Trek Fuel EX 9.8 Women's - Review

May 15, 2017
by Rachelle Frazer Boobar  


Trek's Fuel lineup had a little shake up in 2017, which pushed the bike away from the XC / trail category and firmly nudged it a little closer to the all-mountain/enduro realm. Besides updating the geometry and travel, Trek also took a new approach to their women's bikes. You will no longer find any women's-specific geometry on any top-of-the-line Trek mountain bikes, including the Fuel EX.

"Say whaaat? Isn't this what Trek built their women's line around?" Yes, it was, but customers' needs are changing and so are Trek. That doesn't mean they have completely thrown in the towel on the female rider, though. Trek are still thinking about the specifics that might make a bike better for the female consumer, just in a new sort of way...
Trek Fuel EX 9.8 Women's

• 130mm front and rear travel
• 67° head angle (low setting)
• 433mm chainstays
• Carbon frame and seatstays, alloy chainstays
• ISCG 05 tabs
• 14" and 15.5" - 27.5" wheels. 17.5" - 29" wheels (tested)
• MSRP: $4,999 USD
• Weight - 28 lbs, 3 oz, 17.5" frame (without pedals)
www.trekbikes.com, @trek

According to Trek, they found smaller women to be more comfortable on a physically proportional wheel size, so instead of the customer choosing whether they preferred 27.5" or 29" wheels for the new Fuel EX, Trek made the decision to specify what wheel size women would get based on the frame size they needed. The two smaller size 14" and 15.5" models come with 27.5 wheels and the larger 17.5 " and 19" models sizes with 29" wheels. Other features that appear on the female range of bikes include a women’s saddle and a unique set of colorways. Other than that, the Fuel EX is exactly the same bike and build as the main line.

There are three female bikes in the Fuel EX lineup ranging from the $2199 USD EX 5, to $4999 USD 9.8. I've had a 17.5" Fuel EX 9.8 Women's 29er for the last six months to see how it handles in a variety of situations from technical and meandering trails to melt your face fast, flowing singletrack, right down to the classic East Coast nastiness of rocks, roots and more rocks.


Trek Fuel EX 9.8 Women s
The Knock Block. Keeping frames safe from being beaten up by fork crowns since 2017.
Trek Fuel EX 9.8 Women s
Flip the chip and have a play with the Fuel's Geometry. Slack and low or slacker and lower.

Frame Details

The bike's head-turning matte black and fuschia frame is constructed from Trek's OCLV carbon fiber, and Trek actually increased the stiffness of the Fuel EX this year by straightening and enlarging the downtube. However, this oversized downtube meant that the fork's crown would hit the frame if you turned your bars too far, which to the development of the 'Knock Block' to stop this from happening. The Knock Block is a replaceable stop chip on the top tube that works with a keyed headset top cap to limit the fork's turning radius, and a keyed stem and spacers ensure everything remains lined up. If you don’t like the idea of using this system, you can use an aftermarket stem, but you’ll need a special clamping headset spacer in order to run it. A rubber downtube protector has also been installed for added protection.

The Fuel uses a BB92 bottom bracket, Boost spacing (12 x 148mm in the rear, 15 x 110mm in the front) which increases the stiffness of those 29" wheels and has allowed for the shorter chainstays and increased tire clearance. Trek’s Control Freak cable internal cable routing system keeps the derailleur, brake and dropper post housing hidden out of the way. There are also ISCG 05 tabs for a chain guide, and there's a spot to mount a a waterbottle cage on the top of the downtube.

The frame design also features a mino chip, which allows you to choose between Low or High geometry settings. You'll need a 5mm hex tool to flip the chip, but the procedure can easily be done anywhere, even if you don't have a stand to throw your bike in.


Trek Fuel EX 9.8 Women s
Boost spacing front and rear.
Trek Fuel EX 9.8 Women s
The Fox Float RE:activ rear shock is mounted using Trek's Full Floater system.


Suspension

The Fuel EX uses Trek's Active Braking Pivot (ABP) suspension design, where the rear pivots are positioned around the rear axle, combined with Trek’s Full Floater shock mounting system, where the shock is mounted between the rocker link and the swing arm. The EX 9.8 also comes with Fox's Float EVOL, RE:aktiv 3 rear shock. Trek developed their RE:aktiv shock technology in collaboration with Penske and Fox. A spring-loaded valve inside the shock body provides increased pedaling support, but when you hit an object and the shock’s shaft speed increases, the valve opens up allowing the shock to act quickly and absorb the bump before the valve closes. This regressive valve design is intended to provide a more consistently smooth ride that can adapt quickly to rougher terrain.


Geometry

Trek updated their Fuel line in 2017 to push the platform a little further away from the XC/trail class and a little more towards the all-mountain category. Updates include 130mm of rear travel, that’s 10mm more than the previous version, a head angle that’s been slackened to 67.7° in the High setting, and 67° in the Low setting. The chainstay length has been trimmed by a few millimeters down to 433mm, and the bike's reach has also been slightly increased.

Geo
Trek Fuel EX Women s 9.8



Specifications
Specifications
Release Date 2017
Price $4999.99
Travel 130mm
Rear Shock Fox Performance Float EVOL, RE:aktiv 3-position damper, 210x52.5mm
Fork Fox Performance 34 Float, FIT4 3-position damper,130mm travel
Cassette Shimano Deore XT, 11-42, 11 speed
Crankarms Shimano Deore XT, 36/26
Rear Derailleur Shimano Deore XT, Shadow Plus
Chain Shimano Deore XT
Front Derailleur Shimano Deore XT, high direct mount
Shifter Pods Shimano Deore XT M8000, 11 speed
Handlebar Bontrager Line Pro, OCLV Carbon, 750mm width
Stem Bontrager Line Pro, Knock Block, 35mm, 0 degree
Grips Bontrager Race Lite, lock-on
Brakes Shimano Deore XT hydraulic disc
Wheelset Bontrager Duster Elite, Tubeless Ready
Tires Bontrager XR3 Team Issue, 29x2.40"
Seat Bontrager Evoke 3, titanium rails
Seatpost Bontrager Drop Line 125, 31.6mm,





Trek Fuel EX 9.8 Women s



6 Questions With Ross Rushin, Trek Assistant Product Manager

What are the key factors Trek are thinking about when developing their women's bikes? What sort of input do you take from your female customer base?


We’ve been receiving input from our female customers for nearly two decades, and that’s how we came to realize that, while “fit” is an important factor for either gender, it’s only one part of the overall performance package. Feedback from experienced female trail riders over the years has indicated that suspension performance, ride quality, and spec matter just as much as fit in this category, where a rider’s position on the bike is far more dynamic than it is in a Road or XC setting.

How do you determine what price points and components make the most sense for your female customer base?


It’s very similar to our approach with our mainline bikes. We aim to cover a range of competitive price points with the best spec for the money.

Why does Trek not offer a women's version of the top-of-the-line 9.9?


Female riders who want the latest, highest-performance spec options found on our 9.9-level bikes can use our Project One custom program to build a women’s Fuel EX with all the same parts as the stock 9.9 bike. They can choose the stock Fuel EX Women’s paint, or choose from a wide range of colors to create their own unique look.

There are no single ring drivetrain options on the Fuel women's line. What's the reasoning behind this?


From a global perspective, there’s still enough demand for a high-quality 2x system to warrant offering bikes with it. Especially in areas with drastic elevation changes, many riders want more range than what current affordable 1x systems offer. So, we chose to spec the women’s Fuel EX’s with Shimano 2x to satisfy the demand for both Shimano and for 2x. For riders at this price point who wish to run a single ring up front, it’s easy enough to ditch the front derailleur and shifter and then add a chain ring with the desired tooth count. It would be much more complicated for a rider who wants 2x to do the conversion from 1x.

For riders who want a SRAM drivetrain, Fuel EX Women’s can be configured that way in our Project One custom program.

With the rest of the Fuel range, customers have the option to choose 27.5+ or 29" options. For the women's Fuels', Trek has determined wheel size based on frame size. Tell us about the decision to do this and the process that was involved getting there.


This was based on consistent feedback from our female riders, which was that smaller riders preferred the handling of more proportional 27.5-inch wheels. Using smaller wheels on the two smaller frame sizes also allowed us to get the standover a bit lower, something for which our female riders are always asking.

I personally love this bike's graphics but pink could be considered risky color for a female bike right now. How did you guys get to this color scheme? How important is a unique female paint scheme in your opinion?


We’ve moved on from the backlash against pink that we’ve seen in years past. Of course not every woman likes pink, just like not every guy likes black and red. We know we’re not going to please every rider, but we think this color scheme will appeal to most of the target audience – women shopping specifically for a “women’s” bike. For this particular audience, a unique paint scheme is often a deciding factor, so it’s very important. For the many pink-averse women out there, we have quite a palette in the Project One program, and we also have plenty of mainline models that may suit their style better.






Setup

Trek have a handy suspension set up calculator on their website that provides recommended pressure, sag and rebound settings after you enter your weight and bike model. I ended up running a little less pressure and a little faster rebound than recommended but the program is an excellent starting point. Setting up the Fox 34 did take me some time, and it seemed that no matter what air and volume spacer combination I tried the GRIP damper ended up feeling a little bit harsh for me, especially on square bumps, and I had a quite a hard time getting through all of the travel.

The 50mm stem and 750mm bar combo felt perfect for me, so I was happy to keep that set up for the duration of testing. I did eventually end up switching the front tire out for a beefier Schwalbe Nobby Nic, but that was just a preference for my local trails.

There's also an option to set the bike up in high or low position using the mino chip. This was really easy to do, and after spending a couple of weeks in the High position, I flipped the chip to the Low setting and never looked back. Depending on the type of terrain you ride regularly and the type of ride feel you prefer will really determine what's more comfortable for you.


Trek Fuel EX 9.8 Women s
You can dooo it.


Climbing

I live in the type of area where the climbs are short and often brutal, and where there is usually some sort of awkward rock garden, root ball or technical corner to contend with in the middle of it. Luckily for me, the Fuel just loved going uphill. It would scamper its way up and over all sorts of jumble while offering a powerful and comfortable feeling climbing position. The steering was really precise, and my front wheel never felt like it was wandering. After riding primarily 27.5-inch wheeled bikes for the last year, I found that the Fuel EX carried its size really well, especially around tight corners, and it never felt cumbersome to maneuver.

I ended up keeping the rear shock open more often than not; there’s definitely some movement at the bottom of the pedal stroke, but nothing near enough to feel bogged down or robbed of power. If I was riding somewhere that was more fast and flowing than technical, I could remain in trail mode for the duration – this felt super supportive and bloody fast while still maintaining excellent rear wheel traction. The firmest setting seemed best for fire road climbs and road sections, and even then, the RE:activ damper would still absorb the smaller impacts, making for a really smooth ride experience.

The double chainring did see me receive a few “What’s that thing on the front of your bike?” type jokes at the trailhead, and after having ridden primarily single rings for the last five or so years it was strange to hop back onto a two ring setup. There was almost enough range in the larger 36t ring for me to spend most my time there, but not all the time. Shifting worked consistently well, but I did drop my chain twice during climbing. If you just can’t stand the thought of two chainrings, you can easily enough convert it into a one-by setup, or fork out the extra three grand for the Fuel EX 9.9 model.


Trek Fuel EX 9.8 Women s

bigquotesNew England has its fair share of burly rock rolls, rock gardens, and hidden hucks. It was in these quirky backwoods playgrounds that I found the Fuel EX could punch way above its weight class without ever crossing into the realm of ‘sketchy’.

Descending

If the Fuel EX is impressive on the climbs, it’s the descents where this bike really starts to shatter any preconceived notions on how it should ride.

Gaining speed on the East Coast can sometimes feel like a battle. The descents are often short lived, and prematurely cut off by a speed-sapping tight corner, or sudden uphill climb, but the Fuel EX brings renewed joy and life to those precious moments because it wants to roll fast. Really fast. Like a champion ice skater, the Fuel EX seems to effortlessly glide along the trail.

The Fuel EX also surprised me by being an agile creature and it was able to very gracefully navigate through tight corners and trees. I was able to maneuver this bike for wheel lifts, drops and hops with far more ease than I had anticipated. When leaning into corners, there was an impressive amount of lateral stiffness and power transfer, and I found that the bike really wanted to hold its line and ride smoothly toward wherever it was pointed. On undulating types of terrain where you can stand up and stomp on the pedals the Fuel EX will accelerate impressively fast, while the suspension remains active but not bogged down underneath you. It’s not just pedal-your-face-off fast that this bike loves, though. The steeper the terrain got, the more the Fuel EX wanted to prove just how much it could blur the lines between XC and all-mountain.

New England has its fair share of burly rock rolls, rock gardens, and hidden hucks. It was in these quirky backwoods playgrounds that I found the Fuel EX could punch way above its weight class without ever crossing into the realm of ‘sketchy’. I found I could confidently ride all types of unexpected trails and features on the Fuel EX without wondering if my line would hold, or if I was going to bottom out. There are definitely longer travel, more aggressive type bikes that are more suited to the job, but I really couldn't fault the Fuel EX for how well it did handle the type of things that it's not specifically designed for.

I enjoyed my time on the Fuel EX so much that I decided to take it to a local enduro race to see how it would hold up against the longer travel crowd. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve had so much fun on a bike in a long time. Admittedly, the Fuel EX might not be the best choice for all enduro races out there, but it can hold its own on all but the gnarliest of tracks. Plus, hoots and hollers are guaranteed wherever you take it.



Trek Fuel EX 9.8 Women s
Trek Fuel EX 9.8 Women s


Component Check

• Bontrager Evoke 3 seat - I have to talk about the women's touch points, so I will say that this saddle was neither loved not hated. It was a little cushier than saddles I usually run, and I actually quite liked that.

• Bontrager XR3 Team Issue tires: I squirmed a little when I first saw these tires, but they actually were pretty grippy. They roll fast as heck, but I ended up putting a burlier front tire on in the end for added confidence. I also ran the tires tubeless for about five months before getting a flat.

• Bontrager Drop Line 125 seatpost - Depending what you end up doing on the Fuel EX, 125 mm of travel in a dropper might be fine. The steeper and more technical things got, the more I would have appreciated a little more drop.



Pinkbike's Take:

bigquotesLike an all-star athlete, the Fuel EX can turn its hand to whatever task you ask of it with oodles of finesse. It would not feel out of place at an XC or marathon race, or even at your local enduro. If you are looking for a bike that stretches the possibilities across these realms, the Fuel EX would be a good choice. And you’ll have a really, really, really ridiculously good time while you ride it. - Rachelle Frazer Boobar










About the Reviewer
Stats: Age: Older than I feel • Height: 5'6” • Inseam: 31" • Weight: 124lb • Industry affiliations / sponsors: None
Rachelle's relationship with mountain biking began when she moved from Australia to Whistler, B.C., in 2005, where she swiftly fell in love with downhilling thanks to the Whistler Mountain Bike Park. Her love for mountain biking has grown over the years to include all types of riding, and she is currently working on taming the unruly rock gardens of the East Coast of the USA where she now lives. Rachelle Frazer Boobar.



140 Comments

  • 142 6
 You ever have one of those moments where you're in a clothing store and you end up finding a dope shirt or jersey you like, only to be embarrassed when an employee tells you're in the women's section? Same thing happened with this article.

God I love black and pink.
  • 22 0
 I justified black/purple/pink by getting a Meta V4 Purple Edition hahaha no label to it!
  • 3 0
 @joalst: Ooo, That's a pretty bike.
  • 28 1
 YAAAS. This should be a "unisex" bike!

We are on a site called Pinkbike after all.

Can we just have long/compact and tall/short frame options in all colors?
  • 43 0
 I'm 5'4" and weight about 140lbs. Last time I purchased ski pants I ended up purchasing 'womens' ski pants bc they fit me much better. sooo - if it fits it fits and hey ladies, my ass looks glorious in them
  • 7 0
 Maaaan, for the past 2 years I thing I liked more women's mtb specific designs than men's... You are not alone.
  • 14 0
 Yup.... got a waterproof jacket for a week in the Lake District on sale. Turned out to be a poplar choice. Also turned out to be a ladies jacket so had to keep hiding every time I saw one coming my way.... I'm a size 16 BTW
  • 7 0
 The last sentence of the first paragraph has you covered: "You will no longer find any women's-specific geometry on any top-of-the-line Trek mountain bikes, including the Fuel EX". Go for it.
  • 2 1
 @seraph: Not available in 19.5...
  • 8 0
 I also do so created this beast:

www.pinkbike.com/photo/14729272
  • 8 1
 I feel like only clothing and saddles can be truly women-specific. People come in all shapes, sizes, and preferences - some women have large hands, some men have short torsos, and everybody likes a nice paint scheme, although we may disagree across gender lines as to what constitutes one. That women are on average smaller and lighter and on average prefer certain colors doesn't mean those options shouldn't be available to men, and vice versa. I'm majoring in marketing, and the more I learn, the more I understand why they do these things, but it still hasn't gotten any more philosophically satisfying. There must be a better way.
  • 3 0
 @Bluefire: Well put....and if you look at the comments above, you'll see that even clothing swings both ways. From my experience fitting and anecdotally, same goes with saddles (though more rarely)
  • 3 0
 @barzaka: Rachel Atherton's GT Fury from 2015 with the blue/turquoise flake paint. Did things to me.
  • 4 1
 know anybody with cancer? I have seen more than one fundraiser featuring black and pink bikes.
  • 57 15
 "If you just can’t stand the thought of two chainrings, you can easily enough convert it into a one-by setup, or fork out the extra three grand for the Fuel EX 9.9 model."

For the non-mechanically-inclined, it's nice that Trek has your back with a simple $3,000 upgrade to get 1x.
  • 23 2
 It's literally an $80-100 upgrade. My 2016 Remedy came with a XT 2X11 set-up and all you need to do is pop off the front mech, remove the 36t and 26T chain rings and add a 32/30/28 chain ring of your choice. Super simple. Fairly cheap.
  • 18 1
 Working at a Trek dealer, the 1x conversion is our most popular upgrade for the 8 and 9.8s that we have sold... You can do a ring like mentioned above pretty cheap or for a little over a 100 more add a 11-46 XT cassette for more range... However, I will say that current XT front derailure shifts amazingly well...
  • 8 12
flag sevensixtwo (May 15, 2017 at 9:21) (Below Threshold)
 @gumbytex Cost-Trolling is really f*cking stale. And as @lumpy873 mentioned, it's just a simple change. This is a hot bike.
  • 12 1
 how much can I pay trek for a 3x?
  • 6 2
 @adrock-whistler: $80-100?!?! I paid £15 for my ring and then £5 for bolts here in good ol blighty...
Edit- Shit your $CAD....
  • 11 1
 @sevensixtwo: really my point is just that it's ridiculous to keep spec'ing 2x drivetrains on bikes like these. Trek seems hell-bent on pushing 2x for some reason, maybe Shimano is poking them to do it, I dunno. If 2x is so great why is 1x spec'ed on the 9.9?

Seems like engineers are being given a little too much influence in spec'ing bikes at Trek over people who, you know, ride bikes a whole lot.
  • 5 1
 What the hell is a FRONT mech ?!!
  • 2 0
 @gumbytex: Agreed on spec-ing a lot of the bikes in their line with 2X drivetrains, doesn't make any sense especially with an 11 speed cassette. Glad it's a cheap upgrade.

@HardtailsAreGnarly I probably quoted a bit high even for CAD, but was factoring in labour costs a shop might charge for the switch. Chainring alone it would run you $40-60
  • 6 0
 How non-mechanically inclined do you mean? Changing a front ring is almost as easy as it gets on a bike. Do people put air in your tires as well?
  • 4 0
 The Fuel EX 9 comes with X1 and Guide RS.
  • 5 0
 I think 2x is a women's specific detail. I don't mean it to sound like I'm an ignorant pig! My girlfriend is a shit hot on a bike, wins races and is QOM everywhere she rides, but naturally lacks the same power output as men. She loves the 2x and will not move over to 1x. I'm sure Tracey moseley rocks this setup too.
  • 1 0
 @yeti-monster: If it weren't for the noise I'd run 2x, but the silence is golden. My legs are still getting accustomed to the 32t 1x after running a 3x 26er Fuel from 2011. I'm giving myself to July to decide if I need to go to a 30t ring. I ride the 26er when the trails are muddy and I really enjoy having 30 gears to choose from, but I don't think I ever get into the big ring. The 1x... I just wish sometimes it had just a little bigger final gear.
  • 1 0
 @gumbytex: "if 2x is so great why is trek spec'ing the 9.9 with 1x"

Simple, because it's an eagle drivetrain with a 50 tooth on the cassette. Oh yeah, and it doesn't have a 2x option.
  • 2 0
 @tremeer023: It's the best invetion in the last 20 years...
  • 1 0
 @squarewheel: LOL. Well, it was a good invention about 30 years ago but so was the elastomer fork. In 2017 there is no place for either (my opinion - no offence intended).
  • 2 1
 @tremeer023: This was a joke about the "Brilliant or Bullshit" Poll.
But I am still not coniced about this 1x concept. It might be ok for a racer (XC and Enduro) but not for the weekend warriors most of us are.
  • 33 4
 Trek's component spec just doesn't make sense. 125mm droppers on XL frames? Double chainrings? Two-position forks?

I wanted to get either a Fuel EX or Slash in my latest round of bike buying, but NONE of the bikes models I was interested in had a reasonable spec. They either had a dual position fork, or a double chainring, or a 125mm dropper, or a combination. Went with a Hightower and got 100% of what I wanted without switching a single thing out. Switching stuff out - dealing with selling and buying things the day after getting a brand new bike - SUCKS.

Come on Trek. It cost you at LEAST one customer.
  • 5 2
 Agreed. Shopping for my wife's bike was not easy as I found all the things your complaining about. Trek and Giant were the worst offenders of that.
  • 6 1
 But what's wrong with dual.position pikes?
  • 57 6
 @mollow: A real bro doesn't find any benefit in lowering the cockpit for a 30 min+ climb because he can climb a DH bike to the Everest base camp. Then he rides on the edge of grip at all times and with dual position PIKE the added stiction and non-optimal air chamber size makes it a win or loose if he ever wishes to race Sam Hill on EWS. A real bro always keeps his Strava log private. He can also do 100 burpees without farting after eating 3 black bean burritos. He doesn't use a dropper either because he can lower the seat by overpowering 10Nm clamping force of the seat clamp by sitting down and pulling hard against his clipless pedals. He raises it by grabbing the seat with his sphincter

Dual position is fakebenefits.com
  • 10 1
 @WAKIdesigns: wow man!
  • 2 1
 @mollow: Lower reliability than solo air, and with how low bottom brackets have gotten, lowering the fork can increase pedal striking.
  • 4 2
 @p0g0: In that case you still have the option to leave it to 160mm when the climb is more technical... And as far as reliability goes, I've ridden all winter long in the snow and freezing rain without a service and it's still running super smooth.

You guys are tripping if you won't buy your girlfriend or whoever a bike because of that.
  • 11 3
 @p0g0: pedal strikes? How about learning to pedal and climb technical sections? A bit of balance exercises like trackstanding then lifting some weights tend to completely solve this problem...
  • 8 0
 @WAKIdesigns: haha that bro rant gave me a laugh
  • 23 1
 deciding what's best for female riders in terms of wheelsize, while leaving male riders to make that determination for themselves, is an interesting choice. a shorter female rider could of course buy a regular fuel ex in the 15.5" size, but the notion itself seems a bit patronizing... why not just offer the 15.5" fuel ex in both wheel sizes for everyone?
  • 5 2
 Exactly what I was thinking. I get that big wheels can work better for taller riders, but that isn't the only factor to consider when picking wheel size. And having to compromise on frame size to get the wheels you want is just stupid. When I read that part of the review, Homer Simpson popped up in the back of my mind with that line "women will like what I tell them to like..."
  • 6 0
 It's probably based on historic sales and squeezing production costs.
  • 4 0
 Not that I am disagreeing or anything, but I doubt it's malicious.
  • 6 0
 Actually the men's bikes are done the same way, with 27.5" wheels found on the 15.5" bike. Men don't get the choice either.
  • 1 0
 @bentown: it's nothe malicious, but it is odd. I thought exactly what the OP said as I read this article. Seems unnecessary...
  • 3 0
 "the target audience – women shopping specifically for a “women’s” bike. For this particular audience, a unique paint scheme is often a deciding factor, so it’s very important"

...having been reading the comments sections of PB for many a year, they are unlikely to be the only ones....

"the target audience - rad dudes shopping specifically for a "rad dudes" bike. For this particular audience, a unique paint scheme is often the deciding factor, so it's very important"
  • 1 0
 Coz you'll struggle to fit the wheels into the frame which is that small.
  • 16 1
 Ill chime in being as I actually own a Fuel Ex9. These bikes are f*cking fantastic and though knock block is silly the new frame design has delivered an actually very noticable difference in stifness compared to many other bikes. That combined with smart geometry numbers these bikes are fantastic...

Now in saying that I have been Burned pretty hard by Trek and Fox with my bike and I think it is worth letting others know. The Fox Re:activ shock that was equipped on my bike made a horrid knocking sound, when I contacted fox they said sorry but we have no parts to fix it and wont for a while so just deal with. I then called trek to explain situation and their response "not our problem its not our product"

A week later I contact fox again and Im told they can take the shock for 6-8 weeks and custom build new internals and basically take out the re:activ system and that it will actually be "better" aaah wut?

I ended up actually replacing the shock with a new RS Deluxe and f*ck me what a difference. I do miss the Re:activs abilty to just feel like it automatically switched to pedal pro but man the Deluxe is just hands down a better shock. It doesnt blow through travel, it has much better mid support and best part is you can buy all the service parts you need!

These new Treks are f*cking wildly capable and probably the best line up of Mountain bikes Trek hass rolled out. but f*ck off with the proprietary bullshit. I know many riders on these bikes with no shock issues but even if its a for every 500 bikes 1 is bad I still hate knowing the fact that someone is somewhat f*cked in being able to resolve the issue. It all makes sense why Trek athletes who ride Fox suspension dont seem to all have re:activ rear shocks on their bikes...


But yeah guys haha the new Deluxe shock, dang RS stepped up the game with these new units!


TL;DR do a long test ride on the Trek you plan to buy first. Aint nobody got time for a Knocking sound
  • 1 0
 Awesome. I just still don't get tthe "knock block" issue. Are they the only manufacturer that seem to have a problem? I swear by Trek EX and really loved the few that I owned but WTF? They have issues that they need to put in a blocker system? Perhaps go back to the design board and fix the issue so that there are no "proprietary" (bug work arounds in software terms)

Come on Trek, fix these issues man, you make fantastic bikes and yes, lately the quality of the builds is questionable.
  • 2 1
 FWIW I had the same issue with the shock but on a 2016 EX9. I took the bike back to the dealer. They acknowledged the issue immediately and sent the shock off to Fox for a full rebuild. I got the bike back in two weeks and I've had no issues since (and that was a year ago). I love the shock - nice and supple but with great mid stroke support. The only thing to let the bike down was the wheel set..those Roam 30 wheels aren't the stiffest out there.
  • 2 2
 @MMOF: the downtube is straight from the steerer. It provides extra stiffness. I have one (Fuel EX 9 '17) and with the new Line 30 wheels it is incredibly stiff. I haven't come close to needing any extra room for a turn and I'm riding Midwestern singletrack which has very tight switchbacks everywhere. Trek is an innovator, they give us new ideas and better stuff. Boost, Reaktiv, Knock Block - I don't have a problem with any of it.
  • 1 0
 @stacky00: you should check out the new Bontrager Line 30 wheels - awesome. They're spec'd on the Fuel 9 and 9.8.
  • 1 0
 @deadtime: Thanks, make sense. I ride the North Shore so should't be a problem. I appreciate your input.
  • 2 1
 Wait until you crash and the knock block chip doesn't crack and all of the headset and spacer flanges compress and you're bike turns to a creaky $6k piece of carbon. LAST TREK for ME! Buyer beware!!!!!
  • 1 0
 @Loamhuck:

What is causing the creaking? I think I might be missing why replacing headset and special spacers would resolve this creaking.
  • 1 0
 Cheers mate. I'll check 'em out but I think they might've pretty pricey here in Oz. Might just go for a set of Stans arches @deadtime:
  • 15 2
 I don't understand the point of this bike. It's the same as the standard fuel ex but with a slightly different saddle and a bit of pink detailing so why not just make a unisex bike with more colour options?
  • 21 2
 Probably cuz Trek did a billion focus groups and found out they sell a lot more bikes if women could walk into a store and not feel like they're being "forced' to ride a boyfriend/husband bike. Individuality.
  • 11 1
 Because woman want their own shit. There is a huge market in America right now for woman specific gear. There is woman's five10 shoes which are nearly identical to men's shoes. Bontrager makes a Woman Specific MTB saddle that my Rep said feels comfier than the men's saddle! Craziness!
  • 2 1
 @timsim07 Quit bitching and get back to revision
  • 2 0
 @danspring: I'm trying but relativity is boring me to death
  • 2 0
 @timsim07: You'll miss it when you get a job and sit behind a desk doing absolutely nothing all day for 8 hours.
  • 2 0
 @danspring: sounds better than sitting at a table procrastinating for 12 hours a day
  • 6 0
 @bikewriter: You get it. In my area there a ton of girls riding Juliana bikes. My buddy's girlfriend ended up spending a few hundred more dollars to get the Juliana over a previous year's SC Bronson. Essentially the same bike, different color scheme to meet what she was looking for. Look good, feel good, ride good.
  • 3 0
 Because they noticed Santa Cruz had been getting away with it for years.
  • 4 2
 Cause everyone in 'merica is easily offended and want to have specific items tailored to their sexual preference.
  • 14 0
 Since when did nobby nics start being considered beefy?
  • 3 0
 Well... they're about as durable as a tire made from ground beef. So i can see why they could be labeled as "beefy"....
  • 11 0
 I must be old... I thought pink on black was a guys color... since that's how the Rockshox RS-1 came decaled...
  • 2 0
 It is just a color combo. That guys like it alot too. The industry is dumb.

"pinkbike.com" get with the program manufacturers.
  • 1 0
 @dontcoast: agreed it's a great colour combo I would happily have
  • 4 7
 @deeeight #rapeculture
  • 3 0
 @WAKIdesigns: ??? I think your rambling rants make more sense Waki...I'm at a loss to find correlation here.
  • 1 0
 @dontcoast: "pink on black"? Tenuous, but then Waki is PB's cryptic crossword. His is an atypical system of logic.

BTW, girls like pink, it's conditioned into them from day one. Blame Hasbro.
  • 3 1
 It's a slight tease on deeeight who was a white knight on Pinkbike on a few occasions Smile
  • 1 0
 @BenPea: everybody likes pink Razz There's just people comfortable with it, and people who aren't.

You're right on Hasbro being culturally culpable of making it a socialized obsession though.

Pink on Black as Tenuous lololololol...that is a Stretch........ha
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: you usually have some pretty dumb shit to say but this tops it.
  • 11 6
 "Other features that appear on the female range of bikes include a women’s saddle and a unique set of colorways. Other than that, the Fuel EX is exactly the same bike and build as the main line."

Unique set of colorways.... Is that the nice way of saying- it's a women's specific bike so it has to be pink. ?????

Whyyyyyyyy!!!! Women want more options than pink and baby blue!
  • 10 1
 From the article: "We’ve moved on from the backlash against pink that we’ve seen in years past. Of course not every woman likes pink, just like not every guy likes black and red. We know we’re not going to please every rider, but we think this color scheme will appeal to most of the target audience – women shopping specifically for a “women’s” bike. For this particular audience, a unique paint scheme is often a deciding factor, so it’s very important. For the many pink-averse women out there, we have quite a palette in the Project One program, and we also have plenty of mainline models that may suit their style better. "
  • 10 4
 "The Knock Block. Keeping frames safe from being beaten up by fork crowns since 2017."
But the Knock Bloc would be useless if the fork/frame clearance was correct.
  • 6 2
 The whole reason it's incorrect in your head is because Trek believes the curve in the down tube that creates enough clearance causes flex in the frame. Hence the "straight shot" down tube.
  • 6 5
 @treekilla: Adding more thickness in the "curve" of the tube you can have the same stiffness as a straight downtube. The Knock block may finally be heavier than more carbon... And certainly less durable and less enjoyable.
  • 3 1
 Next new feature: a stiffer bottom bracket that requires a proprietary adapter to run anything other than bontrager cranks. Improves bottom bracket and chainstay flex by 10%....
  • 4 1
 @Sylvain-F: How could it be less durable or less enjoyable? Trek probably sells more Fuels than some top ten manufacturers sell total bikes. They aren't gonna sell a defective frame and have to replace because of the life time warranty. I have not ever come close to hitting the fork on the frame. I have gone faster thru downhill rock gardens than I ever have before. There hasn't been one single bad review for this bike, but you sound like you got it all figured out without ever riding the thing.
  • 1 3
 @Kitejumping: yeah, there's no such thing as bontrager cranks. And Trek's last 2 innovations (knock block and Boost) are free for any manufacturer to use, so if they did come up with another innovation it would probably be adopted by every bike maker, just like Boost.
  • 2 1
 @deadtime: yeah, but can you x-up?
  • 7 0
 Don't let my wife read this.... Don't let my wife read this.... Don't let my wife read this....
  • 3 0
 It could be worse.. Mine is not into bikes that much. Too hard. Too sweaty. Way too much uphills. But the nature is nice. Sooo... now she want an electric mtb. Fully. Because fullys are comfier than hardtails.
  • 4 0
 My GF has owned this bike for a month now & she loves it. Her only complaint was the saddle for the most part. That has been switched out to a Bontrager Ajna, big improvement. Still running the 2X set up also. If a recall correctly a woman by name of Tracy Moseley ran a 2X setup & seemed to have good success with it. Its a sharp looking bike in person & looks great next to my Yeti SB5.5c
  • 6 0
 Thank you PB for writing women specific product reviews ! Little by little we'll get more women in biking !
  • 3 1
 I didn't see anything women specific reviewed here.
  • 2 0
 @bishopsmike: it clearly says it has women's saddle dude... and pink bits XD
  • 1 0
 @bishopsmike: it says 'Trek' in pink! And the saddle!!
  • 1 0
 @ismasan: I must have had this page open for hours before commenting. Great minds think alike!
  • 3 0
 How does this bike compare spec vs price wise with the men's version? Quite often women end up paying the same as the men's XT equipped bike but end up with Deore or similar instead and other downgraded kit (I'm looking at you Giant). It sort of implies that girls might not notice they're being conned.
  • 1 0
 Same spec as the men's version. Not hard to look it up ...
  • 2 0
 Those complaining about two by. Come to the himalayas and try to pedal at 4000m above sea level without spinning out on the way down with your 28 or 30t which is the bare minimum you will need on your 10-42. Then you will see the need of 2x while climbing for four hours uphill when even walking for a few steps is hard because of the altitude and the wind is strong enough to blow rocks the size of baseballs like they are tumbleweed. Just because you don't need it doesn't mean others don't. How hard is it to press one freaking lever. Although eagle has made 2x almost redundant but iam guessing most people here aren't running that because it's expensive not only to buy but to replace parts as they wear out or get inevitably damaged. 2x helps conserve more energy.
  • 1 0
 This is BS. As of this year they've stopped making any full suspension bikes in extra small. They used to make an XS trail bike for many years. The bike in this article is out of stock in all but the 18" frame. So Trek have actually moved away from providing good bikes for small people. Boo.
  • 4 2
 Woman are generaly shorter than men. There used to be this wheel size called a 26 inch i believe. It would work great on a womans small framed bike.
  • 3 0
 All the ladies needs is just a nice lady saddle. Here's an eye opener:

enduro-mtb.com/en/what-women-want-to-ride
  • 2 0
 The final paragraph summed up some of my initial thoughts after seeing the first few riders. It features what appears to be a subset (can't comment if small or not) of competent, more aggressive female rider. Although this doesn't discount that it makes an excellent point on what women riders want, lining up with my own anecdotal experience.

What's more eye opening to me (based on comments here and elsewhere, mostly North American MTB sources) are how popular the female specific like the Julianas are. Article also based on riders in Scotland.

My female rider peers have all expressed a fondness for its looks, but at the end of the day chosen a "unisex" over any "female specific" bike. Main reasons:
a) Cost b) Perceived resell value
  • 1 0
 the article just skips on the fact that saddles are the only woman specific parts made, other than frames
  • 3 0
 Why buy this when you can buy a normal fuel ex and have less hassle when it comes to sell it?
  • 2 3
 I love those bikes but the cable routing out of the downtube and across the top of the BB etc is a total mess. I would rather under the BB all day. No chaffing on the frame and way cleaner appearance.
  • 4 0
 Meh. I have the new fuel and there's no Frame rubbing going on.
  • 2 0
 Huh? Is this a troll post? Routing under the BB? Isn't that what we all question everytime we see a bike set up that way?
  • 1 0
 Hey Rachel, what trails are you riding in these pictures? They look very familiar
  • 3 0
 Hey @BigLips93 the shots were taken at Blue Mountain Reservation in Peekskill, NY.
  • 2 0
 @rachellefrazer: I knew it, I grew up riding there! hahaha thank you!!!
  • 1 0
 @rachellefrazer: I knew I recognized those rocks. Even from just the heading picture. Rock on!

hey heads up by the way, festival coming up there soon:

Fat Tire Fest, June 11, 2017
bestbikefest.com
  • 1 0
 @bad-andy: Yes, I saw that! Would love to make it but I am out of town that weekend, unfortunately.
  • 1 0
 Can somebody please explain why the 2 smaller models with 27.5 wheels have a longer chainstay than the 29" models???
  • 2 0
 Trek could have called it the "7 of 9"
  • 1 0
 I thought the idea of buying the missus a fancy bike would be to remove a knock block!?!?
  • 9 8
 Front derailleur. What is this. 2009?
  • 4 1
 Front derailleurs will be the next big thing in 2020.
  • 2 0
 My Gfs Pique came with 2 rings up front and i just left it so she can have more range to keep up on the climbs. (yea my bike is 1by)
  • 4 3
 If you pedal gnarly climbs and don't want to spin out at the top end, you need more range than 1* can provide.
  • 4 0
 Many in Colorado still rife two rings. Crazy long , steep, high altitude climbing around here. Why does it bother you so?
  • 4 1
 Well you should ask that question to Tracy Moseley who won 3 EWS championships in a Remedy 29er with front derailleurs.
  • 9 8
 Avoid using fork stoppers by making a better frame.
  • 6 3
 Huh? That is the point of that frame. To have a straight downtube (better stiffness and lower weight), thereby needing fork stoppers/knock block headset.
  • 2 0
 @btjenki: Specialized doesn't need the knock block thing on their latest S-Works hardtail. Just a fork bumper. Same with, you know, downhill bikes.
  • 1 0
 @gumbytex: Although with downhill bikes I'd imagine that the fork stoppers will do a much better job contacting the full side of a stanchion rather than a corner of the crown... force distribution and all...
  • 3 2
 woman specific is and will always be a fucking crock of shit marketing BS.
  • 2 0
 Actually not really. My wife (as most women) has a shorter torso and long legs. A guys bike (small or medium) had her stretching too far to the handlebars. The WSD bike took that into account and made the reach a lot better for her and she no longer suffers numbness on 2+ hour trips. She now rides the Specialized Safire which is a perfect fit for her. she also road the Trek WSD (when they had them) at a demo event and felt the difference from the mens bike immediately. That made me go the WSD route for her so that we can continue to ride together with no discomfort to her.

so, perhaps in some cases, it is BS but in my case, the WSD should exist for women but definitely give them choices. Perhaps the new bikes are better suited to all sexes and just trying different stems, etc. may be the answer but she won't be upgrading as she gets exactly what she has been looking for from that bike.
  • 1 0
 Only if you're an avid rider that knows your preferred stack/reach numbers and can tune your cockpit and suspension accordingly. Then you're right - it's a paint job, diminished resale value, and a huge steaming pile of marketing (no, Liv, I don't want a steeper head angle. ಠ_ಠ )

If not, "womens" bikes are a useful starting point for humans that tend to have longer legs, narrower shoulders, smaller arms and hands, wider sit bones, and weight less for any given height. Especially on the low end ($600) where you know people are unwilling or unable to spend an afternoon and $200 to swap out contact points.
  • 1 0
 @MMOF:

My wife chose a men's giant stance 1 because she liked the colors better.

She knows nothing about bikes. Even she thought the womens marketing was crap after googling it and reading about it for an hour.
  • 1 0
 funny. This review took place on my local trails
  • 1 0
 Thanks for explain knock block for the gazillionth time
  • 2 2
 You know it's for the ladies by the pink logo. Good on you T- wreck.
  • 1 0
 I love the color scheme
  • 1 1
 Trek Man-splaining bike sizes to women, this is going to go down a treat.
  • 3 0
 Ross Rushin, the assistant MTB brand manager, is a woman. Man-splaining doesn't apply here.
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