Trek Bikes Fuel EX 9.9  2011 Mountain Bike Review

Trek Bikes Fuel EX 9.9 2011

Reviews / Trail Bikes

Trek Bikes 1,642,047

At A Glance

When Rou wheeled the new Trek into the office and announced we had got our hands on the first one in the country I thought, great! I quickly relieved him of it and offered to give it a run out. He then chose to mention that it was Tracy Moseley's trail bike, mmmm I thought, maybe some of her skill will rub off on me. As I was setting the bike up I was struck at just how understated it looks, there is no flash livery and few colour coded anodised trick bits. But at £6000 the ultra high spec frame is covered in top of the range kit and leans quietly towards function rather than form.

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Tech heads

The heart of the machine is the frame and Trek have been tweaking it for some time now and this years EX 9.9 has been improved once again. Trek have come up with a revamp of their OCLV carbon that has a higher resistance to impact than previous incarnations, they test it by whacking the frame with a pointed anvil... ouch, this simulates a high speed rock strike. This new OCLV Mountain Carbon now extends beyond the main frame with the seat and chain stays now being made of carbon, this has helped trim 100g off the frame weight. Trek were obviously happy with the bikes dimensions, as geometry is the same as last year as are tube lengths.

There is a new rear axle set up with Trek using a 142mm x 12mm ABP Convert system, a conversion kit for 135mm x 9mm is available. The DRCV shock remains and the Fox 32 F-Series Fit RLC 120mm fork has a custom piston/shim set up that the guys at Trek say offers better performance over the standard Fox.

Drivetrain is the top SRAM XX offering with 2 x 10 speed, XX kit covers braking duties too and the wheelset is a lightweight set of DT Swiss XM 1550 Tricon.

The finishing kit is all high end Bontrager.

On our scales without pedals the medium Fuel EX weighed 22.6lbs

On the trail

It is a shame that the first couple of times I got out on the 9.9 conditions hadn’t dictated that speed was not going to be the order of the day. Claggy mud and snow slush could not hide the fact that this bike accelerates quickly for a 120mm rig, effort is transferred to propulsion with aplomb and even after a couple of hours churning through the winter gloop I felt fresh and ready for more. On the second ride out I managed to find some faster and more technical terrain and this is where the Trek really shone, things were still very slippery but the bike has great traction both on the ups and when powering over off camber roots.

Climbing is a doodle on the EX and on undulating trails it is a pure pleasure to ride flat out, speed suits this bike when flying along hillside traverses. When the time comes to head down hill you can push harder than you would think possible, the suspension allows you to keep control for longer than a 120mm bike should, it is at this point that I found myself wishing for a degree of the head angle so that I could just push that little bit more but in truth I was already at mach 2. Speed sums the bike up well, put the pedal down and you instantly feel the power being transferred to the wheels. The stiff frame and excellent suspension set up mean you don’t really lose any energy. This makes it quick and light on the trails with a nimble feel when chucking it round corners.


I am getting used to the 2 x 10 speed format and the shock and fork are excellent, the wheels tracked straight and true so there is nothing wrong with the kit. The frame is stiff, light and strong enough to be hit with a pointed anvil!
The combination of the top kit and lighter frame add up to an overall weight loss of around 2lbs, which is impressive.
For a 6 grand bike the Trek looks understated, get it out on the trails and really give it some beans and you realise that what you have here is a high end thoroughbred that is as versatile as any bike out there, a lot of money yes but it is a lot of bike!

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This review was in Issue 10 of IMB.

For more information visit Trek Bikes


By George Woodward

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