Trek Bikes Top Fuel 9.8  2010 Mountain Bike Review

Trek Bikes Top Fuel 9.8 2010

Reviews / XC Bikes

Trek Bikes 1,555,501

At a glance

Trek have made huge strides over the past few years and now they are amongst the top bike producers in the world with innovative design and plenty of R and D setting their products apart.

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The Trek Top Fuel 9.8 is the second in command of their 100mm XC race range and it certainly looks the part.

Tech heads

The frame is pretty much the same as last years which is to say it is pretty much all Treks OCLV carbon with the exception of the alloy chain stays and the one piece magnesium Evo Link rocker. The frame is laterally very stiff which allows the suspension to get on with its job with very little sideways twang.

Numbers for the Top Fuel are head angle 70º, seat angle 73.5º with an effective top tube of 585mm, chain stays are 427mm, the wheel base is 1091mm and the BB height is 327mm.

New for 2010 is the introduction of a Race Cam Fox RP23 BV with ProPedal, this is where the improvements to the Top Fuel performance come from. An improvement to the Boost Valve damping system and a clever shock tune mean that you get a bike that pedals better and has a tauter more controlled feel yet still feels open and supple.

Up front a Fox 32 F-series Remote RL QR fork helps keep the front tracking well.

Drivetrain is XT throughout as are the brakes and the finishing kit includes Bontrager RXL 100mm stem which is mated to a beautiful Race Face Next SL bar that is a lo rise 660mm version.

The seat pin is a superb Bontrager XXX with a Bontrager RL saddle which is a little soft but still comfortable.

Wheels are from Bontrager as well and are the RL model and these come wrapped in a set of Bontrager XR1 2.0 tyres. These are top end speed demon tyres from Bontrager, be aware that on anything other than hard pack soil they will be ‘a bit loose’. When it gets damp change the shoes on this thing!

Our 17.5’’ bike weighed in at 23.8lbs without pedals on our scales.

On the trail

A few tweaks to get the shocks sorted and it was off into the woods to see whether the Trek could live up to its billing as one of the best 100mm race rigs on the market.

There is no doubt that the Trek is a fast bike but we could not really push it hard until we had swapped the tyres out.

With a bit more traction we were off to enjoy some intimate racing round a mixed circuit on a pretty steep hillside and it was on the ups that the Trek really shone, on smooth climbs the bike pretty much flew up without the need to reach for the ProPedal lever, there is a fair bit of traction when climbing over roots but once the surface became loose then a tendency to spit gravel and rocks showed itself, smooth pedalling helped but choppy peddlers will struggle.

Through flat sections the Trek offers a good balance between eliminating trail buzz and dealing with bigger knocks and we found we could carry speed well and felt reasonably fresh after blasts on the Top Fuel.

Point the bike down an incline and it will get you through but if you hit long stretches of technical terrain you will know about it as it is overcome and control diminishes.

Overall on a mixture of terrain though this bike will make anyone pedal faster and ride harder. It is lightening quick off the mark and keen to carry that speed on through the trail.

For

A lightweight, stiff frameset with state of the art suspension and quality kit, the Trek does exactly what it promises; it offers efficient, controlled trail manners, blistering pace and exudes a feel of quality.

Against

There is very little to criticize, the kit is all good and there is no doubting the fact that Trek have the Top Fuel performing very close to perfectly… The only thing that we can say is that while we all enjoyed riding the Trek not everyone fell in love with it. Maybe it’s the looks, function over fashion play a role here.

Overall

Trek keep making their bikes just that little bit better and they really do have a very good bike on their hands with the Top Fuel.

It is an awesome machine that eats the miles and does it at speed and if I can get my hands on one for some pretty long endurance rides I am doing through the summer I do not doubt that it would knock big chunks of time off the rides.

Whether you are a romantic or a fan of efficiency you cannot fail to be impressed with what is a superb package.

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This review was in Issue 6 of IMB.

For more information visit Trek Bikes

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By Nigel Garrood
Nigel Garrood was one of the instigators of the IMB project and has been with us since the very beginning. This loveable rogue has more stories than the Bible and is known to enjoy a beer or two. On the bike, he’s fast and loose and often puts younger riders to shame. Equally he’s been known to suffer from the odd crash and carries the scars to prove it. He was once referred to as being a robot sent from the future to save us all!

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