Trek’s Fuel has been a fixture in the range for a few years now. The 2008 Fuel EX looks fairly familiar in profile, but it’s been substantially redesigned thanks to ex-Kawasaki and Manitou suspension design guru Jose Gonzalez.
The new design has a number of notable features. First up is the ABP (Active Brake Pivot). Most companies opt to sidestep the patent issues of having a chainstay pivot (aka “Horst link”) by putting a pivot on the seatstays or by introducing flexible elements into the stays themselves (as Trek itself has done). The Fuel EX, though, takes the obvious-when-you-think-about-it step of having a rear pivot concentric with the rear axle. This is said to give the fluid braking feel of the Horst link but with greater stiffness, lower bearing loads and no mech-clattering droopy bits around the dropouts. The design features an integrated QR/axle with a captive nut on the drive side for simple wheel removal.
But that’s not all. The other big change to the Fuel EX is the Full Floater suspension setup. Along similar lines to designs from Pace, Iron Horse and Fusion designs, the Fuel EX mounts the shock between the rocker link and the swingarm so that it’s driven from both ends. Doing so has allowed the designers to more precisely control the leverage ratio of the system throughout the shock’s compression. The design should produce a more linear feel, with better small bump sensitivity and a stable middle sector. The system also runs a particularly low leverage ration, allowing the specially-tuned Fox shocks to run lower pressures than last year.
Other changes include the new one-piece Evo Link. This forged rocker arm is markedly chunkier-looking than last year’s skinny bolt-together item, but it’s claimed to be 15% lighter while increasing stiffness by 35%. The Evo Link is aluminium on most of the range, but even lighter magnesium alloy on the top-end EX 9.5. The 9.5 and 9.0 models feature OCLV carbon fibre front ends, while the rest of the range uses hydroformed Alpha aluminium.
Interestingly, the 120mm of rear travel is married to 130mm of fork travel, with Trek having sourced custom Fox forks for the purpose. There’s a hint of irony here – several manufacturers were using custom 120mm Forx last year, when the standard travel was 130. Now that stock travel options include 120 and 140, Trek’s going out of its way to run 130… Prices start at £900 for the EX 5.5 and top out at £3,800 for the carbon EX 9.5. Sizes now include an 18.5in, and three WSD sizes.
We should have some first riding impressions soon, and we’ll follow up with a full test.