#TeamRutland | 2020 Trek Top Fuel 9.7 Review

Words by Tom Worsfold

on 21/10/2019 15:57:26

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Words by #TeamRutland member Chris Reid

�Goodness Gracious Great Balls of Fire!�

These are the first words that came to mind when climbing onto the new Trek Top Fuel.

I have been riding my new Top Fuel 9.7 for the last few months and from the first ride on it I have had nothing but a massive grin from ear to ear, even on the wettest of days or the boring commute to and from work on the tarmac. I have been riding and racing XC bikes for the last 16 Years and I have had everything from hard tails to soft tails, aluminium and carbon, 26� and 29�, yet nothing comes close to the fun that the Top Fuel brings me.

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Many riders will say that the Top Fuel does not have what it takes to ride certain trails and they are unfortunately misinformed. This bike will climb like a mountain goat and descend like a rocket. Once you have set the suspension up for your style of riding and adjusted the tire pressure just right, this bike comes alive. Obviously you won't be hitting massive road gaps or Welsh Black runs at full pace. But for the majority of riders looking to get more rowdy on the trails...it's perfect.

Compared to the older Top Fuel the new model is not the full blown XC racer which racers would prefer but more a trail bike. You get the stiff OCLV carbon frame and stays, with suspension that's been bumped up from 100mm front and rear to 120mm front and 115mm at the rear with all the Trek MTB features you're used to. The shorter stem and wider bars give you more control from the cockpit alongside the slacker front end, longer wheelbase and reach the handling will give every rider more confidence to push harder and get lose on the trails.

Internal Routing

Cable Freak technology hides all the cables internally keeping them out of harm's way and leaves the frame looking clean and tidy.

Mino Link

Having moved the flip Chip off the swing arms and onto the rocker the ability to swap it over makes it quicker and easier than ever. This will allow you to lower or raise the BB height depending on the ride. All Top Fuels come out the box in the Low Setting.

Knock Block and Down tube Guard

It may not feel the best when you first get it but it saves the frame when you do have that off, both the controls and the fork are prevented from damaging your new toy. It's kind of like Marmite, you either love it or hate it... I am personally a fan as I have a tendency to �by land� during fun days out on the bike and it prevents massive damage.

ABP

�Active Braking Pivot� meaning your brakes will work while the suspension does its job, keeping the wheel firmly on the ground and in control no matter the terrain.

1x

All Top Fuel models will now only be fitted with SRAM 1x groupsets ranging from NX all the way up to the new SRAM AXS, including dropper post on the 9.9.

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Climbing

The Top Fuel feels like an XC bike on the climbs, nimble and agile with the smallest feeling of bob that can easily be controlled with suspension set up and if you remember to lock out the suspension with the new SRAM twist remote. This however, I would only recommend on the flattest and smoothest of surfaced climbs. Being a light weight XC rider I found it easy to point the front wheel where I need the grip and sit and pedal over every obstacle without any qualms. Cresting the climbs the bike is quick to accelerate and get up to speed for those looking to make an attack or just get onto a decent before their mates. The knock block can catch a few riders out who are new to it on the tighter turns but a little change in technique and it's as if it's not even there.

Descending

If you thought the climbing was good, the descents is where this bike makes you feel uber confident! The XC bike goes out the window and the trail bike comes alive. Even on the sketchy sections this bike will track like an F14 Tomcat, and better yet you can throw it around and get lose like Goose if you allow it to just do its thing. (No Brakes, No Brains, just feel!) I have yet to find an issue with this bike. Heavier riders however may find the single piston brakes under gunned and may wish to change the rotor sizes or pads for better braking efficiency.

After a few changes like grips, chain ring, making the bike tubeless and tweaking the suspension I have finally dialled in the Top Fuel to the way I love to ride. I always wanted a bike that I can take to an XC race and smash around for a few hours or a bike that I could get on, ride to the local trails with mates and have a fun day out messing around on. The Top Fuel does exactly that. There is no need for �N +1� when it comes to the Top Fuel. It is in my eyes the perfect mixture of XC and Trail.

Pros

  • Bike can be pushed harder than most riders think
  • Full Carbon frame and stays
  • Cons

  • No place for a second bottle cage

  • View the Trek MTB range
    Reid-Profile-1

    Chris "Rocket" Reid

    Instagram: Chris_Reid101

    Role: Bike Fitter and Road ambassador at the Whitwell store. Riding since the age of 13. Specializing in XC and Marathon events.

    Height: 168cm

    Weight: 68kg

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