A couple months ago, I was on the hunt for a new mid-travel personal bike and found myself largely unconvinced by most of the offerings on the market. Then a new, highly adjustable and longer in the tooth Trek Fuel EX was announced. When I reached out to Trek to inquire about testing one they offered to send a frameset for me to build out. On paper given that it had my ideal geometry, loads of adjustments (including leverage rate!), internal storage and the options of air or coil and mullet or straight 29″, this was the ultimate Swiss army knife bike to me. And thus, it got the “Dream Bike” treatment…Have a look at the video below, or cruise through the long form story that follows and feel free to chime in if you have any questions…
- Sizes: XS, S, M, L(tested), XL, XXL
- 29″ or 29″/27.5″ wheel format
- Mino Link adjustable geometry
- Adjustable headset
- Internal downtube storage
- Fully sleeved internal cable/hose routing
- ABP suspension
- $3,899 USD (frame only)
This is how it all came together. Coil, 29″ front and rear, and with an all out build. Read on for more details…
Starting with drivetrain, upon seeing the subtle copper details on the head badge and downtube, I knew I had to mate this to a SRAM Eagle AXS XX1 copper drivetrain and that’s just what I did. 10-52T cassette and a 30T chainring for huge range.
Up front I went for a new 2023 RockShox Lyrik. I’ve heard very good things about the new RockShox lineup but have yet to ride it. Of course I had to get matching copper decals for it. With 150mm of travel, pressure relief valves, and a much improved Charger 3 damper, I’m very impressed so far.
For the straight 29″ option, the low setting is the only way to go for me as the adjustment between high and low is substantial, to accommodate the mullet option – which I’ll be dabbling with in the future.
On most – if not all – of my dream bikes, I include Cane Creek’s hollow, tubular titanium eeWings. They’re pricey, but freakishly light and stiff. Plus they’ll last forever.
These days, I must admit, I’ve gotten to a point where it’s difficult for me to choose a personal bike that doesn’t have internal downtube storage. It’s just so damn handy…
Despite having downtube storage, I do really like having a multi tool at my disposal, and for that I went for OneUp’s EDC Lite tool. There is no tapping or threading required and it manages to fit quite a few options in.
Speaking of OneUp – a while back they sent me a seatpost to test with a whopping 240mm of travel, but it unfortunately didn’t fit in any of my bikes. Due to the Fuel EX’s super deep insertion depth I finally get to use it, and since I plan to ride this bike like an Enduro bike, I’m happy to have some extra travel.
I topped the long legged seatpost off with a WTB Silverado with titanium rails. Great lines on a classic saddle in a tough, light weight package.
Trek offers aftermarket +/- 1º headset cups, but after a few rides, I kind of doubt I’ll need them. That said, you’ll never find me complaining about an abundance of adjustments.
For rims, I went with my absolute favorites – the crankbrothers Synthesis e11 carbon rims. I have yet to ride another carbon rim that offers a better balance between forgiveness and stiffness. They take the edge off, are tough as nails and hold their form under heavy G-forces.
Instead of going with a complete crankbrothers wheelset, I laced these by hand on DT-Swiss 240 hubs and upgraded the star ratchet from 36T to 54T for a little faster bite. Up front I also slapped some Torque Cap friendly hardware in.
I wrapped the wheels in Michelin’s Wild Enduro tires in their lighter duty casing. They feature gobs of traction and while a little heavy for an all mountain bike, they roll along well. The tread pattern, compound and casing are second to none.
For brakes I opted for TRP’s highly impressive DH-R EVO. They have a ton of power, great modulation and an incredibly comfortable lever blade…
Much like the Lyrik up front, I was excited to try the new 2023 RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate Coil RC2. I’ve heard good things and so far I’ve been very impressed. As I was right in between the 450 and 500 pound spring rates, I decided to pair this to a 475 pound EXT spring and save some weight in the process.
One of my favorite features on the new Fuel EX is the adjustable flip chip in the lower shock link, which allows you to have a more linear option for air sprung shocks and a more progressive setting for coil shocks…
I love that the new Super Deluxe Ultimate offers an all new feature – adjustable hydraulic anti-bottom out control. Interestingly I’ve been able to get away with running the coil shock in the linear mode with a couple extra clicks on the HBO.
Ever since my first time riding one, I’ve had a hard time putting anything other than OneUp’s carbon fiber handlebar on my personal bikes. It has the perfect upsweep/backsweep combination and I love that it comes in a nice, tall 38mm rise. The biggest reason however, is that it takes the edge off of the small chatter better than anything else I’ve ridden to date.
I finished off the bar with ODI’s Longneck V2.1 grips – a new school spin on an old school BMX classic. Perfect feel, rain or shine, gloves or no gloves.
Another go to product for me is the Industry Nine A35 stem. Clean lines, a high polish finish, and a 10mm bump in rise are nice, but it’s the insane clamping force on the steerer tube that keeps me coming back to it. It never slips under small crashes, which is a pet peeve of mine.
I’ve been riding Time’s ATAC pedals since I was an XC grom on the East Coast in the 1990’s and I can’t ride anything else. The slightly smaller Speciale 8 are my go-to for anything lighter duty than Enduro/DH. They’re amazing in mud, have adjustable tension and traction pins and just feel like home.
Thanks for checking this feature out! Stay tuned for a long term review of the Fuel EX as a standalone frameset…