Boasting one of the most recognizable mountain bike factory teams in the world, Trek knows how to build a fast ride. For 2020, its flagship Top Fuel grows into a longer-travel, more capable machine with the ability to be ridden beyond the boundaries of traditional cross-country racing. The design changes are in response to a changing off-road racing landscape, and the growing call for a bike to do more than go fast. The Top Fuel has long been the bike of choice for speed and efficiency for cross-country and marathon racing. The new models combine Top Fuel’s deep race heritage with additional suspension travel and slacker geometry to harness the confident control of a longer-travel bike and efficiency of snappy XC race bike.
Trek Top Fuel 9.9 2020 Highlights
- Marathon race ready: light, capable, and outfitted with top of the line components
- Wider Kovee Pro 30 wheels provide super reliable tire support with lower pressure
- Smooth ride, 120/115 combo of Fox Factory Float EVOL 34 Step-Cast and Fox Factory Float DPS damper keep the chatter down
- Updated Flip-Chip allows the rider to fine-tune geometry and handling
- Price: $8,999.99 – $9,499.99
- Sizes: S, M, M/L, L, XL, (size medium tested)
- Weight: 25.3lbs
- Available for purchase HERE
Trek Top Fuel – What’s New For 2020
Treks’ new Top Fuel boasts longer travel, a new suspension design, and updated geometry that is well-suited to racing and a whole lot more. With the introduction of the race-focused Supercaliber, the Top Fuel is moving from away from a race day only bike towards a daily shred whippet.
This change in design moves Top Fuel from a bike only racers appreciate to a fast and capable short-travel trail bike that Trek feels is perfect for fast trail riding and endurance racing. Earlier last spring, US Marathon Mountain Bike National Champion Payson McElveen (Orange Seal Off-road) rode the new Top Fuel to a new record on the 100-mile White Rim Trail in Utah’s Canyonlands National Park, beating the previous record by nearly 15 minutes. Proof in the concept that Treks new Top Fuel can shred for miles and still be comfortable to ride.
Trek Top Fuel 9.9 Build Details
- Fork Fox Factory Float EVOL 34 Step-Cast TwistLoc remote 120 mm
- Shock Fox Factory Float DPS damper, TwistLoc remote 115
- Brakes SRAM Level Ultimate 180/180 mm
- Drivetrain SRAM XX1 Eagle, 12 speed
- Seatpost Bontrager Line Elite Dropper
- Stem Bontrager Kovee Pro 35 mm
- Handlebar Bontrager Line Pro, OCLV Carbon, 35mm
- Wheels Bontrager Kovee Pro 30 carbon
- Tires Bontrager XR3 Team Issue 2.40″
Each model in the new Top Fuel lineup features a wider handlebar and shorter stem over previous models, a dropper post, and a TwistLoc dual remote lockout. The new lockout aims to make it easy to simultaneously lock the front and rear suspension for sprints and climbs. The shorter stem comes with an update in reach. The New Top Fuel arrives with a 35mm stem—previous models arrived with an 80mm. Compared to its predecessor, the new Top Fuel has a nearly an 11mm longer reach moving from 427/436mm to 440/445mm reach – depending on chip orientation.
All-new Top Fuels come decked out in SRAM 12-speed Eagle components with a 32-tooth chainring. A departure from last year’s model, Top Fuels from size small to XXL arrives with 29-inch wheels – something that Trek has adjusted within the past using its Smart Wheel sizing, which supplied smaller bikes with 27.5-inch wheels to accommodate trail and standover height. Trek feels the new Top Fuel is as much about capability as it is speed. Since most riders stand up and move around on the bike a lot more, playing into the nibble handling, Trek went with 29-inch wheels on all sizes, feeling confident the 29-inch wheel at speed is more natural for shorter riders to roll over trail obstacles faster.
Top Fuel Ride Impressions
As someone who raced a Trek Top Fuel for many years, I was more than excited to see the updates and improvements to my ride-or-die race bike. I have to admit, it did sting a bit to know the name that used to be the pinnacle of race performance at Trek now describes a short-travel trail/down-country/marathon bike. What I didn’t know: this bike is exactly what the new generation of aggressive cross-country racers needs.
Our Top Fuel arrived in a stunning Racing Red Trek Factory Racing paint job with a race-ready build package suitable for anyone looking to go fast. My first ride on the Top Fuel was on familiar local trails with little to no climbing—I wanted my first ride to be on trails I’ve ridden on my previous Top Fuel countless times. The sensations were near with same, but when the roots and rocks arrived, this bike gobbled them up with zero hesitation. There was no sinking feeling into the bike, I felt like I was on top of the gear the whole time actually speeding up though gnarly features. The updated linkage and shock orientation allow for an active yet efficient rear end, and the 120mm Fox Factory with 34mm stanchions certainly helps with steering precision.
Let’s be clear: the Top Fuel rides much more like a cross-country bike than a long-travel trail bike or an enduro race bike, though the new bike does lean a bit more in that direction. For 2020, Trek steepened the seat tube from 74-degrees to 75-degrees, said to give the bike a solid pedaling feel along with the updated forward main pivot. Compared to the previous Top Fuel, the differences in geometry are significant. In the low position, the head angle is slackened to 67.5-degrees. Combined with the longer reach, the new Top Fuel is a very different beast. Trek’s signature Full Floater suspension has gone, the way of 580mm bars, and is replaced with a fixed lower shock mount to improve frame stiffness and increase clearance to fit a 29×2.4″ tire. The race pedigree instilled from its predecessor is notable on long flat sections of trail and gravel. The pedaling efficiency is high, and the acceleration is something you would expect from a much racer bike. The build lends to this ride characteristic, the Bontrager Kovee PR0 30 wheels spin up fast for what could be considered a trail wheelset, and they maintain speed over obstacles with ease.
I noticed the slacker head angle and a longer reach descending immediately. The confidence and control on rough descents are new for the Top Fuel. The new frame design allows for an aggressive stance without taking away the ability to react quickly to trail feedback and terrain changes. The front end responds quickly to rider input and tracks decisively. Part of this is the new 13-degree stem spec on all the Trek Top Fuel, designed to work with the frames new slack head tube angle 67.5/68 degrees depending on how you flip the chip. For those that would like to take the Top Fuel from race to rowdy, its as simple as flipping the stem and sending it. Also new to the Top Fuel is the addition of a dropper post, all Top Fuels arrive with a Bontrager Line Elite Dropper post with Bontrager’s thumb trigger engagement. A dropper post is necessary for a ride such as this, and the Bontrager Line can hold it’s own amongst the dropper elite – though, near the end of the review period, the Line dropper did develop a small knock that out mechanics were unable to service out.
Rocks – Roots – Rowdy
In the rock of West Virginia, there was no denying the Top Fuel was faster than its predecessor and could climb with the spandex crowd. The ability to fix a 2.4-inch tire is a massive improvement for those looking to spend hours on end within marathon races. The steering is still precise—emboldening the rider to rail through corners and skip over roots and rocks, keeping the gaze forward for the next challenge. Though the 120/115mm of travel does make the bike more forgiving, the Top Fuel is still is nimble and lively. The Trek 9.9 Top Fuel build is luxurious, and something that helps with the fabulous ride, but it is not crucial to Top Fuel’s fun and efficient ride.
The SRAM Eagle XX1 setup shifts precisely, and the gearing is on-point for the intended use. SRAM’s featherweight Level Ultimate brakes with 180/160 mm rotors were more than enough for a cross-country nerd like me and paired well with the spirit of the Top Fuel 9.9 build.
The only downside that I experienced is the Grips Shift RockShox dual-lockout system. Since the Top Fuel arrives with a Bontrager Dropper post with a thumb actuated lever, this is the only option for a lockout. The system works as intended, and my issue comes with the release and engagement. The gloss finish on the Bontrager carbon bars allows the grip shift lever to slip when attempting to engage, even when properly torqued. Beyond that, the cable heads frequently stutter when releasing, taking longer for the fork and shock to return to open. I am a massive fan of the Fox push-button lockout system and can see an argument for an upgrade, through a change in the dropper lever would be needed as well.
Trek Top Fuel 9.9 Verdict
Trek’s new Top Fuel is just what the doctor ordered, fast and furious on the descents, while not wasting effort on the climbs. Though this bike is most effective as a marathon race bike, it’s also a great option for all-day trail rides. The new Trek Top Fuel could be an advantage on some of today’s more technical cross-country racecourses. For racers who are less confident on technical descents but rocket up climbs, the Top Fuel propels you to another level of performance. I sincerely recommend this to cross-country racers that are a bit enduro-curious and think that a longer travel bike is in their near future. This do-it-all design is sure to bring smiles for miles.
To see the entire Top Fuel line and for more info check out TrekBikes.com