Trek redesigns Fuel EX 29, brings IsoSpeed to dirt with Procaliber hardtail

First look at Trek's 2016 XC and trail line

Trek’s new cross-country bikes have been announced and look set to challenge the competition. The Fuel EX 29 range receives incremental changes, and the new Top Fuel replaces the Superfly FS. Trek also announce the all new Procaliber XC race machine, a bike that takes the IsoSpeed technology from the company's road line.

2016 Fuel EX 29

Trek’s new Fuel EX 29 boasts lots of new features, including adopting the new Boost hub spacing – Boost110 at the front and Boost148 at the back – for the Fuel EX 8 29 and above. Trek are claiming greater wheel stiffness thanks to shortened chainstays, while providing better tyre and chainring clearance. Trek has chosen to use the new Fox Float EVOL shocks, doing away with its previous custom-bodied (and costly) DRCV dampers. The cost savings mean the models from the EX 8 and up get RE:aktiv damping systems in the rear shock.

The new carbon Top Fuels come with Di2 compatibility, meaning those with a penchant for electronic gears can easily upgrade their current drivetrain, or carry over from an existing bike. ‘Control Freak’ cable management helps keep all of your cables routed internally through the frame – there’s a port under the downtube allowing you to secure cables, stopping that annoying rattle some bikes are plagued with.

Geometry adjustment mino link, full floater and evo link: geometry adjustment mino link, full floater and evo link
Geometry adjustment mino link, full floater and evo link: geometry adjustment mino link, full floater and evo link

Mino Link comes to the Trek Fuel EX 29

The Fuel EX 29 range also comes with the Mino Link that Trek's longer-travel bikes have donned for years. This means riders can adjust the bike’s geometry half a degree at the head tube approximately 8mm at the bottom bracket. The Fuel EX also gets a geometry overhaul. The head angle has been slackened out to 68.8 degrees from 69.4, and the bottom bracket height sits at 335mm. Chainstays have been shortened to 437mm – the same as the 27.5in Fuel EX. Trek claims that this has made the bike more playful.

The largest tyre you can run on a Fuel EX 29 is a 2.4in, the biggest 1X front ring you can crank is a 36t. The EX 8 29 and up have ISCG 05-tabs for riders wishing to run a chainguide or bashguard. 

The new Fuel EX 29 OCLV carbon gains just 30 grams from the previous model – Trek claims the weight-gain is eclipsed by the increase in stiffness. Trek claims an 11 percent increase in bottom bracket stiffness and 14 percent increases in stiffness across the whole frame. In addition to stock models, the carbon Fuel EX 29 will be available in Project One, Trek’s in-house spec and paint customisation, this August.

Procaliber SL

Trek's new procaliber xc race machine ready to roll - pictured is the 2016 9.9 sl: trek's new procaliber xc race machine ready to roll - pictured is the 2016 9.9 sl
Trek's new procaliber xc race machine ready to roll - pictured is the 2016 9.9 sl: trek's new procaliber xc race machine ready to roll - pictured is the 2016 9.9 sl

The Procaliber 9.9 SL

The brand new Procaliber SL (Super Light) touts itself as a ultra-compliant XC race bike, using Trek's seat-tube decoupling IsoSpeed technology brought over from Trek’s road bikes – the 2012 Domane and 2014 Boone (and now 2016 Madone).

The isospeed's pivot allows for up to 11mm of 'travel': the isospeed's pivot allows for up to 11mm of 'travel'
The isospeed's pivot allows for up to 11mm of 'travel': the isospeed's pivot allows for up to 11mm of 'travel'

Trek's IsoSpeed reaches mountain bikes

The IsoSpeed allows substantial flex at the seat tube for improved seated compliance, meaning the bike still rides like a hardtail when out of the saddle. Trek claim the Procaliber SL offers up to 11mm of ‘travel’ at the seattube to remove trail buzz and harsher hits. Trek boasts a 70% improvement of compliance over the Superfly SL.

The Procaliber's IsoSpeed system can be used with a traditional 31.6 seat post, not the specialist seat mast system seen on the road bikes. Trek confirmed the Procaliber SL frameset with hardware will weigh 1012 grams, a small increase over the Superyfly SL of last year.

Like the Top Fuel, the Procaliber SL also uses size-specific wheel sizing – the 15.5” bike gets 650b wheels, while 17.5” and above get 29” wheels. Additionally, Boost 110 and 148 are both present on the new Procaliber – expect relatively short chainstays – 425mm for the 650b bike, and 435mm for the 29er.

The Procaliber is based around a 100mm travel fork with a 51mm offset (known as G2 Geometry), giving, Trek claim, the best handling 29ers around. The Procaliber can be run using up to a 36 tooth chainring in 1X setup. Control Freak cable routing is also present, allowing full internal cable routing, Di2 compatibility and the option to fit a stealth dropper seat post. Project One is also an option, from August 2015, on the Procaliber bike, and a frameset option is also available.

Trek Top Fuel returns

Read our detailed first ride review of the 2016 Top Fuel 9.9 SL here.

Trek's top fuel 9.9 sl in all it's glory - a bike we've already written a first ride review on : trek's top fuel 9.9 sl in all it's glory - a bike we've already written a first ride review on
Trek's top fuel 9.9 sl in all it's glory - a bike we've already written a first ride review on : trek's top fuel 9.9 sl in all it's glory - a bike we've already written a first ride review on

The Trek Top Fuel 9.9 SL

The range-topping new Top Fuel is a multi-wheel-sized platform that takes over from the Superfly FS. The bikes wheel size is dependent on frame size – the 15.5” bike gets proportional 650b wheels, while the 17.5” and bigger frames receive the 29” wheels. The new carbon bike also gets the Evo link (one-piece rocker) and Full Floater suspension system, attaching the shock to two moving points. The suspension has been finely tuned for improved performance over different terrain types. The Fuel still uses Trek's ABP – Active Braking Pivot – separating the braking forces from the suspension. The Top Fuel in 29er guise, like the Fuel EX 29, gets Boost 148/110 hub spacing.

Trek’s XC race team have had the bike in prototype form since the start of the race season in February – developing the bike to have 100mm of XC-tuned travel. The Top Fuel carbon frame with hardware, paint and shock is weighing in at a claimed 1900g.

The Top Fuel, like the Fuel EX 29 is Di2 compatible and has ‘Control Freak’ cable management built in – this allows it to run an internally routed dropper post, like the Reverb Stealth. The Top Fuel also shares the Mino Link with the Fuel EX 29, offering the same amount of geometry adjustment (1/2 degree of head angle adjustability and +-8mm of BB adjustment).

The Top Fuel is also available in a women’s specific model – the Top Fuel 8 Women's. The bike shares most of its features with the men’s model, but comes with women’s-specific touch points and a different paintjob.

The carbon Top Fuel is also available in Trek’s Project One customisation scheme from August 2015. The carbon Top Fuel will be available as a frameset with carbon seastays and chainstays and will come in the standard 9.9 colour scheme. Like the Fuel EX 29, you’ll be able to run up to a 36 tooth 1X gearing setup or an 2X combination. 

No more BB95

On a side note, Trek has quietly moved away from its longstanding BB95 bottom bracket design, in which the cartridge bearings themselves pressed directly into the shell. The new bikes now use the more common PF92 system, which uses press-fit cup-and-bearing assemblies. More importantly, this means the new bikes will finally accept many of the newer crankset systems on the market that use 30mm-diameter spindles, such as from Race Face, Rotor, and others.

Model range and global pricing

Model UKUS$AUD$
2016 Fuel EX 29 Carbon Frameset£2400US$3469AU$TBC
2016 Fuel EX 5 29£1450US$2089AU$2299
2016 Fuel EX 7 29£1900US$2629AU$3099
2016 Fuel EX 8 29£2250US$3049AU$3499
2016 Fuel EX 9 29£3000US$4199AU$4799
2016 Fuel EX 9.8 29£3750US$5569AU$5999
2016 Fuel EX 9.9 29£6000US$8799AU$N/A
2016 Procaliber 9.7 SL£2250US$3679AU$4199
2016 Procaliber 9.8 SL£3400US$4729AU$5999
2016 Procaliber 9.9 SL£6000US$8399AU$8999
2016 Procaliber SL Frameset£1800US$2629AU$N/A
2016 Top Fuel 8£2250US$2729AU$3199
2016 Top Fuel 8 Women's£2250US$2729AU$3199
2016 Top Fuel 9£3000US$4199AU$TBC
2016 Top Fuel 9.8 SL£3750US$5249AU$6099
2016 Top Fuel 9.9 SL£6800US$9449AU$9999
2016 Top Fuel SL C Frameset£2400US$3469AU$N/A

For further details, visit trekbikes.com.

Alex has been riding bikes since he was knee-high to a grasshopper. He first raced back in 2003, winning the Juvenile category on a sketchy hard tail Planet X bike. Alex lived in the Alps for seven years so isn't shy of a climb or two and loves getting out in his bike in all weather. His favorite thing to ride is steep loamy tracks with loads of opportunities to slam the bike into turns and really give it some frame bending welly! He's broken his fair share of frames, so any bike between his knees is going to get a right seeing to.
  • Discipline: DH, Enduro, XC, BMX, Road
  • Preferred Terrain: Epic descents covered in the world's finest loam and hero dirt
  • Current Bikes: Nukeproof Mega 275 / Giant Anthem Advanced 275 1 / LeMond Reno / Deluxe Pro 2 BMX
  • Dream Bike: Giant ATX 1 DH (1999 model)
  • Beer of Choice: Teetotal
  • Location: Bristol, UK

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