First Ride: 2016 Trek Top Fuel

Aug 17, 2015
by Mike Kazimer  



The Top Fuel has been missing from Trek's lineup for the last few years, long enough that the previous version rolled on 26” wheels and had a 2x10 drivetrain. For 2016 the XC race machine reemerges with 29” wheels, Boost 148 wheel spacing, and a updated frame design that uses Trek's Full Floater suspension design for its 100mm of travel.

The 9.9 SL is the highest end bike in the line, dripping with light and expensive bits like RockShox's RS-1 fork, XTR brakes and drivetrain, DT Swiss XMC1200 carbon wheels, and RaceFace's Next SL carbon cranks. Those parts and the featherweight frame have the bike weighing in at only 21.6 pounds without pedals, but all that carbon does come at a price, and the 9.9 SL retails for $8999.99 USD. Luckily, for riders who haven't won the lottery recently, there's more than one option in the lineup, and the base model aluminum version is priced at $2599.99.

Details
• Intended use: cross-country race
• Travel: 100mm
• Full carbon frame
• 432mm chainstays
• 29" wheels (27.5" for 15.5" frame)
• Weight: 21.6 pounds (9.79 kg)
• Price: $8999.99 USD


Trek Top Fuel 2016
Trek Top Fuel 2016
Trek's new Cable Freak internal routing can is easily adaptable to work with nearly every possible housing combination.

Frame Details

The 9.9 SL's low and sleek frame is completely made from Trek's OCLV carbon fiber, including the chainstays and rocker link, which keeps the frame weight down to a claimed 1900 grams for the 17.5” size. A small chip, what Trek calls their 'Mino Link' is located in the seat stays that can be rotated to switch the bike's head angle between 70.0° and 70.9°, a change that also raises or lowers the bottom bracket height.

Trek's new “Control Freak” internal routing configuration allows nearly every possible combination of derailleur, brake, dropper post, or suspension lockout housing to be run inside the down tube. To keep the housing from rattling around inside the frame, there's a spot on the underside of the downtube for a zip tie to enter the frame, bundling everything together and preventing any irritating noises.

A 12x148mm thru axle keeps everything snugged down at the rear of the bike, and as easy as it is to dismiss a new standard, the amount of rear tire clearance that the Top Fuel has is truly impressive. There's plenty of room to fit more substantial rubber than the minimalist Bontrager XR1 tires the bike comes with, which would make the bike even more capable in loose or steep terrain.


Trek Top Fuel 2016
The Top Fuel now uses Trek's Full Floater suspension design.


Suspension

The Top Fuel now uses Trek's Active Braking Pivot (ABP) suspension design, which uses a pivot that rotates around the rear axle, with the intention being to prevent braking forces from affecting the rear shock in any way. The shock itself isn't attached to a fixed point on the frame; instead, it's attached to the chainstay and the upper rocker link, allowing it to 'float' for what Trek says is increased sensitivity, even on bike with only 100mm of travel. The Monarch rear shock and RockShox RS1 shock can both be locked out on the fly thanks to a hydraulic lockout lever found on the left side of the bar, allowing for even greater efficiency on smoother sections of trail.




Trek Top Fuel 2016
Shimano's XTR cassette and rear derailleur are paired with a Race Face Next SL crankset up front.
Trek Top Fuel 2016
Not what you'd want to dive into a DH run with, but Bontrager's XR1 tires are XC race ready.


Trek Top Fuel 2016
Trek Top Fuel 2016
It resembles a dropper post lever, but the black lever is actually the remote lockout for the bike's shock and fork.


Ride Impressions

When the opportunity arose to spend time aboard Trek's new Top Fuel, I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. These days most of my riding takes place on bikes that are a good deal slacker and with more travel than this XC race machine, and it's rare that I swing a leg over a bike without a dropper post. Still, I was intrigued by the prospect of seeing what a cross-country bike of this caliber could handle, especially when tasked with navigating through more technical terrain that what would typically be found on a race course.

Right off the bat, it's the Top Fuel's weight that's most striking. Compared to a modern all-mountain / enduro bike, the Top Fuel is 8 pounds lighter – that's like losing the weight of a gallon of water. It feels impossible to go slow, and I found myself standing and cranking up sections of trail that I would normally sit and grind through simply because of how much easier the reduced weight made climbing. The tires do tend to flounder a bit on really on loose terrain, occasionally spinning out when things got steep, but given how minimal their tread pattern is, they weren't nearly as treacherous as their appearance suggests.

I used the suspension lockout mainly on longer fire road climbs, and whenever I forgot that the bike didn't have a dropper post and pushed the lockout lever instead. On more technical climbs, keeping the suspension fully open provided better grip, keeping the rear wheel in better contact with the ground.

Descending aboard the Top Fuel ended up being much more manageable than I'd expected. I had to dig deep into my bag of bike skills to come to terms with tall posting once again, but even though a dropper post would be the first thing I'd add if I were to purchase a Top Fuel, otherwise the bike's handling was excellent. It's incredibly quick and efficient, but with just enough suspension to take the edge off botched lines. The back end is short enough that getting around tight turns didn't pose any issues, although there was a touch of flex from the RS-1 fork when things got really tight and twisty. I did reach the end of the 100mm of travel a few times, but it was with a subtle 'clunk' when it happened, and it was warranted in each instance.

XC race bikes tend to have reputations for feeling twitchy and nervous even in moderately technical terrain, but the Top Fuel defies that convention, and its handling is much closer to what I'd expect from a trail bike rather than one that's capable of taking a World Cup XC podium. The only downside? Purchasing the Top Fuel effectively eliminates any bike related excuses for not being the fastest rider in your town.


www.trekbikes.com / @trek


164 Comments

  • + 173
 Good to see PB doing a review of a top level XC machine... Even if you're not into lycra, you're still a cyclist, and you have to appreciate machines as awesome as this even if it's not your discipline.
  • + 18
 @Spark24.... we'll said brother, I agree. I would never ride xc bikes like this but it is still impressive to see a this side of the sport.
21lbs out of the box.... wow.... impressive!
  • + 3
 Agreed. Clearly the tech from our gravity fed machines has inspired - and improved - this bike too. Review everything, I say. Heck, why not have a comparo of some scoot bikes so readers who are parents know what to buy and what to avoid.
  • - 63
flag Crankmiester (Aug 17, 2015 at 7:55) (Below Threshold)
 While I do agree with you, it makes me wonder why pink bike has made no mention of the Evil Following. Which has been out much longer and would surely attract more readers. I hope they aren't pocketing a bunch of cash for reviewing treks, specialized, and other big brands while the little guys fall on the back burner...
  • + 6
 @crankmiester The Evil Following is not in the same catergory as this machine. It's significantly heavier, slacker, and has almost an inch more travel. It's solidly a trail bike. PB doesn't often review full blown XC machines, so this was refreshing to see. I once said I would never own an XC bike but after building a Devinci Dexter for the heck of it, I have seen the light. You can wear baggy shorts and still rip an XC machine. They feel like slopestyle bikes that can climb.
  • - 5
flag mhoshal (Aug 17, 2015 at 14:26) (Below Threshold)
 Id rather them review bikes normal people can afford. As opposed to top level bikes that 99% of the people on here including me could never afford especially when your lucky to get a session out of either bike now a days unless you baby them which for their discipline should not be the case. Heres a perfect example of how crappy products have gotten I have a Ole pair of judys on an 02 rockhopper that still work like new. Bought a pair of recon 351 u turns thinking rockshox were bombproof and let me tell you boi was I wrong they blew in less than six months of normal use. Compression stopped working and it spued oil out of the rebound knob. Same with marzocchi I hqve 02 shivers and 09 djs. Shivers are still mint the djs started making a horrible top out noise that I couldn't get rid of even after I had them sent in and rebuilt quality in bikes is almost none existent now a day everything is made to brake not last!!!!

Rant over lol
  • + 3
 I totally agree with what you said about everything is made to break not last. Had a new bike in Aug last year and I've had 3 reverbs a rear shock and a hub fail me in 9 months. Plus the cassette and chain needed replacing after very little millage. I bought a new bike back in 2004 and it didn't miss a beat in 3 yrs flat out riding.
  • + 4
 @crankmiester...Drink Bleach
  • + 14
 @mhoshal I dont know about how easy suspensions break, but you definitely broke the english language.
  • + 6
 Sorry if I offended anybody. I just mean to say that there are a lot of reviews lately that all seem to be from big bike brands, and not many from the little guys... I imagine that it is not pinkbikes fault but rather the big brands have the money to send out a bunch of bikes for publications to demo and review where a small company like evil would have a harder time doing that. I think it is refreshing to see a XC review, I just wish a spotlight could be shined on the little guys.
  • + 8
 @Crankmiester, we try to have reviews from a wide range of brands, not just the big guys. Here are two recent ones from smaller companies: www.pinkbike.com/news/xprezo-magic-carpet-review-2015.html, and www.pinkbike.com/news/guerrilla-gravity-megatrail-review-2015.html. Availability has been tight on the Following, but rest assured that it's on our wishlist of bikes to review.
  • - 19
flag mhoshal (Aug 17, 2015 at 18:07) (Below Threshold)
 Didn't realize ir was grammer class assclown!!!!
  • + 0
 When was the last time a high end Element got a review? It really does seem like a trek and specialized show here sometimes
  • + 93
 Maybe have someone who rides/races XC review the XC bikes, just a thought. It would be more helpful to know what an XC rider thinks than someone who rides more aggressive bikes all the time. Of course you would want it slacker, wider tires and a dropper post to make it more of a trail bike, but people buying this bike are buying it to race XC
  • + 18
 If they need a washed up, formerly competent (at best) XC racer... I volunteer.
  • - 50
flag AllridersAgency (Aug 17, 2015 at 7:01) (Below Threshold)
 Someone should bring some CLEVER rules to limite stupid too light limitating bikes and this way assure full suspension ALLMOUNTAIN rigs, dropperpost, propper tyres... and this way great circuit and shows with more gravity oriented XC races closer to nowadays MTB world... Just and idea, bring wheight limitation as roadies do...
  • + 18
 @AllridersAgency I think that's called an Enduro race...
  • + 17
 Yeah pinkbike definitely needs a niche rider for the diferent niche bike reviews. When they have reviewed fat bikes, single speeds, steel hardtails and now xc the reviews go along the lines of is not an all mountain dual suspension with a dropper post, and big tires but this is what it can do close to it. People who ride and buy those bikes know they dont ride like ds enduro rigs in fact they dont want them to ride like that, they want to know how they fare against other bikes in the same category.
  • + 5
 @AllridersAgency are you serious? this is not F1 nor road bike stuff this is mtb. Why would you make a limit for how light a bike is aloud to be? thats like saying stop we don't need evolution anymore.
  • - 7
flag AllridersAgency (Aug 18, 2015 at 2:06) (Below Threshold)
 Hey guys it s just the opposite... and I have PROOVE of it, cause somehow I started organizing ALLRIDE events 10 years ago ( not enduro it even exist yet as concept) and yes we limited bike wheight doing categories instead of age for bike wheight groups so everybody was able to ride competitively whatever it s bike was... And note with circuits with no limitation at all (not like enduro) and throwing everything there... Freeride, urban, enduro, etc..,
Check out piece of mtb history:
www.marccerdan.com/allride.html

So if we did this 10 years ago i think finally has arrived the time when cross country racing could be more gravity oriented cause some allmountain rigs with 140 / 120 pedal and go down so well that it makes difficult to justify so deacreased performance in dh just for gainning 1kg or so...
So what we did is limitate bike wheight to 11kg, but today it could be 10 or 10 and a half. Also did 13kg, 15kg and 17kg, so with this wheight limit you try to throw everything you can to your bike to make it as dh capable as you can with good compromise pedaling.... Dawn I can tell in one race the overall winner was a guy with a 17kg orange and he was throwing to all the crazy drops we put in while pedaling for 2h... I also i have to say when I was really strong some time ago I won 3 xc races on enduro bikes (14kg nomad) and alwas was due to I gainned big big margins on Dh...

Then circuits and riders could explore more the limits of this sport which is now into the right direction with technichall circuits and many more riders whipping like Nino and maybe other tricks and high speed... You know it could be next thing after enduro wave...
  • + 9
 Didn't read way too long
  • - 8
flag AllridersAgency (Aug 18, 2015 at 5:43) (Below Threshold)
 Ok the resume it would be, it might be surprisingly, but yes stablish XC races with bike wheight limits would help to evolve the show and image of MTBiking a hell of a lot, and we did it once, you can see it... Plus Fortunately bikes will never stop evolving... and maybe finally crosscountry racing mindset will keep evolving again... Other ways in the name of wheight and for gaining those miliseconds on the uphill there will be always ligher amd better rolling bike with probably crap dh skills... Limiting the show again.
  • + 0
 Compare a mountain bike 2 or 3 years apart the differences are notable. Compare a road bike 5 years apart the differences are barely notable.
  • + 6
 @AllridersAgency Most XC riders choose to be very conservative on the downhill since a few seconds is not significant enough to warrant them needing a good descending XC bike. It's the Uphill where the challenge is and where the 1st place and the 3rd place are separated by a few minutes. You have certainly no Idea how an XC race works.
  • - 8
flag AllridersAgency (Aug 18, 2015 at 13:27) (Below Threshold)
 @cafreak2000 sorry but I was paid some years ago for racing XC and won many... As the lasts ones on enduro bike, fat tires and dropper post, just to show everyone they were completly wrong, you can win huge margins on DHs if you are good at it and i did on 14kg bike twice ( and DH podiums). Imagine now with 11kg allmountain... Everyone just would have more fun. Sorry but, if you give me a Xc bike without droper post and decent tires I just prefer go riding on the road and make some proper sprints...
  • + 6
 @AllridersAgency that smelly smell can you smell it? it smells like bullshit! you sound like the kid at school that said his uncle works at nintendo.
  • + 3
 @AllridersAgency Dude what you said is complete bullshit. The common strategy for every XC rider is to ride conservatively downhill while competitively sprinting uphill cause that's where everything counts in XC, Even if you are a "Paid" Racer saving a few seconds downhill isn't gonna warrant a sure win in an XC race since its all about the consistency and the speed of your climbs. Like I said before the downhill is gonna save you a few seconds while the climbs can save you almost a few minutes. Don't go to the point of lying about who you are just to make your opinion seem credible.
  • - 4
flag AllridersAgency (Aug 19, 2015 at 14:30) (Below Threshold)
 It's well documented, I m not a layer sorry. Obviously I choosed propper Xc races with loads of technichall stuff and long DHs. But at that time (07) I was doing podiums on DH scratch too so you can imagine how much time do I gained on DHs... And later obviously I turned a true pro in Enduro... So something i may know...
Cause I see this post is maybe is full of more xc oriented riders....I just throw you the next question:
Ask yourself how much time you are loosing on DHs cause with a very light allmountain bike you can go as fast as a DH bike on some trails... This is the benchmark and mentality you should all have... And no like 200gr more on a droperpost is going to punish me 5s.. on uphills...
For this reason my proposal which we allready implemented succesfully to just limte some wheight and then you stop riders obsessing for wheight weenies and all wearing at least dropper post ans proper tires... Much much more fun..

Came on lets go Neg prope me...
Just trying to give you my best advices which proved it worked...
  • + 3
 i just read your first three comments, realized you were full of shit, then went and neg propped every other one without reading them. because pinkbike logic
  • + 22
 Review should have been done by an XC racer. It would have given more insight into the changes that this new bike brings to the market. Weight is great as my old 9.9SL 26" from 2007 was the exact same weight out of the box without carbon wheels.
Progress! Mind you this bike will retail for over $11k in Canada.
  • + 8
 that is just a thoroughbred racing machine. unbelievable.
  • + 8
 I really want this bike
  • + 6
 Any chance pinkbike could send it down to little old New Zealand and I'll give you the best long term ride review in return? Please and thank you Big Grin
  • + 3
 "Descending aboard the Top Fuel ended up being much more manageable than I'd expected. I had to dig deep into my bag of bike skills to come to terms with tall posting once again,"

Or you coulda just put the seat down? Its not like its welded into the frame. The 5 seconds this will take you will easily be made up on a descent of over a minute.
  • + 13
 I spoke to a pro-XCer last sunday and he says that more and more guys are looking for droppers. He said that he is not sure whether it actually saves him some time on descents but it defo saves energy as he can ride more relaxed. So don't worry it's coming, when top dogs like Nino will start using it, everyone will. All it takes is a major company making a new dropper for XCers and marketing it through their top riders. There's plenty of people using RS-1 now, even though EVERYONE knows SID makes more sense
  • + 0
 Two issues with dropping the seat: First is the big kink in the seat stay, which if you can get past it leads to the second issue: the bolt for the suspension link goes directly through the frame. The only way to drop the seat is to cut the post, and the only way to add a dropper is to make sure that the dropper has minimal travel; only enough so that it can clear the big kink in the seat stay.
  • + 4
 ...Which puts us into conclusion that if you want a fast XC racing bike that allows you to descend with confidence you buy a Specialized Epic which BTW comes stock with a dropper post
  • + 2
 You also have the issues of another moving part to maintain when the average XC racer will (generally) be putting in more time on the bike compared to the average Gravity rider. Plus, you won't make an OCD XC guy happy when the post is slipping side to side slightly every pedal stroke Smile Don't even mention the weight Smile
  • + 9
 There is literaly no other discipline of MTB that can benefit from dropper posts more than XC racing, because ups and down change so often. Enduro is not even close. As some fast rider said once, if you can't pedal standing for 500 meters per stage then maybe you are in the rong sport.
  • + 6
 funny thing is they don't need it anymore in enduro since it's now "lift assisted multi stages downhill race"
  • + 4
 This bike could easily handle a 125 dropper post which would be more than enough for XC. 100 would be even better.
  • - 1
 It's going to be the same as with 15mm axles. XC dudes needed their own axle to buy into thru axles. Off course 20mm was there and they could grab it with all the benefits buuuut, no... they had to have their own to feel good about it. Now same will happen with droppers. They will have to be introduced with a new product of slightly modified properties with a slightly better weight mark.
  • + 3
 Trolling hard today Waki... I'm quite sure 15mm had nothing to do with XC guys being "reluctant" adopting through axles. They just use what's around, 15mm replaced QR, so that's what they started using. They want their bikes light, that's the issue here. They didn't use 20mm axles because light 20mm forks didn't exist, and there was nothing wrong with QR for XC application.
  • + 1
 Well if you had a batch of forks to be made you could adopt 20mm no problem. Hub weight drop is 50g at best in case of super expensive tune hubs. In most cases, especially with popular hubs with exchangeable adapters like Hope or Chris King, weight drop is NONE. Nobody cares if weight difference between 20mm and 15mm XTR is 220 to 135g, because ALL Shimano hubs are bloody stupid. Fork weight drop can be asessed only with Rockshox forks as they were the only ones having same kind of axle mounting both for 15 and 20mm and as far as I remember, according to their website statements the difference was 20g - equals IRRELEVANT, two forks of exactly same kind can differ as much. This is my theory, no proven fact. But it is a good one. EVERYONE knows that 15mm changed nothing but introduced a faster way of undoing the wheel, even better than 9mm, which just like 135QR is dead on elite MTBs and for very good reasons. I pee on it's grave. 15mm thru axle, was the first one allowing for such quick undoing the wheel. This is where the list merits end, even though it's a huge one. Diameter was merely a public relations move. Increase in stiffness is next to none, due to lack of any sort of clamping. Rockshox at least too effort to make an expanding collar in their firs MAxles, but dropped it later. It looks svelte and is theoretically lighter. Not in practice.
  • - 1
 Totally disagree. Enduro stages have harder , longer decents than xc so surly would Warrant a dropper more? Xc guys are fine at the moment without them and as your xc buddy said , wouldn't be sure if it would save him time but enduro guys would definitely struggle and loose time.
  • + 3
 By average Enduro is about downhill so you pedal up, you get off your bike, drop the post using qr collar and off you go. If an uphill bit happens mid stage you can do it standing. On an XC race you ride up and down all the time so you may want switch the seat height all the time. Dude I spoke to said that dropper helps with regeneration as he can ride fast without feeling like he is charging. When you have virtually zero suspension in your legs due to having high seat, and go head first into a slippery rockgarden with semi-slick tyres, then you are either charging or walking. Dropper posts are the best sht out there, it is undeniable. Not running them is pure ideology and side benefits, it has nothing to do with actual bike handling. Just like bars narrower than 26"
  • + 2
 As soon as there is a light weight option out there, we will see a lot of the world cup riders using them I feel. I believe I heard mathias flückiger used one in the Windham world cup despite the track being reasonably tame compared to features found on other tracks
  • + 2
 Couldn't agree more, droppers absolutely perfect for Xc, bit pointless for Enduro. So Enduro riders use them and Xc riders don't. Typical cyclists...
  • + 3
 They are not pointless for Enduro, off course they are good when racing Enduro. I rather meant that if there was someone to really benefit from them either on race or on sunday ride it would be XCers. I don't think a sunday Enduro warrior o a sunday ride benefits much from having a dropper. It is a luxury for AM while it is extremely valuable for an XCer. Ups and downs are one thing, but it goes deeper than that for XC. It is obvious that even when you are riding through a flat bumpy ground, lowering your saddle a bit more than you would on a fireroad, is more efficient than keeping it maxed up. IN that way your bike is not hitting your bum all the time. When you ride upon a root and your rear wheel wants to go up over it, but hits your bum, as a result, it rolls over that root worse. Now when you have enough room, by lowering your saddle even by an inch, you can be more sensible with your rear. Then if when you come upon an even bit of ground you put your saddle to max height to grind it.
  • + 3
 Oh, I'm sold completely on their use for XC, genius bit of kit. But for enduro its mostly down with a few short sharp climbs. The whole thing can be done standing. Then put seat up with a QR for the stage transfer. Losing a pound from the very top of the bike is not n insignificant amount in my eyes. Especially when you are trying to pedal a 160mm travel tank up a long hill.
  • + 2
 XC racers are obsessed with weight. Anything that adds weight is deleted and everything essential is as light as possible. My marathon buddy claims every kg costs 5 watts in power. The races are won on the climbs they think. Its true to a point but when you see races being lost by crashes on the descents because the bikes are super skittish and so steep in front you have to wonder why the geo stays where it is and droppers are not more prevalent.
  • + 5
 Races are won on climbs indeed but even if take away crashing, they are always about energy management. Dropper allows you to keep your spoed up, so you use less Watts elsewhere. Same goes for riding skills. An average XCer just does not appreciate them, for many it is about getting down sketchy stuff in one piece. It is about surviving not thriving. Top elite guys are incredible though. I rolled behind two Merida Multivan dudes in Hafjell on a flow trail and I had a tough time to ride beside them. They were railing it with control and jumping with full confidence on their flimsy 8kg hardtails while I was on a fully armed AM bike with DH tyres.
  • + 2
 Depends on what you call 'enduro'. Race format, yes, probably, but the type of riding you'd normally refer to as 'enduro' (i.e. all day riding focused on the technical aspect) quite often involves lots of ups and downs so a dropper makes perfect sense there.
  • + 5
 All day riding is xc, always has been, always will be. Its how mountain biking was formed, just going out and riding your bike all day, up and down hills. This style riding is suited to a dropper post. 'Enduro' is just downhill racing where you ride to the start line (or recently get the lift to the start as well). In general most timed stages currently allow a rider to just drop the saddle at the start and not need it until the finish, so like @WAKIdesigns is saying, a dropper post isn't as required for 'Enduro'. (yes before the haters pitch up, I know there are stages where a dropper post can be beneficial for pedal sections).
  • + 3
 The XC racing around me is on courses with constantly undulating terrain. While Ive never used a dropper post during a race, having to hit a button every 30 seconds to raise and lower my seat would distract me and Id either go slower or crash. Ive never had a problem getting behind the seat on super steep stuff and usually stand while pedaling through rough sections. Cornering is no problem because 29er. I see the point for getting rowdy and having fun, but for racing around me they are for beginners.
  • + 2
 ^You only drop it when required, not on every slight descent
  • + 4
 Xcmarauder, c'm on, XC racers use lock out button all the time. Isn't that distracting? Furthermore now with XX1 and XTR Di2 you have one shifter less to think about.
  • + 1
 I ride epic brain so I don't have to use my own. I hate remote lockout switches. I bet a good automatic CV transmission would be great too. Head down and pedal
  • + 1
 There are prototypes of that out there, mainly just on road bikes atm I believe. Would feel so weird at first
  • + 1
 @xcmarauder "Cornering is no problem because 29er"

Explain please? Cornering is no problem because fatbike I would understand, but fail to see what diff 29er wheels would make.
  • + 4
 Xcers not liking droppers is like roadies and disc brakes
  • + 6
 fontana said this in a PB interview

"Yeah, about dropper posts... I know a lot of people outside of XC look at your bikes and ask "why don't they use dropper posts?"

Dropping seatpost are a really good idea, but on a cross-country bike, we need to build bikes around that. A cross-country bike has a really steep head-angle, with a dropping seatpost, if you take out the saddle, it's not balanced. For us, it's not natural, as with the steep head-angle, if you have nothing between your legs, it's not comfortable. Maybe, in the future we will have different bikes, more aggressive, then maybe yes..."

www.pinkbike.com/u/mattwragg/blog/Interview-Marco-Fontana.html
  • + 0
 so its easier to descend with a seat right up your arse, if you have a tight head angle?

not sure I agree with that one...
  • + 1
 Hey dont forget...BOOST
  • + 4
 gabriel, if you watch the body position of an XC racer descending then you'll see it wouldn't be any different without the saddle due to general geo. If you drop the saddle you lose the feedback and control you get from saddle on thighs. With this geo and a steep HTA you have to "boss" the front of the bike so it is completely different from a more "gravity" orientated bike where the geo and suspension help you to centre your mass lower and further back on the bike where a high saddle would get in the way. That being said, if you look at the saddle height of the top DH guys you'll see they generally run them pretty high for exactly the same feedback Fontana talk about
  • + 1
 I get the whole feedback thing, I run my seat higher than it could be on my dh bike for exactly that reason. However there is a world of difference between "feedback" and "this seat is actually violating me"

The latter is not good for descending. It may feel more what an xc rider is used to, giving them confidence, but if they got used to a lower seat, they could descend faster, no questiom
  • + 2
 The point is that the geo of an XC bike doesn't allow you to "sit in" the bike as you would something with a shorter TT and slacker HTA. The long TT, slammed stem and steeper HTA (that all make the majority of an XC course faster and more efficient to ride) mean the ideal descending body position is exactly as you see an XC racer doing now without a dropper- body almost parallel to the TT and keeping the front weighted more. XC race bike geo would need to change to see the benefit of a dropper and it is to a certain extent but a 90mm stem is still considered short and a 69.5 static HTA still considered slack Smile Again, it's not just fashion or being stuck in the past, it is about balancing the descending with pedaling efficiency and the handling for the rest of a course
  • + 1
 Why use a dropper? So you don't do this: www.youtube.com/watch?v=leyUyn9wD0w
  • + 3
 Maaan, that's so 2012. We have 29ers now to avoid that Wink Smile
  • + 0
 It's funny seeing footage of absalon on a 26" in that video, actually almost looks awkward compared to him on 29er these days
  • + 1
 That video pretty much says it all to me. Most of those crashes were caused by the riders seat being roughly where they wanted their kidneys to be, causing them to either go over the bars or totally lose control of the front wheel.
  • + 3
 Yep, noticed how none of the 29er riders crashed :-)
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: Wow I know this is late... but.... my problem with the Epic is that when riding a smooth surface, you can feel the Brain clicking away. It may not be much for most people, but I can't stand it! That's why I'd go with the Trek and just get a dropper.
  • + 1
 @Colnagoyepyep: Yes I also experienced the brain being a bit unpredictable. But if you are into fractions, you can always take it out and install a custom valved Float Evol with a remote lock out.
  • + 1
 I cant stand the reactive damper on my topfuel. When it clicks through the threshold it feels like something is loose on the bike. And it certainly doesn't prevent pedal bob like it claimed
  • + 2
 Still confused why XC racers aren't using dropper posts. Is it all about the weight? Can't imagine you wouldn't regain whatever small amount of time you lost due to the weight gain by riding more aggressively on the downs?

I don't know anything about XC fyi...just an honest question.
  • + 4
 Just ran an XC race with my AM bike this weekend, even though I got 2nd place I had some mechanical problems with my dropper, it didn't have enough air pressure to push itself up quickly when the uphill section began, so I had to pedal for about 20 meters standing waiting for the dropper to get in the full extended position. On the descending sections I had a bit of a problem too, my dropper post is one of those with 3 preset positions, since the descending section was not too aggressive, putting the dropper in the mid position was the most convenient for my pedaling, but the struggle was that when i hit the lever and push down with my butt the dropper went a little further than the middle position, so again I had to wait for the dropper to go up to the middle position slowly, then i had to look down during descending to see it was already in the right place and then i was able to charge. Now, i do understand i don't have the best dropper there is in the market and the lack of air pressure in the dropper is my blame, but still a dropper post is an additional mechanical variable which i think professional XC racers are not willing to risk at a international pro XC race, I wouldn't.
  • + 1
 That makes perfect sense! I didn't really think about the reliability factor.

That saaid, I'm surprised more aren't taking that risk. Mechanicals are commonplace in WC DH- are the XCers not flatting / snapping chains?

If they are, I feel like a dropper has a significantly smaller chance of failing versus other mechanical issues.
  • + 1
 Droppers are not that reliable yet, in my opinion, they've been out in the market for quite some time but they seem to be still in developing stage, I am on the lookout for a reverb stealth but I've been a little stingy about it, maybe when I try it my mind will change.

I do agree, if we compare the risks one to one, a flat tire vs a dropper failing, a broken chain vs a dropper post failing, yes the dropper post will be less likely to fail than the other 2.

But the overall risk factor of a bike failing still increases since you are adding another component that could fail on top of the ones the bike already has.

Still having dropper post in XC could help develop that technology, the more riders using it and failing will give more feedback to the developing engineering teams. Maybe Enduro/AM (whatever) does not have sufficient riders to give feedback to the brands about the dropper posts failing, which I highly doubt, or maybe Enduro/AM still has many fire roads in their climbs in which a dropper is less likely to fail.
  • + 1
 Not sure about that. Reliability issues usually arise (at least in my experience) after quite some use, especially in the mud. Big buck race teams would probably provide new posts every few races anyway so I doubt this would be a factor for them.

I think it's more down to weight and play, I can imagine pro riders being annoyed by wobbly posts.
  • + 1
 Yeah the play makes sense that it would annoy top pros....reliability seems like a nonissue. Don't think I know anyone who had issues except after significant use
  • + 1
 Aaron's chain had no use and it broke off the gate. Wink

Anything could happen
  • + 1
 Couple things. This is a 9.9sl. Which also has boost front spacing. Maybe not a huge deal with the rs-1 out front but I would argue the most important feature when looking at the 9.8sl that comes with a SID. Which is half the price with maybe a pound more hanging on it. For an XC race machine probably as stiff as it's going to get.
  • - 2
 Also, the cable management system is called "Control Freak" not "Cable Freak".... How can so many mistakes be allowed on a site like this....
  • - 5
flag burnadette (Aug 17, 2015 at 6:48) (Below Threshold)
 Did anyone notice the top tube in the first photo? That's some bad photoshop.
  • - 2
 "take the edge of botched lines"

*off*
  • + 2
 Sorry about that guys - corrections have been made.
  • + 1
 How does it compare to a HT is the real question. You can get a hard tail that light for a fraction of the cost, and anyone considering this bike is probably comparing it to a hard tail racer.
  • + 2
 Grip and traction I guess is why even the World Cup guys are using FS these days. For the average skilled weekend warrior FS should be essential.
  • + 3
 Yes and no. Top end HT bikes retail for $9k-10K in Canada with XX1 and carbon wheels with the RS-1. Huge dollars all around.
My bike is 23.2lbs with pedals and cages, computers and DCL shifters. A 19lb Scott Spark like Nino rides would truly be something. I don't know how many XC riders would be willing to pony up for tubular carbon wheels and imported tubular tires.
But I bet it is a very sweet ride. As well when you are 40+, only a full suspension ride will do.
  • + 0
 I can build up a 22 pound hard tail for well under $3k. If you are a weekend racer, how much better does the full sus perform?
  • + 3
 Really?
  • - 1
 The less skilled you are the more the FS will help.

Wait for a wet day and jam some 2x2's between the lower arm and underside of the shock mounts on the rear of your car then go for a drive. If you're still alive after a couple of days? remove them and you'll instantly feel like Lewis Hamilton.

Hardtails are useless.
  • + 4
 Oooo... I want a really light mtb.
  • + 1
 HA 9k, nope, no thank you. Besides the elite, who do this for a living, what regular working "joe" has the spare cash? They need to review the damn base model, which is a bit more within reach.
  • + 4
 That's a bargain ... And it's sort of pretty... And It's got stuff...
  • + 3
 Besides the shock cabling, it's a pretty sexy bike
  • + 3
 Good to see a top-level race bike that isn't $10k like every S-Works has been for the past 10 years lol
  • + 2
 If you want to see a review by XC riders, PB isn't the first place to look....

But shorter stem/wider bar combo, longer travel fork and it's Enduro!
  • + 2
 I rode the 26inch top fuel, but the creaky pressfit was just too much of a pain for me to keep the bike.
  • + 2
 today the droppers available in the market are too heavy (for a cross country race at least)
  • + 9
 That weight gain is irrelevant for the energy you save on descents and minimize risk of crashing. XC boys don't ride those because A they are extremely adaptive conservatives and B no major company has yet made a lightweight dropper and put it on on their bikes so it sells better. That feature should be of highest interest for amateurs who do not possess skills of top dogs.
  • + 4
 N1NO won some lopes $ by clearing the steepest trail in Laguna, 1st try, seat up.
  • + 3
 Get Danny Macaskill there and he'll do it 1st try, no front wheel. It may be a good argument why save weight by not running front wheels Big Grin
  • + 1
 I have the original 2001 Trek Fuel 100. Its amazing how much bikes have changed.
  • + 1
 after watching XC on youtube ( top guys and girls) you appreciate the fitness and skills of the riders, all good stuff!
  • + 2
 Not even reading any reviews with. $5000+ price tag anymore.Mental
  • + 1
 sick bike for sure. this, an aggro steel hardtail and a dh machine would be perfect imo.
  • + 2
 carbon salsa spearfish less $ better race design ? one pivot less hassle
  • + 2
 so no one mentioned the crochet cabling?
  • + 1
 I bought my Top Fuel 9.9 half year ago amazing bike. I've done some dh section in Morzine (france)perfect
  • + 1
 id still DH it, if I won the big lotto
  • + 1
 That's an expensive bike, shame they are fucking over their dealers.
  • + 2
 Luckily, it's only in America (for now). Also just for editing purposes the bike is the 9.9sl rather than 9.8. Looks very fast.
  • + 4
 Could you elaborate on the screwing of dealers?
  • + 2
 Trek announced they will start selling bikes online and ship it to the shop of your choice. The shop will make about 80% of the profit margin they usually do.
  • + 19
 except the shop don't have to hold stock. all they have to do is build the thing. Sounds great to me, and I work in a shop
  • + 3
 The shop doesn't have to hold stock, yes but also they don't have to work with the customer in making the choice. When they sell one of those bikes and someone sends them money and a bike to assemble they are going to be happy I would imagine, yes, they make more money off of a full, direct sale but they also have a much higher cost involved in that sale.
  • + 7
 It's smart for Trek to being playing offense in the digital age with the likes of Canyon and YT gaining considerable traction through their direct-to-consumer strategy. If they just chose to sit back, bike shops that carry retailer brands would end up merely building other brands of bikes bought online and doing service repairs...it's a dog eat dog world!
  • + 3
 As far as I can tell there is a key difference between actual direct companies and Trek. Canyon/YT/Commencal/etc. are passing the savings on and therefore selling bikes at a considerable discount. I'm not sure how this move is making Trek any more competitive? Maybe I'm missing something?
  • + 2
 From what I understand too, it costs money to be a part of this program. Something like $6,000-$9,000 a company's flagship (main) store and close to $3,000 for the same company if they have a smaller (branch) store. How many bikes will that bike shop have to sell to actually have a return on investment?
  • + 7
 My local Trek dealer is actually quite happy with the online sales thing. They still make about 80% on the sale compared to what they did, but more importantly they don't have to keep a huge stock sitting around, just demo models. It's actually going to make them more money, and let them focus on upgrading the shop equipment.
  • + 5
 True fact @tsheep. I work at a local Trek Dealer and dealing with this stuff first hand and you couldn't of said it any better.
  • + 2
 dealers?....you can buy direct soon
  • + 2
 This is just the first step in going full direct. It's the only option for all manufacturers to compete with Canyon etc.
  • + 2
 It sounds BS to me. If you want a fairly decent bike from an LBS they tend to order it in anyway subject to a small deposit being held. All they are doing is charging shops to do what has always happened.
  • + 2
 If I was Trek and I was thinking of going direct I'm come up with some way of testing the process that didn't cost me any money and didn't affect my rep. Isn't that just what they are doing? Laying the foundations; 1st step get customers used to ordering online. 2nd step check your distribution service and get a handle on customer order accuracy using retailers to help you make sure it all works. 3rd step, drop dealer intervention step and take the 80% back to compete with YT and Canyon and go fully direct.

It's going to happen. Why would Trek otherwise take the hit on holding all that stock for only a minimal reduction is dealer margin?
  • + 1
 Obvious really isn't it?.
  • - 2
 This would be sweet if you rhino-lined the frame for additional strength, swapped the fork, and rode it as a slopestyle bike Smile
  • + 1
 Looks fast AF!
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