Immediately after wrapping up a two-day Durango, CO press camp where Gary Fisher introduced their all-new Roscoe 140mm trail bike, I was scooped up by the folks from Trek and transfered a short distance to their host hotel, for two days of riding their new Fuel EX. With day one of riding the new EX under my belt, I figured I’d file a brief report that highlights why the Trek folks were geeked enough to fly 20+ journalists into Colorado to check out the 2009 Fuel EX.
The most exciting changes to the 2009 Fuel EX lineup happen at the high endâ€”where Trek has made significant upgrades to the OCLV frame. Their design goal was to make the 2009 carbon frame stiffer and even lighter than last year’s model. They succeeded in shaving 212 grams from the frame, (2238g/4.9lbs) while improving frame stiffness by 27%.
Trek flexed their manufacturing muscle to accomplish the aforementioned improvements. They utilized their “net molding” process to produce a “BB95” bottom bracket that has a 95mm wide shell and utilizes “drop in” bearings that do not require cups. The bearing set-up reduces weight, and the additional width helps create a laterally stiffer frame. Their E2 headtube has a 1 1/8″ upper and 1 1/2″ lower bearing, and also uses net molding. The larger diameter at the bottom of the headtube helps produce a wider downtube interface, for improved frame stiffness. The manufacturing wizardry extends to Trek’s first-ever carbon OCLV rocker link that is lighter and stiffer than the prior magnesium version.
Suspension improvements include a Trek-exclusive XV Fox rear shock, with a larger air can that results in a more linear spring rate curve (less ramp-up at the end of stroke). Another benefit of the XV is less speed sensitivity, meaning less “harshness” when the shock is subjected to rapid cycling. The larger air volume also results in a wider range of rebound damping adjustments for the user. On the front end, the 2009 OCLV Fuel EX models have a 120mm Fox fork that matches the 120mm of rear travel (up from 110mm last year). The Fox RP24 fork has a Trek-exclusive platform feature that brings platform compression damping to the front of the bike.
Trek tweaked the numbers of the frame geometry a bit for 2009, in order to quicken up the handling just a tad. I spent a great deal of time atop a 2008 Fuel EX and the handling difference was immediately obvious to me. I enjoyed the 2009’s snappier, racier feeling on my test ride on Durango’s Horse Gulch/Telegraph trail system. Other first impressions include very nice small bump sensitivity on the rear shock, which helps the bike claw its way up technical climbs.
The press corps are riding pre-production bikes with a mixture of components. Trek will have two 2009 production OCLV versions, a 23.5lb. no-holds-barred 9.9 model with plenty of XTR stuff, and a bit more affordable 9.8 model with XT-level goodies. I’ll have more to say after I finish up the press camp and I get my hands on all the specs and information from Trek. Stay tuned.