Pure XC racers should look elsewhere, but if you’re after a fast and highly capable XC/marathon bike on steroids, the Top Fuel is worth a closer look
Pros: Sorted XC/trail friendly geometry, which should ride much harder than the travel suggests
Cons: No easy options for two bottles cages, the improved fun factor means you lose a bit of the previous Top Fuel’s racing edge
In recent years, Trek’s Top Fuel has be known as a pure cross-country race bike, designed for searing laps of uncompromising race efficiency and little else. Now that is set to change with the release of a new, and dare I say it, potentially more fun Top Fuel.
The frame is where most of the changes have been made. Depending on how you set the bike up using the Mino Link (more on that in a bit), the head tube has been slackened to 67.5/68 degrees, the seat tube steepened to 75 degrees and the reach has gone up to 470/475.2mm in a size large.
The geometry options are down to Trek’s adjustable Mino Link flip chip, which offers a low and high setting. It is now located on the front of the rocker link/upper shock mounting bolt, which Trek claims makes it easier to access and easier to change.
The Mino Link allows a small adjustment in geometryMichelemondini.com
In the high setting the reach is increased and the head tube steepened, which makes the bike’s handling more responsive. In the low setting, the reach is shortened and the head tube slackened, making for a more stable, trail oriented ride. This means you can change the ride characteristics of the bike depending on if you’re racing or if you’re just out for some fun with friends.
Trek has also added a fixed lower-shock mount, which is claimed to improve the cable routing and full-frame stiffness thanks to its beefier design.
Finally, the main pivot has been moved forwards in front of the bottom bracket, which is claimed to improve pedalling and give more consistent anti-squat performance.
Trek Top Fuel components
The Top Fuel now has a shorter stemMichelemondini.com
Trek wanted to bring the componentry in line with the rest of this ‘more versatile’ Top Fuel. So you can now fit up to 2.4-inch tyres, and all the bikes come with this size as standard, which is fairly meaty for an XC/trail rig.
The bars have been made wider and the stem comes with a max length of 70mm. The stem can also be flipped depending on your riding style. Trail riders can have it flipped up for a higher bar height, while XC riders will flip it down for more climbing control.
As already mentioned, every model in the range comes equipped with a dropper post, with 100mm on small models, 150mm on M/ML sizes, and 170mm on L and XL sizes.
Trek Top Fuel ride impressions
The Top Fuel now has more balanced geometryMichelemondini.com
As is the way with many launches, the ride was fairly short at around 1.5hrs and didn’t really give me a chance to get to grips with the Top Fuel. So what I can glean from my time on the bike is, of course, limited.
The new Top Fuel feels very different to the old one, due to the obvious changes in geometry and spec. e.g. wider tyres, and you definitely feel this on the climbs. The highest spec Top Fuel 9.9 I was riding has a claimed weight of 11.05kg without pedals, making it competitively light, but it’s still at least a kilo heavier than a top-spec, pure race bike.
This meant that while the position on the bike was good – thanks to that steeper seat angle — it doesn’t have the explosive rip and zip of a no compromise XC bike.
The Top Fuel climbed well, but lost some of its pure racing edgeMichelemondini.com
This doesn’t mean that the Top Fuel is a laborious slouch on the climbs, but it’s worth bearing in mind that if you’re all about the racing and crushing the climbs, the Top Fuel may now be too ‘trail’ oriented for your tastes.
This is also a sentiment echoed by Trek’s Factory Racing XC riders, and I doubt we’ll see the new Top Fuel in a World Cup anytime soon.
The bike pedalled well on singletrack, no doubt thanks to the aforementioned moved pivot, and there was very little in the way of pedal bob.
Again, my time descending was limited, but the Top Fuel threw up little in the way of surprises, with the wider tyres and bars, coupled with the slacker geometry, making for a confident XC descender.
Trek has followed brands such as Specialized with its Epic EVO in tweaking its full suspension XC bike to make it a more trail friendly machine. Without more time on the bike it’s hard to say if it’s succeeded or not, but after a very brief first ride, the Top Fuel feels like it has the potential to be a legitimate player in the market.