Trek Fuel EX Range Guide

Words by Harry Archer

on 25/01/2018 16:13:08


The Trek Fuel EX is the Trail specific full-suspension bike in Trek's incredibly successful mountain bike range. The Fuel is the wild middle child, sandwiched between the cross-country Top-Fuel and the big and bouncy Remedy. Completely re-designed in 2017 to adhere to the current market demands of slack geometries with big reach, Last years Fuel dominated the competition with the EX 7 29er claiming the prestigious MBR Bike of the Year 2017 and the wider range receiving a minimum of 9/10 on almost every review given. The 2018 model looks to have improved upon near-perfection, remaining unchanged other than some subtle, clever tweaks that aim to fine tune an already excellent formula. Want a rugged, capable long-travel trail bike with the sprightly manners of an XC bike? Get it with Fuel EX. Fuel EX blends the best of both worlds (XC,Trail) into one uncompromising package. Plus for every FS bike Trek sells, 10 dollars are donated to the International Mountain Bike Association - an organisation dedicated to expanding the infrastructure of mountain biking around the world. Since 1998 Trek's trail fund for the IMBA has resulted in the creation of over 150 new trails around the world, Ensuring you'll always have a new place to ride your new Fuel EX and will sleep soundly in the knowledge that your doing your bit to grow the MTB community. Bonus!

Guide To Full Suspension Bikes >Trek unveil updated Remedy >Mountain Bike Size Guide >

Ex knockblock

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Frame & Geometry Group-set Fork & Rear Shock Wheels & Tyres Brakes Fuel EX 2018 Full Range Project One

Frame and Geometry

Geometrically the Fuel has stayed loyal to the modern Trail riders expectations. Everything has been made longer - Reach, Travel, Wheelbase - You name it, Trek will elongate it. This creates a super slack geometry, with excellent handling supplied from the responsive 130mm of front and rear travel combining with a beefed up front end and wide profile wheel systems to provide fantastic rolling efficiency, traction and accuracy of steering. Trek uses its Gary Fisher inspired G2 geometry on the entire Fuel EX range. G2 essentially lowers the bike, which is claimed to improve the ride quality at all speeds which will inspire rider confidence. This geometry style leads to a fork offset of 51mm, greatly improving slow-speed direction changes and stability. Trek have also implemented their Mino Link Adjustable Geometry feature on this years Fuel Range. Mino Link allows the rider to fine tune the head angle by 1/2 degrees and bottom bracket height by up to 10mm with the simple turn of a nut. This allows you to choose how slack you want to be without negatively affecting suspension - A Trek exclusive that you won't find elsewhere on the market! Furthermore, Women's specific geometries are available throughout the range, with extensive research having been done to accurately size every rider to their ideal frame and wheel size.

Fuel mino link

The Fuel Ex frame is available in Alpha Platinum Aluminium (hydro-formed and multi-butted for extra strength and less weight)or OCLV Mountain Carbon (Tougher, uniquely layed-up carbon fibre specifically engineered for off-road riding). All the frames within the range have optimised stiffness-weight ratios due to the Straight Shot W/Knock Block frame design. This improves the responsiveness of the handling and when combined with the G2 geometry it creates one of the best Trail bikes for handling even with 29" wheels. Knock Block's headset-integrated frame defence solution stops spinning fork crowns and handlebars from damaging your frame. Sleek lines are guaranteed with the neat Control Freak Cable management system that allows the shifter,brake,lockout and dropper cables to be internally routed through the frame improving not just the looks but also durability as the cables are protected from the elements. Boost 148/110 provides wider dropouts, allowing you to run wider tyres and a larger chain ring without hindering your pedalling efficiency. Boost technology is becoming more and more prevalent in the MTB world as it enables the bike to provide the speed of 29" wheels with the stiffness and handling ability of 27.5" systems. Dropper posts can be found on the EX-7 upwards, a solid upgrade that is proven to directly enhance your ride experience and performance. There's also room for a full-size water bottle on the downtube and excellent Bontrager 35mm bar/stem set-ups that ensure stiffness advantage right through to the grips. The only slight negative is the use of a press-fit Bottom Bracket as this isn't likely to last as long as a stronger, threaded BB.

Fuel internal routing


This years Fuel EX uses a variety of different group-sets as you move through the range:

Shimano Deore 2x10 - Found on the Ex-5, Deore holds its position as Shimano's entry-level group-set for mountain bikers. Unlike the higher-end SLX and XT groups, Deore holds steady with a 10-speed drivetrain with a wide range of gear options for mountain bikers, commuting and trekking purposes.

Sram NX 11-speed - Fitted on the EX-7 and EX-9.7, the Sram NX 11 offers 1x advantages of reliability, weight saving and wide gear range without breaking the bank and leads to solid, reliable single-ring performance with existing free-hub compatibility.

Sram GX Eagle 1x12 - SRAM Eagle drivetrains are the only 1x drivetrains that are fully system engineered for optimal performance. Eagle drivetrains are designed, tested and proven to deliver the lightest, highest-performing and most durable systems for all riders on any trail. The GX is the entry-level Eagle group-set that offers all the benefits of the higher level Eagle components at a slightly heavier weight - but a much lower price! The Sram Eagle GX is supplied on the EX-8 and EX-9.8.


Sram XX1 Eagle 1x12 - This cross-country-optimized drivetrain combines the newest generation of SRAM 1x drivetrain technological advancements with lightweight materials. With a greater gear range of 500-percent, XX1 Eagle gives you smoother, more precise shifts with greater durability for long lasting performance so you can spend more time in the gear you want. The XX1 is Featured on the EX-9.9 models of the Fuel range

Shimano Deore XT M8000 22 speed - Now 11-speed, The DEORE XT M8000 offers powerful and dynamic performance. This group-set encourages modern mountain bikers to ride anywhere with its advanced gearing concept that helps maintain rider efficiency. Designed with both XC and aggressive trail riders in mind it brings enduring performance thanks to smart materials and enhanced drivetrain stability due to new derailleur and chain-ring designs. The set-up can be found on the Fuel EX-8 29 XT and EX-9.8 29 XT models.

EX frame protector

The high end Sram systems are also fitted with a Roller Bearing Clutch on the rear derailleurs, delivering maximum drivetrain stability�even through the most punishing terrain. With Roller Bearing technology, derailleur bounce and chain slap are eliminated without sacrificing precision. In addition, the new Direct Mount rings bring lighter weight and greater simplicity to XX1, X01, X1-1400, and GX-1400 crank-sets - giving riders the perfect opportunity for a serious upgrade. Shimano systems also feature a clutch system called the Shadow, improving chain retention and shift accuracy by reducing the movement of the derailleur's cage while riding.

Fork and Shocks

Trek have long been pioneers of suspension innovation in the bike industry. With their own dedicated suspension lab at Trek HQ, you can be certain that all their components are rigorously tested and tuned to offer the optimum levels of suspension to every rider. Trek's patented ABP system is fitted on all their FS bikes, intending to improve the ride experience of mountain bikers at all ability levels. The performance benefits provide a serious advantage in competition because ABP increases traction and accordingly improves braking efficiency. The rider with ABP is able to brake much later than their competitors and less time on the brakes translates into faster average speeds, which further translates into more time on the podium. ABP was developed to keep the rear suspension working when under braking force,reducing chatter, unintentional skidding and complete confidence on or off the brakes (Learn more >).

Front fork ex

RE:aktiv technology can also be found on the higher end models in the Fuel range. The RE:aktiv ride is firm under pedalling efforts but provides a smooth, instantaneous transition to plush control, giving you confidence to ride your bike as it should be ridden. The key point is that RE:aktiv gives you the best of both worlds all the time. It is not two settings, but an integral part of the rear shock's design that ensures you're ready for any obstacle the trail throws your way (Learn more > ). Full Floater rear shock set up is a rear shock mount with two suspended contact points, allowing the shock to effectively �float� through its entire range of motion, giving you the impression of bottomless travel and unmatched tracking over any type of terrain. Full Floater does not actually increase the shock's travel, which is advantageous in terms of pedalling efficiency and ride feel on less treacherous sections of trail(Learn more >).

Ex reacktiv shock

Throughout the Fuel EX range a variety of fork/shock combinations can be found as you move up the price points. Supplied via RockShox or Fox, they're all air-sprung and can be locked out either manually or remotely via a switch on the handlebar. From the EX-7 upwards, forks and shocks are tuned and feature clever dampening technology that is adjustable and allows you to control your suspension like never before. On most of the high end models a Fox Rhythm fork with an extended Evol negative spring fitted to improve smoothness over small bumps. A thru-shaft RE:activ system responds to terrain changes quicker than any other suspension system on the market, showing once again how the Fuel EX has utilised a plethora of intelligently designed technology in order to create an impeccably well balanced bike that excels on both the climbs and descents - With this combination of accurately damped rear suspension and a precise ,strong front end lead to unrivalled handling on the trail.

EX8 bontrager bars

Wheels and Tyres

The Fuel EX range is kitted throughout with Boost Hubs, allowing for wider tyre profile and rims with additional clearance that allows you to fit 27.5", 650+ or 29" wheels depending on location and rider preference. This versatility is truly revolutionary as it means you can now have a genuine do-it-all trail bike that you can take anywhere and be confident of handling any terrain in your way. Tubeless ready rims are fitted as standard from the EX-7 upwards and are a definite upgrade to consider due to the many time-saving advantages that going tubeless delivers. Bontrager XR4 tyres, a favourite amongst the MTB community, feature on EX-7 models and above and provide fantastic grip and puncture protection via strengthened inner side walls. Bontrager supply the rims as well with strong, stable Connection 32-hole rims on the EX-5 and fast-rolling, durable Bontrager Line Comp 30 on the EX-7 and above. The wide rims offer the ability to fit high-volume tyres which gives the rear end traction and takes the edge off minor hits and bumps. Whether you opt for the reactive 27.5", plush 650+ or speedy 29" wheel and tyre set-up you can be confident that you will receive quality components that compliment the excellent frame and suspension systems of the 2018 Fuel-EX range.



The entire Fuel EX range is kitted out with hydraulic disc brakes due to the increased reliability they offer in wet weather and the enhanced modulation of braking that enhances a riders confidence during tricky,technical descents. On the EX-5 you'll find basic but highly effective Shimano M315 hydraulic discs whilst the EX-7 features SRAM Level T hydraulic discs which are designed to deliver a powerful and consistent XC and trail-optimized brake set that keeps your capital in the bank. Efficient and strong Shimano Deore and MT500 systems also feature and offer the best non-Sram brake. The best braking systems are found on the top of the range with the EX-9.8 Sram Guide RS system supplying a proven 4-piston calliper and innovative Swing-Link lever technology that gives you more positive pad contact and increased braking authority. The EX 9.9's SRAM Guide Ultimate carbon hydraulic discs have been engineered to be light and powerful, with superior heat management capabilities that work to give you better, more consistent and more reliable braking. The new calliper design also incorporates a re-designed seal and aluminium piston interface for ease of setup and improved consistency whilst Bleeding Edge technology makes bleeding Guide Ultimate a quick and easy task.

Fuel disc brake

The 2018 Trek Fuel EX Range



Fuel ex 7

Trek 2018 Fuel Ex 7 29

A Full Suspension Mountain Bike that has had a major capability boost. Fuel EX-7 is the one go-to trail bike for all riders.

  • Alpha Platinum Aluminium frame
  • RockShox Reba RL fork
  • Rear Shock - Fox Performance Float EVOL
  • SRAM NX, 11-speed drivetrain



EX 9.7

Trek 2018 Fuel Ex 9.7 29

The Fuel EX 9.7 29 is a versatile full-suspension trail bike with performance tech where it makes the biggest difference.

  • OCLV Mountain Carbon main frame - 29" and 27.5+ compatible
  • Fork - Fox Rhythm 34 Float
  • Shock - Fox Performance Float EVOL
  • SRAM NX, 11-speed drivetrain



EX 9.9

Trek 2018 Fuel Ex 9.9 29

The Fuel EX 9.9 makes no compromises. A carbon frame, carbon wheels, SRAM's flagship 1x12 drivetrain and FOX Factory Float suspension make this the one carbon full suspension mountain bike that rules every trail. It's fast on XC single-track, light on climbs and stable through the rowdiest terrain you can find.

  • OCLV Mountain Carbon main frame
  • SRAM XX1 Eagle, 12-speed drivetrain
  • SRAM Guide Ultimate carbon hydraulic disc brakes
  • Fox Factory 34 Float/Fox Factory Float EVOL

Project One

For the Fuel EX-9.8 and 9.9 it is possible to create a Project One ride. Project One is Trek's unique customisation service that allows you to select your model, parts and styling to create a truly individual and unique bike that has everything on it that you could ever dream of. Trek will create your bike the way they create every Project One: with the skill that only the most-experienced builders and artists can offer. They claim that "When you ride your Project One, you'll be riding something created by hand by a person who wanted to astonish you, who cared deeply about your vision and who was the only one on Earth who loved your bike before you did.". If its within your budget then it's definitely worth looking at, or you can just create your dream bike on your lunch break and save the Jpeg for motivational purposes during a long week in the office!


Explore Trek Project One >

Further Reading

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