Situated under the looming granite flanks of the Stawamus Chief, Squamish, British Columbia, is a dream location for just about anyone who likes playing outside (there's a reason it's home to Pinkbike's headquarters). The mountains surrounding town are filled with some of the best trails in the world, full of steep rock rolls, and rooty, loamy goodness; anyone who's planning on driving through on their way to Whistler should set aside a couple of days to experience it for themselves.
Squamish is also the spot where Trek decided to debut their new Fuel EX and Remedy models, and over the course of two days we were able to give the new models a try on some of BC's best singletrack.
The 9.9 29 is the highest end model in the Fuel EX lineup, with a full carbon frame, carbon DT Swiss wheels, and a SRAM Eagle drivetrain for $8,399. It's also the lightest Fuel, weighing in at only 25.5 pounds (11.57 kg) for a size large.
The full carbon Remedy 9.9 Race Shop Limited (RSL) edition gets a 160mm RockShox Lyrik and SRAM Eagle drivetrain for one penny shy of $8,000 USD. Weight: 28 lb (12.7 kg).
Trek Fuel EX 29
• 29" wheels
• 130mm rear travel
• 67° head angle (low setting)
• 433mm chainstays
• Carbon and aluminum frame options
• 210x52.5mm rear shock
• ISCG 05 tabs
• MSRP: $2,199 - $8,399 USD
Trek Remedy 27.5
• 27.5" wheels
• 150mm rear travel
• 66° head angle (low setting w/ 150mm fork)
• 435mm chainstays
• Carbon and aluminum frame options
• 230x57.5mm rear shock
• ISCG 05 tabs
• MSRP: $2,999 - $8,000 USD
What's new for 2017? Well, for one thing, the lineup has been pared down slightly, in order to reduce the amount of overlap between models. Previously, the Fuel EX and the Remedy had both been offered with either 27.5” or 29” wheels, but now the Fuel EX will be available in either a 27.5+
or 29” configuration, and the Remedy will be available solely in a 27.5” wheeled version. From a distance, the new bikes may look fairly similar to their predecessors, but there's a good deal more going on than just wheel size adjustments – the geometry and frame design of both bikes underwent substantial updates.
Although the Fuel EX and the Remedy are two entirely different machines, they do share a number of similarities. Before diving into the individual characteristics of each model, it's worth taking a moment to examine the common design elements between the two bikes. Frame Technology
A raised stop on the top tube works in conjunction with a groove machined into the headset's top cap to keep the bars from rotating too far and contacting the frame.
Down tube protection is also in place as a secondary means of preventing any frame damage.
Straight Shot Downtube / Knock Block
Trek wanted to increase the stiffness of the Fuel EX and the Remedy, and decided that the best way to accomplish this was to straighten and enlarge the downtube. That tactic worked, they say, with a measurable increase in stiffness, especially around the bottom bracket area. There was one issue, though; there was less clearance for the fork crown, and it would hit the downtube when the bars were rotated too far.
To solve this, Trek created their 'Knock Block'
system, which relies on a stop chip located on the top tube, which works with a keyed headset top cap to prevents the fork from turning too far. There's also a special keyed stem from Bontrager that helps ensure all of the parts remain lined up. But before you reach for the pitchforks, keep in mind that non-Bontrager are compatible with the Knock Block system as well. All that's required is the installation of a clamping headset spacer and you can install your favorite stem without any trouble.
The Fuel EX and the Remedy have Boost spacing front and rear.
Trek's RE:aktiv technology is found on both the Fuel and the Remedy. Previously, only Fox had offered a RE:aktiv equipped shock, but RockShox now has a version as well.
Boost 148 / 110
Trek first introduced Boost spacing (12 x 148mm in the rear, 15 x 110mm in the front) to the world with their Remedy 29er in 2015, and since then the spacing has become increasingly common. It was originally developed for 29ers, but it's being adopted for 27.5” wheeled bikes as well, including the new Remedy. When it was first announced, the reasoning was that it increased the stiffness of 29" wheels due to the wider hub flange spacing, and also made it easier to create a big-wheeled bike with even shorter chainstays. Those same principles apply with 27.5"-wheeled bikes, and the fact of the matter is that it simply doesn't make sense to have wheel size dictate hub flange width - why make two different sizes when one will do? For that reason, expect to see Boost spacing to become increasingly common from all manufacturers, and at all pricepoints. RE:aktiv Shock Technology
Trek developed their RE:aktiv
shock technology in collaboration with Penske, and the regressive valve design was originally implemented solely in Fox shocks. RockShox is now joining in, and they will be producing a RE:aktiv equipped version of their new Deluxe shock.
For those that are unfamiliar with RE:aktiv technology, the basic gist is that it was designed to improve a bike's pedaling performance without diminishing its ability to absorb impacts. A spring-loaded valve inside the shock body allows for increased low speed compression for pedaling support on smoother terrain, but when the shock's shaft speed increases the valve opens up, enabling the shock to quickly and smoothly absorb the impact before the valve closes again.
Fuel EX 29 Details
There was some confusion last month when Trek announced their new Fuel EX 27.5+ bike. Were they scrapping the 29” version of that bike? Was one of their most popular bikes going to be available solely with plus-sized tires? The answer is a resounding 'No,' and there's a full lineup of carbon or aluminum framed 29ers on the way.
The new Fuel EX now has 130mm of rear travel, 10mm more than the previous version, and the head angle has been slackened by almost two degrees to 67-degrees in the low setting, while the chainstay length has shrunk ever-so-slightly, and now measures 433mm in the Low setting. The bike's reach has also been increased, growing by approximately 5mm across the board.
There's also a women's version of the Fuel EX, which rolls on 29” wheels for the 17.5” and 18.5” sizes, and on 27.5” wheels for the 14” and 15.5” sizes. The geometry and spec are identical to the men's models, but the grips and saddle are designed for female riders.
All of the aforementioned changes serve to push the Fuel EX even more into the aggressive trail bike category, and a little further from the XC-race realm where the Top Fuel resides. In fact, the Fuel EX has a slacker head angle and a longer reach than last year's Remedy 29, the bike that won Pinkbike's 2015 Bike of the Year award. It also now comes with 2.4" tires, a 750mm handlebar, and a 60mm stem. I do wish Trek had spec'd the same 780mm bars found on the Remedy and allowed riders to trim it down to their preferred size, but otherwise the build kit found on the top-of-the-line 9.9 is hard to fault.
Fuel EX Ride Impressions
Last year's Fuel EX
was a light and lively machine that left me highly impressed, and also a little curious as to how it would handle with a bit more travel and a slacker head angle. I didn't want it to morph into an enduro monster, but I did think a few little tweaks could push its descending capabilities even closer towards the all-mountain realm.
As luck would have it, Trek's designers had the same thoughts, and it turns out my hunch was correct – this latest iteration feels just as quick on the climbs, but when it's time to descend it's less phased by steep and technical trails than ever before.
The first ride I took the Fuel EX on in Squamish included some local favorites: Rupert, Entrails, Fred's, Tinder, and Your Mom (yes, Tinder does lead to Your Mom...), trails full of granite rock faces, roots, and perfectly sculpted corners. They're rowdy enough that riding a 160mm bike on them wouldn't be considered overkill, but they're also well suited to a bike like the Fuel EX, especially given how well it uses its 130mm of suspension. There weren't any harsh bottom outs, but every millimeter was readily accessible, with a smooth, incredibly supple feel as the bike went through its travel.
A full review is in the works, but my first impressions are extremely positive; by all appearances Trek has elevated the Fuel EX's performance even further. Lightning fast, and wildly fun, it picks up right where its predecessor left off without missing a beat.
Remedy 27.5 Details
Last year's Remedy 27.5 had 140mm of travel, which made it a little more difficult to categorize. It was longer-limbed than many trail bikes, but a little shy of the travel found on all-mountain and enduro race bikes. Things should be easier now, and in keeping with the bigger, slacker, longer theme, the new Remedy has 150mm of travel to go along with its 66-degree head angle. There are two carbon versions in the lineup, one with carbon stays and one with alloy, along with three aluminum models.
There will be also Race Shop Limited (RSL) versions of the Remedy that increase the capabilities of an already formidable machine even further by giving it a 160mm travel-adjust RockShox Lyrik. The longer travel fork slackens the head angle by half a degree, putting it at 65.5-degrees in the low setting.
A flip chip allows the bike's head angle and bottom bracket height to easily be adjusted.
The highest end Fuel and Remedy models are spec'd with SRAM's 12-speed Eagle drivetrain.
The new Remedy now has more travel, but it's just as easy to get airborne.
Remedy Ride Impressions
From a distance, the Remedy 27.5 almost looks like a slopestyle bike, with a low slung top tube that provides plenty of room for whatever body contortions are necessary out on the trail. Granted, the Knock Block feature does take bar spins and tail whips off the table, but unless your last name is Semenuk or Rheeder, those probably aren't part of your regular ride routine anyways, and I honestly never encountered a turn that required the front wheel to be turned further than the Knock Block allowed.
The trait that stood out the most from my first ride on the Remedy was its composure when landing in chewed up sections of trail. There wasn't any unwanted wheel deflection or squirreliness - the RockShox Deluxe rear shock kept the back end glued to the ground, exactly where it needed to be, which made it easier to focus on the next fast-approaching obstacle. As planted as the Remedy felt, it still had plenty of pep when it came time to pop off a lip or to slash through a tight turn. I do wish that it came with a 150mm dropper post rather than 125; that little extra bit of seat clearance would come in handy on near-vertical roll ins and steep chutes.
Of course, one ride is barely enough time to scratch the surface when it comes to figuring out a bike's strengths and weaknesses, but all the same, it didn't take long before I felt right at home on the Remedy. It's a bike that could certainly be called into action in an enduro race, but its geometry numbers are also balanced enough that it could serve as a daily driver, even if you don't have massive mountains and hair-raising terrain in your backyard.
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