Trek Fuel EX 2020 – The Fuel EX Like Never Before

by 4

The 2020 Trek Fuel EX bears little resemblance to the previous model – we take a look at what’s new.

Trek Fuel EX
It certainly looks a stunner. The 2020 Trek Fuel EX

The 130mm travel 29er bike is set to be the battle ground of the top brands next year. With enough travel to take on chunky trails, but the potential to be light and efficient enough for a big day of climbing, this is an important part of the mountain bike world and the 2020 Trek Fuel EX is going to slot right into it.

Trek Fuel EX
Ready for the bashing

Trek Fuel EX – New v Old

The 2020 Trek Fuel EX bears little resemblance to the previous model. And while it’s obviously going to be longer and slacker to keep up with modern trends, there are some big changes with the suspension – gone is the ‘Full Floater’ suspension linkage that pushed on the rear shock from both ends, Trek reckons that modern shocks are clever enough not to need this fiddling with suspension curves and can get the same effect from a regular rocker-actuated rear shock.

knock block
Knock block keep the bars from spinning round (and the fork crown from smashing the straight downtube)

The 2020 Fuel EX has 130mm travel out back, with a 140mm fork up front, room for 2.6in tyres and, as mentioned a longer reach and a slacker head angle. The geometry changes slightly according to the Mino-Link setting chosen – bikes will come set with ‘High’ as a default. In High, you get a head angle of 66.5°, it’s joined by a steepened seat angle of 75° (which doesn’t change with Mino-Link adjustment).

mino link
The Mino-Link remains, allowing a small amount of angle and BB height adjustment

Geometry & Sizing

Standover on the bikes has been improved, which also allows for longer dropper posts across all the sizes. The Small and XS will come with 100mm droppers, while the medium and larges will get 150mm droppers. At the 9.8 and 9.9 spec levels, the large and XL sizes get a 170mm dropper. And talking of sizes, the small and XS sizes will come with 27.5in wheels, while the small will ALSO come in 29in too.

Trek Fuel EX geometry
All the numbers.
Trek Fuel EX
Looks secure and tidy

Trek Fuel EX Suspension

Now, let’s talk suspension. The previous Fuel EX featured a lower suspension mount that was attached to the chainstays, so that as the suspension cycled, the lower link effectively moved from the top link as the shock was compressed, this allowed the suspension designers to tune the spring curve. Trek reckons that its new RE:aktiv With Thru Shaft shock can do all of that while being anchored to the downtube.

Trek suspension
Engage the external thermal compensator, Scotty.

One additional feature of the new shock is the ‘external thermal compensator’ which acts like a tiny piggyback shock, giving the hot oil somewhere to go when things start heating up on repeated hits and long downhills. It’s the small cylinder in the photo above, to the right of the shock adjusters. And talking of adjusters – praise be! – the rebound adjuster is NUMBERED! This means no more ‘dial it all in and count the clicks back’ – this apparently is a pain in the arse for Fox as the shocks need to all be individually calibrated at the factory, but Trek has finally bullied them into it.

external thermal compensator
It’s small, but enough to make a difference. Plus, numbers!
Active Brake Pivot
Trek’s ABP remains the heart of the suspension

The Active Brake Pivot remains, which is where the rear pivot is around the rear axle. This is said to keep the suspension unaffected by braking.

Frame Burrito

What’s this? Apparently, while another large bicycle company pioneered using large, hollow carbon downtubes as a place to stash stuff, there wasn’t enough novelty in it to patent. Or Trek has found a way to sidestep its way round. Anyway, the upshot is that there is a removable panel beneath the bottle cage, operated by a lever, that reveals a hollow void of the downtube. Rather than leave it up to you to fill it with fun things (jackets, sausages, pumps…) Trek has made a neoprene burrito that holds just enough to get you out of trouble if you have a flat. There’s a tube, a CO2 and regulator and a pair of tyre levers, all wrapped in a neat package.

The rest of the spec has also been looked at too. The frame is now all carbon on the 9-series bikes, so all bikes at the 9.7, 9.8 and 9.9 level get full carbon front and back ends. There’s been a move to Fox 36 forks on the higher end models, something that suits where this bike is aimed.

Trek Fuel EX
Not a chance of a front mech these days, though routing will allow Di2 rear mechs
Bontrager
Bontrager Line Carbon wheels will come on the upper spec levels
GX Eagle
GX Eagle gives all the gears.

And now a few of the bikes…

Trek Fuel EX 9.8
How do you like this blue/blue fade? This is the nearly top spec Trek Fuel EX 9.8
Fuel EX5
Maybe you want a more subtle black/grey Fuel EX5?
Fuel EX7
Or a purple/black EX7?
Fuel EX8
We can see this matt-on-gloss Fuel EX8 being a hit

Pricing

Pricing is from £1,850 for the Fuel EX5 to £2800 for the EX8 and £3400 for the ‘entry’ carbon 9.8 up to a cool £8000 for the SRAM AXS equipped 9.9:

  • Trek Fuel EX 5 – £1,850
  • Trek Fuel EX 7 – £2,350
  • Trek Fuel EX 8 – £2,800
  • Trek Fuel EX 9.7 – £3,400
  • Trek Fuel EX 9.8 GX – £4,750
  • Trek Fuel EX 9.9 XO1 – £6,500
  • Trek Fuel EX 9.9 X01 AXS – £8,000
Trek Fuel EX
Ah. Dry grass.

And that’s the new 2020 Trek Fuel EX. Check out Trek’s website for further information and ordering.


Join Us – Become a Singletrack member

If you like what we do – if you like our independence then the best way to support us is by joining us. Every penny of your membership goes back into Singletrack to pay the bills and the wages of the people who work here. No shareholders to pay, just the people who create the content you love to read and watch.


Disclosure

Chipps travel and accommodation was provided by Trek

Chipps

Singletrack Editor

Chipps wasn’t around for the dawn of mountain biking in the UK, but he likes to claim that he arrived in time for second breakfast (about the time he shows up for work, then…) starting in the bike trade in 1990 and becoming a full time mountain bike journalist at the start of 1994. Over the subsequent quarter century, he has seen mountain bike culture flourish and diversify and bike technology go from rigid steel frames to fully suspended carbon fibre (and sometimes back to rigid steel as well.)

His riding style is best described as ‘medium, wheels on the ground, trail riding’ though he’s been spotted doing everything from endurance downhill racing to 24 hour cross country racing. He favours mid-travel trail bikes and claims to be wheel-size, gear, brake and tyre agnostic. In fact, his garage spans most bicycle flavours, taking in steel hardtails, carbon trail bikes, even a mountain bike tandem, along with road, touring and gravel/cyclocross bikes.

While he’s happy to chat about bikes all day, his real interest is in the people and places that bikes can introduce you to and he talks as fondly about the trails he’s ridden and riders he’s met as the bikes that took him there.

Comments (4)

    Why does 75 look exactly the same as 66? Seat tube angle optical illusion?

    The frame burrito is a great idea, I can see this spreading to other brands (as long as Trek haven’t stolen the patent)

    Does the thru valve make much real world difference?

Leave a Reply