Trek announced an all-new Fuel EX for 2020, aimed as their high-performance trail mountain bike. With longer travel than the XC-focused Top Fuel, it has larger tire clearance and slacker geometry to smooth out trails that aren’t suited for short travel. Trek also opted for larger fork uppers on top models, along with beefy Shimano brakes at all prices.
2020 Trek Fuel EX trail mountain bike
Trek’s full suspension mountain bike lineup is getting fairly crowded – or well rounded – depending on how you look at it. The Top Fuel is the short-travel XC king of Trek’s line (or is it?) – with the new 2020 Fuel EX gaining a bit more travel to become a pure trail MTB. We got a close look at the new ride at Trek’s global launch in Galzignano Terme, Italy.
Starting with the basics, the frame has gotten longer and slacker, aiming for improved prowess on rough trails and bigger hits.
Along with that, the fork travel has increased to 140mm, with a beefier fixed lower shock mount out back delivering 130mm of travel…more on that in a minute. Tire clearance has increased to 2.6″, with the Bontrager XR4 Team Issue 2.6″ coming stock on all models. As is the trend these days, the frame is now only compatible with single chainring drivetrains.
On to the nuts and bolts, Trek has added room for longer dropper posts – 100mm on XS and SM frames, 150mm on MD and larger sizes, and 170mm on LG and XL 9.8 and 9.9 models.
Trek uses their handy internal storage system, which includes a side-swipe bottle cage and Bontrager tool roll (though you must purchase the items to fill the roll – i.e. CO2, etc).
The rear suspension has been revised and stiffened, with some important details. While it may sound simple, Trek reports that it was a big project to have Fox add a numbered rebound knob, so you know exactly how you’re setting up your shock (this actually adds some not-so-insignificant steps during shock manufacturing to ensure consistent adjustments). Detail geeks rejoice!
Also: Trek’s Mino link adjusts head tube angle and bottom bracket height, to help tune for your specific trail needs (it comes stock in the high position).
Front suspension has moved to 140mm on all models, with the top spec receiving Fox 36 forks for improved stiffness and trail rad-ness.
Trek moved to a Shimano-exclusive brake spec, with 4-piston calipers on higher-end builds. The rear triangle has Trek’s active braking pivot at the rear axle, to keep the suspension active while braking.
The head tube uses Trek’s Knock Block to limit the bar turning angle (helping to avoid downtube damage), while their Control Freak cable routing accommodates both mechanical shifting and Di2.
Drivetrain is now 1x only on the Fuel EX – and we noticed some very tight clearance between the chain and the top of the chainstay while in the 10t small cog (on the order of 1-2mm). Max chainring size is 34t.
Bottom brackets have been a hot topic with Trek bikes lately, with the 2020 Domane switching to T47. However Trek’s confirmed that the Fuel EX uses the Press Fit BB92 standard, not T47.
Similar to the new Domane, Trek has moved to a gender-neutral sizing system for the Fuel EX, with two colors available on all models. Note that Small size frames get the choice of either 27.5″ or 29″ wheels.
Model Spec & Pricing
Not all models are available in all countries – in particular a non-US Fuel EX 9.9 XO1 AXS electronic build coming in at €9,099. There are also some Shimano drivetrain builds that are build-to-order ONLY – inquire with your local dealer for details.
The Fuel EX carbon frameset runs $3,299, including the rear shock, headset, and stem.
The Fuel EX 9.9 XO1 comes in at $7,499 USD complete, or get it with XX1 AXS wireless for $9,999.
The Fuel EX 9.8 GX has a SRAM GX drivetrain, coming in at $5,499.
The Fuel EX 9.7 has a SRAM GX and NX mixed build, coming in at $4,099.
On to the aluminum side of things, the alloy frameset will run you a cool $1,999.
The Fuel EX 8 has a SRAM GX drivetrain, coming in at $3,499.
The Fuel EX 7 uses SRAM NX all-around, at a price of $2,899.
Finally, the Fuel EX 5 has Shimano Deore M6000 10-speed (42t max cog), at a price of $2,099 complete.
Trek will also offer the Fuel EX in the custom Project One program, with availability TBD. All stock models will become available during Q4 of 2019.