Field Test: 2020 Trek Top Fuel - The Featherweight That Packs a Powerful Punch

Dec 9, 2019
by Sarah Moore  


PINKBIKE FIELD TEST

2020 Trek Top Fuel

The lightest bike in the Field Test might not be the most comfortable, but it packs a powerful punch.



Review by Sarah Moore & James Huang, Words by Sarah, Photography by Trevor Lyden



Trek wanted the 2020 version of the Top Fuel to be competitive, fast and lightweight, but more fun and versatile than the previous generation. Trek calls it a downcountry rig in their marketing copy, so we put it to the test in Pemberton, BC. 

To accomplish their goals of making the Top Fuel more fun and versatile, Trek increased the rear travel from 100 to 115 millimeters, which is paired with a 120-millimeter fork up front. As for the geometry, the effective seat tube angle got a degree steeper, up to 75-degrees, while the head tube angle went from 70-degrees to 67.5-degrees. The reach is also a few millimeters longer, 440 on the size medium in the low setting.
Top Fuel Details

Intended use: Downcountry
Travel: 115mm (r) / 120mm (f)
Wheel size: 29''
Frame construction: carbon fiber
Head angle: 67.5° (Low)
Chainstay length: 435mm (Low)
Reach: 440mm (size Medium)
Sizes: S, M, ML, L
Weight: 26.1lbs / 11.8 kg (as pictured)
Price: $9,000 USD
More info: www.trekbikes.com

The Top Fuel continues to use ABP (Active Braking Pivot) suspension design. The design uses a pivot that rotates around the rear axle to keep braking forces from interacting with the suspension. The idea is that it prevents braking forces from affecting the shock. The big difference here is that the shock is now fixed to the frame, rather than sitting between the rocker link and the seatstays. The swingarm pivot has also ben moved forward, which Trek says helps the bike pedal better.


Also worth noting is that there is more room to run a dropper post. The size small frame can handle a 100-millimeter post, the medium can run a 150mm, and large fits a 170mm. Additional details include the Knock Block fork stop and down tube Guard, Control Freak internal cable routing and Trek's 'Mino Link' flip chip that allows the geometry to be changed from a low to a high setting. The Top Fuel is 1x only and will not accept a front derailleur. There are no ISCG mounts on the frame either, but you can run Trek's top-guide if you feel that you need that extra chain retention.

For the complete Top Fuel, the prices range from $3,299 USD for the aluminum Top Fuel 8 to $10,499 USD for the Top Fuel 9.9 AXS XX1 model. As tested, with a Fox Factory 34 Step-Cast fork, a SRAM XX1 Eagle drivetrain, carbon wheels, and SRAM Level Ultimate brakes, the Top Fuel 9.9 is $8,999 USD. It’s a Project One bike, though, so you have the option of customizing the components and colors for an additional cost.




2020 Pinkbike Field Test Photo by Trevor Lyden

2020 Pinkbike Field Test Trek Top Fuel Photo by Trevor Lyden
2020 Pinkbike Field Test Photo by Trevor Lyden


Climbing

Both James Huang and I found that the Trek Top Fuel had fantastic pedaling efficiency. The bike comes equipped with a lockout, and while it’s one of the best dual lockout systems we’ve used, there’s really no need for it. That efficiency didn't come at the expense of traction on the rough stuff either, and we were able to ride the Top Fuel up some pretty tricky climbs. That being said, while the bike was super efficient, that trait seems to have trumped comfort, and there's not a ton of small bump compliance.

Trek definitely made some compromises in ride quality to gain that efficiency with a digressive compression tune on the rear shock that’s hard to get moving initially. So while the pedaling efficiency is fantastic, we would like to see a slightly more active setup in the open position, especially since that lockout is available. But as much as the rough ride could be a touch disruptive, the Top Fuel was still a killer climber even on the tech stuff.

The overall climbing position on the bike is good, if a touch short and upright, possibly because we are both on the taller side of the recommended size. As a result of that shortness, it was occasionally difficult to keep the front end on the ground on steeper climbs. The Top Fuel is quite nimble and maneuverable, and it was easy to navigate around tight turns and awkward sections of trail, unless you got stopped suddenly by the Knock Block, as James did on several occasions.



2020 Pinkbike Field Test Trek Top Fuel Photo by Trevor Lyden

2020 Pinkbike Field Test Photo by Trevor Lyden
2020 Pinkbike Field Test Trek Top Fuel Photo by Trevor Lyden


Descending


On the descents, the bike bike feels shorter than its 440mm reach number would suggest, which means that extra attention is required to remain centered and in control. That being said, I found it pretty surprising what I could ride the Top Fuel down. It requires precision on every section, but it can manage pretty technical descents. It just feels like you're trying to get through whatever is in front of you piece by piece instead of flowing through the descent as a whole.

Unlike some of the other bikes in the test, the Top Fuel's nimbleness kept it on the more exciting side of nervous. While it was missing some small bump compliance, the mid-stroke was good and there was no harsh bottoming out on bigger hits which was impressive. It wanted to be pushed hard, and in the right hands it's a very capable bike.

Trek had the right idea with the components for this kind of bike. The Bontrager dropper works well and has 150mm of travel, and the Bontrager Kovee Pro wheels feel quite stiff and decently wide at 29mm between the bead hooks. However, the SRAM Level brakes don’t have a lot of power and aren’t very adjustable, the 750mm bars are too narrow. Cutting bars down is easy, so please give us 780mm at least—even on bikes like this.

Timed Testing

Our timed lap for the downcountry bikes was around 8:30 long and started with a 0.5km singletrack climb up Wild Potato, before heading up the Smell the Glove Connector, a loose double track road that got steeper and steeper towards the top. Then, we dipped into Econo Dave, a spicy black diamond trail with lots of steep rock rolls, before looping back on the loose higher-speed Dark Forest. The climb accounted for half the distance but about two-thirds of the time.

Don't forget that timing is just one of many ways to judge a bike, and fast doesn't always mean it's the best for everyone.


Sarah: ''I had the second-fastest climb on this bike, 4.3% slower than the Mondraker, and the second fastest overall lap time… Although my overall lap time on the complete loop was actually a 3-way tie. On the descent, this bike was 5.9% slower than the fastest bikes."

James: "I had my second-fastest time overall just 1.6% back and my fastest climb, but one of my slower times on the descent, 7.8% back."


2020 Pinkbike Field Test Trek Top Fuel Photo by Trevor Lyden


Pros

+ Super fast climber with good traction
+ The lightest bike at the 2020 Field Test
+ A fast bike in the right hands, rewards riders for pushing it
Cons

- Demands attention while descending, consider sizing up for more stability
- Lacks some small bump sensitivity
- Knock Block limits turning on tight, technical climbs





The 2020 Pinkbike Field Test was made possible by support from
Race Face apparel & pads, Giro helmets, & Sierra Nevada beer.


Regions in Article
Pemberton


341 Comments

  • 202 43
 Knock Block = Epic Engineering Fail.
  • 65 20
 Ya seems like a "Oops, the new $1,000,000 carbon fiber moulds make the fork hit the frame now oh shit how do we fix this oh shit oh shit" kinda situation
  • 46 15
 Spoiler: You won't see any bar spins in Cam MacCaul's DJ video this week. Thanks, Knock Block.
  • 88 4
 Certainly seems like a solution in search of a problem. Literally every other manufacturer can design a frame without it, and they are perfectly fine.
  • 6 18
flag stumphumper92 (Dec 9, 2019 at 7:13) (Below Threshold)
 why's that? cuz you can't spin the bars?
  • 18 1
 @tripleultrasuperboostplusplus: Cam runs a custom remedy that can bar spin
  • 15 1
 @tripleultrasuperboostplusplus: I think Cam McCaul put a spacer under the headtube to allow the fork to clear the downtube and remove the knockblock. Saw it on an instagram post at some point.
  • 32 3
 i dont notice it on my fuel ex
  • 34 13
 @camcoz69: the purpose is the straight down tube. Stiff af and light, I think that contributes to why this rig is the lightest in test yet still a capable descender.
  • 69 3
 The straight down tube is stiffer and stronger. However, for a company big enough to have forced Boost upon us, I'm surprised that Trek doesn't get Fox and Rockshox to develop flush-top forks. That would solve all the problems.

That said, I've never blown a corner on my Slash because of the Cock Block. My main gripe is that it forces me to take the front wheel off to put in the back of my Subie.

So....is it annoying? Yes. A deal breaker? No. Could Trek Remedy the issue-yes. And I hope they do.
  • 71 11
 BS I have been riding it since it came out, East coast rider, lots of tight twisty trails up and down, Knock Block is not an issue, And 750mm bars too narrow. Jesus I must be old. That's plenty wide for me. Any wider and I take tree bark samples.
  • 41 7
 I like the knock block. Too many times my shifter or brake levers scratched my frame when my bars spun.
  • 11 1
 @peleton7: FYI A trust fork on a trek and you don't need knock block. The fork can spin around no problems....
  • 17 9
 @peleton7: the frame design is the problem! Not the fork design! Flush top forks? What?
It’s all good to love Trek but they dropped the ball here in a big way and tried to cover themselves by highlighting it.
  • 4 2
 I guess it's on higher priced bikes? My Trek Roscoe doesn't have that "knockblock™️"
  • 1 0
 @camcoz69: totally!
  • 7 2
 @MrDiamondDave: $2000 solution to $9000 problems. Sounds logical...
  • 2 0
 @lehott: they just built the roscoe differently. it's probably better to have that part of the frame less stiff on the roscoe.
  • 12 1
 Increasing the triangulation of the frame near the head-tube improves the strength to weight ratio. Presumably, it was this kind of thinking throughout the design and spec that created the lightest bike in the test (and it didn't break). The Straight Shot down-tube and Knock Block aren't *necessary*, but it seems to deliver.
  • 4 0
 Check out angle spacer made by reverse components. Its basically a 10mm high crown race and its just tall enough to make the fork clear the frame on my 2k17 remedy. Of course it affects your geometry, but a bit slacker HTA is quite a benefit imo.
www.reverse-components.com/en/products/05%C2%B0-angle-spacer-tapered-forks
  • 41 12
 @chrismac: A hint: bent tube without knock block is lighter than straight one with it. There are not that many layers of weaving in the head tube area, adding 1-2 is lighter than adding resin and reinforcement around knockblock mounting bolts, then bolts, bumper, not to mention the fact that they are recessed which unnecessarily complicates layup. It’s a bullet point on the list of features. One that competition doesn’t have. I know at least one case of knockblock failing on crash. It’s marketing disguised as “engineering”
  • 10 0
 Got $15 and dont like the Knock block, no problem. Buy a crown race spacer....

www.universalcycles.com/shopping/product_details.php?id=99681
  • 3 1
 @MrDiamondDave: knock block not an issue on the east coast, yes, 750 bars wide enough, no.
  • 12 2
 @R-M-R: it's just marketing BS man. The promo videos on first models of straight shot frames where also taking a "shot" at Specialized's SWAT, saying "they don't put any unnecessary holes in their frames" because it makes the down tube weaker ... love and behold this year they put in the hole.*

*on some models.
  • 1 2
 @peleton7: there is no straight down tube in that frame .. they still bend it at the bottom ...
  • 2 2
 @TadejStrah: I bought one and I am running it on my 2k17 remedy. That $15 saved me $4500. I hated the block ever since I bought the bike. Some of us like to get rowdy from time to time, and I dont want to be restricted by the headset.
  • 2 2
 My Bronson is plenty stiff and it clears no problem. It’s a fail @chrismac:
  • 1 1
 @WAKIdesigns: Nailed it.
  • 1 0
 @j-t-g: Do you happen to know if anybody makes one of these? I’ve been trying to find one forever
  • 7 6
 Anecdote for those that think Knock Block isn't an issue: I ride a popular climb with six very tight switchbacks. I always enjoy the challenge of this particular spot: Over the past 8 years or so, I've only made all six switchback twice. One visit, I was on a Remedy for a demo, and this climb was a complete disaster. I had to walk up.

I think this spot would require trials hopping to accomplish with a Trek bike. To me, it's a total failure for Trek to literally remove turning capability from riders. I was actually enjoying that Remedy, but I had zero interest to purchase one after that experience.
  • 5 9
flag MrDiamondDave (Dec 9, 2019 at 9:37) (Below Threshold)
 @WAKIdesigns: So you are a bike engineer........
  • 13 10
 @MrDiamondDave: it doesn’t take bike engineer... if you do think so, then I feel like I should feel sorry for you. Except I don’t Smile Some ideas are so stupid only an engineer would find them attractive
  • 7 4
 Like a lot of people have said, i have a knock block on my bike, and really don't mind. It's exceptionally rare that I hit it while actually riding, and basically I never hit it unless I'm kinda doing something that I wouldn't have been doing if I had picked a better line. So, meh. It's not something I'd avoid on a future bike.
  • 2 0
 @R-M-R: get out of here with this logical thinking! i wanna complain about something else! wah wah wahhhhh
  • 3 18
flag MrDiamondDave (Dec 9, 2019 at 10:02) (Below Threshold)
 @WAKIdesigns: You're an idiot. GTFO
  • 6 2
 @MrDiamondDave: Well Dave, then maybe your trails are not quite as tight as you imagine.

I had a knockblock bike and I routinely had issues turning to the "block" in tight turns, as did the testers.
  • 4 10
flag MrDiamondDave (Dec 9, 2019 at 10:09) (Below Threshold)
 @nurseben: I doubt it,, Look up High Voltage trail on Raccoon MTN TN., Steep and tight. Or Pinhoti section 3 in Elijay GA
  • 10 1
 I've had 3 bikes with knock block now and never had an issue so I'm calling BS on that one.
  • 7 0
 He’s our idiot and he’s not sleazing! @MrDiamondDave:
  • 7 2
 As someone who actually rides a bike with knock block, it's not an issue unless you do bar spins.
  • 3 3
 @pinhead907: but you do hit it, and have had to adjust your riding accordingly by your own admission. Epic Engineering Fail confirmed.
  • 1 1
 @Ferisko: the SWAT box is one of the coolest features ever. I wish my bike had one. If one understands carbon layup, down-tube strength is not at all compromised.
  • 1 1
 @WAKIdesigns: Bang on! No pun intended...
  • 1 3
 @pinhead907: for the record, I’d like to have a knock block on my bike. But I’d like a bent down tube to go with it Smile
  • 6 7
 @MrDiamondDave: enlighten me, tell me the secrets of engineering of solving the problem they created themselves. Before you do, please give the facts of how much weight does straight tube save over a bent tube, then, explain me how awesome it is to introduce a sharp angle at transitioning of two tubes instead of a smooth one when using material that allows for free forming! Please... wait... let me pick up the popcorn!
  • 1 1
 @freeridejerk888: I feel the love Smile
  • 5 1
 @peleton7:
Gotta agree, no issues here with 3 years on my slash.
  • 8 5
 @MrDiamondDave:
If I lived at Chattanooga TN and owned a 2019 Trek Slash like you do...
I’ll be staying away from most of the XC stuff you list and ride downhill trails like Radio Tower and Cotton Tail at WhiteOak Mountain, Bakers Creek Preserve, WindRock, Bailey, etc.
I’m sorry to break this down to you but it doesn’t require much skill to ride High Voltage or the Pinhoti 3.
Which explains to me why you think the knock block is acceptable.
  • 37 0
 So if I read this right,Knock Block is a problem for everybody except people who actually ride Treks.
  • 8 0
 I’ve got this years Remedy and I thought I might have issues with the knock block but I haven’t. That said Trek could have retained the straight tubes with a slightly longer head tube. I did have an issue with my headset loosening over a few rides which would create a creak. I replaced the stick stem with a Chromag which had larger bolts that could be tightened to higher spec. Solved the problem but I had to file the knock block nubs off the top spacer of the two I used. No more knock block but I wasn’t keen on the fork banging against the rubber block under the head tube so I got the bolt on spacer Trek sells to retain the knock block effect except it’s not super solid and can move if you turn the bars hard enough. I would rather I not need it.
  • 8 0
 Could you imagine a bike with triple crown forks like motorbikes that can't spin? Wouldn't be able to ride any tech. That would be ridiculous right?
  • 1 5
flag spaztwelve (Dec 9, 2019 at 13:05) (Below Threshold)
 @H3RESQ: Uh...the technique on a mountain bike vs. a dirt bike is A LOT different.
  • 1 1
 @H3RESQ: actually I rode a VPFree with a Sherman double crown followed by a Boxxer u turn fork. The Sherman was quite narrow and did cause issues whereas the boxxer was wider and had fewer tight turn issues. But that bike wasn’t exactly a good climber. More of a logging road access and down kinda bike.
  • 2 4
 @chrismac : It’s just marketing BS. Trek frames are no lighter or stiffer than comparable frames from Scott, Specialized , BMC, Giant and others. In fact the others can be built up lighter because they can use the lightest stems an don’t need the proprietary ones from trek.
  • 2 3
 @PJSANAB: LOL So climbing High Voltage is easy. huh, And you think White Oak is DH LOL XC stuff LMAFO hahahaha
  • 2 3
 @PJSANAB: You are a funny Troll
  • 3 1
 @Golden-G: Most companies end up with an offset downtube to alllow a suspension fork to clear under the frame. That's also why any bike not designed for a suspension fork (like a road bike) runs a straight down tube. Trek made this junction straight on purpose to allow both reduced weight and a stronger frame.

I tried removing the Knock Block on my Slash, and the fork would clear turning left because the air chamber side of the fork is flush with the crown. It's only the damper dials on the other side that would make contact.

So.....straight down tubes are stronger and lighter, which means better a better engineered design. Trek is a big enough player that they could get fork manufacturers to accommodate that design, rather than using a steerer tube block. Don't you want your bikes stronger AND ligher?!
  • 1 3
 @MrDiamondDave: That's a solution, but not particularly cost effective. Maybe for dentists who love Trek!?
  • 1 0
 @duzzi: They have to bend at the bottom to accommodate the rear shock and hardware (and allow a water bottle on the inside of the down tube). No good way around that compromise.
  • 3 1
 @MrDiamondDave: okay. I’m not the one riding an Enduro rig on XC trails claiming Knock Block is the greatest thing since slice bread.
All I hope is for Chattanooga to build the next level trails. Just in case you don’t know about them here is a link.
Let me know if you need a tour guide of your own local trails even though I live 2 hours away.
www.imba.com/blog/next-level-trails-chattanooga-tennessee
  • 2 3
 Yes, why would anyone buy this bike with the knockblock when there are a million other options that don’t have a knock block
  • 3 5
 @MrDiamondDave: I climbed High Voltage at night without any lights (not on purpose). So yes, it’s easy.

Anyone can ride Radio Tower...But can you clear everything, how high are you jumping, can you even whip?
Got a GoPro ready and can meet you this Sunday.
  • 3 0
 If some of y'all are struggling to maintain stiffness, knock block is not the answer. Talk to your doctor, there are many treatments available. Don't worry, its perfectly normal once you hit your mid thirties.
  • 1 0
 @tripleultrasuperboostplusplus: you might, seems like he got some spacer for that.
  • 6 0
 @peleton7:I've had a Trek Fuel for over a season and never had an issue with the much-maligned Knock Block. At least the frame doesn't break on a drop like the $10 000 boutique Lexus model featured in these tests.
  • 5 0
 @Golden-G: I seriously doubt Trek accidentally didn't leave clearance for the fork crown. If you've ever been involved in the engineering process there is almost no way something like that would go unnoticed. They likely went through 15 or 20 aluminum prototypes, plus the knockblock itself required a fair amount of engineering on top of that. Add in the fact that they had to engineer an entire line of stems and spacers to work with it. Seems pretty far fetched to assume that it was an accident.
Also, doesn't Canyon use a similar system?
  • 1 0
 @PJSANAB: classic
  • 12 0
 I think that knock block is the most controversial topic for something that is so totally non-consequential on the trail. It's like 99% of the time, I pay it absolutely no mind - literally, I forget it's even there most of the time. I smack a pedal on the ground about 50 times for each time that I bump the knock block on a ride. But I don't hear anyone calling low BB's Epic Engineering Fails ;-)
  • 5 0
 I never had any problem with it on my Slash. I find it very useful when you hike with your bike on your shoulder, it locks the fork in place.
  • 3 1
 @inversedotch: I don’t know why people have an issue with it either. I’d like a thing like this myself. The only “problem” is that Trek spews bullsht about downtube stiffness and by making it straight makes it impossible for people to not use the knockblock. Canyon has a similar system and nobody cries.
  • 2 0
 @WAKIdesigns: To be honest i didn't read the corporate bull before buying the Slash. I'd say i take it as a feature and i'll definitely want it on my next bike. It seriously helps when you have a very long hike. Wink
  • 1 0
 FWIW I have never run into this issue on my EPIC HT and trust me, I tried. I'd sooner hit the handlebar with my knees than the bumper on the downtube.
  • 2 0
 it's not an epic fail or a deal breaker. I've had my fuel for two years and you just reminded me thats its there. I agree it seems unnecessary but it is much less intrusive than it looks. On the plus side you can run your control lines short and never worry about them getting tweaked.
  • 2 4
 @pinhead907: exactly! what is a fail is manufacturers putting 175 cranks on medium bikes.
lets get this straight - small and medium bikes should have 28t chainrings and 165 cranks, large should have 30t with 170s and XL 32 tooth and 175s. gear ratios all the same.
  • 4 2
 @DDoc: crank length depends on cadence which depends on neuromuscular setup of the person. It also depends on what sort of climbing/descending you do. I know a 170cm tall/short proroadie who does Giro and TDF who uses 172.5 cranks, Nino uses almost certainly 175 and you can see the benefit in the video with Mike -so please... the awake as fuk crank length crowd is nothing more but yet another awake as fuk crowd. Find whatever works for you and put it to peace.
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: pick a crank length and be a dick about it? That wouldn't happen here.
I smell a new standard Trek and Sram can get behind. We can push the OLN width out to the point that you can only clear a 152mm crank. Thus MEGABoost 255/152 is born. Frankly I'm already upgrading my current fleet to accept it. Good news is I can just drill and re-tap my cranks and cut off the excess with an angle grinder.
  • 1 5
flag MrDiamondDave (Dec 10, 2019 at 5:07) (Below Threshold)
 @PJSANAB: cool story bro. HV has super tight switchbacks, so GFY
  • 1 0
 @PJSANAB: It's a walk off!
  • 2 0
 @MrDiamondDave: Better listen to your friend Billy Zane, he's a cool dude!
  • 3 5
 @MrDiamondDave: whatever #Mr.KnockBlockLover, #Mr.NeedAnEnduroRigforA2ftDrop, #Mr.Can’tEvenHitAGapJump
#Mr.EverybodyKnowsYou’reAPoser
  • 1 0
 @PJSANAB: just wow............
  • 3 0
 I've run two Knock Block bikes and never had a single issue with it- seems to be down to riding style. You have to turn the bars waayyyy over before it kicks in. I see it as a non-issue.
  • 2 0
 @PJSANAB: maybe you need more time on the cx bike.
  • 4 0
 @pinhead907: truth- i can't believe it gets this much hype. I notice when wheeling a bike around the garage or doing track stands- that's it- period. People who make a big deal about this need to ride their bikes more.
  • 2 0
 @mkotowski1: Trek Slash 8. Good parts, great suspension design, $3500. That'll get you a frame/rear shock only from a lot of brands.
  • 5 0
 If you're noticing the Knock Block on the trail, you're doing something wrong. The stop-angle is literally to the point where you'd be hitting your knees and/or falling over - its further than a double crown DH fork. So are you saying Trek teams should just give up now, since their bikes are just unrideable? lol Pinkbike armchair engineering experts.
  • 1 0
 I like doing tricks so I indeed do not like the knock block @SvenNorske:
  • 3 0
 @freeridejerk888: Understandable...but take a poll of how many riders can, and do, bar spins on a XC, trail or Enduro bike. I'll take less than .001% for a thousand, Bob.
  • 3 0
 @brappjuice: It helps when you are not riding and you lean your bike on something and the wind knocks your bike over and spins the bar. Happened to me too many times.
  • 2 1
 @MrDiamondDave: hate to break it to you but HV is only kinda steep for maybe 30ft and the switchbacks aren’t tight in the least. They’re just blown out. And saying P3 is tight or steep. Lol.
  • 1 1
 @scuffymike: OK Mike V...……………. I really hate bikes now and I quit. ; it's been real. shitty Peace out. I am sure nobody cares anyways
  • 56 4
 Oooh an actual downcountry bike makes an appearance!
  • 12 0
 Yeah I’m feeling the same way about this “group of bikes” in test. Half seem like short travel burly trail bikes, the trail pistol and intense bike come to mind. The others which I would think are down country( bike light enough to race but enough travel or geometry to get you in or out of trouble). This bike like the moondraker fall into that category.
  • 3 0
 @Dangerhill: True. The Mondraker does fit. I actually am just happy to have lots of bike reviews, but in the comparisons, we've basically gotten exactly what we'd predict from geometry.
  • 23 0
 @Dangerhill: yes, 2 of them are long-forked XC bikes, and 2 of them are essentially shortened trail bikes. Although this is the only "purpose built" one for the category, they're all competing for riders with similar intentions, and hopefully our tests will help some folks make their decisions. Smile
  • 8 0
 @brianpark: One thing that might help with all our complaining in the future is having one rider overlap for each category. I know it's difficult because of rider weight/set up, but that way you can have people making overall comparisons. Kazimer is riding the enduro and trail bikes, so you're set there. If Levy would have hopped on his own category, you could have had everything covered.

I obviously enjoy all of these reviews, but I'd love to know how the GG and Juliana compare to the Optic and Occam and how the Pole compares to the enduro bikes that match its geometry. I'm not offended in principle that these bikes are grouped together, just greedy for ever more comparisons.
  • 13 0
 @MarcusBrody: Yeah it's tough since we need to group multiple riders by height, weight, and riding style for logistics. But maybe we can do more roundtable chats across the whole spectrum to help people situate the bikes in the future.

And we don't mind the complaining—it keeps us honest and it's great that people are so invested in what we're doing. Hopefully it's useful for you!
  • 4 0
 @brianpark: It's been great! Always makes my morning when a new one is up. Thanks to all of you for your work on it.
  • 2 0
 @brianpark:

How about once the winners of each category are decided, you take them all out on the types of trails that each bike is typically designed to perform best on.

Once you've ridden all the winners on all the different trails (where practical/safe), it would be interesting to see which bikes offer the more overlap or versatility across different trail-types.

You know, for those of us that are only allowed one bike. We want more. But we can't have it!
  • 3 0
 So did Specialized trademark Marathon XC, so that Levy had to invent Downcountry as a bike category?
  • 1 0
 @brianpark: I don't know if you have this coming up, but how about comparing the times of all the bikes on the same loop. I appreciate that the longer travel bikes should handle gnarlier down hills better and the shorter travel bikes should handle the climbing better, but the key word is "should." Just a thought.
  • 31 0
 Can we please get the Huck to Flat videos separately?
  • 2 0
 I second!
  • 50 1
 Yes, it'll be your Christmas present.
  • 1 0
 @brianpark: yeeeessss
  • 18 1
 Needs more travel - *Christopher Walken voice*
  • 17 2
 Then get a Fuel EX
  • 2 0
 @MrDiamondDave: 'Twas a joke bc they upped the travel from previous versions
  • 8 0
 Needs more cables...
  • 2 0
 @ReformedRoadie: haha, that was the 1st thing I noticed. Holy sh!t that is a rats nest of cables in front of the bars ;P
  • 2 1
 @jetta2010: Agreed. That cockpit looks like shit! They're trying to look like Scott bikes, with that stupid Twin Lok shit.
  • 18 0
 Which one broke?
  • 1 0
 no kidding, I thought this one with the delay on releasing the video...
  • 3 0
 Specialized, Yeti, GT, Rocky Mountain, Ibis... which could it be...
  • 3 15
flag gtill9000 (Dec 9, 2019 at 8:49) (Below Threshold)
 The Pole
  • 1 0
 @splsce: Which Ibis? I didn't think there was one included in the field tests
  • 1 0
 @something979: Mojo HD5
  • 9 1
 @splsce: in order of hope.
1. Specialized
2. Specialized
3. Specialized
4. Yeti
5. Everyone else
  • 3 0
 @MikeAzBS: hahaha perfect order
  • 2 0
 I'm guessing its the Y*ti
  • 2 0
 I am guessing a prototype Yeti...
  • 1 0
 @MikeAzBS: In reality; Rocky Mountain.
  • 17 2
 Seriously how is this bike in the same classification as the Joplin and Trailpistol?
  • 7 2
 Yeah good question given it's faster.
  • 26 5
 115/120 vs 120/130, 67.5° vs 65.9°.

Regardless of the classification, they're in the same ballpark and it was interesting to compare how they ride on our aggressive XC terrain.

And how boring would these tests be if all the bikes were the exact same travel and geometry?
  • 6 7
 @brianpark: Why would it be boring to come to a bike website and see a bike review of bikes that are geared towards the same genre? I guess the next time you guys compare a bunch of 170mm bikes for Enduro that'll be boring. Look at the stats you just put in your comment, those two sets of numbers represent two different bikes and I don't need a field test to tell you which one will be faster where,
  • 14 0
 Sounds like a race car - suspension is a bit harsh, hard for your average person to handle, likes going fast, rewards good lines.
  • 15 0
 I own this bike and that's a pretty apt metaphor. It's definitely caught me off guard in those tired or less than enthusiastic moments. BUT, when you're on one....
  • 14 0
 This is pretty much a pure definition of what a downcountry bike is. Love it!
  • 19 8
 The 750 bar wasnt wide enough for them? How broad do they think their shoulders are? I'm 6'1 190 and run a 780 bar lol. Like shit wide arm pushups for someone riding a medium size bike rocking a bar wider than 750
  • 23 11
 I usually ride a 760mm bar at 5'7".
  • 33 8
 @sarahmoore: A gift and curse to be able to detect a 5mm difference per side of your bar. Lol
  • 10 0
 It's about having the choice. Some people like wider bars, some narrower, but what's the harm in it coming wide and being cut to fit? It's like fork steerers, they come massive so no matter the frame/headset/spacer/stem combo, there's enough length to suit everyone. As stated, a 780 bar can be cut down to 750 if you want it that narrow, but you can't go the other way.
  • 4 1
 @TheBearDen: Honestly, for having cut 10mm on each side of à 780mm bars, ending at 760mm thinking that 780 was SOOOO wide, I've been really surprised that I ended on my sweet spot. I thought oh damn, almost screwed up there, yes 5mm per side will make a difference.
  • 1 0
 does anyone know why just the 9.9 model comes with 750mm but the 9.8 comes with 720mm bars
  • 3 0
 Richie Rude and Sam Hill ride 750mm bars. They need wider bars, and then maybe they'll start winning more?
  • 2 0
 @SvenNorske: preference is key here. I run 780/785 bars depending on brand, and couldn't imagine anything narrower on a bike designed for descending. A trail bike I'd go down to 750, I prefer a bit of extra clearance between trees if I'm on more natural or tighter trails. Yes I can notice the difference, yes it makes a difference to handling and control and yes I will buy wider bars and cut them down if need be. Again, choice. How can you argue against it?
  • 1 0
 I'm 5'10" and have extremely broad shoulders, like can't buy sports coats that fit my shoulders and my waist broad, and I have a 38" waist. I tried a 800 bar and it felt silly wide, I cut them to 780, still felt ridiculous, cut them to 765 and they felt just about right.
My point is... I don't have one.
  • 1 0
 @BikesBoatsNJeeps: Richie rude runs a 740 bar and that guy is a short and stout Brick shit house. My point is... lol Most peoples bars are too wide... lol
  • 1 0
 @TheBearDen: most people's bars are what they feel comfortable on. Basing anything off a pro riders preference isn't the best way to go about things, he might prefer wider but wants more tree clearance, some ews courses are pretty tight, you don't know, but to state most people's bars are too wide is complete bs.
  • 13 3
 I just cannot get past the knock block. I would be super angry on a couple of the NIMBY climb corners if I was forced to dab as a result of that thing. There are some super tight BUT doable switchbacks out there. You picked an awesome testing ground.
  • 1 0
 I've ridden up the NIMBY climb dozens of times with knock block, the only thing that makes me dab, is me. Unless the turning radius is less on the fuel than my remedy NIMBY (specifically those corners just before the lookout) is all good.
  • 1 0
 @kevin267: I ride an XL but you may be right - they need to be cranked around the corners. It is a poor rider than blames his equipment - I could try to use the knock block as an excuse.... I guess it is simply a poor solution to me. Moot point - I am a Santa Cruz loyalist.
  • 10 2
 TFW some small folks think 750mm bars are too narrow but you're rocking an XL, longer travel bike and love your bars at 750mm :/.


I personally see the Top Fuel as the heir apparent to the really, really cool 2014/15 Fuel EX 29er. There was something about that generation that was lost when Trek slammed it together with the remedy to make the 17'-19' fuel. Don't get me wrong, that generation (and the current new fuel ex) are freaking cool bikes too, but they weren't the same. On the buttery smooth climbs and descents on a lot of the trails I daily, I set a LOT of both climb and descent personal records on that 2014 silver beast. I'm strongly considering frame swapping to one of these suckers with a 130mm front fork and bit bigger rotors all round, with 750mm bars of course Smile .

And you know what? Because it'll be MY bike, that means I get to adjust the rear shock tune to be whatever I want. Haha!
  • 21 0
 750mm bars are plenty wide for many people, but why not spec a 780 and let the rider cut them down to their preferred width?
  • 6 0
 @brianpark: 820. They don’t because shops are too damn lazy to actually fit you to your new bike. There’s one shop nearby that does a roadie style fit for mountain bikes, stem length and bar width, cranks, Q factor pedals, seat height and angle and so on. His closest competitor “you’re tall, so xl right?”
  • 2 1
 @yzedf: that's because most mountain bikers aren't averse to breaking out a hacksaw or pipe cutter, changing pretty much any component, or overall customising it themselves. Roadies are well, roadies. Every bike shop round here will do stuff like trim bars if you want them to.
  • 3 1
 @yzedf: shops don't do that because road bike fit doesn't work on mtbs whatsoever. Maybe seat height and angle but thats something anyone can do on their own.
  • 3 6
 @brianpark: Because the average consumer doesn't cut them. Which means that most people end up riding bar that are too wide for them. A good product manager specs bars that match the size of the bike and the intended use of the bike.
  • 3 0
 @TheSlayer99: who said anything about road bike fit on a mountain bike?
  • 2 0
 @inked-up-metalhead: most mountain bikers just buy the bike and ride it. Some go the way of full custom, seemingly based on price, what your favorite racers uses or maybe bling factor? Little of it is to actually make bikes fit better or to get that ride feel you want in a particular situation. Those of us buying parts to do that is somewhat rare.
  • 2 1
 @yzedf: you said yourself your shop fits customers roadie style.
  • 12 2
 @WhatAboutBob: we're not here just to advocate for the average consumer, we're here to advocate for doing the right thing. Smile
  • 4 0
 @TheSlayer99: as in changing parts out to dial it in. Something the average mtb shop would never do. “You look like you ride a XL right? Yeah, you’re pretty tall” is about as in depth as most places get.
  • 1 1
 @yzedf: but nobody needs a shop to do that for them. They only need to tell them what size bike to ride. If they are telling customers what parts to put on their bike for fit they’re not really helping or doing anything special for them. The only thing a shop needs to do in terms of fit is buy what a customer wants them to buy, cut them to proper length and torque them to proper torque.
  • 1 0
 @WhatAboutBob: I don’t think the average consumer is buying a 6000 dollar bike
  • 2 0
 @brianpark: I agree that bikes Should come with 780mm, I just think its funny that both medium riders though the 750 were too narrow on an XC bike.
  • 9 0
 I agree with this one! Nice work. My $0.02 in a longer form review for anyone who cares. From a 50 mile race to smooth jump trails this thing performed way past my expectations. www.youtube.com/watch?v=NGq1z-RGyCo
  • 4 0
 nice video review
  • 1 0
 @nukin: Thx dude!
  • 2 0
 can you just review instead of all these pb people, you have more substance in one video than all of theirs combined (i realize you do own the bike) but your insights are a lot better
  • 3 0
 @monkeybizz: thanks man! FWIW, I do think I could have published a very similar review within 2 weeks of owning the bike (I did the race as my first ride!). That said, I do think owning (or at least disclosing your relationship to the brand) is essential to the bias you may or may not have with it.

Ironically, I see bias too when people pay for stuff. Cognitive bias is a funny thing...
  • 10 1
 They should have been on the medium/large. Not surprised they found it short.
  • 10 3
 We address this in the set-up section. We may have appreciated the extra length but there wouldn't have been enough space for us to ride the stock 150mm dropper on the size up.
  • 5 0
 @sarahmoore: + anyone else that rightly assumes that this could be an issue - FYI, you can buy either a 10 or 30mm spacer to reduce the throw of the dropper. I'm 179cm on a Large 2020 TF and popped a 10mm in there (L > XXL comes with a 170mm dropper). With a shorter 70mm stem and 780mm bars, its bang on for climbing and descending, so echoes your predictions. Loving it.
  • 8 0
 @Stevel-Knievel: Understood, but that doesn't change the fact that I would rather Trek just shorten the seat tube and/or lengthen the reach so that I don't have to.
  • 2 0
 @angryasian: well said. I'm tired of being forced into a short reach frame just because it's the only size with a short seat tube. With the huge droppers we have these days, there's no reason to have such long seat tubes.
  • 2 0
 @angryasian: I couldn't agree more - how hard can it be!? Just pointing out that there are options, obviously with a compromise to drop, but cheap and easy (£8 and 2 mins). Initially I wrongly assumed that I was going to have to swap the entire dropper out to get comfortable.
  • 7 1
 Really don’t understand why everyone has issues with knock block. I’ve owned my remedy for about a year now and only hit the knock block a few times, and honestly I think it helps on tight switchbacks. I just throw it into the knockblock and it stays in line without overturning and causing me to lean over. It’s just something you get use to overtime and adjust your riding to but it’s literally been a non issue what so ever. I believe most riders don’t even turn their bars past the knockblocks turning radius on bikes without it and it’s just a new/odd feeling for them as it was for me at first. It also keeps the bars from piercing your thigh in a crash and allows you to run cleaner cable routing. In addition it helped out my fakies haha, I’m definitely a converted fan of knockblock.
  • 1 0
 Plus it allows you to adjust your controls anyway you want without worrying they will hit the top tube and you can mount a GPS there. I feel like you're probably doing something wrong if you're turning the bars that far anyway.
  • 11 2
 Who else only reads the Pros and Cons?
  • 2 0
 I think most only FFWD the video to the huck to flat and see if they won their pool with which broke.
  • 18 13
 I start to think that "tests" are a bit of a waste of time. They are incredibly subjective (especially with two testers, or was it one in this case?), and end up filled with vague qualifiers and adjectives (the "nimbleness kept it on the more exciting side of nervous" ...) that I suspect mostly reflect the fact that a particular bike happens to fit a tester better than another one.

Fun to read in front of a cup of coffee in the morning but to base a purchasing choice on these tests seems a real overreach ...

(Here we are again thinking that a 26 pounds bike is super-light ... and reporting total bike weight instead of frame weight. Really, if weight enters in the purchasing decision the only thing that matters is to know which frame is the lightest ... )
  • 1 4
 absolutely yes
  • 19 8
 That is true with all the tests. Please remember that Top Gear got popular because they broke the spell of boring shows where they focus on room for legs in the back of the car as well as size of the trunk. People don’t really care that much about practicalities, no matter how much they swear they do. Look at the most rational choice of a car: family car. Yes, many buy Sharans, Picassos or SMaxes but even more buy SUVs which are symbols of status and testament to insecurity, using more fuel, running expensive tires and complex, rarely utilized quasi 4x4 drives. Even me buying a wagon: most sedans have trunks big enough for whatever I need, so far I needed to use full height of trunk twice in 9 years. All we know is that we want more if we can get it for same money or a little extra. Houses, cars, bikes etc.
  • 16 2
 The Top Fuel is clearly a lightweight bike before we put the control tires on, and we've been pretty clear on why we've done that.

All the Field Tests are done with at least 2 testers to make them LESS subjective.

We definitely don't want people to go out and spend $8K based on our Field Test videos alone, but we hope they help make relevant comparisons! Not everyone has all the bikes in the grouping available to them for test rides, etc.
  • 1 0
 @brianpark: interested if bikes got actual rolling as-tested weights taken, or are all the weights just factory claimed?
  • 5 1
 @g123: the weights on all the Field Tests are as pictured, with the same control tires on every bike in the category.
  • 10 1
 Except having demoed some of the same bikes this year, on quite different terrain, my notes compare pretty much bang on to what the PB writers have noted.

This bike specifically is a climbing weapon and will descend way better than a typical XC bike, but it’s no trail bike and you know it if it gets too rough or wanna get some air, the wheels want to be on the ground.
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: I use my 4x4 almost daily
  • 2 5
 @brianpark: sure having two people taking a spin on a bike now makes a test objective, or maybe not: it is just two people taking a spin on a bunch of bikes with a myriad of uncontrolled variables. Start with the all important frame size, continue with the stem and bar, the saddle, fork, shock and suspension set up, the weight, and go all the way down to the pedals and even grips.

I bet that 90% of these "tests" only reflect how a pilot happen to fit with a particular bike.

As far as weigh is concerned you are just missing the point: it is silly compare the weight of bikes with different components. The frame is just about 20% of the total weight, the rest is stuff that has nothing to do with the bike maker. If you really want to compare weights take the bikes a part and weight their frame. Otherwise do not report it, it is simply wrong.
  • 5 0
 @duzzi: they are reviewing the bike as a whole: frame and component spec. If they were just going to report frame weights, then they should put exactly the same components on every bike. That would make for more objectivity too!
  • 2 0
 @hamncheez: but 99% of respectable family moms in Europe don’t. They just spend extra money and take extra space, thinking they are using best possible capsule for their offspring.
  • 3 1
 @WAKIdesigns: GOOD THING I LIVE IN AMERICA. AND SUV A DAY KEEPS THE COMMIES AWAY
  • 3 0
 @hamncheez: there is no problem with Commies in Europe. There is problem with legalization of weed and psychedelics... I wish I could just take a hit of DMT twice a year without anybody losing their fkng minds. A hit in the evening in December, receive the message from God, put baby Jesus to sleep, go to sleep myself. Or buy/ grow mushrooms. I blame Joe Rogan for my new hobby...
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: Joe Rogan is responsible for many fights with wives over increased husband expenditures. Because of Joe Rogan, I'm going to have to get my wife to allow me to start training Brazilian Jujitsu again during the winter months when I can't ride....
  • 5 1
 Why no SCOTT Spark? I feel like that bike did downcountry properly before any of these other bikes, and you can get a Spark for the same price as this Top Fuel that is two pounds lighter (and probably still lighter even after the requisite tire swap) with XX1 AXS and XTR brakes.

Not the newest bike on the block but I'm sure it would kill it here.
  • 7 0
 That's the point of annual field tests though isn't it? Sample the year's new releases and redesigns, rather than run through older models with fresh paint jobs and SX Eagle spec.

Agreed that the Spark was ahead of the curve though, would be interesting to see how it stacks up against more recent releases in the category
  • 11 5
 I always felt knock blocks were very good idea, surprised you guys have corners that tight that it became a hindrance
  • 4 1
 As Teamrobot once said, Whistler and Pemberton trails outside the bike park are the land of the steep, fast section followed by the awkward 90 degree tight corner where you lose all your speed.


That remains true on a lot of trails today Smile
  • 2 1
 @j-t-g: Come ride Raccoon Mtn Smile
  • 1 0
 Almost every significant climb on my trails has at least one switchback where this could be irritating. A friend just bought a trek and was noticing it on the first ride. Nice bikes otherwise, just seems like needless "innovation"
  • 1 0
 @jesse-effing-edwards: Just curious if he notices after his 10th ride. The knockblock became a non-issue for me. I don't know if I changed how I approach switchbacks or if it was in my head or what, but no problems after a few rides.
  • 1 0
 @ICKYBOD: Hmm, not sure. Maybe it became forgettable, but something tells me he will notice it again on the steepest / tightest turns as it's hard to always get the exact same line down.
  • 3 0
 I noted it was in the cons "Demands attention while descending, consider sizing up for more stability"...I wonder how much difference that would have made? Most of the negatives seem to come down to being tight/twitchy. Some bikes are twitchy regardless of the cockpit though so who knows- will have to test one I guess.

I have a remedy and knockblock has really grown on my because I can run super short clean cockpit cables. I had to get used to it on a couple switchbacks but it's not an issue now. I guess if I rode in Pemberton or liked to do barspins I'd care more.
  • 5 3
 We may have appreciated the extra length but there wouldn't have been enough space for us to ride the stock 150mm dropper on the size up which is a deal breaker!
  • 19 4
 @sarahmoore: so a longer dropper post is more important than a properly sized bike?
  • 2 0
 @sarahmoore: I'm a little confused by this... in the photos it appears that their is roughly two inches between the top of the seat tube and the dropper collar. The seat tube on the M/L is only 1" longer than the M that you tested. Why couldn't you run the same dropper on the M/L?
  • 7 1
 @thegoodflow: We ordered the bike based on Trek's geometry chart which says that to ride the M/L you need a 31.5-33.1" inseam.
  • 8 1
 @gpgalanis: A properly sized bike should come with a proper length dropper... We are within the size range for what Trek recommends to ride a Medium.
  • 1 0
 @sarahmoore: How does one define "proper length dropper "? At 6-1 with a 30in inseam, 150mm is sometimes too long for me on a large frame.. 150mm on my Slash would barely be useable for me..
  • 2 1
 @gpgalanis: I agree. If you had to live with a 125mm dropper, it would be worth it, no? I have to believe a Trek dealer could swap it out to make the bike fit.
  • 11 0
 @gpgalanis: It's not just what's visible, but also the length of the dropper that has to go *inside* the frame, as well as how long the straight section of seat tube is. For sure, it'd be better to have the fit be where you want it, but the fact that this is a new design makes it even harder to overlook the fact that Trek perhaps wasn't quite as forward-looking as it should have been in terms of dropper compatibility, frame reach, etc.
  • 3 0
 @thegoodflow: The issue is with the bend in the seat tube limiting how far the seatpost can be inserted into the frame. That's how you end up with a bunch of seat post showing despite it being at max insertion.

I am almost 5'11" and tried to ride a friend's 2018 M/L Fuel EX with a 150mm dropper. With the post inserted as far as it would go the seat was still over an inch too high for my stubby legs yet the reach to the bars felt comically short.

This bike looks great to me but I would likely find that I couldn't get the size right unless I went with a shorter length dropper than I prefer.
  • 1 0
 I have a question about the twitchiness. Were the bars too low?
  • 1 0
 @notenduro: @sarahmoore : I get that, but I'm just assuming that the bend would be in the same place in relation to the bb, with another inch of seat-tube above it. So, if you could fit the 150mm dropper on the M with an inch to spare above the seat-tube, then it seems like an extra inch of seat-tube would work for you.
  • 1 0
 @JohanG: Probably the head angle steepness relative to the other bikes on test.

That’s the one area that will date this bike. I know they say it’s an XCM bike etc but 66 dead would have been a better compromise.

The biggest issue with this entire test is the belief that the stated geo numbers are the same as reality. Not to mention quoting pointless effective and actual seat angles. They need someone a bit more thorough doing the testing.
  • 2 0
 @sarahmoore: yeah, they’re decos, IMO, are off. I’m 5’10”, 30” inseam and the M/L fit like a glove. Even the L was better than an M though standover was obviously reaching “uncomfortable” places Smile
  • 1 0
 Ironically, I went up in size and if anything would have done the opposite if I were to do it again. I'm not unhappy with my XL - but I quiet literally couldn't have ridden the bike in any kind of reasonable way with the stock stem in the XL. The attention they speak of this bike demanding has more to do with the lack of suspension, angles and fact they were surrounded by more capable bikes than a sizing issue. Overall I absolutely love mine!
  • 1 0
 Oh, and for fun - I'm 6'2" - my sweet spot is reach of 475-490 depending on hta/cs length
  • 1 0
 @angryasian: but, this stays consistent with Trek... They aren't going to have the longest, lowest or slackest bike in any comparison...
  • 3 0
 It would be interesting to see if a little more sag would help the small bump sensibility... On my Slash, a 5psi drop from what Trek recommends did wonders... And, I still run the shock in the open mode.. I think I would also look into ditching the lockout in favor of more adjustments if I was to get one...
  • 5 2
 I think I have reached my saturation point.....maybe hold off until the middle of winter for the rest please...

However ASAP please:

100% huck to flat compilation, regular speed followed by the super slows with pan to each companies engineer's face watching the video of their bike.
field test Friday fails/bloopers video
  • 6 0
 @brianpark Let us know where to send a video of Chief Enginerd Matt watching the Trail Pistol huck to flat.
  • 2 0
 @GuerrillaGravity: That would be better then winning an advent calendar prize if you made that dream come true.....only a notch below my other dream of waki giving me props on a PB post!
  • 2 0
 @pink505: I mean it'll just be a guy looking nonchalant watching a video... most engineers wouldn't be too concerned about a small jump to flat on their bikes. Even the super easy-to-pass EN testing probably puts more force into a bike. Smile
  • 1 0
 @brianpark: So does that mean we will get the huck to flat compilation.... Agree several eng videos would be pretty calm...one might be interesting...Plus something about seeing it in real life in supper duper slowmo isn't the same as cad simulation stress curve or EN jig static tests. Request they do it late on a Friday after the shop beers have all been consumed....

Plus since I have your attention: Friday fails bloopers compilations of the field test please.
  • 5 0
 @pink505: yep, our Christmas present to you will be the huck to flat compilation.

As for fails... not that many happened. We didn't get the big crash on film, and otherwise just a little OTB from Kaz that's in the intro, and Levy fell over a bunch during the Impossible Climb (which you'll see in a few weeks).

PS. I've sat next to some engineers watching their bikes get ridden at Rampage. THAT was stressful.
  • 2 0
 @pink505: Enginerd reporting for duty, but a video of my face is probably going to be less entertaining than your'e hoping.
  • 2 0
 @brianpark: I look forward to the compilation! Engineers videos optional....but Guerrilla Gravity is in!
  • 3 0
 A 67.5 degree head tube angle when OVER FORKED... But it's "intended use" is downcountry AND we should size up because as we've seen clearly demonstrated these bikes with not so current geometry or at least purposefully designed XC with 100mm forks get short and sketchy on the desents...

Judging by the bikes tested it kinda seems like there is NO Down Country category YET.

The mondraker pry could be if they got a different shock tune as there geometry is at least up to date/ seemed to allow for overforking from conception.

The Trail Pistol is really a Trail bike, but if they produced a "super light" version that did not use the modular platform and was only rated for short travel it has the best geo. ( Course if you spent $10,400 on one you could get pretty close to a DC build right now, but fir sure the current frame is always gonna be a Mega Trail at heart...)

The Joplin is a trail bike, the rest of the bikes tested are XC.
  • 8 1
 Great review again thanks Sarah & James
  • 5 3
 As I've became a faster rider I lean my bike way more and am usually counter-steering through turns, like I would on a motorcycle. It's really rare that I turn my handlebars like I'm riding a tricycle. Sometimes I do circles in my narrow driveway and turn that sharply at slow speeds. Point is, I only see upside to the Knock-Block. Pretty soon Enduro bikes will be dual crown and it'll be a moot point anyways.
  • 6 0
 I hear ya but where they tested these bikes is the land of 50/50 doable switchback climbs.
  • 6 4
 Knockblock: when you are out having a good time, looking to fork a turn and then get prevented from sealing the deal

Example: Jimmy put down his drink and was ready to go and lay into that tight, greasy turn when he got knockblocked by his best friend, Trek.
  • 3 0
 Everyone mad that it's a 9k bike... the top fuel lineup starts at 2499.99 and goes up... I work at a bike shop NOBODY buys the 9.9's usually people spend between 2-4k on dual suspensions
  • 3 1
 I ride the same local trail for 75% of my mileage, and an efficient bike that rewards precision looks like a perfect way to enjoy the rides up and keep it fresh on the descents.
  • 7 3
 Omg it is now more than Obvious that it was the Yeti the one that cracked the frame.
  • 8 0
 Nah...there's a picture of it doing the 'huck to flat'. They stated that the broken frame never made it to that test.
  • 2 0
 @spaztwelve: so between Ibis, GT, Specialized and Rocky Mountain. Which one you think it was?
  • 2 0
 @PJSANAB: The spesh is in the background of that picture too; they said the other bike failed during trail riding, so I assume it made it to the huck to flat test.
  • 1 5
flag StraightLineJoe (Dec 9, 2019 at 8:06) (Below Threshold)
 Was that a true huck to flat though? We only saw the Trek 6" off the ground before it lands. The tyres fully rebound but the shock stays compressed for way to long, like theres not enough air in it to lift the rider back up. Looked a bit simulated to me.
  • 1 11
flag PJSANAB (Dec 9, 2019 at 8:35) (Below Threshold)
 @StraightLineJoe: they purposely remove most air pressure from the fork and shock.
  • 10 0
 @PJSANAB: we do not. We had every huck to flat bike set up with 30% sag for Jason's weight.
  • 2 0
 @PJSANAB: I think that the biking community would lose their sh*t if it was the Ibis. If it were Spec or RM, loads of people would say, I told you so. If it were GT, loads of folks would go to the, "eh...it's just a budget company trying to compete in the big leagues", argument. I am not claiming any of these responses for myself.
  • 3 0
 @spaztwelve: I told you so.
  • 2 1
 @brianpark: Does Jason ever get to do a full field test? It would be nice to see someone over 175 pounds in a review for a change.
  • 6 0
 @urinalmint: he and Kaz held down the Enduro bike tests, dropping next week.
  • 1 0
 @brianpark:
Good to know this since I’m right at 185lbs. Will be watching those huck to flats more closely from now on.
  • 3 0
 @spaztwelve: it can’t be Ibis... I’ll have to take a day off at work to recover if it was.
  • 1 0
 @brianpark: Awesome. Good to hear. Thx.
  • 1 0
 Thicc boye Jason doing Enduro. Nice. Next year let's see how many of the xc whips he can smash
  • 7 0
 @j-t-g: Been eatin' donuts and drinkin' beer all year in preparation!
  • 3 2
 Unlike the testers, I Don't see too many people riding DHR / DHF on this model. This is a XC bike with a lockout made for going fast. I have a 18 Top Fuel RSL with Fox Stepcast 120 and Schwalbe Rey and Ralph tires (suited for this bike). I really like the lockout and narrow 750 bars on mine. Mine weighs 23lb and has reverb dropper. My 18 does not have the knock block so no comment on that.
  • 1 0
 What were your suspension settings? Lots of folks on mtbr forums have found Trek's recommended psi for this bike way off from ideal both front and rear. Wondering if you tested out pressure and what you end up with. Personally I needed to increase rear psi by about 15% over recommended in the rear to get sag correct and decrease psi in the front a little bit for plushness. Very happy with it now but took lots of experimentation.
  • 1 0
 Hey, I ran into the same thing...
It looks like the recommended setting coming from Trek is for a plusher more planted ride, since the brand has a big amount of clients, some of them are just starting, or having their first FS bike.
When I bought my Remedy, I had to put 20 more psi rear and 10 psi more on the front, for a more lively ride.
On the Top Fuel I had to add waaaay more psi on the rear to avoid feel it "stuck" (at least 30psi more if I recall correctly) and remove 10 psi front (same as you).
Already changed rear shock on the remedy to a float X2 and changed bars and stem on the top fuel.
  • 1 0
 @HopeFbn: Why did you change the bars and stem on the Top Fuel? The whole bike is super stiff and the 35mm setup in the cockpit adds and complements that. Are you trying to drop weight?
  • 1 0
 @linds0r: on the top fuel I am running a 35mm clamp bar, so yeah, it feels stiffer.I put on the Bontys Line Pro Stem and bar (the ones that comes on the Slash 2019) 780mm bar width and 50mm stem.
I wasn't trying to drop weight but I ended up saving weight with those changes. Next is to put a deore XT groupset because I dont like SRAM that much for a pedal friendly bike (shift under load).
  • 1 0
 @angryasian - hoping you can weigh in on your settings vs. Trek's recommendations, and whether you experimented with volume spacers, etc. Thanks!
  • 1 0
 For their weight, Trek's suspension calculator gives them 70 psi (what they used). So good chance they did not set it up ideally, seeing as it seems (as you say, and also my experience with my Top Fuel) the Trek calculator is a fair way off.

Bike has basically been tested with questionable sizing, suspension settings, brakes and tyres. I can understand the reasons for all of these things, especially the brakes which is 100% on Trek (I changed my 2-pot and 180/160 SLX rotors to XTR 4-pot and 180/180 Icetech rotors). But it isn't the most ideal way to review this bike.
  • 1 0
 @BigAlfonz: I had a second Top Fuel sample (same model and size) at home in Colorado for a while before I left for Pemberton, so I had plenty of time to play with suspension settings beforehand. I did try varying the pressure out back, but still ended up where I did because that's where I was happiest on a range of terrain. If anything, the firm compression damping prompted me to go *down* in pressure at first, not up; but when I went higher in pressure, I wasn't getting full travel and wasn't getting any appreciable boost in support or efficiency to justify the drop in ride quality.

I didn't play around with volume spacers, although if I did, I likely would have maybe added a few to let me drop the air pressure to try and get some initial suppleness. It's not always productive to do something like that to overcome an inherent damping tune, though.
  • 1 0
 @BigAlfonz: Im about to change rotors and brakes too... they are underpowered!
  • 1 0
 Knock Block may not be THAT terrible. But no Knock Block is simply objectively better. It definitely made me shy away from trek, who's one of my go-to brands since i started riding. I bet it cost them more sales than the little added stiffness ever gained them. Shame.
  • 1 0
 I started riding this bike over the summer, LOVE IT! Pros - pedals and climbs great, descends well. As the reviewers stated it's very sharp descending, if you're between sizes I'd size up and don't put a super short stem on it. Cons - stock bars are too narrow, and the stock 2 piston brakes are terrible (I changed them out for 4 piston brakes and it made a huge difference), stock rubber is also lacking for where I ride (I put some beefier XR4s on). I also have seen some suggest a bigger volume spacer in the rear shock, which I did and I feel like it improved the ride quality. This bike punches above it's travel class and is playful and a blast to ride! Knock Block - I don't understand the huge beef so many seem to have, in a half season of riding I've hit it exactly once (I ride tight East coast terrain).
  • 4 0
 I just came for the huck to flat part
  • 6 3
 But I'm gonna cut those 750 bars down to 720 anyways so thanks to trek for nailing the spec for me!!!
  • 6 2
 $9k. Who the heck buys these things?
  • 4 1
 Dentists.
  • 3 0
 Not even dentists.
  • 4 0
 I hear the arguments that just like "Car and Driver" or "Guitar player" people want to hear about the top end products so pinkbike should review top end bikes...
however, if you buy a ferrari or porsche or a USA Paul Reed Smith/ Gibson/Fender guitar...you're going to drive it/ play it and then even if you sell it you'll get a good portion of your money back.

$9k bikes? you'll be lucky to get a quarter of it's value back on re-sale after just a few seasons...just doesn't make sense.
  • 2 0
 No kidding, how is the price one of the Cons in this review??
  • 2 0
 @urinalmint: we explain why we don't go too deep into pricing here: www.pinkbike.com/news/video-welcome-to-the-2020-pinkbike-field-test.html
  • 3 0
 @brianpark: Fair enough. I guess I could've worded that better. How is value not a Con??

One of the Pros for the Trail Pistol was "great value and tons of spec options" so I guess I was expecting to see how a 9K bike with some strange component choices, like the brakes for instance, would rate in value.
  • 4 0
 So this downcountry thing is really gonna stick?
  • 5 1
 let's hope not, it only confuses new riders who are already overwhelmed at choosing a bike. Given the bikes in this "category", it's obvious not even PB has a solid definition of what a "downcountry" bike is. It only confuses more people, which is not a good thing in this sport.
  • 3 0
 Ride a slash. Never notice the KB. Maybe it's my mx background? It's a non-issue
  • 2 0
 I love this frame! I want one really bad but its a shame that trek can never get the rear suspension set up right. Nothing Avalanche cannot handle.
  • 2 2
 Thoroughly beating a dead horse here....

These are all very different bikes. Most notably, the GG is a large frame (with short adjustable headset position). The size 2 GG frame would probably be more comparable for testing purposes (or, the way I see it, a larger frame would have been more reasonable for many of the test bikes. Does this also put a weight penalty on the GG? Hmmmmm???? I assume the Size 2 GG wasn't available yet when they started their test.

Trek Top Fuel (M)
BB drop 3
BB Height 343
Chainstay length 434
Effective top tube 598
Head angle 68.0°
Head tube length 9
Offset 44
Reach 445
Seat tube 419
Seat tube angle 68.5°
Seat Tube (Eff.) 75.5°
Stack 590
Standover 735
Trail 103
Wheelbase 1152

Pivot Mach 4 SL (M)
BB Height 334
Chain Stay Length 431
Head angle 67.50°
Head Tube Length 108
Reach 427
Seat Tube A (Eff.) 73.50°
Seat Tube Length 419
Stack 611
Standover Height 696
Top Tube Length 616.5
Wheelbase 1146

Juliana Joplin (M)
BB Drop 38
BB Height 335
Chainstay Length 430
Front Center 757
Head angle 65.7°
Head Tube Length 110
Reach 450
Seat Tube A (Eff.) 76.6°
Seat Tube Length 405
Stack 610
Standover Height 708
Top Tube Length 596
Wheelbase 1211

GG Trail Pistol (3 short)
BB Height 340
Chainstay Length 426
Effective Top Tube 615
Head angle 65.9°
Head tube Length 120
Reach 483
SA - Actual 74
Seat Tube A (Eff.) 78.1°
Seat tube Length 430
Stack 619
Standover 724
Wheelbase 1219

Mondraker F-Podium DC
BB Height 337
Chainstay Length 432
Fork Offset 44
Head angle 66.8°
Head Tube Length 90
Reach 450
Seat Tube A (Eff.) 75.1°
ST Angle, Actual 70.8°
Seat Tube Length 420
Stack 582
Top Tube Length 603
Wheelbase 1167
  • 8 0
 We were on the size 2 Guerrilla Gravity... www.pinkbike.com/news/field-test-2020-guerrilla-gravity-trail-pistol-down-for-whatever-country.html In the Short setting with a 50mm stem as per Guerrilla Gravity's recommendations.
  • 1 1
 @sarahmoore: Ooh! My apologies. I could have sworn you said that you used the size 3 in short. That changes things a little.

GG Trail Pistol (2 short)
BB Height 340
Chainstay Length 426
Effective Top Tube 615
Head angle 65.9°
Head tube Length 100
Reach 458
SA - Actual 74
Seat Tube A (Eff.) 78.2°
Seat tube Length 400
Stack 601
Standover 724
Wheelbase 1186
  • 1 1
 @sarahmoore: You should try that GG in long with a 35mm stem.
  • 3 1
 Sounds like they tested the wrong size bike because of dropper post length. I think they would have found it to fit/handle better in the M/L
  • 3 1
 Maybe less "right vs wrong", and more "different"... James and Sarah would certainly have felt more stable on the descents, but possibly at the cost of some nimbleness and climbing agility.
  • 2 0
 @brianpark: I disagree, based off of how they felt it was too upright, and how the front end lifted on climbs I bet the longer front center of the medium/large would have suited them better on climbing and descending.
  • 4 0
 @werts: Yes, we both would have rather had the *reach* of the M/L, but not the longer seat tube of that size since that would have forced us into a 125mm dropper. Given the newness of this design, there’s no good reason why you can’t have good geometry AND room for a longer-travel post.
  • 11 12
 Knockblock seems like a pretty good idea to me... All of my bikes always get massive dings in the top tube when I crash from my handlebars hitting the frames. I'd love if all blocks had some sort of steering stop system to prevent the handlebars from taking out the top tube.
  • 10 1
 How are you crashing so that the handlebars hit the frame? You running like a -25 degree 120mm long stem?
  • 1 0
 @BamaBiscuits:
Maybe a road bike?
  • 2 0
 @BamaBiscuits: Usually the brake levers scrape the top tube.
  • 2 0
 @BamaBiscuits: If I a bike has less than 600mm of stack I'll run a -17 70mm if it has more than 600mm of stack then I go for a 66mm Syntace Flatforce depending on the bike. I mostly only ride 100mm-120mm bikes and am a bit on the short side at 5'6". So I need to get them bars as low as they can go! Which causes issue with the brake levers and shifters clearing the top tube. My bikes end up looking VERY similar to how the Top Fuel in this review is setup. I notice they're running what looks like a -17 stem as well.
  • 1 0
 For top tube/handlebar interference, I use a piece of clear 5/8" plastic tubing cut into a semicircle profile. I affix a piece to each side of the tube with clear vinyl wrap.
  • 1 0
 @JohanG: That's not a bad idea. What I've been doing is wrap the top tube at the contact points with some ESI Silicone Tape. I find that it has just enough shock absorption that it helps avoid some damage.
  • 1 1
 Tester had a hard time keeping the front wheel on the ground and the knock block got in his way in tight corners. Why would an XC bike sacrifice climbing? This bike seems redundant to me now with their updated fuel.
  • 1 0
 I used to love the old Top Fuel (with the integrated seatmast). Those things ripped! Would definitely consider one of these for myself ????
  • 5 3
 Knockblock… have you met Colorado switchbacks???
  • 6 4
 $9k and you get Sram Level brakes?
  • 8 1
 Nah that's appropriate on this bike. It's got a marathon, weekend warrior XC vibe and Level Ultimates fit that pretty well. Level Ultimates aren't cheap at all.
  • 1 2
 Levels are nice brakes made for lower travel bikes, which this is. Yeah, guides are better, but probably not as needed with a bike this light.
  • 1 0
 @jackedwards350: except they said they don’t have enough power..
  • 2 0
 @CircusMaximus: The lever feel is better than all the other SRAM brakes IMO. On a light bike I would run them and up the rotor size if needed.
  • 1 0
 @CircusMaximus: Ya, for what the testers are doing, they probably don't have enough power. But the brakes are appropriate for the bike in general. I'd guess the wheels may be a little light for that kind of riding in the long run as well. But it's advertised as being light and 'blurring the line between cross country and trail' or something like that. These brakes are appropriate for this kind of bike if you're emphasizing light and aggressive xc'ish riding. I think the step cast fork tells you a lot about that. If it came with a Pike at this pricepoint then 4pots probably would seem more appropriate, but that fork is solidly xc.
  • 1 0
 @jclnv: that's an interesting point. My XC bike came with Level brakes, and they do have a much better level feel than the Guides. However the feel is great until you need any type of power, they just don't have any. Running Aspen's every other brake has had no issue breaking them loose, but the Levels struggled.
  • 1 0
 @jclnv:
I do like the lever feel, but my trance w/ a hair more travel came with the guide g2’s and it’s similar feel with lever firmness, more accessible power. Wouldn’t have been a bad spec on this fuel
  • 2 0
 Every time I see the intro all I can think is, that poor beer.
  • 2 0
 On the 10th day of Christmas Pinkbike gave to me...
  • 1 0
 LoL
  • 2 0
 9k is enough to "fuel" anyone to work 6 jobs to afford this in Canada
  • 1 0
 Doug Bradbury was right placing the perfect suspension pivot point at the very first time so many years ago...
  • 1 0
 Pinkbike dislikes every bike in the test yet claims they are all superior to the bikes they tested 3 years ago.
  • 1 0
 All of them are better than most comparable bikes from 3 years ago, none of them are as great as they COULD be. Smile
  • 2 0
 Those Cables! For 10k can I please have clean routing.
  • 1 0
 Anyone... @angryasian @sarahmoore @mikelevy care to compare this to the yeti sb100?
  • 1 0
 @sarahmoore @brianpark Did the Bontrager rim inserts cause any issues mounting the Maxxis tires?
  • 1 0
 Sprinkling salt on this right now.
  • 1 0
 The bike looks really really small on the huck-to-flat tester!
  • 3 0
 It was definitely too small for Jason, but we had him do all of them in the name of broscience. We had the suspension set up to 30% sag for him on all the bikes for the huck to flat.
  • 1 0
 This bike sounds just like the previous version of the Tallboy.
  • 1 0
 Fast climber? So it's basically upcountry
  • 2 0
 Worst field test so far
  • 1 0
 Lol...what an expensive pile.
  • 6 9
 I understand the logic behind having the same tires for all bikes, but come on, Minion DHF and DHR on a XC(ish) bike!!! You should at least put some decent trail tires on those "downcountry" (whatever that means) bikes!
  • 4 0
 To compensate pinkbike will put slicks on all their testbikes next year
  • 1 0
 I'd put a Mezcal, XR3, or Ardent Race on the rear and an XR4 on the front.
  • 2 0
 @JohanG: It comes stock with 2.4 XR3s front and rear
  • 1 0
 @linds0r: I wouldn't use the new, ruined XR3 on the front. The previous version was a fine tire.
  • 1 0
 Chances are these guys run dhf/dhr as their std tires on any bike they have. Keeping those tires means they can focus on how the suspension, geo, spec works and less on figuring out how a tire they never ride is going to handle which gives a better review imo
  • 1 0
 @lognar: But that detracts from the bike's purpose, which is more XC than Enduro or whatever. With the proper tires, it would handle more in line with its intended vocation.
  • 1 2
 It's all about the stepcast. My bikes would be 26lbs if I just had a stepcast fork..
  • 2 2
 Can the frame even run a piggyback shock?
  • 1 1
 Piggy back on an XC? Why??
  • 4 0
 @mybaben: because broooo do you even downcountry?
  • 2 0
 @j-t-g: LMAO! Good one mate, I mean Bro-ham!
Wink
  • 1 0
 Looks like a GT.
  • 1 4
 Dear Pinkbike: Help us stop the "downcountry" and 9 grand for a 26 pound bike is dumb.
  • 2 0
 Well it's really a 25lb bike with an extra lb of tire
  • 1 0
 It's pretty light.
  • 1 0
 pinkbike basically coined "downcountry" they aren't going to stop it
  • 1 3
 So far, Pinkbike testers have only enjoyed riding the pole.
  • 2 0
 Then you should read the Optic review. One of the most enthusiastic I've seen here.
Below threshold threads are hidden

Post a Comment



Copyright © 2000 - 2020. Pinkbike.com. All rights reserved.
dv56 0.041915
Mobile Version of Website