Interbike Outdoor Demo: Trek Fuel EX 9.5 - Bike Magic

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Interbike Outdoor Demo: Trek Fuel EX 9.5

We’ve already given you the background to Trek’s all-new Fuel EX, and Interbike’s Outdoor Demo gave us an opportunity to take one for a spin. In common with most of the big brands, Trek doesn’t muck about when it comes to demo bikes for the show – it had an array of top-flight Trek Fuel EX 9.5s on hand. The 9.5 and 9.0 have OCLV carbon fibre front triangles (the rest of the range uses Trek’s Alpha aluminium), while the 9.5 has that top-of-the-range spec that you can’t help thinking serves mainly to make the next bike down look like fantastic value. With XTR chainset, Avid Juicy Ultimate brakes, Fox Talas RLC fork, SRAM X.0 transmission and a big stack of Bontrager carbon fibre finishing kit, this’ll run you £3,800 in the UK. The 9.0 is all Bontrager Race Lite rather than Race X Lite stuff, with a full XT group and a price tag of over £1,000 less…

But enough of specification pontification, how about the ride? Well, it’s jolly good, and streets ahead of its predecessors. The new Evo Link rocker arm has stiffened up the back end dramatically, making it a good match for the already stout OCLV front. The Full Floater rocker-to-swingarm shock delivers an impressively consistent feel through the stroke, and the Active Braking Pivot seems to perform as advertised, with a pretty fluid feel through braking bumps.

It’s still not the most sensitive design over small pattery stuff, but the upside is a taut, sprightly feel, and the bike is always composed. It’s also got classically neutral handling – it won’t get you into trouble, although it doesn’t necessarily encourage you to go looking for it either.

Somehow Trek still doesn’t seem to have quite managed to deliver that last inspiring spark that sets some bikes apart, but then it’s made its name with competent, good value bikes. And there’s a lot to be said for a bike that performs so transparently that you don’t really notice what it’s doing. The Trek Fuel EX is definitely up there with the competition, and with the same frame design (albeit in aluminium) going down to £1,400 for the EX 7, it’s looking like good value too. Final judgement will have to wait until we put everyone’s 2008 120mm platforms up against one another soon…


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