The new Trek 2020 Fuel EX has been designed from the ground up, ditching the brand’s signature Full Floater suspension system, adopting more progressive geometry, gaining onboard storage and getting a more broad selection of build kits to suit all budgets.
First launched nearly 15 years ago, Trek’s Fuel EX has somehow managed to span the range of being an entry-level mountain bike while at the same time appealing to hardcore all-day epic trail riders.
Since the bike first launched we’ve seen plenty of changes in the range including suspension technology and travel — initially the bike was offered with just 100mm of travel, growing over its lifespan and the bike’s seen the addition of Trek’s different suspension technologies such as the Full Floater, RE:aktiv, Mino Link and Thru Shaft.
Geometry trends have changed, too, and the Fuel range has reflected this. Starting out as an XC-orientated bike, the Fuel EX has morphed into something that’s likely to be more at home on a wider variety of trails. Trek even mention the ‘e’ word in its marketing spiel — yes, the Fuel EX even has enduro riders in its sights.
2020 Trek Fuel EX updates and changes
What has Trek changed on the new model, then?
2020 Trek Fuel EX geometry
The newer, better Fuel EX.Trek
In the same way riders chase the proverbial perfect trail, most bike companies are chasing the longer, lower and slacker mantra with their bikes. Trek’s new Fuel EX is no exception to that rule.
Aiming to appeal to more riders, and quite possibly more extreme riders, from the outgoing model the bike’s gained a 10 to 20mm reach increase (depending on size), a 1-degree slacker head angle taking the figure down to a respectable 66 degrees and, most impressively yet, a steeper seat tube angle that’s climbed to 75 degrees.
These figures should mean the bike’s more at home when you’re riding harder and faster — offering a more stable chassis. There’s no detrimental effect for beginners, either, who’ll reap the benefits of a bike that doesn’t feel like it’s jumping around like a cat on a hot tin roof.
The carbon-made bikes feature a down tube protector.Trek
There’s also a broad range of sizes that start at extra small, running through to extra-extra-large. In the range, there are two small sizes: one for 27.5-inch wheels and one for 29-inch wheels.
In a welcome move, a medium and a medium-large size also rear their head. This bridges the gap between the medium and large bikes for people who’d normally sit between the sizes. Top work, Trek!
The Mino Link lets you adjust the bike’s geometry.Trek
You also get a high and low setting thanks to Trek’s Mino Link flip-chip that’s located on the seatstay to rocker link. Changing from low to high adjusts the head angle from 66 to 66.5 degrees, the seat tube angle from 75 to 75.5 degrees and reduces the bottom bracket drop, shortens the chainstay and the wheelbase among other numbers.
Seat tube length: 450mm
Seat tube angle: 75/75.5 degrees (low/high)
Head tube length: 105mm
Head tube angle: 66/66.5 degrees (low/high)
Effective top tube: 634/633 mm (low/high)
Bottom bracket height: 346mm
Wheelbase: 1,211/1,210mm (low/high)
Standover: 748/754mm (low/high)
Reach: 470/754mm (low/high)
Stack: 613/609mm (low/high)
Notes: Measurements for size large bike, full measurements available on Trek’s website.
2020 Trek Fuel EX frame details
Not only has the bike’s geometry been modernised — Trek has also worked hard to accommodate the modern, discerning mountain biker.
You can now fit a 29 x 2.6-inch tyre on the back of the bike and Bontrager XR4 2.6-inch wide rubber is standard on all models of the Fuel EX.
The Bontrager XR4 Team Issue tyres look plenty beefy enough for a trail bike.Trek
Trek has also managed to increase the range of dropper travel possibilities on its bikes. The extra-small and small bikes get 100mm travel posts, while the medium and medium-large bikes have a 150mm travel post. The large, extra-large and extra-extra-large sizes are treated to a 170mm post.
The internal frame storage solution is very tidy indeed.Trek
In another welcome move, the Fuel EX gets on-board storage in the bike’s down tube. The storage’s hatch doubles up as a bottle cage and every Fuel EX is supplied with a Bontrager tool roll that’s got handy compartments to store your bits and bobs — a similar system was adopted on the very recently released Trek Domane road bike.
The Fuel EX comes in two materials: a cheaper alloy version and a full carbon affair that has a carbon mainframe, seat and chainstays. The carbon model gets a dedicated down tube protector, too.
The Knock Block system stops you ruining your bike, levers and shifter in a crash.Trek
You’re also treated to Trek’s Knock Block system, which physically stops the bars turning beyond a certain angle to stop the bars, shifters or brake levers and fork crowns damaging both the top or down tubes.
There’s Trek’s Control Freak internal cable routing throughout that’s also Di2 compatible, so if you’re looking to upgrade in the future you’ve got the option of doing away with antiquated analogue gear shifting.
The internal cable routing is slick and Di2 compatible.Trek
Trek also states that all of its Fuel EX bikes have a lifetime warranty.
2020 Trek Fuel EX suspension details
In a rather bold move Trek has done away with its signature Full Floater suspension system that has been seen on the Fuel for some years. This arangement mounted the shock to both the linkage and the chainstay in front of the main pivot, which meant that the shock didn’t have a fixed mounting point — as the suspension compresses, so did the shock’s relative position.
Now, though, the rear shock mounts to a fixed point on the down tube at the junction of the seat tube, like traditional suspension designs.
Trek claims the RE:aktiv Thru Shaft shock has unparalleled performance benefits.Trek
Trek claims that doing away with its Full Floater technology means that the frame can be stiffer, tyre clearance can be increased and there’s no loss in suspension performance.
It’s worth noting that, at the time it was used on the bike, Trek claimed that its Full Floater system meant that the shock’s leverage ratios could be soft off the top, give plenty of mid-stroke support and help increase bottom-out resistance. It also claimed that a Full Floater bike felt like it had more travel than it actually does.
To then go on and claim that there’s no loss in suspension performance after doing away with this system begs the question of why it was implemented in the first place.
Trek’s Active Braking Pivot (or ABP for short), unlike the Full Floater, avoids the chop on the latest Fuel EX. And like previous iterations of Trek models with the system, it claims it helps to increase suspension performance under braking.
The Active Braking Pivot claims to improve suspension efficiency under braking.Trek
The Fuel EX 9.8 and 9.9 models are adorned with the stiffer, burlier Fox 36 fork that hints at the bike’s capabilities and intended use. The rest of the range gets a mix of Fox 34, RockShox 35 Gold and Recon forks so there’s a good balance of intended use in the range.
Except for the Fuel EX 5 and 7, you get Trek’s RE:aktiv suspension technology on the whole range. This, Trek claims, helps to be supple on small bumps and push deeper into the travel, but is firm while you’re pedalling without having to flick levers.
The rear end of the bike is made from carbon — there are no alloy chain or seatstays here.Trek
From the 9.8 model upwards, you also get Thru Shaft technology. This is where Trek has got rid of the internal floating piston in the rear shock, creating a system where there’s no oil volume displacement as the suspension compresses and extends.
2020 Trek Fuel EX women’s specific models
Trek’s also launching a full range of women’s specific models that will feature two colourways on all models, a wide range of sizing options, including two small sizes with the choice of 27.5- and 29-inch wheels, and plenty of standover height.
2020 Trek Fuel EX pricing and availability
The Trek Fuel EX is gunning for the trail, all-mountain and enduro markets.Trek
The Fuel EX ranges from £1,850 / $2,099.99 / AU$3,000 / €2,099 for the bottom spec EX 5 up to £8,000 / €9,099 for the top of the range EX 9.9 X01 AXS model.
The bikes are available from October on Trek’s website and your local Trek retailer.
2020 Trek Fuel EX specifications
Trek Fuel EX 5
Trek Fuel EX 5.Trek
Frame: Aluminium, tapered head tube, Knock Block, Control Freak internal cable routing, ISCG05, Mino Link, ABP, Boost 148, 130mm travel
Shock: RockShox Deluxe Select Plus
Fork: RockShox Recon RL, Boost 110, 140mm travel
Wheels: Bontrager alloy, sealed bearing, alloy axle, Shimano freehub, 148 x 12 rear, 110 x 15 front, Alex MD35 rims
Tyres: Bontrager XR4 Team Issue, tubeless ready, Inner Strength sidewalls, aramid bead, 120TPI, 29 x 2.60in
Shifter: Shimano Deore M6000, 10-speed
Rear derailleur: Shimano Deore M6000
Cassette: SunRace, 11-42, 10-speed
Cranks: Race Face Ride, 30-tooth chainring
Saddle: Bontrager Arvada
Seatpost: TranzX JD-YSP18, 130mm travel
Bar, stem and grips: Bontrager alloy, Bontrager Rhythm Comp, Bontrager XR Trail Comp
Alex started racing downhill at the tender age of 11, later going on to compete internationally representing the UK. At 19, he moved to the Alps to pursue a career as a bike bum clocking up moon-mileage riding the famous tracks in and around Morzine, France. In that time, he broke more bikes than he can remember. Alex then moved back to the UK when he landed a job working for Mountain Biking UK as their Features Editor — BikeRadar's sister title — as their features editor. Since working for MBUK, Alex's focus has moved to towards bike tech and he now wants to find out what bikes and components represent the best value for money regardless of discipline. Alex's current fleet includes his trusty commuter bike, a 2017 Marin Gestalt 3, his long term Orange Stage 6 RS enduro bike, a used and abused 2015 GT Sanction Pro, a Scott Voltage YZ dirt jump bike and a Deluxe Pro 2 BMX.