First Look: Trek’s 2019 Fuel EX 9.7 is a do-most-of-the-things bike

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Following the teasing photos from Fresh Goods Friday, we’re now here to give you full first look at the 2019 Trek Fuel EX 9.7. Currently on test, and being put head to head with the GT Sensor Expert, the Fuel EX sends itself into the all-round, do everything trail bike category. With eight models of the Fuel EX platform to choose from, the 9.7 that we have here sits at the higher-spec end of the list, with a price tag of £3,150.

We haven’t had our hands on a Fuel EX since 2016, where we put the EX 9 up against a Specialized Camber and Giant Anthem in a three-way Group Test.

So, what’s changed for this 2019 model then?

2019 Trek Fuel EX 9.7

Trek Fule EX 9.7
Just leaving the urinals?

As mentioned, we’ve got the Fuel EX 9.7 on test. In the model range, this sits high up, with just the 9.9 and 9.8 ahead of it. We’ve got the largest size possible to play with, which Trek sell as a 21.5in (or XL for the sake of argument). Before heading out into the winter slop, we’re going to run through the spec to show you what to expect from the Fuel EX 9.7.

Trek Fuel EX 9.7 Spec:

  • Frame // OCLV Mountain Carbon main frame, alloy stays
  • Fork // Fox Rhythm 34 Float, 130mm
  • Shock // Fox Performance Float EVOL, 130mm
  • Crankset // Truvativ Descendant, 32T Chainring
  • Rear Mech // SRAM GX Eagle, Roller Bearing Clutch
  • Shifter // SRAM NX Eagle, 12 speed
  • Cassette // SRAM Eagle, 11-50, 12-speed
  • Wheels // Bontrager Line Comp 30, Tubeless Ready, 54T Rapid Drive, Boost110 front, Boost148 rear
  • Brakes // Shimano Deore M6000
  • Seatpost // Bontrager Line, internal routing, 31.6 mm
  • Tyres // Bontrager XR4 Team Issue, Tubeless Ready, 29×2.4in
  • Finishing Kit // Bontrager 
  • Price // £3150
Trek Fule EX 9.7
The carbon frame is incredibly neat around the headtube and top tube junction.

The frame on the 9.7 uses a OCLV carbon front triangle, coupled with alloy seat and chain stays. Beautiful lines up top on the Fuel in the head tube and top tube give the bike an aggressive front end. Trek’s own ‘Control Freak’ internal cable routing system takes all cables through the downtube and out of the way, giving a clean aesthetic and silhouette.

Trek Fuel EX 9.7
Ready to take 27.5+ or 29in wheels, we’re set up with the 29in option.

Trek offers the option to run the Fuel EX 9.7 with either 29in wheels or 27.5+. For the time being, we’ll be sticking to the 29in platform, but with the option to change down the line, we might just have a play with the plus option.

A Fox 34 Rhythm up front offers 130mm of travel, and the Fit Grip Damper.

With a Fox 34 Rhythm fork up front, giving us 130mm of travel to play with and Boost stiffness, we’re looking forward to seeing just how much abuse it can take. The Fit Grip adjustable damper gives you the option for plenty of fiddling in set up and performance.

Trek’s Knock Block stops the bars from fully spinning if you happen to take a tumble.

On the Fuel EX, Trek gives us the Knock Block. An ‘integrated, redundant frame protection system’, which has let the designers give the Fuel a straight downtube, rather than it being curved. The aim of this is to produce a lighter and stiffer frame, all while insuring the forks will never spin round far enough to hit the frame, causing cracks, dents or scuffs. Along with the multi-component Knock Block system, Trek has also added a neat rubber down tube bumper for extra protection.

Trek Fuel EX 9.7
Fox Float with the Re: Aktiv damper matches travel with the fork, at 130mm.

Out back and in charge of soaking up the bumps, we have a Fox Performance Float EVOL shock, with the RE:aktiv 3-position damper, and 130mm of travel. This should give us plenty of adjustability in the rear shock.

Trek Fuel EX 9.7
The Mino Link allows on-trail adjustment to head the angle and BB height.

Another neat frame feature on the Fuel EX 9.7 is the Mino Link. With just the flip of the chip, we can adjust the head angle and BB to suit our riding style, or the terrain we’re riding. In numbers, a flip of the Mino Link will adjust the head angle by around 0.5° and also the BB height by between 6-9mm.

Running the Mino Link in the High position will aid on the climbs, giving a steeper head angle and higher bottom bracket. Flipping it into Low will help when it comes to going downhill to give a lower centre of gravity in the corners and a slacker head angle. We’re really keen to have a play with this and see just how much it can affect the ride.

Trek Fuel EX 9.7
The Control Freak internal cable routing keeps things neat.

At the bottom of the down tube, the cables for the rear brake and rear mech pop out. From there, they slide around the BB and into the alloy chain stays.

Trek Fuel EX 9.7
Into the alloy chain stays go the cables for the rear mech.

Really neat frame design from Trek for the cable routing. Changing a cable looks like it could be interesting, so we’ll keep you updated if we need to do some maintenance.

Trek Fuel EX 9.7
Truvativ Descendant cranks are coupled with SRAM GX Eagle.

In the drivetrain department, SRAM Eagle offers up the 1×12 system to provide plenty of climbing capability, with a GX rear mech and NX shifter. We’ve also got a SRAM Dub press fit 92mm bottom bracket on the Fuel EX 9.7. For rolling, Bontrager Line Comp 30 wheels are Boost front and rear, and tubeless ready. These are then wrapped in Bontrager XR4 Team Issue tyres.

Trek Fuel EX 9.7
Shimano Deore M6000 brakes look after stopping on the EX 9.7

As for brakes on the EX 9.7, Shimano looks after things with the Deore M6000. More neat frame features at the rear of the bike is Trek’s ABP or Active Braking Pivot. The aim of this is to keep the suspension active under braking,

Trek Fuel EX 9.7
We’re ready to get the Trek Fuel EX 9.7 out in the mud.

So, there’s a quick run through of what we’ve got with the Trek Fuel EX 9.7. We’ll be taking it out for a good testing over the winter months, with our verdict coming around February. If you’ve got any more questions about the Fuel EX 9.7, drop them in the comments and we’ll get them answered as soon as we can.

Comments (7)

    Changing a cable looks like it could be interesting, so we’ll keep you updated if we need to do some maintenance.

    Surely you’ll be changing the cable even if it doesn’t need it to let us know how easy (!) it is?

    ^ I agree. Some of the internal cable runs are atrocious, and we need to be calling out the manufacturers on them.

    Nice looking bike too.

    This one or the new canyon neuron? Which will be better option?

    I have a 2018 Fuel EX 8
    I managed to twist the cable on the end of the dropper so had to replace it. Even with the Park kit it took me a frustrating couple of hours to route a new cable.
    Treks ‘control freak’ system works well until you get to the BB where it’s just as awkward as pretty much every other internal cabled bike.

    Also,press fit BB is junk,replaced with hope press fit within a few months of owning the bike. Apart from that,superb bike.

    Due to cervical and lumbar hernia, I’m thinking of upgrading to a FS, could you compare the suppleness with Stumpjumper Comp / ST and Spark / Genius ~ 930? Being able to fit wider tires would be important, does the EX has more room?

    That bike in the picture is a 2018 model, the 2019 is a different colour and the rear shock is now on a fixed mounting.

    Whoops I was thinking Remedy.

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