Keen eyes may have spotted Aussie Trek Factory Racing riders Dan McConnell and Bec Henderson riding some prototype bikes early this season, but these were whisked away from sight too fast for us to confirm exactly what we saw.
Did we spy a new XC dually using the EVO/Full Floater suspension system? And was that a carbon hardtail using a decoupled seat tube junction like Trek’s Domane road bike? No way, that’d be too much awesome… Well, turns out it we saw BOTH, actually. They’re both coming for 2016, along with another bike for riders who mightn’t be quite so worried about going as fast as Dan McConnell.
Trek unveil three new bikes: the Top Fuel, Procaliber SL and completely revised Fuel 29
The Top Fuel is back! This incredible race bike disappeared from Trek’s range a few years ago, but for 2016 it’s making a return, replacing the ageing Superfly 100 platform (which we’ve tested extensively). The Top Fuel is entirely new beast with the sole purpose of tearing cross country race tracks apart and setting personal bests on trails all over the place.
It has 100mm of rear travel, adjustable geometry via a Mino Link and weighs only 1900g for the top end carbon frame. It’ll be available in aluminium and a women’s version, too.
The frame design brings the new Top Fuel in line with the rest of the dual suspension range from Trek (and represents a clean departure from the original designs from the Gary Fisher Collection), using the Full Floater/EVO Link controlling the rear shock and the rear wheel pivoting around the concentric ABP Pivot at the rear axle. This suspension system is one of the leading platforms on the market and we welcome its arrival to shorter travel applications.
Both the new Top Fuel and Procaliber SL will use Trek’s ‘Smart Wheel Size’ fit system, assigning the best wheel size to the frame size. Larger frame sizes from 17.5 and up will have 29” wheels while the smaller 15.5 size bike uses more proportional 27.5” wheels. The 29″ Top Fuel will also use the new Boost hub standard – wider hub spacing front and back – creating stiffer 29″ wheels, and adding tyre and chainring clearance, too.
The adjustable geometry is a neat touch – we wish more short-travel bikes came with adjustable geometry to let you dial in the ride performance you want. The geometry numbers are definitely racy – even in the slacker setting, the Top Fuel has a head angle of 70 degrees for razor sharp handling. What’s also cool is that the frame’s designed to accept an internally routed dropper post, which is a nod to the increasing interest in short-travel droppers in this market segment.
Seen the Trek Domane? This impressive endurance road bike frame broke the internet a couple years ago with technology we’d never seen before, but the moment we saw it it had us thinking how well it would translate into a hardtail race bike.
Essentially the new Procaliber SL is a carbon hardtail with up to 11mm of compliance via the IsoSpeed decoupler.
The IsoSpeed decoupler allows the seat tube to pivot and flex independently of the seatstays, taking the sting out of the trail without losing any pedalling power to a rear shock or stiffness to multiple moving parts and pivots. Trek claim the new frame is 70% more compliant than the existing Superfly hardtail.
We can only imagine how much you’ll be able to hammer this bike without it skipping around uncontrollably like a classic race hardtail usually would on loose surfaces. Needless to say we’ll be getting our hands on a test bike as soon as they land in Oz.
The Procaliber SL frame weighs 1012g around 100g heavier than the outgoing Superfly SL. While that figure makes it notably heavier than some of the competition, we’d imagine the compliance benefits will be well and truly worth it. Once again, the Smart Wheelsize System is used, with little wheels for littler riders, and 29″ hoops on frame sizes 17.5″ and up.
Like the Top Fuel, the Procaliber also scores the new internal cable housing system dubbed ‘Control Freak’. It’s Di2 compatible if you’ve got the good stuff, and a large port under the downtube means you’ll able to access and tie the internal cables together inside the frame to reduce unwanted rattling. Clever!
The Procaliber SL will replace the carbon Superfly hardtails, with the aluminium Superfly 5, 6 (WSD), 7 and 8 remaining in the range.
[divider]Fuel EX 29[/divider]
A Flow favourite, but not without a few niggles in our opinion, the Fuel EX 29 scores some nice tweaks for 2016, too. We’ll see Boost hubs to add stiffness, chainstays shortened from 452 down to 437mm (hooray!), the new internal cable management system and Mino Link geometry adjustment.
Interesting to note is that we won’t see Trek’s DRCV on the new Fuel EX 29. With FOX’s new Float DPS / EVOL rear shock, Trek were able to achieve their desired spring curve that was previously only possible with their proprietary DRCV shock. So going forward we’ll see standard shocks on the Fuel EX 29 at least – we wonder if this will also be the case on the Fuel 27.5 and Remedy?
It certainly sounds like Trek have made improvements in the areas that we wanted them to. Mind readers!