The Top Fuel 9.8 WSD works equally well as an ultimate race day steed or pleasingly rapid trail bike, If you can’t stamp your authorty on the pack with this walletful of featherweight carbon and high-end parts, then it's time to hang up your SPDs and go back to training wheels.
Ride & handling: Can feel skittish at first but the superb suspension will take you far
Trek have introduced slightly longer top tubes on their top-end WSD (Women's Specific Design) bikes, recognising that female riders prepared to spend this much on a bike are likely to be experienced and therefore not put off by more race-oriented frame geometry.
This doesn’t mean that you’ll need to stretch to reach the bars, though; the cockpit remains within easy reach and there’s plenty of standover room too.
The new shape pays off with a more balanced riding position that avoids the teetering feel associated with some shorter full-suspension bikes and matches up with the superb suspension performance to get the tyres hooking up right when you want them to.
It’s awesomely tight when climbing and we rarely thought about reaching for the lockout on the custom-tuned shock; there’s very little mush when you’re winching away and more benefit to be found in letting the rubber dig into the hill than stifling the shock’s performance.
While the Top Fuel does feel like the 100mm bike that it is, we enjoyed riding it just as much on all-day hacks as we did on test loop hot laps. It’s capable enough to guide you through some pretty severe trail challenges without abandonment, and when given its head, it simply loves to run.
Frame: High-tech carbon chassis is ready to race
The Top Fuel frame features Trek’s latest carbon and suspension technology, and the WSD chassis is exactly the same as the regular version, but in a shorter package more suited to riders who fit the traditional female stereotype of longer legs/shorter upper body.
This means you benefit from a massively stiff (and mind-blowingly beautiful) bottom bracket shell, the compactness of which should suit smaller riders well, as well as Trek’s tried and tested OCLV Red Carbon layup.
An up-to-date, custom-tuned “Race Cam” Fox Float RP23 shock with Boost Valve makes the most of the superior traction offered by the ABP Race pivot design, which is just as effective here as it is on the well-loved Fuel EX platform.
The combined effect of all this technology is just as devastating as it should be for the price, with the Top Fuel’s ability to rip up the climbs with maximum efficiency more than matched by its ability to smooth the way down the other side.
Equipment: Benchmark XT and Fox kit makes for a reliable build
The slightly lardy Bontrager Race WSD saddle is a little out of place perched atop such a race machine but can easily be swapped for something more suitable.
Shimano’s flagship Deore XT groupset has the bases well and truly covered when it comes to drivechain and braking; both systems functioned impeccably, although a smattering of XTR here and there would flatter the bike’s intentions.
The whole package rolls on Bontrager’s excellent Race Lite wheelset. Fox’s 100mm F-Series fork is buttery smooth once bedded in, though a stiffer and more secure QR15 lower would have suited the bike – and its price – well.