Trek recently released the details of the new Fuel EX 27.5+, the latest iteration of a bike that's been a mainstay in the company's lineup for the last 16 years. The big news is that this version is equipped with 27.5+ wheels, with all three models rolling on 27.5 x 2.8" Bontrager Chupacabra tires. The wheel dimension change is also accompanied by a 10-millimeter increase in rear travel and several geometry tweaks, alterations that serve to push the bike further away from its cross-country roots and deeper into territory that's populated by ultra-capable trail bikes.
Trek Fuel EX 27.5+ Details
• Travel: 130mm rear, 140mm front
• Frame material: carbon or aluminum
• 27.5 x 2.8" tires
• 67.2° or 66.6° head angle
• 432mm chainstays
• 12 x 148mm rear spacing
• Price: $2399 - $5299 USD
• Availability: Fuel EX 8 and EX 9.8: now, Fuel EX 5: June.
• Trek Bikes
The Fuel EX 27.5+ comes with big 27.5" tires on 40mm rims, but it's also possible to run 29” wheels on the new ride with only a slight increase in bottom bracket height. The bike comes set in the 'high' geometry position, but a flip of the Mino Link on the seatstay allows that to be reduced to 66.6°, allowing riders to choose the handling characteristics they prefer. According to Trek, they see the 27.5+ Fuel as a supplement to their renowned Fuel EX 29; it's a sibling rather than a replacement in the line. Frame Details
The Fuel EX is bristling with all of the latest standards – there's Boost spacing front and rear, and the 130mm of rear travel is delivered via a metric sized shock (210 x 52.5mm) from either Fox or RockShox depending on the model. Visually, the frame itself looks similar to previous models, that is until you reach the head tube junction area. There's now a slight hump to the top tube, and the down tube has been straightened out in a move that's said to bring the bike's stiffness to the same level as the Slash, Trek's all-mountain / enduro race bike.
Straightening the Fuel's down tube tube did bring a set of hurdles for Trek's designers to overcome, namely the fact that the fork would contact the frame if was turned too sharply. To solve this issue they came up with the 'Knock Block', which uses a keyed headset cover and a replaceable stop chip in the top tube that prevents the handlebar from turning too far. If you harbored dreams of throwing barspins on your plus-bike, the Fuel EX won't be the one for you. There's also additional protection on the outside of the down tube, just in case for some reason the Knock Block ceases blocking.
With a 140mm fork up front, the new Fuel EX's head angle now sits at 66.6° in the low geometry position. Compare that to the prior version's 68.8° head angle and it's clear that this is intended to be an entirely different machine than its predecessor . The reach has been lengthened slightly, up to 458mm on a size large, and the chainstay length now sits at either 432 or 433mm. The rear end is designed to fit a 27.5 x 2.8” tire, a width that Trek settled on after experimenting with numerous rim and tire width combinations.
As far as sizing goes, the two aluminum models of the Fuel EX are available in six sizes, from 15.5” to 23”, and the carbon version is available in five sizes, from 15.5” to 21.5”.
|It's still not entirely clear what the future holds for 27.5+ bikes, but the fact that Trek would add a plus-sized option of one of their most popular models shows they feel there's a definite demand out there. The wider tires do make a lot of sense for this style of bike, the type of rig that's made for doing a little bit of everything, as long as fun is the overarching goal. That being said, it's going to be interesting to see what else Trek has in store this season.- Mike Kazimer|