By James Huang
Trek's full-suspension designs have made giant leaps forward as of late and the carbon-framed Fuel EX can now finally be considered a serious contender. Cyclingnews put one through the wringer for the better part of six months and it still comes out (mostly) sparkling.
Trek's mountain bike lineup has undergone a dramatic transformation as of late with new models that are highly competitive in each of their respective segments, including the Session DH and FR, Remedy, and newly revamped Top Fuel. Leading the charge though, was the 120mm-travel Fuel EX trail bike which was the first to integrate all of the company's new technologies into one platform and is arguably responsible for restoring Trek's reputation as a mountain bike company.
While the Active Braking Pivot, Full Floater or EVO Link features each would have improved the Fuel EX predecessor on their own, the combination yields an end product that is more than the sum of its parts.
Trek's unique Active Braking Pivot places a concentric suspension pivot right at the rear axle, rather than above or below it as is more common. While this still setup maintains the Fuel EX's status as a single-pivot layout in terms of axle path, having the disc caliper mounted on the seat stay effectively yields a built-in floating brake mount that is better able to track the ground.
The Full Floater concept is equally clever. Instead of having one static mount and one dynamic mount for the rear shock, neither mount is fixed in space, leaving new Trek suspension designer Jose Gonzalez more freedom to tune the shock rate at a particular point in the travel.
Tying this all together is a one-piece EVO Link that Trek claims is twice as rigid, twice as strong and yet substantially lighter (and better looking) than the old three-piece bit. Further bolstering things is an asymmetrical all-aluminum back end.
Our top-end, medium-sized Fuel EX 9.5 tester includes a magnesium version of the EVO Link as well as a svelte OCLV carbon front triangle that brings the actual frame weight to just 2.53kg (5.57lb) including the rear shock, bottle cage hardware and seat collar. Add in a gaggle of premium spec from Fox Racing Shox, Avid, SRAM, Shimano and (of course) Bontrager and the end result is a relatively light 11.25kg (24.8lb) package (without pedals).
Read the complete review.