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.

Trek Demo Review

Trek Demo Day!

Impressions on the bikes we rode have been written.
For our thoughts on the Gary Fisher HiFi Pro, click here.
For our thoughts on the Trek Fuel Ex 9.5, click here.
For our thoughts on the Trek Top Fuel 69er, click here.

Demos are an extremely fun event to do as a mountain biker. Think of it: you get to ride a new bike – professionally maintained, mind you – on a fun trail and you get to do it over and over again.

This Saturday my friend Tim and I hit up the Fullerton Loop for Trek Demo Day mentioned in this previous post. To say it was a lot of fun is an understatement. It was a TON of fun. Tip for you: get to the demo early. If it says it starts at 9, get there at least 20 minutes early and chat up the mechanic. If he’s good, he’s probably almost done getting the bikes ready and if you’re nice, he’ll probably get you going first.

Matt, working hard to setup the Gary Fisher HiFi 29er Pro; Lance, looking on

Matt, the Trek demo dude, is good, real good. Not only was he ready by about 15 minutes til 9am, but he also was extremely knowledgeable and helpful. Tim and I threw out a variety of question to him including questions on weight, specs, prices… a variety of things and he had the correct – as I later found out – answer every time. Matt was also helpful and friendly encouraging us to ride and enjoy our time on the bike. Matt already knew I was interested in the Large Gary Fisher HiFi 29er, so when I got there, on went my pedals and off Tim and I went.

New friends, Randall (Trek Fuel Ex 9.5) & Deb (Gary Fisher HiFi Pro Carbon)

We picked up a couple of new friends who weren’t familiar with the loop, so our pair became a fun group of four. Tim had been eying the Trek Fuel EX 9.5 and got to swing a leg over that for the first loop. He was really curious about the Active Braking Pivot (ABP) and found it to function exactly like it was supposed to (it’s not a marketing gimmick!). Randall also got a leg over a Trek Fuel EX 9.5 while Deb rode a Gary Fisher HiFi Carbon (26″ version). We all had a blast on the first loop and really enjoyed our steeds.

The second time around I jumped on a Trek 69er FS while Tim took the Gary Fisher HiFi Carbon (26″). We both preferred our first rides for different reasons, but that didn’t stop us from having a blast anyway.

Trek/Gary Fisher bikes ready to go!

In the next few days, I’ll post more thorough impressions on the bikes I rode. Check back for them soon.

Trek Demo at Fullerton Loop

Jeremy rockin’ the Gary Fisher 29er X-Caliber on some nice singletrack at Crystal Cove State Park

Some of the crew will be at the Trek Demo that is happening this Saturday from 9am to 3pm at the most popular loop in Orange County, the Fullerton Loop. Here’s the official word from the Trek Demo Site:

Jax Fullerton
Fullerton, CA
Sat. Jan 12th, 2008 @ 9:00 am—3:00 pm

I (Matt from Trek) will be at the Fullerton Loop Parking lot with the new 2008 Road and Mtn. bikes. Stop on by and take a spin on the best.

Location: Fullerton
2520 E. Chapman Avenue
Fullerton, CA 92381
View Map (ADDRESS here is for the shop. Here’s the address for the Loop Parking lot:
1275 N. Berkeley Avenue
Fullerton, CA 92832)

Directions: Please call the shop for directions to the store, they can be reached at 714.441.1100.

I inquired as to which bikes would be there and Matt Gutowski sent me a short list of what he was bringing: Trek EX 9.5’s, Gary Fisher HiFi Carbon Pros, Trek Top Fuel 69er’s & Gary Fisher Paragons. He also has one Large Gary Fisher HiFi 29er. I’ve got first dibs on the HiFi 29er!

Thanks Matt for the email and for all the info!

Here are some pertinent questions from the FAQ page:

QUESTION: What do I need to do to demo a bike?
ANSWER: Check out our calendar of upcoming events and select one to attend. Allow yourself plenty of time to check out our inventory and give us some time to fit you on the selected model you would like to try. You will need to fill out a quick registration/waiver form and provide us with a valid ID (driver’s license) and Credit Card. (Of course your credit card will not be charged, unless of course you disappear or damage the product.)

QUESTION: What if I am under 18, can I still demo a bike?
ANSWER: Yes! But you will need a parent to fill out your registration/waiver form.

QUESTION: Do I need cycling shoes?
ANSWER: We recommend that you use the shoes that you typically ride in or most comfortable in.

QUESTION: Do I need to bring my own helmet?
ANSWER: We do have a limited number of helmets available for use, but is best to bring your own personal riding gear if possible.

QUESTION: Do I need to bring my own pedals to the demo?
ANSWER: While we stock a number of the most common clipless pedals, we don’t have every brand and so it is always a good idea to bring your own just in case.

QUESTION: How long can I test ride the bike?
ANSWER: We generally request test rides of no more than thirty to forty minutes so everyone gets a chance to ride their desired model. This is flexible to some degree based on trail options and rider turnout.

QUESTION: Can I ride more than one bike ?
ANSWER: Sure, as many as you want! We would love you to try all of our inventory and we will do our best to get you on whatever you want to ride. We appreciate your patience, sometimes we get busy.

If you haven’t checked out the Trek Demo Page, click here. These trucks are all over the place and I’m sure one will be coming to you soon.