During some discussions at Sea Otter this spring, Trek dropped hints it was working to simplify its trail bike line up. This was right before it dropped a new full-suspension fat trail bike, so I wasn’t sure how to take that statement.
These simplification ideas became more clear few weeks ago when Trek invited us to Squamish to ride new trail bikes. As of now, Trek has only three full-suspension mountain bike platforms (not counting that fat bike)
Top Fuel – 100 mm 29er
Fuel EX – 130 mm 29/27plus
Remedy – 150 mm 27.5
Yes, in a surprising move, the Fuel EX 27.5 and the EWS winning Remedy 29 are no longer. Well, you can still get a new Fuel EX in 27.5 wheels, but only in smaller sizes of the women’s bikes.
Fuel EX 29
This is the same frame as the Fuel EX 27plus we’ve been riding, but all 29ers have a 130 mm fork, vs the 140 mm on the 27plus bike. The 29er version comes in a lot more models compared to the EX 27plus’s three.
|Fuel EX 5 WSD||$2,199.99|
|Fuel EX 8 WSD||$3,199.99|
|Fuel EX 9.8 WSD||$4,999.99|
|Fuel EX 5 29||$2,199.99|
|Fuel EX 7 29||$2,599.99|
|Fuel EX 8 29||$3,199.99|
|Fuel EX 9 29||$3,999.99|
|Fuel EX 29 AL frame||$1,889.99|
|Fuel EX 9.7 29||$3,999.99|
|Fuel EX 9.8 29||$4,999.99|
|Fuel EX 9.9 29||$8,399.99|
|Fuel EX 29 Carbon frame||$3,299.99|
We rode top of the line 9.9 (natch). Since I had plenty of time on the 27plus EX, I was happy to stick to the 29er wheels in Squamish. In fact, the few pairs of 27plus wheels Trek brought with them never made it on a bike while the media was there. It seems no one was that interested.
Right off the bat, the 29er felt more like the EX of the previous generation, light and snappy. Some of this might be attributed to the carbon rims and light tires, but after riding quite a few of these 29/27plus bikes in both configurations, the 29 inch wheels always feel faster to me.
The geometry of the new EX 29 is almost identical to the old Remedy 29, and the frame is actually stiffer. Which somewhat explains why the Remedy 29 went away. Put something like a Pike up front and some beefier tires and I would expect this thing to be a pretty serious ripper.
A quick rundown of the changes from last year’s EX:
-120mm->130mm rear / 130mm front
-68˚ headtube->67.7˚ (high) / 67˚ (low) headtube
-448mm->453mm (low position)
Lighter & Stiffer frame
– Straight Shot downtube for strength & stiffness
Knock Block Frame Defense
– Prevents frame damage from fork controls or brake levers
We rode some steep stuff in Squamish, and the EX felt at home here. The longer front end and slacker head angle (I spent half of the day in each geo setting) are a huge plus on steeper terrain. We did a fair amount of climbing as well as descending , and the EX now feels like a bike that balances the two more evenly, where the previous EX still had a lot of XC-racing genes.
And that is where I came away surprised. This is a much more aggressive bike than the previous Fuel EX, and I wonder if that will leave a hole in Trek’s line up? The Top Fuel is more capable these days, and maybe we’ll see a version of the Top Fuel with a longer fork, beefier tires and a dropper to compete with the likes of the new Kona Hei Hei Trail and other lightweight, short-travel, trail bikes. This isn’t to say the Fuel EX feels slow, but not everyone needs or wants 130 mm of travel and a 67˚ head angle.
Most of this is speculation, as the trails of Squamish don’t lend themselves to a lot of navel gazing about the fractured state of trail bike genres in the summer of 2016.
No more 29er Remedy? Yes, and this is somewhat shocking. Tracy Moseley has been dominating the EWS circuit on a Remedy 29 for years, but with the Fuel EX taking on the geometry of last year’s Remedy 29, Trek expects most riders looking for an aggressive 29er will be happy with the EX29. Time will tell. In the meantime, those looking for a 150 mm travel 27.5 bike should get themselves a test ride on the new Remedy. We’ve got a contender here.
-140mm -> 150mm rear
-68 / 67.5˚ headtube -> 66.5˚ / 66˚ headtube
-447mm ->458mm (19.5” size)
Lower bottom bracket
-341mm -> 336mm
This is returning the Remedy to its roots as a longer travel trail bike, with a few models coming stock with 160 forks. This puts it squarely in Slash territory. Which leads one to wonder about the future of the Slash….
Anyway, the new Remedy uses the same technology as the Fuel EX, including the Knock Block headset and Straighshot downtube to make a lighter and stiffer frame. Lots of pricepoints with this one, too.
|Remedy 7 27.5||$2,999.99|
|Remedy 8 27.5||$3,299.99|
|Remedy 8 WSD 27.5||$3,299.99|
|Remedy 9 27.5 RSL||$4,499.99|
|Remedy 27.5 AL frame||$1,889.99|
|Remedy 9.8 27.5||$5,299.99|
|Remedy 9.8 27.5 WSD||$5,299.99|
|Remedy 9.9 27.5 RSL||$7,999.99|
|Remedy 27.5 Carbon frame||$3,299.99|
If you look closely at the picture above, you’ll see a new RockShox Deluxe rear shock with the red stick denoting it is equipped the Trek’s proprietary Re:Aktiv valve. This is a good thing. So is the Lyrik up front. SRAM handles most of the parts on this bike, including Guide brakes and 1×12 Eagle drivetrain. Hidden behind my leg is Bontrager’s new Line dropper post, which has an excellent remote, although it could use more than the stock 125 mm of travel, which is feeling short next to 150 mm (and even longer) posts.
I’m going to have to look into the “hows and whys” more later, but the RockShox rear shock seemed to be better at controlling bob than the Fox on the Fuel EX, while still sucking up the bigger hits like a champ. This bike just felt controlled, everywhere. I keep things below my limits (and way below the bike’s limits) as I am not a fan of pinning it at media events, but I was shocked at how well this bike scooted uphill and bombed down unfamiliar trails. I expected to miss the 29er wheels on some of the steeper and chunkier bits, but it wasn’t an issue. In fact, if I lived in Squamish, this bike would be my choice over the Fuel EX, even though the trails never open up enough to really take advantage of the travel and stability of a bike like this, at least with my skillset.
My long term Remedy tester just showed up at the office, so expect a full review soon. We’ve got the RSL (Race Shop Limited) model, which has SE4 reinforced tires and a 160 mm Lyrik travel adjust fork. In other words, the enduro model. That extra travel kicks the head angle back to 66˚/65.5˚and a slightly higher bottom bracket at 346/339 mm. Maybe I just don’t have enough steep climbs, but this is another in a long series of bikes that I’ve adjusted the travel on the first long climb, forgot to return it to full travel on the first descent, and proceeded to leave it in the long setting and never think about it again.
Wrap it up, I’ll take it.
Trek is also offering a huge range of prices and aluminum frames that offer all the features of the carbon models at about half the price. There are even a solid selection of women’s bikes, for those that are into that type of thing. Some of the cheaper models don’t get a Re:Aktiv shock, but to Trek’s credit Re:Aktiv is found at even lower price points this year.
It is pretty easy to get wrapped up in all the tech-y buzz-words the Trek uses to market its bikes. ABP, Mino link, Re:Aktiv, Full Floater, Evo Link, Control Freak internal routing, etc. It is harder to talk about how well all of this works as whole. Trek has been slowly and quietly creating some very fine trail bikes, and this pair of bikes has no trouble holding it down against some of the best trail bikes I’ve ridden.These bikes are available NOW. Check out Trek’s website for more info.