Trek Demo: Trek Fuel EX 9.5 Ponderings & Musings

The Blinged out CARBON Trek Fuel EX 9.5

This past Saturday, Tim & I rode the Trek Demo and we thought we’d share some of our humble ponderings and musings regarding the bikes we rode.

Tim: So I get an e-mail about a Trek demo day at the Fullerton Loop that instantly makes my heart race. Not only do I get to ride a trail I’ve never done before but there is a possibility that I get to ride it on a $6,400 Trek with all the bells and whistles and top o’ da line mechanicals one would dream of. So what’s the catch ? How much does it cost to “ do the demo “ ? Free you say, where do I sign and how do I get there ?

Well, I was there with bells on and, quite honestly, I was the first one there in anticipation of mass crowds. The Trek Rep, asks me what I would like to ride. I’m a cross country guy that loves technology and to that order, what else would I want other than the Fuel Ex 9.5 ABP equipped rocket ship. The Rep says “ all I have with the new ABP in your size is the top of the line”, my heart starts to race again and I try to curb my enthusiasm with a low key reply, “that sounds good to me.? So here are my average mountain biker, eleven mile loop thoughts.

Ben prepping the Fuel EX 9.5

Ben preps the suspension for my weight and does a quick check of the tranny. I’m not sure what the shock (Fox RP23) pressure was set at but the fork (Fox Talas RLC, 4.04lbs) was set at half my body weight. I ran the shock all the way open and the pro-pedal in the #2 position. I get on the bike, raise the seat a little higher and pedal around the parking lot while I wait for my friend Jeremy to be ready with his GF FS 29er.

The first thing I notice is that the seat (Bontrager Race X Lite) is little tuff on the rump. I normally ride a Specy BG saddle that is 143mm wide with cool little gel inserts that sit right under my tailbones. No big deal though, saddles can be changed. The next thing I notice are the bars (Bontrager Race XXX Lite, 40mm rise, 31.8mm) are a little narrower than I am used to. This little caveat turned out to be helpful as the Fully loop has some narrow parts in the trees. Now the next thing I noticed – well it was something I was anticipating but not quite to the degree I experienced – this bike is fast! I was expecting the Trek Fuel EX 9.5 to be a little quicker than my bikes but let’s face it, it was a lot faster. Matt, another Trek Rep, said this bike weighs about 24lbs which is about 4 lbs lighter than my Yeti. Yes, every pound counts.

So I get up to speed and the suspension seemed a little firm, a little to stiff, but I really kind of liked it that way. Once you get hammering along on this thing, the suspension settles down and the bike just hooks up and moves out. I got out of the saddle on a short hill covered with loose quarter sized rocks just to see if the rear wheel would loose traction; it didn’t! Next I huffed up an extended hill sitting in granny and #3 in the back. I was able to keep a good position on the bike with lungs wide open and the front tire firmly planted on the ground. The tires were Bontrager Jones XR and they worked good enough. Again, I’m not sure how much pressure the Rep and prepped the tires with. In the twisties, the bike flowed flawlessly and the steering was quick and confident. I personally would probably run a Small Block 8 front and back to be a little more inspiring.

Grinning like a kid at Christmas… I wonder if they’ll let me keep this thing

Now, for what you’ve been waiting for: Active Braking Pivot or ABP. What can I say? It works. I tried to lock up the rear wheel on long, fast and rough descents and as long as you ride the bike correctly, the ABP will do exactly what it was designed to do. The bike came with Avid Juicy Ultimates and there are no complaints there; quite, comfortable and strong enough for my weight. All the other components and shifters worked to a tee. I would rather expect this though seeing how the bike is maintained by Matt. I have never had the luxury of using such high end components and they seem to work just a little better, a little more accurately and faster than the mid level stuff I’m used to and to boot, they’re lighter.

I’ve ridden a few types of trails in my short MTB career from STT and the Luge to Whiting Ranch and Chantry Flats and also exactly one race. I can honestly say that if I had just this bike in the stable I would be a little faster on all these trails. Do you want a bike like this ? Oh yes! Do you need a bike this expensive, probably not. I would love to do a long term test and ride the aforementioned trails and even a race to give it a proper shake down. I think a little more time fine tuning the fork, shock and saddle would make the bike come alive even more. Hey Trek, if you’re out there and you’re read’n this, shoot me a message. I think a good comparison demo for the Trek would be something with a DW Link and tight tolerances (like the Ibis Mojo SL) or the new Specy Stumpy. All in all, this is one sweet ride.

Check out the Trek Fuel EX 9.5 here.

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