trek fuel ex 9.8

1. This Is Trek’s Stiffest Fuel EX To Date

No doubt about it, the latest Fuel EX chassis is the most robust of the lot. I’ve ridden every iteration of the Fuel EX since 2009, and it’s gotten bigger and burlier with each redesign, but this latest model takes the beefcake. The OCLV full carbon frame on the 9.8 (also used on the cheaper 9.7 and more expensive 9.9 models) is huge in every way. Everything about it is oversized, including that massive Straight Shot downtube.

Push it into a high-speed berm, and it simply doesn’t flinch. At all.

For 2020, the Fuel EX skips the Full Floater suspension design in favour of a fixed lower shock mount, much like the Remedy and Slash before it. Trek has finally ditched front derailleur compatibility, which has allowed the main pivot to be built much wider than before. The result of these two changes is a big lift in chassis stiffness. From the plump tapered head tube, down to the 92mm wide bottom bracket shell, and all the way back to the Boost 148x12mm ABP dropouts, the Fuel EX delivers a stout and responsive feel. Push it into a high-speed berm, and it simply doesn’t flinch. At all.

Also amplifying the Fuel EX’s stiffness is the Bontrager Line Carbon 30 wheelset. The carbon rims use the same mould that Bontrager has been using for quite a while, with a 29mm internal width and a 30mm deep profile. Along with the 28 J-bend spokes and high-flange hubs, it’s a very stiff and responsive wheelset, but it isn’t exactly compliant. Being on the lighter side however, I’ve found them to be quite harsh, with a lot of deflection when barrelling through rock gardens. This was made very apparent during some back-to-back testing with both the Curve Dirt Hoops and DT Swiss EXC 1200 wheelsets – both of which also use carbon rims, but ride significantly smoother.

2020 trek fuel ex 9.8 bontrager line carbon 30 dt swiss exc 1200 wheels

Up front, the Fox 36 fork is an excellent accompaniment to the Fuel EX. Even aesthetically, it’s just a better match for the mahoosif frame. Unfortunately the 36 is only found on the 9.8 and 9.9 models, with the cheaper Fuel EX’s coming with a slimmer 34. It’s not that the 34 is a bad fork, we’re big fans here at Flow, it’s just that if you’re going to really push this bike to its outer limits, then you’ll appreciate the extra strength up front. And I say that as a 68kg weakling – bigger folks will notice the improvement in tracking even more.

2. It’s Also The Most Efficient Too

This bike has a lot more surge at the pedals than its predecessor. The stiffer chassis and carbon wheels no doubt help with the responsive feel under power, but the new Fuel EX is inherently more efficient too. According to Trek, there is 10% more anti-squat through the travel compared to the 2019 Fuel EX. On top of that, the move away from the Full Floater suspension design means there’s more spring support from the shock too, so you don’t have to rely on the RE:aktiv damper to provide efficiency. If you’ve ridden previous EX’s and found them to feel a bit dumpy or wallowy, then you’ll be impressed with the more pert performance of the new 2020 model.

The improved pedal efficiency and spring support means I’ll use the Open position about 90% of the time, only flicking into Trail or Firm modes for smooth climbs or long road sections.

On the previous Fuel EX, I would typically ride with the shock’s blue compression lever set to the middle Trail position about 90% of the time, flicking it into the Open position for rockier descents. With this Fuel EX however, that ratio has flipped. The improved pedal efficiency and spring support means I’ll use the Open position about 90% of the time, only flicking into Trail or Firm modes for smooth climbs or long road sections.

2020 trek fuel ex 9.8 harcourt wil

While neither approach is right or wrong in my opinion, the improved efficiency does make the RE:aktiv damper somewhat redundant. Riding choppy off-road sections, either uphill or downhill, you’re much better off leaving the shock in the Open mode. There’s otherwise too much feedback through the suspension, and traction suffers. It isn’t quite as drastic as Specialized’s Brain damper, but it’s uncomfortable enough that I’d recommend running the shock wide open on rocky terrain.

Oh, and one other thing – the Firm mode doesn’t totally lock out the rear suspension. Unlike the fork, which has a rock-solid lockout, you’ll still get shock movement when pedalling hard out of the saddle. On the flipside, it also means the suspension will still work if you forget to flip the blue lever back to Open before you hit a descent.

3. The New Suspension Design Isn’t Quite As Floaty

Though Trek says the leverage curve is almost identical between the 2019 and 2020 Fuel EX designs, the new bike has traded up some of the floaty-ness that we loved about the old model . This tradeoff has been made in favour of greater mid-stroke support, which provides the pert pedalling performance mentioned above. It also gives the rider more feedback in peak-load scenarios, like pummelling through a berm at high speed, or pushing off lip on the trail. On modern flow trails, this bike is simply faster and more responsive.

However, on really turbulent sections of trail, there isn’t quite the same marshmallow-bottomlessness that the suspension on the old Fuel EX oozed so effortlessly.

2020 trek fuel ex 9.8 wil harcourt

Despite using full travel regularly, I can’t recall one occasion where I hit full bottom-out – it’s smooth and progressive as you get towards those final millimetres. However, on really turbulent sections of trail, there isn’t quite the same marshmallow-bottomlessness that the suspension on the old Fuel EX oozed so effortlessly. It doesn’t feel quite as ‘deep’ as the previous bike, with a bit more feedback from the trail. This is more noticeable on my home trails, which are natural and very old-school, admittedly with a distinct lack of soil and an over-abundance of rocky chunder.

It is still very smooth compared to the competition, particularly on this 9.8 model with the fast-moving Thru Shaft shock damper. Since there’s no IFP with the Thru Shaft design, the shock is able to react very quickly, with minimal hesitation in both directions. Along with the stronger support, the suspension on this bike is very well balanced for contemporary trail riding.

4. Confidence Levels Are At An All-Time High

The Fuel EX has always punched above its weight. For a 130mm travel trail bike it is hugely capable, with its supple suspension and muscly chassis delivering oodles of confidence.

The suspension is richer and more effective than Giant’s Trance 29, the chassis feels more solid than the Specialized Stumpjumper, and the handling is far more planted than the Canyon Neuron. I am yet to ride the new Norco Optic (we have one on the way), but I’m eager to see how that compares.

2020 trek fuel ex 9.8 dt swiss exc 1200 carbon wheels

In particular, the front end feels like it’s from a much bigger bike. The 36mm fork chassis feels especially stout in this short offset and 140mm travel guise, and the 66° head angle kicks out the front wheel far enough, without suffering from chopperitis.

Directly compared to the 2019 Fuel EX, the new bike has a lot more trail – 119mm vs 103mm, about a 15% increase. That means there’s more inherent damping to the steering, with a stronger willingness for the front wheel to stay pointing ahead. It keeps things steadier at high-speed, without the floppier steering of a slacker head angle on the flats and climbs.

So if you wanted to push into mini-enduro territory, which this bike is plenty capable of, you could buy a 150mm air shaft to jack up the Fox 36.

Worth mentioning is that Trek has cleared this frame to run up to 150mm of travel up front. So if you wanted to push into mini-enduro territory, which this bike is plenty capable of, you could buy a 150mm air shaft to jack up the Fox 36. And while you’re at it, you could always throw in a GRIP2 damper too if you wanted to go nuts. The Fuel EX is certainly ready for it if you are.

5. The Geometry Is Spot-On, And Easily Adjustable Too

I like that Trek didn’t go overboard with the geometry update for the new Fuel EX. It gave it all the usual nip-tucks, but it didn’t push things out so far as to water down this bike’s all-round capabilities.

The steeper 75° seat angle is a noticeable improvement on the climbs, and for me as a 175cm rider on a Medium frame, I wouldn’t want it much steeper than that. Riders with shorter femurs may disagree, but I like how comfortable this bike is to ride on mellower trails and on the long flattish road commute to and from the trails. The bike is quite roomy with a 440mm reach and the 50mm long stem, so there’s plenty of space to get comfortable.

2020 trek fuel ex 9.8 wil harcourt

You can steepen the angles by half a degree by flipping the Mino Link – a small alloy flip chip found at the top of each seatstay. It’s a very easy adjustment to make on the side of the trail, with only a 5mm hex key required. Flipping the Mino Link into the ‘High’ position also lifts the BB by 6mm, which doesn’t sound like much, until you remember that crank arms are sold in 5mm increments.

Given how easy it is to flip on the side of the trail, it’s a cool feature to experiment with.

I tried both settings regularly, though truth be told, there isn’t a drastic difference between them. Since I have a lot of tech climbs on my local trails, where rainfall has eroded gullies and filled them with loose baby-head sized rocks, the extra pedal clearance from the High position has been my go-to setting. I can notice a bit more pressure on my hands due to the steeper seat angle, but otherwise the bike still descends fantastically, and it also carves corners a little more assertively. Given how easy it is to flip on the side of the trail, it’s a cool feature to experiment with.

2020 trek fuel ex 9.8 mino link

6. Traction Levels Are Off The Charts

Alongside the Fox 36 and thicc frame, the Fuel EX looks even meatier with its big 2.6in rubber. It’s a bold decision to spec such high volume tyres on a mass production trail bike, but remember that the industry was going ga-ga for 2.8-3.0in plus tyres not long ago (where did they go by the way?).

We’re longtime fans of Bontrager’s trail tyres here at Flow, and the XR4 is even better in this big 2.6in size. It’s a versatile tread pattern that performs well in a very wide range of conditions, from off-camber turns on baked-out hardpack through to high-speed charging across loose rubble. With the exception of the gloopiest mud and greasiest clay, these tyres can handle it. And despite having written-off the rear tyre on nearly every test bike over the past six months, I’m still yet to puncture these XR4s. Just as my fingers have typed that out, I know exactly what’s going to happen now though…

The high volume means you’ll want to run these at lower pressures to get the most out of them. Depending on the terrain, I’ve aired them up as low as 18psi on the front and as high as 22psi on the rear. Alongside the supple suspension, they’re a big contributor to the Fuel EX’s overall damping qualities, and they back up the balanced handling with impressive cornering bite.

2020 trek fuel ex 9.8 wil harcourt

7. Tyres Make All The Difference

Of course nothing comes for free. The extra damping and traction from the big XR4s mean they’re not the fastest rolling rubber. At 916g & 926g (confirmed) I wouldn’t call them heavy given their size, but there’s obviously more mass here compared to skinnier trail tyres.

To add a bit of zip, I setup the Fuel EX with a pair of 2.4in Pirelli tyres ; a Scorpion M up front and a Scorpion R out back. Despite being about the same weight, the Scorpion tyres were significantly faster rolling due to their shallower tread profile and smaller footprint.

But at the very least, a skinnier and lower profile rear tyre will improve this bike’s rolling speed, and it’ll also give you a little more feedback too.

For more cross-country type riding, a tyre change makes a big difference to the bike’s speed, efficiency and even handling too. Along with flipping the Mino Link into the High position, and firming up the rear shock’s compression damping, the Fuel EX becomes better suited to long distance applications. If you really wanted to boost its versatility for tackling multi-day events like the Port to Port without having to invest in a secondary race bike, you could even fit a set of lighter wheels, which Mick is a big fan of .

But at the very least, a skinnier and lower profile rear tyre will improve this bike’s rolling speed, and it’ll also give you a little more feedback too. I’ve recently shifted back to running the XR4 on the front, and there’s a 2.3in Maxis Minion DHR II on the rear, which gives a slightly firmer and more direct feel to the back end for those who might find the 2.6in tyres over-damped. I’ve also been testing this bike with a set of DT Swiss EXC 1200 wheels , which we’ll be publishing a full review on soon.

2020 trek fuel ex 9.8 maxxis minion dhr II 3c exo 29x2.3in tyre

8. It Could Do With Some Refinement

While we’ve enjoyed a mostly fruitful relationship over the past six months, I have had some disagreements with our Fuel EX 9.8 test bike.

The stock Bontrager dropper post is sluggish, and over time it’s developed both fore/aft and rotational play. Given there are plenty of good droppers out there these days, I’d expect it to be better than this. There’s currently a Funn UpDown dropper post in its place, which has been a lot more solid.

As it stands, if you’re bombing high-speed descents in top gear, the chain clangs and echoes through the cavernous carbon frame, emulating the sensation of a loose shock pivot.

The biggest annoyance though has been the excessive chain slap. This is a problem when you’re in the smaller sprockets on the cassette, where the chain hovers mere millimetres above the chainstay. Trek has likely kept the chainstays symmetrical for stiffness, but the drive-side really should be lowered to provide more clearance with the chain. As it stands, if you’re bombing high-speed descents in top gear, the chain clangs and echoes through the cavernous carbon frame, emulating the sensation of a loose shock pivot. Perhaps a thicker chainstay guard or a device like the STFU guide could help Fuel EX owners.

2020 trek fuel ex 9.8 shimano slx 1x12

This means the rear hub ‘floats’ in between the dropouts while you try to locate the axle.

I’ve also found fitting the rear wheel to be more difficult than it should be, as the hub end caps are a smaller diameter than the dropouts. This means the rear hub ‘floats’ in between the dropouts while you try to locate the axle. It’s a bit like fitting a regular front hub to the oversized Torque Cap dropouts on a RockShox fork.

It still fits of course, but it’s a bit faffy, even more-so when there’s a chain and derailleur to contend with. The only reason I can see for the design is if Bontrager and/or SRAM is going to release a rear hub with oversized end caps to fit the oversized dropouts. That’s only a guess though – we’ve had zero clues from either company.

2020 trek fuel ex 9.8

I’ve also had issues with the downtube trapdoor – something I flagged in the mid-term review . The door itself works fine, and the latch is very user friendly whether you’re wearing gloves or not. However, the fit on our trapdoor is slightly loose, and that leads to rattling when you’ve got a full water bottle in the cage.

Trek responded by saying this is the first time it’s heard of the issue, though we’ve spoken with a few different Trek dealers in Australia who have said otherwise. The severity of the play varies from bike to bike, and anecdotally we’ve heard that it’s less of an issue on newer production bikes – perhaps a thicker rubber seal has helped to tighten the fit between the frame and the door, or the tolerances have simply improved.

Still, I’d prefer to have not encountered the problem at all on a $7K bike.

I ended up sticking on some tape to the underside of the door, which has helped limit the movement and noise. And it’s worth noting that the plastic doorframe can actually be removed from the carbon downtube entirely via four bolts, so it could be replaced under warranty if the movement was bad enough. Still, I’d prefer to have not encountered the problem at all on a $7K bike.

The downtube storage is still a good idea though, and I like that I can have the essentials stowed away in the bike so I don’t have to remember them every ride. The soft tool roll that Trek includes with the bike is pretty neat, though it’s a very tight fit for a 20gm CO2 cylinder and a pair of tyre levers in the designated pockets. You’ll also need a lightweight tube – a standard tube is too thick and bulky to fit into the sleeve. Fitting the loaded tool roll into the frame can take some careful negotiation, and removing it requires a bit of force – enough that the red pull-tag has unfortunately ripped off.

2020 trek fuel ex 9.8 trap door storage

9. There’s A Proper Lifetime Warranty On The Frame AND The Wheels

Being a Trek, the Fuel EX 9.8 frame comes with a lifetime warranty for the original owner. For 2020 models onwards, this warranty now (rightly) covers the swingarm as well as the mainframe. Also new is that if you end up selling your bike, the purchaser of your second hand bike will still have access to a limited frame warranty – specifically three years of coverage from the original date of purchase from the retailer. You can check out the specifics of Trek’s new warranty policy here .

And it’s another big advantage of buying a bike through a bricks & mortar shop rather than online.

Furthermore, Trek also offers a ‘Carbon Care’ program , which means if you damage the carbon frame from a crash, or you scratch your pedal cleat over the top tube, Trek will offer you a replacement part or frame at a discounted cost. This is something you’ll need to do through your local Trek dealer, and it’s another big advantage of buying a bike through a bricks & mortar shop rather than online.

2020 trek fuel ex 9.8

Something I didn’t know is that the Bontrager Line Carbon 30 wheels are also covered by a limited lifetime warranty, which basically covers you against any manufacturing defects. What’s really cool is that you also get a 2-year crash replacement warranty that covers you for any accidental damage. Misjudge a gap and blow out the tyre and crack the rear rim on a sharp pointy rock? Yep, that’s covered. You’ll either get a free repair or replacement, even if it was just you being stupid. Pretty insane huh? If you don’t believe me, check out the deets on Trek’s Carbon Care Wheel Loyalty Programme .

Aside from the aforementioned harshness, I haven’t encountered any issues with the stock Line Carbon 30 wheelset. At 1908g, they aren’t light wheels, but I do like the fast 54T rear hub engagement, and the TLR rim strips provide an exceptionally tight and reliable seal with tubeless tyres. While I’d personally prefer a set of high quality alloy wheels from a compliance perspective, it’s nice to have the added insurance of Bontrager’s 2-year guarantee on the carbon wheels.

2020 trek fuel ex 9.8

Flow’s Verdict

With this latest iteration of the Fuel EX platform, Trek has delivered the most capable one yet. Indeed I’m struggling to think of a 130mm travel bike that’s as versatile and up-for-it as this.

In its stock configuration, the Fuel EX 9.8 is a brawny trail bike that’s ready for the most technical singletrack you can throw at it. The suspension is highly effective, the front end is thoroughly planted, and the high volume tyres provide exceptional damping with corner-ripping traction. Extend the fork to 150mm, fit a tubeless insert in the back and some stiff-casing tyres, and you’d be ready to front up to an enduro event. With the exception of double black diamond trails at the bigger bike parks, there really isn’t a lot of terrain in Australia that this bike won’t handle.

With its improved pedal efficiency though, there’s a snappier bike lurking beneath the chubby rubber. Flip the Mino Link into the High position, fit some lighter tyres, and it’s possible to set this bike up for more dedicated mile munching. If you wanted to go further, then a set of lighter wheels would really turn it into two-bikes-in-one for entering a handful of events each year like the Port to Port.

It’s certainly a comfortable bike for all-day pedalling, something that’s been achieved by not over-cooking the angles. While Trek has pushed a lot of the mod-con buttons, and improved the Fuel EX in the process, it hasn’t mashed the whole keyboard to push things so far out of whack to reduce the comfort and fun factor on less gnarly singletrack.

And that’s where the beauty of this bike lies. There’s nothing overtly weird or radical about it. It’s immediately comfortable out of the box, and the approachable handling means it’s suitable for a wide range of riders and terrain. The result is a terrifically balanced bike that inspires confidence without asking a whole lot from its pilot. Which to me feels like the archetypal trail bike.

2020 trek fuel ex 9.8 wil harcourt

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trek fuel ex 8 2020

Dec 16, 2020

by Press Release

We are first in your inbox with the most important news in the industry―keeping you smarter and one-step ahead in this ever-changing and competitive market.

New modification of Russian VVER-440 fuel loaded at Paks NPP in Hungary

DECEMBER 14, 2020 — After the recent refueling at power unit 3 of the Hungarian Paks NPP, its VVER-440 reactor has been loaded with a batch of fresh fuel including 18 fuel bundles of the new modification. The new fuel will be introduced at all four operating power units of the Paks NPP, and the amount of new-modification bundles in each refueling will be increased gradually.

Development of the new VVER-440 fuel modification was completed in 2020 under the contract between TVEL JSC and MVM Paks NPP Ltd. Its introduction would optimize the hydro-uranium ratio in the reactor core, enabling to increase the efficiency of fuel usage and advance the economic performance of the power plant operation. All VVER-440 fuel modifications are manufactured at the Elemash Machine-Building Plant, a facility of TVEL Fuel Company in Elektrostal, Moscow Region.

Paks Nuclear Power Plant

“Introduction of a new fuel is an option to improve technical and economic performance of a nuclear power plant without substantial investment. We are actively engaged in development of new models and modifications of VVER-440 fuel for power plants in Europe. The projects of the new fuels for Loviisa NPP in Finland, Dukovany NPP in the Czech Republic, Mochovce and Bohunice NPPs in Slovakia, are currently at various stages of implementation. Despite the same reactor model, these projects are quite different technically and conceptually, since we take into account the individual needs and requirements of our customers,” commented Natalia Nikipelova, President of TVEL JSC.

For reference:

The project of development and validation of the new fuel has been accomplished with participation of a number of Russian nuclear industry enterprises, such as OKB Gidropress (a part of Rosatom machine-building division Atomenergomash), Bochvar Institute (material science research facility of TVEL Fuel Company), Elemash Machine-building plant and Kurchatov Institute national research center. At the site of OKB Gidropress research and experiment facility, the new fuel passed a range of hydraulic, longevity and vibration tests.

Paks NPP is the only functioning nuclear power plant in Hungary with total installed capacity 2000 MWe. It operates four similar units powered by VVER-440 reactors and commissioned one by one in 1982-1987. Currently, Paks NPP is the only VVER-440 plant in the world operating in extended 15-monthes fuel cycle. The power plant produces about 15 bln kWh annually, about a half of electric power generation in Hungary. In 2018, the project of increasing the duration of Paks NPP fuel cycle won the European competition Quality Innovation Award in the nomination “Innovations of large enterprises”. Russian engineers from TVEL JSC, Kurchatov Institute, OKB Gidropress, Bochvar Institute and Elemash Machine-building plant provided assistance to the Hungarian colleagues in accomplishment of the project.

  TVEL Fuel Company of Rosatom incorporates enterprises for the fabrication of nuclear fuel, conversion and enrichment of uranium, production of gas centrifuges, as well as research and design organizations. It is the only supplier of nuclear fuel for Russian nuclear power plants. TVEL Fuel Company of Rosatom provides nuclear fuel for 73 power reactors in 13 countries worldwide, research reactors in eight countries, as well as transport reactors of the Russian nuclear fleet. Every sixth power reactor in the world operates on fuel manufactured by TVEL.  

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  3. Trek Fuel EX 8 Review

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