Tested: Trek Fuel EX 29 – Project One Bike Arrives

29er All Mountain Trail

Update: Sept. 10, 2013

Our Trek Fuel 29er Project One test bike has arrived and we could not be more pleased. Project One is Trek’s custom bike program where the user can configure a bike with a million different frame, color and component options. The process of selecting a color was daunting for us non-creative types so we solicited the input of our users to come up with some cool designs. We ended up with a about a dozen brilliant designs but we settled on this one cause it is ‘money!’ And we think it will look really cool in the redwood forest specially in the mist when the errant ray of sunlight hits it. Check here for an overview of the Project One process.

When we did our configuration and by the time your read this, the configurations for Project One were quite expensive with only carbon available and most setups costing over $8000. But Trek has expanded the offering and will be offering Project One in aluminum frames and lower price points. After all, everyone, not just the wealthy would rather have a personalized bike with custom paint and components that are optimized for one’s style.

Component highlights for this bike include the SRAM XO 1×11 drivetrain which is the revolutionary single front chainring system by SRAM but in a lower cost platform. This is the best product introduced last year as it functional, light and it doesn’t drop the chain. It drops the chain even less than a bike with a front derailleur. This drivetrain is mated to an XT brake system cause Shimano just rules the braking category right now in terms of performance and value.

And finally the latest wheels by Bontrager are in this package. Bontrager has redesigned their wheels from the ground-up to a deliver a package that is lighter, stiffer, more reliable and attractive. More to come on these later.

How did the bike look compared to the visual example on the Project One website? Pretty close we think. The painted bike is shown here https://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/projectone/#bikerack/1181339

Our spec for the test bike is part of a new effort to bring the Project One offering to a lower price point that is more attainable for most folks. Highlights are an aluminum frame with with Shimano XT and SRAM XO components. These new frame and component options will be available on Sep 19, 2013. Our build is as follows:

Crank: X01 32 teeth, 175mm length
Rotors: 180mm in the front, 160mm in the rear
Stem: RXL 70mm, 7 degree rise
Handlebar: Rhythm Elite – 750mm/5mm rise
Saddle: Standard width Evoke RL
Wheels: Rhythm Elite
Tires: XR3 TLR
Seatpost: Reverb Stealth
Shock: Fox Evolution Series
Fork: Fox Performance Series – Black
Brakes: Shimano XT

How is the bike so far?

Three rides in and the bike has been flawless. We love the 50mm stem length and 740mm bars that we spec’ed. The wide saddle fits too perfectly too. The XR3 tires are huge and fast and they will work well year round. But we’d like to put an XR4 in the front for the next couple of months while our bone-dry trails remain powdery.

The SRAM 1×11 drivetrain mated with the Shimano brakes fits and works perfectly. We only wish that we spec’d a right hand dropper post lever so we could put it on the underside on the left hand to take the place of the absent front shifter. And finally, we like that the frame is aluminum to save cost and we put the money in the high-end Bontrager Rhythm Elite wheels that they are now producing. All in all, we loved the process of having fun with colors, getting creative with spec and now just rallying with the bike.

Go to the next page for our ride report of the bike in Sedona, AZ.

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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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