2020 trek fuel ex 9.8
26 Sep 2019

Trek has completely overhauled its Fuel EX lineup for this season, and to see how it handles our local trails, we've just received a 2020 Trek Fuel EX 9.8 for a long term review.

Introducing The 2020 Trek Fuel EX 9.8

In case you hadn’t heard about one of the biggest bike releases of the year, Trek recently unveiled its revamped trail bike platform; the 2020 Fuel EX. Sitting in between the Top Fuel and the Remedy, the Fuel EX is a 29er trail bike designed for the masses. It’s no XC bike, but it’s also no Enduro race bike either. Instead, this is an everyday trail ripper that’s built to be efficient enough for all-day pedalling, but robust and stable enough for properly rapid descending down technical trails.

2020 trek fuel ex 9.8
Trek has revamped the Fuel EX lineup for 2020.
2020 trek fuel ex 9.8
The Fuel EX remains as Trek’s mid-travel 29er trail bike, but it looks to be more capable than ever before.

There have been a whole swag of changes to the Fuel EX platform for 2020, including a redesigned frame, a move away from the Full Floater suspension design, and an increase in fork travel to 140mm. Rear travel remains at 130mm, and the Fuel EX is still built around 29in wheels, though stock bikes are now coming with humongous 2.6in wide tyres (2019 Fuel EX’s were spec’d with 2.4in wide tyres).

To check out the new 2020 Trek Fuel EX and see what it’s all about, we were invited over to the launch in Italy a few months back. For the full lowdown on the Fuel EX range, and the six models that are coming to Australia, make sure you check out Mick’s excellent first ride review of the Fuel EX 9.9 here.

2020 trek fuel ex 9.8
There’s now a 140mm travel fork, and the head angle is a touch slacker too.

If you’re particularly impatient though, here’s the TL;DR version of the key ingredients that make up the new Fuel EX pie;

2020 Trek Fuel EX Features

  • Available in alloy and carbon frame options
  • Wheelsize: 27.5in (XS & S), 29in (S-XXL)
  • Single pivot suspension design with ABP rear pivot
  • 130mm rear travel
  • 140mm travel fork w/44mm offset
  • 66° head angle
  • 75° seat tube angle
  • Chainstay length: 437mm
  • Reach: 395mm (XS), 415mm (S), 440mm (M), 455mm (ML), 470mm (L), 495mm (XL), 515mm (XXL)
  • Mino Link chip for Hi/Lo geometry positions
  • 1x specific frame design
  • ISCG 05 chainguide tabs
  • Control Freak internal cable routing system
  • Bolt-on downtube armour and integrated chainstay protector
  • Knock Block headset & stem system
  • BITS internal frame storage (carbon frames only)
  • 148x12mm thru-axle dropouts w/removable lever and 6mm hex key
  • Complete bike pricing: $2,999 – $9,499
2020 trek fuel ex 9.8 fox 36 performance grip fork
On the Fuel EX 9.8, you’re getting a Fox 36 Performance Series fork set at 140mm, which is the shortest configuration Fox offers.
2020 trek fuel ex 9.8 fox thru-shaft re:aktiv
The Thru-Shaft shock skips the IFP found in other rear shocks in search of more buttery-plush suspension.

What’s It Wearing?

Following on from the original launch piece, we’ve just received a new 2020 Trek Fuel EX 9.8 for a proper long term review on home soil. This particular bike is one step down from the Kashima-equipped 9.9 model that Mick rode at the launch. It utilises the same OCLV Mountain Carbon frameset, though with a few changes in specification, it drops a healthy $2,500 off the price of the 9.9.

You’re still getting a Fox suspension package, with the chunky 36 Float fork up front and the Thru-Shaft rear shock out back. To save some coin though, it steps down to the all-black Performance Series rather than the blinged-out Factory Series suspension on the Fuel EX 9.9.

2020 trek fuel ex 9.8
Trek has gifted our Medium-sized Fuel EX a 780mm wide carbon bar and a 50mm long stem.

There’s a SRAM GX Eagle 1×12 drivetrain, while Shimano 4-piston brakes are paired up to a huge 203mm rotor up front and a 180mm rotor out back. Wheels come from Bontrager in the form of Line Comp 30s, which utilise carbon fibre rims with a 29mm internal width to support the 2.6in XR4 Team Issue tyres. The rest of the build kit comes from Bontrager too, including a 150mm travel Line Elite dropper post (170mm droppers come on the larger frame sizes) and 780mmm wide carbon bars.

One thing we liked in particular about the build kit on the Fuel EX 9.8, is that the wheels and tyres come setup tubeless out of the box. Literally all you have to do is add a small bottle of tubeless sealant to each tyre, which Trek includes with the bike. How good is that!

Setup tubeless and weighed without pedals, our Medium sized test bike comes in at 13.2kg on the Scales Of Broken Dreams™.

2020 trek fuel ex 9.8 bits internal storage
The ‘BITS’ internal frame storage allows you to stuff the downtube with your spares. It also gives you access to the internal cabling too.
2020 trek fuel ex 9.8
Selling for $6,999, the Fuel EX 9.8 lobs off $2.5K off the top-end 9.9 model with some clever spec changes.

2020 Trek Fuel EX 9.8 Specs

  • Frame | OCLV Mountain Carbon Fibre, ABP Suspension Design, 130mm Travel
  • Fork | Fox 36 Float, Performance Series, GRIP Damper, 44mm Offset, 140mm Travel
  • Shock | Fox Float EVOL w/Thru-Shaft, Performance Series, RE:aktiv Damper, 210x55mm
  • Wheels | Bontrager Line Comp 30, Carbon Rims, 29mm Inner Rim Width
  • Tyres | Bontrager XR4 Team Issue 29×2.6in
  • Drivetrain | SRAM GX Eagle 1×12 w/Descendent 7K 32T Cranks & 10-50T Cassette
  • Brakes | Shimano Deore XT M8120 4-piston, 203mm Front & 180mm Rear Rotors
  • Bar | Bontrager Line Pro, OCLV Carbon, 35mm Diameter, 27.5mm Rise, 780mm Width
  • Stem | Bontrager Line Pro, 35mm Diameter, Knock Block, 50mm Length
  • Seatpost | Bontrager Line Elite Dropper Post, 150mm Travel
  • Saddle | Bontrager Arvada, Austenite Rails
  • Confirmed Weight | 13.2kg (Medium size without pedals)
  • RRP | $6,999
Carbon rims come standard on the Fuel EX 9.8, and they’re wrapped with high volume 2.6in Bontrager XR4 Team Issue tyres.
2020 trek fuel ex 9.8
It certainly looks the goods, and we’re looking forward to many more rides aboard this new generation EX!

We’ll be putting the 2020 Trek Fuel EX 9.8 through the wringer this coming season, starting with a trip over to Beechworth this week. Stay tuned for more updates on how we get on with Trek’s latest 29er trail ripper, though if you’ve got any questions for us about it, make sure you pop them into the comments section and we’ll do our best to answer them for you!


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