Dirt Rag Magazine

First Impression: Trek Fuel EX 9.8 29

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By Shannon Mominee

Trek’s Fuel is one of the most popular full-suspension bicycles on the market, and for 2014 the company hopes to expand on that success by offering the option of 29-inch wheels. We recently got one in for a long-term review.

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Pricing begins at $1,980 and tops out around $8,400. My tester is the $5,250 Fuel EX 9.8 29, spec’d with mostly Shimano XT components. The OCLV carbon mainframe and seatstays are paired witgh aluminum asymmetrical chainstays. G2 geometry and an E2 tapered head tube with a 51mm offset Fox fork sets the stage for 120mm of front and rear travel. The rear is spaced for a 12x142mm axle and the front uses a 15mm axle.

The Fuel EX geometry is similar to the now discontinued Trek/Gary Fisher Rumblefish, and uses many of Trek’s proprietary technologies, such as the Full Floater shock, Active Braking Pivot, and EVO Rocker Link from the 26-wheeled Fuel. There’s also internal cable routing for the derailleurs and dropper post, while the brake line remains external.

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Fox handles front and rear suspension, a 120mm travel 32 Float with CTD, FIT damper. DRCV is used in the Fox Float CTD rear shock, and for those of you unfamiliar with DRCV, it’s basically a dual chamber shock housed in a small canister.

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The main chamber is for pedaling efficiency and small bump absorption. As the shock is compressed, a valve opens opens the secondary chamber with additional air volume. This makes the shock feel like a large canister through its remaining stroke and gives the spring rate a more linear feel.

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I’ve been toggling the rear shock between its three settings, all of which have a noticeable effect on the suspension. “Descend” definitely allows the suspension to be its most active and really soaks up big, square-edged hits at speed, providing me with control and confidence. “Climb” is as stiff as the suspension can get and works well when pedaling to the trailhead and on long or steep climbs. “Trail” has been my go to setting and works well in nearly all situations. It provides the most traction while climbing and does a super job of remaining active to conquer small and square-edged hits alike without interfering with my pedaling.

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Overall, the Trek Fuel EX 9.8 29 is shaping up to be a bicycle that can be ridden with pleasure across all types of trail and terrain. Keep an eye out for the full review in an upcoming issue of Dirt Rag Magazine.

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