Tested: Trek Fuel EX 29 – Project One Bike Arrives

29er All Mountain Trail

Trek Sponsored the Warriors 100k event on 2013 Memorial Day and gave each veteran (many with missing limbs) a Trek Fuel EX 29. More information is available HERE.

The Components

There was a time when Bontrager components held back the Trek bikes. At some of the press events 4+ years ago, we could see some journalists change the saddle to a personal choice that they brought over since they could not stand the stock Bontrager saddles on the test bikes. The same could be said for some of the tires and wheels of the past. Well those days seem like a distant memory as the saddles are now upgraded and optimized for mountain bikess. And even more important, the wheels and tires have come a long way. The tires for this bike are the new Frank Stacy designed Bontrager 29-3 tires. This is a fairly open tire with low height knobs, good transition and excellent cornering knobs. This tire design is a good one on the 26er size but it really seems to find its stride in the 29er wheel size. The Sedona desert is a tough environment for even aggressive tires but the everyone seemed to have no problem going fast and staying upright in the rocky environment.

Bontrager TLR System

We had about forty riders ride out in different waves in Sedona for three days. In the past, this was an inner tube orgy as a ride like this usually entailed about 20-30 flat tires all told. So Trek used the Bontrager TLR system with their awesome rim strip/valve and new sealant. And setting up about 80 bikes, they just used a floor pump. This would be absolute lunacy in normal systems but they showed me how well the tires initially sealed and there was none of the furious pumping usually associated with getting tubeless tires to hold air from a deflated state.

Anyway, the resulting scorecard is only one flat on the trail for a couple hundred rides in the desert. The flat was pumped up with a CO2 on the trail and the tire resealed even as the tire was cut in the casing area under the tire tread.

The Suspension

Travel on the rear is a plush 120 mm of DRCV suspension on a Full Floater platform. This combination gives the bike excellent small bump and medium bump compliance as the two rear shock chambers work in concert to deliver a linear shock rate unlike normal systems that ramp up and get harsh in the middle of the travel. The Full Floater Platform as well gives the shock mount movement so it seems to have more travel that 120mm on big hits.

Pivots are smooth, quiet and free of play in this short test and other long-term tests that we’ve done on the system. And finally, the ABP works well as the suspension seems to remain fairly active under heavy braking.

The front fork from Fox provides 120 mm of travel. Unlike the 26er version, this loses the DRCV technology in the fork so there is only one air chamber though the travel. Fox engineers explained to me that the spring curves of latest Fox 29er fork match the desired rates of the rear shock so there’s no need for DRCV in the front. On our test ride, the front fork wasn’t nearly as plush as our 26er Fuel EX fork so we reserve judgement on this issue. It may be an issue of break-in as the forks we used in Sedona were brand new. We’ll pay attention to this issue in a long-term test.

At the end of the day, the Fuel EX 29 is a great bike. It is a much needed update to the Fuel EX line and we believe this bike will sell very well since it is well conceived and executed. It is not as glamorous or original as the Remedy 29 with 140 mm of travel but the Fuel EX 29 is just the right bike for many, many cyclists.

Icing on the Cake – Project One

If you don’t like the colors or component choices on any of the 5 Fuel EX’s above, how about choosing from thousands of possibilities. Trek Fuel EX 29 is now available in Project One and can be configured and customized to your heart’s desire. Read all about it HERE and give it a test run HERE.

Photo Thumbnails (click to enlarge)

About the author: Francis Cebedo

The founder of mtbr and roadbikereview, Francis Cebedo believes that every cyclist has a lot to teach and a lot to learn. "Our websites are communal hubs for sharing cycling experiences, trading adventure stories, and passing along product information and opinions." Francis' favorite bike is the last bike he rode, whether it's a dirt jumper, singlespeed, trail bike, lugged commuter or ultralight carbon road steed. Indeed, Francis loves cycling in all its forms and is happiest when infecting others with that same passion. Francis also believes that IPA will save America.

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  • Dale Burton says:

    Trek have got this wrong. The Fuel and the Remedy should have been 27.5 bikes. The 29’s are heavier and a lot less maneuverable than the 26 or 27.5 on steep technical trails. Yes, the 29 rolls better, but that’s it. In fact, the whole ethos of the Remedy is lost on a 29’er, by dropping the travel to 140-mm. These bikes are cumbersome, don’t waste your money.

    • stampers says:

      “Don’t waste your money”….how bout don’t waste your time posting speculative gibberish until you’ve actually ridden the bike. Gotta love the fanboys out there who’ve jumped on the the 27.5 band wagon. This guy probably doesn’t even own a 27.5 or 29er. I’ve ridden the fuel and remedy 29ers and they’re both great bikes.

  • stampers says:

    “Waste of money” Mr. Burton…have you test ridden either? Do you even own a 27.5 bike? The difference is marginal over a 26er for trail and all mtn use. 27.5 is a marketing gimmick for those bike companies who missed the 29er revolution to get people to buy a new sled.

    As for the feul and remedy 29ers….I have actually ridden both, in one of the best test beds around, Pisgah National Forest in NC. Both bikes were incredibly fun and stable and a blast on the steep tech descents like Farlow’s Gap and Black Mtn. Granted some will prefer a small wheel if they like to flick the bike around more but Trek has 26ers fuels and remedys to fit that need.

    Oh and last time I checked, the Remedy 29er already had a win in its inaugural race on the Enduro World Series with Tracey Mosley at the helm. Try and test a bike before passing judgement.

    • Dale Burton says:

      Aye Stammer’s,

      Do you know the meaning of a forum? Obviously not, I guess you should look it up… We can have an opinion without being attacked. I must of really got under your skin for you to write twice at that time of the morning. Take it easy mate, it’s just my humble opinion.

      FYI, I have ridden 27.5, 29 and 26 inched bikes. My current Trek Remedy is a 26” bike. Having tried 29 and 27.5 I can’t see me wasting MY money on these bike any time soon. Although I do intend to try different 29 inch makes just to be sure. However, since I generally ride by most people riding 29-ers going up hill, here in the Rockies, I am still doubtful. Yes, they are faster and roll better on UCI courses, but I ride in the real world where terrain is harsh and fitness is vital unless you like walking.

      Anyway, not to labour a point. My personal preference is 26 in wheels. I have Mavic Crossmax ST and Easton Heaven’s. I’ve been riding for 24-yrs and love it…!


      • Shred says:

        I couldn’t agree with you more Dale. 29ers and 27.5 are both marketing creations to get everyone to buy a new bike, even if it is inferior. The bigger wheel sizes are heavier, flexier and they handle like shit compared to 26ers. What was the World Cup DH series won on, oh yea a 26. How about the Enduro series? Yep, that’s right, a 26. 26ers are lighter, stiffer, handle better and most importantly, they’re way more fun to ride. And yes Stampers, I have ridden both. Don’t believe the hype, 26ers rule!!!

  • Bigfoot jr says:

    I prefer the “instability” of the 26 inch wheel, so I guess I’m not a “revolutionist”.

    Trek Racing is known to support drug users.

  • stampers says:

    “Trek racing is known to support drug users”
    Oh you’re sooo principled…this is a mtn bike website btw.

    Yawn…this is old news…and last time I checked just about every road bike company in the world sponsored a doper at some point. You gonna base your next mtb bike purchase on bike features or what road riders did years ago?….have fun with that.

  • roger says:

    yeah i don’t think i’ll be wasting my money on 27 of 29er products in this lifetime! And NO! I won’t be demoing them either, so don’t ask me. Trek and Specialized- they knew about doping…BTW, didn’t UCI just caught someone doping in ENDURO??

  • Jomax says:

    Am I the only one bothered by pictures in major bike distributions (web & print) showing riders skidding around corners?

    We have a hard enough time with our image without shooting ourselves in the foot.

    • mongo says:

      Who cares if you skid around the corner? Have we forgot this is all about FUN? Everybody has different opinions. I still ride a 26″ , I WANT a 27.5″ bike but can only find them at the $ 4000 price point that even approach the quality a completely tricked out 26″wheel bike, . So I guess I will skid around corners and ENJOY the ride. Everything else is irrelevent. By the way ,Trek has some great bikes and Joshua Y O series was their best ever, 26″ wheels and all.

    • Angrier Thirty Speeder says:

      “Am I the only one bothered by pictures in major bike distributions (web & print) showing riders skidding around corners?”

      It’s not just pictures, it’s videos as well. It pisses me off too!!!

  • Check Out smu-fr.org says:

    pretty lovely image.

  • Jon says:

    Not sure if I’d say these are a waste of money, because it’s different strokes for different folks, but I do think that Trek should have shortened things up in the rear end.

    I have a 9.9SSL (26er) and that was one of the gripes I had with the bike…it was just too long and slow head angled. A very decent bike, that could have been better if those details were fine tuned.

  • Wish I Were Riding says:

    I don’t see the lower price points in Project One yet. Bummer. What’s up with that?

  • Rob says:

    The big question I don’t see answered anywhere, warranty?
    If I spend extra on a customer color and for some reason they need to replace the rear triangle for example, will it be in the color combo I originally ordered?
    Countless threads over multiple forums of people complain my bike color A and the new warranty part is color B

  • Dan M says:

    Trek Warranty. 3 Years for Carbon. Lifetime for Alloy.

  • Rob says:

    So Dan that doesn’t really answer the question does it. If 2 years down the road I need a new frame section front or rear, will it be painted to match?
    Don’t assume because bike warranties right now don’t. If thy have one they’ll send it, otherwise you get whatever they have instock.

  • Tom says:

    For a huge company like Trek to do this Project One stuff is amazing, especially bringing it down to lower price point models. They should be applauded.

  • Francis Cebedo says:

    For Warranty, we just got the info from Trek:

    YES, parts will be painted to match. Our standard warranty applies, which includes 1 year for cosmetic defects, 5 years on the stays, and Limited Lifetime on the frame.

  • Spike says:

    Trek Fuel EX 9 29. My wife (aged 69) has just won this in a competition. I (aged 70 and a road biker) will have great fun around the tracks near our home.

  • Brian says:

    Rode a 2014 Fuel 29er in las vegas. its plush, efficient and excellent up hill. but…. it is really long, pulling wheelies is hard and it is the least flickable bike i’ve ever ridden.

    great buck but not for me

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